/ NEWS: The Great British Grade Debate ..Live

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Michael Ryan - on 14 Nov 2008
Matt 'The Event' Heason has come up with a cracking idea.

Get several top climbers in a room to talk about grades, get someone stern, responsible and knowledgeable to chair the debate, in this case the BMC's Nick Colton - and let them sort it out themselves. Well - with 300 spectators,

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/older.html?month=11&year=2008#n45441
snoop6060 - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

Like the Royal Rumble?
JLS on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

...and get them all back a month later to talk about style if they do a good job sorting out the grades.
GrahamD - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

Thats fine so long as they remember that any 'new' system has to work for the majority of us non top climbers.
Liam Copley - on 14 Nov 2008
I wonder how people will react if the E grade gets scraped! ?
Liam Copley - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Liam Copley: either way, whatever decision is made, the forums will still debating it, people will still disagree, i dont think it will sort it too much to be honest, or maybe it will ?
Michael Ryan - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Liam Copley:

General Factoids..

1. The E grade will never disappear.

2. Climbers have always and always will, debate grades and grading systems.
Ackbar - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Liam Copley: It may seem unthinkable to not have the E grade, but when Is tarted bouldering I was using the Peak District B system which made perfect sense to me. But then when the new guide came out I started using the font system and now can't imagine using another system. You just get used to it.

I'd like to see this debate. As long as it doesn't clash with Scottish winter climbing ;-)
Ackbar - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Ackbar: Started bouldering not tarted! I don't know what that is ;-)
a lakeland climber on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Ackbar:
> (In reply to Ackbar) Started bouldering not tarted! I don't know what that is ;-)

I've always had my suspicions about boulderers ...

ALC

shark - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com: The E grade will never disappear


Well maybe not from the history books but its already disappeared up its own backside.

Ramon Marin - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

They should invite Alex Honnold or Sonnie to spice it up.

Mick, the E grades will never disappear for British climbers, but you might get overseas climbers using french or american grades to make sense of the grades if there's confusion on what's what at those high numbers. Not that really matters, but if those routes have to see more international ascents they should have a system that's understood by everyone, which at the moment I have my doubts.

Cheers
mux - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com: will it be live on the BBC...its got to be more interesting than "I'm a b lister I am gonna cook my way out of this jungle on Ice"

Jonno on 14 Nov 2008 - user-54470672.wfd82a.dsl.pol.co.uk
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

I haven't a clue what you're on about ????

I thought in the UK we had grades which go up from 'Moderate' to about 'E10' with technical elements usually introduced above 4a.

Has something changed ?
JoeL 90 - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com: How are they going to find 300 spectators? It sounds like perhaps the most boring thing ever conceived. It would be like watching a parish coucil meeting but the conclusions wouldn't even effect anyone in even the sallest possible way.
Do you ever read UKC and curse what youve created as some sort of Frnkenstein's Monster?
dave o - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

i don't know that i am particularly happy about a bunch of 'cutting edge' climbers deciding how the routes i climb should be graded. Do they appreciate the difference between headpointing/onsighting an E9 versus someone else struggling up a VS for instance. Should the elite, and those who like to pretend the understand and know what it is like to be cutting edge (ie a lot of folk on UKC)dictate how out guidebooks etc should be written.

on the other hand, do i or the vast majority of climbers really care?? probably not is the honest answer......

keep the E grade I say, if for no other reason than it seems to confuse the rest of the worl
Michael Ryan - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to dave o:

So much misunderstanding and jumping to conclusions......

So people will find it a fun event, others not.

As I said higher ....

General Factoids..

1. The E grade will never disappear.

2. Climbers have always and always will, debate grades and grading systems.
shark - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to dave o:

>i don't know that i am particularly happy about a bunch of 'cutting edge' climbers deciding how the routes i climb should be graded. Do they appreciate the difference between headpointing/onsighting an E9 versus someone else struggling up a VS for instance.

How and who do you think conjured up the E grades in the first place? Even E7 leaders started somewhere (some of whom still don't know how to handjam and would still struggle on certain VS's) so yes they do know what easy routes felt like when they were hard for them.

>on the other hand, do i or the vast majority of climbers really care?? probably not is the honest answer......

I think you have answered your own conundrum. The best and/or most influential climbers because they are the keenest and care the mostest and consequently have the energy and passion (or ego if you prefer) to change things.

