Mike McClure climbing a boulderBouldering is a sport where you don’t need ropes, or harness, or tall cliffs. All you need is the ability to push yourself to the limit physically.

Some people prefer to do the longer stuff…for me though it’s more about the physical sport of it-testing yourself against the rocks-on a powerful, almost gymnastic level rather than an endurance feat. It’s kind of the running equivalent of doing the 100 meter versus the marathon. I prefer the shorter sprints.
-- Mike McClure, boulder climber

Mike McClure prefers to climb the basalt rocks of southern Idaho in temperatures between 35 and 40 degrees. In warmer weather these type or rocks can be too slippery for good finger holds. Training, strength and flexibility are essential for bouldering, but knowing how to solve a “problem” is what gets you to the top.

Mike McClure nearing the top of a boulderA boulder problem is like a route for rock climbing, hiking you would call it a trail, skiing you would call it a run. In bouldering we call it a problem. It’s similar to a math problem or puzzle where you have to figure out the little pieces and slowly put the whole climb together. You have to figure out where am I going to start, how are my feet going to go. Do I grab with my right or left. The ultimate goal is to send it from the s wherever that may be—usually the first grabbable hold to the top and what we call that is “sending.
-- Mike McClure

Sending a route rarely happens on the first attempt, so climbers use special pads to cushion the falls. A good climbing boulder may have one route or several. Climbers use their bet, or expertise to search out the best holds. Terms like crimp, sick crimp, sloper and jug are all included in the climbers unique vocabulary.

Part of the allure of bouldering is to explore new areas for challenging problems. And in the boulder fields of Idaho, there is always another problem to solve, another route to send, and another rock to conquer.