Climbing and Grading Systems

Rock Climb Every DaySome of you may wonder what determines the grade or difficulty of a route. Here are some useful resources:

Alpine Climbing (NCCS)

Grade I: Normally requires several hours; can be of any difficulty.
Grade II: Requires half a day; any technical difficulty
Grade III: Requires a day to do the technical portion; any technical difficulty
Grade IV: Requires a full day for the technical portion; the hardest pitch is usually no less than 5.7 (in the Yosemite Decimal System rating)
Grade V: Requires a day and a half; the hardest pitch is usually 5.8 or harder
Grade VI: A multiday excursion with difficult free climbing and/or aid climbing

Free Climbing (YDS)

Class 1: Hiking

Class 2: Simple scrambling, with the possible occasional use of the hands

Class 3: Scrambling; a rope might be carried

Class 4: Simple climbing, often with exposure. A rope is often used. A fall on Class 4 rock could be fatal. Typically, natural protection can be easily found

Class 5: Where rock climbing begins in earnest. Climbing involves the use of a rope, belaying, and protection (natural or artificial) to protect the leader from a long fall. Fifth class is further defined by a decimal and letter system – in increasing and difficulty. The ratings from 5.10-5.15 are subdivided in a, b, c and d levels to more precisely define the difficulty (for example: 5.10a or 5.11d)

5.0-5.7: Easy for experienced climbers; where most novices begin.

5.8-5.9: Where most weekend climbers become comfortable; employs the specific skills of rock climbing, such as jamming, liebacks, and mantels.

5.10: A dedicated weekend climber might attain this level.

5.11-5.15:  The realm of true experts; demands much training and natural ability and, often, repeated working of a route.

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