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The V0 Dilema for New Climbers and its Effects on the Rest of Us!
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shurafa


Sep 27, 2007, 1:08 PM
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The V0 Dilema for New Climbers and its Effects on the Rest of Us!
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This is a perennial problem I have faced in every single gym I have ever climbed in. New climbers are attracted to bouldering because you don't have to worry about buying/renting extra gear. There is also less of a learning curve as you don't have to learn how to belay. However unless they are extremely athletic they get on the wall and are immediately shut down. Add to this the fact that there are usually only a handful of V0's and you end up with a lot of discouraged climbers. This is especially true of new female climbers as they often do not have the upper body strength to power through these moves. Gym owners need to get on top of this as they are losing potential revenue.

Like all climbing grades bouldering grades are subjective and vary from region to region. The traditional definition of a V0 is that is approximately equivalent to a 5.10. Historically a 5.10 was supposed to be the top of the scale consisting of an almost completely sheer surface. As technology and climbing technique evolved it was soon deemed that the scale had to be extended as people were sending routes clearly more difficult than the current 5.10 grade maximum. Though technology has improved it still seems ludicrous that what was once considered and impossibly difficult climb is now the basis for the bottom of the rating scale. Imagine if 5.10 was the bottom of the scale for top roping! It just is not adequate. Therefore it is clear that the V scale should be extended below the current V0 grade. The question is how to best go about doing this.

There are several approaches that can be used. The most common I have seen is to assign - to problems considered below V0-. This is problematic as it is relatively vague. For example compare it to a top rope grade of 5.10- here you can clearly see that there is a BIG difference between 5.9 and 5.5 that is not accurately illustrated by the grade. Therefore this method is inadequate. Alternately you can assign negative grades. V-1=5.9, V-2=5.8, V-3=5.7 ect. Psychologically this is less than ideal as people do not want to climb negative numbers. That is just human nature. Another option is to use a decimal point V.9=5.9, V.8=5.8 V.7=5.7 ect. One of the major advantages of this system is how easy it is to equate top rop rating with the bouldering scale. This is great for new climbers who are often confused by the different numerical scales. Finally the method I prefer is one that is already widely used. Add two zeros to all existing climbing grades. This is what is done when setting for climbing comps. For example a V3 in a comp is worth 300 points. There is a reason that most comps are set with this scale. There are a multitude of advantages to this system. Fist it is compatible with the existing climbing scale as all you have to do is add two zeros to all existing grades above V0. Secondly it is more flexible. How many times have you climbed a route that is definitely harder the grade assigned yet not so hard that it should be bumped up to the next grade. Giving a grade of 350 lets climbers know that it is actually somewhere in-between a V3 and a V4. With this system the V0 would be eliminated. A V1/5.10 would = 100 points. A 5.9 would be 90 points a 5.8 would be 80 points ect. This is not perfect as the scale is not linear however it is the only way to accommodate the existing structure without completely revamping the grading format.

Implementing these changes to the existing grading system would translate into more people climbing! With access to climbing grades at there skill level largest barrier for new climbers will be removed. Currently most people who boulder also top rope. However there is a large percentage of the population that climbs below 5.10 and therefore does not boulder by definition.

It will also have the effect of clarifying the difficulty level. Currently V0's vary in difficulty so widely that they are not a reliable measure of difficulty. This is true even within a given gym I have to climb every single V0 to make sure my friends will not get shut down on it. (compare this to a 5.5 where you know that just about anyone will be able to send it) I have also found that this has artificially lowered the climbing level of the V1-V2 climbs in most gyms do to inflationary grading pressures. This is a VERY important point with serious implications.

Another interesting effect that I predict is along with the increased popularity. New gyms when built will be built to accommodate this increase in bouldering popularity. Currently most gyms have a small section dedicated to bouldering. As not everyone boulders. It seems as though most gyms dedicate about 20-40% of their space to bouldering. In the future this will likely increase dramatically. I also envision climbing walls evolving to accommodate the crossover appeal. With lead sections build directly into bouldering areas to allow for both bouldering and lead climbing.

Its an exciting time to be a climber. The technology is changing every day. New Gyms are opening all the time!


Partner devkrev


Sep 27, 2007, 1:24 PM
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Re: [shurafa] The V0 Dilema for New Climbers and its Effects on the Rest of Us! [In reply to]
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shurafa wrote:
...it still seems ludicrous that what was once considered and impossibly difficult climb is now the basis for the bottom of the rating scale. Imagine if 5.10 was the bottom of the scale for top roping!

This smells like a troll, but anyway....

Didn't the guy who invented the V-Scale want it to be ridiculously hard? Didn't he want V0 to be closer to the current V6?

