/ Is your climbing wall overgrading
Eventually went down there myself, discovered that unlike most walls, it graded with a British tech grade :D
Hope this isn't a patronising comment (as you don't have a profile so I don't know your experience) but most people would agree that grades on plastic bear little relation to grades on rock.
Outside I have to routefind, the holds may be smaller but more frequent or have less flow. I climb a little bellow the grade outside that I climb inside but the two experiences are very distinct for me.
but I am sure you know all this.
I climb at three walls and they all grade differently but are more or less similar in their bandings of routes. I've climbed outdoors, expected to be spanked and actually found my ability from indoors grading not far away from outdoor grades.
I dont think it will end up being a seperate indoor grading system but the bottom line should be to climb and have fun, use grades as a guide but not absolute in measuring where you are. Mostly just enjoy.
> Hope this isn't a patronising comment (as you don't have a profile so I don't know your experience) but most people would agree that grades on plastic bear little relation to grades on rock.
+1 and anyone who's done any amount of climbing knows this.
I've even heard of climbers going to a particular wall because the grading is soft (wrong) because it makes them feel better about themselves.
No?!! What a terrible thing!
I boulder and sport climb at pretty much the same grade on plastic and rock, suggesting that the grading at my local walls is about right. The failure modes indoors and out are quite different though: one routes on plastic failure is almost always just because I'm pumped; outdoors it's more commonly either because I'm afraid of a runout, or just can't see how to do a move.
I think I have more chance attempting routes right at my limit (currently ca 6c+/7a) on rock that I do on plastic. On rock I have a chance of finding something bouldery/technical that I can trick my way up; on plastic I just know that I don't have the endurance yet and will inevitably burn out.
It's pretty well-established that some walls' grades will feel harder/easier than others, but I'd be very surprised if this was part of any sort of targeted business strategy! More likely local routesetters and climbers use the other climbs in the building as benchmarks, so a soft or hard tendency will be perpetuated. I imagine that this is most marked in walls which are geographically out on a limb.
I also tend to find outdoor sports grades harder. There are a whole plethora of reasons why this may be the case, but ultimately I don't care. Misgrading isn't going to kill me, and if I'm having a desperate time on the warm-up route there is a pretty strong suggestion that the grades are tough and that I may need to shift my targets accordingly!
I know it's pointless and irrelevant, but I do find the crapness of indoor boulder grading a bit annoying. Particularly with a small wall where they don't have "regular" setters, it means that your "grade" can jump by about three points either way from month to month making it very hard to tell whether you're actually making any progress...
I know that grading's subjective and depends on taste and what you're used to and what you're good at etc, but would it be that hard for people who are serious enough to get paid to stet set routes to have a go on (eg) a moon board from time to time and check that they're roughly in the same orbit as everyone else?
I think that for lower grade bouldering this is exacerbated by the fact that a V1 problem could reasonably include a UK 5b move (eg a heel hook and rockover a la FBD) but lots of walls want V0 and V1 to be "beginners" problems, so they choose one of about three mutually incompatible ways of buggering about with the grading system.
Sorry, pet peeve over.
Route grades are pretty erratic, the harder routes tend on average a little toward undergraded, the easier stuff is just random.
Bouldering walls always seem undergraded but that could just be the comfortable holds, soft landings and a more focused session than I often manage outdoors.
I doubt it's a conscious decision, more likely the result of normal human fallibility, bias and inaction.
I have one localish wall that are very proud of the fact that 'their' grades are 'harder than outside'
Not sure why - it just means that, if true, they're either under-grading things or don't know how to use the grading system- nothing to be proud of imo!
>Do some walls over grade to hopefully get more punters in?
Does the Pope shit in the woods?
I find indoors routes within my onsight grades easier to onsight than outdoors routes. I boulder at about the same level indoors and out. But I am currently climbing about 2 grades higher redpointing outside. I think I'm more inspired outdoors and more inclined to put the time in and try harder on an outdoors redpoint. I find that outdoor sport routes are usually less sustained than indoors too.
