• Bouldering
    No ropes. No problem.

    Bouldering is a form of free climbing that is performed without the use of ropes or harnesses.


    In Bouldering, athletes climb fixed routes, commonly referred to as “problems”, on a 4.5m-high wall equipped with safety mats. The routes vary in difficulty and climbers are not permitted to practice climbing them in advance. When a climber controls the final hold at the top of a route with both hands, they are deemed to have completed it. Climbers tackle the wall without safety ropes and if they fall during their attempt, they can try a route again during their allotted time. The walls used for bouldering present a range of challenges, with overhangs and some holds so small that they can only be held by the fingertips. Climbers must plan each move carefully, thinking about which hand and foot to place in the next holds, while constantly being aware of the time limit. The physical and mental dexterity required for success is extraordinary.

    Unlike speed climbing, the boulders’ set sequences—the problems—will be unknown to the climbers prior to the event. In fact, all climbers will be sequestered in an isolation zone before their respective turns, unable to watch the previous competitors try. Thus, there is an element of problem-solving on the fly, as competitors must first figure out how to climb the boulder (the beta—see Glossary), and then properly execute their planned sequence. Also, there is no buzzer at the top. To get credit for the problem, a competitor has to have both hands firmly matched on a designated top handhold. Competitors can also get credit for reaching one scored handhold midway up the boulder called a zone hold (see Glossary).

    The bouldering leaderboard will be determined by the number of boulders on which a competitor reaches the “top.” For instance, a competitor who tops two boulders will be in the lead compared to one who tops just one boulder. The total number of attempts and the total number of times reaching a “zone” hold will be used to further differentiate the scoring.

    Content courtesy of John Burgman, Climbing Magazine