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v-scale vs. climbing scale
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By Rajiv Ayyangar
From Portland, ME
Sep 15, 2010
Cut! Sadly my flash attempt met with dismal pump-failure two bolts later.
Jake N. wrote:
One thing that seems to really complicate things and may indicate another basic problem with the grading system is that none of the conversions create linear/equal progressions. The conversion I like most (and seems to be very close to what everyone else is saying)is the V0=5.10+, V1=5.11-, V2=5.11, V3=5.11+....,V7= 5.13-. But, at the upper end, it no longer really works because V13 ends up as 5.15- and v16 ends up as 5.16-, but the top boulder problem is v16 and the top sport route is only 5.15b. Of course, we could go back into the argument of whether the conversion is for the crux or for the whole climb, but it seems that the consensus is that it should be for the climb as a whole. So.... this leads me to wonder if perhaps high end boulder problem grades are more accurate than high end sport grades. Of course, I dont climb anywhere near these grades, so I can only speculate. But, it kinda seems to make sense, because it would be much easier for climbers to really work a boulder problem (no belayer, easier to start in the middle, etc...). This seems to be supported by the number of V15 repeats vs. 5.15 repeats. Finally, if this thinking is accurate, does this mean that sometime in the future, many of our 5.14d+ climbs will be upgraded a few notches, just as classic 5.10s are now a few grades higher than they were originally?



I think most people would agree that a one-to-one correspondence is not useful. Clearly boulder grades describe different information than route grades. Bouldering V? doesn't mean you will be able to automatically sport climb 5.?? If it did, then we would have one comprehensive scale.

Jake N. wrote:
So.... this leads me to wonder if perhaps high end boulder problem grades are more accurate than high end sport grades.


What do you mean by "accurate"? Accurate with respect to what?

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By Jake N.
Sep 15, 2010
"accurate" as in most everyone can agree on the grade.

i'm not saying that "one to one" correspondence is useful, just for the sake of conversation here, it seems that if any correspondence is useful, it would be "one to one" It doesnt make any sense at all that a v grade would cover 3 yds grades sometimes and one yds grade would be equivalent to 2 v grades elsewhere on the scale.

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By aaron davidson
From Denver, Co
Nov 28, 2010
Kia Marie wrote:
do you have any suggestions for helping me get past my inhibitions when i'm on a rope? i've been working on my endurance, but i don't think that's the whole problem. i can't figure out how come i can do a v4 boulder problem, but struggle on 10d's. i'm definitely not a high recruiter. i can't even do one pull up.


when i first started climbing i had the same problem, i could boulder all day but climbs were hard. first i would start to find lengthy climbs, real long routes. this will increase your endurance and all around strength , while maintaing that finger strength.
second, i would continue to boulder and hit the gym all the time so you dont forget that upper body strength, climbing long routes will put your legs to the test. and will challenge you to not trust in your upper body as much,

hope this helps, aaron

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By Roberto Konishi
Mar 23, 2011
camhead wrote:
Does anyone remember the humorous version of the V-scale that Verm wrote up a long time ago? v0 was something like "a problem that no matter how good it is, you'll never get on" v3 was "a problem that you ruthlessly wire so that you can call it your warmup" v13 was "a problem that Fred Nicole could flash, after you give him all the beta." Anyone remember that?


Here you go Cam:

