MACS Participation Statement

Royal Holloway MACS recognises that climbing and mountaineering are activities with a danger of personal injury or death. Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions.


There are three disciplines, or games, in bouldering; there is soloing, team problems and impartation (e.g. Come and try this one, it's a corker.)


Soloing is the purest form of bouldering and is essentially playing with oneself. It may involve the hanging off big recognised routes in attempt to gain control over mind and body / get your photo in "On The Edge". It may, however involve small sections of stuff for which the urge to ascend is just too great. These events do not tend to be pre-planned, but those thinking of initiating themselves in this game (hah!) may be well to follow the following pointers: Check the bottom of your solo to be for bloodstains, bits of bone, corpses and the ilk. These are not held to be good signs. Check the immediate surroundings, on and off the climb, for soft and fluffy landing sites. Failing this, lack of pointy bits is always a bonus. Finally make sure the area is prominent enough to draw a suitable number of spectators; preferably with cameras, but first aid experience will do. Haytor is particularly good for this.

Team Problems

Whereas soloing involves the ascension of whole routes on your own, team problems tend to concentrate on an isolated sequence of holds, and entail you playing with others. These holds may be the only ones available, or simply the smallest that you could find. These sequences are generally short with a high technical grade (its hard). Once discovered, the aim of the game is to identify the order of the holds and take it in turns to try to link the m together. Boulder problems can be of three basic types; strenuous (you fall off), balancy (you slip off), and dynamic (you jump off). All of these can be further sub- divided giving a myriad of colourful exaggerations / excuses for backing out. Strenuous problems are often to be found on steep or overhanging walls, with tantalising chalk marks kissing their surface. Usually these marks have been placed by tall people. Balancy problems on the other hand tend to be on more friendly, but sadly minimalist rock slabs. Once a promising line has been spotted, imagined or lied about a member of the group may go over and touch a hold and comment on it, this could be a monosyllabic ahhh or possibly the more sophisticated Piss poor! After much fondling, fingering and even scrubbing of these promising holds, one of the members may be cajoled into an attempt. The purpose of this first attempt is to give the rest of the group something to laugh at so a flash is generally frowned upon. Success, however, after this virgin attempt will lead to much back-slapping and good cheer.


The purpose of team games is pushing the grades and group giggles. Impartation is used to affect the receiver; to teach or demonstrate a technique, or the provider; to show off and build oneself up (this is sand bagging). Here a lone climber discovers a rare and magnificent breed of problem that he must share with the world. Once a fellow climber (vict im) is found he is shown this masterpiece and pleaded at to try it. After falling / slipping / jumping off it is wise to ask some questions:

1.Can you do this route yourself? 2.Would you like to have a go? 3.Would you like to try one of my problems? (not the most subtle forms of revenge, but it works)

If the answer is no to all of these then it is often best to:

1.Lamp him; 2.Find someone else to climb with / try the problem on; 3.Complete the problem and completely gut the offender.

It must be stated that the completion of a problem before inviting others over is not necessary (see team problems) but it helps.

A final mention must be made about visualisation of sequences. This may lead to ground breaking punishing lines (Ooer) or vastly unjustified accusations of sand bagging. Being able to stand on the foot holds while reaching the handholds helps, as does making sure the moves are physically possible (ideally within a short time scale). Visualising each individual triplet of holds as a triangle allows some indication of how the moves will link together. Once this is done some of the moves can be performed in isolation to determine their technical grade.


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