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5.14a crux grades?

Original Post
Josh Triplett · · Bountiful, UT · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 0

I started out climbing years ago doing sport routes, moved into trad and then when partners dried up moved into bouldering. Since then I've wanted to return to more purpose filled sport routes, trying to push myself physically and mentally. I am currently working on getting the endurance up because while I am projecting V10, 5.13- is kicking my trash.

For all you hard core guys and gals out there, what do I need to expect from myself, from a bouldering grade level perspective, to redpoint 5.14a? Is it realistic for me to have that as a goal based on my continued acquisition of endurance and current bouldering abilities? I assume that I will want to keep getting stronger and be disciplined while training. But I've been trying to find out at what point am I strong enough (bouldering wise) that I could just do the moves for the crux on a 14a.

Thanks for any advice, climb safe, climb strong.

evan h · · Denver, CO · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 320

Well take my humble advice with a grain of salt, because I haven't even sent 5.13 yet!

According to various grade equivalency charts V10 = 5.14a. Of course these are always rough guides, and most likely you would only be doing V10 if this was a short "roped boulder problem". The shorter the route, generally the harder the V grade.

For instance, 12b roughly equates to V5, but I'm pretty sure I've never pulled V5 moves on a 12b route because most routes are stacked boulder problems, say a V4 and a V3, separated by a short rest.

Basically, if you can send V10 you're there in terms of strength and power. Endurance, tactics, etc might be all you need. V11 gets you 14b. Maybe someone who actually has sent some 14s will chime in!

ChrisHau · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 335

I'm not a solid 14- climber, but I've sampled (read: hangdogged) a few.

Evan's got it right, with there being an upper limit of around V10 for a 5.14a route. But most of the time, a few short bouldery routes being the exception, the V-grades for cruxes on a 14a will be less than that when you take the whole climb into consideration - more like V8s or V9s or so. But again, it really depends on the route.

There's also a ton of route-specific demands as well that consummate boulderers don't have as much experience with. It's easy to underestimate how hard a crux can feel if it's a hundred feet up with a lot of hard climbing underfoot. You have to learn to recover and relax at rests, and be able to execute good technique while being uncomfortably pumped.

Someone barely getting up a certain V-grade that perfectly fits his/her style doesn't mean they'll be able to get the equivalent YDS grade. I'd say that a solid V10 climber (meaning consistently climbs V10s of various styles relatively quickly) has the requisite strength to be a solid 14a climber, assuming that all the other stuff - route specific tactics/fitness etc. - are up to par.

Some examples of route breakdowns off the top of my head at or around the 14a range, with some subjective V-grades:

Riviera (pure boulder problem 13d), Rumney, a single sequence of V9ish with no pump.

Proper Soul (light 14a), NRG, long V7/8 main crux, full rest, V6 second crux, V4/5 redpoint crux.

Trebuchet (endurance 14b), NRG, 13b first pitch, decent rest, powerful V9 roof boulder directly into 5.13 headwall. V6 redpoint crux.

Still Life (bouldery 14b), NRG, powerful but short opening sequence of 13b, mediocre rest into V7/V8 then immediately into V9 final sequence.

Josh Triplett · · Bountiful, UT · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 0

Thanks Evan, humble advice is the best kind. I appreciated your input.

Thank you Chris for the experience specific point of view. I've never touched a 5.14 so I suppose that I should make it a point to do so. I did not think about how route specific skills would come into effect at that level of climbing. Although, after reading your varied list of routes posted I think that I will really have to get a project and focus on training those skills. I don't know that I'll ever be a "solid 14- climber". But it is nice to have a preview of what it might take for me to get there.

Nothing left to do but to get after it. Too bad we are just starting winter. I'll be spending a lot of time in the gym trying to gear up the power and endurance. This year I will just focus on getting some 13s sent and work my way through the grades. 14a is my long term goal. Coming back to sport after so much bouldering is humbling.


evan h · · Denver, CO · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 320

Yep, Chris fleshed out the tactics piece. I think more than endurance, it's the tactics that keep many strong boulderers from easily sending YDS equivalent sport routes. One thing I notice is that those who boulder tend to climb routes more statically, and squeeze the dog shit out of holds. This is fantastic for an 8 move problem (something I'm trying to better cultivate for bouldering), but extremely inefficient for an 80 foot route. They'll pump out and blame it on endurance, which may be partly true, but likely only part of the equation.

David Morison · · salt lake city, UT · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 70

There's a delightful scatter plot on this blog peripheral scrutiny by Rajiv Ayyangar

ChrisHau · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 335

I agree with working on your route pyramid, especially outside. If you're sending V10 but having issue with 13-, I don't think it's a matter of getting stronger, more an issue of really learning to climb routes, and that's just a matter of experience and exposure to a variety of routes.

Most boulderers trying to switch to sport quickly point to their lack of endurance, but I agree with Evan that it isn't necessarily physical endurance that's holding them back. Route climbing is all about understanding how to switch gears between bouldering-style crushing to easy paddling to full resting with minimal exertion, and it's totally a learned skill.

In my gym at least, it's difficult to simulate the demands of a true outdoor route, in terms of that switching of gears I was describing. Gyms tend to set routes with homogeneous difficulty, so instead of having a crux sequence and then learning how to rest in a good stance, you have a continuous level of difficulty to the top. There's useful training to be had in that style, but it's not especially representative of an outdoor route.

Working routes outside is, in my opinion, the best approach to achieving your goal. Figuring out your own redpoint tactics, how to refine beta to work while pumped, doing links and so on are as important as any strength training. Plus don't forget the mental game of being on lead and so on.

Josh Triplett · · Bountiful, UT · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 0

Thanks again Chris and Evan for your input. You've given me a lot of food for thought, which is precisely what I was hoping to find.

David thanks for the chart as well as the link to the blog post. It was very helpful to understand the nature of Sport Grades and how to view things now that I am getting back into that world of climbing. It amazes me how different the 3 disciplines really are.

Thanks again all, Josh.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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