/ Grade voting: hard, easy. What's the point?

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Greg Chapman - on 10 Apr 2013
I just wondered if anyone else found the option for voting climbs as 'hard' or 'easy' at a set grade as pointless as I do.

I use the info for when writing/updating guides (as I know Rockfax do) and surely this would be of far more use if people just voted for what grade they thought a climb was. Whether it is hard or easy yet still the same grade is just confussing and of no real use... other than perhaps as some minor ego boost or for those seeking out soft touches. I realise people discuss in forums or in person whether climbs are soft or hard at a given grade, but surely in the context of voting on something to find a consensus you need a more definitive system?
Baron Weasel - on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to Greg Chapman:
> I just wondered if anyone else found the option for voting climbs as 'hard' or 'easy' at a set grade as pointless as I do.
>


If it makes them happy it is not pointless. I remember some folk moaning when you named a load of easy problems up Garburn Pass a few years ago - but if it makes you happy then 'fill yer boots mate'.

BW
Greg Chapman - on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to Baron Weasel:

Not entirely sure what relevance that has to my post? But I'll bite. Think you or 'some folk' raised this a number of years ago, and I'm pretty sure I explained back then that whilst I did name some easy climbs up the Garbun Pass (Kentmere) I never claimed any of these as FAs, merely gave them names (as the BMC does) for reference purposes in a guide/topo.

Thanks though.
Bulls Crack - on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to Greg Chapman:
Whether it is hard or easy yet still the same grade is just confussing and of no real use... other than perhaps as some minor ego boost or for those seeking out soft touches.

Not that hard really though is it?! People like to know if a climb's hard or soft touch within the relative context of a grading system..no harm in that as far as I can see and not something anyone needs to get worked-up over.

And sniffing-out soft touches is a sport in its own right!
ianstevens - on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to Greg Chapman: Its just nice to know what other people think once you've done a route really isn't it? I know if I've a hard/easy time on a certain grade its nice to see if everyone else has too.

If you don't like it, just ignore it.
Greg Chapman - on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to Bulls Crack:

Fair enough. Just seems a bit pointless having a defined, fairly in-depth grading system then breaking down into further increments for no real reason or benefit.

> And sniffing-out soft touches is a sport in its own right!

If you say so.
Baron Weasel - on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to Greg Chapman: No relevance really, other than some poeple think there is a point and other don't. I did a winter route last week that would have been a sandbag at III, but to claim IV would require saying it was soft touch to your mates down the pub - what matters is that I had a great time climbing the route. Same goes for saying I did the problem on the arete of boulder X or saying I did a problem called 'blah blah.'

Grades are a funny old business I think and I quite like the note in Yorkshire Grit about there only really being 2 grades - those you can do and those you can't.

I thought my mates were being grumpy moaning about your naming of problems as it got us all up there to have a play about.

I guess specifically saying easy or hard with your guide is up to you - some folk will think it good and others pointless - but if it makes some folk happy then why not?

Keep up the good work!

BW

Baron Weasel - on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to Baron Weasel: I guess it can also allow for a consensus on grades to build up and grades to be adjusted accordingly?

BW
Greg Chapman - on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to ianstevens:

> Its just nice to know what other people think once you've done a route really isn't it? I know if I've a hard/easy time on a certain grade its nice to see if everyone else has too.

Surely that's what the comments facility is for.

> If you don't like it, just ignore it.

My point is it's hard to ignore for the purposes of one of it's primary functions: that of getting a consensus on a grade. For example, say you're writing up a new climb in guide and the vast majority voted it as soft 7C, does that mean it's 7B+? Seems likely.

Obviously if more people support it than not then that's fine. Just raising it as a point.
Luke Owens - on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to Greg Chapman:
> I just wondered if anyone else found the option for voting climbs as 'hard' or 'easy' at a set grade as pointless as I do.
>
> I realise people discuss in forums or in person whether climbs are soft or hard at a given grade, but surely in the context of voting on something to find a consensus you need a more definitive system?


Knowing if something is hard or soft at the grade helps someone knew to that grade break into it. I know personally this info is useful when choosing a route at a grade I have not yet tried.

As for a consensus, if 3 people vote soft 3 vote hard, it's still the same grade. It just provides some extra useful information.
Bulls Crack - on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to Greg Chapman:
> (In reply to Bulls Crack)
>
> Fair enough. Just seems a bit pointless having a defined, fairly in-depth grading system then breaking down into further increments for no real reason or benefit.
>
> [...]
>
> If you say so.

