/ "Feel good" grading

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as646 on 27 Dec 2012
I climb quite often during the week at the Biscuit Factory, and I've noticed that their circuits are graded ridiculously easily. What passes for a V5 there might actually be only a V3.

I know I shouldn't be focusing too much on grades, but giving away grades makes it much more difficult to judge progress if you're constantly having to normalise what you're climbing.

Is this quite a common grading method throughout walls?
Elrond - on 27 Dec 2012
In reply to as646:

That may well be because their circuits aren't single grades and the circuits are V3-V5, V6-V8 and so on. What do you think of the grading on the individually graded problems on the comp wall?
Chris the Tall - on 27 Dec 2012
In reply to as646:
What I love about these new bouldering centres, like the Works and the Biscuit factory, is the lack of emphasis on grades.

Rather than thinking "I should be able to do this easily" or "This will be too hard for me", you can think "I'll see how many of this circuit I can do"

I really don't care what grade they are (and boulder grades are always going to be hit and miss anyway), but once you work out which circuits are at your level then you can just wander round and enjoy them
NorthernGrit - on 27 Dec 2012
In reply to as646:

I think it's just inherent to indoor grading really. In reality the scope of V0 is actually quite large and so makes it difficult for walls to grade the lower end of things. There is probably also a slight element of ego stroking for beginners not to be 'stuck' at V0 for ages (when they may actually be making a lot of progress).

I don't think I've ever been on an indoor v3 which felt anything like the level of difficulty an outdoor v3 would be. Anytime anything has been set anywhere near at my local wall it seems to provoke howls of protest for being nails for the grade.

I think it best to just ignore the 'v' indoors and use the number simply as a relative comparison at that wall only.

John_Hat - on 27 Dec 2012
In reply to as646:

I used to get a lot more bothered about this than I am now. At the end of the day indoor grades are just a line in the sand.

I climbed for 5 years at Leeds wall, and now climb at Redpoint in Brum. Leeds 7a = Redpoint 6b. I was somewhat dispirited when I first got to Redpoint, but apart from a low level continuous irritation that I can't climb 7a any more, that's about it.
AlanLittle - on 27 Dec 2012
In reply to as646:

Could this be related to the fact that most good/popular english bouldering is on grit and so requires very specific techniques that can't really be learned/trained indoors?

I climbed at the Arch a couple of times on a visit to London last year and found their grading at around V3/V4 was very consistent with real bouldering I was doing around the same time on "normal" rock - i.e. steep, crimpy stuff on continental lime/granite.

(Otoh there were a couple of "V2" slab things I found absolutely desperate)
Wide_Mouth_Frog - on 27 Dec 2012
In reply to AlanLittle:
> (In reply to as646)
>
> Could this be related to the fact that most good/popular english bouldering is on grit and so requires very specific techniques that can't really be learned/trained indoors?

English, maybe....Welsh, no way!
Jon Stewart - on 27 Dec 2012
In reply to as646:

I boulder a fair bit harder outside than in anyway, but I went back to my old local wall the other day (problems set by a well-known expert crack climber) and suddenly my grade had dropped from V5 to V3.

When the Depot first opened in Leeds I could regularly flash V6. I wonder if I'd still be able to do that now (I'm climbing slightly better/around the same these days)?

I've heard that you have to be among the strongest boulderers around to climb 'Indy V4' - a grade for elite climbers only.
hoodmonkey - on 27 Dec 2012
In reply to AlanLittle:

There may be some truth in this and I always feel that indoor V grades do not map across to font grades on grit especially well. For example font 7A+ on grit nearly always feels easier than V7 indoors, in my opinion.
Timmd on 27 Dec 2012
In reply to hoodmonkey:

Paul Nunn wrote that grades only exist to bamboozle the gullible. Popped into my head while reading this thread.

Was in his book At The Sharp End, it's a good book. (:-))
Timmd on 27 Dec 2012
In reply to hoodmonkey:

Paul Nunn wrote that grades only exist to bamboozle the gullible. Popped into my head while reading this thread. Was in his book At The Sharp End, it's a good book. (:-))

That's not to be superiour though, i'm also bamboozled by them on occasion...
another_alex - on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to John_Hat: definitely noticed that at redpoint as well - warwick 5 = redpoint 4 which was a bit disheartening.
Timmd on 28 Dec 2012
fred_stone - on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to as646: Hi, thanks for your feedback. Grades are always an ongoing topic!