A practical guide to applying the V-system
Copyright 1998 John Sherman

* V0 A problem you wouldn't admit to doing no matter how cool it was.
* V1 A problem you would admit to doing, if it had loose holds, a death
landing, and your partner backed off of it.
* V2 A problem, if cool enough, that you would recommend to others to
prove you're not a ratings snob.
* V3 A problem you ruthlessly wire and incorporate into your warm-up
routine, in the hopes that visiting partners will struggle on it.
* V4 A problem that might give you trouble, but "Hey, anything below V5 is
so easy I can't tell the difference."
* V5 A problem, if you were to live in Boulder, Colorado, that you might
actually flash.
* V6 A problem, if you were to live in Boulder, Colorado, that you would
expect your girlfriend to flash.
* V7 A problem you fell on repeatedly, but really, you could have flashed
it.
* V8 A problem you religiously avoid, because you're "saving it for the
flash."
* V9 A problem you have no chance of flashing.
* V10 A problem you knew you could have done, even though your spotter
took 10kg off for you, so you counted it anyway.
* V11 A problem, if flashed, that you might get free shoes for, but only
if you fax the mags this month.
* V12 A problem you would do if only your fingers were a bit smaller, your
reach a bit longer, your spotter more attentive, the weather more
amenable, your shoes not so blown out, your elbow not so sore from
training, the sun not in your eyes, and you didn't eat that funky
take-out Chinese the night before.
* V13 A problem commensurate with your well-published abilities, that you
deserve credit for, even though you didn't do it, because as the mags
reported, "It was too humid."
* V14 A problem only Fred Nicole could do, after you gave him the beta.

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By Joseph Stover
From Batesville, AR
Mar 23, 2011
A 5.12a that is mostly easy, say 5.9, climbing, with an extremely short crux will basically be a V4 boulder problem. V4 is actually pretty darn hard in terms of technical/overall difficulty for the vast majority of the population.

It all depends on experience and where you climb too (and the style of roped climbing vs bouldering. After you work you way up a few 12a's (assuming you've done lots of V4's), you'll probably agree that they are similar in absolute difficulty.

I've only done a handful of V4's, been on a few 12a's (but only redpointed one). I also think that 12a can sometimes seem more difficult to get than V4, if the V4's you work are short and close to the ground (easy to work individual moves, and only a few on them), whereas working a 60+ foot roped 5.12a can take quite a bit more dedication of time and effort.

Also, it is only a ROUGH equivalence, but usually accurate to within +/- 2 letter grades or a V# grade.

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By Loren Tragen
From Flagstaff, AZ
Jun 26, 2011
Nameless boulder on the edge of the Holy Boulders area in SoIll.
lee hansche wrote:
One thing i do find very helpful is the somewhat new-school way of breaking down sport climbs in to seperate boulder problems such as "climb a v4 opening move to a good rest then pull a v2 in to a v3, one more rest and a v6 move gaurds the anchor" something like that gives me a very clear idea af what i am up against...

I've never seen that before, but I like it. Most routes below 5.11 have some rests dividing up the cruxes and bouldery moves along the route. For me, I noticed that just practicing sport routes forced me to become more efficient at clipping (a big energy pit if you're inefficient), to watch my breathing and to find rests. I hate to say it, but just practice more, and you may find these to be your problem areas, too.

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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Jun 26, 2011
El Chorro
Loren Trager wrote:
I've never seen that before, but I like it. Most routes below 5.11 have some rests dividing up the cruxes and bouldery moves along the route. For me, I noticed that just practicing sport routes forced me to become more efficient at clipping (a big energy pit if you're inefficient), to watch my breathing and to find rests. I hate to say it, but just practice more, and you may find these to be your problem areas, too.


Most route below 5.11 also have V0 or V1 cruxes...

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By JPVallone
Jun 26, 2011
JPVallone wrote:
Bring back the B scale, Gill was on to something, LOL


Still the best scale ever!

But really, who cares how hard the pebble or a real climbing route is for that matter,

Either you can do it or you can't. We all have our own scale or level.

But what blows my mind is how many folks can't climb a 5.10 crack or offwidth but can wrestle a V whatever!

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By Price
From SLC, UT
Jun 26, 2011
TLdr - However, I read the first few posts.

My .02 - there's a reason that boulder problems and routes are rated on different scales.

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By JPVallone
Jun 26, 2011
Price wrote:
TLdr - However, I read the first few posts. My .02 - there's a reason that boulder problems and routes are rated on different scales.



Why is that, A move is a move, or isn't it?

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By Rajiv Ayyangar
From Portland, ME
Jul 15, 2011
Cut! Sadly my flash attempt met with dismal pump-failure two bolts later.
I summarized my thoughts in this blog post:

The Landscape: a new look at route grades

V to YDS correspondence
V to YDS correspondence


There are clearly a lot of limitations as to what one can claim of such a correspondence. I'm not trying to comment on how routes should be graded. I'm trying to show a pattern in how they are graded.

