An overview of Bouldering

Bouldering involves many of the same challenges as other forms of climbing, though some are encountered more often in bouldering:

Faces and slabs: A face is a flat vertical surface and a slab is a flat angled surface. Both problems test technical skill and require delicate footwork.

Overhangs: Also called “roofs,” these are rock surfaces that are relatively horizontal to the ground and directly over your head. Overhangs demand strength and power.

Traverses: Often an endurance test for boulderers, these problems involve moving sideways along a feature in the rock before topping out.

Compression problems: Requiring good endurance and solid technique, these problems frequently require the climber to “hug” a feature on the rock in order to ascend the boulder.

Highballs: A term unique to bouldering, a highball is any problem that tops out high off the ground. It might put a climber 20 feet or more off the ground, though it’s really abut the degree of exposure and risk presented. This is the realm of experienced boulderers.

Topping out: The final part of most bouldering problems, this refers to the final series of moves required to get you standing on the top.

Bouldering Safety and Injury Prevention

In bouldering, peeling off the rock is a constant. Rather than using a rope for protection, you use partners and padding:

Spotters: Rather than catching you, their job is to ensure your head and shoulders don’t hit the ground. Having more spotters is always better.

Crash pads: These thick mats are used to cushion your fall. They must be brought to the boulders and strategically placed in your fall zone. Often more than one pad is needed to ensure ample coverage. Many gyms have permanent wall-to-wall matted flooring in their bouldering areas.

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