/ Grade comparisons.
Forgive me if this has been done before.
Just looking at grade comparisons between sport and trad. I generally train , during the winter, indoors and when I can get out on some trad during the wkend.
I noticed, using the rockfax grade table that the British tech grade of 5c is present in comparisons between 6a and 6b+ sport grades. This can't be possible surely, so the comparison must be based on the adjective grades, e1 , e2 and so on and this makes sense as sport grades take into consideration the overall feel for the route.
We can confuse matters further with trad grades, mostly, being onsight and sport being practiced but I'm not bothered about that.
My question is, what is the equivalent sport grade for 5c climbing.
Writing it down has made me think maybe a bouldering grade might be more appropriate.
Anyway thanks for reading and any comments welcomed .
Anything from 5+ to 7a. Genuinely!
> what is the equivalent sport grade for 5c climbing
Well 5c, averagely protected, would typically warrant around E2, and E2 would usually equate to around Sport 6b, so ... 6b-ish
f5+ isn't it?
> My question is, what is the equivalent sport grade for 5c climbing.
Depends on the amount of 5c moves on the pitch/route.
Is it one move (5+), a fair few moves (circa 6b) or pretty much every move (could just possibly be 7a)?
Hmmm fair point, so one 5c move could be 5+ ?
Could be. Would be harsh grading but lots of 5+ routes on Portland with 5c cruxes. Like John Arran, I tend to think in old money, so think of 6a as (very roughly) equivalent to E1 5b or just possibly E1 5c (short, sharp crux). Obviously you'd expect a 5+ to have an even shorter 5c crux (maybe off the deck?)
I wouldn't get too hung up on it. For instance, here on the Costa Blanca there are lots of 5+ routes which are actually 6b (or harder). Particularly thin slabs. There are differences in grading between areas (and some areas are rife with undergrading).
There's also a question of style: a 5c move on a thin slab may feel very different to a 5c move on a burly crack. Or a 5c mantleshelf. Depends which you're good at!
Hope this makes sense. Always best to regard grades possibly as a blunt instrument.
Yeah good point, a 5+ at la pedriza felt much harder than a British e3 5c slab.
> what is the equivalent sport grade for 5c climbing.
You seem to be mistakenly imagining that "5c climbing" is a single thing.
Single 5c move with no endurance challenge involved? Somewhere around 6a/+.
5c every move for 50 metres? Dunno, somewhere in the mid 7's maybe?
Yeah totally, that's why a boulder grade might be more appropriate ?
I've given this a little thought over the years. I think the problem is with how the two types of grade (sport and UK technical/numerical) are described. As commonly described today they are not measuring the same thing. The sport grade is measuring the difficulty of the whole pitch taking both the technical difficulty of the moves and how sustained the pitch is into account. The UK tech grade refers to the technical difficulty of the hardest move. The sustainedness of the pitch is today included in the "E" grade, along with the climb's seriousness.
It doesn't have to be like this, and it hasn't always been. I have Alec Sharp's 1976 Climbers Club Cloggy guide which was one of the first to use UK technical/numerical grades. It clearly states that "the numerical grades refer to the difficulty of top-roping the climb and so the strenuousness of the climb is an important factor".
At some point the meaning of the UK technical grade changed to become "the difficulty of the hardest move" but I'm not at all convinced this was a sensible change. After all, how do we define a "move"? Is it the movement of one hand or foot from one hold to the next, or the movement of all four hands/feet from one set of holds to the next, or something else? I think it's more logical to consider a "sequence" of moves from one resting position to the next, and apply the technical grade to the hardest "sequence" on the pitch. This then becomes very close to the original definition - ie the difficulty of top-roping the pitch - given that, in theory, if you rest for long enough, you can recover completely from one "sequence" before starting the next. On steep pitches without any rests, the "sequence" becomes the whole pitch and the definitions become identical.
While it's not quite accurate to say that a sport grade equates to the difficulty of top-roping the pitch, I would suggest it's pretty close, particular if the pitch is well-bolted and led with quick-draws in place. So, if we were to revert to the original meaning of the UK tech grade, or adopt the "hardest sequence" idea as above, then the sport grade and UK tech grade should be pretty much interchangeable without discrepancies. At the point on the scale that's probably my current ceiling (for trad climbing) UK tech 5b should equal f6a in all circumstances. Of course, on a trad climb, UK 5b could accurately represent the technical grade on anything from a VS to an E3 depending on the seriousness of the climb.
