Grades

We want to work with the rock climbing community to get a comprehensive and intuitive coverage of grades in the system. This is a long term initiative and at times will involve fundamental changes to the way grades work on the site. We welcome feedback on grades, but for this to be useful to the community as a whole it has to go onto our issues list. We don't promise to fix things straight away, but we will link the discussion into this article so that the whole community can constructively contribute.

This article covers the following topics:

  1. Grade conversions
  2. Grade bands
  3. How are grades assigned to routes?
  4. How are grades assigned to ascents?
  5. Grade contexts and parsing
  6. Country context's

1. Grade conversions

thecrag.com can automatically convert grades to a different system according to the table below. If you can suggest a better translation please log an issue in issues list.

Note the coloured grade bands which are used throughout the site as a quick way to gauge the difficulty of a route or area.

FREE AID BOULDER
Band Ewbanks YDS NCCS Scale French British Adj. British Tech. UIAA South African Old South African Saxon Finnish Norwegian Polish Aid Aid Aid V-Scale
Beginner
Intermediate
Experienced
Expert
Elite
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
5.0
5.1
5.2
5.3
5.4
5.5
5.6
5.7
5.8
5.9
5.10a
5.10b
5.10c
5.10d
5.11a
5.11b
5.11c
5.11d
5.12a
5.12b
5.12c
5.12d
5.13a
5.13b
5.13c
5.13d
5.14a
5.14b
5.14c
5.14d
5.15a
5.15b
5.15c
5.15d
F4
F5
F6
F7
F8
F9
F10
F11
F12
F13
F14
F15
F16
1a
1a+
1b
1b+
1c
1c+
2a
2a+
2b
2b+
2c
2c+
3a
3a+
3b
3b+
3c
3c+
4a
4a+
4b
4b+
4c
4c+
5a
5a+
5b
5b+
5c
5c+
6a
6a+
6b
6b+
6c
6c+
7a
7a+
7b
7b+
7c
7c+
8a
8a+
8b
8b+
8c
8c+
9a
9a+
9b
9b+
9c
E
M
MD
D
HD
MVD
VD
HVD
MS
S
HS
MVS
VS
HVS
E1
E2
E3
E4
E5
E6
E7
E8
E9
E10
1a
1b
1c
2a
2b
2c
3a
3b
3c
4a
4b
4c
5a
5b
5c
6a
6b
6c
7a
7b
7c
1-
1
1+
2-
2
2+
3-
3
3+
4-
4
4+
5-
5
5+
6-
6
6+
7-
7
7+
8-
8
8+
9-
9
9+
10-
10
10+
11-
11
11+
12-
12
12+
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
A1
A2
A3
B1
B2
B3
C1
C2
C3
D1
D2
D3
E1
E2
E3
F1
F2
F3
G1
G2
G3
H1
H2
H3
I1
I2
I3
J1
J2
I
II
III
IV
V
VI
VIIa
VIIb
VIIc
VIIIa
VIIIb
VIIIc
IXa
IXb
IXc
Xa
Xb
Xc
XIa
XIb
XIc
XIIa
XIIb
XIIc
1-
1
1+
2-
2
2+
3-
3
3+
4-
4
4+
5-
5
5+
6-
6
6+
7-
7
7+
8-
8
8+
9-
9
9+
10-
10
10+
11-
11
11+
12-
12
12+
1-
1
1+
2-
2
2+
3-
3
3+
4-
4
4+
5-
5
5+
6-
6
6+
7-
7
7+
8-
8
8+
9-
9
9+
10-
I-
I
I+
II-
II
II+
III-
III
III+
IV-
IV
IV+
V-
V
V+
VI-
VI
VI+
VI.1
VI.1+
VI.2
VI.2+
VI.3
VI.3+
VI.4
VI.4+
VI.5
VI.5+
VI.6
VI.6+
VI.7
VI.7+
VI.8
VI.8+
VI.9
VI.9+
M0
M1
M2
M3
M4
M5
M6
M7
M8
M9
M10
M11
M12
A0
A0+
A1
A1+
A2
A2+
A3
A3+
A4
A4+
A5
A5+
A6
C0
C0+
C1
C1+
C2
C2+
C3
C3+
C4
C4+
C5
C5+
C6
VB-
VB
VB+
V0-
V0
V0+
V1
V2
V3
V4
V5
V6
V7
V8
V9
V10
V11
V12
V13
V14
V15
V16
 

Internally grade conversions work by converting each grade to a fine-grained internal number range between 0-500.