The apathetic never change anything though they moan a lot about change.
NearlyDutchDan - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Liam Copley:
> I wonder how people will react if the E grade gets scraped! ?

not at least till I've climbed one of the damn things :)

Simon Caldwell - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Simon Lee:
> The apathetic never change anything though they moan a lot about change.

If you like things as they are then why would you want to change things? And why shouldn't you moan if somebody else changes them?
endless winter on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to all:

My two cents

We introduce E grades with variation

eg.
UK Tech
E1 4c
E1.1 5a
E1.2 5b
E1.3 6a

or E1.1 6a is a easier E1 than E1.3 6a

So a user has a better understanding of a E1 6a route and a E1 4C both E1's but slight variation with in the grade. So a hard E1 will be a E1.3 and easier E1 will be just E1. This will help on high end stuff to.
a lakeland climber on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to endless winter:

done twenty years ago (in the Lakes of course) but never made it to print. Was done as a way of producing graded lists.

A random number generator was used for the grades below VS!

ALC
JLS on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to endless winter:

Are you on drugs?
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com: Hope it's entertaining and achieves something.

Doesn't interest me in my lowly life as long as I can climb something.

Watched Fear of Falling - they had the rockfax grade for raindogs as E7 6C on it.
Jus - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to JLS and endless witter:

lmao!
Serpico on 14 Nov 2008 - 213.1.215.166 whois?
In reply to grumpybearpantsclimbinggoat:
> (In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com) Hope it's entertaining and achieves something.
>
> Doesn't interest me in my lowly life as long as I can climb something.
>
> Watched Fear of Falling - they had the rockfax grade for raindogs as E7 6C on it.

That wasn't the RockFax grade, that was THE grade for it.
In reply to Serpico:
> (In reply to grumpybearpantsclimbinggoat)
> [...]
>
> That wasn't the RockFax grade, that was THE grade for it.

Agreed, but the programme referenced Rockfax, crimpy, pumpy symbols and the E7 6C - I'm just highlighting that bit.

:o)
GrahamD - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Simon Lee:


> The apathetic never change anything though they moan a lot about change.

Not always a bad thing. Change isn't always for the better.
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

> General Factoids..

I really don't think you mean factoid!

Factoid

not a trivial fact, but a mistaken assumption repeated so often that it is believed to be true (a word coined by Norman Mailer, who defined it as "something that everyone knows is true, except it ain't!")


http://www.guardian.co.uk/styleguide/page/0,,184825,00.html
petellis - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to endless winter:
> (In reply to all)
>
> My two cents
>
> We introduce E grades with variation
>
> eg.
> UK Tech
> E1 4c
> E1.1 5a
> E1.2 5b
> E1.3 6a

eh? E1 6a IS harder than E1 5C! You don't need to add an extra number to work that out....

> or E1.1 6a is a easier E1 than E1.3 6a


Why why Why? Why do grades need to be any more accurate and complicated, the whole point of the climbing in the first place is taking on challenge and an adventure. Whats the point in making the grading more and more descriptive untill you might as well not bother with doing the route. The climbing world must be going soft.

<shakes head and wanders off grumbling>


Will Hunt - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

So which wads are going to stoop to such levels as actually discussing grading? And which saps are going to PAY to watch? Whenever I've spoken to a good climber they've always been too busy talking about quality of climbing rather than a number. This, in my book, is how it should be.

Seriously, it would be a blunder to think that this kind of tripe is of much interest to the masses of the UK climbing community rather than the UKClimbing community. Keep it on the forums.
petellis - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:
> Matt 'The Event' Heason has come up with a cracking idea.
>
> Get several top climbers in a room to talk about grades....

I can't think of anything worse. Sounds like torture.
Robert Durran - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to ramon marin martinez:

Our grading system may not be perfect (I would quite happily see the addition of a French Grade to routes above, say, HVS) but it is lot better than any of the others in comon use around the world.

We should certainly not change our grading system just because a handful of North Americans come over here, climb a small number of routes totally unrepresentative of British climbing as a whole with respect to rock type and grade and then complain they do not understand the system! If someone explained it to them, they would understand it as perfectly well as anyone else with a brain and a reasonable modicum of British climbing experience (they are presumably short of at least one of these criteria....)

