Boulder grades vs Route Grades

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Do you think that this is a good idea?

Yes - we should grade based on the nature of the climb
No - we should use route grades for climbs that use ropes
Total votes: 3

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Real Name: Guy Holwill
Location: Cape Town

Boulder grades vs Route Grades

Post by Guy » Fri Dec 09, 2005 12:05 pm

There is an article on that suggests that we should grade climbs by there nature rather than whether you use a rope – ie some boulder problems are more like routes and vice-versa. For example: The Sex Traverse (a boulder problem traverse at Topside) is more like a route than a boulder problem and consequently it is more meaningful to grade it 27 (rather than 6c+) and Flying Dutchman (a short route at The Mine) is more like a boulder problem – so it should be 7b+ (rather than 30). Obviously there is a grey area, when you could choose either grading system.

What do people think of this idea? Please vote in the poll.


Excellent Idea

Post by Bob » Fri Dec 09, 2005 1:08 pm

The examples you mention (Flying Dutchmen, Sex Traverse) are definite cases that would be more meaningfully described with the alternative grading system.

A more famous case is Dave Grahams route \"The Fly\" in Rumney. He climbed it with ropes etc at grade 9a. It was later bouldered by Jason Kehl at grade V13. So is it a route or a boulder problem and does it really matter?

I have noticed that more and more top climbers are using both grading systems to describe the difficulty of harder routes. It enables them to break down the route and more accurately grade different sections. Below is a snippet from an article on Fred Rouhlings route Akira (I know it is controversial but you get the general idea...)

Rouhling switches between bouldering grades and route grades to distinguish between the difficulty of a shorter sequence and the difficulty of a whole section of the route. Therefore he says that one could call Akira V14, to a bit of 5.14a, to a bit of 5.13b — or simply 5.15b.)

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Post by timmy » Fri Dec 09, 2005 1:23 pm

Last edited by timmy on Fri Dec 09, 2005 1:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
\"If you don't break your ropes while you're alive do you think ghosts will do it after?\" -


Post by Hector » Fri Dec 09, 2005 1:38 pm

The whole grading debate has appeared in many forms and will continue to do so. I think the best solution is to write decent RD's. Any climb, whether a boulder problem or a multi-pitch trad route, is something that changes charactaristics over its length. There is no way to sum up the entire experience of a climb into a neat little alpha-numeric that will please everyone. I reckon the route should be graded with whatever system the F-Ascentionist prefers, and then a decent description given in an accessible place (ie the internet - there are plenty of places to post RD's these days). Obviously any RD shouldnt contain beta that might ruin an on-sight. I guess the debate does have more meaning when talking about the hardest routes in the world because obviously the question is \"which is the hardest\". If they are all graded with different systems, then there is no way to compare, but subjectivity will always be an issue in climbing.

Evan Wiercx

Post by Evan Wiercx » Fri Dec 09, 2005 2:06 pm

The following article is in line with Guy's topic: ... icleId=879

One of the points being made is perhaps we should choose the type of grading (ie boulder vs route grade) based on the nature of the climbing (ie, short & powerful vs long & endurance), rather than whether or not a rope is used.

Cheers, Evan.

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