If, and I appreciate it's a big "if", we were to accept the logic of the above, then it would be quite a small further step to abandon the UK tech grade completely and replace it with a sport grade instead. So, for example, E1 5b would become E1 f6a. (The "f" would in time become redundant). This would make a lot of sense to overseas visitors, and to the large number of younger/newer climbers moving from indoor walls to outdoor trad. I recognise it would also be highly controversial!
In the past there was some discussion that it would have been more logical to equate the French grade with the adjectival grade e.g. f6a = E1, f6b E2 etc. and not the technical grade but it never really caught on. I tend to do this in my head every time I climb a sports climb. In this way the E grade becomes the E for effort that some people seem to think it stands for.
I completely agree with all of that, and have argued similarly on numerous occasions. Where I might differ is that I believe there is no way the UK tech grade will ever be redefined, but ultimately it will be relegated to some kind of 'third grade', after Adjectival and Sport grades. Climbers learning in walls are already extremely familiar with Sport grades and it can only be a matter of time before guides start adding helpful Sport grades to supplement existing Trad grades (If I were writing a Trad Guide I would do so now). Once that happens, I can see most climbers starting to use Sport grades in describing the physical difficulty of a trad route rather than Trad grades.
Interestingly enough, I am sure you can get a very very hard 5c tech grade pitch. All you need is a 30/40 meter steep overhang where most moves are sustained 5c. I guess you could easily get into 7c/8a territory like that.
Recently went bolt to bolt on 25 meter 7c where most moves felt about V3/V2 (UK tech 5c/6a?), 50 moves of that on a steepening wall is hard.
The big public relations barrier to overcome would be people's heads exploding at the idea of the Indian Face being "only" 7c X.
Yes. People above were saying 7a as about the upper limit, and I was thinking that might be a drastic underestimate for a really sustained, continuous pumpfest.
> Climbers learning in walls are already extremely familiar with Sport grades and it can only be a matter of time before guides start adding helpful Sport grades to supplement existing Trad grades (If I were writing a Trad Guide I would do so now).
It's already happening. Wired's Pembroke Rock adds sport grades to routes of E6 and above. I guess it wouldn't be at all surprising to see that gradually move down the grades, though at the more modest grades I climb it's never seemed like the traditional grade is inadequate in quite the way it seems to be at the top end.
If I remember correctly, the first pitch of Poema de Roca (7a) didn't have a move harder than 5c on it. But it sure was steep! My mate, the late Ian Vincent, onsighted Lourdes (8a) (steeper) around the same time. (Maybe the first onsight?) He reckoned (again if I remember correctly - a long time ago), that there were only a couple of 6a moves on it. "Even you could bolt to bolt it," was the wry put-down.
I didn't mention it in my post above because I've no personal experience above E2, but I'm aware that climbers operating in the higher grades believe the UK tech grade has become very problematic above around E5. Yes, like you, I don't have any problem with UK tech grades in the VS - E1 range. They've worked well for me since the 70's. Many people would probably say "if it ain't bust, don't fix it", but I know UK tech grades are quite confusing for climbers transitioning from indoor walls. And I think I could very quickly adjust to E1 f6a etc.
Below f6a we would have a problem deciding whether to go with f4+, f5, f5+ or f5a, f5b, f5c etc. Both seem about equally common these days. On balance I think I would prefer the latter. But there would be a discontinuity anyway, because no-one to my knowledge uses f5a+ etc.
> The big public relations barrier to overcome would be people's heads exploding at the idea of the Indian Face being "only" 7c X.
That would be an enormous barrier to overcome if it was just graded f7c. But of course it would be E9 f7c. I'm in absolutely no position to judge if f7c is correct, so perhaps I should step back from the conversation, but I think enough climbers have top-roped it (at least all those who've gone on to lead it AFAIK) to arrive at a consensus.
Some really interesting replies , thanks everyone.
Assign a score to UK tech of say: 5a=1, 5b = 2 etc. Think of climb break it down into moves and add them up and find the average (rests=0) Score of 10 -12=6a/+, 12-14 6b 16-6c, 20 7a etc
it works surprisingly well - you need to round-up very short climbs to say 10+ moves.
