It won't be long and you will be faced with a discussion about the difficulty of a route - indoor or outdoor, bouldering or sport climbing. Even though most climbers climb for the fun of it, it seems to be human nature to measure your own progress and compare yourself to your peers using a more or less suitable system. In the climbing world - with all its variety - the rating or grading of a climb is done using so called difficulty grading systems. As you can imagine, there are many different grading systems, some by discipline but most by area (e.g. different systems in different countries). The basic principle of all difficulty grading systems is, that the harder a climb, the higher the number. This means that in French scale a 6a is harder than a 5b or in HUECO-scale a V8 is harder than a V6 and so on.

How difficult a climb actually is is determined by many factors such as steepness of the route, size and quality of holds, the distance between holds, the difficulty of the movements to reach the next hold, how sustained a route is and so on. Obviously, grades have a subjective component and what feels hard to one person might feel less so to another.

Climbing difficulty

Climbing grades

French UK Austr. UIAA North America Hueco UK Font
1 – 2 HVD 8 – 9 I-II 5.2 – 3
2 – 3 MS 10 – 12 III 5.4 – 5
4 S 13- IV 5.6
4+ VS 13+ V- 5.7
5a HVS 14 V 5.8
5b 15 V+ 5.9 V0 B1 4
6a E1 5b 19 VI+ 5.10a
6a+ E2 5c 19/20 VI+/VII- 5.10b V0+ B2 4+
6b 20 VII 5.10c V1 B3 5
6b+ E3 5c 21 VII+ 5.10d
6c 21/22 VII+/VIII- 5.11a V2 B4 6a
6c+ E4 6a 22 VIII- 5.11b V3 6a+
7a 23 VIII 5.11c/d B5-6
7a+ E5 6b 24 VIII/VIII+ 5.12a V4 6b/c
7b 25 VIII+ 5.12b V5 6c
7b+ E6 6b 26 IX- 5.12c  V6 B7 6c+
7c 27 IX 5.12d 7a
7c+ 28 IX/IX+ 5.13a V7 B8 7a+
8a E7 6c 29 IX+ 5.13b V8 7b
8a+ 30 X- 5.13c B9 7c
8b E8 7a 31 x 5.13d V9
8b+ 32 X/X+ 5.14a V10 B10 7c+
8c E9 7b 33 X+ 5.14b V11
8c+ 34 XI- 5.14c V12/13 B12 8a+
9a E10 7c 35 XI 5.14d/5.15

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