BOULDERER IS A WORDIt's true, rock climbing requires some technical knowledge. We need to know how to tie a variety of knots, as well as ways to manage slack and get down from the summit safely. We need to have gear (many of us tend to go overboard with racks upon racks of carabiners, slings, cams and other various baubles). We need marathon endurance to tackle gigantic, wandering routes that disappear into the clouds. Right?
… Well, not exactly. There are several other ways to climb. One type is distilled down to all but the most rudimentary parts - (wo)man versus rock. We remove the need for gear and ropes, and forgo long, wandering routes that take hours, even days, to complete. We climb shorter things - called “problems” as opposed to “routes” - usually under 15 feet and without ropes. These problems can require more nuanced, precise and oftentimes, powerful movements. We call this bouldering, and it’s a sport, activity and lifestyle all its own.
Easy to start
Compared to top rope, sport lead and trad climbing, the barrier to entry for bouldering is lower in regards to skill requirements and monetary investment. Whereas a roped climbing career requires, at a minimum, a mastery of belay techniques and knot tying, bouldering requires little except proper falling technique - easily learned in an afternoon of practice.
Minimal gear investment
No rope management also means very little in the way of gear purchases, as well. All you need to boulder in the gym is a pair of climbing shoes and some chalk. Taking the sport outside requires a crash pad, but even that is modest in price.
Excellent for working the brain and body
If roped climbing is the long-distance running of the alpine world, bouldering is certainly the 50-meter dash. While the number of moves to complete a problem can be as low as the single-digits, they are typically much harder than those required to complete a longer route. That’s not to say you need to look like a muscle-bound upside-down triangle to boulder successfully; we just need to focus more on using efficient movement, planning our attempts more critically, and making the most of what the problems have to offer.
This, in turn, leads to one of our favorite aspects of bouldering as a hobby - the extremely social atmosphere. Since we’re all on the ground, figuring out the key to unlocking these problems, a natural gateway to conversation is opened. You’ll find that you make lots of friends quickly in the cave. After all, nothing builds camaraderie like a shared struggle.