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Once you are comfortable climbing up or across the wall and need more challenge, then try to climb a route. Climbing a route forces you to use specific techniques which encourage you to become a better climber.
What is a route? A route is a path up or across the wall designated, in the gym, by coloured tape.
There are two main types of routes:
Roped Routes can be either Toprope Routes or Lead Climbing Routes. These are designated by a solid colour of tape. All footholds are taped meaning you can only use footholds that have the same tape as the handholds. The Roped Routes have an open sequence meaning you can use the holds in any order and even skip any you don’t need. The colour of the tape on a Roped Route is used only to differentiate it from other routes and has nothing to do with the difficulty of the climb.
Bouldering Routes are routes that move across the wall and are taped with two colours of tape. One longer piece makes up the body and another colour makes up the tip. There are 3 kinds of Bouldering Routes:
Circuits: Circuits have every handhold numbered. The feet are “open” meaning you can use any footholds you want but your hands must use the holds in order. The sequence will be determined by an ‘L’ or an ‘R’ to indicate which hand will use the hold or an ‘M’ if both hands will match on the same hold before moving on. The colour of the tape on a circuit is used only to differentiate it from other routes and has nothing to do with the difficulty of the climb.
Traverses: The designated handholds can be used in any order and the feet are “open” meaning you can use any footholds you want. On most traverses, the colour of the tape has nothing to do with the difficulty. The Gym Traverse (GT) is a route that covers the whole gym. The holds are taped with a fluorescent green body and a black tip. Upon reaching the Boulder Lounge the GT continues under the label of BLT.
Rip & Grip Problems: Rip & Grip problems have an “open” sequence meaning you can use the holds in any order and even skip any you don’t need. The feet on these problems are taped meaning you can only use footholds that have the same tape as the handholds. The holds are taped with a fluorescent orange body and a black, yellow, blue, red or green tip. The colour of the tip gives a general idea of the difficulty of the route with black being the easiest, then yellow, then blue, red and then green being the hardest. The Rip & Grip Problems are also numbered 1 to 30 with 1 being the easiest problem and 30 the most difficult. The 30 problems are evenly divided between the five difficulty categories with 6 problems in each. These routes are set for our Rip & Grip Bouldering Competition Series which include 3 monthly events running on the first Friday of the month from October to December and February to April.
Start Hold Information The start hold(s) for every route are taped with an upside-down ‘V’ of tape. All circuits, traverses and roped routes will have a band of fluorescent yellow tape across the start tape to create an ‘A’ shape. This band provides three pieces of information; the name (so you can talk about it with other climbers), the grade (so you know how hard it is) and the type of route (so you know whether it is a lead climb [LD], toprope [TR], bouldering circuit [CIR] or bouldering traverse [TRAV]).
To Climb a Route To successfully climb a route you must start on the start hold(s) with 2 hands. Once your feet leave the ground you can move your hands from the start hold(s). As you climb to the finish hold (also marked with an inverted ‘V’) you may use only the holds designated as part of the route without falling or being held by the rope at any point.
Route Grading Routes at VIRG are graded according to the Yosemite Decimal System which is commonly used for routes throughout North America. The grade of all technical rock climbs (requiring rope protection) begins with a ‘5’ which is often left off of a route grade because it is standard to all routes in the gym. The number after the decimal gives the difficulty with higher numbers being more difficult than low numbers. There are also ‘+’ and ‘-’ that follow some route grades. The ‘+’ means harder than and the ‘-’ means easier than, just as in school where you had to work harder to get an A+ than you did to get an A. To follow is a listing of grades you will find in the gym and an idea as to the relative experience and skill required.
Novice Intermediate Hard Intermediate Advanced Very Advanced Expert Hard Expert
5.7 to 5.8 5.9 to 5.10- 5.10 5.10+ to 5.11- 5.11 to 5.11+ 5.12- to 5.12+ 5.13- to 5.14