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v-scale vs. climbing scale
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By Jay Knower
Administrator
From Campton, NH
Nov 5, 2009
Technosurfing, Rumney. Photo by Seth Hamel.
I think all of this refers to the beauty of climbing. While you may feel like you've mastered one aspect, there is always another aspect where you can find a challenge.

I always shake my head when people who primarily boulder only get on Bottom Feeder at Waimea, and ignore all of the other stellar routes. Sure, it's one thing to play to your strength, but there is a whole vast world of climbing out there.


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By lee hansche
Administrator
From goffstown, nh
Nov 6, 2009
getting to the last jug before the top out
im going to play the "What does it matter" card...

im my opinion any climbing scale is meant to give you a rough idea of weather you have any business getting on a given route/problem... there for all this hyper specific grading seems kinda silly... depending on endurance,styles of climbing, short or tall, finger/hand size (for cracks), and a whole slew of other things im surprised we have a grade scale at all... we are clearly all having very different experiences as we climb the same routes, and that's ok...

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By Jake N.
Nov 17, 2009
ratings are just weird, however, still necessary in some ways. My biggest problem lately is that I have done most of my climbing at The Spot gym in boulder and can pretty much only think in terms of spots- obviously pretty worthless on real rock.... or anywhere else. For anyone who knows what I'm talking about; what do you think the conversion from the spot scale to v scale or yds is?

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By Steve2199
Nov 17, 2009
For anyone with and ipod touch or iphone there is a cool app that has a full comparison chart for all the ratings around the world!

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By pfwein
Nov 17, 2009
Jake N. wrote:
ratings are just weird, however, still necessary in some ways. My biggest problem lately is that I have done most of my climbing at The Spot gym in boulder and can pretty much only think in terms of spots- obviously pretty worthless on real rock.... or anywhere else. For anyone who knows what I'm talking about; what do you think the conversion from the spot scale to v scale or yds is?


While I agree with the "who cares about ratings" sentiment in an absolute sense, I'll try to give a ridiculously serious answer to your question. When you go to a place like the Spot or Movement and are hanging out between attempts, it's hard (at least for me) not to engage in some speculation as to how hard the ratings are compared to outside areas.

I found the Spot scale to be just as inconsistent as every other scale I've come across. Perhaps that can be explained by route setters having trouble grading problems that are way below their limit, I don't know. Some gyms allow users to vote on new routes' ratings before the ratings are determined--that seems like a good idea, and it would be much better if the users didn't see any suggested ratings or other users' votes before voting themselves. We can't avoid group think, even when we're sensitive to the issue.

Many of the inconsistencies would be very glaringly obvious to anyone who would watch the same group of climbers trying the same problems: e.g., everyone in the group easily flashes one 4 Spot, everyone gets totally shut down by another 4 Spot. The Spot never seemed to change routes' ratings, and they were often so inconsistent as to approach worthlessness. (Sorry to be critical: in general, I like Spot very much). The inconsistencies seemed worse to me a few months ago (when I was last there) compared to past trips.

Anyway, anyone who wants to convert Spot ratings to V Scale should NOT read the below before voting . . .


























I think:
1 Spot = VB
2 Spot = V0, V0+, maybe 2 Spot + includes V1
3 Spot = V1 to V2, maybe 3 Spot + includes V3
4 Spot = V3 to V5, maybe 4 Spot + includes V6
5 Spot = V6 (maybe v7) on up.


Obviously the Spot scale is geared to the moderate boulder. Anything hard for a hotshot boulderer would be 5 Spots, although every now and then you might see a hotshot struggle with a particular 4 Spot + (if they struggled with a plain old 4 Spot, they're not a hotshot or it was misrated).

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By J. Albers
From Colorado
Nov 17, 2009
Bucky
Daniel Trugman wrote:
T. If you can't do a pull-up, you are limited to V4s of a very particular style (or soft ones).

That is definitely not true. I have known women who could not do a pull up, but could climb hard 12. Pull ups and climbing have very little in common.