I tend to see indoor climbing as strength/fitness training for outdoor climbing, with some element of movement skills similar. To me they feel quite different experiences - but good comp climbers are nearly always hard crankers outdoors too. I think there's significant crossover.
I would conclude the opposite; at the grades I climb I find indoor problems significantly harder. Font 7B+ is supposed to correlate to V8+ but there rarley seems to be any comparison!
I find V8+ impossible at most walls I've climbed at and it cetainly doesn't feel anything like any of the Font 7B+'s I've done outside.
Most V8+'s at most walls I've been to should be re-graded V9, V10 or harder!
In essence, mid-to-high indoor bouldering grades are invariably miles away from their outdoor equivalents.
When living in Sheffield it was easy to tell that some walls grades were easier/harder than others, just because there you are lucky to have so many walls to compare. Down here in Swansea we only really have Dynamic rock.
The main requirement I think is consistency at a wall, some places I've been have obviously been set by a particular person who likes a certain type of climbing or is massively tall so that the routes of a particular style are graded higher/lower.
I don't think it matters so long as it's consistent to the wall. After all it's only a number, and is intended to give you an indication. Just treat the grades with a slight pinch of salt once you've got the idea of what is there.
I've found through visiting different walls that there is quite a wide variety of consistency between them, but it dioesn't take long to adjust.
Where it can cause a problem is where there is inconsistency at the same wall.
I agree that indoor wall grades and climbs bear no relation to outdoor grades and climbs.
Exactly what is ergonomic about the tiny little pebble or holds that crop up on the harder indoor routes?!
I have to say that in the southeast a number of the newer walls certainly appear to my mind to be grading very soft. I'm seeing a disparity of upto 3-4 grades between 2 local walls.
I think that there is always likely to be some mismatch between indoors and out and some variation between walls. However thats not to say walls shouldn't try hard to get rough parity between inside and out.
Also sometimes its not across the full grade range where grades are soft or hard. As someone above mentioned many boulder centres seem to make low grades very soft but have tough grades at the top of the scale.
Consitancy is the most important factor, but its nice to have rough indoor/outdoor equivalence.
I'd also say yes some walls grade soft to attract people in.
I'd agree, I've climbed 8's indoors that take alot more effort than one outside.
At my local wall they have V8+'s but i don't think this is meant to correlate with 7B+ i think it means it could be V8 or harder as some of the v8+'s ive tried there have been a grade harder than any V11 i've pulled on.
TCA in Bristol is (I feel) a merciless collection of ego destroying sandbags. However, I go there for the excellent quality route setting/facilities and community.
sport climbing I climb several grades harder outdoors. But I think that's mostly because I have fairly poor endurance. Which is inescapable on the relentless pumpy indoor routes. Wheras outdoors often offers far more cheeky rests/intermediates and other weirdness.
I doubt it very much! Who'd be daft enough to go to a crap wall, just because the grades were soft - certainly no-one I've ever known or climbed with. I think indoor climbers use particular walls because of their facilities, predominantly the quality of their routes / problems.
If a wall were to grade something F6a (and in reality it was F6c), I'd still use that wall, assuming it had decent routes. The grade ascribed to it should be of no consequence, as long as all the grades were adjusted accordingly and there was a level of consistency within that wall. You should know in your own mind roughly what grade a route is, irrespective of what the wall reckons it is.
I'm one of those who tends to climb the same (sports) grades indoor as outside. If you get rid of the environment aspect (nice and safe predictable wall vs much more 'confusing' outside), then walls do provide good training in terms of coming close to replicating the physical experience. I enjoy wall climbing for the ability to practice movement/training/social elements but, yes, it's very different as an experience - thankfully!
Indoor grades are all over the place - some soft, some hard. But you do get used to particular walls, if they have any sort of consistency, which is useful as a rough guide.
