In reply to Submit to Gravity: I've always thought in terms of V grades and simply use a converter to work out what the font grade is in V grades. Is there any advantage of using one over the over, does the font system give information that the V grade doesn't or vice versa?
> (In reply to Submit to Gravity) Is there any advantage of using one over the over, does the font system give information that the V grade doesn't or vice versa?
V grades properly start at about UK 5a, which makes them fairly useless for grading beginners' stuff. This doesn't matter so much outdoors, but it ballses stuff up a treat when indoor walls try to use them to grade the obligatory jug ladders.
In reply to Ramblin dave:
This gets me too, I really have no idea why some people insist on using American V grading for European boulders. I have yet to hear anyone walking off Stanage claiming to have done a great 5.10....
I was always under the impression that font grades were great above about English 6a, V grades are good above about English 4c, but a bit pants in the really high grades, and both were rubbish at 4b and below.
As a punter operating in the English 5s most of the time I tend to prefer V grades.
In reply to victim of mathematics:
But as far as I can tell, the reason that font grades are considered to be rubbish in the lower grades isn't something inherent to the grading system, it's because they're used inconsistently in font and noone cares enough about the lower grades to sort it out. Whereas the V grades as originally defined simply don't have a natural and consistent way of describing anything easier than UK 5a.
To me it makes more sense to just move towards a consistent use of the lower font grades and let the French sort their stuff out if and when they want to than to bolt a load of inconsistent crap onto the lower end of the Hueco system.
> (In reply to Bulls Crack)
> They're not the same thing. Each system tends to work better describing problems on certain rock types.
Really? How are they actually defined? I though they were just general "this problem feels about as hard as that problem so we'll give them the same grade" sort of systems and no more specific to certain rock types than any other grading system for climbing...
Font grades were created in Font and therefore best describe the style of problems you find in Font. They also work pretty successfully on gritstone and any other rock where technique, balance, friction and "tricks" are requirements for success.
V grades were created in Hueco Tanks where the bouldering is generally steep, on positive holds. It could be argued this is similar to UK limestone bouldering, although obviously there are differences. A problem graded Font 7C on gritstone may require very different skills, strengths and technique to a problem graded V9 at Hueco. The two systems are not simply interchangeable, although rough comparisons do exist and there seems to be a general consensus in terms of mapping them to each other grade for grade.
Or couldn't you just apply French grades (the sport climbing/indoor ones that assume climbs are fully protected and thus safe) to bouldering problems? Why not?
I can see why you need trad grades because trad also has the "how bold is it" element, but I don't see why sport and bouldering should be graded differently per-se, given that they both have the same base assumption.
> (In reply to Ramblin dave)
> Font grades were created in Font and therefore best describe the style of problems you find in Font. They also work pretty successfully on gritstone and any other rock where technique, balance, friction and "tricks" are requirements for success.
> V grades were created in Hueco Tanks where the bouldering is generally steep, on positive holds. It could be argued this is similar to UK limestone bouldering, although obviously there are differences. A problem graded Font 7C on gritstone may require very different skills, strengths and technique to a problem graded V9 at Hueco.
That's just bollocks! How many rock types do we have in the UK? Do you have diffrenent grade systems you use for friction climbing on granite as apposed to crimping on basalt?
There is nothing magical about V or Font grades, they are just scales.
As someone said earlier, let just go with Font as the common language And apply as consistently as we can.
It doesn't work unless we are talking long problems which are route style (ie you could probably helpfully give some of the links around Ames Low at Huntsham route grades). Some folk already find French grades poor to describe seriously bouldery routes so extending them to boulderin. Is a total nogo and will get your guide laughed at.
for the difference between font and V there's a lot of stuff about different styles waffled but from V6 upwards (if you include V8+ at least) there's a direct 1:1 conversion between them. I've not bouldered enough to know which is most helpful across the grade spectrum.
People bouldering hard prefer font so folk need to get over it; it will probably like the Borg assimilate everyone in the end. Equally the font purits need to recognise we are in a time of transistion (actually get more annoyed and extend the transistion period as I still like V grades). V grades did work better with UK tech so ideally suited the mixed tradster/boulderer at the peak of the guassian grade distribution (VS V0 5b) and as such might take a while to go. Both systmes mean the same bloody thing annyhow and all this connections to the style of problems in a far away home is pure sentimental guff.
The inclusion of font is bugger all to do with looking after low grade punters. Low grade font is all over the shop (usually on the sandbag side) and like all indoor bucket climbs font graded problems are way more likely to be overgraded than harder ones.
