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Boulder Problem Grades in the Gym?
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By Mike Pharris
From Longmont, CO
Feb 10, 2009
Climbing above Black Lake
Let me start by saying i'm not really a big boulder problem guy, but over the winter I've been spending some evenings at the gym and generally have used the boulder problems to try to build some strength and work on footwork, things like that. The gym I go to doesn't rate problems with the "V Scale" but they use "REC", "INT" and "ADV" for the routes.

I'm wondering how to compare these to the V Scale. I'm thinking REC is pretty much V0 and V1, INT = V2 and V3, ADV is higher.

Any comments or feedback? I'm just curious if there's any sort of 'standard' for this sort of thing.

Thanks

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By Adam Catalano
From Albany, New York
Feb 10, 2009
me
You're just about right.
ABS uses this as well for competitions and Rec is V0-1+, Int is V2-V4 and Advanced is V4-6, They also have an 'Open' category which is V6+ and beyond.

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By Mike Pharris
From Longmont, CO
Feb 10, 2009
Climbing above Black Lake
Thanks, yep - there are a few "Open" problems with holds that seem to require divine intervention to stay on.

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By Evan S
From Erie, CO
Feb 10, 2009
Me, of course
At the BRC in Boulder, in my opinion, you don't start hitting V3 or even V2 until the Advanced problems. I base this on what things feel like outside on real rock. The elite problems probably start at V3 or V4. Maybe I'm way off, but V5 feels significantly harder than most "ADV's" at the gym. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

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By Dan Dalton
From Boulder, CO
Feb 10, 2009
Working the sick hand-jams on Stemwide aka Big Dih...
Yeah, the problem ratings are a little off sometimes, but I would say that this is true because the BRC has little setters there that spend there time boulering. The Spot is more oriented towards the Bouldering culture whereas the BRC is more adept for roped climbing. Most grades on the ropes are fairly accurate.

That being said, it must be a good training ground since people like Paul Robinson and Alex Pucio frequent the tall BRC bouldering wall.

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By Evan S
From Erie, CO
Feb 10, 2009
Me, of course
No question plenty of the problems at the BRC are super hard. I'm not saying that, I'm just saying I would personally give a lot of the advanced problems more intermediate ratings compared to the Vermin scale. And I suck, I'm a shitty climber. That being said, I also feel the grades on the tall walls are a little soft. A lot of the 10's don't have any "10" moves on them, it's just the sustained and sometimes overhanging nature of them that warrants the rating. I can barely scrape up 11's outside and can usually get up em just fine at the gym. I've climbed 10b's in boulder canyon where I was standing on dime edges and crimping on nickels, I dare you to find a 10 at a gym like that. Realistically thought, it doesn't matter, I will always be able to find something far beyond my abilities to throw myself at in the gym, who cares what it's rated. Let's call them "5.11 G(gym)" etc.

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By Dan Dalton
From Boulder, CO
Feb 10, 2009
Working the sick hand-jams on Stemwide aka Big Dih...
Sounds good to me. I would have to say it is a little hit and miss, but they are mostly accurate. I think the actual physical movements in a gym are rated fairly accurate, the things that are different is you have big ass arrows (aka tape) showing you where to go. Outside this is gone, and even though the moves might seem harder, they really aren't, you might just be messing up a sequence or missing a hold.

At any rate, climbing outside is where it is at more me. I agree, its a gym who cares?

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By half-pad-mini-jug
From crauschville
Feb 10, 2009
Also, ratings on an outdoor boulder problem will be more accurate due to the consensus factor from other climbers... Ratings in a gym are the opinion of the route-setter, and due to the fact that everyone does not have the same 'style' of climbing, these problems may feel easier or harder depending on the climber and their 'style.' Besides, grades are dumb... climb what feels fun.

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By Tony B
From Around Boulder, CO
Feb 10, 2009
Got Milk? How about forearm pump? Tony leads "...
I think gym problems can be easier than outdoor problems too becuase they rate the moves, but since there are not many sucker holds or on holds you just don't see, the sequences are easier to read and understand. As a result you just have to do the moves sometimes, and they are less difficult to figure out.
For what it's worth, indoors I bouldered about 3 V-grades harder than I generally climb.

