If you already have experience bouldering in a different country than The Netherlands, you might wonder which grading system we use here. There are many different grading systems for bouldering. A huge area or even a specific country have developed their own system, for example the V grade (or Hueco grade) and the British tech grade. Also distinctions are made between bouldering grading systems and sport climbing grading system. There is not much outside bouldering in The Netherlands, so today we only discuss the grading system for indoor boulder gyms.
Which grading system in The Netherlands?
It is safe to say that all indoor bouldering gyms in The Netherlands use the Fontainebleau grading system. Let’s say the range is from 1A to 9A, at which 1A is the easiest and 9A is the hardest. It is possible to have grades higher than 9A, but it is considered extremely hard. Most gyms here facilitate boulder problems from 3 to 7B.
A boulder problem is identified by grade. A grade 3 problem is considered very easy; it’s a straight upward climb with easy handholds and footholds. Ideal for first-timers and beginners. By practicing a lot of grade 3 problems your body will get used to climbing moves and you can focus on your technique without losing too much strength. For experienced climbers grade 3, 4, and 5 problems are used for warming up.
Most climbers that boulder regularly (2-3 times a week) can reach grade 6A-6B pretty fast, within a year. It can be achieved just by bouldering, but it is advised to do some specific training exercises. Training helps to strenghten specific areas body parts and also to make you body more lenient. It is also used for injury prevention.
How to identify a grade?
It is easy to identify a boulder problem. All boulder gyms here use a color-coded system that is used consistently. For example in one gym, all grade 3 problems are green. Also one problem consists of only holds of the same color, so there is no confusion about which holds you can use. The gym will somewhere put an overview of which color is matched with which grade. Some gyms even put a note directly on a problem, specifying the grade. Sometimes there is a range, say 5C-6B that matches with one color. So it is possible that you can top one problem, but not another problem of the same color.