The really funny thing is Font grades are where UK tech grades came from (look at that drift).
Some may find this interesting....USA....but that doesn't matter; it's a piece about the relationship between bouldering grades and route grades. YDS and V: but if you are multi-gradelingual you'll be OK
Routes in America are graded on the Yosemite Decimal System (YDS) from 5.1 to 5.15b. The old philosophy held that a YDS rating graded the hardest single move on a route. Maybe this was true at one time, but we clearly have abandoned this way of rating. For example, the New River Gorge classic Proper Soul has a V8 crux and goes at 5.14a. The Red River Gorge pump-fest Southern Smoke has nothing over V6, yet it gets 5.14c.
What does this mean? Just because you boulder V7 does not mean you can send 5.13a (unless it's the micro-route Bottom Feeder). Conversely, just because you can send 13a doesn't mean you can boulder V7. Route climbing is about more than just the ability to climb hard problems - you have to be able to link long sequences of moves efficiently, milk the rests, and climb well while pumped. While the ability to boulder V6 may be a requirement for climbing Southern Smoke (5.14c) , it is by no means sufficient.
> (In reply to The Pylon King)
> Low grade font is all over the shop (usually on the sandbag side)
That's a problem with the use of the system rather than the system itself, though, isn't it? I mean you of all people will know that UK trad grades were all over the shop in the lower grades for quite a long time until the people compiling guidebooks actually tried climbing the routes in question again and giving an honest assessment of how hard they felt...
> (In reply to hoodmonkey)
> Right ok this makes more sense now.
It does? It sounds like muddleheaded nonsense to me!
The 7c in Font is V9 and the V9 in Hueco is 7c. They're probably different styles but then so are roofs and slabs, both of which exist in Hueco and Font and they're adequately described by their respective grades.
You are right its not the fault of the system but the font system is so badly used at low grade that you simply can't claim any advantage for it, and yet it's suitability for low grades is often one of the main arguments used against V grades. There is no font grade standard sub F6.
The YMC guide is making a good shot at consistency but really I think you need stricter equivalences in a language that people climbing at those grades understand, ie UK tech. For typical problems I use the following UK4a~F3; Uk4b~F3+; UK4c~F4; UK5a~F4+ UK5b~F5~V0, which is similar to YMC but I know full well these grades are super-soft cf real font grades in font and in some places in the UK and yet real tough compared to some indoor use.
The reality is that most of the guidebook buying public looking at definitive guides will be the weekend warriors operating on average at VS and with a bouldering ability in the very low V grades. Mid-level and top performers who prefer font, are not the main sales target for anything other than specialist bouldering guides, yet they are driving the change for mixed guides. V grades simply do work better and are easier to understand with UK tech grades. At V0- and below often the UK tech grade is enough for most users on its own (and certainly way better than a shot-in-the-dark font grade). By moving over to font in mixed trad/bouldering guides we suit the elite at the cost of those who mainly buy the guides; even if for pure bouldering guides in most parts of the UK font would now be my recommended system.
> (In reply to Ramblin dave)
> The YMC guide is making a good shot at consistency but really I think you need stricter equivalences in a language that people climbing at those grades understand, ie UK tech. For typical problems I use the following UK4a~F3; Uk4b~F3+; UK4c~F4; UK5a~F4+ UK5b~F5~V0
I'd buy that for a dollar. But my point is that at least with font grades if a sensible fix like that was widely adopted then you'd have a reasonably consistent system. With V grades you'd end up with something like
UK4a~VB-; UK4b~VB; UK4c~VB+; UK5a~V0- UK5b~V0
and then go off into straight V1, V2, V3 etc with no modifiers until you get a brief blip at V8+. And you'd probably still have indoor walls using V0 ~ easier than UK4a, V1 ~ UK4a to UK 4c, V2 ~ UK5a to UK5b etc.
*How about and overall grade... followed by the number of individual moves (using the easiest sequence), and the grade of hardest individual move (in V-grade)... possible mention for morpho-problems...
So your average F6a problem suddenly becomes U6, 15, 5b, 180 (so morpho for those shorter than average apeindex 180cm person)..
Or perhaps U6, 15, V0, 5'11" for those more akin to imperial measurements.
In the forthcoming Peak Bouldering Rockfax we are using a combination grade which incorporates both V and Font and UK tech.
All problems are given a V grade using the VB, V0-, V0 and V0+ divisions to help in the lower grades. These are then combined with the equivalent UK tech grade up to V2, and then switch to a font grade for harder problems.
This sounds complicated but it appears to work well when actually laid out on the page for the people we have tested it on. It also works well with out green, orange, red and black spot system with the switch being between orange and red problems.
