Activity Bouldering

Bouldering: When the Problems are Fun

Bouldering is physical exertion and creativity in good company

A versatile sport for newcomers and pros alike

The birds are chirping and gentle rays of sunshine seep through the leaves of the oak and pine trees. Just another two moves and you’re at the top. You screw in a side grip and pull on a ledge. Your left foot places a heel hook. You reach a sloper with your right foot, bring your left hand across, push yourself up and stand on one of the hundreds of sandstone rocks scattered throughout the fairytale forest of Fontainebleau. Just a short distance from Paris, this is one of the world’s bouldering Meccas and one of the central places from where the sport developed.

Bouldering is climbing at jump height with thick mats that provide a soft landing if you fall. It’s about solving a problem, about the most challenging moves, which are generally harder than those when sport climbing.


The holds are often almost impossible to grip. The problems not only require mobility, strength, and technique, but also creativity and imagination. When bouldering, you try to shift the boundaries of what is possible, ideally with a group of like-minded people. After all, bouldering is also a very social, communicative sport—one where people help each other, try multiple solutions, and motivate and spot each other. Climbers make sure others don’t hurt themselves if they fall by gently guiding them to the mat. Bouldering is a cool mix of giving your all, a full-body workout, and chilling with friends. It’s a sport that is undertaken by not only specialists but also sport climbers, alpinists, and recreational athletes who are new to climbing. As such, it’s no wonder that so many people love it.

    Outdoor bouldering

    Many of those who have fallen for bouldering dream of tackling problems in the open air, perhaps even with mountain views and on the best granite. Whether you find yourself in Ticino or the Magic Wood (Switzerland), the Zillertal Valley (Austria), Albaracín (Spain), Hueco Tanks (USA), or the Rocklands (South Africa), the requirements that you and your gear have to meet outdoors are more complex than in a gym. The choice of area, access ascent, climate, clothing, and food/drink are just a few points you should think about when bouldering in the great outdoors. Your most important piece of gear is a durable crash pad with good damping properties. Mat management and, above all, safe spotting are key to preventing trips from ending with a sprained ankle. It’s with good reason that cars heading on a bouldering trip are jam-packed with bouldering mats.

    EDELRID boulder equipment

    Special types of bouldering: urban climbing and deep water soloing

    A special kind of bouldering has also developed in urban areas. Buildering or urban climbing involves climbing artificial structures such as bridges, buildings, or other forms of architecture. Some cities even have designated facilities for this. As with bouldering in a gym, all you need are some shoes, chalk, a brush, and a crash pad for a soft landing.

    If you’re on holiday by the sea, you may also be able to try deep water soloing. This is when you climb on rocks directly above the sea or a lake. Put on your shoes, perhaps fasten a chalk bag round your waist, and you’re ready to go. Always make sure the water is deep enough to land safely. When you can’t go on or have reached the top of a route, simply drop into the water. Deep water soloing is primarily known from the impressive photos of tanned climbers in summer on the steep cliffs in Mallorca and Thailand.