What is bouldering?
Bouldering is the stripped-back but sassy member of the climbing family that replaces ropes with crash mats. Without the help of a harness there’s no intimidatingly high climb (thankfully!) instead your mind, body and spirit get put to the test with a series of short, technical routes – called problems – that you solve to scale the wall.
Berghaus athlete and star of the climbing world Molly Thompson-Smith has put together her guide on mastering the basics of bouldering – a quick watch and you’ll be grappling the walls in no time.
1# Preparing to Climb
Warming up is your best friend when it comes to bouldering. Not only does it get the blood flowing – a blessing when it comes to movement – it also helps to get you mentally prepped pre-climb. Warm up, stretch and start easy to engage the mind and body and fend off post-climb soreness.
2# Master the basics of body movement
Less energy, more efficiency is the motto when it comes to movement. Learn how to work your arms, hips, knees and feet to make sure that you tackle the wall with strength and power. Want a sure fire way to avoid a strain? Keep straight arms, dropped knees and hips close to the wall.
3# Get to grips with holds
There are lots of different types of holds and Molly recommends three that’ll work your strength and perfect your technique when it comes to reaching, grabbing, pulling and holding. The Jug, Pinch and Crimp holds are the go-to for beginners and will work for fingers, forearms and resilience, no-end!
4# Find your feet
Your legs are naturally much stronger than your arms are so when it comes to the wall, nifty footwork is a must. Placing your feet properly on holds requires proactive, precision and patience but get it right and you’ll reap the benefits.
5# Problem Solving
Bouldering is a brain and body workout and a problem – the colour-coded route a climber takes from the bottom of the wall to the top – is literal real-life brain teaser. Working your moves out from the ground helps you visualise the climb. What’s the best way to solve a problem? Share it with fellow climbers – they’re a sociable, switched-on bunch!
And there you have it – the bouldering basics explained. Sure, Molly makes it look easy, (Athletes tend to!) but the beauty of bouldering is that you don’t need lots of experience to get give it a go.
So, grab your friends, head to a wall and get stuck into that wall because the best way to get better at climbing is to get climbing!
More on Molly Thompson-Smith
After her first climbing experience at the age of seven, Molly Thompson-Smith has grown into one of the sport’s brightest stars. Still only 18, Thompson-Smith has already won 20 national titles, as well as being only the fifth junior British climber to win a European youth cup event.
As a junior climber, she won her first senior British title at the age of 15, the youngest to ever achieve that. Thompson-Smith has also been ranked number one in the world and Europe for her age category. She is an ambassador for the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) and, at the age of 16, secured a sponsorship deal with the UK’s leading outdoor brand, Berghaus.