I don't remember saying there was anything magical about either system.
My comment was meant to be my opinion, not irrefutable fact.
I personally would just like V grades to be used for rock types that generally have steep climbing on positive holds, generally favouring strength over technique and Font grades to be used for rock types that mimic the style of climbing you find in Font.
In reply to Coel Hellier:
That also works. IMO a sensibly extended font system is aesthetically nicer than a sensibly extended Hueco system because the major advantage of the Hueco system is that it's a nice simple consistent 0, 1, 2, 3, 4... and you lose that if you start adding in VB-- or U3 or whatever at the bottom end. But whatever. My major irritation is that as a fat weak bumbly, every time I visit a new bouldering wall I have to start off by figuring out how they've decided to mangle the Hueco system so I have some sort of ballpark idea of what the lower grades actually mean. Our local wall was recently reset by new setters, and the lower grades jumped by about 3 grades primarily because they weren't using VB- or VB or V0- and had to call the jug ladders V0.
I also find that the Font grades being divided into nice sets of three means it's easier to get a rough idea of how hard stuff is when you see a video of something or whatever ie 4-5 = bumbly 6 = punter 7 = wad 8 = uber-wad. I have trouble remembering where V10 or whatever fits into that, although I guess I don't spend much time thinking about hard bouldering...
F4/5 is way harder than bumbly. What percentage of these at Font would you get up? I'd flash only a small fraction and work less than half and I'm alledgedly climbing V3/4 indoors at the same success rate (which is bs in the other diection of course as it should be V2). I know F3 slabs in font that need cold days and UK 6a ability to flash.
In reply to Offwidth:
Okay, bad example. The main thing is that I find it easier to mentally classify stuff into "fairly hard", "hard", "really hard" and "really really hard" if there's a bit of banding in the grade system.
As an aside, am I right in thinking that the main reason that low grades in font are a bit bonkers is because they were originally graded without the polish and haven't been changed, and when you're looking at a friction slab, polish makes quite a big difference?
> (In reply to Offwidth)
> Okay, bad example. The main thing is that I find it easier to mentally classify stuff into "fairly hard", "hard", "really hard" and "really really hard" if there's a bit of banding in the grade system.
Ah, the old John Gill grading...
I haven't climbed it yet, I've climbed it, some one else has also climbed it, a lot have climbed it.
re ""fairly hard", "hard", "really hard" and "really really hard"" extrapolate that to account for people of differing abilities and you get grades. Today's impossible is tomorrow's possibility (after practice/training) and an eventual return to impossibility with old age. This easy, hard, impossible nonsense is egocentric twaddle which applies to one person and only at the present time.
If only all of font's grading problems could be blamed on polish. The fundamental problem is that it's good boulderers ideas of what easy grades should be. If the good boulderers producing the grades cared, huge numbers of problems would have been upgraded.
In reply to Offwidth:
I just mean that when I see a UKC news story that someone's climbed grade X or see from someone's profile that they've climbed grade Y, I find it easier to get any idea of what that means using font grades than V grades.
Although I guess that's also influenced by the fact that top climbers seem to tend to talk in font grades so that's what you hear most of.
I'm not sure that really the issue with V grades is sub V0.
I'd argue that they are lacking sub-division from V3-V5 which spans from Font 6a - Font 6c+ so for the large group of boulderers in the middle grades V grades don't adequately define the difficulty compared with font grades.
The new Rockfax mixed system looks a total abomination!
> (In reply to The Pylon King)
> Exactly, I think we (the French) should just agree that font and french are the same thing - when an F7a is only 4m long it's going to be the same difficulty as font 7A.
It doesn't work. The numbers don't match up. I haven't heard people discuss this much for the 7's, but in the 8's comparisons are often made between boulder problems and short routes.
For instance, Entree at Cheedale is a 7C boulder problem and an 8a/+ route.
Hubble is an 8B problem and an 8c+ route.
The Fly at Rumney is an 8B+ problem and a 9a route.
The majority of climbers operating in the UK couldn't guarentee to get up a genuine Hueco graded V0 picked at random, does that explain it for you?
Rockfax understand that many lower level performers buying their guide as opposed to other guides want UK tech grades. The alternative grades I'm sure will be listed with a translation table. Suiting the market is a lot more sensible than just suiting the elite.
V3 to V5 is hard F6a+ to easy F6c+ so go get your translations sussed.
Certain V3's are font 6a and even looking at the problems on that Rockfax page above there are 6 grades covered in Font grades and only 3 V3-5 in Vermin.