Nice I like that !
Did a 6a+ tonight that used to be an e2 5c . Probably only one sequence at 5c still felt harder than most 6a+ .
Not sure I've climbed tech 5c on anything lower than 6a+, aside from the slabs of la pedriza but they are freaks !
The problem IMO with grading something E1 f6a is that you are in affect using two metrics to measure the same thing, the overall difficulty of the route. This becomes even more illogical when assigned to a single pitch climb. I have some sympathy for those climbing in the higher grades but in honesty I don't know how many people this affects. My real concern would be the drip down affect to more moderate grades. The UK has a strong, historically evolved system that has worked for many years and I would be sad to see that tradition compromised.
> Forgive me if this has been done before.
> Just looking at grade comparisons between sport and trad.
There's your problem
> I generally train , during the winter, indoors and when I can get out on some trad during the wkend.
You need some oil on your "e" key
> I noticed, using the rockfax grade table that the British tech grade of 5c is present in comparisons between 6a and 6b+ sport grades.
Great, isn't it!
> This can't be possible surely, so the comparison must be based on the adjective grades, e1 , e2 and so on and this makes sense as sport grades take into consideration the overall feel for the route.
Let's call this "Afshapes' Principle 1"
> We can confuse matters further with trad grades, mostly, being onsight and sport being practiced but I'm not bothered about that.
> My question is, what is the equivalent sport grade for 5c climbing.
See Afshapes Principle 1
> Writing it down has made me think maybe a bouldering grade might be more appropriate.
Certainly for bouldering.
> Anyway thanks for reading and any comments welcomed .
No problem; it was a pleasure
> The problem IMO with grading something E1 f6a is that you are in affect using two metrics to measure the same thing, the overall difficulty of the route.
Yes and no... E-grade takes into account physical and mental aspects (like amount of gear, how fiddly it is and where it is in regards to the hard climbing). Sports grade only rates the physical aspects (how hard/sustained the climbing is).
It could work, but recalibration would be needed...
It would still be about as good/bad as the current system.
For a one used to it, it'll work... but for a foreigner, not so much. After all, we foreigners are used to the idea that the grade measures the physical difficulty and additional information tells us if it is going to by ballsy, scary or deadly.
> Yes and no... E-grade takes into account physical and mental aspects (like amount of gear, how fiddly it is and where it is in regards to the hard climbing). Sports grade only rates the physical aspects (how hard/sustained the climbing is).
Yes, which is why I hinted at that earlier.
> The problem IMO with grading something E1 f6a is that you are in affect using two metrics to measure the same thing, the overall difficulty of the route.
That's not quite how I see it. It seems to me there are three dimensions to consider on a trad pitch. 1. How hard is the hardest move? (and am I technically capable of doing it). 2. How sustained is the pitch? (and have I got the stamina to complete it). 3. How serious is it - ie what's the risk of injury if I fall off? (and is the climbing sufficiently within my ability to accept that risk).
E1 measures all three dimensions combined. UK tech 5b, as currently used, measures just the first dimension (the difficulty of the hardest move). f6a measures 1, and 2. combined, which are the only relevant dimensions if you are top-roping or if its a properly bolted sport climb. So yes, in those cases, f6a measures the overall difficulty, but not if it's a led trad climb - dimension 3 (seriousness) is missing.
So for a trad pitch, E1 5b tells you the overall difficulty is E1 and the hardest move is 5b. You can also tell how sustained it is and/or how serious to lead (ie how well/poorly protected) it is, but only taken together. So we know that E1 5b is an averagely sustained or averagely serious climb with it's hardest move 5b. E2 5b is either more than averagely sustained or more than averagely serious, and HVS 5b less so. But we can't tell which of sustainedness or seriousness is contributing most to the "E" grade (except of course by looking at the route itself and/or reading the guidebook description if it tells us!).
