Nov 25, 2011

Review: "Bouldering" Book

Peter Beal's Bouldering: Movement, Tactics, and Problem Solving is an attempt to cover entire discipline of bouldering. Overall, it is a pale and bloated imitation of 9 out of 10 climbers make the same mistakes by Dave McLeod. Throughout the book Peter Beal comes off like an armchair philosopher. The book is rife with broscience, word-of-mouth knowledge passed off as fact. There is little or no supporting evidence for any statements made in the book.

Even though the book is over 200 pages long, there needs to be a more complete treatment of all the topics. Almost every line of text begs more questions than it answers. He suggests using a "trucker's hitch" to tie two pads together, thus making the approach easier. He never elaborates how to tie a trucker's hitch. A nice tutorial can be found here. The "Staying there:" sections lack practical information (i.e., facts) for a traveling climber. Here is the Bishop section: "Overnight accommodations range from The Pit, a cheap campground in an old gravel quarry on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public land, to motels in town. Will Young's guide has the specifics." It doesn't list the name of the guide, Bishop Bouldering, and Mick Ryan is also an author. Better Bishop camping information can be found here.

There are interesting guest appearances from bouldering elites, including Dave Graham. However, some of the sidebars are odd choices. There is advice from Daniel Woods about training for World Cup bouldering success. He wouldn't be my first choice because Woods has so far only limited World Cup success. Wouldn't 5-time overall champion Kilian Fischhuber have a better perspective on training for World Cup bouldering? Choosing Daniel Woods is one example of the entire book's Colorado and Boulder bias.

The book is hard to read in many places. There are lengthy written descriptions which could be better handled by short video tutorials. There are no sequence pictures which would illustrate the written points. In fact, most of the pictures are not correlated with the content of the text. They appear to serve an atheistic function, compared to a pragmatic function; however, they are not in color.

It might be an acceptable gift for a newly minted boulder who just feel in the love with climbing and is hungry for any information. Otherwise, it can be skipped.