Junction Climbing's Boulder Circuits

Boulder Circuits


Junction’s new boulder circuit system is made up of eight circuits, indicated by tape colour on start and finish holds. A circuit purposefully contains climbs in a wide variety of styles, hold types and terrain. Each problem is intentionally designed to provide a specific piece in the overall offering of its circuit. As a result, trying a whole circuit offers a diverse and unique climbing experience.


Each circuit is limited to a difficulty range, reflected by the width of the coloured bar on the circuit chart. Circuits will contain problems at every difficulty level within their range. Where each problem falls within its circuit is not labelled. There is significant overlap in difficulty between adjacent circuits. For example, there will always be some White tape climbs that are more difficult than some Purple tape climbs.

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When a climb is set and forerun, we ensure that it fits the exact point in difficulty that is needed to fulfill its assigned circuit. We also consider subjective difficulty, which is the idea that some movements and holds feel more or less challenging based on your specific body type and abilities. If there is one climb at the lower end of the Orange circuit that feels more comfortable for taller people, there will also be a climb near the lower end of the Orange circuit that feels more comfortable for shorter people. You, as an individual, may not immediately notice that both of these climbs are of the same difficulty, because one may feel harder than the other for you based on your height. The same idea applies to differences in styles and hold types. A powerful climb may feel easier for you than a technical climb of the same difficulty, if you are generally better at climbing powerfully. A climb on crimps may feel easier for you than a similar difficulty level on pinches, if you prefer thin holds.

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Due to the range of difficulty for each circuit, the overlap in difficulty between adjacent circuits and the added factor of subjective difficulty, we can confidently conclude that circuits are not a grading system. You cannot discern the specific grade of any individual climb, but trying every climb in one circuit will expose you to every difficulty level within that circuit’s range. 


Without grades, everyone can feel encouraged to try any climb that looks fun for them. Climbers can feel less intimidated by how hard something might be and more motivated to attempt anything they are interested in. Many climbers will experience organic growth in their abilities by being exposed to more climbs at various difficulty levels. Additionally, without grades, it is less convenient to compare one’s climbing ability directly with someone else’s. Those looking to compete with others can do so among their friend groups or by participating in Junction’s boulder competitions. 


For individuals who like using grades to measure their individual progress, this system can initially seem less ideal. However, we are confident that there are still many ways to keep track of your growth. You can make gains on any problem that is difficult for you, regardless of the circuit. You can challenge yourself to complete an entire circuit and see how quickly you can accomplish this goal with each new set. You can also choose a specific skill set that you want to work on and be confident that you will find problems at various difficulty levels to test that skill. 


The quality and process of setting for each individual problem has not changed at all. The only thing that has changed is how we decide which colour of tape to put on a climb. We are confident that whatever you loved about bouldering before, you’ll love it even more now that we have taller walls, better terrain and a new circuit system to enhance the experience. 

New Circuits Q&A


Why did you change the circuit system?

  • We want circuits to be groups of climbs in a variety of styles that are designed to be experienced together.

  • We want circuits to have wide difficulty ranges that overlap with each other.

  • The old circuit system began in this way but then drifted away over time.

    • Messaging and setting led to an incorrect perception of circuits as a grading system.

  • We changed the circuit colours to revamp and improve upon the original concept.

Why is this better than the old system?

  • The setting of individual problems between the new system and the old one has not changed at all.

  • The only thing that has changed is how we consider what colour of tape goes on each climb.

  • In the new system, difficulty is more ambiguous so people can be encouraged to try different problems and less likely to compare their abilities with others.

  • There is the option to try a whole circuit and be exposed to an uniquely designed climbing experience.

What grades are in each circuit?

  • The circuits do not line up with any V-grade or French grades. 

  • We set every problem to a specific difficulty, but that exists only within the context of Junction’s circuits and we do not consider any other grading system when determining difficulty.

  • Staff cannot tell you what grade it is because they do not know.

  • Anyone is welcome to assign any personal grade they wish to any problem they climb.


How do the difficulties of the new circuits compare to the old ones?

  • The difficulty ranges of the new circuits do not line up with those of the previous circuit system.

  • For the end circuits (Pink, Black, Green, and Blue) the difficulty ranges are wider than before. There are more climbs that could fit into those circuits.

  • The middle circuits have a similar difficulty range as before, but do not align with any specific previous circuit.

  • All circuits have substantially more overlap in difficulty with their neighbours than before.

  • There are only eight circuits now, where previously there were nine.

I used to climb in the Red circuit, what should I try now?

  • There is no way to compare the previous Red circuit to one specific new circuit.

  • Everyone should try a lot of climbs from many different circuits to get a feel for which circuits they find most enjoyable and challenging.

  • In the previous system, you may have found that you “belonged” to one or two circuits.

  • Now, it is likely that there will be climbs in three different circuits that are challenging for you.


Why do I feel like the lower end circuits are harder than before?

  • The lower end circuits contain a wider range of difficulties than they did before.

  • They cannot be compared directly to previous circuits, so you should not expect to find them easier or harder.

  • In some cases, novel styles and movements can feel especially difficult in lower-end circuits because it is a completely new skill set that a climber has not been exposed to before and has to learn.


I can do a couple of Purple circuit climbs but there is one Orange climb I am struggling with. Orange and Purple do not overlap, so what’s happening?

  • You might be experiencing what we like to call “subjective difficulty overlap.”

  • It is possible that you found a climb that is at the upper end in difficulty for an Orange circuit which also happens to be a style you are less comfortable with.

  • If you also happen to find a climb at the lower end of Purple that is in your stronger style, it is likely that the Purple climb will feel easier for you than the Orange climb.

  • Most people will find that there are three circuits with climbs that can be challenging for them.

  • This experience may reveal a specific style or technique that you have an opportunity to improve on.


How will I know if I am making progress?

  • One option is to try climbing all of the climbs in a circuit that is challenging but attainable for you.

  • Try this on each new set and see how long it takes you to do them all every week.

  • If you can do them all quicker now than you could a few months ago, you are making huge gains.

  • You can also see which circuit contains the hardest climb that you can do in your strongest style. Then you can work to be able to do your anti-style in that same circuit.

  • You be able to progress on your weaknesses and maintain your strengths to be more well-rounded 

What if bouldering isn’t fun for me anymore?

  • The quality and process of setting individual boulders problem has not changed at all.

  • It is possible that climbing itself is not what was fun for you all along.

  • We have a few options for those who are motivated by being able to compare directly with their past performance and that of other people.

  • There are many tools in the training room and new fitness area that can give objective measures of how strong you are and how much you are improving.


Are Pink circuits still for kids?

  • No, Pink is still the easiest circuit but it has a wider range than before.

  • The Pink circuit contains climbs that are appropriate for any age of climber.

  • Pink circuit climbs with pink holds will be set with spacing that is more accessible to smaller children.

  • Children and adults are all encouraged to explore any climbs that look fun for them, regardless of the circuit.


Will J2 have the same circuits?

  • Yes, J2 will use the same circuit system.

  • Just like Junction, J2’s setting will be designed for its community and customer base. This may mean that there are more climbs in some circuits at J2 because there is a higher percentage of customers who use and value those circuits.