Bouldering Grades

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This topic contains 7 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Bjorn 14 years, 9 months ago.

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  • #1688 Reply

    Ross Weiter

    I saw a request for translation between Oz grades and the Hueco grades, so here goes:

    V0 (21)

    V1 (22)

    V2 (23)

    V3 (24)

    V4 (25)

    And so on – you get the picture. If you subtract 21 from the Australian grade, you will get the Hueco one. If you cannot boulder V0 I think it is best to just forget grades. I mean bouldering is generally a poorly documented “just enjoy it” kind of activity anyway where fun is the game and grades, first ascentionists etc don’t count for much. I hope this helps.



    #1689 Reply

    John Knight

    Thanks muchly, although V0 climbs seem to include belopw the 21 mark too, but I’m only going form several conversion charts I’ve seen over the weeks, but the golden rule of “add 21 to it” seems to fit in there….. 😉

    #1690 Reply

    Chris Jones

    Ross and John,

    I was just browsing the CAWA website searching for some info re the WA bolting policy (after recently being harassed by a tour guide in Kalbarri). There seems to be some confusion and misinformation regarding the liability issues associated with the opening of new routes… maybe another thread.

    Anyway I saw your question about bouldering grades – and I felt compelled to throw my two cents in. Essentially there is NO COMPARISON between route grades and boulder grades – they are two completely different activities. The only time there is an overlap is in the very particular case of Fontainbleau traverse grades which do have a weak correlation to route grades.

    It is definitely a common misconception, but the “subtract 21 rule” most certainly does NOT apply. To compare V grades to route grades is like comparing degrees Celsius to Kilograms – it is non-sensical.

    What would be an excellent exercise is to correlate boulder grades between countries (and indeed areas). ie. a comparison chart for converting Fontainbleau grades (the Gold Standard) to US V-grades or British B-grades or Australian V-grades. As in any sphere of climbing, the grades and their relative “meaning” vary between areas, styles and population’s of climbers.

    Hope that helps.


    #1691 Reply

    Ross Weiter

    Hi Chris, thanks for your comments. However I do feel that they are worded a bit strongly. I did not think up the -21 rule myself. There are web sites where other people have indicated it, so there obviously are at least some people to whom it makes sense. When Jon and I were touring the US in ’99, we bouldered near Bishop and could do up to V3 (yeah, pathetic eh….), we had a local guide sheet with V-grades. We also went into a gym in Los Angeles which had graded boulder problems, also could do V3. During our tour I did about eight 5.11d’s and one 5.12a sport climb (ie. Aust grade 24). So the -21 rule certainly worked for me. Regarding your similes: not Celsius and kilograms, more like apples and pears: ie. both are different but not altogether. Another example, in the US and Aus, it is commonly accepted to use the same scale to grade an 8m sport climb as it is to garde a 10 pitch trad offwitdth. What is similar about that ? In the UK they use different grading systems. In the Czech Republic, where I come from, they even have different grades for different types of rock ! So you definitiely have a point but I’m not wrong. Punters reading this verbosity will by now realise that the -21 rule is just a rule of thumb. Climbing is too subjective for precise rules. Amen.

    Re: Kalbarri – maybe you wish to email the president (Dinah Pantic), in the CAWA access files there will be documented history on what has been agreed to in the past. I can ask her too, if I remember.

    #1692 Reply


    And from someone at the low end of the V scale- I look at the ‘-21 rule’ in this way- if you can climb 24, you can probably boulder V3 and vice versa. [Of course if you only boulder you may have to work a bit at endurance before sending a 24, and at strength and/or flexibility if you only climb long roped 24s.]

    And as far as correlation between scales goes- anyone who climbs a certain grade on one type of rock (e.g. overhangs) might get a bit of a shock on something different such as slab- so really it’s hard to make any correlations!

    But as long as you’re having fun, keep at it. If you spend too much time haggling over whether 25 correlates with V4 you’re wasting time that could be spent working on a 25 or a V4! 🙂

    #1693 Reply

    P Barnard


    There are some obvious differences between bouldering and route climbing, and they are rightly graded using different systems. However, to suggest that there can be no comparison between the two grading systems is in my opinion ridiculous. Bouldering and route climbing are very similar activities and there is often significant overlap between the two i.e. a route with a boulder problem like crux or a longer boulder problem requiring power and stamina. In my experience the subtract 21 rule is often a very good approximation particularly at the lower end of the scale. I would tend to agree the correlation is poorer at higher grades, particularly when trying to compare short powerful boulder problems to routes.

    #1694 Reply


    These comments really do highlight the limitations of a one dimensional grading system like the Eubank system.

    #1695 Reply


    The square cut boulder below Piesse Wall, Kalamunda has about 7 problems on its variouse faces. Could someone who is in the know tell what the V grades are for these problems. It is a bit accademic as I can only do about 2 of them but it should give me a rough idea about how these V grades work. Hope you can follow the descriptions.

    As you look at the boulder the problems are from L to R:

    1. The very first problem is quite short and involves friction moves off a small undercut. UK 5c?

    2. The next problem features a high rock over off a good side pull to get established on the rounded top. A bit scarey. UK 6b??

    3. The L hand arete.

    4. Just L of centre of the front face of the boulder. Long moves on thin edges.

    5. Just R of centre of the front face of the boulder. Thin moves stepping of the flake and a long reach for the top. UK 5c?

    6. Steep layback problem just R of the rounded R arete.

    7. The very last problem which features a high step on large jugs. UK 5b?



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