GO TO GLOBAL SITE   se es us fr za it
de ca au no
at br ru ch
gb pl nl sk
Home | News | Videos | Articles | Gallery | Crags | Gyms | Search - Tick List | Forum | Ranking | Blogs | Contact | New Member
 By: Jens Larssen  | Date: 2006-01-15  | Category: Other    | Comment  

koyamada2jorg (2).jpg
Koyamada "This is not bouldering": 60 moves 8Cc+
Tonino 78, 8C with 15 moves

Fred Nicole in the huge Hollow Mtn Cave: 10 boulder routes, 8Bb+  (25+ moves) Pic Simon Carter

In the latest issue of Escalar , an 8a.nu article regarding the grading and definition of boulders and routes was published, including comments from Dani Andrada, Josune Bereziartu and three other spanish celebrities.

In 2002, 8a.nu started to report routes = 8a and boulders = 8A. This has become a worldwide standard as it makes it easier to understand and value reported news. Lately, the highest grades and most attention, on the bouldering scene, have been given to 20 - 60 moves 'boulder routes'. Short and powerful boulders are more seldom given high grades and fame. One reason for this is that sometimes 'boulder routes' are graded with the softer traverse grade.  

8a.nu suggest and will start to report boulder routes = 8Aa, in order to separate and value different reported grades. By doing so we also hope to increase the focus and attention on the challenge of who is doing the most powerful moves and boulders.  

Some 50 % out of the 8B+ boulders and most of the suggested 8C+s are likely to be called 'boulder routes', as they are 15 moves or longer. There is a tendency to proudly favor many moves when it should be the opposite, at the bouldering scene. Relatively few 8B boulders are truly power challenges, i.e. less than 10 moves, in strict contrast to the ones up to 8A where, maybe 90 %, consists of up to 4 metres of powerful bouldering. 

The reason for this development is probably that it is mentally much easier to work on a 'boulder route' as you will have fun doing and linking moves and sequences. To project a new and short 'personal best' boulder will be extreamely though in the beginning as you want succeed or even get close to do the moves for maybe 20 hours/2 months. Thus, it is much more mentally pleasant to project 'boulder routes'. In fact, the same tendency is found in route climbing where most of the hardest routes are very long.

8A = boulder  8a = route   New category 8Aa = boulder routes

The boulder routes grading should be in between

Where to draw the line and what grades to use?
It is impossible to come up with some rational logic on how to decide the definition and how to separate a boulder from a 'boulder route'. There are so many different aspects to be taken into account, so we can only suggest a few guidelines and then it is up to anyone to make his own interpretation.

The achievement of doing an 8A boulder is more or less the same as an 8b route. Most of the boulder routes and traverses that have been put up have used the traverse grading system which is something in between boulder- and route grading. It is thus equally difficult to do an 8Aa+ boulder route as an 8A or 8a.

8a.nu suggests the continuating of three grading systems and that the definition of a boulder should be something like this.
Up to 6 meter climbing - Up to 20 moves - Need to use chalk - ??
What do you think?

Comments from five spanish celebrities, copied with permission from Desnivel - Translations by Ignacio Sandoval Burón



Dani Andrada Pic Pete O'Donovan

It is true that nowadays the majority of the boulder problems are very long, but I normally consider boulders those a little bit ascending till a maximum of 10 or 12 movements. If they have more movements I tick them like a traverse.

Concerning the graduation system, I do think it can be changed, but it is not the same a traverse of 8c+, at a physical level, than a 9a+ route. It is not the same because it is easier to work the movements, there is no psychological component, neither you are uncomfortably hung on the rope. There should be specified.


With regard to the short bouldery routes, for me at the moment you clip an anchor, even though it is only one, you have to apply the routes graduation system, although I see it right to detail it could be a 9a in routes or a 8B+ in boulder, for instance. Or just to note down the version you like more.

But unify graduations is difficult because there is more and more difference between one thing and the other. Besides, bouldering is more morphological than the routes and it depends to a great extent on the concrete physical conditions of each climber.



Josune Bereziartu on E la nave va, 8Cc (travers) Pic Rikar Otegui

Rikar Otegui & Josune Bereziartu:
The graduation of a 50 metres route, a boulder of three, a exposed pitch of a big wall and a traverse at ground level, has a common denominator: with every of these types of climbing we get different feelings.