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By Chase Gee
From Wyoming/ Logan Utah
Feb 10, 2009
My Top Secret Yet to be named crag.
My "Local" Gym (2hours away) uses a grading scale geared for comps its a point system the easiest is a 50 and the hardest is usually an 800. They say its pretty much the V-scale but with zeros in front of the numbers but i don't think so. Anyways I try not to pay much attention to the grades but its difficult when its in gigantic letters on the starting holds.

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By Phil Lauffen
From The Bubble
Feb 11, 2009
RMNP skiing. Photo by Nodin de Saillan
Has anyone else noticed the huge discrepancy between grades at the BRC in the cave versus the lower wall? I can send all of the advanced and a few elite in a few trys in the cave while I flail on most of the advanced problems on the lower wall. My hands try to run away when I even look at the elite problems on the lower wall.

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By slim
Administrator
Feb 11, 2009
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.
the bouldering at the BRC is terrible, a complete waste of space. they don't have route setters that can set good boulder problems, and the wall angles are too generic. also, they are super lazy about keeping the routes in decent shape (ie tape missing on current routes, and tape remaining on removed routes). they would be a lot better off just bulldozing it and adding more roped climbing, and letting the spot own the bouldering action (which they already do).

regarding their rating system, it's cute and all, but doesn't really lend itself to being helpful in analyzing your training needs or weaknesses.

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By Steve Powell
From Alhambra, California
Mar 20, 2009
depends on the gym. I find that a V2 indoors=V0 outside

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By Couloirman
From Providence, RI
Mar 20, 2009
speedriding vail pass
Dan Dalton wrote:
Most grades on the ropes are fairly accurate.



I totally disagree. A 5.10 at the BRC is a total warm up for me and Ive never, ever fallen on a 5.10 there, yet outside that is starting to push my limits. Ive climbed 5.12 at the BRC but never broken the 5.11 barrier outdoors.

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By RobR
Mar 20, 2009
I agree completely with Couloirman. I've climbed both sport and trad in a wide variety areas up to about 5.11. I feel most routes at the BRC are at least a full grade soft. Especially some of the easier climbs (5.7 - 5.9) might rate 5.4 - 5.6 in areas like the Gunks. That being said I don't feel there is any substitute for the complexity of real rock.

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By Tony B
From Around Boulder, CO
Mar 20, 2009
Got Milk? How about forearm pump? Tony leads "...
Funny, for many years I have climbed a number grade harder outdoors than in. Except when Bouldering, which I ONLY do indoors and then I am a few clicks harder in there. My flash limits have been:
Bouldering 12+ (V6) outdoors 11+/12- indoors 5.11.
I think it depends what your strengths are. Indoor difficulty is frequently generated via endurance and bad holds, real rocks more difficult to read and sequency, and Bouldering more power- which is apparently the only thing I was ever very good at.

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By pfwein
From Boulder, CO
Mar 20, 2009
Couloirman wrote:
I totally disagree. A 5.10 at the BRC is a total warm up for me and Ive never, ever fallen on a 5.10 there, yet outside that is starting to push my limits. Ive climbed 5.12 at the BRC but never broken the 5.11 barrier outdoors.

Couloirman--if you can climb 5.12 at BRC but can't manage 5.11 outdoors, something is wrong with your technique when you got outside. The routes at BRC may be soft, but they ain't that soft. Not dissing you--just saying u have all the physical skills to climb at least 5.11 outside if you can climb BRC 5.12.
(I assume you're talking sport climbing--if not, my comment doesn't apply. Also, even sport ratings seem to vary quite a bit outside, so it's possible you're comparing BRC ratings to someplace particularly tough. I'm thinking sport climbing ratings along the Front Range, but not necessarily super-weak Sport Park or the like.)

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By RyRy
Mar 20, 2009
I had a membership at the BRC for almost 2 years. Nice place and all. I did notice I warmed up on 11 and 12 regularly. There projects seem a little over-graded but with that said at RandJ last week I climbed a 12 in my tennies, and onsighted a 12+. I love gyms and all the plastic pulling freaks but I always get injured on plastic holds or tweaky moves. Gym grades are a joke... I climb for fun

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By Evan S
From Erie, CO
Mar 20, 2009
Me, of course
RyRy wrote:
I climbed a 12 in my tennies, and onsighted a 12+.