I've based my climbing career on it
Greg Chapman - on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to Luke Owens:

Knowing if something is hard or soft at the grade helps someone knew to that grade break into it. I know personally this info is useful when choosing a route at a grade I have not yet tried.

Yes, this is a good counter point.

> As for a consensus, if 3 people vote soft 3 vote hard, it's still the same grade. It just provides some extra useful information.

As I pointed out above, that is not where the issue lies. It's when there is a lot of imbalance - the climb is 7C but 20 people voted soft 7C, so it's probably 7B+ but you've no definitive answer.

It seems that more people than not like it, so that's cool.
Steve nevers on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to Greg Chapman:
> (In reply to ianstevens)
For example, say you're writing up a new climb in guide and the vast majority voted it as soft 7C, does that mean it's 7B+? Seems likely.
>


But isn't that exactly what its for?

I mean the grade system is fairly fluid after all, For example one group of climbers may feel that a route (for them) is say, 7C, but anther group after sessioning the routes may feel its a 6C and adjust the grade accordingly?

It makes sense that with more ascents the opinion on the grade may be wider.
Chay - on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to Greg Chapman: I don't understand how people seem to think this is pointless?!

If you're breaking new ground; say pushing into E1 it enables you to select an E1 that may be easy in the grade but still harder than the HVSs you've done before. Similarly if you want to move from E1 to E2 you may chose a couple of hard in the grade E1s but not quite E2s first.

To think it's pointless is ridiculous imho!

C
Jon Stewart - on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to Greg Chapman:
> I just wondered if anyone else found the option for voting climbs as 'hard' or 'easy' at a set grade as pointless as I do.
>
> I use the info for when writing/updating guides (as I know Rockfax do) and surely this would be of far more use if people just voted for what grade they thought a climb was.

I think it gives a lot more info than just a grade vote.

If I'm looking at an E2 and the votes are split between hard E2 and E3, I'll expect solid E3; if the votes are split between easy E2 and E1, I'll expect E1 at a push. If there wasn't the easy/hard option, these would all just come up as "E2" despite being massively different levels of difficulty.
Gordon Stainforth - on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to Chay:

I loved the old adjectival system with such gems as "Just Mild Very Difficult in all but perfect conditions"
Enty - on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to Greg Chapman:

I think it's a great idea - as said above it lets you know what's hard or easy for the grade.
I did a 6c+ the other day which is high in the grade but it's not 7a - if you know what I mean.

E
Bulls Crack - on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to Enty:
> (In reply to Greg Chapman)
>
> I think it's a great idea - as said above it lets you know what's hard or easy for the grade.
> I did a 6c+ the other day which is high in the grade but it's not 7a - if you know what I mean.
>
> E

Are you sure it wasn't a soft, soft 7a?
Greg Chapman - on 11 Apr 2013
In reply to Chay:

> If you're breaking new ground; say pushing into E1 it enables you to select an E1 that may be easy in the grade but still harder than the HVSs you've done before. Similarly if you want to move from E1 to E2 you may chose a couple of hard in the grade E1s but not quite E2s first.

I understand your point and already conceded it was a good one above.

>To think it's pointless is ridiculous imho!

I assume because you haven't understood my main point: the fact that a good percentage of the reason the grade voting mechanism exists is to help with consolidating guidebook grades for new/revised editions. It is in this regard I think it falls down, for the reasons I've explained.

As I've already said, I now realise that for most people your initial point is their main consideration for whether the system works well or not thus they like it, and that's fine.
Jon Stewart - on 11 Apr 2013
In reply to Greg Chapman:
> (In reply to Chay)
>

> I assume because you haven't understood my main point: the fact that a good percentage of the reason the grade voting mechanism exists is to help with consolidating guidebook grades for new/revised editions. It is in this regard I think it falls down, for the reasons I've explained.

That's where this comes in:

> If I'm looking at an E2 and the votes are split between hard E2 and E3, I'll expect solid E3; if the votes are split between easy E2 and E1, I'll expect E1 at a push. If there wasn't the easy/hard option, these would all just come up as "E2" despite being massively different levels of difficulty...

...and therefore deserving different grades.

