Topic: Bouldering Grades
- In American bouldering, the scale for rating the difficulty of a boulder problem is called the V Scale. The V is short for Vermin which is the nickname of John Sherman, the man who crafted the scale. Essentially the V Scale indicates the consensus difficulty level related to a particular route. The lower the number, the easier the climb. Starting at V0, the scale currently tops out at V17.
- In European bouldering, the scale for rating the difficulty of a bouldering problem is called the Font Scale, named after the popular bouldering destination Fontainebleau. The Font Scale has some similarities to the V Scale. Both designate a higher number to represent a more difficult climb, but the Font Scale includes the added benefit of being wonky AF. It starts at 3 rather than 0, and when the difficulty of a route is rated harder than a 6, letters suddenly appear, and then plus signs start popping up as well.
- Now of course both scales are equally useful in grading a route, but parsimony certainly favors the V Scale. While there are advocates of the Font Scale, I’m sure these people also prefer things like the Modified Stableford Scoring Format, the Fixed Location finding system, and alphabetizing things based on the last letter of a word. These people probably put avocados in the fridge. They keep Tupperware lids with no bottoms. Font Scale Enthusiasts don’t place the cap back on the toothpaste. But both scales are fine, even though Fonters like black licorice and put empty trays of cookies back into the cupboard. They back into angled parking and use the doorbell instead of knocking. So, yeah…both scales are equally useful.
- There is also a Japanese rating system called The Dankyu System. This system is split between Kyu rating, and the Dan Rating. The higher the Kyu number the easier the climb. The grades count down from about 10 Kyu (the easiest routes) to 1 Kyu. The next level of difficulty after 1 Kyu is 1 Dan. Once we get into the Dan side of the scale the harder routes are represented by higher numbers. Going up to 6 Dan. The Dankyu scale like the V Scale and the Font scale is open ended, so if someone sends a route harder than has ever been climbed, we would just add another level to the scale e.g. 7 Dan/V 18/9A+. I can’t say too much about the Dankyu scale because I am just not very familiar with it, but I did hear people who embrace the Font Scale often put milk in their cereal bowl before pouring the cereal.
|V Scale||Font Scale||Dankyu|
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