What is… Bouldering?
Bouldering is unroped climbing, which is usually lower in height than other climbing routes, both indoors and outdoors. Indoors the highest bouldering problems are around 5 metres high. There are often crash mats below to help protect you if you fall off. Indoors, these mats are provided, whereas outdoors, you carry a bouldering mat to the boulder with you.
People often mistake Bouldering as ‘practice’ for other types of climbing, but Bouldering is a sport in its own right.
What is a Problem?
Each bouldering route is called a ‘problem’ and most problems outdoors are given a name, so you can differentiate between different problems that have already been climbed. They are then also easy to log (in your UKC or other logbook) and easy to find in guidebooks.
How to complete a boulder problem
An indoor boulder problem is only complete when you’ve got to the top and touched the top hold for 5 seconds with both hands. Outdoors, you usually ‘top-out’, which means going over onto the top of the boulder and coming down a ‘descent route’.
Bouldering requires a specific set of skills, particularly problem solving, which may take a while to get your head around. The technical skills you develop when bouldering can really help you to improve your roped climbing. In particular things like footwork, body positioning, twisting, locking off and foot strength can make a big difference to all of your climbing and are things that you can train while enjoying the sport of Bouldering.
When I first started I couldn’t even do the easiest problem at the climbing centre! Fortunately there were other people around who I could ask for help and it gets easier to progress as you learn new ways to move.
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