Grade (bouldering)

From Academic Kids

In the sport of bouldering, problems are assigned technical grades according to several established systems, which are distinct from those used in regular climbing. Bouldering grade systems include the "B" system, Hueco "V" grades, Fontainebleau technical grades, route colours, and overall difficulty grades, Peak District grades, and British technical grades.

The old "B" grade system, introduced by John Gill, has only three categories, B1, B2 and B3. B3 problems are those that have only been completed once. B2 as problems that are "harder than B1". B1 problems are those relating to "a hard toprope climb".

In Europe the Fontainebleau grading is the most widely used. This system ranges from 4 to 8c (the equivalent of V15 or B15), and was, as the name reveals, first devised in the Fountainebleau forests in France, but is now widely used also in other bouldering areas around the world.

In North America, the "V" grades devised by John Sherman at Hueco Tanks are prevalent, having largely displaced the older "B" grades. The "V" system currently covers a range from V0 to V16. At the easier end of the scale, some use the designation VB (for V-basic) for problems slightly easier than a V0. The grades can also be supplemented with "+" (harder) or "-" (easier) to further distinguish the difficulty range within a single grade.

It is difficult to directly compare bouldering grades to climbing grades; however, a V0 boulder problem would relate approximately to the crux of a 5.9+ climb using the Yosemite Decimal System that is also common in North America. A B1 problem was defined by John Gill in 1969 as a 5.10, but in 1987 as a 5.12. This highlights the constant evolution of the "B" scale.

See also: grade (climbing).

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