Grade (climbing)

As a difficulty scale ( also difficulty) is the term for climbing and mountaineering a scale of numbers or letters that describes the difficulty of a climbing route. By using a rating scale, the difficulty of different climbing routes can be compared.

For the various forms of play of climbing and mountaineering each different rating scales that take into account the specific stresses exist for this sport. Thus, other factors play a role as the technical ice climbing or when free climbing. While it is often attempted at scales that are designed for the alpine area, the variety of different requirements such seriousness (eg exposedness, fusing quality, fragility) or conditional load (eg length of the tour ) to take account of focus to scale in sport climbing mostly on the climbing technical difficulty. Material for the valuation here is the difficulty of key point.

The assessment of the difficulty of a route is based on normal conditions. It must not be forgotten that about wet or icy rock provides greater demands on the walkers through a lot.

Usually, the first ascent of a route is to the right of a first evaluation proposal, but often several climbers discuss in evaluating and judging together to keep the criteria as uniform as possible. Review proposals can also be changed if a large number of climbers believes that the proposed assessment is inappropriate. In addition, changes to the route (eg by handle outbreak ) can have a re-evaluation result. Difficulty ratings are of course always very subjective and a matter of discussion. People are physically and mentally different, and that such information can be seen as a guide only.

Next are rating scales a strong historical change, but also local traditions. New developments such as the emergence of new climbing styles or improvements in the equipment area make ongoing enhancements or adaptations of the different scales necessary.

  • 3.1 bouldering
  • 3.2 SAC - mountain and high- scale tour
  • 3.3 Technical Climbing
  • 3.4 ice climbing and mixed climbing
  • 3.5 seriousness of a route
  • 3.6 Via ferrata


Fritz Benesch, author of Raxführers of 1894, has already made ​​in the first edition of his leaders work to attempt to define a " comparison methods rank organization of the tray of their difficulty ," the first alpine scale. This Benesch scale had seven levels of difficulty. With the stage VII Benesch assessed the easiest routes, difficult with stage I at that time. Soon more difficult climbs were still committed, which were then evaluated with stage 0 and later with 00 (about UIAA IV-V ). Other scales such as the 1923 proposed by Willo Welzenbach Welzenbach - scale reversed the direction of the evaluation, so that the most difficult climbs now the highest numbers have been assigned. It was designed in 1947 in Chamonix six- Alpine scale that prevailed internationally and was renamed the UIAA scale in 1968. In the years 1977 to 1979 it was opened up.

Rating scale outdoor climbing

While there is only one rating scale, most courts forms of climbing, free climbing has developed at a variety of rating systems that set partly different priorities among the factors. Most of these scales are only regional importance, only three or four are regionally common and thus serve as a reference for the " conversion " of the other scales. The national common rating scales are the French scale, the UIAA scale, partly also the American scale and bouldering the Fontainebleau or short Fb- scale.

In western Germany, the UIAA scale is generally used, in which the French reviews will be partly used in parallel in climbing areas that are frequently visited by climbers from other nations. Similarly, the boundary where the French scale applies to the south and west flowing.

An exceptional position in Germany, the Saxon Switzerland common before the Second World War Saxon scale that has developed almost unaffected by the division of Germany, together with the local climbing ethics of the other scales. It is also used in other east climbing areas, such as in the Zittau Mountains. For historical reasons, it is also at the sandstone rock in the north of the Czech Republic used ( Bohemian Switzerland, Lusatian Mountains, Bohemian Paradise ). There it is today as JPK - scale ( Jednotná pískovcová klasifikace ) refers.

The conversion of the various rating scales is not linear, so this is usually done using tables.

The most commonly used rating scales

The UIAA scale is given in Roman or Arabic numerals. Possible are integers Increases or decreases by adjusting a " " or "-" as well as fine gradations such as " 7 / 8 -" ( between 7 and 8-).

The French scale is given in Arabic numerals and in each case a letter ( a, b ​​or c). As in the UIAA scale are intermediate values ​​and appreciation with " " possible, but no devaluation with "-".