Almost all the climbers coincide in that it is not the same climbing tied to a rope or to do it without it climbing in a boulder. The same for what we understand for bouldering: an exercise short in length and time, very intense (depending on the level of the problem), with the final objective of reaching the top of the boulder.

Although the exception to the 'rule' says (and it is a very wide exception nowadays) that besides, longer boulders (almost like a short route), connexions in a same boulder, boulder traverses, etc. can be climbed; for all these exceptions there exists a special graduation named 'traverse graduation', and it is different to that of boulder.

The examples are quoted in the article are extreme routes/boulders. Well, it is not the same a traverse around the 9A close to the ground, where you can try every movement the times you want with no effort, than a 9a route, taking a simple example.

We do think that the trigger of this controversy comes from those realizations in which, instead graduating it with a traverse graduation, the boulder one has been used.

When you take a look to the Fontainebleau guides you are used to differentiate between a boulder and a boulder traverse. They are graduated in a different way. Even if they share numbers, symbols and letters, you reach to know what it means, for instance, an 8a traverse or an 8A boulder.

Climbing is not mathematics; precisely it is what makes it attractive for us. If different ways of graduation are understood, and when something is climbed out of the standard is explained, there should not be any problem to interpret every climbing.



Arroita 8C.jpg

Pedro Pons - Boulder WC Champ 2000

Iker Pou doing an 8Cc travers Pic www.pouanaiak.com

Pedro Pons:
To lucubrate revolving around the graduation is, as we can see, typical of climbers, no matter you are called Manolo and you are in El Chorro eating olive tapas or Björn and you prefer smoked salmon.

As our Nordic friend states, graduations keep being imperfect, they are rather clumsy, I even would say more that what he raises and tries to solution with his standardizing theory. Let's see some curiosities in the climbing world:

Grades suffer variations from a climbing spot to the other, and this happens with and without rope.
- The type of rock affects the number. It is not the same the limestone than the granite or the sandstone.
- The style summed to the rock gives the grade a fantastic variability yet, see a Yosemitic crack, slabs in La Pedriza or tuffas in Rodellar.
- The same scale is used at on-sight and at redpoint, when everybody knows that at on-sight all the routes in the same grade are not equal. The great part of the climbers do prefer a route with pockets stained with magnesium than a slab in La Pedriza cleaned after the last rains.
As Björn says, there are some routes characterized by a single movement and others by their endurance.
Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera?

Where do I want to come to with all this? First, that for me it is not a problem that somebody is first in the 8a.nu ranking with a boulder of 1000 movements, because if Dai says it is hard, it must be so.

Second, a highball with rope is not a highball, it is a top rope and it is evidently easier, isn't it?

Third, comparing difficulties with or without rope is completely mistaken, since the traverses are more accessible and therefore easier, that's why the traverse graduation exists. Besides, the issue is more complex than power or endurance.

Fourth, fourth? I do not know where I am. Ah yes, it maybe it is worth to completely unify it in order to the bar gathering after climbing do not finish on nothing and to the 8a.nu has a more attractive ranking or, it maybe not?

Above Iker is doing Arroita and he has reported it as a 8c, whether he is using the boulder grade or the traverse grade (boulder route) we don't know so we can not say if this is one of the Top-3 most difficult boulders in the world or a very hard boulder route.

Iker Pou:
The truth is that it is an interesting text and of an issue that needed to be defined from a long time ago. It is true that every time there is a tendency to long boulders in order to look for more difficulty, but there is where I think people have to be more honest with themselves.

Those long boulders have to be graduated like traverses, that's why there existed a special scale where this boulder was given a grade and after that was specified whether it was a traverse (7c Fb trav.) or not.

I don't think a new special scale to be necessary, but to graduate the boulders like traverses or proper boulders, without mixing them with the routes because it would make it even fussier.

It is not the same to try a route with rope than a long boulder comfortably from the ground, so I do not think both styles can be graduated the same. I consider a problem like a traverse, not like a boulder, from 15 movements. For instance: an 8b+ traverse would equal a boulder of 8b and an 8c+ route.