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The Timeless Extreme Sport Of Boulder Climbing And How The Sport Is Judged


"Bouldering" (slang for boulder climbing), is a timeless sport, often associated with mountain climbing (without the rope or the mountain). It is an extreme sport which has been around since the 1880's, pioneered in Great Britain by bouldering fanatics. The concept originated because people would climb boulders to warm up or train for future mountain climbs. John Gill (an American boulder climber pioneer) made advances to the sport, which have in turn brought it into the mainstream. Boulder climbing focuses on the performance of the athlete on the boulder, which they are climbing, rather than on the headway that they can make, equipment they have, or safety gear as is often done in mountain climbing.

Boulder climbers do take basic safety measures, as they end up about six feet above the ground. For instance, they often use chalk so that the climber's hands are dry, giving them a good grip on the boulder, and preventing slipping from occurring. A chalk pouch is kept with boulder climbing, which ensures dry hands to reduce slippage potential.

Another safety measure is using an applicable shoe. There is no requirement or regulation for shoe type, but many climbers tend to choose shoes specifically made for climbing. These shoes secure safe footing, and protect their feet from potential rock cuts, twists, and splinters.

Crash pads are also used as a safety precaution. These break the fall of the climber, and ensure a safer landing. Boulder climbers are now carrying collapsible mats along with them, when recreationally bouldering.

This sport also sometimes has a spotter along side. Spotters help direct climbers from danger, and are around to help with first aid.

Another precaution that is sometimes used, controversially, is a rope to navigate the boulder. Fans of the sport, however, feel it distracts and takes away from the object of the activity.

The judging systems have changed to accommodate bouldering, as it becomes more competitive. Difficulty levels were assigned to boulders accordingly the "B" system. A B1 problem boulder was not considered easy, but not hard. A B2 problem boulder is one, which is harder to navigate and conquer than a B1. A B3 problem boulder indicates a boulder so hard to climb; it has only been successfully done once.

The "B" system only worked for a small while, until it became too diverse to fit into three categories. "B" scale was soon replaced by the "V" grade system, compliments of John Sherman. From V0 to V16, the sport now uses an open ended scale. The term VB is used if the boulder does not even reach a V0 rating. Plus and minuses are sometimes added to the V ratings.

 


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