Text: Harald Röker
"Look over there, they look like they have been thrown out by their wifes...." – to such big talking I often smiled to myself in the last months when my friends and me have been seen on the way to our "bouldering-walls" with big mats and backpack on the shoulder.
But what is it, this "bouldering"? Bouldering is a very old and special form of climbing, which was done in the past mainly for training. Nowadays it is an own event of this sport which is very popular especially with young people. "Bouldering" is mainly practiced on low walls and on boulders in a height, where jumping down on your special mat (crashpad) is still possible. This pad cushions a possible fall and aditionally the friends act as so called "spotters". They are ready on the ground to catch the one who is climbing, so the boulderer can focus completely on the basics, in this case the bouldering.
The aim of bouldering is to climb certain hard sequences on a wall or a boulder. Here you can push your limits and do extreme climbing moves close to the ground what is nearly impossible in long climbing routes. The most interesting thing is the working on a problem set by the rock and find the easiest solution for it. This means to figure out how to use the existing hand- and footholds in the best way to be able to do all movements of a "boulderproblem" and link these moves together without falling.
One of the first places where bouldering was independently practiced is the French area Fontainebleau close to Paris, where countless sandstone boulders are spread over a huge area. There is a scale for the difficulty rating of bouldering problems which comes from there and is very common nowadays, the Fontaineblau-scale, ranging from easy (Fb 1 = can be compared with UIAA 3) up to extremely hard (Fb 8c = can be compared with UIAA 11).
In the last years this sport came also to the German uplands and the Swiss/Austrian Alps and is established now also in the Algäu
Besides 2 or 3 already existing bouldering areas in the region, together with my brother Uli and some friends in the year 2006 we opened more than 500 new bouldering problems in many areas from Oberallgäu to the valley of Lech. The grades are excellently varied and range now from very easy (Fb 2) up to world class problems (Fb 8c), so something to do for everyone. Together with the very varied type of rock of the Allgäu close together (conglomerate, sandstone, limestone) there was born one of the most interesting bouldering areas of Germany and one can be curious how all will develop.You can get information to 23 areas of the region in the bilingual (German/English) guidebook "Allgäu-Block - Bouldertopo Allgäu-Lechtal". The bouldering possibilities are described with detailed access-info and many photos and sketches with the course of the problems (Allgäu-Block, GEBRO Verlag Immenstadt, 2nd edition February 2009, ISBN 978-3-938680-12-4, 20,00 €). Photos to the different areas as well as further info also to the climbing possibilities of the region can be found on the webpage of the publishing house http://www.gebro-verlag.de