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B2 or V2, What's the Difference?


by Sean Hudson

December 29, 2001

Not many people still use the B scale for boulder problem ratings. Back when John Gill first started using it, it made a lot of sense. Not many people were bouldering then and the system worked good enough. It went something like this: the scale had three grades B1, B2, and B3. B1 had moves approximately as hard as the hardest roped climbs of the time. B2 is something a bit harder, but it sees repeats. B3 is something thats been done, often tried, and never repeated. Once it is repeated, it drops down to a B2. The B scale was meant to change as climbing standards rose. In John Sherman's Stone Crusade, he said that, "In 1969, Gill defined B1 as 5.10, in 1977 as 5.11, and in 1987 around 5.12...It also point out the fact that a climber doing B2 in 1994 is pushing no harderthan a climber doing B2 30 years ago, even if the 1994 route is more difficult." Over the years there were several attempts at standardizing boulder ratings. There were Ps, Ss, WPSs, Es, and finally the V scale.

Nowdays, bouldering has become so popular, thus the birth of the V scale. Born at Hueco Tanks on behalf of John Sherman, the V scale quickly gained popularity.Being an open-ended scale, there is more room for growth. Plus as we all know, climbers are infatuated with numbers. In the past few years, boulderers have seen evidence of the growth with talented young climbers pushing into V15. See the article on Bouldering Grades for a complete reference to the V scale.

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