Leeds Wall has well stiff grades I think. I reckon I can onsight 6c OK in most walls, but often find myself pushed pretty much to the limit on 6b/+ in there. Plenty of 6as that feel 6b and 6bs that feel 6c.
Sport climbing outside should feel harder than an accurately graded wall, because you have to find the holds.
I find bouldering walls tend to undergrade above about V5 but overgrade up to V3, which is I guess is a result of how hard the V grading system is - V0 is already tough for beginners. I've done loads of font 7as outside in loads of different areas (including Font) and only ever managed a couple in years of bouldering indoors.
There is a route at Awesome Walls Stockport, which is given a 5 grading. It is the 'features only' climb up from the sentry box on the left of the fin (as you walk in). Now, I'm not the best climber in the world, but I feel that I should be able to climb a 5 without a struggle. But this one ??? Can anyone who visits Stockport have a go and see if it is climbable at a 5 ? Perhaps if I were 6'6" ...
Exactly - I was trying to make that point but you put it far simpler/better. I think people confuse the fact that indoor routes feel easier (of course they do - they have coloured holds on largely flat surfaces) with them being physically/technically easier.
When I moved to the Netherlands my indoor grade dropped from 6c+ leading to 6a toproping (its all the gym has) overnight. Was a bit humbling but good for me too. At least I now lead harder outdoors than in:-). And to be honest the climbs here feel more representative of real rock.
> Leeds Wall has well stiff grades I think. I reckon I can onsight 6c OK in most walls, but often find myself pushed pretty much to the limit on 6b/+ in there. Plenty of 6as that feel 6b and 6bs that feel 6c.
> I'd agree, I've climbed 8's indoors that take alot more effort than one outside.
> At my local wall they have V8+'s but i don't think this is meant to correlate with 7B+ i think it means it could be V8 or harder as some of the v8+'s ive tried there have been a grade harder than any V11 i've pulled on.
I always think the V8+ grade is a cop out at walls. I'm not sure what's wrong with suggesting a problem is V9, 10, 11 etc; if indeed it's actually been climbed and not just set speculatively.
> TCA in Bristol is (I feel) a merciless collection of ego destroying sandbags.
First time i went there was interesting!
Was used to the indoor grading on the other local centre and when i went to TCA the yellow circuit gave me some grief and made me reconsider the top end of my (indoor) grades! Had some great battles with some of them though, its hard to decide which feels better in there, onsighting a F7A or finally cracking that move of what your told is a F6B! Had both experiences in there.
I do prefer the way the bouldering is graded in TCA over UCR, UCR seems fairly inconsistent in their bouldering room, we tend to simplify the grades in there to just 'easy' and 'ouch'. Saying that UCR do set some great problems, its just your never sure what grade your having a crack at.
I will admit gradings still a bit of a mystery to me, never paid much attention in the past and its only now i'm getting mildly serious about my climbing i'm trying to get a grasp on the systems, would be great to go for a outdoor climb with someone around the bristol area that can help me get more of an insight on the dark art of grading outdoor problems.
At my gym, there's 5 grades. Easy, E/M, Moderate, M/H, Hard.
And even then the grading is inconsistent, and changes by the day - depending on the number of excessively greasy people greasing up the place (the same goes for sweaty people).
V8+ is a grade, it's not >=V8, it's a fudge to fill the gap between 7b (V8) and 7c (V9), the other V and Font grades line up 1:1 over a pretty wide range. Whether or not it's really needed I don't know but it's a well used and accepted bodge.
TBH it never bothers me - I carry my grading scale in my head so if I find it easier or harder I just assume they're wrong and I'm right! (but of course claim the higher grade by Zinfandels 2nd axiom - the highest grade must be the true grade
I'm well aware that V8+ is a grade, however, my issue is that problems at most walls tagged V8+ often do not climb with the comparable difficulty of Font 7B+ outside. If the problem is really V8 *or greater* then a less confusing and more precise tag might be useful. If the problem is actually supposed to be the grade of V8+ then often it's a viscious sandbag.