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By Brent Apgar
From Out of the Loop
Nov 17, 2009
Me and Spearhead
Monomaniac wrote:
Besides, this trhead is about justifying sandbags, not the other way around.

I always thought that was the definition of an "area classic" or maybe why the letter scale goes to "d". So you could sucker non-locals into getting on hard scary routes for everyones entertainment.

As for gym grades: I feel like that's a perfect place to practice the mentality of grades as a suggestion. As soon as you start grading routes that are created by a person you've got to figure in all sorts of other variables like, the setters climbing style, how they felt at the time, how much caffeine did they have that day...etc.

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By Cory
From Boise, ID
Nov 17, 2009
Relaxing in the Tuttle Creek Campground after a fun day in the Hills
For a humerous explanation of Vgrades see attached

fishproducts.com/powerandrubbe...

Note that according to these definitions I can't really admit to doing any boulder problems, ever. :(

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By xxxxx
Nov 19, 2009
J. Albers wrote:
That is definitely not true. I have known women who could not do a pull up, but could climb hard 12. Pull ups and climbing have very little in common.


i've pondered long and hard on this... i think it's flexibility. girls are more flexible so we can adjust strength moves to require less strength and more flexibility. i dunno, just my uneducated opinion.

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By Tom Hanson
Nov 19, 2009
Climber Drawing
Reprint:

DCCC Scale

When bouldering was first conceived as a sport unto itself by the late great John Gill, he developed the B grades, which ranged from B1 to B3.
A B1 was the easiest within the B grades, but it still represented a move more difficult than one would encounter on the hardest fifth-class, Yosemite Decimal System (YDS) scale.
A B3 would immediately be down-rated to B2 if it was ever repeated by anyone, even the first ascentionist.
Later, John Sherman established the Vermin, or V scale, an open ended scale that rates the difficulty of a boulder problem with greater definition i.e V0-V16 and beyond.
Verms rating system has been widely adopted and the antiquated B-scale has fallen out of use.
However, even the V-scale has its limitations. It does a good job of depicting the gymnastic difficulty of any single move or problem, but aside from providing a sense of difficulty, it falls short by leaving out other important factors that determine a problems character, such as quality, length, etc.
To fill this vacuous void, I propose the DCCC-scale. The DCCC scale is meant to supplement, not replace, the V-scale. Adding a DCCC rating suffix to a V-scale prefix will give a climber a more accurate representation of a particular boulder problem.
This new DCCC-scale is still in its infancy and the following suffixes are still pending DCCC review and sanction. The suffixes listed below are the first of what will hopefully be many at some point in the not too distant future.
Additional suggestions are welcome prior to submittal to the DCCC sanctioning review board.


HB - Highball. Death, serious disfigurement or soiled undergarments possible

LB - Lowball. One move wonder or low traverse. Something you wouldnt tell others about or add to your tick list.

PILE - Loose decomposed rock Complete Choss. Applied to Castlewood problems to keep outsiders away.

0U812 - Contrived sequences not designed for human anatomical structure

BLAH - Interesting sequences, but totally lacking aesthetic qualities. i.e: roadcuts, buildings, climbing gyms or Morrison, CO

XMEN - Body type dependant. i.e: cant be done unless you have an ape index of +12 or telescoping titanium prosthetic legs.

SB - Sandbag. Originally and intentionally down-rated by the first ascentionist, after spending weeks getting it wired, so they can tell others, You think its V8? I thought it was only about V6, cuz Im such a honemaster.

SLOP - Sloping hell. No further description needed.

OUCH1 - Crimpfest. I never really needed those tendons anyway.

OUCH2 - Razor sharp holds. Must be done first try, as it will take weeks to heal before another attempt can be made.

DCCC - A line that was once within your abilty, but is now too difficult due to other commitments infringing on climbing time. Best avoided by over the hill has beens.

Suggested by Buff Johnson:

FIRE - The force at which your body must let one rip due to the strenuous nature inherent in the moves.

PFFT - A little less difficult and allows the user to hide the action.

