Excerpts from "The Art of Bouldering"
- AAJ (1969)
"...for bouldering is essentially
one-pitch rock climbing which emphasizes
moves of very great difficulty. Frequently
bouldering can be done without
recourse to ropes on low cliffs or boulders,
where a jump to the ground is possible. On
longer climbs rope may be employed either from
above or below, depending upon the nature of
the problem. Certain significantly difficult
fifth-class climbs may thus be regarded as bouldering.
[I suppose this may have been a glimpse
into the possibility of sport
climbing ] . . . bouldering
difficulty should involve moves whose fifth
class ratings are at least F10. Falls are to be
expected as a matter of course.
Bouldering provides informal
competition similar to the more
formal variety found in artistic or competitive
gymnastics. The comparison is appropriate
. . . both activities require that extermely
difficult body maneuvers be performed
in a graceful manner. . . . a novel aspect of bouldering:
the boulderer is concerned with form almost
as much as success and will not feel he has truly mastered
a problem until he can do it gracefully
[This was wishful thinking!]
. . . . the spirit of competition
in bouldering becomes intense . . .
Special strengths and techniques
are cultivated to aid the gymnast
. . . The boulderer too can perform
special exercises that will enable him
. . . include the front lever, the one-arm
chin, the slow muscle-up, and the one-arm
mantle-press. . . . the boulderer will
cultivate squeeze-grip chins on beams of varying
widths, one-arm fingertip chins on door sills
and one-arm, one-finger chins on a bar. The display
of these skills often adds a certain polish or finesse
to one's climbing . . .
[But are unnecessary - you're better
off with good genes!]
A word of caution ... concerning
musle bulk and muscle quality.
A compromise must be reached between
strength and bulk, for a preponderance
of the latter will rarely be of service to
a rock climber. A high strength-to-weight
ratio is eminently desirable . . . [A revelation
of the obvious!]
Bouldering . . . differs
from classical rock climbing not
only in the essential strengths but also
in the special techniques as well.
The lunge . . . may be safely employed by the
boulderer. . . . graceful and controlled
is a movement best described as a "dynamic layback".
. . . a swinging layback characterized
by the ability to return to the start
at a speed somewhat less than a free-fall. . . .
places the climbers hand on a hold at the high
deadpoint of the swing.
[Well, at least I got that one right!]
Is a classification system
possible? One such system is as
follows: B-1 which compares to. . . . . .
Another . . utilizes the elimination concept.
E-1 indicates a climb so difficult
it has only been done by one individual.
E-2 by two, etc. ... perhaps discarded after
E-10. Reach and body compactness would make the
B-system absurd for occasional problems and
climbers of different strengths would dispute
the grading. The E-system emphasizes the accomplishments
of certain climbers and not the inherant difficulties
of the rock.
[Savor the dilemma experienced by a climber
who has just established himself as the 4th person
the climb an E-3 : should he report his ascent,
thereby lowering the rating to E-4, or keep silent to
allow the climb to maintain its higher status?]
. . . many pleasant isolated
gardens in the south and midwest
that have seen only occasional
bouldering forays. . . . Climbing on
low rock becomes far more meaningful when
bouldering standards are applied. . . .otherwise
obscure practice areas become important
to the sport."