When we decided to use v grades in 2007/8 it was because:
It was a different grading system to other walls at that time, so avoided comparison
It was /is not a uk outdoor grade, again allowing us to stay away from grade comparison

If you want to judge progress rather than the circuits, then maybe try out the moonboard set problems or the set blocs on the big 50 board? Granted they are both of a certain style but they do give good fixed goalposts as it were...


AlanLittle - on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to hoodmonkey:
> (In reply to AlanLittle)
>
> There may be some truth in this and I always feel that indoor V grades do not map across to font grades on grit especially well. For example font 7A+ on grit nearly always feels easier than V7 indoors, in my opinion.

Yeah. Matter of style /what you're used to I guess; grit would presumably be more susceptible to technique/cunning and be less physical. I remember when steep leading walls came in in the 90s, I was leading around E2 trad at the time and found 6a/b indoors desperate because I just wasn't used to the unrelenting pumpiness, no matter how straightforward and obvious the moves were.

davo - on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to John_Hat:
> (In reply to as646)
>
> I climbed for 5 years at Leeds wall, and now climb at Redpoint in Brum. Leeds 7a = Redpoint 6b. I was somewhat dispirited when I first got to Redpoint, but apart from a low level continuous irritation that I can't climb 7a any more, that's about it.

Phew, thought this was just me. Went to redpoint the middle of this year. Did a couple of 6b/+s that were at least 7a. 6c felt like 7a+ at least and then needed to work the individual moves on a 7a which was somewhere closer to 7b+.

If I remember rightly I did 2 7c+s the weekend after outdoors that felt easier than the 7a at redpoint!

hoodmonkey - on 29 Dec 2012
In reply to AlanLittle:


Sometimes, definitely. There's also a lot of grit problems that require finger/hand strength rather than the gymnastic strength often favoured on plastic problems.
Bulls Crack - on 29 Dec 2012
In reply to as646:

Are Leading ladder routes consistent does anyone know - presumably they should be?
JamieSparkes - on 29 Dec 2012
In reply to Bulls Crack: I think so, the ones at Awesome walls stockport have 2 grades for examples - LL 6b and AW 6c.
will - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to Bulls Crack:

Leading ladder routes, tend to more consistent with there grading, but this depends on how the routes are set...

If they are consistent for the grade then, they are generally spot on.

However some walls adapt the competition style routes, which tend to get harder as they get higher (Past the 3rd clip)and finish off with a few moves that are the grade above.

In regards to general grading within climbing walls, again there are two aproaches to this:

Feel good grading, where they tend to be abit soft to make you feel good.

Others take the opposite aproach and are rather harsh, this approach makes climbers to not over estimate there ability when they make the transition from indoor to outdoor climbing but also can make you push yourself that little bit harder in order to get to the top of your comfortable grade of climbing, therefore helping you to improve your ability quicker.
fred_stone - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to Chris the Tall: Couldn't agree more!
ERH - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to as646:

Biscuit factory is pretty reachy tho
I like climbing - on 31 Dec 2012
In reply to Bulls Crack:
> (In reply to as646)
>
> Are Leading ladder routes consistent does anyone know - presumably they should be?

In my experience they are as arbitrary as the grading at most indoor walls. I agree they should be consistent but I haven't found that.
I do find that as the grades go up they tend to get slightly more accurate.
Generally I would say that grades at walls are getting harder. Outside always feels easier to me. This is a personal opinion of course but walls tend to make the usual mistake of getting some guy who climbs 9c to set a 5 when anything under about 7b is going to feel about grade 5, that is if you climb that hard......
The secret of grading is to ask people who climb at whatever grade is being set to check it. It's that simple. Liam, take note.
I feel better now. Rant over !
I like climbing - on 31 Dec 2012
In reply to JamieSparkes:
> (In reply to Bulls Crack) I think so, the ones at Awesome walls stockport have 2 grades for examples - LL 6b and AW 6c.

Interesting ! I wish other walls did this.
witnessthis - on 31 Dec 2012
> (In reply to Bulls Crack)
> [...]
>
> In my experience they are as arbitrary as the grading at most indoor walls. I agree they should be consistent but I haven't found that.
> I do find that as the grades go up they tend to get slightly more accurate.
> Generally I would say that grades at walls are getting harder. Outside always feels easier to me. This is a personal opinion of course but walls tend to make the usual mistake of getting some guy who climbs 9c to set a 5 when anything under about 7b is going to feel about grade 5, that is if you climb that hard...
> The secret of grading is to ask people who climb at whatever grade is being set to check it. It's that simple. Liam, take note.
> I feel better now. Rant over !

