Rock climbing is an activity which tends to be slightly more dangerous than most other sports. You will find that there are many ways to keep the level of danger low, but it will never be entirely gone.
This is why you must put as much care into your climbing as possible since the most important thing is your safety.
If you would like to get an idea of how dangerous a route is, you have to resort to climbing ratings. Ratings are rock climbing levels which describe the difficulty of a particular path. Rock climbing difficulty can depend on a lot of different variables that can lead to a path being either more or less dangerous.
Rock climbing ratings are particularly important for beginner climbers who are trying to get an understanding of how easy or challenging a particular course will be. Keep in mind that ratings are not exclusively for less experienced climbers, as the scales go all the way up to the level of world-class climbers.
We will be taking a look at the two most common grading systems currently used in the United States over the course of this article. The first system is used for rock climbing on higher cliffs and obstacles and is known as the Yosemite Decimal System. On the other hand, we will also be looking at the V-Scale bouldering grade.
The Yosemite Decimal System is one of the more comprehensive grading systems which is used not only for rock climbing but many other areas of mountaineering such as hikes. There are five classes in use in this system. Classes one through three are only applicable for hiking and scrambling, which we will not be going over.
Class 4 applies to rope climbing in which the rope entirely supports you. This is more akin to rappelling than true climbing. Class 5 is reserved for what most would consider more advanced climbing. Class 5 is split into subsections that go from 5.01 to 5.15 depending on the difficulty of the climb.
Class 5.01 is reserved for beginner climbs, where class 5.15 is meant for professional climbs that are reserved for the most talented climbers in the world.
If you are searching for a bouldering scale, the V-Scale is better applied to this discipline.
The scale goes from V0 to V17. V0 is the easiest level on the scale, but climbs are sometimes classified as VB for beginners since they are easier than V0.
Climbs can also feature a "+" or a "-" next to the rating to further specify the difficulty of the climb, with a plus being difficult and a minus being easy.
We hope that this guide has helped you better understand the most common grading systems which are used in the United States. Many other grading systems are in use worldwide, but we will save those for another time. If there are any concerns, feel free to leave them in the comments below.