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Ideal indoor grading system?? (Read 3013 times)

Fiend

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Ideal indoor grading system??
November 02, 2023, 03:26:02 pm
Inspired by the new system* at The Boardroom (where despite this, the climbing was fun and the ceiling fans excellent)...



In voting for the objectively correct answer, it might be useful to consider that whilst outdoor grades aren't very comparable to indoors, they are better than having no comparison at all; and most walls use outdoor-derived grades which makes for better for wall-to-wall comparisons; and almost all walls have grade spreads in the circuits e.g. V2-4, V3-5, which already take into account the poor comparison with outdoors.



(* quite possibly somehow related to the god awful indoor wall portrait cam selfie wooden stand things)

Wellsy

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#1 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 02, 2023, 03:38:53 pm
Ditch grades indoors. They don't make sense. If you have eight coloured circuits just rank them in order of general difficulty and don't even bother grading them

Dexter

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#2 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 02, 2023, 03:44:16 pm
I somewhat disagree with this. While they don't always match perfectly to outdoors it can be useful to have something that allows an imperfect comparison. If someone can only do v4 indoors then they probably don't want to go to a crag where the easiest thing is v6. If they can climb the blues then who knows if a crag is suitable or not.

That being said some walls grade spread is a bit wild. For example I've seen the hard circuit at a wall be v5-10 which spans a huge range. 

Dac

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#3 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 02, 2023, 03:49:41 pm
If a wall is setting circuits (and most do) then the rough grade range of the circuit is probably best; V or font, I donít care. I always liked the system used at Climb Newcastle (and likely others) of a grade range and also a little diagram indicating which are high in the grade band and which are low: this stops you accidentally trying to warm up on the crux.

The big issue Iíd have with the system shown is that as a first time visitor Iíd have no indication of what problems I should be trying, and as such would probably waste my first ( perhaps only) visit trying to find which circuit is of the correct difficulty for me.

Surely the whole point of grading boulder problems is to give the climber some indication of the difficulty they will encounter. Granted some will use it for bragging on social media, others will whine when they go outside and get their arse handed to them when they were climbing V - whatever down the wall. But it is a system that works really rather well.

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#4 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 02, 2023, 03:52:31 pm
Ditch grades indoors. They don't make sense. If you have eight coloured circuits just rank them in order of general difficulty and don't even bother grading them

This for larger bouldering centres. our local wall has a relatively small bouldering area though, so V or font for each prob makes sense.

I sometimes take a higher grade if i find it hard though ;)

jwi

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#5 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 02, 2023, 05:32:52 pm
I think that using something else than FB grades for Bouldering and French grades for the lead wall is ludicrous. On one hand you have a system that has been perfected through more than one hundred years of climbing history, on the other hand you have a bunch of colours with arbitrarily width.

I understand perfectly well why setters do not want to set an exact font grade to a problem as they don't get payed to climb the problems and they have just tried one or two individual moves with guide tennies on their feet, so guessing a grade is hard. Also the amount of entitled noobs in climbing has just exploded past what is imaginable. Nowadays there a noobs who climb 9b! (Noob = someone who prefer routes where draws are already hanging = someone who think that they subjective experience of the difficulty of a route has high value = someone who has glaring movement deficiency on a major style of climbing). But if there is one strenght noobs have, it is to whine to the route setters about grades.

But as a consumer I demand grades on the problems. More precision is always better than less. If the route setter made a mistake and the 8b is actually an 8a, well that is not a big deal. If I am asked to find an appropriate route that is around 8a and one colour spans 7a to 8b and the next 8a to 9a, well I am in a fucking pickle, am I not?

Paul B

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#6 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 02, 2023, 06:07:11 pm
I think to have an opinion on this thread you need to have worked in a wall/as a setter for a minimum of 100+ hours and be on the receiving end of the endless crap from members of the public regarding the grades. Suddenly, L1, L2 etc starts to make perfect sense.

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#7 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 02, 2023, 06:36:27 pm
I climbed well over a year on a climbing wall that had no grading at all, just relative color scale (actually not that uncommon), an interesting experience, I wondered what my level might be (V grade wise), however looking back, it didn't really matter much, as long as I know I am getting stronger objectively, it is all that matters, and I quite liked it.

cheque

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#8 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 02, 2023, 10:52:36 pm
If someone can only do v4 indoors then they probably don't want to go to a crag where the easiest thing is v6. 

Especially as theyíll probably struggle on v2s.

I once climbed at Parisellaís and one of a group of Sheffield climbers there kept having to be told which L grade the problems there would get if they were on the Foundry Wave as that was the only grading scale they understood.  :lol:

My opinion, and one Iíve shared on here numerous times, is that trying to relate indoor grades to rock climbing ones (or even those at other walls) is the path to madness and the best walls are the ones that use a proprietary grading system.

joel182

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#9 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 02, 2023, 11:15:31 pm
More precision is always better than less. If the route setter made a mistake and the 8b is actually an 8a, well that is not a big deal.

