Bouldering — low extreme


Boul­der­ing is a won­der­ful oppor­tu­ni­ty to feel a surge of ener­gy, while get­ting a dose of adren­a­line and enjoy­ing the all-con­sum­ing sense of free­dom.

Thanks to the media, boul­der­ing has gained great pop­u­lar­i­ty among ath­letes in West­ern Europe, and even­tu­al­ly through­out the world. And if you are not afraid of heights, love thrills and want to climb var­i­ous sur­faces with the skill of a spi­der-man, then boul­der­ing will help you cope with these tasks.

His­to­ry of occur­rence

It is believed that boul­der­ing first appeared in the US in the state of Col­orado in the small town of Boul­der. In this town there are a lot of nat­ur­al hills and rocks, 3–6 m high.

There is also a ver­sion that at the begin­ning of the 20th cen­tu­ry this acro­bat­ic type of rock climb­ing arose in the Parisian town of Fontainebleau. And the most famous of the Parisians involved in pro­fes­sion­al boul­der­ing was Pierre Alan.

In the 1950s, boul­der­ing was offi­cial­ly rec­og­nized as a sport. The most famous Amer­i­can ath­lete was John Gill, who dis­cov­ered dynam­ic ter­rain climb­ing. In the 70s, thanks to rock climber John Bach­er, strength train­ing began to be used in boul­der­ing. In the ear­ly 80s in Europe, boul­der­ing received the sta­tus of an elite sport.

Thanks to the efforts of the media in our time, boul­der­ing is at the peak of its pop­u­lar­i­ty. More recent­ly, a new type of lift has been dis­cov­ered, such as the seat­ed start.

What is boul­der­ing?

Boul­der­ing — trans­lat­ed from Eng­lish means “climb­ing boul­ders.” This type of climb­ing con­sists of sev­er­al short series (5–8) moves. Dur­ing a com­pe­ti­tion in this sport, a com­peti­tor may have mul­ti­ple attempts, usu­al­ly an unlim­it­ed num­ber. When pass­ing the tracks, as a rule, a cer­tain time is giv­en for rest (4–6 min­utes). On the track, there is a bonus (inter­me­di­ate fin­ish) and a top (final fin­ish) with­out fail. More­over, the bonus and top are always marked with bright marks.

For boul­der­ing, a nec­es­sary require­ment is the pres­ence of gym­nas­tic insur­ance and crash pads (spe­cial mats). Gym­nas­tic insur­ance is the sim­plest type of insur­ance. Dur­ing such insur­ance, the climber is insured with his body and hands by a part­ner or assis­tant who stands under the climber. Gym­nas­tic belays are pro­vid­ed for small heights (4–5 m) and dur­ing the pas­sage of dif­fi­cult routes.

In boul­der­ing, there are dif­fer­ent lev­els of climb­ing dif­fi­cul­ty: wall climb­ing, over­hang­ing or crack climb­ing; tra­verse and climb down.

Climb­ing a wall, over­hang, or crack

This lev­el of train­ing makes the ath­lete more expe­ri­enced and pre­pares them for long runs. While climb­ing the walls, the climber learns to con­trol his body, to work cor­rect­ly with his legs and arms. These cours­es help devel­op the ath­lete’s sense of flex­i­bil­i­ty, con­fi­dence and endurance.


This lev­el of dif­fi­cul­ty involves the climber mov­ing in one direc­tion across the sur­face. Such move­ments allow ath­letes to devel­op endurance and learn the cor­rect posi­tion­ing of the legs.

climb­ing down

This is the lev­el of dif­fi­cul­ty that allows the climber to devel­op strength and bal­ance. Climb­ing down is suit­able for pro­fes­sion­al moun­taineer­ing.

Cat­e­gories of boul­der­ing

To date, boul­der­ing can be divid­ed into three cat­e­gories of climb­ing:

  • Euro­pean scale boul­der­ing
  • boul­der­ing with french scale
  • boul­der­ing with amer­i­can mea­sure­ment scale

There is a sin­gle plate with num­bers and let­ters (UIAA 1, 2, 3‑, 3, 3+; France 1, 2, 3, 4, 5; USA 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, 5.5…). The table also com­pares routes by dif­fi­cul­ty. The Euro­pean mea­sure­ment cat­e­go­ry for boul­der­ing is sim­i­lar to the French mea­sure­ment cat­e­go­ry with the only dif­fer­ence that all cat­e­gories accord­ing to the Euro­pean mea­sure­ment scale are writ­ten in cap­i­tal let­ters (A, B, C, 6A, 7B+…). In the Amer­i­can cat­e­go­ry, they are writ­ten with the Latin let­ter V with a num­ber (V11 …).