If you would like programatic access to the grades and grade conversions through the API then you should get in contact with us. The programatic version of this table is available through the following API call:

http://www.thecrag.com/api/config/grade/system

2. Grade bands

For use on thecrag.com we have divided climb difficulty ratings into 5 segments - Beginner, Intermediate, Experienced, Expert and Elite. These definitions are somewhat arbitrary, but they are based on many years of climbing experience and there are also some statistical reasons for breaking climbing into these segments.

There are two common area difficulty graphs used throughout the site, the grade band and dual grade band.

Grade bands summary

The grade band chart shows the relative number of climbs at the particular difficuly bands. This is shown at each area and should give you a quick summary of the area's relative difficulty.

The dual grade band shows also what grades people are climbing at an area, based on the number of ascents at each grade. This is interesting, because some areas may have a lot of hard climbs, but the easier climbs are climbed more often (eg Arapiles) and other areas have a lot of easier climbs, but people go there for the hard climbs (eg Grampians).

The table below fives a brief description of each band.

Beginner The level of difficulty for your first couple of days of climbing (seconding or top roping). Many people may achieve these grades on their first day of climbing. There are still some very scary and/or dangerous climbs at this level (eg Bard).
Intermediate Typical grades for people with less than a years climbing. Note that most people cannot climb this level on their first couple of days of climbing. Statistically speaking, most outdoor climbing is done in this band. A lot of experienced climbers end up backing off to this level as they enjoy their climbing into old age.
Experienced People can achieve these levels if they have been climbing fairly regularily for a couple of years. These grades are where the social climbers start becoming rare.
Expert You really need to be training in a focused way to climb at this level. Not so many people reach this level.
Elite You climb for a living, are sponsored and have a full time trainer and massuer looking after you. This is the best of the best. If you are normal, you would not have a hope of even dogging up one of these climbs.

3. How are grades asigned to routes?

Routes have a registered grade and a list of independent user and publisher grade contributions (a publisher contribution is a citation from a publication). The user and publisher grade contributions are displayed on the route page. The official grade of the route is given by the registered grade.

3.1 Registered grade

The registered grade is the official grade of the route, and is used through out the website and publications.

A registered grade may have multiple components, for example:

  • A free climbing grade (5.12a) and an aid grade (A3), combined would read 5.12a A3.
  • British technical (4a) and adjectival (MS), combined would read MS 4a.

A route may have official grades from several different grading systems (eg in Thailand many routes have an official French and Australian grade). For example:

The above route, "Knights In White Satin" has a registered grade of 7b+ French and 26 Australian Ewbanks. Because the Thailand is assigned the French context the French grade will be shown on the site. (Question: Do we want to show the Australian grade to Australian users?)

Once a route has a registered grade it can only be changed by an Editor and is not affected by subsequent user contributions.

3.2 Grade contributions

Anybody may make a grade contribution. A climb may have several grade contributions from users and publishers.

When you add a new route, the grade you enter becomes your grade contribution (unless you are citing a publication, in which case in becomes a publisher contribution). For new routes your grade contribution also becomes the registered grade.

You may add your user grade contribution to an existing route using the update route details process. If the route already has a registered grade then this will not be effected (otherwise your contribution is used to start the registered grade).

3.3 Grade ranges

Behind the scenes everything is a grade range with a minimum grade and maximum grade. Mostly people will use just one grade, but on occasions it is useful to use a grade range for a particular route (eg you may input 5.10a-b, which will be interpreted by the sytem as a grade range and displayed as 5.10a to 5.10b.

Grade ranges are absolutely necessary for grade conversions. Very few grade conversions match exactly there is usually overlap. For example 5.8 in the Yosemite Decimal System maps to both 15 and 16 in the Australian Ewbanks system.

