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Bouldering "V-Scale vs. B-scale"


Original Post
Matt Overduin · · Phelan, CA · Joined Feb 2019 · Points: 2

Hello,

I have a question.  In the late nineties, I used to go to Hangar 18 climbing gym in Upland, CA.  I distinctly remember the bouldering grades being "B1,B2, or B3" and not on the V-scale.  I'm just curious, do you guys have similar experiences from climbing back in the 90's? And, when did the V-scale become mainstream? For instance, when did the climbs in JT convert over to the V-scale? 

B W · · Santa Fe, NM · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 2
the schmuck · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 115

B scale in the late 90s? I started by climbing boulders in southern New Mexico in 1989, and though I have seen old guidebooks that used or referred to the "B" scale, I never saw it used in the wild, mostly in New Mexico and Colorado.  The "B" scale is a sliding scale, which starts with B1 equaling the hardest moves done to date on rope, so today it would equal the hardest moves encountered on a .15+ sport route, or in the neighborhood of v14 or so.  B2 would be about the hardest moves repeated, so about the equivalent of v15 or v16.  B3 is a problem so hard that it is unrepeated, or v16 or v17.  Once a problem was repeated, it was automatically downrated to B2.  This is not a very useful system but for maybe the top couple hundred boulderers in the world.  In the late 90s, a true application of the B Scale would be B1=V11/12, B2=V13, and B3=v14+.  I suspect that back then most gym chuffers would have had no use for problems at this standard.

B W · · Santa Fe, NM · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 2

B was the system in Eldo back in the 90's...at least in the guide I had back then.

Early 90s, that is.

the schmuck · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 115
B W wrote: B was the system in Eldo back in the 90's...at least in the guide I had back then.

Early 90s, that is.

I believe you, but Morrison, just down the road, and Horsetooth, just up the road, were already on the "v" scale.  So was Flagstaff.

B W · · Santa Fe, NM · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 2

Yeah, not arguing. I went to those areas, as well, but didn't have guide for them back then. Maybe picked one up by late 90's with v's.

edit: My guide printed in 99 has v-scale for all of CO...and Eldo canyon was developed long before some of those other areas, I imagine.

adeadhead · · Baltimore, MD · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 97
B W wrote: https://www.99boulders.com/bouldering-grades

“NUMBERS GOT NO SOUL!”
That quote is attributed to John Sherman. Many of bouldering’s founding fathers greatly disliked grading scales and rejected the idea of them. They predicted that grading scales would lead to misguided efforts by boulderers to simply reach the next level of the scale and, as a result, lose sight of the joy of bouldering.

Jaren Watson · · Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 2,505
adeadhead wrote: predicted that grading scales would lead to misguided efforts by boulderers to simply reach the next level of the scale and, as a result, lose sight of the joy of bouldering.
 

Boy did they get it wrong. I’ve never met a boulderer, or route climber for that matter, who cared about grades.

John Gill · · Colorado · Joined 18 days ago · Points: 7

The B-scale I devised in the 1950s was functional for the small group of boulderers at that time, and it was more a personal rating system. It's true that I was not eager to see bouldering turn into a number's chase, but when more and more climbers began bouldering in was inevitable an open-ended system would emerge. Thanks here in the USA to Verm.

B W · · Santa Fe, NM · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 2

Thanks for the info, John!

Roots · · Redmond. OR · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 20
Malcolm Daly · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 380

It's great to see John Gill here! Welcome to the forum. When I got to Ft. Collins in 1973, Gill had already left town but the trail he left was hard and memorable. Discovering his white arrows was always a surprise and a welcome throwdown. Here's how we rated the ratings:

B1- This was a problem that was harder than anything you could climb on a rope. Remember, you climbed from the ground up and if you fell, you either "couldn't do it" or came back another day. There wasn't any redpoint, there wasn't any hangdogging and few bolts. If it was easier than B1, in other words, if you walk up to it and climb it without too much difficulty, then we'd rate it 5.10 or 5.11. The Standard Route on the Mental Block  and the Right Eliminator were the definitive B1 problems of the day.

B2- This was for the world of hardmen and the problems required vision, planning, practice (we didn't call it training then) and good spotters. Remember, there were no pads. Sometimes these routes would take weeks or months to do. The Left Eliminator and Pinch Overhang were B2.

B3- These were aspirational problems and were so hard most of us didn't try them. In fact, if they were ever repeated they were immediately downgraded, with no shame, to B3.

BTW, I love how quaint the phrase "Back in 1999" sounds.

Climb safe,
Mal

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Bouldering
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