Grades and climbing

8 10 2007


Mamba in Araotz. 8a or 6a what’s the difference?


The endless discussion: GRADES

Should grades exist or not? Should I comment the route’s grade helping others to access the route’s difficulty (as someone has already done for me)? Or should I say nothing so that no one is able to say it’s easer (and automatically be stronger than me)?

Though grades shouldn’t be the reason for one to climb, they are probably one of the main reasons why we do it so often and like climbing so much…

Why is this a love and hate topic? 


It’s safer to climb a route within my climbing level;

Improving climbing skills without grades wouldn’t be so easy. It would be hard to find a route just a little bit harder, which is always more motivating, than to find that the next best route is almost impossible.

The grades make it more social! Just think:

– to grade a route several persons, giving their subjective thoughts, should be involved;

– the grade of the route that you have climbed it’s an average measure of how difficult the route is for those persons and (probably) not for you;

– grades create feelings of respect, approval, support, empathy and many others that enhance the social aspect of this sport;

– the hierarchy that grades force gives you immediately a ordered place among the climbers society.

Status in the crag! (Speak loudly of  the “eight grade” in a beginners crag and silence will be created to ear what you are saying)


More people climbing (I don’t like people)

Grades bring people to climbing that don’t like climbing (and even more annoying they then become better climbers than me) 

People don’t like rankings or to be ranked (I like the nature! The birds, the trees, …)

People don’t think that they are fairly ranked (I’m better, stronger, etc. but …)

Typical climbers dealing with the grade dilemma… 

The “grade-maniac“: – Nice to meet you by the way what grade do you climb?

The “I will” climber: – I’m trying an 8c (but never did more than 6c)

The “I was” climber: -I was the first to do 7a in my country… (Now I belay…)

Mr. Smart“: -Nice to meet you too but first tell me what was your average grade in college and which one was it?

The “I’m better than that” climber: – I don’t believe in grades (but owe my fame to them)

The “I do eights” climber: – Why are you talking to me weak guy?

The “alternative” climber – I do lots of grades but I prefer crack climbing which has a completely different grading system. You wouldn’t understand it!

The “spiritual teacher” – “I don’t climb grades I climb routes”



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