If instead we grade it E1 f6a, we know the overall difficulty is E1 and the difficulty of top-roping the pitch is f6a (taking into account both the difficulty of the hardest move and how sustained the pitch is). We can also tell how serious it is to lead. Eg if E1 f6a is the grade for an averagely serious pitch that would be f6a on a top rope, then E2 f6a would be the grade for a more than averagely serious f6a and HVS f6a the grade for a less than averagely serious f6a. What we don't know using this system is which of the two factors contributing to the difficulty of top-roping the pitch (the difficulty of the hardest move or the sustainedness of the pitch) is the one weighing more heavily in the f6a grade.
If we accept that there are three dimensions at play, then we would need a three-part grade to accurately specify all three. I think that's been tried but found overly unwieldy. Of the two alternative two-part grading systems I've compared above, I think on balance I would prefer E1 f6a, which tells me how hard it is to top rope, and how serious to lead, over E1 5b, which tells me how hard is the hardest move, but doesn't on its own tell me whether it's the sustainedness or the seriousness that's contributing to the E grade.
I accept this is all controversial. and there are other factors to consider, but I think it should be an open debate.
I'm not denying the logic Martin, I'm defending the tradition which I would like to see preserved.
Don’t worry, after no-deal Brexit you’re not allowed to use french or ’bleau grades anymore. So either you start using the E grades again for even sport. Or adapt Ewbanks or YDS. Similary for bouldering, Tech grades, or V grades.
So my question was posed so that I can work out where I need to be hitting if I want to nail 5c moves. I have an abundance of sport where I live and only get out once or twice a month on good trad. I'm not suggesting we ditch the tradition of the two part system.
I take it you still climb in hobnail boots and use hemp rope , to keep that'd tradition alive!
Useful mate !
Have to admire the commitment though, well done you.
> I'm not denying the logic Martin, I'm defending the tradition which I would like to see preserved.
Thanks Al. I'd only add here the point I made in my first post above. If you take your "tradition" back long enough, then the UK technical grade did mean the difficulty of top-roping the pitch. That's what Alec Sharp wrote in his '76 Cloggy guide. On that basis a change from E1 5b to E1 f6a is only a straight translation (from English into French), not a complete change of concept.
Sorry, Martin and I did go off on a bit of a tangent there but to be fair I thought your question had been answered. The simple answer is that even if you can climb f7a it does not mean you can climb 5c trad. Being able to redpoint your way up a 7a sport climb should not be considered as any form of preparation for climbing a trad 5c move at the end of a long run out but if you have climbed trad you presumably know that. With regard to "tradition" I'm guessing that it must be one of those SJW trigger words judging by your response
The reason that I post in a cautious manner is that I once witnessed someone who had only climbed sports routes making exactly that mistake, thinking that because he could redpoint f7a an E2 5b would be easy. He got into serious difficulties and ended up in hospital with a broken back, ribs and legs.
I don't mean to come across as patronising and neither am I a died in the wool traditionalist but I do have 55 years experience of trad, alpine and sport and I have witnessed many accidents some of which were fatal. I have seen a recent trend of sports climbers trying to make this type of comparison, one way or another, and it worries me.
Yes he did and I always thought that was a better way of looking at it than simply the grade of the hardest move which I always found very hard to apply. Stated like that it does require less of a leap to make the transition you suggest. But, even so? It still feels like a betrayal of UK tradition
I completely agree with the safety problems that could result from people getting on what might be easy sport and turns into a horror fest. I'm currently mentoring a lad, who only has a sport background, in the art of trad and I guess this is partly where my question stems from. But I'm only letting him second harder stuff and lead up to hvs.
I'm a trad climber through and through but time restrictions means it's limited to weekends or holidays so I get out on sport just to keep fit. My local guide , 2004 , still has the two sets of grades for sports routes which I believe was used to help climbers understand the French grading system.
Yep tradition is a trigger word! 😁 sometimes it makes sense then other times it feels like tradition for tradition sake and sometimes at the expense of safety, in climbing.
One of the problems of constantly chipping away at the "traditions" is that climbing will end up as just another sport.
It seems to me the Sport grade is not just universal now but also already a lot better understood than UK tech grades, and to my mind far more useful too. What use is knowing how hard a move (whatever that is!) would be to climb fresh when it's at the end of a pumpy pitch and the only people who would feel it to be that grade in practice are too good for the route anyway? The Sport grade just tells you roughly what your chances are of getting it clean on a top-rope. The Trad grade (adjectival for now, but before long will simply be known as the Trad grade once Tech grades become obsolete) tells you roughly what your chances are of getting it clean on an onsight lead. What could be simpler?
