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Topic - Bouldering grades

L Henry Swandale on 02 Sep 2014
Hi

Can someone tell me how the bouldering grades work please? I've never quite understood them.

Thanks
Offwidth - on 02 Sep 2014
In reply to Henry Swandale:
Where the grades are working the increasing grade matches increasing difficulty of a worked success. They are like redpoint grades, not like onsight grades. At lower grades you too often get bad grading (especially Font grades sub 6, in Font, where you may as well pick a number). The two main systems, Font and V grades, hence have a direct linear relationship. Font goes lower than V but then as no-one knows what these grades mean its a bit moot. In a lot of guides the UK tech grade is added as an understandable marker on easier problems for UK trad climbers. This needs care though as a hard to spot 5a problem may feel tougher than an obvious 5b; also a sustained 5a will be harder than a single 5b move...hence UK tech and bouldering grades correlate but the link isnt direct. Oh and rather cruelly height and landings usually dont affect grades so your 3+ highball problem might be VS and if sandbag graded it might be approaching E1. Ive done an E1 Font 3 at Damme Jouanne in Font. Indoors in the UK nearly everywhere overgrades easier problems... a typical V0 would be Font3+ outdoors and Font2 in Font. What all this says is for mortals you are best trying circuits and enjoying movement rather than worrying about the grades.
Post edited at 11:04
robin mueller - on 02 Sep 2014
In reply to Henry Swandale:

1. Grades are for overall difficulty of the problem. A problem with one hard move might get the same grade as a problem with lots of easier moves which add up to the same difficulty.
2. Grades are for the easiest sequence. They don't reflect how hard a problem is to flash. Sometimes problems that seem very hard on first acquaintance are graded lower than you'd expect, simply because the easiest sequence takes a while to figure out.
3. The higher the number, the harder the problem.
Offwidth - on 02 Sep 2014
In reply to robin mueller:
Agreed, but I guess what I was saying is it's real hard to feel that grades work until you are climbing in the 6s. I know most of the latest guidebooks are starting to make things more consistent (looking forward to the Lancs effort) but its a big job. As an example the latest peak guide equates V grades to tech 1:1 at lower grades just to add to the confusion.
Post edited at 11:10
robin mueller - on 02 Sep 2014
In reply to Offwidth:

Sure, I wasn't disagreeing with you, just adding a different slant.

As you say, it's a big job trying to make things consistent. But if a 6A in Yorkshire feels harder than a 6A in Wales, I'm not sure it matters that much as long as they aren't miles out. I think the main thing is that within an area, and certainly within a crag, the grades make sense relative to each other. That's what I've aimed for with the Lancs bouldering guide anyway.

Of course, there are really only two categories. There are crap problems and then there are problems you can do.
Offwidth - on 02 Sep 2014
In reply to robin mueller:

Interesting. I see good problems and then almost as good ones I can do ;-)
paul__in_sheffield - on 02 Sep 2014
In reply to Henry Swandale:

The bouldering grade systems (Font or V grades) are simple linear systems for overall difficulty of the problem irrespective of highball nature or difficulty in 'reading' the sequence. They work pretty well for bouldering, but fall down at lower levels which they were never meant to describe. V2/Font 6/UK tech 5c/6a and above is where they work really well on the whole.
Offwidth knows that activity below these grades isn't really bouldering, but is sadly in very serious denial, there's no hope I'm afraid ;-)
Offwidth - on 03 Sep 2014
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

Your right in a sense (no hope). I boulder both sides of that boundary when going well and see no difference in the movement, challenge or fun.
paul__in_sheffield - on 03 Sep 2014
In reply to Offwidth:

> Your right in a sense (no hope). I boulder both sides of that boundary when going well and see no difference in the movement, challenge or fun.

+1
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L Henry Swandale on 05 Sep 2014
In reply to robin mueller:

Ok thanks!


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