Anyone who is serious about taking their bouldering to the next level has spent some time on the campus board. I have been campusing seriously for the last two years and it is often so enjoyable that it seems that it could be an end in itself. Not only that, but it is the best way to build power for bouldering and its objective measurements allow for real and accurate measurements in improvement.
The campus board was invented by all around rock legend, the late Wolfgang Gullich, in Nurnburg, Germany in 1988 while he was training for a project in the Frankenjuru. Gullich trained on this footless apparatus for 3 years and in 1991 he made the first ascent of Action Direct 9a (5.14d). At the time, only Ben Moon’s Hubble had been given 5.14c. It stood as leaps and bounds above what climbers had achieved on a rope. Nineteen years later, it has still only been climbed 12 times, and remains the benchmark for the 9th grade in sport climbing.
Iker Pou makes the 3rd ascent, and you get an up close look at the severity of the route.
It also introduced into the lexicon of our sport the term “campus board” and “campusing” which means to climb without the use of your feet.
Ben Moon has made campusing a virtual science, and his excellent site details many aspects of training on a campus board. Most importantly is the standardization of the distances between the rungs.
An ideal campus board will have a few different sized rungs, spaced at around 22cm apart with up to 9 numbered rungs going upwards. -Ben Moon
I think it would be great if the Moon dimensions were the standard. It seems that at least 20 degrees is a great angle for the steepness of the board, and this keeps the climbers hips and knees from hitting the bottom of the board. There should also be three sizes of rungs. Many have argued that 1-5-9 (starting matched, skipping 3 rungs, and then moving up with the opposite hand, skipping 3 more rungs, no matching) on a campus board is the ultimate expression of power, but it seems questionable that this has been done on a board set up with these specific standards. Here is Rich Simpson getting close:
While he tags 1-5-9 a close inspection reveals the last rung to be a shorter pull than the first 8. This is clearly impressive, but I don’t know of anyone who has done more. 1-5-8 is a very good level for any climber. The campus board at the Denver Bouldering Club is built to Moon specifications, and we are in the process of doing the same at Movement.
The campus board at the DBC.
I am convinced that every climber could improve from campus work. I have noticed significant gains in my own climbing and I will continue to the board hard. Get psyched!