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Bouldering

Climb across short walls in this adventure – the bolder, the better!
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What to expect

Bouldering’s all about climbing small rock formations without using ropes. The short routes (or ‘problems’) aren’t high – climbers move horizontally from one end to another, rather than trying to reach the sky.

You don’t need to know loads of knots to enjoy bouldering, and you don’t need much equipment either; as long as you have climbing shoes, chalk, and a crash mat, you’re good to go.

In Scouts, bouldering walls should be man-made, so they’re typically indoors. However, bouldering can – in theory – take place on small rock formations outside too.

What you’ll learn

Bouldering’s a great activity to try before you give roped climbing a go, but it’s also a fun sport in its own right. It’ll help people build stamina and strength (especially in their fingers) as they work together, problem solve, and get back up to try again no matter how many times they fall.

Fun facts

Bouldering started as a form of training for roped climbers, as it gives them the chance to practise moves close to the ground. However, it’s now an Olympic sport. Sport climbing will make its Olympic debut in Tokyo in 2021, athletes will compete in all three disciplines: bouldering, lead climbing, and speed climbing.

Learn the lingo 

Bouldering has its own jargon – you might find learning some helpful to get you up to speed.

  • Problem: a sequence of holds with start and end points.
  • Crux: the hardest sequence of moves in a problem.
  • Sandbag: a route or problem that’s tougher than the advertised grade of information.
  • Send: to climb a problem without falling.
  • Flash: to complete a problem on the first attempt (nice one!).
  • Dyno: a move where the climber jumps (or moves dynamically) from one hold to another.

Handy hints

Shauna Coxsey, champion climber and the first Team GB sport climber, has top tips – including:

  • Use your legs. Your legs are much stronger than your arms. Use your feet, and stand up using your legs, instead of just pulling with your arms.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail. Falling and failing are as much a part of climbing as getting to the top. If you’re not falling, you’re not trying hard enough.
  • Try everything. Don’t be afraid of the steep stuff – get involved and give things a go, even if you don’t think you’ll be good at it.

We’re reworking our safety guidance for adventurous activities to make it easier to understand and follow.

In the meantime, before you try bouldering, review the safety information here.

Reflection

Bouldering’s a fun way to be active. Which parts of their body did people use when bouldering? How did each part of their body move? Was bouldering about being the fastest, or was slow and steady a good strategy? Did people learn anything that might be useful for another way of being active?

It’s pretty rare to send a problem when you first start out, so this activity needed everyone to persevere. How did people feel when they fell before they reached the end of the problem? Was it easy to get back up and try again? Soemtimes, people need to work together to solve trickier problems – having someone else’s perspective and suggestions can be really helpful. What other sort of problems might be helped by asking a friend for their support?

Safety

All activities must be safely managed. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.