Rock Climbing Grading System

Rock Climbing Grading Systems Have You Confused?


Don’t worry we are here to help you understand the rock climbing grading system.

Ben Wiant, bouldering, bouldering photoFirst things first. Remember that we climb because we like to rock climb not beacuse we can climb a certain grade.

Now don’t get us wrong we love to push ourselves to reach new grades and to break past our climbing barriers/plateaus.

But and this is a big but, we first and foremost believe that you should climb for yourself. Don’t worry so much about the grades you can climb.

Just focus on having fun, learning new things, enjoying nature, pushing your limits, and creating experiences with your friends.

Ok now that that is off our chest… back to the rock climbing rating systems.

You see in rock climbing climbers give a climbing grade to a route that attempts to assess how difficult and dangerous that route is.

There are a number of factors that contribute to the difficulty of a climb.


  • Technical difficulty of the moves


  • Strength and stamina required


  • How difficult is it to protect the climber

  • Rock Climbing Rating Systems
    USA UK Tech UK Adj French UIAA Australian
    5.5 VD
    5.6 4a S
    5.7 4b HS
    5.8 4b VS 5a 6- 16
    5.9 5a HVS 5b 6 17
    5.10a E1 5c 6+ 18
    5.10b 5b 6a 19
    5.10c E2 7- 20
    5.10d 5c 6b 7 21
    5.11a E3 7+ 22
    5.11b 6c 23
    5.11c 6a E4 8- 24
    5.11d 7a 8 25
    5.12a E5 8+ 26
    5.12b 6b 7b 8 25
    5.12c E6 9- 27
    5.12d 6c 7c 9 28
    5.13a E7 9+ 29
    5.13b 8a
    5.13c 7a 10- 30
    5.13d E8 8b 10 31
    5.14a 10+ 32
    5.14b 7b 8c
    5.14c E9 11- 33
    5.14d 7c 9a 11
    5.15

    For bouldering the most common is John Sherman’s V-grading system and the Fontainebleau scale. I have also compared them to the U.S. decimal scale because some indoor climbing gyms use this scale for their bouldering as well as their rope climbing.

    Bouldering Grading System
    V-Grade Fontainebleau USA
    V0 3 5.10a
    V1 4-/4+ 5.10c
    V2 5-/5/5+ 5.11a
    V3 6a/6b 5.11b
    V4 6c/6c+ 5.11c/d
    V5 7a 5.12a
    V6 7a+ 5.12c
    V7 7b 5.12d/13a
    V8 7b+ 5.13b
    V9 7c 5.13c
    V10 7c+ 5.14a
    V11 8a 5.14b
    V12 8a+ 5.14c
    V13 8b 5.14d
    V14 8b+ 5.15
    V15 8c 5.15a
    V16


    It should be noted that all grading systems are not exact and are open to interpretation. Always use caution and when climbing in a new area. It is best to start with a few routes below your usual climbing ability. This will allow you to get a feel for that area so that you can judge what routes to climb.

Related posts:

  1. What is the History of the Climbing Rating Scale?
  2. Bscale vs Vscale

This entry was posted on Friday, September 10th, 2010 at and is filed under Rock Climbing Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply




XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>