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By slim
Administrator
Jul 15, 2011
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.
that's pretty sweet. now you just need to add a 3rd axis for "technical" difficulty and expand it down to 5.10 or so. that would make a pretty sweet topographical map!

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By ZachBradford
Jul 15, 2011
Sentinel boulder Moe's valley
Rajiv, Very nice blog post. I think that what you have done with the chart is great because I think for route the entire climb must be taken into consideration. The V-grade crux is an important determining factor but cannot tell the entire story. This is especially interesting to me as I am close to a FA on a route that is harder than any previous route I have done. Its 40 feet tall, V5(20 feet) to V8(10 feet) to V4(10 feet) sustained the entire way with no rests.

I have sent several routes in the 5.13- range and this is a step past anything I have been on so I have nothing to compare it too. I don't want to sandbag the route but I don't want to inflate the grade either.

As a side-note relating to the posts overall discussion I don't think that you can say if you boulder "this hard" you can red-point "5.whatever". I have OS as hard as V7 and sent several-V10's. My hardest 5.12b and hardest red-point 5.13a/b. Endurance and many other factors must be taken into consideration. (FYI, I don't keep track of all my sends on MP if you are trolling for a chance to bash)

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By Rajiv Ayyangar
From Portland, ME
Jul 15, 2011
Cut! Sadly my flash attempt met with dismal pump-failure two bolts later.
slim wrote:
that's pretty sweet. now you just need to add a 3rd axis for "technical" difficulty and expand it down to 5.10 or so. that would make a pretty sweet topographical map!


Actually, in my experience the "technical-ness" of a route relates to the route's style and the style of the climber, but has no relation to the grade. It's like danger grades (R, X) in that that it affects what routes we choose, and how hard they feel, but isn't taken into account in the grade.

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By Ryan Nevius
From The Range of Light
Jul 15, 2011
Mt. Agassiz
Cool work Rajiv, and nice write-up!

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By Crag Dweller
From New York, NY
Jul 15, 2011
My navigator keeps me from getting lost
Rajiv Ayyangar wrote:
Actually, in my experience the "technical-ness" of a route relates to the route's style and the style of the climber, but has no relation to the grade. It's like danger grades (R, X) in that that it affects what routes we choose, and how hard they feel, but isn't taken into account in the grade.


you're chart is a great way to look at things. but, that last comment doesn't seem quite right.

hard climbs aren't harder simply because they get steeper and the holds are smaller. techniques are often required that you don't need for easier climbs.

if a climb absolutely requires a hand-foot match, it's probably not a 7. if you must heel hook to pull your body into the roof so you can reach the jug above it, you're not making a 9 move (at least not in most areas). if you have to put a heel-toe cam in to make the next move because no hand hold is positive enough to pull on single-handedly, you're probably not doing the 10a variation.

those moves may seem like standard fare to people who climb really hard stuff. but, for a lot of people, a heel hook is an extremely committing (and, scary) move on lead. and, a lot of people wouldn't even think to try a heel-toe cam unless shown. they're techniques learned as your climbing improves.

all that being said, i would certainly agree that perceived difficulty does have a lot to do with how well a climb suits your style and natural technique. some people are going to think a 10 feels like a 9 depending on their style and vice versa.

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By slim
Administrator
Jul 15, 2011
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.
yeah, i generally think of routes in 4 general dimensions - power, endurance, technical, scare factor.

the technical aspect is a really important one as there is a huge difference between being able to onsight/redpoint a certain grade at your home crag, versus being able to do it at a completely different venue on different rock. an example would be somebody who is able to climb 5.11 at the red would likely be more than strong enough to climb 5.11 vedauwoo OW's or 5.11 tuoulumne slab, but if they don't have the techniques familiarized it would likely feel difficult for them.

this becomes important in the context of grading routes on a global scale, as a person who has climbed 5.11 extensively at a lot of areas will be able to more accurately grade a 5.11 than a person who has only climbed 5.11 at a single area.