We are planning a future enhancement where we represent each grade to a probability bell curve because this represents more accurately what a grade is. For example a route usually takes on the grade of the first assentionist, which is subjective. The first assentionist is feeling really strong that day, and they think the route is a 5.10a, when in actual fact most climbers would have though it is a 5.10b. All climbers have come across routes that are easier or harder then the grade suggests. Over time grades which are way off may be corrected, but ultimately if you got a 100 climbers to independently grade a route, you will not get exactly the same answer from each climber (leaving aside arguments about differences between short and tall climbers). This suggests that route grades are probablistic.

3.4 Aid eliminates

A route may orinally be a 5.10b A4, then later somebody may climb it as a 5.11a A0, then later as a 5.12c. In this scenario the route should have the cleanest grade as its registered grade, but may have all the other grades listed as grade contributions.

3.5 Special rating systems

Although not part of the registered grade you can include some additional rating systems in your grade contributions. These include:

  • Stars
  • Protection rating

If you add a *, ** or *** to the end of your grade contribution the system will recognise this a star rating. See how stars work.

You may also use the YDS protection rating in your grade contribution. The system will assign the worst case protection rating to the route and display that alongside the registered grade if it is a R or X protection rating. For example if you made a grade contribution of "5.10d X" then the route will be displayed as 5.10d X.

4. How are grades asigned to ascents?

This area needs a complete rethink because the system is a little restrictive. If you want to contribute to a community discussion see the following issue in our issues list:

Currently when you log an ascent the asent will automatically take the route's registered grade as the ascent grade. If there are multiple registered grades (eg British Adjectival and Technical or Free and Aid) then the system will ask you to choose one of these to be associated with the ascent.

A logged ascent has a single grade independent of the route's grade. This has the following implications:

  • You may update your ascent to any grade you want, such as a different grading system or different grade to the route.
  • If it is an aid climb you have to choose whether you log the Aid component or the Free component (currently you cannot have both).
  • Similarily if it is a British climb have to choose whether you log the Adjectival or Technical grade.

To adjust your ascent's grade after you have logged the ascent follow the following procedure:

  • Log your ascent with the grade from the route.
  • Go to your Account page ('My Account' tab) and click on Logbook tab.
  • In the ascent you just logged click on the name link under the 'Ascent Label' column.
  • Click 'edit' ascent.
  • Click 'Update Ascent Grade' button at bottom of screen.
  • Select the grading system you want to use for your ascent.
  • Select the grade.
  • And yes you are done, easy eh - not (we will have to make this simpler at some point, but mostly you will not need this procedure).

5. Grade contexts and parsing

Our aim is for you to contribute grades as you see them in guidebooks and for the platform to be smart enough to work out what you mean.

5.1 Grade contexts

What does it mean if you type in the grade '5c'? If you were in Britian you would think it was the Experienced British grade 5c, but if you were in France you would think it was the Intermediate French grade 5c. Interpretation of grades is dependent on where you are, this is what we term grade context.

A Grade context is a way of the platform working out how to interpret potentially conficting grades written in plain text, and we set a grade context at the country level.

A grade context is simply a priority list of which grade systems it should check first when matching a grade. For instance in Australia, you can use a french grade, but it will check it first against the locally used Ewbank, and V-Grade bouldering grade systems first, and then if it doesn't match it will check against all the other grade systems. The platform defines as few contexts as possible in order to eliminate conflicts. In general most countries can use the default context.

Currently the system defines the following contexts:

Code Grade context Countries and Grade Systems
AU

Australian (Ewbanks ...)

Australian rating systems including Ewbanks and aid systems.

Countries: Australia, New Zealand

Priority grade systems: Australian Ewbanks, Bouldering Vermin V-scale, Australian Aid

FB

Fontainebleau

Fontainebleau bouldering system used in european bouldering - same labels as French grading system, but different difficulty levels.

Countries:

Priority grade systems: Fontainebleau Bouldering

FIN

Finnish

Finnish

Countries: Finland

Priority grade systems: Finnish

FR

French

French rating systems including free, bouldering, aid and alpine systems.