Indoor grades matter to me and I see indoor climbing as just as valid as outdoor climbing, albeit a slightly different sport. I would still like some measure of my progress through the grades and if everything above V8 is just marked as V8+ it makes doing so impossible.
Furthermore, if the grade is given as an estimate because the setter can't even climb the problem then the wall should probably think about getting a setter in who can!
My response was to plyometrics who seemed unclear on this stating V8+ was a 'copout' of grading harder problems. Perhaps I misread him and you. I'd suggest if the wall has stuff graded V8+ and nothing harder they probably mean 'V8 or harder' which I can see being annoying if you actually care.
Frankly, if you can boulder this hard I'm surprised you've not developed reasonably good judgement as to how hard things are, if they're not graded, grade them then discuss with other people to get their feedback. That's all the setter is doing, using their judgement.
Do problems at or near your limit not generally seem a bit binary, those you can do you do relatively quickly, those you can't, you *really* can't thus they appear to be 'sandbags'. I always assumed this was the case. Perhaps V8+ is easy enough for you to be able to judge and your wall has a particular problem setting around that level, who knows.
SO your wall does use V8+ as simply >=8? Perhaps I misunderstood your grumble.
True but it'll still just be an estimate. If they have a decent system of user feedback you might get a refined estimate (or you might not, it depends on the users!).
I'm not trying to have a go, I guess I just don't really care enough how hard someone else thinks something is to understand your frustration. I spent a lot of time developing problems in near total isolation, I just weighed them against each other and left it at that, I still have no idea how easy or hard they were on any standard scale nor am I actually that curious.
My wall doesnt even bother putting the grades up on new route sets until they have been there for a good while.
This way we all ponder what they should be.
but more importantly dont get hung up on the grade and not try something because it has a certain number attached to it.
you climb what you can regardless of the grade im sure that most people can look at a climb and know if they will struggle or not but sometimes just the grade is enough to put people off.
Those you can do, those you can't do and those you can't do YET!
> My response was to plyometrics who seemed unclear on this stating V8+ was a 'copout' of grading harder problems. Perhaps I misread him and you. I'd suggest if the wall has stuff graded V8+ and nothing harder they probably mean 'V8 or harder' which I can see being annoying if you actually care.
Oops, sorry; reading back my response it seems quite arsey - this wasn't intentional, really I was just having a general moan along the lines of the topic.
> Frankly, if you can boulder this hard I'm surprised you've not developed reasonably good judgement as to how hard things are, if they're not graded, grade them then discuss with other people to get their feedback. That's all the setter is doing, using their judgement.
I have, which is partly why some nebulous grade is annoying. Yes, I can roughly work the grade out but why should I have to? If that's how the wall is grading problems why not just put V0+ on everything? Why get vague only above V8?
> Do problems at or near your limit not generally seem a bit binary, those you can do you do relatively quickly, those you can't, you *really* can't thus they appear to be 'sandbags'. I always assumed this was the case. Perhaps V8+ is easy enough for you to be able to judge and your wall has a particular problem setting around that level, who knows.
Depends. Outside, no. I find there is a direct correlation between difficulty and amount of time it takes to tick. So 7B+ might take 2 or 3 sessions, 7C 7 or 8 etc., etc. Inside I have almost never got on a V8+ and been able to unlock it over a series of sessions. So are all the V8+'s I've tried inside actually *much* harder than V8+ and if so why can't they be graded more accurately?
> SO your wall does use V8+ as simply >=8? Perhaps I misunderstood your grumble.
That's my point; how am I supposed to know?
> True but it'll still just be an estimate. If they have a decent system of user feedback you might get a refined estimate (or you might not, it depends on the users!).
I've never seen a grade changed once a tag's been put on!
