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Competitional Bouldering

In competition climbing, there are three different disciplines with particular competition series:

  • Lead (rope climbing)
  • Speed (speed climbing on a standardized route)
  • Bouldering (climbing without ropes in a low altitude)

Bouldering is also known as maximal strength discipline. In terms of coordination, acrobatics and athleticism it is certainly the most demanding discipline in competition climbing. The difficulties of the boulder “problems” range between boulder grade 7c to 8a+ and may be compared with single moves of grade 10 or 11 lead routes.

In bouldering competitions, the aim is to master four to five short boulder problems in several rounds (qualification, semi-final, final) with as few attempts as possible.  For each boulder the athletes have a time frame of four or five minutes, depending on the respective round. 

A boulder consists of six to eight climbing moves on average and has a maximum height of 4.5 metres, which makes it possible to climb without belay ropes. Falls are absorbed by so-called crash pads, i.e. custom-built boulder mats. The climber has to put both hands on marked starting holds and climb from there to the highest hold, the so-called top. The top hold, too, must be visibly held with both hands. 

The athlete who achieved the most tops with the fewest attempts is the winner of the competition. In case nobody is able to top a boulder problem the so-called bonus hold applies, meaning bonus points for a certain pre-defined zone the climber has to reach on his way to the top. To determine the ranking, the decisive factor is the maximum number of tops combined with the lowest number of attempts, followed by the number of bonus points and the number of attempts needed to reach those bonus holds.