Countries: Croatia, Egypt, France, Greece, Hong Kong, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Morocco, Netherlands, Portugal, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam

Priority grade systems: French, Bouldering Vermin V-scale, International French Adjectival System, Aid, Hammerless Aid, Via Ferrata Schall System

NWG

Norwegian

Norwegian

Countries: Norway

Priority grade systems: Norwegian

POL

Polish

Polish

Countries: Poland

Priority grade systems: Polish

SA

South African

South African rating systems including free, bouldering and aid systems.

Countries: Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa

Priority grade systems: South African, Old South African, Bouldering Vermin V-scale, Aid, Hammerless Aid

SX

Saxon

Saxon free rating systems.

Countries:

Priority grade systems: Saxon, Jumps

UIAA

UIAA

UIAA free rating system but also includes bouldering and aid systems.

Countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Montenegro

Priority grade systems: UIAA, Bouldering Vermin V-scale, Aid, Hammerless Aid, Via Ferrata Schall System

UK

British

British rating systems including technical, adjectival, bouldering and aid systems.

Countries: Ireland, Malta, United Kingdom

Priority grade systems: British Adjectival, British Technical, Bouldering Vermin V-scale, Aid, Hammerless Aid

US

American (YDS ...)

American rating systems including YDS, aid, bouldering, alpine and ice systems.

Countries: Afghanistan, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Lichtenstein, Mexico, Micronesia, Nepal, New Caledonia, Oman, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, South Korea, Taiwan, Ukraine, United States of America, Venezuela

Priority grade systems: Sierra Club Class System, American Yosemite Decimal System, Bouldering Vermin V-scale, Bouldering Expanded Gill B-Scale, Bouldering Smith Rocks S-Scale, Bouldering Phoenix P-Scale, Bouldering Joshua Tree Scale, Aid, Hammerless Aid, National Climbing Classification System (NCCS) Alpine Grade, Alpine Ice, Water Ice, Mixed Rock/Ice, National Climbing Classification System (NCCS) Scale, Via Ferrata Schall System

Each country is assigned a context. Hopefully we have got it close to right (see section 5.3). In the table above we only show countries that have routes in them, and new countries default to the US, so if this isn't right for a particular country please contact us and we'll fix it.

You may change the context of a particular route when you add or update that route.

5.2 Examples

The best way to explain how the system converts the plain text you enter into grades is to look at some examples.

Context Text entered Grade Comment
US 5.12a 5.12a
US 5.12 5.12 The system has a grade system where grades are expressed as 5.12-, 5.12 and 5.12+.
US 12a 5.12a The system is able to work out common partial grades.
US 12 5.12 partial grades can be very dependent on the context (in US context this is 5.12, in AU context this is 12).
AU 12 12 Compare to above example
US 5.12a-5.12c 5.12a to 5.12c This is interpreted as a grade range.
US 5.12a-b 5.12a to 5.12b Common abbreviated grade ranges
US 5.12a/b 5.12b The forward slash '/' is interpreted as an or, in which case the system assigns the highest single grade.
US 5.10,5.12d,5.9 5.12d Commas used to indicate multi-pitch, in which case the system will assign the highest grade.
US 5.9 S 5.9 S Protection rating is displayed as part of the grade.
US 5.10a X,5.12 5.12 X Multipitch may include protection rating.
US 5.9** 5.9 The contribution will also be attributed with . Learn more about quality ratings.
FR 5c 5c The French grade.
UK 5c 5c The British technical grade.
UK E2 5c E2 5c The British adjectival and technical grade.
UK D D The British adjectival.
UK Difficult D Yup, according to the British adjectival system, difficult is a beginner's route - go figure. I think climbing developed faster than they could keep up.
AU 19 19 Australian Ewbanks grade.
SA 19 19 South African grade (compare to level of difficulty for an Australian Ewbanks grade 19 above)
AU 21 (S) 21 Australian Ewbanks grade with a sport route indicator. This is in for historical reasons (common for Australian guidebooks to use this notation), but because of it's potential confusion with the protection rating S we don't want it to be used anymore. For sport routes just tick the sport route indicator. Note the sport indicator must have brackets.
AU 21 M2 21 M2 Australian Ewbanks grade with an Australian aid grade.
AU M2 M2 Australian aid grade (we should probably colorize this).
US Class 2 Class 2
US Class IV Class 4
US F6 F6 NCCS Scale.
UIAA 11- 11- UIAA grade.
SA D3 D3 Old South African grade.
SX VIIa VIIa Saxon grade.
US 5.6A1+ 5.6 A1+ Free plus Aid grade.
US 5.6C1+ 5.6 C1+ Free plus hammerless Aid grade.
US A1+ A1+ Straight Aid grade.
US V4 V4 Vermin V-Scale for bouldering.
US B5.6 B5.6 The little more obscure Expanded Gill B-Scale for bouldering.
US B2- B2- And another B-Scale.
US S4- S4- Bouldering Smith Rocks S-Scale.
US P10 P10 Bouldering Phoenix P-Scale.
US C+ C+ Bouldering Joshua Tree Scale.
AU V0+ V0+ But really the bouldering V-Scale is accepted everywhere, so just use that.
US AI5- AI5- Alpine Ice.
US WI5- WI5- Water Ice.
US M3 M3 Mixed rock and ice.
FR PD PD IFAS (International French Adjectival System) - nothing in the conversion table.
US VI VI National Climbing Classification System (NCCS) Alpine Grade (no conversions).
US VI 5.11c A2+ 5.11c A2+ VI Alpine route with free and aid climbing.
AU 12 # i think 12 You can add comments to your grade contribution by using "#".