> I'm not trying to have a go, I guess I just don't really care enough how hard someone else thinks something is to understand your frustration. I spent a lot of time developing problems in near total isolation, I just weighed them against each other and left it at that, I still have no idea how easy or hard they were on any standard scale nor am I actually that curious.
There's a lot of snobbery on this website when it comes to indoor climbing and it's frequently looked down on as being inferior to outdoor climbing - it's a point of view that I don't really understand, since I enjoy both and ultimately they are both as pointless as each other! However, I want a measure of my progress and vague grading does not help me do this. Furthermore I would like to track my progression outside versus my progression inside.
> V8+ is a grade, it's not >=V8, it's a fudge to fill the gap between 7b (V8) and 7c (V9), the other V and Font grades line up 1:1 over a pretty wide range. Whether or not it's really needed I don't know but it's a well used and accepted bodge.
I am aware v8+ 'may' be applicable when converting to font grades. My specific point was regarding those walls where grades stop at v8+ and that specific grade is used for anything in or above that measure. e.g. a v11 problem being badged 'v8+'. Technically correct, but not necessarily a good guide for those operating in the higher ranges.
Not that it matters much, it's just always intrigued me.
Sorry chaps i should have read down the thread before posting above.
I think we're all in agreement ;0)
"Used to climb mainly VS - E1, but not climbed for 15 years, and building up again this year" A real 5 thats hard for the grade could spank you given this.
On the main topic I think at the higher grades the range isnt far off what you would find outdoors (some areas have easier and harder grades) and its hard for walls to grade for beginners as the grade implies some technical competance. Easy routes end up as bucket ladders that are boring for experienced bumblies. The solution for bouldering is more obvious and increasingly common: colour circuits with a grade band. It would also be nice if walls were more honest with grading for easy problems as they do inflate grades. Even for V grades this can be done as there is nothing wrong with a V0- circuit; V0 should involve UK 5b technical moves or sustained Uk 5a and very few beginners will cope with this level of difficulty. Font grades may be easier to use to deliniate lower difficulty problems but they are not as 'familiar' as some would imply: in Font beginners will be failing on some 2's.
If you could transfer an indoor climb into real rock with no chalk on it, it would feel much harder,indoor grades are at best only an indication of the equivalent outdoor grade
I haven't found a gym that properly simulates spikey bushes or places large pot-plants at the base of the wall to give you that authentic gardening experience while you try to place your first piece of protection.
Which makes littkle difference if the outdoor route is graded for the redpoint (I am told that harder routes generally are).
I would agree that grades differ from wall to wall and that they (therefore) do not always 'match-up' to grades outside (which in my experience differ far more): the first of these issues, personally, doesn't really bother me as I either quickly adjust my expectations, and the latter is, I think, a necessary result of any attempt to codify, endlessly varied, (generally/hopefully) naturally occurring features.
I generally find that what I can onsight indoors has a higher grade than what I can onsight outdoors. I just wonder if this is exactly what we should expect: on several occasions I have only cracked a sequence outdoors after finding a subtle hold/smear; it is rarer that this happens inside due to the nature of the holds being coloured (though it does happen...). Conversely, I find that I can often climb harder grades outside if I work at them.
I believe the grading system is only ever going to be informative or instructive to a point, and that there is no universal, absolute, objective measure of difficulty. Factors such as strength, weight, finger-size, balance, reach, athleticism are always going to be a consideration, individually weighed against the technical grade. I recently onsighted a 7a+ at my local wall - this is the hardest grade I have ever onsighted and I felt ridiculously chuffed. I went upstairs and was immediately, and totally, stumped by a 6b: I couldn't even really see how to do it.
