the numbers game!

What is the world without numbers? Ah yes, must set the alarm for 6 am. I have a dinner date at 9pm. Your doing 75 in a 50. That plane ticket cost me 2000. I have a double date. A high five. Four on the floor. Sixty nine bottles of beer on the wall.

The sixty ninth position.

The 69 Malibu!

Or the summer of ’69.  All of these Classic.

In regards to climbing, I’m pretty open to the slash grades myself, but after 10 years of climbing, I just don’t care anymore. I used to get my panties all up in a bunch when I heard Fluffboy being called 5.13b/c. It was my third climb in the “C” range and that arrogant little ‘B’ had absolutely no business being there, how else was I supposed to feel good about myself and pad my resume for a free harness? These days, you can call whatever you want, whatever you want and I don’t give a damn, nobody should, even the young guns and the noobies, but I know, it’s hard not to get all tangled up in the numbers game,
“Well fuck Joe, is it 12a or 12b for Christ’s sake? Don’t call it 12a, or I’ll never climb with you again. Dude, it’s way harder than ‘Eat Your Face’ and “they” give that solid 12b.” Ever heard this before? So, when in doubt, embrace the slash grades. 5.12a/b – 5.13b/c – 5.14a/d.

Recently I was sent this link about the (American) bouldering grades vs, the (American) route grades and this is what the diagram told me.

No offence here, these Norwegians used a great quote from Pete Croft and they’ve obviously done a tremendous job with the website, I mean the brown wallpaper-esque background alone is worth mentioning to mom and dad and they’ve done some hard work compiling it all. But I don’t see why (according to the diagram) that I can onsight 5.13c – but it takes me a week to climb V12. Or if I can climb 5.14+ I should be able to boulder V16, or better yet – V17. WooHoo!

People, do not use this. It’s crap. And I only say it’s crap because I think I’ve come up with a better comparison. Check this out and tell me “ye or nay” and please let me know what you think. Am I close? Am I Crap? Or do you just not care enough and further more, you don’t know why you’re reading this blog to begin with, instead, you have some serious work to be attending to and your Starbucks is getting cold?

So what do evolves and numbers have in common?

They both suck.
















After this grade, nobody really cares that much anyway, so I’ll stop now. But upon special request, I can perform this all over again with the French Grades and roman numerals. I’ve been drinking, I gotta go!

  • Will

    damn….on the low grades your scale works…I climb 10-/V1…but I was more hopeful that I was a better boulderer than sport climber. I figured I was only 14 grades away from a V15 and a massive 15 grades away from a 15a. Enough adding I am going to go finish my coffee and play on my hangboard.

  • Erica

    I like diagrams with music….

  • Sonnie,

    Your scale is pretty good. The one discrepency I have with it, with regards to my own climbing, is I’ve climbed legit v9s- one in a session- but haven’t managed to redpoint 13a on rope yet.
    Nonetheless, your grade scale makes a heck of a lot more sense than others I’ve seen. I nominate you for the Noble Peace Prize : )_


  • Dustin

    I laughed my ass off at the grades, until I realized they make sense to how I climb. 11+ and V4 are both my max, 11- and V3 are both my hardest onsight… so in my world you’ve got the first 3 right. So I’m going to run out and compare how long it takes me to do Realization and Terremer and get back to you on the other end of the scale… 😉


  • Julian

    It’s all a big fat made up guess anyway. I boulder way harder than I redpoint. Different for everyone, therefore pretty meaningless.

  • Adam

    Seems pretty right on… Obviously for a climber that specializes in one or the other (sport or bouldering) there will be some discrepancies, but for the ‘all-arounder’ and as an average of different areas (each area having it’s own grade nuances) this comparison seems pretty accurate.

  • ktmt

    According to this and based on my route climbing level, I can boulder V6. Woo-hoo! But wait. According to this and the grades on the boulder problems in my local gym, I can’t even climb 5.10+. Shit. Sonnie, is there any way you could come down and check out the problems in our gym and tell me whether that one V2 really is V2? It’s that heinous 4-move open grip thing with green tape and greasy holds set by “Ian” last Christmas. Until I get these V grades figured out, I won’t be able to climb even the steps leading up to my front porch. I’ll be paralyzed with doubt. Thanks in advance!

  • sonnie

    Ha ha ha, great feedback gang. Really. Thanks for the input, I mean hey it was worth a shot right? but then after reviewing my list, I decided upon a new method, bare with me, I know it may be complicated for some of you to grasp, especially you ktmt, grin, but I think with practice you will find that this new method works the best, besides, it’s all about the cleanest line eh…

    V-fun =
    V-funner = 5.funner
    V-funnest = 5.funnest

  • I found the website to be accurate in terms of my climbing grades indoors. My max is 11+, and bouldering is V5.

    Outdoors, your chart worked better for me. My max is the same still for routes, but my bouldering max is V4.

    Unfortunately, being able to listen to Air in G while looking at the websites chart gives it a slight edge over yours haha.