I don't disagree. I'm not objecting just putting up a little bit of token resistance because I think it would be sad to see it go.
I agree with you.
Another bit of historical info (which you probably know). When tech grades started there was a bit of a dispute about whether it was for hardest move considered in isolation (i.e. helicoptered to just below), or for hardest move having arrived there by climbing up to it. I think this is what led to the "Could this be Britain's first 6c" on the cover of Crags 4 for Supersonic on High Tor.
Of course that definition had its own problems, easier move at the end of a strenuous bit might define the grade rather than a harder isolated move, so you might never get to the"crux". And all of that would depend on the relative fitness of the climber. A strong unfit climber may have a different crux to a weak fit climber (this of course maybe the case with any grading system).
Ultimately, the difficulty of climbing is dependent on many factors. Some (the rock, possible pro, etc) are fixed whereas some vary (climber's attributes, weather, etc). You can't account for all of these unless you have a multi faceted grading system.
Any decent 2 factor grade gives more information than any 1 factor grade. Using different factors is only really messing around at the edges (POP).
Having said all that I do understand John's point that with the number of climbers now coming in through sport, f6a may be understood by more people than 5b.
> Sorry, Martin and I did go off on a bit of a tangent there.
Yes we did - probably my fault.
> The reason that I post in a cautious manner is that I once witnessed someone who had only climbed sports routes making exactly that mistake, thinking that because he could redpoint f7a an E2 5b would be easy. He got into serious difficulties and ended up in hospital with a broken back, ribs and legs.
> I don't mean to come across as patronising and neither am I a died in the wool traditionalist but I do have 55 years experience of trad, alpine and sport and I have witnessed many accidents some of which were fatal. I have seen a recent trend of sports climbers trying to make this type of comparison, one way or another, and it worries me.
Like you, I would hate to suggest a change in the grading system for trad routes if it would lead to more accidents to those transitioning to trad from outdoor sport or indoor walls. But there already are grade comparison charts available which may be what led your f7a climber astray. Rockfax are quite good on this I think. Their conversion charts show a rough equivalence in the pure difficulty of the climbing between f6a and E1 5b but whereas f6a (and f6a+) gets an orange spot, E1 5b is definitely red spot.
An interesting discussion. I too have 50+ years experience across the disciplines. though not, of course, at the same level as you and John (and some others who've responded). I could add more, but perhaps best left for another thread sometime, having probably hijacked afshapes' post enough already.
It also seems to me that F6a depends on where you climb! In some indoor centres it is more like grit HS, in some places in France it can be E2 5C ;-) I'd always really thought of french grading as being almost a top rope grade reflecting the overall difficulty (incl clipping) of climbing the route but being independent of any perceived boldness.
> I'd always really thought of french grading as being almost a top rope grade reflecting the overall difficulty (incl clipping) of climbing the route but being independent of any perceived boldness.
"Physical effort on climbing the route using the easiest method cleanly. Fear, lack of protection etc. are not taken into account, nor should tricky/hard to read sequences... Them tricky routes often do state in the description that they are hard to read/OS".
I‘d be in favour of French grade plus US style R/X for scariness & danger.
Big losers would be the relatively weak but bold, such as my former trad climbing self - able to attain more flattering E-grades by being willing to run it out but unwilling to get pumped
The Germans already use that kind of thing...
They add E1 to E4 and R1 to R4 (or something like that) to describe the quality and amout of protection... E vs R is in relation to the protection... the other for fully bolted "sport" routes and the other for leader placed gear, i.e. "trad". 1 (or 0, can't remember) means good quality gear available... 4 means skethcy gear or not a luck.
In fact, Versante Sud seems to add more criteria (on multipitch routes)... RSsomething means that some fixed protection is present, but predominantly still "trad".
And also the overall grade III for a full day for a competent team and so on... Have a look at the example pages:
So kind of fine tunes version of (PG)/R/X used in the states...
Numerous Versante Sud -guidebooks, as well as the southern Norway topos (by Germans, like Nissedal and Setesdal) already have that in place...