i think this is why a lot of people say the gunks are sandbagged, or index is sandbagged, or Jtree is sandbagged, etc. however, if you climb at a lot of different areas you'll probably find that these areas start to feel more average once you get used to the subtle nuances of the rock, etc. there are only 2 places that i have climbed where i felt that the grades were really pretty stiff - vedauwoo and escalante canyon. i have climbed extensively at both areas, and i still haven't onsighted/redpointed at the same grades that i do when i visit other crags. but, maybe i still haven't quite got those techniques down yet ... ;)

as for the 4th dimension - scare factor. physically and technically i feel i could probably climb the bachar-yerian. however, even if i top-roped it 100 times, i still would not be able to lead it. i just don't have what it takes in that area, and i probably never will (excluding some traumatic brain injury that re-wires this circuit).

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By Rajiv Ayyangar
From Portland, ME
Jul 20, 2011
Cut! Sadly my flash attempt met with dismal pump-failure two bolts later.
Crag Dweller wrote:
you're chart is a great way to look at things. but, that last comment doesn't seem quite right. hard climbs aren't harder simply because they get steeper and the holds are smaller. techniques are often required that you don't need for easier climbs. if a climb absolutely requires a hand-foot match, it's probably not a 7. if you must heel hook to pull your body into the roof so you can reach the jug above it, you're not making a 9 move (at least not in most areas). if you have to put a heel-toe cam in to make the next move because no hand hold is positive enough to pull on single-handedly, you're probably not doing the 10a variation. those moves may seem like standard fare to people who climb really hard stuff. but, for a lot of people, a heel hook is an extremely committing (and, scary) move on lead. and, a lot of people wouldn't even think to try a heel-toe cam unless shown. they're techniques learned as your climbing improves. all that being said, i would certainly agree that perceived difficulty does have a lot to do with how well a climb suits your style and natural technique. some people are going to think a 10 feels like a 9 depending on their style and vice versa.


I agree that advanced techniques contribute to the percieved difficulty of the route. However above 5.12 or so, there isn't much difference in the movements - the technical differences are more subtle. There are hardly any techniques I've seen Sharma or Ondra use that I haven't used myself (in a much less powerful version).

I think you're using a strange definition of "technical" - in my experience, "technical" refers to generally small holds, difficult sequences, on vertical or slabby faces, that require precise use of classic techniques - drop-knees, weight shifts, cross-throughs, slab footwork - basically what you think of when you see the old french superstars.

And as for the route "requiring" a heel-hook, that's incredibly subjective. I've used heel-hooks on routes down to 5.6/7. Why? because sometimes that's the easiest way to climb, and I'm a lazy climber. Conversely, I bet you I could climb any 5.9 without heel-hooks without much trouble. Same goes for heel-toe cams. I'll take em on easier routes, because sometimes that's the best way to climb them.

Yes, there is a correlation between climbing level and how advanced your techniques are, but I think that says more about the climber than the route's difficulty. Women will often find more technically advanced beta through a route than men of the same climbing level will. Does that mean women are climbing a harder route? No - it just means they are using beta that is best for them.

Again, without commenting on whether we should change this, I'm observing that the conventional grading scale is largely independent of the technical demands of the route. You are correct that many climbers perceive a technical 5.10 to be harder than a steep, juggy 5.10, but this doesn't mean we give them different grades. Also, many climbers have an easier time on technical routes than on power routes of the same grade.

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By Rajiv Ayyangar
From Portland, ME
Jul 20, 2011
Cut! Sadly my flash attempt met with dismal pump-failure two bolts later.
slim wrote:
yeah, i generally think of routes in 4 general dimensions - power, endurance, technical, scare factor. the technical aspect is a really important one as there is a huge difference between being able to onsight/redpoint a certain grade at your home crag, versus being able to do it at a completely different venue on different rock. an example would be somebody who is able to climb 5.11 at the red would likely be more than strong enough to climb 5.11 vedauwoo OW's or 5.11 tuoulumne slab, but if they don't have the techniques familiarized it would likely feel difficult for them. this becomes important in the context of grading routes on a global scale, as a person who has climbed 5.11 extensively at a lot of areas will be able to more accurately grade a 5.11 than a person who has only climbed 5.11 at a single area. i think this is why a lot of people say the gunks are sandbagged, or index is sandbagged, or Jtree is sandbagged, etc. however, if you climb at a lot of different areas you'll probably find that these areas start to feel more average once you get used to the subtle nuances of the rock, etc. there are only 2 places that i have climbed where i felt that the grades were really pretty stiff - vedauwoo and escalante canyon. i have climbed extensively at both areas, and i still haven't onsighted/redpointed at the same grades that i do when i visit other crags. but, maybe i still haven't quite got those techniques down yet ... ;) as for the 4th dimension - scare factor. physically and technically i feel i could probably climb the bachar-yerian. however, even if i top-roped it 100 times, i still would not be able to lead it. i just don't have what it takes in that area, and i probably never will (excluding some traumatic brain injury that re-wires this circuit).


