As a climber, grades are important to track your progress or help you to avoid injury on a route that is beyond your limit. For some of us, it also becomes a number we chase as a measure of our capabilities or a mental barrier we cannot cross. Most of us have a love-hate relationship with the number.
At Climb Central, we meet climbers from many different countries and many of us have the privilege to travel and climb in many more. Each country (and often each climbing gym) uses a different grading scale, forcing us to make a complicated mental calculation for each route we want to climb. For the longest time, we have been thinking about grading systems and this is what we wanted in our ideal grading system:
Simple and intuitive to understand (regardless of language barriers)
Allows for boulder circuits, rope circuits and/or combined circuits!
Less focus on numbers/alphabets but still allowing you to track progression.
Our Chief Route-setter Chris, has been brainstorming and trying out various options. You might have seen some variations over the past few months as he thought about extending the boulder colour grades to the rope walls.
ZL gave us the suggestion of exploring shapes. We gave that project brief to YY, our awesome marketing intern who came back to help during her university holidays. She came up with something pretty nice:
Looked better. But it still felt complicated… So we went back to the drawing board with YY:
How about the number of cups of coffee you need to finish the route?
An increasing number of chili padis to indicate how spicy the route is?
Eventually, we settled on the pie. Or cake. (You can tell that the team enjoys food.)
Easy routes are a piece of cake. Finish a harder route and you can have a full pie to celebrate.
It took us some time from brainstorm to implementation but we are proud to present to you what the team eventually created:
From December 2017, new route tags will be going up across all Climb Central facilities in both boulder and roped climbing areas.
Special thanks to ZL for the initial suggestion and YY for spending her holidays with us and helping with the artwork. Hope you enjoy what the team has put together!