The recognized difficult routes are currently browsing the XII- ( UIAA ) or 9b ( double ). The first route in this degree, the difficulty was confirmed by Adam Ondra is the erstbegangene February 2013 and repeated by Chris Sharma in March 2013 Route La Dura, Dura in Oliana. Previously, the difficulty 9b ( double ) have already been several times proposed by various climbers.

Comparison table

* The Saxon scale applies only limited in the Czech Republic, as they held on to the original seven -point scale up to the 1990s. Saxon ** The scale goes up currently XIIc, which would correspond to about XI ( UIAA ). The difficulties XIIa to XIIc could previously not be confirmed.

Other rating scales

The Saxon scale is given in Roman numerals. It starts with I and is open at the top. From VII, the difficulty with the addition of the letters a, b and c are further subdivided. The most difficult climbing routes of the Saxon Switzerland currently reach the confirmed difficulty XIc. In addition, there are in Saxony still a scale for jumps. It is expressed in Arabic numerals and includes the levels 1 to 6 A derived scale is the Czech difficulty scale JPK ( Jednotná pískovcová klasifikace ). This ends the seventh grade and is only partially (especially in the lower ranges ) with the Saxon scale identical.

Declaration of UIAA scale

The following verbal description of the UIAA scale dates back to the period before the emergence of modern sport climbing. It is therefore only very limited relevance to this form of climbing with their improved insurance and equipment-related options. Meanwhile, it is not recommended sides of the UIAA definition of such experiments because of their lack of objectivity and the difficulty of adequate descriptions. Therefore, the numerical rating has prevailed especially in higher difficulty range. However, in the lowest difficulty range verbal short descriptions are still quite widespread: Alpine also roadless, terrain that requires little or no use of their hands yet, is usually as " not difficult ," " somewhat difficult " or less frequently referred to as "light", this terms are, however, in this case applied inconsistently and partially used to I. UIAA difficulty.

Rating scales for other areas of climbing and mountaineering


Bouldering is climbing on boulders, rock walls or on artificial climbing walls in jump height. For the evaluation of the difficulty of these climbs are different rating systems.

John Gill led for the first time an assessment system for the difficulty of individual boulder problems. This " John Gill B- Scale" made ​​a classification of B1 to B3 in their original form. The evaluation B1 stands for a level of difficulty, where the boulder is heavier than an extremely serious climbing route in the top-rope style. B2 should be significantly heavier than B1. B3 is awarded when a boulder has been mastered a single time of a climber. This self- assessment system could not be maintained long, which led to an opening of the scale and the introduction of new levels of difficulty. This process was also developed by John Sherman ( " Vermin" ) in the United States, open, V- scale accelerated. This is based on the difficulty of the B scale.

The most widely used has bouldering the Fb scale ( Fontainebleau scale). This was developed in the French tradition Fontainebleau bouldering area and differentiates a boulder problem on whether it is a pure boulder problem ( Fb - Bloc) or a truss problem ( Fb - Trav ).

SAC - mountain and high- scale tour

The SAC - mountain and high- scale tour is another, from SAC ( Swiss Alpine Club), specially developed for alpine rock and ice routes difficulty scale for climbing. It serves the graduation of the individual alpine routes as a reference for normal and dry weather conditions and depend in each case on the key point. Next to it a walking scale, hedge scale, ski tours and snowshoe scale scale developed by the SAC.

Technical climbing

The rating scale in technical climbing ranges from A0 to A5. Here A0 corresponds in principle to free climbing, with individual savepoints are used for holding or kicking. In case of difficulty of A5 locomotion takes place only on artificial breakpoints, which - except for the stand backups - just carry the body weight of the climber. Breaking out one of the breakpoints in a A5 route leads into the consequence for breaking the entire breakpoint chain to large falls mostly to the stand backup and ends with a high probability of serious injury.

Ice climbing and mixed climbing

For the ice and mixed climbing, there is also your own scales. The actual difficulty with ice falls and mixed tours is dependent on factors such as icing, temperature, solar radiation and the like, and may vary by up to one and a half degrees from the specified difficulty.