I agree, the technical difficulties and head factor are a large part of how we perceive the overall challenge of the route. Your Vedauwoo/Tuolumne and Bachar-Yerian examples shows that while we consider these factors, we don't adjust the yds grade based on them. Contrast this with the British E-scale, which takes the head-factor into account...

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By Jason Scott Heacock
Dec 24, 2011
Rumney NH
I like Jay Knowers break down of the v scale....Its a nice comparison to bring bouldering level confidence into routes confidence especially when there is multiple crux sections....Like Lee said, you can break down the moves to give a clearer picture to you buddy before he gets on and tries it (provided he/she wants any beta?

But as a route setter I know it is all too easy to call a v3 a v4 or any variations of the ratings being skewed in part because of how subjective bouldering and the whole sport of climbing is...

When it gets confusing just climb and be content to be moving!

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By Josh.Wood
From New York City
Apr 9, 2012
Especially under V5, there is a huge difference between the bouldering grades indoors and the grades outdoors. Gyms grade their problems so that a beginner could boulder a V0 on his first day climbing. An indoor V0 is around a 5.6, a V1 a 5.8, a V2 a 5.9, a V3 a 5.1a and a V4 5.10d/5.11a. If you're climbing V4 indoors, this translates to around V2 outdoors. To climb 5.12 outdoors means climbing V4 outdoors, and there is a huge difference between that. I climb solid V4/5 indoors, yet outdoors I fall on V2 fairly often.

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By germsauce
Apr 9, 2012
Hippos kill people
Josh i think you need to have a serious talk with the route setters at your gym.

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By Noah Fogel
From Cbad CA
Apr 9, 2012
me
It's like a bunch of v4s stacked up its v4 moves so build endurance and you'll get there.

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By Ian Stewart
Apr 9, 2012
Joshw97 wrote:
Especially under V5, there is a huge difference between the bouldering grades indoors and the grades outdoors. Gyms grade their problems so that a beginner could boulder a V0 on his first day climbing. An indoor V0 is around a 5.6, a V1 a 5.8, a V2 a 5.9, a V3 a 5.1a and a V4 5.10d/5.11a. If you're climbing V4 indoors, this translates to around V2 outdoors. To climb 5.12 outdoors means climbing V4 outdoors, and there is a huge difference between that. I climb solid V4/5 indoors, yet outdoors I fall on V2 fairly often.


If your gym's V3 is equivalent to their 10a roped climbs, they're clueless about either the YDS or V-scale system.

That being said, lots of gyms are soft and/or focus on a few select type of routes so you aren't able to round out your skillset, not to mention the brightly colored holds give you extreme beta that doesn't exist outside (usually). Climbing is a lot easier when you only need to focus on 5% of the wall that the gym tells you is relevant to the climb.

I used to dislike how my local gym just uses a Recreational/Intermediate/Advanced/Open rating system for their bouldering problems...until I realized that ratings are irrelevant except for ego reasons and that bragging about gym climbs is about as cool as bragging about how much you ride your bike trainer.

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By Noah Doherty
From Nashua, NH
Apr 10, 2012
xxxxx wrote:
how do boulder ratings and climbing ratings compare? i found one chart, but it compares a v4 to a 5.12, and v4s are fairly simple for me, but there's no way any amount of hangdogging could get me up a 5.12. can anyone clear up my confusion?


Do you climb in a gym? Gym grades are usually crazy.

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