Climbing Ratings

Ratings for rock climbing and mountaineering are based on the Yosemite Decimal System.  It consists of five general classes, the fifth being subdivided with a "dot" notation.  Other forms of climbing such as aid climbing and bouldering have there own rating systems that are not covered here.  This short explanation of ratings is geared toward educating a first time or beginning climber.

Class 1:
Hiking on trail
Class 2:
Cross country travel requiring route finding skills
Class 3:
Scrambling on rocks using hands as well as feet
Class 4:
Climbing on steep terrain requiring roped belay
Class 5:
Climbing involving technical moves, protective hardware and requiring roped belay.

Class 5 climbing is broken down from 5.0 to 5.14.  Since the difference in difficulty between grades at level 5.10 and above is wide, these grades may be further broken down using a, b, c, d, +, - modifiers, for example, 5.10c or 5.11-.  Route grading at this level is an art rather than a science.  Following is a cursory summary of Class 5.

Class 5.0 thru 5.4:
Very easy climbing/rock scrambling
Class 5.5 thru 5.7:
Beginner.  Strenuous and difficult
Class 5.8 thru 5.9:
Intermediate.  Very strenuous and very difficult
Class 5.10 thru 5.12:
Advanced.  Extremely strenuous and extremely difficult
Class 5.13 and 5.14:
Superman/Superwoman Only