Table of Contents
  • Are Homemade Draws Reliable?
  • Avoiding Arthritis
  • Avoiding Injury
  • Avoiding the Gear-Placement Pump
  • Basic Aid Technique
  • Beating the Lactic Acid Pump
  • Best Ratio of Resting to Bouldering
  • Bolt Pulls Out in the New River Gorge
  • Boost Power With Eccentric Training
  • Can Old Guys Get Stronger?
  • Can't Lose with the Anti-Inflammatory Diet
  • Catch of the Day
  • Cheap Tricks
  • Do Forearm Trainers Work?
  • Does Creatine Work?
  • Does Running or Biking Improve Your Climbing?
  • Dynamic vs. Static Stretching
  • Euro Training Secrets
  • Getting Strong After a Layoff
  • How Often Should You Rest?
  • How to Beat Fear
  • How to Belay for Climbing
  • How to Choose Climbing Equipment
  • How to Climb on Lead
  • How to Climb on Toprope
  • How To Climb Safe: Belaying Part 1
  • How to Climb Safe: Belaying Part 2
  • How to Develop Sloper Strength
  • How to Mentally Train
  • How to Power Train for Climbing
  • How to Prevent Bonking
  • How to Rappel
  • How To Recover On Route
  • How to Rig an Anchor for a Novice
  • How To Rig Trad Anchors/Belays
  • How to Stay Psyched
  • How to Toprope
  • How to Train for Rock climbing
  • How to Unlock a Crux
  • HowTo Use Microcycles
  • Improving Slab Technique
  • Injured? Train Your Core!
  • Is Protein Important?
  • Maximizing a Small Home Wall
  • Maximum Training in Minimum Time
  • Never Get Pumped Again
  • Overcome Anxiety and Send!
  • Periodized Training For the Year-round Approach
  • Recovery Supplement Truths
  • Regaining Confidence After a Fall
  • Respecting the Climbing Environment
  • Resting the Perfect Amount
  • Should You Add Weight or Use Smaller Holds on a Hangboard
  • Should You Lose Weight or Get Stronger?
  • Shoulder: SLAP Lesion and Cortisone
  • Shoulder: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • The First Sport
  • The Importance of Finger Strength
  • The Intuitive Approach to Training
  • THE PERFECT 5-MINUTE WARM-UP FOR CLIMBERS
  • The Secrets of Warming Up
  • The Unnatural Way to Climb
  • Tips for Better Onsighting
  • Too Hard for a Caveman
  • Training During Pregnancy
  • Training While Hungry
  • Training With an Injury
  • Ultimate Strength
  • Understanding Climbing Ratings and Grades
  • Using a Weight Belt For Training
  • Warming Up Without Warm-Ups
  • Winter Workouts
  • Witness the Mental Fitness
  • Are Homemade Draws Reliable?
  • Beating the Lactic Acid Pump
  • Best Ratio of Resting to Bouldering
  • Boost Power With Eccentric Training
  • Can Old Guys Get Stronger?
  • Catch of the Day
  • Cheap Tricks
  • Climbing Anchor and Belay Stations
  • Climbing Photography How To
  • Climbing Protection
  • Do Forearm Trainers Work?
  • Does Creatine Work?
  • Does Running or Biking Improve Your Climbing?
  • Dynamic vs. Static Stretching
  • Euro Training Secrets
  • Free Climbing Tips: Why Get Stronger When You Can Get Better?
  • Getting Strong After a Layoff
  • How Often Should You Rest?
  • How to Beat Fear
  • How to Belay for Climbing
  • How to Choose Climbing Equipment
  • How to Climb on Lead
  • How to Climb on Toprope
  • How To Climb Safe: Belaying Part 1
  • How to Climb Safe: Belaying Part 2
  • How to Develop Sloper Strength
  • How to Mentally Train
  • How to Power Train for Climbing
  • How to Prevent Bonking
  • How to Rappel
  • How To Recover On Route
  • How to Rig an Anchor for a Novice
  • How To Rig Trad Anchors/Belays
  • How to Stay Psyched
  • How to Toprope
  • How to Train for Rock climbing
  • How to Unlock a Crux
  • HowTo Use Microcycles
  • Improving Slab Technique
  • Injured? Train Your Core!
  • Is Protein Important?
  • Maximizing a Small Home Wall
  • Maximum Training in Minimum Time
  • Overcome Anxiety and Send!
  • Periodized Training For the Year-round Approach
  • Recovery Supplement Truths
  • Regaining Confidence After a Fall
  • Respecting the Climbing Environment
  • Resting the Perfect Amount
  • Should You Add Weight or Use Smaller Holds on a Hangboard
  • Should You Lose Weight or Get Stronger?
  • Shoulder: SLAP Lesion and Cortisone
  • Shoulder: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • The Climbing Dictionary
  • The First Sport
  • The Importance of Finger Strength
  • THE PERFECT 5-MINUTE WARM-UP FOR CLIMBERS
  • The Secrets of Warming Up
  • The Unnatural Way to Climb
  • Tips for Better Onsighting
  • Too Hard for a Caveman
  • Training During Pregnancy
  • Training While Hungry
  • Training With an Injury
  • Ultimate Strength
  • Understanding Climbing Ratings and Grades
  • Using a Weight Belt For Training
  • Warming Up Without Warm-Ups
  • Winter Workouts