I really don't think V3 is elite, yes total beginners and Bumbly old Tradders might struggle on some V0s but are these people really the main market for bouldering guides? In this day and age the largest group are probably new to the sport coming from indoor boulder centers and wont find UK technical grades helpful at all.
My main argument though was that of the 3 options Vermin, Font and UK Tech only font has consistent and regular enough sub-division across the full grade spectrum.
> It doesn't work. The numbers don't match up. I haven't heard people discuss this much for the 7's, but in the 8's comparisons are often made between boulder problems and short routes.
> For instance, Entree at Cheedale is a 7C boulder problem and an 8a/+ route.
> Hubble is an 8B problem and an 8c+ route.
> The Fly at Rumney is an 8B+ problem and a 9a route.
But that's because these are all routes with a bit of length. What would be the grade of 10m of F6a into a 4m bulge of font 8B+? F8b+ I recon.
No, they are all boulder problem length, that's why I picked them.
With your example, the route grade would probably be 9a. The 6a bit makes no difference, and the length of the boulder problem makes no difference either. A short 8B+ boulder or a long 8B+ boulder (eg. Pilgrimage) still equate to 9a route difficulty.
Not that I've climbed anything at that level, but these are the grades talked about by those who have.
So let's get this straight, instead of just using the Font grade (which we all now realise is much better particularly in the lower grades) you are using made up additions to the V grade system to make it fit the Font grade system which also just demonstrates how broken the V grade is?!
Then just to confuse even more you're adding the British tech grade? WOWZERS! Nount like taking a step backwards.
It sounds complicated because it is Alan. It is also pretty old school now, we've moved on shirely?
Have you considered that maybe just using the one tried and tested unbroken Font grade system (like the majority of guides now and in the future, particularly in the Peak) rather than three different systems might be a little neater? Then you could simply add a conversion table on the cover flaps for folk to use who are not yet used to using Font grades. It really doesn't take long to get used to a unfamiliar grade system.
Yet all the Peak definitive guides were V plus UK tech (it will change next time but hasn't yet). If you talk to more lower level punters on their views on font grades they are much less supportive than you might think. These lower level punters buy most books. I know the large majority of serious boulderers prefer font but they already have the VG guide, so guess where the biggest gap in the market is (for grades and more extensive low grade coverage)?
In reply to RFWilkie
The only F6a problems graded V3 are graded wrong in one or the other grade. As the two bouldering grades mean exactly the same thing there is no range so the easiest V3 is F6a+
I appreciate your feedback but I would echo what OffWidth says.
We have done our research on this and there are many climbers out there interested in bouldering, but with no knowledge of Font grades. There is also quite a variation in the actual difficulty level of problems graded < Font 6A in most of the existing books. This is the area we hope to address in this new book.
The problem (at least locally round here) is that most of those also have no knowledge of v-grades.
What they have is knowledge one of the multiplicity of grading systems used indoors that have the letter V in front (but in which V0 is roughly UK 4a).
Again it may be a local thing but there's a large community who haven't heard of UK tech either.
You can live in London, climb extensively indoors & think of yourself as a V5 climber but venture outside & find Bleau 6a way beyond you.
I fail to see what the problem is for folk who really know that little. A two tier (V with UK tech) grade gives the benefit of two common systems in one that don't use the same confusing labels (like mixing font and UK tech). I also don't believe people who know that little buy many guidebooks; those in my old uni club who were ravenous for information and purchased or borrowed the club guidebooks soon knew soft touch and sandbags at their grade; the rest relied on the more experienced members as their free 'guide'. I also don't think those who can only boulder V0- are going to buy a bouldering guide, those that can climb V0 have three bouldering grades (equivalent to three colours of font circuit) to go at and UK tech from 3c to 5b.
Peak area climbers are also familiar with this V/UK tech system from the definitive guides for the area and maybe just want a bouldering guide that covers the whole area. If they want font they can choose VG already.
Except thats an engineer's bitter joke and its not true in reality. In some areas old standards get bundled together for political reasons much to the annoyance of the partisan spod supporters. Others dissapear as no one will buy stuff than you can't use (the Betamax effect... a much better standard than VHS but not widely used so it died)
In reply to The Pylon King:
Basically what we need is for Alexander Megos to hurry up and make Ondra obselite as a top climber (won't be long now). Then Ondra can be a professional route grade clarifier. He'll tour the world climbing everything from your house's stairs (graded Ondra zero O0) up to the hardest of the hard boulder problems.
He can do the same for sport but may as well use the existing french grading system for this.
