Revisiting suggested grades - Forgotten Wall

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brockt
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Post by brockt » Mon May 12, 2008 1:34 pm

I'm not saying grades in general aren't useful. I'm just saying that arguing over one letter grade is a waste of breath.

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Post by dakine » Mon May 12, 2008 8:46 pm

Yep I agree Brockt, all the routes are 5.10 though a few feel a little stiff. :D [/quote]

brockt
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Post by brockt » Mon May 12, 2008 10:01 pm

Yeah, its either 5.10-, 5.10, or 5.10+. Way simpler. :)

itsonlyadream
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Post by itsonlyadream » Tue May 13, 2008 12:20 pm

brockt wrote:Yeah, its either 5.10-, 5.10, or 5.10+. Way simpler. :)
Some say people can be divided into lumpers and splitters.

I would be perfectly happy to just say 5.9, 5.10, 5.11. To REAL alpinists it is just 5th class or it isn't.

But don't pretend that there isn't a glorious tradition of wasted breath:



"I've seen 5.11 divided into 11 different grades of increasing difficulty, as follows: 5.11a, 5.10d, 5.11-, 5.11b, 5.11, 5.11c, 5.9 squeeze, 5.11+, 5.10 OW, 5.12a, 5.11d."

Brutus of Wyde

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Post by ricerocket » Tue May 13, 2008 12:43 pm

I agree with you as well brockt. Grades are completely subjective. We can argue the grade of any route until the cows come home, and still, someone would be get a hernia over it. If you try or send a route, why not just give oneself a pat on the back and a shiny sticker to paste into their diary? By the way, I too would like to see the methodology used to determine the difference between an 11c, 11d, and 12a. If there was such a guideline, than this topic would have never been brought up.

itsonlyadream
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Post by itsonlyadream » Tue May 13, 2008 1:09 pm

brockt wrote:I mean two grades in general, not just 11c/d and 11d/12a. Perhaps you could outline the objective method you use to identify these grades and how it is grades are consistent for who is climbing it. A reachy 12b for me may feel like a 11d for someone a foot taller. There is really no standard that can be used to grade a route. It is completely subjective to the person grading it.
Take a climber who is not particularly short or tall, not outstandingly good or hopeless. Have that climber attempt onsights of as many routes as you have time for. If a route is done no-falls, count it as a success, otherwise a failure. Use that climber as your objective standard. Put them on a new route and if they fall off it is probably hard for an average climber. If a climbing area has routes that are considered good examples of their grades, you can calibrate your climber with them. This method can be extended to climbers and climbs that are better/worse and harder/easier than typical if you have the patience. It can't be guaranteed to work for any individual climb or climber but over time you can build a crudely objective roughly accurate sense of grades and their significance.

I'm reasonably close to average. I've been climbing 40 years. I did lots of 5.11 and a few 5.12. I could onsight 11c and below about 99% of the time, 11d 50% and 12a 10%. On average there was a difference among those grades that was usually subjectively and often enough objectively (=falling) noticeable to me.

Times have changed and so have I. Last week I had a little trouble on Black and Decker, Perfidious Albion, and Crucifixion. We are working on a new rating system for climbers >50 years old. The Vancouver Cliffhanger is showing the way. We will feel good, again.

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Post by Steve Townshend » Tue May 13, 2008 1:21 pm

brockt wrote:I mean two grades in general, not just 11c/d and 11d/12a. Perhaps you could outline the objective method you use to identify these grades and how it is grades are consistent for who is climbing it. A reachy 12b for me may feel like a 11d for someone a foot taller. There is really no standard that can be used to grade a route. It is completely subjective to the person grading it.
i agree.

itsonlyadream wrote: Also, the difference between 11c and 11d is much greater than the difference between 11d and 12a, on average.
i disagree. This opinion reflects your limitted experience (how many areas have you climbed at? how many types of rock in how many countries.... the jump from 11c to d is the same as from 11d to 12a...

