This article needs additional citations for verification .(September 2020)
In the sport of bouldering, problems are assigned technical grades according to several established systems, which are often distinct from those used in roped climbing. Bouldering grade systems in wide use include the Hueco "V" grades (known as the V-scale), Fontainebleau technical grades, route colors, Peak District grades, and British technical grades. Historically, the three-level "B" system and even the Yosemite Decimal System (sometimes with a "B" prepended, as in "B5.12") were also used.
The B system conceived by John Gill in the 1950s was a universal rating scheme for bouldering, having three categories: "B1" was defined as "... the highest level of difficulty in traditional roped climbing", "B2" was harder than B1, or "bouldering level", and the grade "B3" designated a route ascended only once, although tried by others on several occasions. When a B3 was ascended a second time, it was reclassified as a B2, or B1. Gill's idea was to attract climbers to the "new" sport of bouldering, but discourage turning that sport into a numbers race. His system depended heavily on traditional climbing standards, long before sport climbing came into existence. It was assumed that the scale would shift as traditional difficulty levels rose. Thus, e.g., a B1(1958) would be easier than a B1(1968).
The system – designed in the early days of "modern bouldering" (i.e., bouldering interpreted as a legitimate form of rock climbing to be practiced anywhere the terrain is suitable, and not simply as training or as a minor, playful divertissement) – has never been in worldwide use. Occasionally climbers visiting bouldering destinations in North America encounter boulder problems with B ratings. The difficulty of these problems are now commonly quantified by John Sherman's V scale. The Gill B system is of historical interest, but has limitations in modern, competitive bouldering involving many climbers. Gill, citing the fragmentation of his categories into "B1-", "B1+", etc., blames the decline in popularity of his B-System upon its being "against the grain of normal competitive structures, where a simple open progression of numbers or letters indicates progress."
In Europe the Fontainebleau grading is the most widely used. The open-ended numerical system ranges from 1A to 9A, and has been directly linked to a colour coded system since 1960. The colours have changed several times over the years and continue to develop, with the introduction of apple green in 2018 for the Facile grade of between children and adults. These grades are particular to Fontainebleau for the specific reason that foot technique and friction are critical. Most climbing walls require very little footwork and the V grading system works well since it relates directly to upper body strength. Indeed the majority of bouldering areas that are steep and overhanging suit the V grade perfectly, hence it is commonly adopted worldwide. In Fontainebleau, a full overall body technique is required and therefore gives reason for the development of its own particular grading system. In the very upper grades it is very easy to make comparisons, however in the lower grades (Font 6C and below) it is impossible to make a fair comparison.
Since the year 2000, the colours and grades have become well established with the following used to base the grades (but there are always exceptions): 1A-1C is reserved for slabs that can be climbed without the use of hands. 2A-2C is generally yellow or green, and signify good holds and the problems that are easy enough to be done in training/approach shoes. 3A-3C (orange), are designated where technique is needed but nothing much for the arms. 4A-4C (blue), is for problems that require either specific arm or fingertip strength - and very often core strength since the footholds are often poor or sloping. 5A-5C (red), is given for problems that have a combination of fingertip and arm strength. 6A-6C (black or white), are simply desperate and mostly involve techniques particular to Fontainebleau. 7A-8C (purple), these problems are not marked on the rock but feature in the Jingowobbly guidebooks series as purple. The circuits that run through the forest and which follow painted thumb-sized numbers, will average at the grade for the colour, but may often include a few harder or easier problems than the colour suggests - especially if there are a limited number of circuits in an area and a whole circuit of one colour isn't painted.
The "V" scale, devised by John 'Vermin' Sherman at Hueco Tanks State Historic Site in the 1990s, is the most widely used system in North America. Although open-ended, the "V" system covers a range from V0 to V17.At the easier end of the scale, some use the designation "VB" (sometimes said to designate "basic" or "beginner") for problems easier than a V0. Particularly at the lower end of the scale, the grades are sometimes postfixed with "+" (harder) or "−" (easier) to further distinguish the difficulty range within a single grade. Next-wave ascents harder than the current set of top-end problems will hypothetically continue to increase numbers in the scale.
The scale is similar to many other systems in that it does not take danger or fear into account. Problems are rated based solely on the physical challenge involved. This implies that problems have the same grade on the V-scale on toprope as they would have when bouldered.Due to this limitation, guidebooks will often separately indicate when problems are dangerous for various reasons, for example, using the term 'highball' to indicate unusually tall boulders. If the terrain underneath the problem is especially sketchy (rocky, unusually steep, or for any other reason), the 'landing' of the problem will frequently be noted. Some world-class climbers encourage the use of the British E scale in cases where these dangers affect the difficulty of problems.
