I have recently enrolled myself into a rock climbing gym here at Sydney. I liked the idea of climbing but did not ever got the chance till date.

Well, my question is: what to do first, Bouldering or Rock Climbing? Initially I never had a tad idea regarding bouldering, but here at the climbfit gym the mentors asked me to opt for bouldering sessions as it will lay down the foundation. I went for an indoor rock climbing but now I am unsure. Anyone here can shed some light?

  • One advantage of bouldering that people don't mention: you don't need a partner.
    – blues
    Sep 27, 2019 at 19:58

3 Answers 3


This answer is about bouldering vs rock climbing in gyms. Outdoor variations may be different.

Bouldering usually is more difficult and technical than rock climbing. The difficulty scales up much faster because climbs are quick and small. Plus you don't have to worry about harnesses. You just have to be brave enough to fall a few meters on a pad.

Rock climbing requires more grip endurance than bouldering. The easiest rock wall may use the same holds as the easiest boulder wall, but you still have to hold on for much longer.

Between the two, you may learn climbing technique a bit faster with bouldering. You also won't have to complicate your lesson with proper harness training. You can also assess your grip strength. If you can't hold on to a wall after a couple of climbs, then you probably wouldn't be able to complete a rock wall.

But also it's up to you. It's about having fun. Some people just prefer rock climbing. They like the challenge of reaching the top of a very high wall. Others prefer the technical challenge of figuring out a really tough boulder.

EDIT: One big advantage that others have stated is bouldering doesn't require a partner. Anytime after your lesson, you can just show up to the gym and practice.

There are gyms these days that have auto belaying systems systems that kind of act like a seatbelt. You just hook up and if you fall too fast it'll catch you and slowly lower you down. These don't seem to be common yet.

  • It's worth also mentioning that bouldering can be practiced alone, whereas roped climbing requires a climbing partner. Sep 29, 2019 at 5:43
  • I also find that technique starts to diverge at a certain point. In Rock Climbing, it's often more about finding positions that are energy saving, whereas in bouldering the main goal is yo find a position that works, endurance often being not very important. Example being: hooking vs stepping. A high step can be more energy consuming, but usually gives more grip.
    – BigBadWolf
    Sep 30, 2019 at 13:57
  • as a counter point to bouldering not needing a partner, having a partner for rock climbing can help beginners to learn some of the less intuitive and more advanced techniques used in the the sport
    – BKlassen
    Oct 10, 2019 at 17:30

I don't have much experience with bouldering, it wasn't really a thing back then.

But if you don't intend to compete, just do whatever you think is most fun.

  • Hi , Thank you for the prompt reply. I am quite unsure what to start off first and I have to make my mind up before this Sunday .
    – Suzy
    Sep 27, 2019 at 9:09

Bouldering is rock climbing without ropes, so it's normally only done at limited elevations (unlike soloing). People generally boulder to practice moves at a safe distance, build stamina and and finger strength. If you're interested in rock climbing, you should also boulder for practice.

  • Bouldering is also more about figuring out a problem, whereas rock climbing is about sending routes that you more often know how to do, but are limited by your technique and physique.
    – BigBadWolf
    Sep 30, 2019 at 14:08
  • @BigBadWolf It's not a good idea to try and morph existing definitions. There are legal restrictions on rock climbing and bouldering in various parks, so you need to understand what that means to avoid getting a ticket or worse, getting hurt.
    – Wyrmwood
    Sep 30, 2019 at 15:52
  • I should have known, you're an undercover Boulice officer.
    – BigBadWolf
    Sep 30, 2019 at 19:18

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