Language is arbitrary. Talk to your gymsetters about easier problems, who cares about the grades.

dev


shurafa


Sep 27, 2007, 1:33 PM
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devkrev wrote:
shurafa wrote:
...it still seems ludicrous that what was once considered and impossibly difficult climb is now the basis for the bottom of the rating scale. Imagine if 5.10 was the bottom of the scale for top roping!

This smells like a troll, but anyway....

Didn't the guy who invented the V-Scale want it to be ridiculously hard? Didn't he want V0 to be closer to the current V6?

Language is arbitrary. Talk to your gymsetters about easier problems, who cares about the grades.

dev

Far from a troll just someone who has introduced tons of people to climbing. The ones who dont come back are the ones who who could not get off the ground.

And yes the V scale was designed to be difficult. That is why the V0 is soooo difficult. However this was a short sited move as bouldering has gotten very popular however it is still limited to climbers who can already climb 5.10. This is very limiting and artificial.

Has anyone else tried to introduce a new climber to bouldering only have them get shut down before they get started?


shockabuku


Sep 27, 2007, 1:51 PM
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If you let a little difficulty get in your way you'll never succeed at anything significant. I suspect that the reason most people don't come back is because they just didn't enjoy it enough. You can always climb with additional holds on your problem until you get there. How do you think all the kids who boulder started out? They certainly didn't jump on the rock climbing V5 and most of them didn't climb 5.10 either. The gym shouldn't cater to gumbies unless they want their gym to be an amusement park instead of a venue for climbing.


krusher4


Sep 27, 2007, 2:06 PM
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umm...climbing is hard best to learn that from the start.


shimanilami


Sep 27, 2007, 2:55 PM
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Re: [shurafa] The V0 Dilema for New Climbers and its Effects on the Rest of Us! [In reply to]
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Good luck with that.

Frankly, there are already too many gumbies in the gym. Screw V0 and screw them, too.


onceahardman


Sep 27, 2007, 2:56 PM
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john gill had an interesting and quite objective system, which was designed to change with increasing standards...

B1-roughly equivalent to the hardest roped climbing of the day (not sport climbing in gill's day, but 5th class)

B2-quite a bit harder than B1

B3-so difficult it has only been climbed once. even if the first ascentionist repeated it, it went down to B2.

THATS ALL FOLKS!

simple, and illustrative to what bouldering is...HARD gymnastic moves! use 5th class ratings below the V-scale if you want. it doesn't affeact anybody. don't expect experts to change their system to fit your needs.


EPiCJAMES


Sep 27, 2007, 3:45 PM
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shockabuku wrote:
The gym shouldn't cater to gumbies unless they want their gym to be an amusement park instead of a venue for climbing.


EXACTLY


sidepull


Sep 27, 2007, 3:53 PM
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I feel sorry for the poor beginner that gets on a problem where some jokster has added a decimal point - "wow, that v.5 seemed so much harder than the v.8!"

Joking aside, I agree with some of your points. Most new gyms have very extensive bouldering areas and setters there realize that the bread and butter of the gym is usually the boy scout/birthday party population which necessitate lots of easy routes. That's why there's a lot of V0-'s in gyms. That's also why you get gyms that invent gym specific bouldering ratings - I've seen P-systems, C-systems, Q-systems. However, the proliferation of new scales gets ridiculous and further dilutes any semblance of coherence. If we adopted your ideas, which aren't bad, then you'd have noobs arguing whether a problem was a v.5 or a v.6. Soon they'd be adding decimal points to every grade.

I guess I'm suggesting that, although you're trying to take a long view by thinking "what is best for the sport?" Your answer has several implications that at worst are extremely negative and at least extremely annoying. I'd rather have the V0- or V0 with huge variance and continue to let my friends that are noobs know that "bouldering is probably the hardest sport to try the first few times - but that difficulty is part of the fun."

I'm not trying to be Darwinian here, but difficulty and challenge motivate people and if someone's psyche is so fragile that any failure is paralyzing then they problem shouldn't climb. Do we really want a culture of climbers that are more coddled and protected from failure than we currently are? Do we want a breed a gym climber so protected from psychological insecurity that we re-invent a system? Seems a bit too overprotective.


shurafa


Sep 27, 2007, 4:32 PM
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shockabuku wrote:
If you let a little difficulty get in your way you'll never succeed at anything significant. I suspect that the reason most people don't come back is because they just didn't enjoy it enough. You can always climb with additional holds on your problem until you get there. How do you think all the kids who boulder started out? They certainly didn't jump on the rock climbing V5 and most of them didn't climb 5.10 either. The gym shouldn't cater to gumbies unless they want their gym to be an amusement park instead of a venue for climbing.

That is not true many of them really enjoyed it even though they could not finish a route. Many of them have since come back and are sending routes. The ones that did not come back are the ones that could not get off the ground at all. Its just too discouraging. A V0 is like dunking in basketball. A good percentage of the population will NEVER be able to dunk or climb a V0. Seriously how many 5.7 5.8 climbers are there? A ton!


shurafa


Sep 27, 2007, 4:36 PM
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krusher4 wrote:
umm...climbing is hard best to learn that from the start.