The grade written in a guide book is not "THE" grade... it's a reflection of how hard somebody thought it was. it's a rough estimate of how hard something is whose sole purpose is to give people a vauge idea of if they can expect a route to be easy, challanging, VERY HARD or Imposible for them. The only way, however, that you can know what that route IS graded FOR YOU, is to climb it.

There are routes i've done that are 2 or 3 grades easier for me than for many other people (because i'm tall and good at dynoing) and visa-versa, there are plenty of routes where my fingers don't fit into specific holds (pockets/cracks) and so they're 2 or 3 grades harder for me

When i climbe a route and then record it in my records (mentally, i don't really write down what i climb), i record it as the grade the route is FOR ME... There's a route in the VRG that is definately harder for me because my fingers don't fit into the crux pocket. for ME that route IS 5.14b, for most other people it's 5.14a. IF i ever send it (hahaha), i'll consider myself to have done 5.14b. There are all sorts of other routes that are much easier for me, and i have projects that are impossible for anybody not as tall as me (8 foot dyno followed by 6'7" ironcross with NO intermediates). for me (IF i send that one too... i don't send much.... i just fall off alot of stuff, haha), i'll grade it what ever..... 5.11b maybe? who cares... for anybody shorter than me it might as well be 5.15c.....

Grades are subjective and personal, not concrete and in stone.

it's a rainy day and i feel like ranting since i can't climb or go to work so i'll keep going... stir the pot a bit....

in general i feel like grades near your max always seem like a bigger jump than ones below your max level.

10d and 11a used to feel like a BIG jump (12 yrs ago), then 11d and 12a felt like a BIG jump (11 yrs ago)..... now 11d and 12a feel almost the same (small jump/difference).

Now i feel i have a more "objective" opinion of those grades and a less objective opinion of grades near my [current] Max.

Breaking into a new grade always feels harder, especially if that new grade is also a new # (from 11 to 12 or 12 to 13 or 13 to 14).

I think if routes are graded properly/fairly the jump is equal from one grade to the next. 12d to 13a "FEELS" Harder in North-America than 7c to 7c+ in Europe (same thing though).... where as 7c+ to 8a in Europe "FEELS" harder... i think it's only harder Mentally because it's a "New #". People in Europe say the jump to 8a is hard, but the jump from 13a to 13b isn't that big here (same jump).

7b+ = 12c
7c = 12d
7c+ = 13a
8a = 13b
8a+ = 13c

just some food for though... it's raining and i can't go climbing or to work so i have alot of time to waste today... have a good one

Steve Townshend
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Post by Steve Townshend » Tue May 13, 2008 1:23 pm

PS. Really, who cares?

Climbing is self-serving and doesn't benefit anybody but yourself.

when i send my hardest routes, nobody really cares except me (and maybe my mom). when i hear about Sharma sending a new 5.15, i think "oh, good for him", but it doesn't affect me or my life at all.

just have fun and stop worrying about the grade. the only person who cares how hard you climb is you.

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Post by itsonlyadream » Wed May 14, 2008 12:28 am

Steve Townshend wrote:just have fun and stop worrying about the grade.
Excellent advice. Welcome to the glorious tradition of wasted breath.

When I was doing climbs that were hard for their time and place I never thought about the grade. I only thought that I was as good a person to do them as anyone and the less I knew the more the challenge and fun.

However, your specific examples above don't have anything to do with the fact that climbs CAN be objectively graded according to difficulty when enough of them are compared. Sure, there are a lot of problems with doing it and there is inevitably a huge subjective side to climbing, but it isn't impossible to rank routes according to difficulty, it's only a question of how narrowly and reliably you can do so.

I've climbed more areas and types of rock than I can remember, mostly through North America but other countries, too. In South Africa at Waterfal Bofen I was put on a 23 and then asked to grade it in my system and when we checked a grade comparison chart my guess and the chart agreed. That could be only coincidence, of course.

My sense that grades mean something comes from my early days at the Gunks when I gradually worked up from 5.2 to 5.10. Then the years at Devil's Lake confused me. Yosemite turned me upside down. I found peace again when I finally learned that jamming thing. Now I am headed downhill, but as the guy in the movie Summer School says, "It's a lovely ride." He was talking about a student's remark that sexual capacity was greatest in the teen years.