Types of boul­der­ing

Types of boul­der­ing vary by alti­tude:

  • Low boul­der­ing (Designed for climb­ing an ath­lete at a low height (4–5 meters)
  • High Boul­der­ing
  • Seat­ed boul­der­ing (Ath­lete starts sit­ting on the ground or on a mat)

By num­ber of par­tic­i­pants:

  • Com­mand

This type of boul­der­ing is intend­ed for col­lec­tive boul­der­ing com­pe­ti­tions. A team of par­tic­i­pants must have at least 3 peo­ple. Teams are invit­ed to over­come a cer­tain num­ber of tracks (6–7) and a cer­tain time is allot­ted for per­for­mance (from 12 to 15 min­utes). The task of the par­tic­i­pants is to cor­rect­ly dis­trib­ute the routes among them­selves and the total time that is allot­ted, tak­ing into account climb­ing, rest between routes and the meet­ing of par­tic­i­pants. Each mem­ber of the team boul­der­ing must tell the judge of the com­pe­ti­tion the num­ber of the course he has cho­sen. The result of the team com­pe­ti­tion is the total sum of the results of all par­tic­i­pants of one team.

  • Indi­vid­ual

This type of boul­der­ing is designed for one climber or par­tic­i­pant.

By relief:

  • Boul­der­ing on arti­fi­cial ter­rain

This type of boul­der­ing con­sists in climb­ing on arti­fi­cial ter­rain (climb­ing wall, boul­der­ing hall, boul­der­ing stand). The advan­tage of this type of boul­der­ing is that there are no dan­ger­ous and sharp ledges on the arti­fi­cial­ly cre­at­ed ter­rain, as on real moun­tains, and train­ing can be done indoors with a roof.

  • Boul­der­ing on nat­ur­al ter­rain

Boul­der­ing on nat­ur­al ter­rain (nat­ur­al) is the climb­ing of a rock climber on moun­tains, ledges and rocks of a cer­tain height, which are formed in a nat­ur­al way.

Gear and equip­ment

For boul­der­ing, you need to have a gym­nas­tic insur­ance (a reli­able per­son who will stretch out his arms, when you fall, will direct you to the mat and crash pad). Crash pads, depend­ing on what type of boul­der­ing they are used for (climb­ing on nat­ur­al or arti­fi­cial ter­rain), dif­fer in shape, length and width. You should also pur­chase climb­ing shoes (sports shoes) to increase the fric­tion force. To destroy mois­ture on the hands, they should be smeared with a spe­cial pow­der — mag­ne­sia. And most impor­tant­ly, there must be a desire!

To prac­tice boul­der­ing, it is not at all nec­es­sary to be a pro­fes­sion­al ath­lete, it is enough to have at least a lit­tle sports train­ing. You can prac­tice this type of rock climb­ing on the street, while find­ing the right stones, as well as on the climb­ing wall. Boul­der­ing is a great work­out that allows you to work all the mus­cle groups and mas­ter the basic move­ments for bet­ter climb­ing tech­nique.


As in any sport, boul­der­ing has the fol­low­ing con­traindi­ca­tions:

  • dis­eases of the mus­cu­loskele­tal sys­tem
  • chron­ic viral dis­eases
  • throm­bophlebitis
  • can­cer dis­eases
  • car­dio­vas­cu­lar fail­ure
  • var­i­ous mus­cle dis­eases (dys­tro­phy)
  • var­i­ous pho­bias (fear of heights, closed space), etc.


Boul­der­ing is a dan­ger­ous form of rock climb­ing and can be life threat­en­ing. All nec­es­sary safe­ty reg­u­la­tions must be fol­lowed. If not observed, there is a risk of var­i­ous kinds of sprains, bruis­es and frac­tures. To prac­tice this sport, you must have a good psy­cho­log­i­cal and phys­i­cal prepa­ra­tion. The ath­lete must always:

  • keep calm;
  • be extreme­ly care­ful;
  • have reli­able insur­ance;
  • have fast log­i­cal think­ing (ori­ent);
  • over­come the fear of falling;
  • gain self-con­fi­dence;
  • learn to con­trol your body;
  • at the ini­tial stages of class­es, it is nec­es­sary to lis­ten to the instruc­tor.

Inter­est­ing Facts

An inter­est­ing fact is that var­i­ous boul­der­ing fes­ti­vals take place every year. For exam­ple, in May (on the 28th-29th) a fes­ti­val called “Grif­fon-2011” was held in Crimea. At these fes­ti­vals, ath­letes and ama­teurs can share their impres­sions of boul­der­ing, com­pete with each oth­er, and com­mu­ni­cate with like-mind­ed peo­ple.

Arti­cle pro­tect­ed by copy­right and relat­ed rights. When using and reprint­ing the mate­r­i­al, an active link to the healthy lifestyle por­tal is required!


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