In reply to I like climbing
Agreed.
I do think Biscuit Factory is the closest to being consistent in London though.
I have climbed there a lot and though I have got a bit bored with following their circuits,when I use them they seem spot on to me.
My feeling is some route/problem setters get lazy sometimes about setting easier problems(elitist as well as work pressure reasons?) and yes climbing walls in London need to watch this I think.
The standards set by the biscuit factory are the way forward trying to get 5-6 route setters passing through(of different abilities)setting their different styles seemingly with little ego involved.
Other climbing walls in London should take note,sure the grade bandwidth will vary from soft to hard for the grade but variety of styles I think overrides this in priority.
Yup just because climber 'A' climbs '8 or 9' something it does not mean they have the most imaginative climbing move 'vocab'for ALL grades.
Re.climbing indoors versus outdoors.My view is in London the majority of climbers have no (or not very much) outdoor experience hence the nature of alot of the easier grades...possibly a little dumbed down.Again I think the Biscuit Factory mainly have set a new standard of interesting climbing at say the V1 to V3 level(English 5c to hard 6a in old language)
Mile end often does this as well but they do not have as many prob setters possibly.
The point about route checking I think is spot on.

AlanLittle - on 31 Dec 2012
In reply to witnessthis:

It's good if a wall is at least internally consistent.

I was at one wall last year where there were clearly two routesetters who did not speak to one another. Everything up to about 5c/6a was softly graded boring jug ladders; everything from about 6a+ upwards felt like it would have been really well set and interesting had it been anything like remotely possible at the stated grade. So the gap between "6a" and "6a+" was about three grades and I had the choice between being bored or sandbagged.
GridNorth - on 31 Dec 2012
In reply to AlanLittle: I have a similar problem at my wall. For several weeks I have been cruising on sight the 6a and 6a+ routes but several 6b's have stopped me dead in my tracks. One I got after 3 attempts the others I still can't do. Despite this last night I on sighted a supposed 6b+ but the 6b's still defeated me. I suspect that the 6b+ is really 6b and the 6b's are 6b+ or even 6c. Trouble is when you are limited to one location for climbing this inconsistency makes it difficult to judge. The best route setting I experienced was at the Bristol wall in the first few years that it opened. Don't know what it's like now?
sihills - on 31 Dec 2012
In reply to witnessthis:
> [...]
>
> In reply to I like climbing
> Agreed.
> I do think Biscuit Factory is the closest to being consistent in London though.
> I have climbed there a lot and though I have got a bit bored with following their circuits,when I use them they seem spot on to me.
> My feeling is some route/problem setters get lazy sometimes about setting easier problems(elitist as well as work pressure reasons?) and yes climbing walls in London need to watch this I think.
> The standards set by the biscuit factory are the way forward trying to get 5-6 route setters passing through(of different abilities)setting their different styles seemingly with little ego involved.
> Other climbing walls in London should take note,sure the grade bandwidth will vary from soft to hard for the grade but variety of styles I think overrides this in priority.
> Yup just because climber 'A' climbs '8 or 9' something it does not mean they have the most imaginative climbing move 'vocab'for ALL grades.
> Re.climbing indoors versus outdoors.My view is in London the majority of climbers have no (or not very much) outdoor experience hence the nature of alot of the easier grades...possibly a little dumbed down.Again I think the Biscuit Factory mainly have set a new standard of interesting climbing at say the V1 to V3 level(English 5c to hard 6a in old language)
> Mile end often does this as well but they do not have as many prob setters possibly.
> The point about route checking I think is spot on.



Do you work for the biscuit factory?? I tend to find alot of the routes at the biscuit, boring, samey and uninspiring! In my opinion both mile end and the reach have better set and more varied sets of problems. And to be honest the grades need to be taken with a pinch of salt at all of them! Dont take me wrong the biscuit is a very good addition to the london climbing scene and has some absolutely brilliant problems, but the circuits almost feel too long to me, and it feels almost like the route setters are sometimes almost over it by the end of them and the problems therefore suffer! The problems on the comp wall are almost always far superior to the circuited routes (and this is coming from someone who does actually prefer the steep stuff)

anyway to sum up, london has alot of fantastic walls, and the grades are mostly bollocks in all of them! but who cares! climbing is climbing who gives a shit about the grade!
I like climbing - on 31 Dec 2012
In reply to witnessthis:
I must get down to the Biscuit Factory - living in Stoke Newington means I go to the Castle so much.
You make a great point about setters who climb hard often setting unimaginative moves. Shorter people struggle with moves based purely on reach when setters can actually with a bit of imagination set for both short and tall climbers.
mikeski - on 31 Dec 2012
In reply to davo:

> If I remember rightly I did 2 7c+s the weekend after outdoors that felt easier than the 7a at redpoint!



