Bouldering History

Bouldering History
Bouldering's very nature as an "unconventional sport"--pursued by those who typically defy organization and standardization--makes developing a complete history of the sport challenging; but there is some consensus about major aspects of its history.


Bouldering is often defined as a type of climbing pursued without protective gear on large boulders or other rock faces low enough to the ground that one can usually jump down without injury. Conventional bouldering usually involves difficult, almost gymnastic-style moves.


Highball bouldering--climbing very high without protective gear--blurs the line between typical bouldering and free soloing.


Climbers were bouldering--or at least scrambling over boulders--as early as the 1800s. The advent of more conventional bouldering style has been attributed to various climbers throughout the 1900s.


Traversing, or climbing sideways for long distances without ever getting very high off the ground, is another sort of bouldering. A 1,000-foot traverse was established near London in about 1941.


A 1969 American Alpine Club Journal article by John Gill, "The Art of Bouldering," is credited by some with inspiring others to recognize bouldering as a legitimate form of climbing.

Famous Ties

Chris Sharma is considered by some to be the best boulderer of the 1990s and 2000s.

Article Written By Marie Mulrooney

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.

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