If you and your friends have any debate and need clarification just call Ondra, he'll come climb your problem and settle the debate.
Between calls he can do all the low grade problems at Font and sort all that out.
After years of making everyone feel weak it's the least he can do to give back to the climbing community that he has taken so much from... i mean really what has Ondra ever done for climbing??!!!
I really think that many here are looking at this from an old fashioned Trad climbers viewpoint, and mapping there own experience of British tech grades onto others.
Most beginners aren't members of clubs, haven't tried Trad prior to bouldering and likely either know Font or V grades from the local indoor centre they have climbed at (even if they are possibly misused at low grades indoors).
Using a mixture of grades really is just muddying the waters, every single pure bouldering guidebook on my shelf uses font grades exclusively (Boulder Britain, 5 + 6 and other font guides, Southern Sandstone Bouldering, Peak District Bouldering).
RockFax and BMC guidebooks seem to be fighting the Tide to me.
> Precisely. The main thing here is not the V or Font, it is the inclusion of UK tech grades which are what vast numbers of climbers know and are familiar with.
It's really not that hard to learn a 'new' grading system, especially a trivially simple one like Vermin or a familiar one like Font. Really, if people are struggling with this then they're so dumb you probably shouldn't be selling them books
V + uk tech is pretty handy for easier stuff so that does point toward Font being the more versatile system.
Keep it tidy, adopt one and apply it consistently.
Old fashioned trad viewpoint, that would be hillarious if it wasn't so dumb. Do you really think you can dismiss big reliable lumps of the guidebook market like that?
I've directly helped BMC, VG, YMC, and Rockfax guides and made smaller contributions to most other producers in the UK. I use multiple types of grades (V, UK tech, font, U and old UK B) and as I've already said, I think font is often best for pure bouldering guides, certainly so those focussed at the performance end of the market, but there is no fighting any tide as yet down in punterville and Rockfax do have an obvious niche doing it this way and I'm sure will have done their own market research.
> (In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH)
> The problem (at least locally round here) is that most of those also have no knowledge of v-grades.
> What they have is knowledge one of the multiplicity of grading systems used indoors that have the letter V in front (but in which V0 is roughly UK 4a).
Yes, this. People who "know" V grades because their local wall uses them are going to have to relearn the grades when they go outdoors anyway.
I dunno, I'm probably oversimplifying but it just seems like if a few more major guidebooks just stuck to font grades everything would sort itself out fairly quickly. Anyone with half a brain cell would figure out how font grades work within about the first half hour of bouldering with a font guidebook - you could even provide a conversion table for the hard of thinking. You'd then have guidebooks using a single system rather than chopping and changing between font for the wads, V for the punters and UK tech for the bumblies and also have an opportunity to sort out the issues with the lower font grades by picking a system and applying it consistently.
Indoor walls would then have an incentive to start using font grades as well, which would also make it easier for different walls to grade consistently on easier problems as they wouldn't have the problem with grades below UK5a, and also mean that people wouldn't get so confused when they first go outside and find that V3 is actually quite hard.
Then we'd all live in a happy utopia with a single consistent grading system that everyone from Adam Ondra to me can understand and use, and we could all stop bickering about grades and go climbing.
By the way, I fully accept that the answer to this is that when I've put in the years of hard work to become a successful guidebook publisher and produce my own bouldering guides then I can use whatever the hell grading system I want and until then I can like it or lump it...
The longer I've climbed, instead of the grading situation becoming clear & understandable, I've come to realise that consistency is shaky at best - but I'm cool with that. I think partly, it's the problem of onsight grades vs redpoint grade. I suspect that most UK climbers have come to expect grades to be set for onsight (coming almost certainly from a trad background), whereas boulder and sport grades are (generally) set for the redpoint - the 'true' difficulty of getting from the bottom to the top having all possible knowledge.
Most of the time, close to your limit, when you pull on (sport or bouldering) it tends to feel utterly impossible, and the grade clearly wrong. Once you've figured it out, it feels easy and the grade clearly wrong, but the other way. The grade becomes more a measure of how long it will take to figure it out, as when you eventually send it it often feels easy.
Especially for bouldering, I find that the actual grading system doesn't really matter. Font, V, whatever. All you need to know is the progression.
In reply to The Pylon King: I find it very confusing too. In the 80s I was managing (just) British 6b on small stuff. In my day, everything at Font was tres or ed. Plus and minus. And the ed sup was white back then, and the lower one was black? Anyway, why can't we use the trad system? 6m, E4 6a (sustained/awful landing/crux at the top), or 2m, VS 6b (one move and safe)?