Sorry to go on, this is my first ever post and I think I've got a bit carried away, but finally: Indoor walls use different types of hold to attempt to emulate different types of rock and subsequently different types of climbing. I was lucky enough to grow up in Yorkshire and frequently holiday in the Lakes. The differences between grit and slate; between limestone and Borrowdale volcanic etc. are huge and it is asking a little too much of a single objective numerical system to quantify and communicate these subtleties. I quite enjoy the fact that I can lead an E2 on Gimmer and be pathetically chewed up and spat off a VS at Brimham. Incidentally, I have never considered comparing indoor 'grit' climb grades to outdoor grit grades; indoor 'granite' to outdoor granite, has anyone else?
I think I was told that grades are generally for the redpoint from about 7b upwards (ie at grades which are more often redpointed than onsighted!). I may be wrong and it may well vary from arewa to area.
Could it simply be that outdoor routes get the benefit of decades of input in to what their correct grade should be, with many utterly incorrectly graded to begin with?
Indoor routes on the other hand are changed so quickly that no one bothers to correct any perceived inaccuracies (what's the point?).
In my experience indoor and outdoor grading has as much variance between crags/walls and routes as each other. The main difficulty in outdoor routes seems to result more from the line being less obvious (seldom having the benefit of watching someone else climb first, misleading chalk marks, much of the route vanishing out of sight from the ground) and being generally longer.
Many thanks for the feedback.
At TCA Bristol we are aware that we are known for being a little stiff with our grading but we try keeping it as real as we can. Those routesetting and grading regularly climb in many bouldering areas worldwide and use this experience to feed back into the setting and grading. Most have the team have been to Font in the last month to reset their grading markers.
As we know grading is entirely subjective, especially outside, but we do try to keep some consistency. That said many of the recent sets have been very technical which, until you learn tricks or specific body positions, might feel much harder than a similarly grade problem that is more powerful but straightforward. Like outdoors though, once the trick is learnt the problem may feel much easier.
We also encourage direct feedback though the online Noticeboard. There is always plenty of healthy discussion about the grading of the harder circuits and the Mothership, and often tips and tricks divulged to solving them. http://www.theclimbingacademy.com/noticeboard - please get involved and share your thoughts and grades with us.
Thanks for the response. I was exaggerating for comedic effect, I hope it wasn't taken as a criticism :) ...I did caveat it by saying it is excellent route setting :)
I think it's fair tca is graded closely to actual font grades and there's not soft indoor touches. It's nice to know if i climb a route, I should be pretty certain on climbing the same difficulty on the real thing. And no doubt, my poor technique only makes things feel harder :P
Is there a grade above which routes are generally graded for redpoint though?
No offence remotely taken, but grading debates are old as the hills and will continue to be so long as we dare put a number on something.
Feedback is always welcomed too (positive or negative as long as it's constructive) and it's good to know the time and thought that everyone puts into the setting is not unappreciated. We love what what we do and we like our customers to leave smiling having felt they've got value for their money.
Rest assured we'll keep buying buying new holds, regularly rotate our circuits and try to keep it as real as we can. Will the grading always be perfect - probably not - but then what else would we have to talk about in the pub afterwards?
Once you're fairly comfortable with what you climb. It's not that much of an issue, because you can tell whether the grade's out or your having a shit/great day. Although less of a gap then with trad leading, I still factor a 2-3 grade drop in what I can onsight outdoors on sport.
Different walls definately vary a bit in terms of how hard their "average grades" are. This is typically less though than differences between setters. At my local wall, I tend to look at the setter more than the grade for a feel of how hard the route's going to be.
As a general rule on how hard the average grade will be, I work on:
Awesome Stockport: overgraded by about 2 grades on TR, and ~1 on lead.
MCC: About spot on for lead, undergraded by about 1 on TR
Foundry: Undergraded by 1 grade on TR, Overgraded by 1 on lead
Kendal: About spot on.
EICA: Spot on on TR, overgraded by ~ 1 grade on lead
Keswick: Overgraded by 2-3 grades all round
Spider Club: utter sandbag, when the staff tell you VII is about F5a!!
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