That is the beauty of climbing its NOT hard. ANYONE can climb. I like to tell people "If you can do a squat you can climb." Its one of the few sports you can take your mom to and both have a good time!!!

For some reason bouldering is not considered climbing. It is extremely elitist. Imagine if they got regraded all the newbie routes in your local gym 5.10. It would not work.


shurafa


Sep 27, 2007, 4:44 PM
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sidepull wrote:
hat's also why you get gyms that invent gym specific bouldering ratings - I've seen P-systems, C-systems, Q-systems. However, the proliferation of new scales gets ridiculous and further dilutes any semblance of coherence. If we adopted your ideas, which aren't bad, then you'd have noobs arguing whether a problem was a v.5 or a v.6. Soon they'd be adding decimal points to every grade.

I'm not trying to be Darwinian here, but difficulty and challenge motivate people and if someone's psyche is so fragile that any failure is paralyzing then they problem shouldn't climb. Do we really want a culture of climbers that are more coddled and protected from failure than we currently are? Do we want a breed a gym climber so protected from psychological insecurity that we re-invent a system? Seems a bit too overprotective.

Climbing ratings are subjective by nature. It is not an exact science but for 90% of the problems out there you can come to a consensus within a + or - of a grade. People are going to argue over grade ratings regardless of what system we adopt.

The fact that gyms are coming up with there own rating systems is red flag that the current system is inadequate. What we need to do is come up with a standard.

I agree difficulty motivates people to a degree. Its one of the things I love about climbing. No matter how good I get there is always tons and tons more to learn. Its not about protecting peoples egos its giving them a chance to grow. I would say that 40% of the population of the US cannot climb a true V0. Any business that ignores 40% of their potential client base is making a mistake.


shurafa


Sep 27, 2007, 4:54 PM
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I also posted this on routesetter.com and got a really good reply that sidepull mentioned earlier.

Create a separate scale for routes that are less than V0.

X9 (the letter does not really matter)=5.9 and X8=5.8.

Apparently a number of different gyms have implemented similar systems however they are not standardized.

I proposed that we petition the various climbing organizations to codify these into a single standard for competitions. From there it will proliferate down to the local level and individual gyms.


climbsomething


Sep 27, 2007, 5:03 PM
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I am affectionately known in my circles as The Queen of V0.

And in all my reign I have "met" plenty of V0s that were in fact easier than 5.10. Sometimes route setters or guidebook authors call them VB or V0- but sometimes they just don't bother and go with V0. Some V0s are 5.10, and some are ladders. This is where the joy of discovery comes in.

The fact that gyms are coming up with their own systems refers to ego, either on the part of the gym crew or their clientele, and/or business strategy. Set a Z23 and watch the strongboys flail, then say "hey, he couldn't climb MY Z23." Or set a Q1- or whatever, and it's really a 5.6 that all the college boys in their Umbro shorts can do; this makes them buy "semester passes" and they become customers and shoot for the Z23. It's business and ego, not a diss on the Vermin scale- which IS the standard.

And so what if 40% of people can't do a "true" V0? Do we need climbing to be accessible to 100% of the population? Don't those Q1-s make it good enough?


imcd


Sep 27, 2007, 5:06 PM
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I really think that this is a silly isue to waste your time on. The grading system is probably one of the most debated, least important aspects of climbing. most of my time in the gym I don't even climb the marked routes, and there is always something you can get of the ground on even if it doesn't have tape. Maybea the issue is that you are telling your new climbers "thats of route" and "you can't use that hold" instead of just letting them climb. Besides, I don't think that there needs to be anymore climbers anyways


shurafa


Sep 27, 2007, 5:37 PM
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climbsomething wrote:
I am affectionately known in my circles as The Queen of V0.

And in all my reign I have "met" plenty of V0s that were in fact easier than 5.10. Sometimes route setters or guidebook authors call them VB or V0- but sometimes they just don't bother and go with V0. Some V0s are 5.10, and some are ladders. This is where the joy of discovery comes in.

The fact that gyms are coming up with their own systems refers to ego, either on the part of the gym crew or their clientele, and/or business strategy. Set a Z23 and watch the strongboys flail, then say "hey, he couldn't climb MY Z23." Or set a Q1- or whatever, and it's really a 5.6 that all the college boys in their Umbro shorts can do; this makes them buy "semester passes" and they become customers and shoot for the Z23. It's business and ego, not a diss on the Vermin scale- which IS the standard.

And so what if 40% of people can't do a "true" V0? Do we need climbing to be accessible to 100% of the population? Don't those Q1-s make it good enough?

