What Is The Average Climbing Grade Where People Plateau?

Climbing is one of those sports that can be easy at the beginning, but after some time when you will reach higher difficulty grades your progress will drastically slow down and even stop completely. That time can be very hard to overcome, but we will give you some tips, also with examples to get through it easier. We will answer all of your possible questions and also you will learn what’s the average climbing grade where people plateau, so stay with us!

The answer is split into 2 due to the different approaches to climbing. If you are a casual climber and you mostly climb for fun, and except that you don’t do a lot of training then you will plateau around 5.10b grade, but if you are trying to be a pro climber, watching a lot of tutorials and practice at home then you will most likely plateau around 5.12a. Why are those the average climbing grades plateau, and what is the difference between the two? How it can be translated to other grading systems? We will explain it all to you in a moment.

What is the difference between a casual and pro climber?

Only 30% of people at your climbing gym are trying to be professional climbers, but the others are doing it casually, for fun and they are not trying to compete with others.

If you are not sure if you are a professional climber then here is the description of a pro climber:

  • Practicing at home
  • At the climbing gym, you are not only climbing
  • Using Hangboard
  • Climbing more than 2 times per week
  • Watching a lot of tutorials on the internet
  • Climbing alone just to become better

If you are doing at least half of the above then we can talk about you as a pro climber. Here we will put a description of a casual climber:

  • Climbing with friends or partner
  • Not investing a lot in climbing gear
  • At the climbing gym, you are spending almost all of your time climbing
  • In climbing reaching the top is the most important thing for you
  • Climbing 2 times per week or less
What is the difference between a casual and pro climber?
What is the difference between a casual and pro climber?

After those two descriptions, I bet you can put yourself in the right spot because that will give you an overall idea about what you can expect. There is nothing holding you back if you want to become a pro, you just need to try doing things we’ve described above and that will help you a lot.

How can I understand the climbing grading system?

There are a lot of grading systems and climbing gyms tend to have their own grading systems but there are some that are common around the globe. If your climbing gym uses a different grading system then don’t worry because you can translate it using this table below with many grading systems for climbing:

Yosemite – USAFrenchBritish
5.74+VS
5.85aHVS
5,95bHVS
5.10 a6aE1
5.10 b6a+E1
5.10 c6bE2
5.10 d 6b+E3
5.11 a 6cE3
5.11 b 6c+E4
5.11 c/d 7aE5
5.12 a 7a+E6
5.12 b 7bE6
5.12 c 7b+E7
5.12 d7cE7
5.13 a 7c+E8
5.13 b 8a10bE8
5.13 c8a+E9
5.13 d8bE9
Climbing grading systems

This table could go on and on but, if you already reached 5.13 d that means that you are above the most advanced climbers. Grading systems in climbing are confusing but the most commonly used is the French grading system. Unfortunately, bouldering has its own gradings systems, but luckily for us, they are a bit less complicated than climbing grading systems.

The average grade for climbers

If you have only started recently your climbing journey then your progress will be fast, but as the grades will go up the speed of your progress will decrease. The first grades are very easy even if you have a lot of additional body fat, and after a few climbing sessions, you will get the basic knowledge about climbing that will let you improve fast.

But only with the basic knowledge, it will be hard to get over 5.10b if you are not slim or above 6 feet tall, so if you don’t have any of those two then you will need to practice a bit more or ask for help from someone else to give you tips or show how you can finish the problem.

The 5.9-5.10b is also considered to be the start of the intermediate level so a total beginner could have a lot of trouble reaching the top grades. Maybe at that point, you will decide that you want to be better and put a lot more effort into it, then the next barrier should be around 5.12a where most of the pro climbers plateau.

The average grade for climbers
The average grade for climbers

The 5.12a is considered to be the start of the advanced laved, and that will require serious skill, more technical movements, strength, and balance, but most climbers are at the intermediate level so you should be proud that you are above the most!

What to do to break out of the climbing plateau?

When you will reach your current limits at some point, you will start to look at your mistakes to improve your skills, but there is a high chance that you are not looking at the issue from the right perspective. If your current level is 5.10c and you can do a lot of them in one single session then that means that you are able to do 5.10d right now, but you are just not giving it many tries.

Many people after one try at upper grades are just giving up and getting back to lower grades. Maybe you should give it more tries or just find another problem on the same level, but with different hold types. Maybe you are better with crimps than with slopers, so you should look for the routes that you feel comfortable with.

In summary – What is the average climbing grade where people plateau?

Most casual climbers struggle to get above 5.10b, and they need to put at least a bit of their time into training to break that barrier, but pro climbers are struggling to get above 5.12a grade. Use our tips from above to reach higher grades and if you still struggle with why you can’t get better at climbing then check out our new article “Are Big Hands Better For Rock Climbing? – (For Beginners)“.