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