Funnily enough, when my friends started to develop this granite crack heaven in the archipelago near Turku, Finland... they also developped something like that... In fact, I like it the most... Where else can you climb a Finnish 5 Teddybear or Finnish 7 Lizard ;).
(^^^, ran that through Google Translate to get a bette grip).
Oh, and in case you're wondering... Finnish grade is supposed to be a + harder than the Nordic. .. but this is up for debate... So Nordic 5+ would be Finnish 5.
To counterpoint your story of injury, I once climbed with a young foreign lad who said they could always onsight 7a. In three days he led Original Route on Maincliff Gogarth, Pistolero on Cloggy, JR, Truegrip, Right Wall and Lord of the Flys on the Cromlech.
I did have to task him to place more gear as I was uncomfortable with his confidence in running it out above single pieces.
Sounded quite a bit like Perttu, who took part in the BMC International Summer Meet some years back. But I recall his agenda was to clock as many different kinds of rocks as possible.
This was also on the international meet. I think in retrospect that he was just really good at climbing.
Perhaps what is really being flagged up is the difference between the ability to redpoint and the ability to onsight.
I started climbing on southern sandstone and I found the tech grades very misleadingly dangerous. I knew I could climb 6a/b (on a top rope after much practice). How hard could a E1 5b get? I discovered that it was harder than I could climb and almost decked.
Clearly both the French grade and the technical grade are dangerous and we should just go back to having the E grade.
> This was also on the international meet. I think in retrospect that he was just really good at climbing.
Could have been Perttu, he is indeed rather good. But the International meets to also get top notch "professional" climbers, who tend to be stellar.
> Clearly both the French grade and the technical grade are dangerous and we should just go back to having the E grade.
For ego-boosting yes.
E9 6c for Indian Face is good for Ego-boosting... f7c X, less so. But the latter might give a better understanding of how hard it is for current crop of climbers (indoor bread, bolt clippers and foreigners).
He was called Luka and I think he got the second "fair means" bolt free (but not free) of the (ex) compressor route on Cerro Torre a few years later.
He was getting good fast!
I wonder what benefit there is in trying to make these comparisons. Trad and sport are very different, and being able to climb a particular sports grade is no guarantee that you will be able to climb the equivalent trad grade, so why not simply accept that different grading systems are appropriate and use both? Especially as both are subjective and there are inevitably inconsistencies even within the same grading system, let alone when trying to convert between them.
Like most people I find I can climb noticeably harder on bolts than on trad. However I compare bolted grades with other bolted climbs, and trad grades with other trad climbs. I don't feel any need to convert between the two, they are apples and oranges. In fact, I found the UK trad grades put on some partially-bolted routes in the Rockfax Costa Blanca guide a bit off-putting, as routes which I have previously climbed without difficulty are given UK grades which I find intimidating!
Maybe at the very highest grades it might serve some purpose, but at that level people are surely able to decide for themselves?
> E9 6c for Indian Face is good for Ego-boosting... f7c X, less so. But the latter might give a better understanding of how hard it is for current crop of climbers (indoor bread, bolt clippers and foreigners).
E9 f7c would of course achieve all those objectives at the same time.
True. But someone mentioned the YDS kind of PG/R/X instead of the E grades.
But for laughs, I will also demand the crux sequence (from shake hold to the next) as a ’Bleau grade. And the order of sport and boulder grades will tell ya If the route is easy or cruxy and add the E grade to know If it is sustained or deadly ;).
> True. But someone mentioned the YDS kind of PG/R/X instead of the E grades.
Those 'danger suffix' grades sound good on the face of it but they don't work easily in practice. The hardest move to lead on a route very often is not the hardest technical move, so you're left wondering how to apply the danger grade to best effect. Take a route like Elegy at the Roaches, To my mind it's E1 5c for the technical crux and then E2 5a for the runout top section. Which of those you find to be the crux really depends on your strengths as a leader. Would that be f6b PG, f6b R or f6b X? None of them really works, and apart from the first one (which doesn't convey the crux runout), they would suggest the route was likely to be harder than E2 to lead.
Calling it E2 f6b would still not be perfect (no 2-grade system could be) but it would manage to convey the fact that there's something more to it than the f6b crux move with a runner above your head (which more likely would get E1). The clear advantage, of course, is that you have nevertheless clearly expressed both top-rope and lead grades accurately.
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