Rock Climbing Ratings



How hard is it?!  If you are looking for a chart to compare rock climbing ratings and grades then have a look here.  The numbers and letters this table shows basically outlines how ‘hard’ something is.  There are ones for bouldering, ones for sport climbing, others for traditional routes, alpine, winter… We’ve made up lots of different ways to ‘measure’ how hard a climb is.  When I say ‘we’ I mean the climbing community, past and present.  Lots of people all with different views on these combinations of numbers and letters.  So, before looking at the table here’s a:

Word of warning about rock climbing ratings or grades!

Climbing grades are made up by people.  They are properly ‘made up’ in that there aren’t really any ‘objective’ measures.  The grades and rating systems are all ‘subjective’.  So, they’re very different to Celcius and Farenheit that measure temperature, or mph / kmph that measure speed.  It’s like asking someone without a thermometer what the temperature is.  ’Dunno mate, it’s alright, a bit nippy…’  Or asking someone without a speedometer how fast they were driving.  ’I wasn’t going that quick, officer!’  Actually, it’s even less accurate than these because there is no ‘law’ or ‘equation’ behind climbing grades.  The speed your mate was doing was an absolute number, whether he knew it or not.  Same with the temperature.  If it’s 27 outside then it is 27 outside regardless of our knowledge about that.  But a ’5a’ is only a ’5a’ because it ‘kind of fits’ with what general consensus thinks a ’5a’ should ‘feel’ like…

Some routes are easier for tall people.  Some for shorter, others for stronger, lighter…  We’ve all got different strengths and weaknesses so what might be ‘impossible’ for one climber might be ‘only 5a’ to another.  So, these grades are subjective… So what?

Just have a go!

That grades aren’t an exact science just means that you should use them like a rough guide.  (Although i don’t mean literally like those ‘rough guide’ travel books, that’s probably quite a good illustration – they offer a general idea about your destination – but you’d be crazy if you thought they described every step).  Don’t get obsessed by the grades from either angle: Don’t worship them so that your only aim and enjoyment in climbing is to ‘push your grade’.  But similarly, don’t treat them as something that’s got some special power; ‘I can’t do that – it’s a ’6′!’  Instead, just have a go.  If you like the look of a line then go for it.  Even if it’s ‘too easy’ or ‘too hard’.  Who knows, you might really enjoy it and it might be your type of climbing.

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