By your logic we should get rid of all 5.4-5.9 routes and call them 5.10 because of the "joy of discovery". Its a double standard.

And from an economic standpoint of a "fringe" sport you want as many people inside the gym as possible.


shurafa


Sep 27, 2007, 5:40 PM
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imcd wrote:
I really think that this is a silly isue to waste your time on. The grading system is probably one of the most debated, least important aspects of climbing. most of my time in the gym I don't even climb the marked routes, and there is always something you can get of the ground on even if it doesn't have tape. Maybea the issue is that you are telling your new climbers "thats of route" and "you can't use that hold" instead of just letting them climb. Besides, I don't think that there needs to be anymore climbers anyways

Using all holds still nets you a V0 route as there are rarely an suitable holds on routes rated higher than V0. As a route setter at multiple gym I know that you rarely come across sections of wall that allow for this type of climbing.

In addition routes provide structure. How often do you see people not climbing designated routes. It does not happen very often.


ant_zacchino


Sep 27, 2007, 6:05 PM
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To OP, I was unaware that V0 was hard. It is definitely not 5.10 anymore... I've taken lots of people out climbing both inside and out, and I have always been able to find problems for them to do....


climbsomething


Sep 27, 2007, 6:17 PM
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shurafa wrote:
By your logic we should get rid of all 5.4-5.9 routes and call them 5.10 because of the "joy of discovery". Its a double standard.
No, that's not my logic. It's yours.


shurafa


Sep 27, 2007, 6:59 PM
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ant_zacchino wrote:
To OP, I was unaware that V0 was hard. It is definitely not 5.10 anymore... I've taken lots of people out climbing both inside and out, and I have always been able to find problems for them to do....

That is the crux of the problem. A V0 grade can be anything from a 5.5 slab ladder to a 5.10a overhang.

While all climbing grades are subjective the V0 is unique in its wild variability. Even if they do find a few routes they can climb there are often a bunch of V0's they cannot. The grade is not very useful in describing the difficulty of the climb. Contrast this with a 5.5 in which if you can climb one you can probably climb the majority of 5.5's.


shurafa


Sep 27, 2007, 7:05 PM
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climbsomething wrote:
shurafa wrote:
By your logic we should get rid of all 5.4-5.9 routes and call them 5.10 because of the "joy of discovery". Its a double standard.
No, that's not my logic. It's yours.

Sorry I guess I mis understood. What did you mean when you said. "Some V0s are 5.10, and some are ladders. This is where the joy of discovery comes in." Were you being facetiously? If so I agree and feel the same way. It is VERY frustrating for friends of mine who are consistent 5.6-5.8 climbers and understand how both scales work yet are baffled by the fact that some V0's are easy to them yet others seem impossible difficult. With top roping if you are a 5.8 climber you can climb just about any 5.6 route.


taydude


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V0 is NOT 5.10.
in my area, V0 are 4 move jug hauls. In fact the new gym i go to does not set V0s because of this. Climbing isnt about boosting your ego from the get go. To accomplish something you must try for it. When you finally complete your first problem it should be amazing.

the system works. don't fix it if it ain't broke.


ant_zacchino


Sep 27, 2007, 7:43 PM
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Thanks for explaining what a v0 is. I know what you mean, but dude seriously you shouldn't be having such a hard time getting your friends to the top of your local gyms boulder cave. Perhaps talk to the owner, and see if he will let you set some "intro" climbs for these poor souls who cant get to the top... In my experience, those who can't make it up the average v0 (not including those wicked v0+'s) generally loose interest in climbing anyway and normally don't make good climbing partners.

Besides no problems are the same, some you can do, and some you cant.


(This post was edited by ant_zacchino on Sep 27, 2007, 7:46 PM)


jt512


Sep 27, 2007, 10:02 PM
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shurafa wrote:
devkrev wrote:
shurafa wrote:
...it still seems ludicrous that what was once considered and impossibly difficult climb is now the basis for the bottom of the rating scale. Imagine if 5.10 was the bottom of the scale for top roping!

This smells like a troll, but anyway....

Didn't the guy who invented the V-Scale want it to be ridiculously hard? Didn't he want V0 to be closer to the current V6?

Language is arbitrary. Talk to your gymsetters about easier problems, who cares about the grades.

dev

Far from a troll just someone who has introduced tons of people to climbing. The ones who dont come back are the ones who who could not get off the ground.

Those kinda sound like the ones who shouldn't come back.

Jay


(This post was edited by jt512 on Sep 27, 2007, 10:04 PM)


8flood8


Sep 27, 2007, 10:19 PM
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Re: [shurafa] The V0 Dilema for New Climbers and its Effects on the Rest of Us! [In reply to]
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if its too hard then use some of the other holds with different colored tape on it, until you can make the move that is spitting you off.

cmon now... don't tell me you are getting shut down by a little piece of tape...

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