The votes aren't a "blind taste test", so people's votes are massively swayed by the grade in the book they took to the crag. Giving the easy/hard options allows anyone, including guidebook teams, a more informative sample of opinions where that can be taken into account. Thankfully the guidebook teams take the votes in context rather than relying on them as "the consensus".
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Greg Chapman - on 11 Apr 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> That's where this comes in:

> If I'm looking at an E2 and the votes are split between hard E2 and E3, I'll expect solid E3; if the votes are split between easy E2 and E1, I'll expect E1 at a push. If there wasn't the easy/hard option, these would all just come up as "E2" despite being massively different levels of difficulty...

No that's the (good) point I conceded to and is nothing to do with my point about nailing down grades.

I realise a guide book writer/team is not going to go purely off the vote, I'm just saying if it was a bit more definitive it would prove more helpful in this regard.

Look, I have said I think that the point you and others are stating about people using it for personal reasons - breaking into a grade, making sure they don't get on things that may be just out of their league etc. - is a good one and should outweigh my point.

What else is there to say? (rhetorical)
EeeByGum - on 11 Apr 2013
In reply to Greg Chapman: I think it depends where you are coming from. If you are writing guide books as you do, then yes, it is a bit pointless.

If however you are seeking beta or reassurance then it is very useful. For example, if you are looking for a soft E1, you may choose Namenlos at Stanage

http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=10163

Yet if you are looking for an E2 test piece, perhaps you might choose Darius at High Tor

http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=15586
Baron Weasel - on 11 Apr 2013
In reply to Greg Chapman: Typical UKC Greg - you've read feedback with an open mind and taken it on board. Case closed...

BW
Bulls Crack - on 11 Apr 2013
In reply to Greg Chapman:

Your argument would be more compelling if there were distinct step changes beyween grades, but we all know this not the case, so there will always be hard and soft boundaries which will vary with styles, perception, expectations etc
In reply to Greg Chapman:

For the purpose of guidebook writing, it is one of the most useful things we have access to. The ability to see a spread of opinions is invaluable in making the decision when considering changing a route's grade. It also enable us to create graded lists easily.

Alan
neil the weak - on 11 Apr 2013
In reply to Bulls Crack:
> (In reply to Greg Chapman)
>
> Your argument would be more compelling if there were distinct step changes beyween grades, but we all know this not the case, so there will always be hard and soft boundaries which will vary with styles, perception, expectations etc

This is the obvious point I reckon. Routes as found in the real world are not exactly E2 or 3 or 4, jumping up by exact and consistent amounts of difficulty. Instead there is more of a constant sliding scale of difficulty with routes at every point along it. We just happen to have tried to cut that scale up and group the routes into chunks with the overall grade and on the british system the chunks are pretty big! Given that E5 say can be anything from 6b+ish to 7b that's a lot of scope for variation, even leaving out personal strengths and weaknesses.

Having the voting as has been remarked on above gives a better estimation of where in the (large) grade a route might lie (or whether it is thought to be harder or easier than currently suggested). Seems useful to me
JezH on 11 Apr 2013
In reply to Greg Chapman: I think there are too many options for the voting system now. Couldn't we simplify it down so you can vote soft, fair or sandbag? For example:

Sandbag E1
E1
Soft E1
Greg Chapman - on 11 Apr 2013
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

> For the purpose of guidebook writing, it is one of the most useful things we have access to. The ability to see a spread of opinions is invaluable in making the decision when considering changing a route's grade. It also enable us to create graded lists easily.

Yes, that's exactly the reason why I started the thread.
Enty - on 11 Apr 2013
In reply to Bulls Crack:
> (In reply to Enty)
> [...]
>
> Are you sure it wasn't a soft, soft 7a?

Na, slightly easier than the 7a's adjacent to it but much harder than a couple of adjacent 6c's.

I couldn't possibly give it 7a - it's my own route ;-)

E
Chay - on 11 Apr 2013
In reply to Greg Chapman: I understand your main point entirely, I simply disagree that it falls down.

Okay, it may be a little subjective and not as definitive as voting a whole grade up, but many guidebooks have a route/grade list- within a given section, say "VS" there'll be say 20 routes- they will listed in order of how difficult they are within that grade. Having the ability to vote a climb hard or easy within the grade is the only real way of guidebook writers creating such lists.

C
Chay - on 11 Apr 2013
In reply to Greg Chapman: btw, I appreciate that you viewed opinions and responses with an open mind; not always the case on here.

C
sparkass - on 15 Apr 2013
In reply to Greg Chapman:

It's all a nonesense. The grade is normally spot on. I appreciate these ratings halp guidebooks etc but they just confuse us punters and are often wrong. I find myself wanting to vote the opposite to redress the balance. Too many egos.

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