It is also a bit much that these people use the appallingly inadequate North American system - most North Americans do not seem to understand it themselves (my conclusion is that it seems to be used to mean anything between a technical grade and an overall physical difficulty grade, varying from area to area and from rock type to rock type). And I have far more experience of the wonderful quality, variety (and sandbag potential) of American climbing than these people have of British climbing!
Will Hunt - on 14 Nov 2008
And it will be a sad day for climbing if an actual nationwide decision such as this is made by a panel of wads selected not for their knowledge but for how many people their name will draw in through the doors and a band of 300 spectators who paid for the privilege to be there and who all most likely worship UKC, post mainly in the Down the Pub section and believe that E1 6a is harder than E1 4c and that E2 5a is easier than E2 6b.
Bulls Crack - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:
> (In reply to Liam Copley)
>
> General Factoids..
>
> 1. The E grade will never disappear.
>

Hurrah. My sole occupation used to be collecting E points
Ackbar - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com: There are no stupid grade systems, just stupid climbers! Keep the E-grade!
Simon Caldwell - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to petellis:
> > Get several top climbers in a room to talk about grades....

> I can't think of anything worse

What about getting several punters in a room to talk about cutting edge grades :-)
MattH - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Will Hunt:

Not sure where people made the assumption that any sort of decisions will be made. When Question Time discusses impotant topics on BBC2 I don't ever remember the panel coming to any decisions as to what should be done about the subject matter. The principle is one of entertainment / education. It is my hope as organiser that members of the public will come along to listen, take part, and perhaps learn. Who knows, one or two may start postig some more sensible opinions about grades here on the forum ;-).

Let's face it, the amount of discussion on here about grades is testament to its popularity as a discussion topic. Granted, the debate at ShAFF will be a pay-event which will put some people off. However I would hope that a few folk will be willing to part with some cash in order to listen to a bunch of professionals on stage - most of them make a moderate living on the lecture circuit so can all talk in an entertaining manner! It's also going to be great value for money - where else can you listen to 8 people for the price of one? ;-)

MattH
Franco Cookson OLD - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

hey mick, could you please stop using american grades for british routes, I find it offensive.
Michael Ryan - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Franco Cookson:
> (In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com)
>
> hey mick, could you please stop using american grades for british routes, I find it offensive.

We have a lot of American readers.

ksjs - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Franco Cookson: lol! very good :-) although i think you were probably serious but i think i agree with you (even though i am in the sport plus protection grade camp - as useful supplementary information at least but please no debating that now as there are many other threads dealing in detail with this and related issues)
johnj on 14 Nov 2008 - 79-72-89-52.dynamic.dsl.as9105.com
In reply to MattH: Great idea but why do you need to run up costs which the audience would need to pay, what about an on-line debate? For example on here, a semi locked thread that only those invited to the meeting can post on! Meanwhile us punters could throw popcorn at our monitors from the safety of our armchairs...
Franco Cookson OLD - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com: well lop a grade comparison table somewhere.
ksjs - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com: im not sure the french, for example, would be so eager to please; i dont go to font and expect V grades.
Franco Cookson OLD - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to ksjs: and I don't see yorkshore grades.
petellis - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Toreador:
>
> What about getting several punters in a room to talk about cutting edge grades :-)


Hehe - just as bad....
Tom Last - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

What a load of stuff and nonsense.
jim hughes - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com: there is only somthing wrong with the system if you actually care. Are these select climbers going to sort it all out.
MattH - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to johnj:

Aye, and we can all stop going to live music and comedy and simply watch it on telly instead...

MattH
Franco Cookson OLD - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

why don't headpointers stop using the onsight system and all shall be fine?
johnj on 14 Nov 2008 - 79-72-89-52.dynamic.dsl.as9105.com
In reply to MattH:
> (In reply to johnj)
>
> Aye, and we can all stop going to live music and comedy and simply watch it on telly instead...
>
> MattH

Well thats what the majority of folk do anyway!

keep music live and all that guff eh!

But seriously, surely public libraries and the like have rooms which could be used for such an event sponsored by the BMC, after all this is a debate about a grading system, not a promotional tour.
In reply to Franco Cookson:

> hey mick, could you please stop using american grades for british routes, I find it offensive.

If you find that offensive, you must cry like a babe when someone calls you a knobber.

