What grade is a pull up?

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As part of writing the guide I will have to spend a good bit of time thinking and talking about grades – whether I like it for not. Grades are a nessacary evil. Their purpose is to indicate problems  which one might have a reasonable chance of success or an entertaining failure. However they have become a proxy for a lot of other things.

What grade is a two armed pull up? Surely for such a  simple movement we could easliy reach a consensus and if we can’t what hope to we have for a boulder problem that requires multiple complex movements.

Gradewise I would say a two arm pull up is around 3+ and a one armer is around 7a. But its a pointless question really.

Maybe the more variables their is the more likely the grade is to be accurate. For example for a pullup no amount of technique or height will make it easier.  If a long problem has one move a bit harder than the rest this will have less effect on the overall difficulty than if this move was the only one.

Basically I’m just saying that grades are a load of  bollox.

6 thoughts on “What grade is a pull up?”

  1. It would depend on how you calibrate your scale really. What would be a 1? Walking on horizontal ground or up stairs? A 2? Walking up steeper stairs? Why do bouldering grades only start at 4 or 5? To massage our fragile egos? Why do brit tech grades start at 4?

    End of the day, I agree. Grades are often a big pile of wank. The only time they are really necessary is to stop you from killing yourself on a trad route.


    Paul Brennan (recovering grade whore)

  2. I’ll re-quote the original guru:
    ‘In any online discussion about grades, and there have been many of these over the years, you can almost set your watch by the arrival of some pundit who will roll out the aged old cliche that there are only two grades that matter: those you can do, and (wait for it) those you can’t! The corollary being that grades are unimportant. […] Grades and grading arguments are in our blood, and people who say they don’t care about them are simply not being honest.”
    Si Panton

    And I’m sure you know the excellent article by Kyle Dunsire on bouldering grade maths:

    Dave, we all know you can do better than that. I want more substance. As Tim says, what’s the size of the bar? Did you have a meal first? Are doing your pull-ups in the nude or cladded in lead? In the evening or just after jumping off the bed?

    I want to read something like that:

  3. Paul. The Font grade starts at 0 but it is only really used from 3/4 onwards. The american system is interesting in that see here

    Pierre. My substance is being directed elsewhere for the moment. Anyway I though you were all weary of grades, didn’t your Stonecutters guide use colors?

  4. I’m not saying I believe in grades, I’m saying you can’t simply say “grades are a load of bollox”, you’ll have to prove it. But fair enough Davo.

    I was just thinking though, maybe you could have a few pages of articles in the guide. At least that friction one.

  5. That might be a good idea Pierre but I think the problem will be keeping the guide to a reasonable size without adding in extras. I reckon it will be close to 200 pages..

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