Home Facts And Lifehacks Pioneer of bouldering rating system— John the Vermin

Pioneer of bouldering rating system— John the Vermin


John “The Vermin” is noted for pioneering the bouldering rating system in the early 90s.

Previously, boulderers used either the Yosemite Decimal System or John Gill’s B-system, which was laid out in his 1969 American Alpine Journal article, “The Art of Bouldering.”

John introduced the “V” scale, which was devise from his nickname, “Vermin”. He initiated the scale at VO, which would be introductory and V9 would be assigned to the hardest problems.

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“As soon as the book was published, the race was on for an individual to do the first V10 in Hueco,” Sherman says. “Now the race is on to be undertaken by the first V18 or at least conquer that V17.”

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Further, John also won the Alferd E Packer lookalike contest. Packer (1842 – 1907) was an American prospector and self-proclaimed wilderness guide who confessed to cannibalism during the winter of 1874 when he and 5 other men attempted to travel through the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Packer was sentenced to 40 years in prison for 5 counts of voluntary manslaughter.

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