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While both terms consist of climbing a rock, what makes bouldering different than rock climbing is the height of the climb and the gear you will use. To boulder, you will only climb up to 15 feet off the ground without using special equipment. Rock climbing will take you much higher than that, and because of this height difference, you will need to use a rope and harness to complete your mission successfully.
What Is Bouldering?
Let’s expand on bouldering! Bouldering is a specific style of rock climbing that doesn’t require any gear. These routes are generally 15 feet or less, and a climbing pad is the one thing that stands between the climber and the ground. The pads create a softer landing should you slip off the rock.
The primary goal in bouldering is to climb to the top of the rock, both outdoors and indoors. You will use the colored handles to navigate the climbing wall for an indoor climber.
What Is Rock Climbing?
In contrast, rock climbing will require you to use a rope and harness due to the height of the climbs being 30 meters or more. But the rope and harness alone are not the only things that separate bouldering from rock climbing.
Another core difference is that footwear can vary. It’s critical to understand the style of climbing you will most often participate in to purchase the best climbing shoes for you.
A few pros to bouldering specifically include:
- You don’t need to carry as much gear for outdoor bouldering.
- Indoor bouldering allows you to climb on your own without a spotter. This means you don’t have to coordinate or organize a specific climb time.
On the flip side of the coin, there are a few cons to bouldering, such as the following:
- Rock climbing will teach endurance, but bouldering will not.
- While there is not as much gear involved, lugging around and storing a pad can be challenging.
- Falling means you must start again at the very beginning of the problem.
What makes bouldering different from rock climbing might appear like a gear difference, but the physical aspects offer a lot of variation. While most avid climbers can do both or all, just like anything, many have a primary preference and are happy to stick to it.