Bouldering Vs Top Rope [Should You Do Both]

In this bouldering vs top rope guide, we hope to help you decide the best climbing training that fits your requirements. Read on to learn more.


Bouldering is an aspect of unrestricted climbing that is carried out on tiny rock collections or artificial rock walls without the usage of ropes or harnesses. Although bouldering can be carried out without the use of any tool or equipment, it is common for climbers to utilize climbing shoes to maintain footholds, chalk to prevent their hands from emitting moisture and provide a stronger grasp, and bouldering mats to help avert injuries that can be gotten from falling.

Bouldering is different from free solo climbing. Though free solo climbing is also carried out without ropes, the progression of moves executed by a climber to finalize a climb in bouldering is often less than twenty feet or six meters tall. Some bouldering progressions oblige a climber to ascend horizontally from one end to the other end.


Bouldering is usually a method of workout for roped climbs and mountain climbing. It enables a climber to drill for certain moves at a cautious distance, not too far from the ground. Also, bouldering serves as a form of building vitality, endurance and enhances finger strength. The rating system of bouldering progressions is usually done on either a v-scale or Fontainebleau scale.

Types of bouldering

Types of bouldering

There are two types of bouldering:

Outdoor bouldering

The attributes of outdoor bouldering progression are largely dependent on the type of rock a climber is trying to ascend. For instance, granite majorly outlines lengthy breaks and lumps while sandstone rocks on the other hand are known for their sheer troops and regular horizontal cracks. Limestones and volcanic rocks can also be utilized for bouldering.

Indoor bouldering

Indoor bouldering often entails riveting bouldering progressions in an indoor environment utilizing artificial climbing walls. These walls are made out of panels of wood, adhesive coatings, or even precast frames of real rock walls.

The grasps are made out of plastic and then latched onto the wall to form progressions. These walls often accentuate sheer coverings which are usually overhanging and compels the climber to utilize highly specialized movements while aiding a larger portion of their body weight with the strength of their upper bodies.

Indoor bouldering

Nonetheless, nowadays, many progressions fixed on flat walls now oblige the climber to perform a sequel of harmonized movements to finalize the trail.

Climbing gymnasia often outline numerous issues within the same category of the wall. The most popular technique utilized by trail setters to specify the deliberate progression is by placing colored tapes next to each grasp. For instance, red tape would imply one progression while a blue tape would indicate another progression in the same arena.

Using colored grasps to fix has certain benefits, one major benefit is that it makes it easier to identify where the holds for a progression are and there is little chance of a tape being removed accidentally from footholds.

  • Bouldering strengthens the muscle. This is a result of employing major muscles in the body. It is also a very low impact exercise, which makes it easier for a climber to perform, while still being an efficient climbing exercise.
  • It increases body flexibility by giving the body a toned muscle appearance from scaling progressions.
  • Bouldering helps the cardiovascular system function better by improving heart rate and strengthening the heart and lungs.
  • As a result of the “no equipment” rule used in bouldering, coordination and spatial awareness are increased. It also boosts cognitive strength and problem-solving skills.
  • Bouldering is cheaper than mountaineering or rock climbing because you hardly need to purchase any equipment.
  • Bouldering is rough on the skin.
  • A climber can fall off during a progression.
  • Bouldering is time-consuming and often leaves a climber exhausted.

Top Rope

This is a mode of climbing whereby the climber safely attaches himself to a rope that passes up through an anchor network at the height of the ascent, and down to a belayer at the bottom of the ascent. The purpose of the belayer is to take in the stretch rope throughout the ascent so that in case a climber misses a hold, they would not fall beyond a reasonably short distance.

Top rope is often carried out on paths that can’t be lead climbed for any tangible reason. Many top-rope anchors can be attained via non-technical standards, for instance, hiking to the top of a cliff. This is usually the popular method utilized at indoor climbing walls or in certain situations where other methods of climbing are considered unsafe or inimical to the environment.

Top roping is disallowed in some environments for reasons such as climbers attempting paths that seem too difficult to ascend or lack of adequate anchor points that enable top-roping.

A wide diameter fixed rope is advised for utilization to avert rope wear and reduce the risk of rock erosion. It also helps to effect maximum safety in case of a slip. A dynamic rope is advisable for utilization by climbers. It is crucial to organize the ropes in such a way that the climbing rope brushes the rock as slightly as possible. This is because the rope can be easily damaged or destroyed if it is pulled across harsh rocks. It is common for novice climbers to learn how to ascend by top-roping.

  • Top roping is safe.
  • It requires little or no experience to perform and helps amateurs in the climbing process.
  • The act of top-roping helps amateurs and professional climbers alike to project properly.
  • Top roping is less stressful and in the event of a fall, the injury is minimized.
  • It only helps to build experience and hardly trains for muscle strength.
  • The amount of safety involved seems good, but it allows a decrease in the focus of a climber.
  • It is expensive to perform.

Bouldering and Top Rope Comparision

These are the two easiest forms of climbing a beginner can try out and are the most popular climbing methods at indoor gyms. However, they are very different from each other.

Bouldering vs Top Rope

Bouldering is harder than top-roping because its levels begin at a higher rate than top-roping. Bouldering employs strength, while top-roping obliges patience and endurance.

Bouldering paths vary in length, security, and equipment while top-roping requires fewer techniques than bothering. Top-roping is also easier because while it allows a climber to steadily ascend with enough safety guaranteed, bouldering is risky and employs maintained movement with no rest.

However, the preference of a climber still matters, and experience level can sometimes determine if you should go for boulde

Calvin Rivers

Hey, I’m Calvin Rivers, a climbing veteran with 10+ years on crags and walls around the world. I can’t wait for you to explore our site and fall in love with the outdoors just like I have.

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