What Are Bouldering Grades? Grading Problems: Why & How


Bouldering grades are numbers or number-letter combinations used to convey the difficulty of boulder problems. Grades are given to boulder problems located both outdoors and indoors.

Outdoors, the two main grading scales are the V Scale and Font Scale. Indoors, climbing and bouldering gyms use the V Scale, Font Scale, or make up their own rating system. For example, a gym might grade problems from 0 to 4, with 0 being the easiest problems designed for beginners and 4 being the most difficult designed for advanced climbers.

Grading Boulder Problems: Why & How

Why Are Boulder Problems Graded?

Bouldering grading scales were developed as a way to indicate the difficulty of a boulder problem to someone who had never tried it before.

In practice, grades help boulderers get a better understanding of how hard problems are before trying them. They help you know which problems you can almost certainly climb, which ones will test you, and which ones are too hard for you.

boulder climbing outdoor

For example, if V6 problems are hard but doable for you, you know a V2 will be easy, a V7 might test you, and a V10 will likely be too hard. Grading boulder problems also makes it possible to compare between boulderers and bouldering locations.

Bouldering Grades : How Are Boulder Problems Graded?

Boulder problems are graded solely on how physically challenging the problem is. The grades do not take into account other factors such as risk of injury, the height of the problem, the mental difficulty, and so on.

There is no perfect formula, no golden algorithm, for determining the proper grade for a problem. Though some have proposed making the process more formulaic, it remains very subjective.

Thus, the bouldering community has debated grades for years, and continues to debate them. If you are confused or frustrated by the ways problems are graded, know that there are others who feel similarly.

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