October 10, 2022

Is Climbing a 5.11 Good or Mediocre Achievement? (EXPLAINED)

by Roger

You can find out if you are part of the top climbers by checking which climbing grade you can climb.

It is hard to climb upper-grade climbing walls.

You will notice fewer climbers at your level as you climb the upper-grade wall.

Some climbers ask is climbing a 5.11 good because they want to know their rank among other climbers.

You should be proud of climbing a 5.11a difficulty-grade wall because a pleasure climber can only climb a grade 5.10 or lower-grade wall. You are on a list of better climbers because they can climb walls with difficulty grades between 5.11a to 5.12b.


Table of Contents
Is Climbing a 5.11 Good or Bad
Is Climbing a 5.11 Good or Bad?

Climbing Grades: How They Measure Climbing Ability

Grades of climbing walls do not give you the entire story because there are many other things to look for when grading a professional climber.

Some climbers may tell you about their ability to climb 5.12c.

They act like they are better than most other climbers in the gym.

It is not the right way to behave in front of fellow climbers.

We arranged a list of climbing wall grades.

These grades will help you learn about the climbers above you.

You can also know is climbing a 5.11 good.

Grade Difficulty as Perceived by the Climbing Community

  • 5.0 to 5.7 grades are easy to climb. Most climbers can reach this level without any problems.
  • 5.8 to 5.10d grades have medium-level difficulty. Climbers can reach this level with some commitment.
  • 5.11a to 5.12d grade walls are harder to climb. You need to give more time to climbing training to reach this level. You need more technical skills.
  • 5.13a to 5.15c grade walls are for elite professionals only. You can give a large portion of your life to the climbing career to reach this level.

These are our assumptions for the climbers without any research results.

International Rock Climbing Research Association published a research paper in 2014.

The name of the research paper was the comparative grading scale.

The research paper checked the ability of male and female climbers to climb different grades of walls.

IRCRA Climbing Group Ability for Male Climbers

  • 5.0 to 5.9 is the lowest difficulty grade for male climbers. IRCRA gives these walls level 1 difficulty.
  • 5.9 to 5.11d is at level 2 as these are intermediate-difficulty grade walls.
  • 5.12a to 5.13b wall grading is for advanced climbers because IRCRA gave these walls level 3.
  • 5.13c to 5.14b is for elite climbers only. It has a level four on the IRCRA scale.
  • 5.14c to 5.15c is the most challenging wall grading because only a few climbers climbed them. It is for higher elite climbers only. It has a level 5 on the IRCRA scale.

These grades are for males only.

You cannot apply the same grading to female climbers because they have different climbing abilities.

You can get details of the female climbing grades on the other list from the research paper.

IRCRA Climbing Group Ability for Female Climbers

  • 5.0 to 5.9 is the lowest difficulty grade for women. IRCRA gave it level one.
  • 5.10a to 5.11a is the medium grade difficulty because IRCRA gave it the level two rating.
  • 5.11b to 5.12c is the advanced level because it has level three according to the grading of IRCRA.
  • 5.12d to 5.14a requires extensive training for women because it is for elite climbers. It has level four on the IRCRA scale.
  • 5.14b to 5.15c is the most challenging grade for women according to IRCRA grading. It has a level five on the IRCRA scale.

You can find the scale differences by looking at the 5.11a grade. When a male climbs 5.11a, he will enter the class of climbers with intermediate climbing skills. Climbing 5.11a can put women in an advanced difficulty grade.

Men can reach the advanced-level climbers by climbing the 5.12a grade climbing wall.

How Do You Compare to Collegiate Climbers?

Every climber has a different style and climbing ability.

It is hard to compare climbers based on their ability to climb.

Some experts compare professional climbers because they want to find who is best in competitions.

Professional climbers get their skills by training all day.

It is hard to compare them with someone who does not have time to climb every day and dedicate the entire day to training.

We are talking about collegiate climbers.

Collegiate climbers are students in schools and colleges. They do not have time to train all day because they also have to focus on their studies.

They may have an equal passion for professional climbers but do not have enough time.

An average climber may have the same climbing skills as collegiate climbers because both have limited climbing time.

Average and collegiate climbers can reach the level of professional climbers when they give more time to training.

They must make many lifestyle changes to reach the level of professional climbers.

The 2014 Stanford Climbing Team’s Climbing Ability

It is a research study by the Stanford climbing team.

They checked the climbing ability of their climbing team in 2014.

They collected data from twenty-eight climbing teams and analyzed it to get surprising results.

Most climbers on the team could climb the wall with difficulty grades of 5.11c to 5.11d.

A total of eight climbers out of 28 were at this level. It makes up 29 percent of the team. 5.10b to 5.10d was the base rating.

Five climbers were only able to climb on this wall grade.

5.11a was an average because seventy-one percent of the climbers could climb this grade. Researchers found only 18 percent were not able to climb 5.11a.

It was evident that most climbers should climb 5.11a to reach the level of most collegiate climbers.

They lost half their score when they changed the climbers from the top rope position to the lead position.

The 2020 UT Austin Climbing Team’s Climbing Ability

It is research by Nathan WU, a member of the Auston climbing team. He collected data from thirty-three team members to get details of their climbing skills.

He found only one climber could climb the wall with 5.13a difficulty.

Nathan WU got results similar to the Stanford research results.

He also made 5.11a the base for checking the ability of the climber. More than sixty-five percent of climbers were able to climb the wall with a 5.11a difficulty rating.

hey also compared the climber’s BMI and ability to climb different-grade walls.

The Real Secret to Being a Good Climber

It is preferable to make the climbing difficulty grades to make benchmarks because you cannot decide the skills of a climber according to the difficulty ratings of the walls.

All climbers do not have the same set of skills.

Some are better at muscle strength.

Others have better holding strength.

Some are excellent at collecting data for climbing the wall and making the best beta for the wall.

It is unsuitable to judge someone’s climbing skills according to climbing grades because climbing grades are subjective.

A 5.11a can be hard to climb for climbers with short heights.

It is not as hard for tall climbers. Some may climb the 5.11a fast but have balancing issues.

The climbers should make a better environment for others.

They can also focus on improving their skills instead of judging climbing skills.

We can conclude climbing 5.11a makes you an average climber. You are not an advanced-level climber if you can only climb 5.11a. You need to climb 5.12a to reach level three climbing skills. 

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About the author 

Roger

Roger was born into a family of climbers. As the youngest of his siblings, he was also the most ardent climber of them. Small and agile, he practiced climbing all day. Today, Roger teaches children how to climb the large rock walls safely.

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