Might not be a big deal to you but its the biggest deal in the world to like 9 out of 10 climbers at the wall

abarro81

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#10 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 03, 2023, 11:27:12 am
The big thing is just getting things in the right order. I don't mind if I need to add or take off 2 grades at a wall or on a board, but that needs to be at least roughly consistent

Dexter

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#11 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 03, 2023, 11:34:45 am
The big thing is just getting things in the right order. I don't mind if I need to add or take off 2 grades at a wall or on a board, but that needs to be at least roughly consistent

I totally agree with this. Some walls are known to be soft and some massive sandbags. But as long as it is consistent you can easily adjust.

jwi

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#12 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 03, 2023, 11:39:23 am
More precision is always better than less. If the route setter made a mistake and the 8b is actually an 8a, well that is not a big deal.

Might not be a big deal to you but its the biggest deal in the world to like 9 out of 10 climbers at the wall

Yeez, where do you train? The wall I'm going to, 9 out of 10 climbers are nowhere near being able to do the 8s, even though the grades are quite generous.

joel182

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#13 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 03, 2023, 12:01:14 pm
More precision is always better than less. If the route setter made a mistake and the 8b is actually an 8a, well that is not a big deal.

Might not be a big deal to you but its the biggest deal in the world to like 9 out of 10 climbers at the wall

Yeez, where do you train? The wall I'm going to, 9 out of 10 climbers are nowhere near being able to do the 8s, even though the grades are quite generous.

It's not so much about the absolute grades, but the V6 that's actually a V5 will be the most climbed boulder on any set, and the V4 that's actually a V5 will hardly get touched

jwi

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#14 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 03, 2023, 01:02:49 pm
ah.... gotcha

lukeyboy

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#15 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 03, 2023, 01:18:08 pm
Ideal for who?

As a punter I would like exact and perfectly accurate (Font) grades for every problem, plus general circuit colours (e.g. all 6A-6B yellow) so you can easily spot from a distance what is what.

As a setter I would want no grades or colours for anything!

Fiend

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#16 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 08, 2023, 10:43:20 am
I think to have an opinion on this thread you need to have worked in a wall/as a setter for a minimum of 100+ hours and be on the receiving end of the endless crap from members of the public regarding the grades. Suddenly, L1, L2 etc starts to make perfect sense.
FWIW the Boardroom staff seemed very amenable when I politely told them that the arbitrary root vegetable non-grade thing was the worst idea in the history of bad ideas (whilst praising the setting, the ceiling fans, and the amount of fun I had despite the grades).

Anyway, that's what grade ranges are for - V3-5, which (or it's Font equivalent) is the only sensible "don't fuck with what actually works" solution - heading off any possible endless crap because the range is broad enough to fit any sort of error in (whilst fooling the public that it's semi-accurate so they assume it's all about V4 but then if it's a path or desperate it can be shrugged off as soft V3 or nails V5...).

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#17 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 08, 2023, 12:59:11 pm

FWIW the Boardroom staff seemed very amenable when I politely told them that the arbitrary root vegetable non-grade thing was the worst idea in the history of bad ideas (whilst praising the setting, the ceiling fans, and the amount of fun I had despite the grades).


I quite enjoyed the linear A-H scale to be fair. It kind of recognises the massive disconnect between indoor and outdoor bouldering - ratty crimps, weird smears, poor coffee selection, choice of equally poor footholds, bad landings, lack of parkour - that the change to 'this is likely a bit harder than this' scale worked well.

I went all in and tried a dumb challenge - 50+ problems in an hour and a bit - without the little voice saying 'that was hard for V3'. Best session I've had in a while.

JamieG

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#18 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 08, 2023, 01:19:54 pm
I initially would have said that the classic few grade spread was obviously the most sensible (font or V). But then I realised I donít actually use the grade spread beyond an initial idea of roughly which colours should be warm-ups and which colours ones will be good challenges. Then I just start saying Ďooof hard for a red etcí. And for walls I know I just get on the circuits that suit a session without thinking about grades at all. But then Iím mostly an outdoors/home board climber who sometimes goes to the wall.

Grades work badly enough outside so I suspect itís a foolís errand expecting them to behave indoors.

Bradders

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#19 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 08, 2023, 03:41:20 pm
The big thing is just getting things in the right order. I don't mind if I need to add or take off 2 grades at a wall or on a board, but that needs to be at least roughly consistent

Not just in the right order, but I'd echo jwi's call for at least a reasonable degree of accuracy (within relatively wide bands) as to how hard the problems actually are.

I went to the Armley Depot yesterday and found the yellows to be a long, long way from the stated V7-V8. I tried one that I'm sure is actually somewhere around V11 or even V12. Having hard problems is of course a great thing but it seems bizarre to set a circuit claiming to provide for a V7/8 audience when the problems are anything but.

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#20 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 08, 2023, 04:24:11 pm
The big thing is just getting things in the right order. I don't mind if I need to add or take off 2 grades at a wall or on a board, but that needs to be at least roughly consistent

Not just in the right order, but I'd echo jwi's call for at least a reasonable degree of accuracy (within relatively wide bands) as to how hard the problems actually are.

I went to the Armley Depot yesterday and found the yellows to be a long, long way from the stated V7-V8. I tried one that I'm sure is actually somewhere around V11 or even V12. Having hard problems is of course a great thing but it seems bizarre to set a circuit claiming to provide for a V7/8 audience when the problems are anything but.