5150 - a route that is more important to others than to you.

5051 - a route that you FA and must be important to all.

BINK - a route that requires your spotter to throw rocks at your noggin to get you moving along.

BONK - a route that requires energy bar ingestion for a proud send.

UTM - a route that no-one can figure out where/what the heck it is. Could be an unknown boulder or a known boulder with an unknown sequence.

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By Adam Block
From Tucson, AZ
Dec 14, 2009
I boulder and sport climb, I normally call bouldering "Crux Climbing" and that's sort of how I use it, the reason I started was to get a better idea of what I can do physically in a safer situation. It's given me a lot more confidence on routes but I also have a pretty intense fear of heights.

I am not the strongest climber (I can climb 10s or something with an 11 crux and I boulder V2) in the world so I like crimpy traverses and so on but in all honesty I don't push super hard. I'm happy getting outside and I don't chase numbers, I mostly use them so I know what I can safely lead, otherwise I see them as pretty useless.

I will say the main reason I like bouldering is the simplicity (lack of gear and a harness) and the ability to "unlock" problems in a way that you can't do as easy climbing.

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By Rich Farnham
Dec 14, 2009
Tom Hanson wrote:
"...When bouldering was first conceived as a sport unto itself by the late great John Gill..."


Did I miss something? Last I heard he was still alive, and bouldering.

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By camhead
From Vandalia, Appalachia
Dec 14, 2009
You stay away from mah pig!
Does anyone remember the humorous version of the V-scale that Verm wrote up a long time ago?

v0 was something like "a problem that no matter how good it is, you'll never get on"

v3 was "a problem that you ruthlessly wire so that you can call it your warmup"

v13 was "a problem that Fred Nicole could flash, after you give him all the beta."

Anyone remember that?

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By Brian in SLC
Dec 14, 2009
Climbing in Smuggler's Notch
Tom Hanson wrote:
When bouldering was first conceived as a sport unto itself by the late great John Gill


Yeah, uhh, I think he's still around...

johngill.net/

He posted on supertopo two days ago.

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By Ty Harlacker
From Albuquerque, NM
May 2, 2010
Silverton
Tom Hanson wrote:
Reprint: DCCC Scale When bouldering was first conceived as a sport unto itself by the late great John Gill, he developed the B grades, which ranged from B1 to B3. A B1 was the easiest within the B grades, but it still represented a move more difficult than one would encounter on the hardest fifth-class, Yosemite Decimal System (YDS) scale. A B3 would immediately be down-rated to B2 if it was ever repeated by anyone, even the first ascentionist. Later, John Sherman established the Vermin, or V scale, an open ended scale that rates the difficulty of a boulder problem with greater definition i.e V0-V16 and beyond. Verms rating system has been widely adopted and the antiquated B-scale has fallen out of use. However, even the V-scale has its limitations. It does a good job of depicting the gymnastic difficulty of any single move or problem, but aside from providing a sense of difficulty, it falls short by leaving out other important factors that determine a problems character, such as quality, length, etc. To fill this vacuous void, I propose the DCCC-scale. The DCCC scale is meant to supplement, not replace, the V-scale. Adding a DCCC rating suffix to a V-scale prefix will give a climber a more accurate representation of a particular boulder problem. This new DCCC-scale is still in its infancy and the following suffixes are still pending DCCC review and sanction. The suffixes listed below are the first of what will hopefully be many at some point in the not too distant future. Additional suggestions are welcome prior to submittal to the DCCC sanctioning review board. HB - Highball. Death, serious disfigurement or soiled undergarments possible LB - Lowball. One move wonder or low traverse. Something you wouldnt tell others about or add to your tick list. PILE - Loose decomposed rock Complete Choss. Applied to Castlewood problems to keep outsiders away. 0U812 - Contrived sequences not designed for human anatomical structure BLAH - Interesting sequences, but totally lacking aesthetic qualities. i.e: roadcuts, buildings, climbing gyms or Morrison, CO XMEN - Body type dependant. i.e: cant be done unless you have an ape index of +12 or telescoping titanium prosthetic legs. SB - Sandbag. Originally and intentionally down-rated by the first ascentionist, after spending weeks getting it wired, so they can tell others, You think its V8? I thought it was only about V6, cuz Im such a honemaster. SLOP - Sloping hell. No further description needed. OUCH1 - Crimpfest. I never really needed those tendons anyway. OUCH2 - Razor sharp holds. Must be done first try, as it will take weeks to heal before another attempt can be made. DCCC - A line that was once within your abilty, but is now too difficult due to other commitments infringing on climbing time. Best avoided by over the hill has beens. Suggested by Buff Johnson: FIRE - The force at which your body must let one rip due to the strenuous nature inherent in the moves. PFFT - A little less difficult and allows the user to hide the action. 5150 - a route that is more important to others than to you. 5051 - a route that you FA and must be important to all. BINK - a route that requires your spotter to throw rocks at your noggin to get you moving along. BONK - a route that requires energy bar ingestion for a proud send. UTM - a route that no-one can figure out where/what the heck it is. Could be an unknown boulder or a known boulder with an unknown sequence.
Hilarious!

