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."