Rock Climbing Grades in London
I'm sure if you've visited any of the rock climbing walls in London you may have noticed different numbers dotted about the place and you may have also heard people saying the likes of "I just climbed a V4 or a 6b". These numbers all relate to the climbing grade that have been placed upon them.
There are a number of factors that contribute to the difficulty of a climb including the technical difficulty of the moves, the strength and stamina required, the level of commitment, and the difficulty of protecting the climber (trad/sport climbing). Different grading systems consider these factors in different ways and so do all of the climbing centres, so no two grading systems have an exact one-to-one correspondence.
Rock Climbing grades from our experience are very subjective and are the opinion of the grade setters at the climbing centre. While grades are usually fairly consistent across a climbing centre, people may often fell differences between grading at different climbing centre. In addition to this certain routes may favour some climbers technique and not others so a solid V4 climber may struggle on certain V4 graded climbs for example. Indoor climbing grades tend to follow Bouldering grading systems rather than their outdoor counterparts.
Also not all rock climbing walls use the same grading scale, even within the same centre at times. On some bouldering sections one system and top-roped or lead sections another. The only certainty on grading is that they differ all the time.
All that being said, grading is a good indicator of the general technicality of a climb and can be used to guide your climbing attempts and development accordingly.
Below shows and overview of the current grading systems you are likely to come across when climbing in London and those that apply for those outdoor climbs.
Bouldering Grades - Used in most London Climbing Centres.
Of the systems used the 2 most widely found when climbing in London are the V scale and the Font system and you will spot these at most of the big centres in London. We have added the other bouldering grades/systems here as reference should you ever come across them.
- The Hueco Scale, or "V" Scale, which is the most widely used system in North America. Although open-ended, the "V" system currently covers a range from V0 to V16. This is the most likely grading system you will spot in the London Climbing walls, especially the centres with a bouldering focus such as The Arch 2 and Mile End.
- Peak Bouldering Grade - derives from the Peak District and is focused on outdoor bouldering grades that are unique to the Peaks. The should be noted should you ever head to the wonderful Peaks.
- The Fontainebleau (Font) grading system, which is the most widely used grading system in Europe and does crop up in a lot of the London Climbing Centres. This is the grading used at The Castle for example on there top-rop and lead climbing sections
- The UK/British technical grades (see UK grading system above), ranging from 4a to 7b, used in the United Kingdom for traditional climbs and used to be used to rate boulder problems as well - again you are not likely