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What do you consider highball bouldering?


Original Post
Alex McKenzie · · Nevada city, CA · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 2,124

I have noticed that people think of what defines a highball boulder problem differently. For me, I think it's somewhere above 15 or 20 feet, nothing else. I have heard some people consider the top-out to decide if it's highball or not, and some people think 15 foot boulders are highballs. 

What does everyone else think?

Tim McGivern · · Medford, ma · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 11,305

To me it’s passing the point at which landing on ground protection (pads) is a low risk fall. High risk fall based on length of fall.

Andrew Child · · Santa Clara · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 691

There are more factors than just height. The quality of the landing and the difficulty of the climbing are also hugely important. For instance High Planes Drifter isn't always considered a high ball even though the boulder is 35' tall. The crux is only 15ish' off the ground with a good landing and all climbing above that point is pretty much fourth class. A good contrast might be White Rastafarian (20' tall, usually considered a high ball) the crux is at roughly the same height as drifter but there's a scary boulder near the landing and the moves after the crux are still serious.

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Andrew Child wrote: A good contrast might be White Rastafarian (20' tall, usually considered a high ball) the crux is at roughly the same height as drifter but there's a scary boulder near the landing and the moves after the crux are still serious.

Coincidentally, posted on the Taco yesterday, were two accidents at J-Tree:

1) White Rasta -climber fell off the top move and yes hit the boulder.  Resulted in an open tib/fib fracture.


Pnelson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 380

Highball bouldering would be Bachar's "Zone 2" of ropeless climbing, and roughly congruent with an R safety rating in roped climbing.  If you fall, you'll likely get hurt, but probably not die.

Suburban Roadside · · Abovetraffic on Hudson · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 1,454

oh yeah - use a rope

Edit: thats some term, there T Roper, shjtballin'! at this point /age, it is all I know so i try not to let go . . .

Mobes Mobesely · · MDI · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 865

highball= feet 10' off the ground or more, flatish landing. shitball climbing is way different, a shitball climb is where you will hit rocks on the way down and there really is no good landing. shitballs are usually mega classic Mtn Proj "FA"s sent by someone who has no climbing partner .

Dan Knisell · · Townsend, MA · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 2,598

Highball to me is over 15 feet. Bad landings certainly play into the mix.  I certainly don’t completely discredit a route because of a bad landing but more appreciate a boulder with a nice landing. Highballs with nice landings are just nicer to climb. Highballs with bad landings just make it spicier.

Joe Garibay · · Ventura, Ca · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 96

I’m in construction. Electrical to framing to finish cabinetry. Not long ago I was throwing up roof rafters on a remodel. As I was walking the 2x4 top plates (8’) off the slab, I was lightly holding onto the airial tv cables. The phone line snagged my hammer causing me to lose balance. I leaned off the top plate and landed on my two feet from 8’ up standing perfectly erect without any pain or injury. I had my tool bags on and absolutely nothing fell out or was out of place. 

 I consider myself lucky because that fall could easily have been a disaster. That said, I believe a highball is at least 15ft. However, I also believe that a highball rating has nothing to do with wether you’ll be injured or not. It’s a height at which you become unnerved. You may fall at great height uninjured or you may fall at short height and be severely injured. Though the former obviously increases the chances of an accident. 

 It’s an individual opinion on what one considers a highball. Something we climbers need to argue and debate about around a campfire. A healthy badgering from one friend to another about how chicken shit the other was when they were screaming, “I’m Gonna Fall! Catch me! Catch me!” There is no finite line of footage that will ever determine what a highball really is b

Joe Garibay · · Ventura, Ca · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 96
T Roper wrote:

highball= feet 10' off the ground or more, flatish landing. shitball climbing is way different, a shitball climb is where you will hit rocks on the way down and there really is no good landing. shitballs are usually mega classic Mtn Proj "FA"s sent by someone who has no climbing partner .

Example: Aiguille de Joshua Tree. Not too tall but daggers below waiting to consume anyone who may stumble.

ViperScale . · · McMurdo Station, AQ · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240

Highball but the top part is like V0 so if you can get past the V5 start the end is easy... however even being easy it is mentally hard because below you are a bunch of jagged rocks to land on if you were to fall.


Suburban Roadside · · Abovetraffic on Hudson · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 1,454
ViperScale . wrote:

Highball but the top part is like V0 so if you can get past the V5 start the end is easy... however even being easy it is mentally hard because below you are a bunch of jagged rocks to land on if you were to fall.




Scaley, Yes, hard moves to get on  &  big holds at the top

Starting off chopping blocks below, if you read some of the posts you'll see that T Roper called it shjt-balling,

 Although, attaching that prefix has been badly used by our ' Cat' Grabber 'n Thief, 


 Disgusted, not deplorable,

Some where in shjthole Connecticut 

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 748
Joe Garibay wrote:

I’m in construction. Electrical to framing to finish cabinetry. Not long ago I was throwing up roof rafters on a remodel. As I was walking the 2x4 top plates (8’) off the slab, I was lightly holding onto the airial tv cables. The phone line snagged my hammer causing me to lose balance. I leaned off the top plate and landed on my two feet from 8’ up standing perfectly erect without any pain or injury. I had my tool bags on and absolutely nothing fell out or was out of place. 

 I consider myself lucky because that fall could easily have been a disaster. That said, I believe a highball is at least 15ft. However, I also believe that a highball rating has nothing to do with wether you’ll be injured or not. It’s a height at which you become unnerved. You may fall at great height uninjured or you may fall at short height and be severely injured. Though the former obviously increases the chances of an accident. 

 It’s an individual opinion on what one considers a highball. Something we climbers need to argue and debate about around a campfire. A healthy badgering from one friend to another about how chicken shit the other was when they were screaming, “I’m Gonna Fall! Catch me! Catch me!” There is no finite line of footage that will ever determine what a highball really is b

Great story! I'd be the disaster, with my ancient knees.

For me recently? The terror hit when I was stuck with one arm on top, fully flat from armpit on, holding a solid jug....and couldn't mantel or find any feet. On a boulder that didn't even rate a rating.

How high up was I? The six foot tall partner could still reach up to shove my feet up for me, while laughing.

That's why I'm smiling, in the new profile pic. The fear was real, and justified.

And great to face head on.

I do think the perceived safety of the landing counts, otherwise deep water solo would have to be considered high ball.

Best, OLH

RER · · Southern California · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 3,350

I say 20' and above is the standard for highball. But if you go off your own height say 3 times your height is a highball. 

Jake Jones · · Richmond, VA · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 1,649

I look at highballs like aid climbing.  C1 = 10ft boulder problem with a good spot and a flat landing.  Use your imagination.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Bouldering
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