/ NEWS: VIDEO: The Great British Grade Debate

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UKC News - on 09 Mar 2009
[The Great British Grade Debate at ShAFF 2009, 2 kb]

Headlining the year's ShAFF (Sheffield Adventure Film Festival) was The Great British Grade Debate.

The debate was filmed by SteepMedia and the highlights are brought to you on the video in this UKC News Item.



Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=46395
Jonny2vests - on 09 Mar 2009
In reply to UKC News:

Maybe we can all just get on with enjoying climbing now and put this to bed because it's becoming a right yawn. People grade stuff, its based on their opinion and their experience and as it gets repeats, the grade settles down. I don't think there's anything wrong with that or that anything is fundamentally wrong with British grades.
In reply to jonny2vests: Not everyone is bored yet. I will have to watch this tonight as I don't have access to video.

If this subject was a right yawn I wouldn't bother but I will.
Jonny2vests - on 09 Mar 2009
In reply to grumpybearpantsclimbinggoat: ...well, I'm encouraged by the fact that (so far) this thread is quiet. I'll switch the lights off and flush the toilet on my way out.
Dom Whillans on 09 Mar 2009
In reply to UKC News:
i mean no offence to any of the participants, organisers or attendees*, but i kind of feel that people voted with their feet as to how important this debate is to the grass roots climbing community (ie. all us bimblies and punters).

*because I understand how hard it is to coordinate an event like this, the temptation of actually going out climbing, that a mistake was made charging for the event etc etc.
David Turner - on 09 Mar 2009
In reply to jonny2vests: I agree. Why don't we just go and get pschyed and send some awesome blocs. Enough talk
In reply to UKC News:

There is one point that failed to come across at the video, it's all well and good being able to climb a route or problem but it's another thing actually being able to put a grade to it.

johnSD on 09 Mar 2009
In reply to UKC News:

Do you know if there will be a more in depth report on the debate on UKC or elseshere in the media? The video suggests that it may have been an anticlimax, but the only substance we've seen is the crowd pleasing admission that, with hindsight, The Walk Of Life isn't E12 (booo, hisssss), but may not be E9 either (booo, hisssss)...
MattH - on 09 Mar 2009
In reply to Dom Whillans:

Hi Dom, I can't argue with your logic. However I would be very confident that the majority of climbers, had they watched the the debate, woudl have been both interested and entertained. Feedback from those who were there was brilliant. If truth be told I wasn't actually that psyched about sitting through it myself. I organse ShAFF and tend to spend most of the time either working or sitting around chatting to people rather than watching the lectures or films - too much like a busman's holiday. I popped my head into the debate 15 minutes in to make sure it was going well and found myself there an hour later having to signal things to be wrapped up. It was fascinating and very entertaing. I am quite sure that both the panel and the audience woudl have been prepared to sit there for another hour or two! There's an hour and a half of footage which I will hopefully soon get my hands on. If I get the time I will look into getting some more of it onto the web. Some interesting talk about grading short routes for padded ascents.

MattH
Dom Whillans on 09 Mar 2009
In reply to MattH:
yeah, i'd love to see some more edited highlights, but i am a big gossip... ;o)
Michael Ryan - on 09 Mar 2009
In reply to Dom Whillans:

Dave and Neil Gill of SteepMedia who took the video and did the edit that is live today said that they may do another edit that focusses on highball boulder problem/routes, bouldering mats, Font vs E grades.

Much of the debate was quite mundane apparantly and it is difficult doing an edit that maintains interest and that would be suitable for web viewing.

Matt is probably the best to get something up rapide, but don't hold your breathe, as anyone who edits video knows it is time consuming and expensive to do it well.

Thanks to all involved: The Gills, Matt at ShAFF, The BMC and UKClimbing.com.

Best regards,

Mick
Silum - on 09 Mar 2009
I'd like to see more of this. Not because i think its good, in fact because its a pointless waste of time and does more harm than good...i just happen to have a sick obsession with those kinds of things.