JLS on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

>"The Great British Grade Debate ..Live"

March is a long time off. What if we've all reached consensus before then, will advance ticket purchases be refunded?
MattH - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to JLS:

lol
andy farnell - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Serpico:
> (In reply to grumpybearpantsclimbinggoat)
> [...]
>
> That wasn't the RockFax grade, that was THE grade for it.

I alway's though Raindogs was E7 6b, not E7 6c, like Statement.

Andy F
DAVE381 - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com: hmmmmm this could get interesting if all the guides and routes have to be changed. keep the british grading system and grade for the onsight. perfect.
Silum - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com: terrible terrible terrible idea, as if this grade/onsight bull hasnt gone far enough? THIS is whats ruining climbing.
duncan b - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to JoeL 90:
> (In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com) How are they going to find 300 spectators? It sounds like perhaps the most boring thing ever conceived. It would be like watching a parish coucil meeting but the conclusions wouldn't even effect anyone in even the sallest possible way.

Lol. I Couldn't agree more.
mark reeves - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to MattH: How much money have the BMC put into support this particular event?

jim hughes - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to mark reeves: depends if thier guide books have gone to print yet I suppose (hows it going reeves?)
ads.ukclimbing.com
MattH - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to JLS:

I promise you'll get your money back if we reach a consensus by then ;-)
MattH - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to duncan b:

A good job there will be other speakers and a whole bunch of films to watch then :-)

...and before you say it, I realise that there are people out there who would rather poke sharp sticks in their eyes than go to fun events...
MattH - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to mark reeves:

Afraid I can't tell you that Mark. It's not much, but enough to get their name associated with it. I guess they think that it's a kind of responsible and entertaining venture otherwise they'd have said no.
MattH - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Silum:

Ruining climbing? I find that what I talk about down the pub and read / write about on the forums doesn't actually have that great an impact on my enjoyment when actually climbing. Sorry to hear that you clearly do. Might I suggest that you stop using the forum if it is winding you up to that extent?

JoeL 90 - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to MattH:
> (In reply to duncan b)
>
> A good job there will be other speakers and a whole bunch of films to watch then :-)
>
> ...and before you say it, I realise that there are people out there who would rather poke sharp sticks in their eyes than go to fun events...

I just find that climbing event are overpriced for what they offer. Also they are never better than actually climbing.
Silum - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to MattH: your right! Its good for the sport to be over obsessed about grades... what was i thinking?
shark - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to MattH:

66 posts and nobody complained about it being in Sheffield. Well silence is consent so its official and democratic - Sheffield is the climbing capital, ShAFF its parliament and Grey Nick Madame Speaker.
SI A on 14 Nov 2008 - 77-102-252-52.cable.ubr03.hawk.blueyonder.co.uk
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

isnt it a bit of a waste of time. the e grade works for 99% of us.

Its only the people who operate at the top level that need the grade to get the headlines.

MattH - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to JoeL 90:
> (In reply to MattH)
> [...]
>
> I just find that climbing event are overpriced for what they offer. Also they are never better than actually climbing.

I'm sorry to hear that, but I can honestly say that from the feedback forms I have collected at ShAFF (around 300 a year for 3 years) 100% of people said that they would come again and would reccomend it to a friend.

I totally agree that they are never better than actual climbing, but on a wet winter sunday evening I reckon I'd rather be listeining to Grimer or Kirkpatrick down the Lescar than sitting at home willing the good weather to return! I also find a lot of them inspiring - watched Peter Habeler and Jim Donini last week and was blown away by them both, and am now making plans for some alpine trips...
pec on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com: It seems to me this whole debate is largely irrelevant to the vast majority of climbers who have absolutely no problem with the system once they've been climbing more than 5 minutes.
I've never met anyone who had a problem with it, including foreigners once they'd got a few routes under their belt. They're not stupid, if we can cope with B, V and Font bouldering grades, alpine and UIAA grades, Scottish winter and WI grades, French and American rock grades, which many of us do, then I'm sure they can cope with our rock grades and since they make up a tiny fraction of people climbing here they'll just have to cope as far as I'm concerned!

Whilst there will always be a handful of routes which don't fit easily into our dual grade system there will always be some routes which don't fit well with any system and what other system could tell you more about routes with grades like E1 4c or E1 6a than ours?

