Indoor climbing can be just as extreme as its outdoor equivalent, and its insane bouldering competitions are where you see the sport really come alive.
While outdoor climbing gets all the buzz for being an extreme, death-defying sport, people often forget about the similar activity that happens indoors. Combine this with bouldering, highly technical climbing performed without ropes, and what you have is a recipe for extreme. Indoor bouldering requires climbers to solve “problems” — hidden paths that lead them to the top of the wall. These courses often require daring feats of athletic or intuitive ability, getting past complicated maneuvers and twisted placement of holds and footholds.
Here are the best indoor bouldering videos.
ACC Male Boulder Finals – Problem 3
Bouldering often involves the climbing of various steep ledges. Most of the time, these ledges are from an inside angle, meaning the climber needs to hoist his or her body over the ledge mostly using their arms because their legs are pinned inside. Many people think of climbing as an almost entirely arm-based effort, but that isn’t the case. Climbers’ ability to use their legs is, most of the time, the most important aspect of their climbing. In the bouldering video above, the indoor course requires the climber to make an incredibly difficult move. He ends up hanging by one arm until he can re-attach himself to the wall. Even more complex and impressive is what he pulls off soon after: he hooks his left leg into a hold and then hangs there from only his foot. Fortunately, he makes it work.
Seattle Bouldering Challenge – Problem 4
Sometimes, a bouldering problem will hinge on the completion of one hold over all the others. The other holds will be straightforward and manageable, but then there will be one that requires a superhuman maneuver or some creative problem solving. In this bouldering video, that hold is a big, round knob. The move requires climbers to straddle the knob with their legs and then hoist themselves up over it, all the while utilizing what is basically a flat round surface as their only way to stay on the wall. This takes both an expert leveraging of one’s own body weight as well as an impressive grip and arm strength. In other words, it takes all of this climber’s efforts to climb this indoor bouldering wall without falling.
ACC Male Bouldering Finals – Problem 4
In this bouldering video, the climber is forced to use a slightly-rounded, but entirely smooth, ball sticking out of the wall as a hold. This is incredibly difficult, as it’s almost impossible to get friction on the ball, much less any sort of grip or traction. Once again, it’s all a matter of leverage and the use of one’s weight to push themselves up. That’s what’s so amazing about expert bouldering climbers: they can use almost any type of surface as a way to maneuver themselves forward, because they know how to use their weight.
Extreme Boulder Jumps
There are, however, other aspects of bouldering than just the use of one’s weight and leverage. Many of these aspects include jumping very high or very far. Jumps in bouldering are called dynos, and they are often necessary to reach the top of a problem or otherwise circumvent a stretch devoid of useful holds. The key with dynos is that, because you’re often launching from a very small platform or hold, you have to gain momentum however you can. Most climbers achieve the needed momentum by swinging their body back and forth toward the destination.
IFSC Climbing World Championships – Men Bouldering Final 2
The most remarkable thing about bouldering is that it’s the perfect combination of physical strength and technical skill. As you can see with these very complicated indoor bouldering climbs at the world championships, this sport isn’t about being the strongest person in the room. It’s about knowing exactly how to position your body so that the strength you do have is put to the most efficient purpose: lifting your body upward. You need to climb smart if you have any chance of circumventing the most difficult types of problems.
Have any other indoor bouldering videos that deserve to be on this list? Let us know in the comments below or @DegreeMen.