(UPDATE) Changes to our Grading System

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Why grade? 

This is part of the never-ending debate! Grading a boulder problem (inside or outside) gives people an idea of the difficulty of a climb. This makes it easier to find a problem at the right level for your session goals. It can also help to understand how likely you might be to fall off a problem, and it can be a way of measuring and recording progression over time. 

The Arch sets climbs by circuits, where a certain colour of hold reflects a particular difficulty. We find this is striking, easy to follow and allows for consistency across our centres. 

In 2008/2009 we were the first climbing centre we know of in the UK to use V grades. We adopted a simplified version of the American ‘V’ grading system without VB/V0-/V0+ that would be easiest to understand, and not be directly comparable to outdoor climbs in the UK, or to other climbing centres. We’ve recently decided that there are still ways to improve this system however, so are looking to implement some changes this year...


What are we changing?

- We had several circuits that included 3 ‘V’ grades. We listened to feedback from some climbers who found that this is too broad a range of difficulty. With this in mind, most circuits will now focus on no more than 2 V grades. The yellow circuit for example used to be V2 to V4, whereas now it will only range from V3-V4. This “slim-lining” should help everyone get on problems at the right difficulty, and also help climbers in measuring their progression through the circuits. 

- Narrower difficulty circuits will also help us spread out the grades a little more consistently, whereas before we had a higher concentration of climbs at around V3.

- White and Green spots are now ungraded “ladders” for learning, warming up & down climbing. Black climbs will stay at a V0 grade, but will offer more climbing variety than before.

- At the other end of the spectrum, the Green circuit will encompass 3 grades, with the addition of V9, so that there is more for climbers of all abilities. 

- In addition to this, our team athlete Matt Cousins will be setting and inviting guest setters for a V9 and harder ‘Project Circuit’ of 5 climbs at each centre, set on a monthly basis, starting with Building One+. This will be featured in it’s own monthly video once we get the ball rolling.

- At Acton, along with some other improvements which we’ll post about soon, we’re increasing the density of circuit climbs by about 15-20%, to fit in more problems of all grades. We’re also working out a new schedule for the main stage (competition) wall that will include more frequent resets, and full on events with world cup style finals problems and holds.

- At North, along with some improvements which we’ll also post about soon, we’ll be adding a purple & yellow circuit to the mix.

The old system and new system are shown below...


How will it affect me?

There will be a small variation in grading as we roll out the new circuits at all the centres. Once we reach April 2019, we should be fully switched over to the new style. Our staff will be able to inform you which areas have been set with the new system, and we will be updating this article with a list as we go. In the meantime, please bear with us!