  • Witness the Mental Fitness
  • Avoiding Arthritis
  • Avoiding Injury
  • Beating the Lactic Acid Pump
  • Best Ratio of Resting to Bouldering
  • Boost Power With Eccentric Training
  • Can Old Guys Get Stronger?
  • Can't Lose with the Anti-Inflammatory Diet
  • Cheap Tricks
  • Climbing Photography How To
  • Do Forearm Trainers Work?
  • Does Creatine Work?
  • Does Running or Biking Improve Your Climbing?
  • Dynamic vs. Static Stretching
  • Euro Training Secrets
  • Free Climbing Tips: Why Get Stronger When You Can Get Better?
  • Getting Strong After a Layoff
  • How Often Should You Rest?
  • How to Beat Fear
  • How to Climb Safe: Spotting for Bouldering
  • How to Develop Sloper Strength
  • How to Mentally Train
  • How to Power Train for Climbing
  • How to Prevent Bonking
  • How To Recover On Route
  • How to Stay Psyched
  • How to Unlock a Crux
  • HowTo Use Microcycles
  • Improving Slab Technique
  • Injured? Train Your Core!
  • Is Protein Important?
  • Knee: ACL Reconstruction
  • Leg: Fracture
  • Loud Pop Ankle Roll
  • Maximizing a Small Home Wall
  • Maximum Training in Minimum Time
  • Overcome Anxiety and Send!
  • Periodized Training For the Year-round Approach
  • Recovery Supplement Truths
  • Regaining Confidence After a Fall
  • Respecting the Climbing Environment
  • Rest ... or Else
  • Resting the Perfect Amount
  • Should You Add Weight or Use Smaller Holds on a Hangboard
  • Should You Lose Weight or Get Stronger?
  • Shoulder: SLAP Lesion and Cortisone
  • Shoulder: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • The Climbing Dictionary
  • The First Sport
  • The Importance of Finger Strength
  • The Intuitive Approach to Training
  • THE PERFECT 5-MINUTE WARM-UP FOR CLIMBERS
  • The Secrets of Warming Up
  • The Unnatural Way to Climb
  • Too Hard for a Caveman
  • Training During Pregnancy
  • Training While Hungry
  • Training With an Injury
  • Ultimate Strength
  • Understanding Climbing Ratings and Grades
  • Using a Weight Belt For Training
  • Warming Up Without Warm-Ups
  • Winter Workouts
  • Witness the Mental Fitness
  • Are Homemade Draws Reliable?
  • Avoiding Arthritis
  • Avoiding Injury
  • Avoiding the Gear-Placement Pump
  • Beating the Lactic Acid Pump
  • Best Ratio of Resting to Bouldering
  • Bolt Pulls Out in the New River Gorge
  • Boost Power With Eccentric Training
  • Can Old Guys Get Stronger?
  • Can't Lose with the Anti-Inflammatory Diet
  • Catch of the Day
  • Cheap Tricks
  • Climbing Anchor and Belay Stations
  • Climbing Photography How To
  • Do Forearm Trainers Work?
  • Does Creatine Work?
  • Does Running or Biking Improve Your Climbing?
  • Dynamic vs. Static Stretching
  • Euro Training Secrets
  • Free Climbing Tips: Why Get Stronger When You Can Get Better?
  • Getting Strong After a Layoff
  • How Often Should You Rest?
  • How to Beat Fear
  • How to Belay for Climbing
  • How to Choose Climbing Equipment
  • How to Climb on Lead
  • How to Climb on Toprope
  • How To Climb Safe: Belaying Part 1
  • How to Climb Safe: Belaying Part 2
  • How to Develop Sloper Strength
  • How to Mentally Train
  • How to Power Train for Climbing
  • How to Prevent Bonking
  • How to Rappel
  • How To Recover On Route
  • How to Rig an Anchor for a Novice
  • How to Stay Psyched
  • How to Toprope
  • How to Train for Rock climbing
  • How to Unlock a Crux
  • HowTo Use Microcycles
  • Improving Slab Technique
  • Injured? Train Your Core!
  • Is Protein Important?
  • Maximizing a Small Home Wall
  • Maximum Training in Minimum Time
  • Never Get Pumped Again
  • Overcome Anxiety and Send!
  • Periodized Training For the Year-round Approach
  • Recovery Supplement Truths
  • Regaining Confidence After a Fall
  • Respecting the Climbing Environment
  • Rest ... or Else
  • Resting the Perfect Amount
  • Should You Add Weight or Use Smaller Holds on a Hangboard
  • Should You Lose Weight or Get Stronger?
  • Shoulder: SLAP Lesion and Cortisone
  • Shoulder: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • The Climbing Dictionary
  • The First Sport
  • The Importance of Finger Strength
  • The Intuitive Approach to Training
  • THE PERFECT 5-MINUTE WARM-UP FOR CLIMBERS
  • The Secrets of Warming Up
  • The Unnatural Way to Climb
  • Tips for Better Onsighting
  • Too Hard for a Caveman
  • Training During Pregnancy
  • Training While Hungry
  • Training With an Injury
  • Ultimate Strength
  • Understanding Climbing Ratings and Grades
  • Using a Weight Belt For Training
  • Warming Up Without Warm-Ups
  • Winter Workouts
  • Witness the Mental Fitness
  •  
    Video Spotlight
    Tsunami 5.12c (7b)
    Tsunami 5.12c (7b)

