What is the History of the Climbing Rating Scale?

What is the history of the climbing rating system?


This is a good. First a lot of countries have their own grading systems and I will focus on just a few of the main systems here.

The bouldering scale

The “B” grade system introduced by John Gill had only three categories. “B1″ was originally defined as something most could do, “B2″ was something harder than that, or “bouldering level”, and the grade “B3″ designated a problem that had not been repeated. When a B3 saw a second ascent, it would be reclassified as a B2 (or a B1) as appropriate.

The “V” grades devised by John ‘Vermin’ Sherman at Hueco Tanks State Historic Site is the most widely used system in North America. The “V” system currently covers a range from V0 to V16. V0 being very easy and V16 extremely hard.

Aid Climbing

The original grading system for climbing was the A Scale

A0: A free climb with an occasional aid move that does not require specialized aid gear (“aiders” or “etriers”). Pulling on gear during a free ascent is often referred to as A0.

A1: Requires specialized gear but all placements are solid and easy.

A2: Good placements, but sometimes tricky.

A3: Many difficult aid moves. Some of the placements might only hold body-weight. The risk is still low.

A4: Many body-weight placements in a row. The risk is increasing.

A5: Enough body-weight placements in a row that a fall might result in a fall of at least 20 meters.

Yosemite Decimal System

The Yosemite Decimal System (YDS) of grading routes was initially developed as the Sierra Club grading system in the 1930s to rate hikes and climbs in the Sierra Nevada range. The rock climbing portion was developed at Tahquitz Rock in southern California by members of the Rock Climbing Section of the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club in the 1950s. It quickly spread to Canada and the rest of the Americas.

Hope that answers your question.

- The Climbing Expert

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