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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

FrenchUIAAYDSGBAUSSkill
 1I 53a  Novice ↓
 2 II 5.1/5.23b 11 
 3 III 5.3/5.43c 12 
4a IV 5.54aVD13Beginner ↓
4bIV+5.64bS14 
4cV5.74cHS15 
5aV+5.8 HVS16 
5bVI-5.95a 17 Intermediate ↓
5cVI5.10a E118 
6aVI+5.10b5b 19 
6a+VII-5.10c E220 
6bVII5.10d5c 21 
6b+VII+5.11a E322Advanced  ↓
6cVIII-5.11b  23 
6c+VIII5.11c6aE424 
7aVIII+5.11d  25 
7a+IX-5.12a E526 
7bIX-
/ IX
5.12b6b  Expert  ↓
7b+IX5.12c E627 
7cIX
/ IX+
5.12d6c 28 
7c+IX+5.13a E729 
8aIX+
/ X-
5.13b   Super Expert ↓
8a+X-5.13c7a 30 
8bX5.13d E831 
8b+X+5.14a  32 Elite ↓
8cX+/XI-5.14b7b 33 
8c+XI-5.14c E9 34 
9aXI5.14d7c  35Super  Elite ↓
9a+XI+5.15a  36 
9bXII-5.15b  37 
9b+XII5.15c  38 

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

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