Monday 19 February 2007

More on Grades

Skip this one if you find it boring. Quite a few folk asked me how Rhapsody compared to the route I just did in Spain L'odi Social. "Was Rhapsody a similar grade for physical difficulty?" In my last blog post I wrote that visiting Spain (not just L'odi) confirmed Rhapsody as feeling like an 8c+. I should have anticipated this and been more clear - The visit confirmed Rhapsody at 8c+ because it was much harder than L'Odi. Indeed L'Odi, like many Spanish routes wouldn't get 8c+ in the UK, certainly not in Scotland. Bodyswerve is another 8c I did recently and that is a good bit harder. Rich Simpson thinks most of the routes at Siurana (and I mean most) should come down a grade in order to be fairer to the few routes that are fairly graded, both there and in the UK. there's no way I'm getting involved in deciding what Spanish 8c or 8c+ means - leave it to the Spanish to decide. It's enough of a headache to decide what's E8, E9, E10...

However Richard is right that people do pay attention to these things so its worth making some comment to make clear that some routes are way harder than others with the same grade.

I only visited Spain for the first time last year, but for many years I have listened to Brits saying how Spanish grades are a bit of a gift and to head there to get a good tick! That is not really a new idea. So yes, If I did L'Odi as a new route in Scotland, it would be a grade lower (8c), and the same goes for many routes there. It's about F8a+ to get to the crux, which is maybe a V8 or 8+ boulder problem and then maybe another V7 after that. Rhapsody is about F8a+ or 8b to get to the crux and I felt it was V11 at the top. Hence it took me a veeerrrryyyy long time to do it.

Anyway, I've even bored myself now, so end of message. Summary - Spanish grades are kind, but you knew that already.


  1. probably Spain is a more common climbing destination, don`t you think? more opinions should mean more accurate grades...maybe the spanish grades should be considered the real ones, and not the scottish local grades...


  2. This is possibly true. Certainly the grades in somewhere like Spain are likely to be more consistent. But this doesn't seem to be the case. It doesn't really matter to me whether some routes get upgraded or others come down instead, although if routes are downgraded then it discourages the inflation of grades which happens a lot. In time it should iron out. In the meantime however, its important to mention where disparity occurs so that it can be recognised and worked on.