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This question is sprouted from Brick Wall Rating

I occasionally climb in places where it seems unorthodox, such as a brick wall. I've found that even with the plethora of hand holds that buildings tend to offer, it tends to be some of the hardest climbing that I've tried.(just ask Kristen Stewart in Catch that Kid) What is a way to rate some of these climbs based off of handhold types, hold sizes, distance, and footholds?

I would be using this guide, except generally there isn't much change in tilt angle on buildings, which makes parts of this guide obsolete.

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    Last time I went down to Kentucky I thought I'd warm up on a 5.8, I couldn't even get off the freaking ground. Later that day I on-sighted a multi-pitch 5.11a. You will find that grades are subjective and that every climb is different, every climber has a different style, body type, strengths and weaknesses. There's nothing more rewarding than seeking some bad ass trad line, sport route or boulder and on-sighting it without even knowing the grade. I always remember the feelings I experience while climbing and not the time spent debating the grade. Get out there and have fun! Happy Climbing :) – AM_Hawk Jul 24 '14 at 16:02
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    @AM_Hawk I love that attitude towards climbing:) – Liam McInroy Jul 24 '14 at 16:55
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    Totally agree @AM_Hawk. Just climb. The only competition is yourself. – user2766 Jul 25 '14 at 9:10
  • @AM_Hawk: Very well said mate. Totally agreed. – WedaPashi Jul 25 '14 at 9:14
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I would question that particular link. Rating climbs isn't really a tick box exercise, for a start their are multiple different grading systems all of which are slightly different.

You cannot say:

well it's at x angle and the hand holds are y size therefore it's w

There are a number of different challenges to grading climbs:

  • Climbing grades are a rule of thumb and are open to interpretation.
  • They are a measure of how hard it is to climb. Different people find different aspects of climbing more or less difficult so it is always open to interpretation.
  • Indoor grades are often very different to outdoor grades, bouldering gardes are very different to Trad grades, etc, etc.
  • Grades tend to overlap so there is very little difference between a 5.9 and a 5.10a
  • Height of climb, length of pitches, rock type, all need to be included in the grade. This makes comparing grades in different areas difficult.

This is to the point that when a new climb is "put up" the grade that the first climber gives it is a provisional one. This grade needs to be confirmed by one or more climbers before it is accepted.


The best way to grade a climb is to gain experience of climbing well know climbs that the grade is well known and accepted. Then when you want to grade something that you don't know the grade for you need to ask yourself (and others preferably) is this harder or easier than x and y climbs? How much harder or easier? What about w climb? etc.

You'll likely never get it 100% right, people argue over grades constantly. But the whole point is that it's impossible to get 100% right. It's a guide only. You may find a V1 that's easy or a completely different V1 that you find difficult.

  • So all grades are based off of previous grades? – Liam McInroy Jul 24 '14 at 16:56
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    @OutlawLemur Yes. You will not able to "correctly" (as far as one can call it correctly after Liam's answer) rate a climb if you do not have climbed some (better a lot of) routes that ware rated the same grade or only slightly below. On the other hand, as you have reached a certain level, you will be very unprecise when trying to rate climbs that are well below your current level as your repertoire of movements is by far wider than you would need for that grade and to you it doesn't matter, if it is half a grade harder or lighter. For someone at their limit, it does matter. – Benedikt Bauer Jul 25 '14 at 8:36
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    @OutlawLemur, Yes, what Benedict said! – user2766 Jul 25 '14 at 9:09
  • It disappoints me in some ways how unorganized rock climbing is, but that is what makes it beautiful... Thanks guys – Liam McInroy Jul 25 '14 at 12:59
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    @OutlawLemur, if you want organisation you're in the wrong sport! Mostly ex hippies in baggy multicouloured trousers... – user2766 Jul 25 '14 at 13:08

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