Crazy Shit Climbers Do: Gradepointing

Stanage Edge

Gradepointing is an obscure fun little game you can play on outdoor boulders or short climbs. The idea is very simple: you walk around without a guidebook and start picking off routes to climb without looking up the grade before you climb.

It’s obviously a more advanced game, especially in areas where you climb on trad protection. You need to be pretty confident that you will be able to finish the climb safely in order to play. The ultimate form of this game is the Gradepointed Free Solo. Make up your own mind if you want to play that game.You will obviously want to start playing this game on climbs that look way easier than your max grade.

I find it grade pointing very rewarding and confidence-boosting. Most people tend to climb a lot harder without all the mental blocks around grades holding them back. There’s immense beauty in simply walking around and picking off routes to climb.

It really becomes an ultimate test of climbing skill. You learn to know your limits without relying on external information. Gradepointed really tends to focus the mind. You’ll pay way more attention to reading the route & how you move over the rock. You’ll start to think of things like reversibility of the moves & movement pacing.

I remember I first started playing the game after I had this period where I was systematically flashing boulders that should have been projects. The only constant between those sends was that I didn’t know the grade before starting.

Ultimately all what we do in climbing is driven by ethics. Onsight. Flash. Redpoint. Remember Yoyo? It’s all just games bound by a set of arbitrary ethical rules. How you climbed something is just as important as how hard it was. I think of grade pointing as one of the purer forms of climbing and also as a good mindset change. Not a game to play every day, but something to enjoy from time to time. Yet another set of ethics (don’t look up the grade) to spice up our little climbing games.

Photo by Magda V

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