Which 7a was that? I tend to find the redpoint grades to be realistic to outside climbing grades.

And which two 7c+s did you do? If they're easier than redpoint 7a I want to try them.
Will Cox - on 31 Dec 2012
In reply to as646:

Hi, my name is Will. I work and set at Redpoint in Birmingham.

When i grade the routes i set it's purely an estimate. My Strength/Weight ratio and my ape index relative to the route create a certain experience which i reflect in the grade. After the route has had some more traffic, of different shapes and sizes and I've been given more feedback there's every chance that the grade will be tweaked, it's by no means a static thing.

in my opinion, fluffing people's egos at the wall only leads to disappointment when they get on the rock, i'd much rather give a my honest opinion than grade for the 'feel good' factor.

Even if it means Davo thinks our 6b+s are 7a :)






bilbo 1 - on 31 Dec 2012
In reply to davo: I'm with Mikeski, where did you insight the two 7c+'s as I'm hitting 7a+7b at redpoint so fancy getting my first 8a at that cragg!

Sounds like holiday grades to me!
JimboWizbo - on 31 Dec 2012
In reply to Will Cox: From my experience, redpoint is the most realistic grading around. Keep it up!
shorts - on 01 Jan 2013
In reply to JimboWizbo:
Whilst no wall can be THAT realistic what Redpoint and many walls now do is grade the routes assuming you might use any aretes you can reach from your chosen coloured holds, any small features or nubbins that are a permanent part of the panels or bridge across onto a neighbouriing wall. Given the 3 dimensional nature of Redpoint many routes are set forcing you to use panels behind especially on the 'stalactites'.
Bulls Crack - on 01 Jan 2013
In reply to will:
> (In reply to Bulls Crack)
>
> Leading ladder routes, tend to more consistent with there grading, but this depends on how the routes are set...
>

Question prompted by a recent visit to Harrogate (usually softish) and the white LL 6b+ which saw off everyone that day!
witnessthis - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to sihills:
I do not work there.

Re the biscuit factory i tend to use the training boards i AM not an elite though.The circuits idea is nice but having used these for seven years or more(going back to Leeds wall,the foundry,the edge,mile end,the Works and more recently the hangar in Liverpool and the depot in Leeds).For me as an idea its a bit played out-nice to do sometimes but not every week etc.
So what inspires me about the ones at the biscuit factory?
I admit sometimes they do seem seem samey and not very interesting.This is usually the comp style simulator type moves and the minimilist feet follow hands stuff,these represent indoor climbing at its best and worst-depending on how well set the problem is.The thing is in my opinion the biscuit factory and mile end often offer a lot more variety than this.
It comes down to personal tastes.
The grading issue is going to rumble on and on,sure it might not matter to you but it is important to some and to pretend its not is avoiding the issue.
I agree though I think London has a brilliant collection of walls overall.... the problem route setting can be superb as well.
mikeski - on 03 Jan 2013
In reply to davo:

I'm still keen to know where these 7C+s are.
Owen W-G - on 03 Jan 2013
In reply to as646:

I don't boulder much outdoors, but remember visiting slipstones last year after a winter of beasting Arch V5s and V6s and finding the V3s there utterly desperate
Rockmonkey1977 on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to as646: I may as well add my opinion on this as i've just read the others. I would rate Redpoint as having the stiffest route grades, followed by the Castle (which I think is most similar to what i've climbed outside- Portland and Spain), then the Westway (they seem to be coming more inline with the Castle recently...) followed closely by the Reach. What I have learned is the important thing is consistency in one particular centre even if its a half or full grade different from other centres (I find the Reach the least consistent of the walls i've mentioned) as this allows you to find your level so you can push or take it easy as you desire... I haven't enough experience of bouldering outdoors to say whether the Biscuit is out but it seems similarly graded to Redpoint, Castle and Highball bouldering to me at the V3-V4 level.

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