Oh you, youre such a stud muffin

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By matthewWallace
From plymouth, nh
Mar 21, 2009
Cool movement on this line
i think indoor ratings are very subjective because it depends on who the route setters are. also the moves may be a V2 move but you can see the move there is no guessing or route finding involved you can see the route laid out in front of you.

this is why ratings in gyms should only be used for progress to be marked in the gym, not related to outdoor climbing. if you can climb V4 inside don't say you boulder V4 because good chance outside may be a different story...IMHO

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By Andrew Ryder
From Flagstaff, AZ
Mar 21, 2009
Stems, Seeds
I think that fundamentally, the YDS and V-scale can't equate to gym climbing - it's too different in too many aspects. So many features of real rock simply can't be duplicated in an indoor setting, most importantly things like friction, subtle bulges, and large features. Rocks and Ropes in Tucson used to have a "salsa scale" instead of V-grades: mild, medium, hot, and "it burns." I always liked that.

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By Peter Franzen
Administrator
From Phoenix, AZ
Apr 2, 2009
Belay
The Circuit route setters does a very good job of assigning accurate V-scale ratings in their gym. Over the last year or so they have been adjusting the ratings a bit too so that the routes feel a little harder for the grade.

I have noticed that many of the patrons there (aka my friends) climb approximately the same grades at the Circuit as they do outdoors. My girlfriend (and half a dozen other women who climb at her level there) can climb most V4s in the gym, a handful of V5s if they suit her style, and every once in a while gets up a 6. Last week at Joe's Valley she climbed pretty much exactly the same way.

The same goes for those of us at the higher end-- V8s in the gym are almost always doable for me in a session or two, and the 9s and above (they don't bother grading above 9; they figured that they were spending an inordinate amount of time tweaking problems to get it to be an exact 10, and now they just call everything 8+ if it's harder than an 8) are hit or miss for me.

They seem to strive for realism so that beginners have a reasonable expectation of what they'll be able to accomplish if they go on a road trip. It sucks when people think they can climb V4 but get smacked down on every 2 and 3 that they try on their first trip to Squamish or Bishop.

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By Peter Franzen
Administrator
From Phoenix, AZ
Apr 2, 2009
Belay
Also, I liked The Spot's grading system when they first opened, but its usefulness seems to have declined since then.

It used to be 1-5 dots, with 5 being the hardest. The last time I went in though it looked like it was 1-6, with '+' signs as well. If you're going to have 12 individual grades (1, 1+, 2, 2+, etc.) you might as well just use the V scale.

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By Coeus
From a botched genetics experiment
Apr 2, 2009
I am a neandertal.
Evan Simons wrote:
it's just the sustained and sometimes overhanging nature of them that warrants the rating. I can barely scrape up 11's outside and can usually get up em just fine at the gym. I've climbed 10b's in boulder canyon where I was standing on dime edges and crimping on nickels, I dare you to find a 10 at a gym like that.


To me this just sounds like you are better at steep sustained climbing than you are at crimptastic routes.

People forget that the style of climbing that you work on the most is the one you will get good at. For example if I could climb a 5.10 slab does not mean I can climb 5.10 offwidth.

So it seems that because you can't practice crimpy routes at your gym, you have trouble with them outside, not necessarily that your gym ratings are soft....fair assessment?

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By Coeus
From a botched genetics experiment
Apr 2, 2009
I am a neandertal.
Andrew Ryder wrote:
I think that fundamentally, the YDS and V-scale can't equate to gym climbing - it's too different in too many aspects.


I am not a fan of gym climbing, but this is like saying the YDS scale should apply to all kinds of rock except gneiss because it is metamorphic and therefore different.

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By Paul Hunnicutt
From Boulder, CO
Apr 2, 2009
Half Dome
For me gym gradings are similar to outside in that they are a general guide to difficulty. Ratings at every cliff are different and so is every gym. I like The Spot because it doesn't equate with outside at all. It still tops out at 5 (there isn't a 6), but yes they have the +/- also. It seems to work out just fine.

If you send 5.12- in the gym you should definitely send at least 5.13b outside no problem. Think about it...no chalk fumes, confusing lines of tape, crappy friction, greasy holds, or scantily clad hotties to distract you. I keep my own tick list of all my gym sends and it is pretty impressive compared to outside. We'd have seen 5.16 now if these top climbers stopped wasting their time and got creative inside.

To answer the original post...take the gym with a grain of salt. Lower your expectations outdoors and don't sweat the numbers too much.

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