If you see a way of writing a grade in a guidebook then test it out and if it does not work then please contact us so we can enhance the system.

6. Country context's

The following table shows the current system settings for country context. Please raise an issue in our issues list if you think we need to make some adjustments.

Code Country Grade Context Routes
AF Afghanistan US 2
AX Aland Islands US
AL Albania US
DZ Algeria US
AS American Samoa US
AD Andorra FR
AO Angola US
AI Anguilla US
AQ Antarctica US
AG Antigua and Barbuda US
AR Argentina US 138
AM Armenia US
AW Aruba US
Ascension Island US
AU Australia AU 52807
AT Austria UIAA 6073
AZ Azerbaijan UIAA
BS Bahamas US
BH Bahrain US
BD Bangladesh US
BB Barbados US
BY Belarus UIAA
BE Belgium UIAA 291
BZ Belize UIAA
BJ Benin US
BM Bermuda US
BT Bhutan US
BO Bolivia US 9
BA Bosnia and Herzegovina US
BW Botswana SA 6
BV Bouvet Island US
BR Brazil US 416
IO British Indian Ocean Territory UK
British Virgin Islands UK
BN Brunei Darussalam US
BG Bulgaria US 21
BF Burkina Faso US
Burma US
BI Burundi US
KH Cambodia US 24
CM Cameroon US
CA Canada US 9610
CV Cape Verde US
KY Cayman Islands US
CF Central African Republic US
TD Chad US
CL Chile US 56
CN China US 1253
CX Christmas Island US
CC Cocos (Keeling) Islands US
CO Colombia US 506
KM Comoros US
CD Congo Democratic Republic US
CG Congo Republic US
CK Cook Islands US
CR Costa Rica US 113
CI Cote d'Ivoire US
HR Croatia FR 1344
CU Cuba US
CY Cyprus US
CZ Czech Republic US 152
DK Denmark UIAA 75
DJ Djibouti US
DM Dominica US
DO Dominican Republic US
East Timor US
EC Ecuador US 1
EG Egypt FR 3
SV El Salvador US 1
England
GQ Equatorial Guinea US
ER Eritrea US
EE Estonia US
ET Ethiopia US
FK Falkland Islands US
FO Faroe Islands US
FJ Fiji US
FI Finland FIN 58
FR France FR 12853
GF French Guiana FR
PF French Polynesia FR
TF French Southern Territories FR
GA Gabon US
GM Gambia US
GE Georgia US
DE Germany UIAA 55083
GH Ghana US 31
GI Gibraltar US
GR Greece FR 3776
GL Greenland US
GD Grenada US
GP Guadeloupe US
GU Guam US
GT Guatemala US 5
GG Guernsey US
GN Guinea US
GW Guinea-Bissaau US
GY Guyana US
HT Haiti US
HM Heard and McDonald Islands US
HN Honduras US
HK Hong Kong FR 597
HU Hungary US 157
IS Iceland US 78
IN India US 314
ID Indonesia US 1
IR Iran US 19
IQ Iraq US
IE Ireland UK 1103
IM Isle of Man US
IL Israel US 877
IT Italy FR 17022
JM Jamaica US
JP Japan US 947
JE Jersey US
JO Jordan US 37
Kashmir US