Conceptually, the "V" scale is the bouldering equivalent of the earlier Australian (Ewbank) grading system for climbing - both have the advantages of not predefining an upper limit on difficulty measurement (as happened with the original Yosemite Decimal System), nor of having artificial divisions within the range of grades (as is the case with most other grading systems that use designations such as "a", "b", "c", "d", "+", "-" etc. within a single "grade").
In the UK, the system known as UK technical grades is occasionally used to rate a boulder problem. These run from 4a to 7b with steps of a, b and c before changing the initial number. This system is applied because these technical grades are used in the UK grading system for trad routes to represent the absolute difficulty of the hardest move. UK technical grades were only designed to describe the difficulty of a single move making them unsuitable for grading boulders and V or Font grades are generally used instead.
Japan also has developed its own grading system widely used by the local climbers of the country, adopting the Dankyu (Dan and Kyu) system which resembles that of martial arts. It is also called the Soroban system, meaning grading system used in Japanese abacus schools. Like in martial arts, 1-Kyu is the hardest Kyu and it gets easier as the number ascends. 1-Kyu is the baseline grade represented by Captain Ahab in Ogawayama or Ninjagaeshi in Mitake, and is roughly equal to 6C+/7A in Fontainebleau grades or V5/V6 in Hueco scale. Kyu is open-ended on the easier side but practically the easiest problem could be around 10-Kyu. Dan starts from where kyu ends, Shodan (or 1-Dan) being the next grade higher than 1-Kyu, making it about 7A+/7B in Fontainebleau, V7/V8 in Hueco. Climbing a shodan problem means the climber has reached the advanced level. Dan gets harder as the number ascends, and is open-ended on the harder side. The Wheel of Life (V15/8C [ unreliable source? ]) is graded at 6-Dan. A comparison between Fontainebleau and Dankyu bouldering grades suggests that 6 kyu is equivalent to 4A/4C Fontainebleau.
Many attempts have been made to correlate the various grading systems, comparing not only grades in different bouldering systems, but also bouldering grades with traditional or sport climbing grades as well. Sometimes, there will be lack of agreement among boulderers on the difficulty of a particular problem using a single system, due to differences in size, reach, and other factors. That makes a consensus about equivalences among the various systems even less likely. [ unreliable source? ]
|Bouldering rating systems|
Bouldering is a form of free climbing that is performed on small rock formations or artificial rock walls without the use of ropes or harnesses. While bouldering can be done without any equipment, most climbers use climbing shoes to help secure footholds, chalk to keep their hands dry and to provide a firmer grip, and bouldering mats to prevent injuries from falls. Unlike free solo climbing, which is also performed without ropes, bouldering problems are usually less than six metres (20 ft) tall. Traverses, which are a form of boulder problem, require the climber to climb horizontally from one end to another. Artificial climbing walls allow boulderers to climb indoors in areas without natural boulders. In addition, bouldering competitions take place in both indoor and outdoor settings.
In rock climbing, mountaineering, and other climbing disciplines, climbers give a grade to a climbing route or boulder problem, intended to describe concisely the difficulty and danger of climbing it. Different types of climbing each have their own grading systems, and many nationalities developed their own, distinctive grading systems.
This glossary of climbing terms is a list of definitions of terms and jargon related to rock climbing and mountaineering. The specific terms used can vary considerably between different English-speaking countries; many of the phrases described here are particular to the United States and the United Kingdom.
Rock climbing is a sport in which participants climb up, across, or down natural rock formations or artificial rock walls. The goal is to reach the summit of a formation or the endpoint of a usually pre-defined route without falling. Rock climbing is a physically and mentally demanding sport, one that often tests a climber's strength, endurance, agility and balance along with mental control. Knowledge of proper climbing techniques and the use of specialized climbing equipment is crucial for the safe completion of routes.
Fred Nicole is a Swiss rock climber, notable for his numerous first ascents of extreme bouldering problems, and sport climbing routes.
John Gill is an American mathematician who has achieved recognition for his rock-climbing. Many climbers consider him the father of modern bouldering.
