UKC To Abolish E Grade System

Following on from in-depth and convincingly structured discussions in the UKC forums, - the official governing body of British Climbing - has produced a six month plan for phasing out the British 'E grade' system previously used for gauging difficulty of traditional rock climbs.

"For those operating at the top end, E grades have been a waste of time for decades," said Jack Geldard, Chief Editor of "and have become increasingly irrelevant at all standards over the past few years."

Friction on TPS, 102 kb
Friction on TPS
© Phil West, Jul 1995

It has been thought that modern climbers, who have extensive sport, indoor and bouldering experience, but don't know their EB's from their RP's, find the 'E' system too confusing.

"I don't get it mate." said one.

That confusion is compounded by the climbing equivalent of the baby boomers; the now middle-aged ex trad climbers, who have a distorted memory of their own previous climbing ability, leaving them with impaired arm-chair judgement of the actual difficulty of the new climbs being put up throughout the country.

"It was much harder back in our day," they all commented several times in unison, "and we didn't have any of those bouldering mats and other stuff that make climbing more fun and a bit safer." After a pause they added; "Not that we are taking anything away from these modern achievements, just as long as everyone knows they aren't as good as what we did."

As all modern climbs will now be graded with an entirely new and 100% accurate alpha-numerical system, these forum-heavy 'old-skoolers' will have no frame of reference with which to belittle younger climbers achievements.

"Cn we update r UKC logbooks in txt spk, pls?" commented one younger climber via Facebook.

Several factors have been cited as the spark that started the ball rolling in the move toward the new grading system, and it seems that the globalisation of the climbing media is the main point.

"Not only is it common to compare yourself to your mates, but now via websites like you can compare yourself to people you have never met on routes you have never done. It is therefore absolutely essential we have a recognised system of grading that allows a direct comparison to be made across the globe." said a very thin man with lots of points on his scorecard.

UKC Logo, 25 kb
Luckily for the climbing public, we at UKC are so convinced of our own superiority and extensive knowledge of all things climbing, we have designed a new grading system that suits our needs and will hopefully help us to make even more money out of climbers' achievements.

The letter 'E' is set to be replaced with the '£' symbol, and the previous technical grade such as '6a' will be replaced with a number between 1 and 99 followed by the letter 'p' (lowercase). An example of a route grade would be £65.85p.

We at UKC will asses each new route on its commercial potential and it is on this merit that we will decide how extensively we cover the ascent on our website. Climbing companies and even climbers themselves can help to increase the grade of their route by including a cheque with their news report submissions.

"What people liked about the E grade is that it told you more than just how physically hard the route was. You know, danger, commitment etc. Well the new £ grade takes that to a whole new level, it can be influenced by all those things, but also by the quality of the youtube footage, the composition of the first ascent photos, the size of the climber's bikini, stuff like that."

The beauty of this new grading scale is that there is already a recognised system that can 100% accurately covert these grades in to European grades, American grades etc - see here for an example: XE Currency Converter.

The address to send any cheques is available on our Contact Us page. We look forward to hearing from you. Cheques are welcome in any of the normal world grading systems, and we also accept cakes, beer and other high value goods.

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