For those of you that climb much harder than I do I acknowledge that mystical aspects often predominate and that giving routes a grade is a mundane chore best left to others.

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Post by XXXX » Wed May 14, 2008 7:46 am

It has been my experience that the "d" grades tend to be pretty hard for the grade and the "a" grades pretty easy.

Look at Squamish and a route like the Left Side of the Split. In the old Campbell guide it was listed as 11d and it felt pretty hard for 11d. Now that it's given 12a it feels pretty easy for 12a doesn't it?

Steve Townshend
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Post by Steve Townshend » Wed May 14, 2008 10:29 pm

itsonlyadream,

Sorry to call your experience "limited", i should have chosen my words more carefully, and i didn't mean to insult you. i apologize.

i agree you can try to have an "objective" grade for a route, that's what "consensus" means, but if the consensus is that the grade is 5.whatever, it can still be something different (harder or easier) for a specific individual.

i don't actually climb hard, i just reach past the hard parts (hehehe)

i think grades tend to be somewhat consistent area to area; some areas are "soft" where other area's are "hard"..... or..... some time certain grades at an area are tough and others are soft..

Lion's Head for example... i find everything BELOW 5.12 to be tough for the grade. the majority of the routes 5.12 and below were put up YEARS ago by people like Chris Oats, The Smart Brothers and their crew/generation.... those guys sand-bagged on purpose, they were very hesitant to give something the "next" grade, and as a result, everything below 5.12 is very stiff!!!

The 5.13's and above at Lion's Head were put up by an entirely different generation, many of the people who put up these routes wanted the big # for their resume and as a result i find almost ALL of the routes 5.13a and above to be VERY soft for the grade (this could also come for a lack of travelling by the people putting up THOSE routes). When i give my opinion of these routes (often-times down-grading them), people ignor me and don't accept what i say because they "want" it to be hard for their self-esteem.

anyway, ranting on here is fun/pointless....

hope you have fun at the crag.... weather's FINALLY going to be NICE, so get out and enjoy it!

Cheers.

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Post by itsonlyadream » Thu May 15, 2008 9:21 am

Steve Townshend wrote:itsonlyadream,

Sorry to call your experience "limited", i should have chosen my words more carefully, and i didn't mean to insult you. i apologize.

i agree you can try to have an "objective" grade for a route, that's what "consensus" means, but if the consensus is that the grade is 5.whatever, it can still be something different (harder or easier) for a specific individual.

i don't actually climb hard, i just reach past the hard parts (hehehe)

i think grades tend to be somewhat consistent area to area; some areas are "soft" where other area's are "hard"..... or..... some time certain grades at an area are tough and others are soft..

Lion's Head for example... i find everything BELOW 5.12 to be tough for the grade. the majority of the routes 5.12 and below were put up YEARS ago by people like Chris Oats, The Smart Brothers and their crew/generation.... those guys sand-bagged on purpose, they were very hesitant to give something the "next" grade, and as a result, everything below 5.12 is very stiff!!!

The 5.13's and above at Lion's Head were put up by an entirely different generation, many of the people who put up these routes wanted the big # for their resume and as a result i find almost ALL of the routes 5.13a and above to be VERY soft for the grade (this could also come for a lack of travelling by the people putting up THOSE routes). When i give my opinion of these routes (often-times down-grading them), people ignor me and don't accept what i say because they "want" it to be hard for their self-esteem.

anyway, ranting on here is fun/pointless....

hope you have fun at the crag.... weather's FINALLY going to be NICE, so get out and enjoy it!

Cheers.
Thanks. I am going to have fun at the crag, today and tomorrow and tomorrow.

I like your apology but it is true that my experience is limited mostly to the older days of ground-up gear-protected climbing. Y'know - when the YDS more or less began. I think YDS doesn't work well for sport climbs. That doesn't seem to stop people who have a hammer from hitting everything like a nail.

I was only reacting to a couple no-doubt off-the-cuff opinions that grades are COMPLETELY subjective and meaningless.