Free solo climbing, or free soloing, is a form of technical ice or rock climbing where the climbers climb alone without ropes, harnesses or other protective equipment, forcing them to rely entirely on their own individual preparation, strength, and skill. Free soloing is the most dangerous form of climbing, and unlike bouldering, free soloists climb above safe heights, where a fall can very likely be fatal. Though many climbers have attempted free soloing, it is considered "a niche of a niche" reserved for the sport's elite, which has led many practitioners to stardom within both the media and the sport of rock climbing. "Free solo" was originally a term of climber slang, but after the popularity of the Oscar-winning film Free Solo, Merriam-Webster officially added the word to their English dictionary in September 2019.
Lisa Rands is an American rock climber. She is known for her bouldering for which in 2002, she became the first American female to win IFSC World Cup bouldering competitions, and topped the IFSC world boulder rankings in 2002. Rands was the first American female to climb boulders of grade V11 (8A), and V12 (8A+), and was the second-ever female in history to climb a 7C+/8A boulder. As well as making first female ascents (FFAs) of boulders such as The Mandala V12 (8A+), Rands was the first female in history to do an E8-graded traditional climbing route, The End of the Affair.
Jim Holloway, an American, was one of the first of a new generation of boulderers for whom the sport was a lifestyle rather than a recreation. He began bouldering in the early 1970s in Boulder, Colorado, and in 1973 established his first notable route, Just Right. In 1975 he put up Trice – at today's grade of V11 or V12, exceptionally difficult for the 1970s.
A routesetter is a person who designs artificial rock climbing wall routes, or problems. Also known as "setters", these professionals combine technical craft with an artistic representation of real rock climbing moves. They do this with modular resin, polyurethane, polyester, fiberglass, or wood holds or "grips" that mimic real rock features. These routes are used by a rock climber to get to the top of a climbing wall.
Hard Grit is a 1998 British rock climbing film directed by Richard Heap and produced by Slackjaw Film, featuring traditional climbing, free soloing, and bouldering on gritstone routes in the Peak District in the North of England. It is considered an important film in the genre and regarded as a historic and iconic film. The film starts with a dramatic fall by French climber Jean–Minh Trinh-Thieu on Gaia at Black Rocks. Hard Grit won ten international film festival awards.
Paul David Robinson is an American professional rock climber who specializes in bouldering. He has established and repeated several bouldering problems at the V15 difficulty rating, in such areas as Hueco Tanks, the Buttermilks, and Magic Wood. In 2007, Robinson became the second climber in history to successfully climb a V13 boulder problem in one attempt.
The region around Fontainebleau in France is particularly famous for its concentrated bouldering areas. French alpine climbers practiced bouldering there since the 19th century. It remains today a prime climbing location. It is the biggest and most developed bouldering area in the world.
Darlene Thomasina Pidgeon is a Canadian rock climber known for being one of the world's strongest female boulderers in the early 2000s and 2010s, was for a time the strongest female Canadian boulderer, and was the first Canadian female to climb the grades of V10, V11, and V12. She is often featured in Gripped Magazine and contributes to The Collective. She has also been featured in several international magazines and websites and her image has been used in advertising, magazine galleries, and magazine covers.
Alex Puccio is a professional climber specializing in bouldering. She competes in climbing competitions and split her time between climbing outdoor and indoor. She finished third overall in the 2011 and 2013 World Cup bouldering competition, second overall in the 2014 Climbing World Championship bouldering competition, and has won the American Bouldering Series eleven times.
Ashima Shiraishi is an American rock climber. Shiraishi started climbing at the age of six at Rat Rock in Central Park, joining her father. Only a few years later, she quickly established herself as one of the top boulderers and sport climbers in the world. Her numerous accolades include first-place finishes in international competitions, and multiple first female and youngest ascents. Shiraishi is featured in several short documentary-style films, and is the subject of the documentary short "Return to the Red" (2012).
Angela Payne is an American rock climber specializing in bouldering, who won a clean sweep of the 2003-2004 US American Bouldering Series, and who in 2010, became the first-ever female in history to climb an 8B (V13) boulder.
Jan Hojer is a German professional rock climber. He is known for winning one World Cup and two European Championships in bouldering. On May 2010, he climbed Action Directe, still considered to be one of the most difficult routes in the world. From 2013 to 2015, he sent several 8C (V15) boulder problems.
Silence, is a 45-metre (148 ft) sport climbing route in the granite Hanshelleren Cave, in Flatanger, Norway. When it was first climbed by Czech climber Adam Ondra on 3 September 2017, it became the first rock climb in the world to have a proposed grade of 9c (5.15d). To complete the route, Ondra undertook specialist physical and mental training to overcome its severely overhanging terrain. Silence remains unrepeated.