International Climbing: Danger Ratings


Aside from the Yosemite Decimal System, there are other international climbing danger ratings that are in use. The climbing grades rating system is an important part of rock climbing as it provides you with a guide to ensure you are capable of handling at your level. In this regard, climbing danger ratings help you pick routes that challenge you but ensure you can handle them.

Moreover, one thing to remember is that climbing danger ratings take into account many things such as technical skill, endurance and power needed in making the ascent. It also takes into consideration how much you need to commit and how difficult it is to protect climbers on the route.

Each climbing danger rating system weighs up the routes challenges in a different manner. This means that while you can make an estimated comparison among the systems there is rarely an exact match to be seen.

Remember, climbing danger ratings are subjective, and are often set by the first person to climb the route and then supported by experienced climbers and guide books so the results can vary from time to time.

French Climbing Danger Ratings System

The French Climbing Danger Ratings System is used in almost all European countries including the United Kingdom. It is used for sport routes where the protection for climbers is already bolted into the cliff. This system is also used in a majority of international climbing events outside the United States.

The French Climbing Danger Ratings System makes use of numerical numbers starting at 1. Each grade is then further subdivided into letters such as 1a, 1b, 1c, and so on. Additionally, a + symbol is sometimes added to show that the route is slightly harder that it’s grading but is not enough to be upgraded to the next level. For example, a 1a+ is more difficult than a typical 1a, but is not as challenging as a 1b.

United Kingdom Danger Ratings System

The United Kingdom Danger Ratings System is usually used for traditional climbing. Traditional claiming or trad climbing is a form of rock climbing wherein a climber or group of climbers place all the gear needed to protect against falls and then remove them once the pitch is done.

The United Kingdom Danger Ratings System uses a combination of adjectival and technical grading to make for the final rating. The adjectival grade describes the route as a whole, including how difficult it is. Moreover, it rates the amount of endurance you will be needing and how easy or difficult it is to place protection.

The technical grade are described as either Bold or Safe. Safe routes are those where it is easy to place protection while Bold routes are those with riskier features such as longer drops and fewer places to place protection between each anchor point.

European System Danger Ratings System

One last system that is widely in use is the European System Danger Ratings System. This system was established by the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation or Union Internationale des Associations d’ Alpinisme (UIAA). The UIAA has a grading system that is common across the rest of the European continent.

The UIAA system makes use of Roman numerals with a + or – to indicate grades which are in between the boundaries of difficulty. This climbing system is used in Germany and a large part of Eastern Europe where the system is usually used to grade sports climbing routes.

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