The objective test I proposed is actually enacted at many boulder and (in Europe) lead comps. You start with a bunch of new climbs and at the end of the comp, if the route-setters did it right, you should be able to rank the routes by difficulty according to number of on-sights by the competitors. So it isn't just hypothetical.

My experience is also limited to 5.12 and below with the exceptions of Eurasian Eyes and the almost (was rated then) 13 just left of Chromatic Suspension, routes which I followed and managed enough of to realize were do-able for me. I either don't have the patience or never developed the habit of working routes, though when it comes to bouldering I've spent up to a year of almost daily attempts.

I spoke up because one of the posts questioned 5.11c/d and 11d/12a which I do know something about.

I am not bothered by contrary opinions, but when it comes to those grades I ask myself whose opinion I trust more, Jim Bridwell or some guy I don't know anything about? (I do know something about Manboy.)

While I'm at it though, I wonder where you get the idea that the interval between grades should be the same. In the early early days I was told that the scale was exponential: roughly, 5.6 should be twice as hard as 5.4, 5.8 should be twice as hard as 5.6, etc. This is the way perception usually works, when they sit down people and ask them to make judgements about increase in light intensity or sound level.

At the time they told me that I thought I understood what was meant by 'twice as hard' because I had an intuitive notion of it. Lifting 200 lbs should be twice as hard as 100 lbs. Climbing was more complicated, of course, but I didn't see anything wrong with the idea going from 5.2 to 5.10.

I was also told that 5.10 was the hardest climb anyone could do and you can see how well that idea has stood up.

Much later I figured things out for myself, sort of. At school I studied physiology and one of my professors once said, "I don't get excited unless there is a factor of 10 involved." That put things in better perspective. When it comes to sports there isn't anyone who can run 10 times as fast or lift 10 times as much as a fit average person. In fact, in sports where measurement is simple, like a time or a weight, it is hard to find more than a factor of 2 separating a dedicated amateur from the world's best.

If climbing is at all like other sports, then in some sense the hardest climbs may only be twice as hard as a climb of average difficulty, say 5.10a

So where do we get all the spread between 5.10a and 5.15x? From the ability people have to detect differences, small but significant differences.

Which is my small and only point.

Whether we call those differences 11c/11d, 23/24, 7a/7b, E6/E7 is a geographical lottery and whether you agree with other people on them is a genetic lottery (they aren't usually assigned by people well over 6' or under 5').

Nevertheless they exist.

And I know Lion's Head and a couple of the early 5.12s there. Let us never get too excited about a particular grade for a particular climb. We know we can't trust everyone.

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Post by Steve Townshend » Thu May 15, 2008 10:23 pm

glad to hear you've been to Lion's Head!

Great response. i agree (with MOST of it).

makes sense (about hardest not being more than 2x harder than avg. person). i remember the first time i saw somebody climb 5.14c (Paxti Usobiaga in Spain, i watched "up close" as i was hanging on a rope filming him with my crappy cam corder i got for X-mas). i saw the holds and thought "wow, those holds aren't IMPOSSIBLE.... they're just slightly smaller than the ones on routes i climb?!?!" they are "fathomable" so to say. when i started climbing i thought 5.14 was an upside-down piece of glass with bullet holes in it for your pinky fingers only! then i learned, "Hard" routes aren't THAT much harder than "Easier" ones.... the holds get a little smaller and maybe there's less rests or it's a little more overhung... but all-in-all... they aren't THAT hard! watch a Monkey climb! now THAT'S hard!!!! 5.17 all day long!

ok, time for bed but thanks for your response.
PS. days are finally getting nice and LONG... i worked till 5pm and still had a full-day of climbing after that!

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Post by itsonlyadream » Fri May 16, 2008 9:22 am

Steve Townshend wrote: i worked till 5pm and still had a full-day of climbing after that!
GOOD.

I see that I've talked a little too much, which always results in foot ending up in mouth.

Please, don't anyone take offence at the suggestion that the hardest climbs may be "only" twice as hard as 10a. That is not a measure of how great the great climbers of the world are. I have enormous respect for the achievements of many different kinds of climbers, especially those who push hard in their respective directions. No one is a just a number except to a few bureaucrats, not that I want to get into trouble with them, either.