It seems to me that dual grades are perfectly well suited to the style of climbing in this country, that coupled with an ability to look at the rock and see if there's any gear etc and an ability to read the guidebook for comments such as "strenuous and sustained" or "bold and serious" tell you just about everything you could want to know without totally removing the onsight ethic completely.
If you really do need any more help you might as well abseil inspect it first. Since that's what people climbing at the rarefied grades of E8 and above do anyway it doesn't seem to matter if they struggle to give their latest project a meaningful E grade.

The minute handful of elite climbers for whom E grades don't apparently work can give their routes whatever grade they want until someone good enough comes along and onsights it, then, assuming they are British or have been here long enough to understand our system, they can give it an E grade.
Perhaps instead of 300 punters watching a few hotshots debating why E grades don't work for them, we could reverse it and let them watch 300 punters saying how E grades are just fine!
MattH - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to pec:

> Perhaps instead of 300 punters watching a few hotshots debating why E grades don't work for them, we could reverse it and let them watch 300 punters saying how E grades are just fine!

Perhaps that's exactly what they will say. I know at least one of the panel thinks exactly that! I guess the audience members at Question Time don't go there to watch a bunch of 'experts' come to a far reaching conclusion, but mor out of interest to hear what people have to say, be entertained for a couple of hours, and maybe chip in if they have something to say. That's all it is.
johnj on 14 Nov 2008 - 79-72-89-52.dynamic.dsl.as9105.com
In reply to MattH: The guests on question time don't have to pay tho', it's a public service, sometimes the powers that be put back into the melting pot too, after all it is about the grading system and the greater good, not a jolly for those that can.
MattH - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to johnj:
> (In reply to MattH) The guests on question time don't have to pay tho', it's a public service, sometimes the powers that be put back into the melting pot too, after all it is about the grading system and the greater good, not a jolly for those that can.

Funny, I figured that was the sort of thihng our licence fee goes towards.

So what you want is free events :-) I'll see what I can do...
johnj on 14 Nov 2008 - 79-72-89-52.dynamic.dsl.as9105.com
In reply to MattH: Yeah the licence fee does go to that but I guess you get my point.

No not free events, the guys on the sharp end defiantly need to make a living on the lecture circuit, but this is something different, a one off! To me it seems that many folk believe that there are some issues with the grading system and you're in an ideal location to do this; Howabout throw on a bit of free lunch and a quality few hours of review from the great though to the not so good, and you may surprise yourself not only on the collective results of the tête à tête but also the feedback you receive!

anyhow good luck with whatever you end up doin!
petestack - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to petellis:
> Why why Why? Why do grades need to be any more accurate and complicated

They don't. And IMHO probably can't. No grading system can be completely objective for everybody, and ever more 'accurate' subdivisions of grades simply aren't going to help when (for example) you've already got the same pitch given several different grades in different guidebooks by respected climbers.
MattH - on 14 Nov 2008
In reply to johnj:
Howabout throw on a bit of free lunch and a quality few hours of review from the great though to the not so good, and you may surprise yourself not only on the collective results of the tête à tête but also the feedback you receive!

Not sure I follow what you mean. However I'm listening... Can you clarify?

pec on 15 Nov 2008
In reply to MattH:
> (In reply to pec)
>
> [...]
>
> Perhaps that's exactly what they will say. I know at least one of the panel thinks exactly that!

I'm glad to hear it, some sense prevails.
I don't have a problem with your event, nor do I have a problem with top climbers who find it hard to objectively grade their routes using the E system. Its just that a number of articles and threads on here have been promoting the idea that somehow our system is broken and therefore needs changing, thats what I profoundly disagree with.


MattH - on 15 Nov 2008
In reply to pec:
> (In reply to MattH)
> [...]
>
> I'm glad to hear it, some sense prevails.
> I don't have a problem with your event, nor do I have a problem with top climbers who find it hard to objectively grade their routes using the E system. Its just that a number of articles and threads on here have been promoting the idea that somehow our system is broken and therefore needs changing, thats what I profoundly disagree with.

Broken, mis-used, abused, mis-understood, working perfectly? That's the whole idea behind the discussion...not to fix it, but to get a bit of context from the very people who use it at the cutting edge.
DrGav - on 15 Nov 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

I would find it really interesting i reckon. I don't go to live talks as such but would make an exception to hear this bunch talk.

But i couldn't travel up to sheffield for the pleasure ;)

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