What is Considered a Good Climbing Grade: How good are you?

Many climbers, especially newer climbers, wonder how they stack up against the rest of the climbing world. It is common for climbers to be curious if they are any good or if they have any natural talent at all in climbing. I did some research to see what is considered to be “good” at climbing.

As a general rule, male climbers who are able to climb 5.12a (7a+) and boulder V4 (6b+) and female climbers who are able to climb 5.11b (6c) and boulder V2 (5+) are considered good at climbing.

Climbing grades are not an exact science and in-fact are far from being one. They are incredibly subjective and tend to change from gym to gym. The remainder of this article explores why these grades in particular were chosen to define what is a “good” climbing grade. It also details the differences between being a good climber and climbing a good grade as this can sometimes be lost in translation.

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What Is Considered A Good Climber

Being a good climber and climbing a hard grade are two separate things. In my personal opinion, I think good climbers are ones who have fun, challenge themselves, and are able to create an enjoyable atmosphere for everyone around them.

Going off of this, I don’t believe that you should ever directly compare your climbing ability to others unless you are trying to become a professional competition climber. Even then, I think climbers should only compare themselves to where they used to be. As long as you are making progress and are becoming a better climber, you should not worry too much about how you stack up to anyone else.

That said, I understand the desire to see how your personal best climbing grade compares to the rest of the climbing world. To the general climbing community, I would think being able to climb grades that are above average is technically considered to be a “good” climber.

Average climbing grades are generally associated with intermediate climbers. If you are wondering what grades (and if you) fall into that category, check out my article that details what exactly is considered an intermediate climber.

If you do not yet meet the criteria to be an intermediate climber, then I recommend checking out my other article that lays out the fastest way to level up your climbing and take it to the next level.

What Is Considered A Good Climbing Grade

To determine whether or not climbing a certain grade is good, we need to first understand what the grade distribution is across the climbing population. In 2014, the International Rock Climbing Research Association (IRCRA) published a paper in which they performed a statistical analysis that grouped climbers’ ability into one of five categories: lower grade, intermediate, advanced, elite, higher elite. The grade ranges for each of these groups per the IRCRA paper are detailed in the tables below.

IRCRA Climbing Group Ability For Male Climbers

Climbing Group AbilitySport Climbing GradeBouldering Grade
Lower Grade (Level 1)5.1 to 5.9 (1 to 5)V0 (<2)
Intermediate (Level2)5.10a to 5.11d (5+ to 7a)V0 to V3 (3 to 6B)
Advanced (Level 3)5.12a to 5.13b (7a+ to 8a)V4 to V8 (6B+ to 7B+)
Elite (Level 4)5.13c to 5.14b (8a+ to 8c)V9 to V12 (7C to 8A+)
Higher Elite (Level 5)5.14c to 5.15c (8c+ to 9b+)V13 to V16 (8B to 8C+)

IRCRA Climbing Group Ability For Female Climbers

Climbing Group AbilitySport Climbing GradeBouldering Grade
Lower Grade (Level 1)5.1 to 5.9 (1 to 5)V0 (<2)
Intermediate (Level 2)5.10a to 5.11a (5+ to 6b+)V0 to V1 (3 to 5)
Advanced (Level 3)5.11b to 5.12c (6c to 7b+)V2 to V6 (5+ to 7A)
Elite (Level 4)5.12d to 5.14a (7c to 8b+)V7 to V11 (7A+ to 8A)
Higher Elite (Level 5)5.14b to 5.15c (8c to 9b+)V12 to V16 (8A+ to 8C+)

As we mentioned above, the average climber falls into the intermediate climbing category. For the purposes of defining a climber as being “good” we will use the lowest grade of the advanced category grouping. The “advanced” group are above average climbers who are able to outperform the majority of the climbing population. We do not need to use the elite category grading as this is reserved for climbers who are well above just being considered “good”.

Using this data, male climbers who are able to climb 5.12a and boulder V4 and female climbers who are able to climb 5.11b and boulder V2 are put into the advanced group and can be confidently considered to be good at climbing.

Why These Climbing Grades Are Considered Good

At the end of the day, all climbing grades are subjective and need to be taken with a grain of salt. Some routes will feel easier to some climbers and more difficult to others. This all depends on the climber’s physical profile and their climbing strengths and weaknesses.

The above grade ranges are considered good because they generally take effort and time to build up to. They require a decent level of base fitness and good climbing technique to send. You will be hard pressed to find anyone who has never climbed a day in their life to walk up to and send a 5.12a no matter how naturally gifted and in shape they are.

If you are not quite at these levels yet, do not worry. Reaching these grades typically takes a while and does not happen overnight. The speed at which you can get there will depend on your current climbing ability, base fitness level, natural potential, and how much time and effort you have to put into training.

If you are actively looking to start training but don’t have access to a climbing gym, I put together a couple useful articles that detail exercises you can do at home to improve your bouldering and grip strength.

Climbing Grade Difficulties Commonly Asked About

Below are common grades that climbers tend to wonder if they are good after sending them.

Is bouldering a V3 (6A) good?

Bouldering a V3 (6A) is considered to be an high intermediate grade for male climbers (average to slightly above average) and an advanced grade for female climbers (above average).

Is bouldering a V4 (6B) good?

Bouldering a V4 (6B) is considered to be good and is above the average climber’s ability level.

Is climbing a 5.9 (5c) good?

Climbing a 5.9 (5c) is considered to be above average for beginner climbers but on the lower end of average for the climbing population as a whole.

Is climbing a 5.10a (6a) good?

Climbing a 5.10a (6a) is considered very good for beginner climbers and right around average when looking at the entire climbing population.


Hi, I'm Rex! I have been into everything outdoors for as long as I can remember. Climbing became a huge part of my life in college and I hope to share everything I have learned on this website to help fellow passionate climbers.

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