    Understanding Climbing Ratings and Grades

    20-Nov-2009
    By

    Most climbers want to know how difficult a climb is, either to keep us from biting off more climb than we can chew, or to compete overtly with others or ourselves. Many different rating systems are used worldwide, but in the United States, we use the Yosemite Decimal System (YDS).
    retweet

    Although some climbers eschew any type of quantification, most of us want to know how difficult a climb is, either to keep us from biting off more climb than we can chew, or to compete overtly with others or ourselves. Hence, like kayakers, climbers have a system to rate the difficulty of our chosen medium. Many different rating systems are used worldwide, but in the United States, we use the Yosemite Decimal System (YDS).

    Mountain climbing is divided into classes, from Class 1 (walking down a trail) to Class 5 (technical climbing). When you get to fifth class climbing, the scale used exclusively for free climbing breaks down into technical sub-grades. Hence, a climb might be 5.8. If it is slightly harder than 5.8, but not quite 5.9, it’s rated 5.8+. If it’s slightly easier than 5.8 but harder than 5.7, it might be rated 5.8-.

    Once you pass 5.9, we add on a suffix from “a” to “d” to note whether a climb is at the bottom, middle, or the top of the grade. For example, 5.10 breaks into 5.10a, 5.10b, 5.10c and 5.10d. Sometimes letters are left out, usually when climbers are unsure of the rating. The hardest confirmed grade climbed to date is 5.15a. The chart shown here compares the YDS with grading systems of other countries.

    Be aware that grades don’t adequately compare different types of climbing. Don’t assume that since you can cruise a 5.8 friction slab, a 5.8 offwidth will feel the same. Likewise, a 5.11a hand crack requires altogether different skills than a 5.11a sport route. Additionally, the numerical ratings don’t factor in the danger element. In America, an “R” or “X” may follow the number grade, for example, 5.10a R. The R suffix means the route may be runout or difficult to protect, with the possibility of a long fall. An X rating means the route is dangerous, with marginal protection and the possibility of a fatal fall.

    For multi-pitch climbs, a Roman-numeral grade is tacked on, from I to VI, to indicate the time it might require to complete the climb. For example, the grade for Death Climb 2000 might be IV 5.9. Following is the breakdown, based on the progress of an average party. A fast team might climb a Grade V in an easy day; on the other hand, if you’re a neophyte, attempting a Grade IV might be more than you can climb in a day. 


    Grade I: a one- or two-pitch climb. This grade is normally not even used.

    Grade II: a climb that will take an average party a few hours to complete. Again, this grade is rarely used.

    Grade III: the climb will take a half-day or so.

    Grade IV: an all-day route for an average party.

    Grade V: a two-day climb, requiring a bivouac.

    Grade VI: a three-day (or more) climb.


    In the past, boulder problems were ranked with a three-grade system (B1, B2, B3) devised by John Gill, for easy, medium and hard. Today, boulder problems in America are graded using the V scale. V0 connotes a boulder problem roughly equivalent to 5.10 or below. V4 is concomitant with mid 5.12. The scale currently tops out at V16!

    Take grades with a grain of salt. They are only approximations and vary from area to area, or even within the same area. Don’t get too wrapped up in them as they can mess with your head and limit you. Free climbing may be your ultimate goal, but don’t think climbs done with a move or two of aid are invalid in any way. In climbing, as in many things in life, it’s the experience that counts.

    See International Comparison Ratings on next page >>


    ==

    grades

    Reader's Commentary:

    Don't want to use Facebook, but still want to comment? We have you covered:

    Add Your Comments to this article:
    Hello