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By Steve Powell
From Alhambra, California
May 15, 2010
I always thought it went this way:

V0=10a/b
V0+=10c/d
V1=11a

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By BirdDog
From Seattle, WA
May 15, 2010
Mt. Baker
Most boulder problems are not on-sighted, but rehearsed. If you know the sequence, you can often do the moves. But moving onto a longer pitch trad climb, you need to develop the ability to find the moves as you climb. It's a different style of climbing and you need a different skill set. Practice..practice...but on longer routes; you'll get it.

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By Eric Thomson
May 24, 2010
Kia Marie wrote:
do you have any suggestions for helping me get past my inhibitions when i'm on a rope? i've been working on my endurance, but i don't think that's the whole problem. i can't figure out how come i can do a v4 boulder problem, but struggle on 10d's. i'm definitely not a high recruiter. i can't even do one pull up.


Ever been to Castle Hill, you can do a V4 without having to ever pull at all. For that matter there's some V6 problems there too that you don't have to pull a single move they're just all push and prey that your rubber holds on the polish.

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By Rajiv Ayyangar
From Portland, ME
Sep 14, 2010
Cut! Sadly my flash attempt met with dismal pump-failure two bolts later.
Jay Knower wrote:
JJNS, where did you get this scale? It's different than the one I'm used to seeing. I've always thought it goes like this: V4: 5.12- V5: 5.12 V6: 5.12+ V7: 5.13- V8: 5.13 V9: 5.13+ V10: 5.14- etc...


As someone who's done just a few mid-12's and gotten on a couple 13's, this seems reasonable. Maybe a more accurate (but less precise) way to put the correspondence is:

On climbs rated 5.12, you can expect to encounter crux boulder problems from V4 to V6.

5.13 climbs will typically have crux problems in the V7-V9 range.

5.14 climbs will have cruxes in the V10-V13 range. (I'm guessing... since The Fly has been called V13).

Note that this mapping does not comment on what a "5.13 climber" should be able to boulder, but rather acknowledges that sport climbs can be broken down into combinations of problems.

Within a grade, there's a lot of wiggle room since length and sustained-ness come into play. For instance, at Rumney, Jedi Mind Tricks (12b) is a short route with a couple V5-ish problems. While Meltdown (12c/d) at Shagg doesn't really go above V4, yet gets a harder grade because it is more sustained. There's no clear formula, which is why I think we shouldn't be more specific than whole-number route grades.

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By Rajiv Ayyangar
From Portland, ME
Sep 14, 2010
Cut! Sadly my flash attempt met with dismal pump-failure two bolts later.
Digging a little further, maybe we can make logical sense out of some of the subjectivity in grading.

Bottom Feeder (V7, 5.13a) seems to establish that the hardest crux problem for 13a is V7, since Bottom Feeder is so short. By contrast, take the hardest problem on Predator (13b) - V5 I've heard, and that might form the theoretical easiest crux problem for a 5.13, since it is a very endurance-focused route.

