Rock climbing may not be a new sport to you, but when you’re with other climbers have you ever heard them talk about rock climbing bouldering? If not, don’t worry, you’re probably not alone.
Bouldering is a relatively new form of rock climbing that doesn’t include a wall of rocks to climb or the need to familiarize yourself with a variety of different types of knots.
Today, we want to give you an introductory look at what is bouldering, the different grades for bouldering, and discuss the differences between bouldering and rock climbing.
We have a lot to cover, so let’s get started!
Bouldering is a sport where you’re climbing large boulders and instead of using ropes for safety, climbers rely on pads to keep them safe.
Don’t worry, climbing a boulder doesn’t mean you’re climbing a mountain-sized rock. Most “problems” you’ll face while bouldering isn’t more than 15 feet tall. When outdoors, the problems are more common on larger boulders, but some problems will exist on a low cliff.
Do keep in mind that this explanation of what bouldering is can be argued depending on who you talk to. Some climbers will climb boulders that are larger than 15 feet, but since the climber doesn’t go too far up the boulder, they can still rely on the pad for protection.
Then other instances, you’ll come across a tall boulder that is fixed with bolts and are considered sport climbs. Extremely tall boulders are called highball boulders that anywhere from 25 to 35 feet high.
Highball bouldering often blurs the line between bouldering and climbing a tall wall without rope (also called free soloing) because ropes still aren’t used, but a fall from that height can result in serious injury.
With all that said, most boulder problems are short sequences that relies more on power and technique rather than prolonged endurance. Even though the sequences are short, that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy. Just like other sports, bouldering has varying levels of difficulty, or grades.
If you’re thinking about trying your bouldering climb, you will want to choose an easy problem. You don’t want to do a hard climb because it could be complex and dangerous, but also require more energy and strength than you currently have.
In bouldering, problems are given a grade so climbers know how challenging the climb will be. In bouldering, we use a v-scale that ranges from V0- (easy) to V15+, which is the hardest.
We mentioned briefly that bouldering is a form of rock climbing that uses pads instead of ropes to protect the climber, but that isn’t the only thing that makes bouldering different from rock climbing. Other ways the two sports differ include:
When you’re gearing up to go on a bouldering climb, you’ll need to make sure you have the following equipment with you:
If you love rock climbing and you’re looking for new ways to challenge yourself, bouldering may be a good option for you. It’ll test your skill, your endurance, and strength, while still providing you with that rush that rock climbing gives you.
If you’re interested in going on your first bouldering climb, we recommend finding a local indoor bouldering facility where you can learn how to climb safely.