UK Grading Explained
This table is a rough comparison between international grades, to give visitors an idea of the grades mentioned in this website and in UK guidebooks.
technical grade range
|4a to 4b4a to 4c4a to 5a4c to 5c5a to 6a5b to 6a5b to 6b5c to 6b5c to 6c6a to 7a6b to 7b6c to 7b6c to 7b
In the UK the French grading system is used on Sports routes and the grade is based generally on how hard it is to get to the top with bolt protection. i.e without fear of death or injury.
The grades for traditional UK climbing is given in two parts; the adjectival grade and a technical grade. This may appear confusing but is useful to establish the nature of a particular climb. The technical grade refers to the difficulty of the hardest move regardless of its position. It does not indicate how many moves of that particular difficulty there may be, nor how badly protected the climb may be. The adjectival grade gives an indication of the overall climbs difficulty including how strenuous it is, the protection available, the nature of the rock and even the landing!
For example an E3 climb could be technically 5b which would mean that it was technically reasonably easy but could be serious from the point of view of poor protection or maybe that it is all about 5b difficulty and therefore strenuous. An example of the former might be the Great Slab at Froggatt Edge which is a committing climb with no protection above a poor landing with moderately hard moves. A fall from this 18m climb would result in almost certain injury or death i.e. it is very serious.
However, an E3 6a climb would be at some point technically much harder but at the same time the crux would either be less sustained, near good protection or be possibly the first move, near to the ground for example. The climb would be safer but harder physically.
This may be difficult to understand and is hard to explain, but it doesn’t take long to get used to the idea once you have been climbing a few routes and relating them to the guide book grades.