KZ Kazakhstan US
KE Kenya US 80
KI Kiribati US
Kosova US
KW Kuwait US
KG Kyrgyzstan FR 10
LA Laos FR 143
LV Latvia US
LB Lebanon US
LS Lesotho SA 36
LR Liberia US
LY Libya US
LI Lichtenstein US 1
LT Lithuania US
LU Luxembourg FR 154
MO Macau US
MK Macedonia US
MG Madagascar US
Malagasy Republic US
MW Malawi US
MY Malaysia FR 319
MV Maldives US
ML Mali US
MT Malta UK 160
MH Marshall Islands US
MQ Martinique US
MR Mauritania US
MU Mauritius US
YT Mayotte US
MX Mexico US 1684
FM Micronesia US 1
Midway Islands US
MD Moldova US
MC Monaco FR
MN Mongolia US
ME Montenegro UIAA 308
MS Montserrat US
MA Morocco FR 379
MZ Mozambique US
MM Myanmar US
NA Namibia SA 39
NR Nauru US
NP Nepal US 1
NL Netherlands FR 7
Netherlands Antilles US
NC New Caledonia US 8
NZ New Zealand AU 8932
NI Nicaragua US
NE Niger US
NG Nigeria US
NU Niue US
NF Norfolk Island US
KP North Korea US
Northern Cyprus US
Northern Ireland
MP Northern Marina Islands US
NO Norway NWG 1984
OM Oman US 8
PK Pakistan US
PW Palau US
PS Palestine US
PA Panama US
PG Papua New Guinea US
PY Paraguay US
PE Peru US 300
PH Philippines US 59
PN Pitcairn Island US
PL Poland POL 87
PT Portugal FR 91
PR Puerto Rico US
QA Qatar US
RE Reunion US
RO Romania US 3
RU Russia US 172
RW Rwanda US
SH Saint Helena US
KN Saint Kitts and Nevis US
LC Saint Lucia US
PM Saint Pierre and Miquelon US
VC Saint Vincent and the Grenadines US
WS Samoa US
SM San Marino US
ST Sao Tome and Principe US
SA Saudi Arabia US
Scotland
SN Senegal US
RS Serbia US
SC Seychelles US
SL Sierra Leone US
SG Singapore FR 78
SK Slovakia US 90
SI Slovenia FR 2809
SB Solomon Islands US
SO Somalia US
ZA South Africa SA 5136
GS South Georgia US
KR South Korea US 25
ES Spain FR 15889
LK Sri Lanka US
SD Sudan US
SR Suriname US
SJ Svalbard US
SZ Swaziland US
SE Sweden FR 1595
CH Switzerland FR 12776
SY Syria US
TW Taiwan US 1
TJ Tajikistan US
TZ Tanzania US
TH Thailand FR 1266
Tibet
TG Togo US
TK Tokelau US
TO Tonga US
TT Trinidad and Tobago US
TN Tunisia US
TR Turkey FR 986
TM Turkmenistan US
TC Turks and Caicos Islands US
TV Tuvalu US
UG Uganda US
UA Ukraine US 569
AE United Arab Emirates US
GB United Kingdom UK 24873
UM United States Minor Outlying Islands US
US United States of America US 66495
UY Uruguay US
UZ Uzbekistan US
VU Vanuatu US
VA Vatican City US
VE Venezuela US 46
VN Vietnam FR 192
VI Virgin Islands US
Wales
WF Wallis and Futuna US
EH Western Sahara US
YE Yemen US
ZM Zambia US
ZW Zimbabwe US