+39 347 2301915

Rock climbing grades

The different rock climbing grades across the five most popular systems

There are a variety of different systems used around the world to grade rock climbs.rock climbing grades Below you will find a table that compares the different climbing grades across the five most popular systems, that are:

  • French – The French system is an internationally recognised system for grading sport climbs and is therefore used on bolted routes within the UK.
  • UIAA – This system is used in Germany, in other areas of Eastern Europe and in Italy for the classic trad routes.
  • United States – Yosemite Decimal System(YDS) is a grading system commonly found in the United States, starts with a 5.something.
    Grades 1 to 4 refer to walks of increasing difficulty, by the time you reach 5 you are assumed to be scrambling over rocks which equates to about 5.0.
    Sub-Grade (Yosemite Decimal System)
    The sub-grade ranges from 1 to a theoretically infinite number (today the highest number is 15). The number is increased when a ‘harder’ climb is developed.
  • Great Britain – The UK system is made of two sub-grades, an adjective grade and a technical grade. The adjective grade describes the overall difficulty of the climb taking into consideration how strenuous the route is, the amount of exposure and the availability of protection. The adjective grades are as follows: Moderate (M), Very Difficult (VD), Hard Very Difficult HVD), Mild Severe (MS), Severe (S), Hard Severe (HS), Mild Very Severe (MVS), Very Severe (VS), Hard Very Severe (HVS) and Extremely Severe. The Extremely Severe grade is also broken down into 10 further sub grades from E1 to E10.rock climbing grades
    The numerical technical grading describes the hardest (crux) move on the climb. For a brief explanation of UK traditional climbing grades follow this link.
  • Australian – The system used in Australia and New Zealand is perhaps the most logical of all. There are no letters secondary grades, just a single number which gets bigger as the routes get harder.

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, and more.
You can read a very detailed article about bouldering grades here: www.99boulders.com.

Roped climbing

French UIAA YDS GB AUS Skill
 1 I  5 3a     Novice ↓
 2  II  5.1/5.2 3b   11  
 3  III  5.3/5.4 3c   12  
4a  IV  5.5 4a VD 13 Beginner ↓
4b IV+ 5.6 4b S 14  
4c V 5.7 4c HS 15  
5a V+ 5.8   HVS 16  
5b VI- 5.9 5a   17  Intermediate ↓
5c VI 5.10a   E1 18  
6a VI+ 5.10b 5b   19  
6a+ VII- 5.10c   E2 20  
6b VII 5.10d 5c   21  
6b+ VII+ 5.11a   E3 22 Advanced  ↓
6c VIII- 5.11b     23  
6c+ VIII 5.11c 6a E4 24  
7a VIII+ 5.11d     25  
7a+ IX- 5.12a   E5 26  
7b IX-
/ IX
5.12b 6b     Expert  ↓
7b+ IX 5.12c   E6 27  
7c IX
/ IX+
5.12d 6c   28  
7c+ IX+ 5.13a   E7 29  
8a IX+
/ X-
5.13b       Super Expert ↓
8a+ X- 5.13c 7a   30  
8b X 5.13d   E8 31  
8b+ X+ 5.14a     32  Elite ↓
8c X+/XI- 5.14b 7b   33  
8c+ XI- 5.14c   E9  34  
9a XI 5.14d 7c    35 Super  Elite ↓
9a+ XI+ 5.15a     36  
9b XII- 5.15b     37  
9b+ XII 5.15c     38  
9c XII+ 5.15d     39 ALIEN!

See more systems used around the world to grade rock climbs.