Mixed routes are measured at the twelve- M scale. The degrees will be or - to reach a finer classification. The Scottish Mixed - scale consists of a Roman numeral followed by an Arabic numeral, the Roman stands for the total score and the Arab for the most technical section. The scale ranges from I to IX or 4 to 9

The difficulty in climbing is assessed with the seven-speed WI - scale, WI stands for Water Ice.

In 2010, was proposed by Will Gadd and Tim Emmett for the route "Spray On" at the Helmcken Falls, British Columbia, the difficulty WI10. This degree has not yet been included in the generally accepted scale.

Seriousness of a route

Complementing the UIAA, the mixed ( M) and the Wassereisfall ( WI) scale a Ernsthaftigkeits evaluation is useful.

Via ferrata

For fixed rope routes, there is no generally accepted scale. There are used different four-to six-step scale. One of the most famous is the verbal " Hüsler - scale " ( " little difficult " to " extremely difficult"). After Eugen Hüsler these levels are controlled by K1 to K6, otherwise often referred to simply by the letters A to E. Introduced by the Ferrata guide author Kurt sound variant has largely prevailed in the German language area. Recently there is also a steep track with the categorization F and with the categorization G.


Terrain: flat to steep, interspersed mostly rocky or rocky, exposed sections possible Fuse: wire ropes, chains, iron brackets (" guitars " ) and occasionally short conductors; Commission largely without the use of safety devices possible Requirements: sure-footedness and freedom recommended office condition ( however depends on the length of the tour from ) Equipment: climbing equipment recommended. Experienced skiers will be here also to be found without self- fuses. But go Secured is no shame!


Terrain: steeper rock terrain, partly small steps, with exposed areas is to be expected in any case Fuse: wire ropes, chains, iron clamps, foot bolts, longer ladders (possibly vertical); Commission without securing equipment possible, but difficulties to the 3rd level of difficulty ( UIAA ) are expected to Prerequisites: as in A, but better condition and some strength and endurance in the arms and legs clearly beneficial Equipment: climbing equipment recommended; Commission also possible in the roped Association


Terrain: steep to very steep rocky slopes, mostly small kicks, long or very often exposed sections Backup: Wire Rope, Eisenklampfen, foot bolts, often longer, and even overhanging ladders, staples and pins can also be further apart; in vertical sections sometimes just a wire rope; Inspection without the use of fixed securing devices possible difficulties lie but often in the 4th difficulty ( UIAA ) Requirements: good condition, because longer climbs in this difficulty are already among the great via ferrata company Equipment: climbing equipment such as B is strongly recommended that beginners or children are possibly even take to the rope.


Terrain: vertical, often overhanging terrain; usually very exposed Fuse: wire rope, iron clamps and foot bolts ( are often far apart ); in exposed and steep places often only a wire rope Prerequisites: as for C, but good physical condition, have enough strength in the arms and hands, as long vertical to overhanging bodies may occur; smaller climbs (up to the second difficulty) without safety devices are possible Equipment: climbing equipment mandatory, even experienced climbers can be found in the roped Association; not recommended for beginners and children


Terrain: vertical to overhanging; consistently exposed; very little kicks or friction climbing Assurance: as D, but more often combined with climbing Requirements: a lot of power in the hands ( fingers), arms and legs, increased level of fitness, agility, over longer distances can be on the poor the brunt Equipment: climbing equipment mandatory, roped association be worth just on tours with places without securing devices; Beginners and children is not recommended


Terrain: primarily overhanging; suspended; very little kicks or friction climbing Assurance: as E, combined with climbing Criteria: As E, but good climbing skills required Equipment: climbing equipment mandatory, top-rope fuse recommended; not recommended for individuals who do not simply dominate the difficulty level e. Note: Currently, there are only two fixed rope routes in the alpine region of the category F - the Bürgeralm ( via ferrata with Arena variant) and the Postalm via ferrata ( F variant) in Austria.