Sandbagging In Climbing

What Is Sandbagging In Climbing?

Sandbagging means to lower the grade of climbing or simply makes it feel easier or much comfortable than it actually is. It is just like encouraging the climber by making him realize that as it is not a difficult task to climb this route but truly it’s not that easy.


Sandbagging is an art not everyone could do this. The term sandbagging is specifically used by the climbers to calm them. Various climbing associations in all countries have fixed their grading systems for routes. This grading is done based on the difficulty level. It ranges from 5.0 for newbies, to 5.15 for top class proficient, that is V0 to V16 correspondingly. Yosemite Decimal System and Hueco V-scale bouldering grade are ordinarily used in the United States.


Climbing routes are not easier, there are a lot of challenges to face. If someone is standing on the ground and you tell him to climb up to 5.9 or above, he will surely get panic. So sandbagging is a technique to appease the climber by saying its just a simple task, not a big deal or it is just a normal grade. While normal grade for climbing is 5.6 to 5.7 and he is going for 5.9 or so. Usually, this technique works, and the climber gets successful in achieving the target. But in certain instances sandbagging may turn life-threatening. 

Types Of Sandbag:

There are various reasons for sandbagging, maybe psychic, intellectual, welfare, or whatever. But it truly happens at least once with almost every climber. There are different types of the sandbag, they may be:

1. The Coyly Sandbag:

These are the humble brag sandbags, the ones who work with false modesty. They will never help you divulging new routes, trails, or something useful. Instead, they will only tell how great climber or mountaineer they are. They will tell you their efficiencies which don’t even exist in them.

2. Selective Memory Sandbag:

We all know that there are a lot of obstacles in the journey of a mountaineer, skier, or a climber. There could be anything like mosquitoes, arduous route, problems while handling the rope or the harness. But once they complete their journey they forget all those challenges and only remember the good and incredible memories of the trip.

3. Not Going To Listen To Type Of Sandbag:

No one is the entire world will be such malice as they are. They will pretend like they not even listening to you. They would die but won’t share a piece of information that would be helpful during your trip. They will turn the discussion to the other way. 

4. Self-Critique Type Sandbag:

They are the ones who will always criticize themselves. They always found themselves lethargic, out of shape, and feeble. They’ll do the sandbagging maybe by saying, “you are young, you have a sturdy and a healthy body or you are a champ bro you’ll do this very easily it is nothing for you I should think twice before going there as I am weak and out of shape”.  But when you got a chance to travel with them they will be the ones who ascent faster and will reach the summit before you. 

Impacts Of Sandbagging On The Climber:

Everything has its impact, likewise sandbagging also affects the mood of a climber. Sometimes it proves to be encouraging while at another time it is not. Sandbagging execute various impacts on the climber at different stages they may be as follows:

Stage # 1


Climbers are told that it’s a soft grade, but after monitoring the route, the proficient mountaineers came to know that it is not that easy task as told or written in a guide book. They may refuse to climb or refuse their peril by saying, “it is not a big deal, they can do this very easily”.

Stage # 2


For a long time, they manage to duel to the death, but at a stage, climbers sometimes become so annoying they behave so atrociously. As their potential level is declining, they start bulling the one who graded the route.

Stage # 3

Horse Trading:

Now they realize their current situation and embolden themselves by making deals personally because they don’t want to be called a loser or a freak after reaching so close. They start making promises to their spiritual lords and swearing personally that they won’t climb again and all that.

Stage # 4


As the climber is doing more than his potential so at the point he may become hopeless and depressed regarding the situation. Maybe he thought that he is healthy and has a strong sturdy body but besides these everyone has his energy level. Fear of failure makes him depressed.

Stage # 5 


This only happens in two conditions weather the sandbag has not affected you much during your mountain trip or you appeased your core by believing that sandbags are the only gleaming truth, the rest of everything is simply false. 

Detriments Of Sandbagging:

Sandbagging can prove to be life-threatening as well. We know there are many stout and misjudged areas present but an authentic and well-reputed guidebook author must go for the right information instead of doing sandbagging. Possible detriments of sandbagging may include

1. It may become mortal combat for a mountaineer or a skier. 

2. Sometimes a climber may not be that strong as he believed.

3. He may get stuck high up.

4. Maybe the grade provided is much more than his potential.

Well, climbing is a sport and it must be thrilling and sometimes risky too. Sandbagging also has its place in the field of climbing. As many of the times sandbagging helps to pull the champion out. So a mountaineer or a skier or a climber must be strong enough to cope with the challenges and must know how to handle a sandbag.

FAQs Related To Sandbagging:

1. In Rock Climbing, What Does “Sandbag” Mean?

In rock climbing, sandbag means to soften the grade or a route that is much more difficult than written in a guidebook or told by a leader. It is just used to boost the climber that it is not hard to do when actually it is not that easy.

2. Which Are The Most Sandbagged Crags In The US?

The most sandbagged crags are as follows:
Shawangunks, New York
Eldorado Canyon, Colorado
Yosemite National Park, California
Seneca Rocks, West Virginia

3. What Grades Are The Pros Normally Climbing At In A Lead Or Bouldering World Cup Event?

It’s perpetually a guess as a result of IFSC refuses to truly grade them. It gets a bit more difficult within the finals, as a result, they vie within the semi-finals on the same day within the morning, so that they typically really relax the grades for the finals rather than creating them tougher as a result of everyone seems to be already wiped.

But it could be any grade from V6  for super technical stuff, up to around V12. For more justifications, you will not have individuals often ascension V10+ slabs in a very four-minute, it’s simply not progressing to happen, however higher grades are far more rational for vigorous climbs that rely more on dynamics and actuation strength. For women, one thing nearer to V6 – V10, I do know Janja Garnbret has been extremely pushing them to line more difficult though. And these are estimated ranges, there could also be exceptions in either direction reckoning on the set.

4. Is Sandbagging Good?

It just depends on our perspective that how we think about it. Suppose if you score well in your college test for the reason that your queries are considerably easier than that of alternative colleges that does not mean you are intelligent. It might cause you to feel smart. However, you will lose this feeling in no time once you take exams somewhere else. Thus if you are too accustomed to ranked route you may realize it tough to climb at places wherever routes are sandbagged.

I am not advocating for crazy and absurd sandbagged grading. However, I do assume that slight to moderate sandbagging is nice, really it’s necessary. Creating things to feel simple does not make them finer. Thus one can apprehend if a route is sandbagged otherwise you had been living in a very ascent grade bubble at the athletic facility, once you drop and you can’t reach a grade that you just would have unremarkably achieved with ease, whereas everybody around you is ready to walk up a similar route. 

5. Why Grades Vary From Place To Place?

Grades vary from place to place because the ordinary grades of routes for the outdoor cliffs can attract climbers of various ability levels. If a gym has voluminous routes that area simple but is over ranked it will attract a lot of newbies or the climbers that at an initial stage as it is less discouraging. Whereas gyms with tougher and sandbagged routes can attract stronger and skilled climbers. So grading can also be helpful in attracting the people who want to join the climbing clubs.

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