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Re: Revisiting suggested grades - Forgotten Wall

Post by ras » Sun Jul 06, 2008 8:37 pm

MCpl wrote:what do you think?

Rug Munchers - 5.11b
Rug Munchers is hard to grade because it doesn't have a single move harder than a typical crux on an 11-, but it has a lot of them with no rests in between, making it sustained and sequency, but easy to do with 4 takes... Thence the popularity as a TR. Despite this, I think the grades right. It took me a half dozen tries to RP it last fall, and only about 3 tries for Filth Infatuated and Hindsight (both 11c, both of which have harder cruxes, but lots of rests).

Btw, Gong Show and some of the routes I did at newer crags over the weekend made me think a bit about grade (in) consistency.

Here's a rambling list of climbs that standout as being hard/easy for the grade. Maybe not interesting to anybody, but maybe someone can use it as a guide to find easy and hard ticks...


Sport Temple:

Gong Show - is this some kind of infamous local sand bag? Or can 5.12/13 climbers really not tell the difference between 10a and 11a? My gf wants to get her head back into leading 10-, so she headed up this... That didn't work. She never pulled the crux on TR, and she can usually do all the moves on 11-. She also lead the 10a and 10b at Whiskey Jack the next morning with style. I think it's at least 11a. It's also pretty fun!

Btw, Phantom Menace (7/9) is best be done as a single pitch, using the intermediate chains just for rapping. It deserves more traffic, its a nice long route for its grade, and a short walk to get there.

Forgotten Wall:

If Bullet the Blue Sky is benchmark 10d, the other 10ds need down grading. Its a sweet route, but I rarely see it being done.

Cat Lake:

Little Blue Mouse (11a) is arguably easier than It's Time For a Change (10d), but its pretty hard to argue its harder. I think they are both 10d.

The start of the Apprentice (11a) felt harder than Blue Mouse, too, but I can't comment too well, because I went left when the topo said go straight, and tried to do Easy Torture.

Is Easy Torture really 11d? Wow. I clipped the last bolt before the chains (its a fine 11a/11b if it ends there), and then got shut down hard. Even after climbing the fixed project rope to put a TR in the anchors (thanks!), I couldn't pull through this. Oh well, I'll try again in the fall.

NeoMaxiZoomDweeble should be 4 stars. Its a fabulous 11b, and Cat Lake in general has great, long routes. Congrats to the developers.

Fat Camp:

The 11s here are like the polar opposite of Rug Muncher, mostly 10- easy, with a single hard sequence. Maybe V-grades would be better?


Crest:

Giddy Up (10c) is harder than the Road Less Travelled (10d) at Whiskey Jack (maybe it needs downgrading?). I'd call Giddy a well-known sandbag, and I've watched a lot of people flailing on it.

Several of the above mentioned flailers have then walked up Currently Coagulating with a take or two, and RPed it next try. I see its gone down from 11a to 10d, but its more like 10c. I know one climber who has trouble doing 10b, and managed to do Currently Coagulating (she's short, too), but that might just be luck.

Note - it had a loose bolt before the crux last fall.


Asylum/Circus:

The two 11s at Asylum are very overgraded, or In the Black and Pet Taxi (11a) are very undergraded (the latter are harder than Skank (11b) and Creepy Crawlers (11a)). Anyhow, "some of these 11as are not like the others".


Whiskey Jack -

Missing Point is no harder than 11a/A0, or aren't you supposed to haul up to the first bolt and start from there? Anyhow, it just can't be compared to Trick Meister (11b), up at Ripple Tower. In quality or difficulty.


Stump Wall:

Peeler is reasonable as 10d, but Root Sucker is a grade harder than Peeler, not a grade easier. Two of my partners tried Root a few times, and struggled to get it down to a few takes on TR, then walked up Peeler. I'd call it at least 10d, but maybe 11a. Its pretty sustained.

Both are fun, fun routes. And its easy to see how Peeler got its name... :-)

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