I think Armley is insanely sandbagged compared to other places like Sheff/Manc/Pudsey. One setter said its because of the style and holds but not sure I buy into that. Even the lower graded climbs feels 1 full grade harder than Sheffield. A purple at Armley feels more like a mid grade yellow at Sheffield  :lol:

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#21 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 08, 2023, 05:10:34 pm
The big thing is just getting things in the right order. I don't mind if I need to add or take off 2 grades at a wall or on a board, but that needs to be at least roughly consistent

I totally agree with this. Some walls are known to be soft and some massive sandbags. But as long as it is consistent you can easily adjust.

 :agree: Basically you need to know how to warm up, and not just on the problems that have the obvious bucket holds.

Then you need to know roughly where to focus your efforts vs your normal level - are you trying to work problems, work max moves on problems, or try and tick loads of volume?

The roughly graded circuits make the most sense to me. Adding another scale means as a punter I have to perform an additional act of translation and also account for variability in my performance. Is level F too hard for me because it is above my usual grade? Or because I am having a bad day/haven't warmed up enough/problem doesn't suit me try another one. If it is in roughly comparable outdoors grades I have a sense of this from the label.

I also don't mind if the grades are harsh or soft as long as they are roughly consistent especially on panels next to each other.

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#22 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 08, 2023, 06:31:28 pm
Most walls that have circuits more or less coloured in line with Font circuits makes sense to me, at lease it's related to something that exists and i can (mostly) remember.

SA Chris

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#23 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 08, 2023, 06:32:34 pm

9 out of 10 climbers are nowhere near being able to do the 8s

Title of Dave MacLeod's follow up book.

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#24 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 08, 2023, 06:58:24 pm
Indoor walls are ideal for grading. You have a common medium (plywood and plastic) and often the holds are the same brand/type at different climbing centres. You could also tweak settings (hold orientation etc..) to avoid borderlines.

Outside is far harder. An infinite range of hold type and variation, many different rock types, dependence on weather conditions (and so on) and you canít (ethically) alter the set up.

Therefore it makes far more sense to have a grading system for climbing walls and none for outside.

:D

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#25 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 09, 2023, 08:08:21 am
In the gym I'm currently going to the hardest circuit has colour black and cover a grade span between 7B and 8B. The strong climbers vote with their feet and almost completely ignore the circuit in preference of the moon board and the kilter board. It might be a lot less fun, but at least there is some form of information about what difficulty a problem has, apart from what you can guess by looking at the holds and the distribution of chalk.

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#26 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 09, 2023, 09:17:18 am
I'm on the fence... I like the "vague range circuit" as if it's mostly in my range I'll have a go at it, and can't use an excuse of it not being in my grade range as it might be...

Equally, I like the satisfaction of ticking off a specific grade, even it it is arbitary - this mostly depends on the consistency (more so than accuracy) of grading at a gym.

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#27 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 09, 2023, 09:29:37 am
the hardest circuit has colour black and cover a grade span between 7B and 8B.

That's clearly ridiculous. The span of grades shouldn't be that large, since it's basically useless then. That goes from some like me a keen punter to borderline world class! Within a colour they need to be relatively consistent. Most spans I have seen tend to be just a few grades. e.g. V5-7, which I think works fine.

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#28 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 09, 2023, 09:38:51 am
the hardest circuit has colour black and cover a grade span between 7B and 8B.

That's clearly ridiculous. The span of grades shouldn't be that large, since it's basically useless then. That goes from some like me a keen punter to borderline world class!

And I think we're in general agreement that indoor boulders have a high variability in grade, so realistically grades between 7a to 8c. On the easier end of "black" I sometimes flash, so those are probably more 7a than 7b.

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#29 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 09, 2023, 09:39:08 am
Every hardest circuit at every wall I've been to covers a very large difficulty range - it's inevitable unless you're willing to waste the walls money and the setters time by having a whole circuit or two that is too hard for 99% of the customers. The only realistic solutions are to either -
Set nothing above 7C, or
Have a fairly open ended hard set that's focused on low to mid 7's but also has a few high 7's and low 8's

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#30 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 09, 2023, 09:56:24 am
I agree with you Duma, often the hardest circuit is just something like >7B, which I usually take to mean 7B-7C+, which I'm fine with. Firing the odd 8B in there doesn't really benefit anyone. The wads won't be on the circuit as most are too easy. And the punters will just think its ludicrous for the circuit. Probably worth having a few 8s that are clearly labelled as such, but I appreciate they are catering to a diminishing (albeit usually super keen) market.

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#31 Re: Ideal indoor grading system??
November 09, 2023, 09:58:08 am
Every hardest circuit at every wall I've been to covers a very large difficulty range - it's inevitable unless you're willing to waste the walls money and the setters time by having a whole circuit or two that is too hard for 99% of the customers. The only realistic solutions are to either -
Set nothing above 7C, or
Have a fairly open ended hard set that's focused on low to mid 7's but also has a few high 7's and low 8's

Or use ... eh... grades?

 

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