To get the full range of V-ratings for crux problems in the 5.13 range, we'd need the crux V-grade of a super-sustained 5.13 for the lower bounds, and the crux grade of a short, single-boulder-problem 5.13d (They Died Surfing... V9? Diesel...V8?). I imagine the V-range for crux problems in the 5.13 range would overlap a bit with 5.12 and 5.14.

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By Choss Chasin'
From Torrance, CA
Sep 14, 2010
Black Mountain
Really, why bother comparing? If you know you can boulder V-5 and sport 5.11 and trad 5.9 does it really matter how they stack against each other? Bouldering is typically rated off the hardest move. Sport, a combination of length, difficulty and how sustained it is. Trad is much the same as sport but the way you look at the scale is different (because some of us know placing a piece of gear is much harder than clipping a bolt therefore pump increases as does fear of popping pro and decking). So again, it doesn't matter how they compare as long as you know how you do on each discipline.


P.S. some one have a conversion from V-grade to Ice? Hehe.

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By mattjbudd
From West Valley, UT
Sep 14, 2010
Device Ignitor Left Crux.
The two scales describe different things. The V-scale describes individual moves and YDS describes the overall difficulty to send with individual moves, pump factor, and commitment (dynos).

I love to describe routes with stacking V-moves. A route with 30 continuous V3 moves could possibly be a 5.12c where a route with 10 V0- moves and 1 v3 move and 10 more v0- moves could easily be a 5.11a or even 5.10d.

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By Lanky
From Portland, ME
Sep 15, 2010
mattjbudd wrote:
The two scales describe different things. The V-scale describes individual moves and YDS describes the overall difficulty to send with individual moves, pump factor, and commitment (dynos).

I've never heard it this way. I always understood V grades to rate the total challenge of a boulder problem, so a 20 move V10 has no single move as hard as the one move V10 on the next boulder. This conforms to my experience in most areas I've visited (admittedly limited to New England and a couple other spots).

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By Rajiv Ayyangar
From Portland, ME
Sep 15, 2010
Cut! Sadly my flash attempt met with dismal pump-failure two bolts later.
In theory, the YDS was intended to rate the difficulty of the most difficult move on the route. In practice other factors (length, sustainedness) are taken into account.

Even for boulder problems, length is taken into account - roughly expressed by "The Equation" - climbingczar.louderthan11.com/...

My goal in describing YDS-V correspondence was to make sense of my actual experience. Clearly YDS accommodates more than the V-scale. That is why I think of the correspondence as a range. It is useful to me to know that if I boulder V? , then I will probably be able to work through all the moves on routes in the range of 5.?-5.?. Actually linking the moves is a separate challenge.

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By Jake N.
Sep 15, 2010
One thing that seems to really complicate things and may indicate another basic problem with the grading system is that none of the conversions create linear/equal progressions. The conversion I like most (and seems to be very close to what everyone else is saying)is the V0=5.10+, V1=5.11-, V2=5.11, V3=5.11+....,V7= 5.13-. But, at the upper end, it no longer really works because V13 ends up as 5.15- and v16 ends up as 5.16-, but the top boulder problem is v16 and the top sport route is only 5.15b. Of course, we could go back into the argument of whether the conversion is for the crux or for the whole climb, but it seems that the consensus is that it should be for the climb as a whole.

So.... this leads me to wonder if perhaps high end boulder problem grades are more accurate than high end sport grades. Of course, I dont climb anywhere near these grades, so I can only speculate. But, it kinda seems to make sense, because it would be much easier for climbers to really work a boulder problem (no belayer, easier to start in the middle, etc...). This seems to be supported by the number of V15 repeats vs. 5.15 repeats. Finally, if this thinking is accurate, does this mean that sometime in the future, many of our 5.14d+ climbs will be upgraded a few notches, just as classic 5.10s are now a few grades higher than they were originally?

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