If you’ve ever wanted to feel bad about how old you are, here’s a video of 12-year-old Bayes Wilder successfully climbing one of the more rarely repeated sport climbs in this world.
Seriously though, there aren’t many people who can climb 5.14C routes, so don’t feel bad that you can barely finish a 5.10a, no matter how old you are. Personally, I’ve never even really been sport climbing. Also, if you’ve ever been to a climbing gym while the youth climbing team was there, you know those kids are built different.
General Litzenheimer 14c/8C+, located in Ten Sleep Wyoming, was originally established in 2009 by James Litz. You can tell by the holds in the video that this is no where near an easy climb, especially for a 12-year-old.
The most difficult bolted climbs in the world typically fall into the 5.15d category, so this kid isn’t super far away. Hopefully we’ll see 12-year-old Bayes Wilder crush some more incredible things throughout his life.
Climbing route ratings aren’t incredibly difficult to understand, but they do get a bit complicated. The following is an explanation of the Yosemite Decimal System (YDS) Routes first fall into a classification from 1 to 5. A class 1 is the easiest: an established, flat trail. A class 5 is the most difficult, with ropes and protection required to prevent serious injury or death in the event of a fall. When we talk about climbing routes, they almost always fall into the class 5 category (there is also a class 6, marking routes that are impossible to free-climb and must be aid-climbed).
Class 5 routes are then given a sub-classification, ranging from 5.1 to 5.15. 5.1, of course, is the easiest and 5.15 is the most difficult. From there, routes may be given a further sub-classification with the help of letters a-d. General Litzenheimer, for example, is a 5.14c.
A “+” or “-” rating may also be given to a route to establish how consistent it remains difficult. The “crux” of a climb is the most difficult portion and is what the route’s grade is based on. A route with a + will typically remain consistent in difficulty, while a route with a – usually features just a few spots that are as difficult as its crux. So, a 5.12- might have just two short portions that would fall into the 5.12 category, while a 5.12+ would be that difficult throughout its entirety.
You then must also consider the type of climbing, as there are different difficulties between sport climbing and trad climbing. Indoor climbing lacks the environmental aspects that are found in outdoor climbing, like weather and rock type, and it’s usually recommended that climbers drop a few grades when heading from the gym to outdoor climbing. There are also different measuring systems based on which country you’re in, and the V scale for bouldering, but we won’t get into those for now.
Image Credit: mellow via YouTube