You guys at the top can argue till ur blue in the face, but our beloved E grade system works perfect...now leave us alone.
Dom Whillans on 09 Mar 2009
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:
true dat! my g/f is a video editor...
The Bushman on 09 Mar 2009
In reply to UKC News:

OK to watch but unless you climb at this high sort of grade it does not apply that much to the average climber.

Yes there are still VS's that feel hard but it's in the HS/VS/HVS grade where climbers enter a steeper more serious world and diffent styles may make the climber feel certain routes are harder/softer. How many VS' have been upgraded in the last decade? Many or few?

Whether a route is E9 or E12 to me is incomprehensible.I will listen to the arguments but have no real opinion. As long as the FA grade it in a honest way, the following ascents will prove an "average" and perhaps give it its true grade...

jas wood - on 09 Mar 2009
In reply to The Bushman:
I personally found it interesting as people have come across with the "doing it for publicity" type statements for the mentioned e12 route and it is good to hear from the horse's mouth the reasons behind this given grade.

I feel so long as the FA grade is given in honesty it,s fine.

i don,t think anyone would KNOWINGLY grade a route 3 grades above it,s standard as without question sooner or later their credibity would be called into question.

many climbers have agrued about the grades of routes at all levels since adam was a lad i don,t see this as different in theory.

jas
Karl Bromelow on 09 Mar 2009
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

It seems the debate may have been overgraded. Perhaps "average" would have been more accurate with hindsight. Certainly not "great", but not "poor" either.
Simon - on 09 Mar 2009
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:
>
> Much of the debate was quite mundane apparantly


I don't recall any of it being Mundane - there's Quite a lot of Dunny that wasn't shown which was quite spicy...

The other thing that doesn't come across is the audience participation - which was crucial to the whole event.

The turn out was poor and along with a few factors being the ticket price & weather - if people are willing to comment on the debate - maybe they should have come along & had their say.

I hope we all get a chance to do something similar next year as I thought it was just what was needed in these ever changing times...

...oh, and guide books were mentioned a just a few times...

;0)
In reply to UKC News: Right, finally watched it and I say 'big up' keen youth. He came across as a thoroughly nice bloke in a tight spot. He's so nice you could take him home to your mum!

Interesting discussion but I guess limited to the video and maybe better being there (a thumbs up Matt).
craig d - on 10 Mar 2009
In reply to grumpybearpantsclimbinggoat:

Did the debate cover any new ground? Ben Bransby saying from his experience he did not feel Walk of life was E12 or E9 but somewhere in between. How come out of all the people who have slagged off James Pearson for being a media hype chasing sponsered climber haven't said the same about Dave Mcleod. At the end of the day him giving Walk of Life E9 is potentially The same as JP giving it E12. By giving it E9 is he not saying how great he is and seeking publicity in the same way as JP?
In reply to craig d: Maybe not new ground but at least it was the big boys discussing it rather than us armchair supporters.

It's a shame Dave was not part of the group to hear his views. Saying that, Mr. Birkett has not had his grading questioned as much by Mr. McLeod so is one to watch in terms of grade views.
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simonwhittle on 10 Mar 2009 - user-5442091b.l5.c1.dsl.pol.co.uk
In reply to craig d:
I think if Dave wanted people to think he was great he would of said it was e12, meaning he can do an e12 in just 4 days!
I think John Dunnes comment about Dave having a 'dig' at James by downgrading it was a bit unfair/childish, i think Dave was just being honest about his opinion (as i think James was as well) maybe Jonhs a bit bitter since Dave downgraded both his e10's ;-)
neil the weak - on 10 Mar 2009
In reply to craig d:
> (In reply to grumpybearpantsclimbinggoat)

"How come out of all the people who have slagged off James Pearson for being a media hype chasing sponsered climber haven't said the same about Dave Mcleod. By giving it E9 is he not saying how great he is and seeking publicity in the same way as JP?"

How is saying, "i have climber a hard but not quite cutting edge route" saying how great you are?

I suspect james Pearson gave the route E12 because (for whatever combintaion of reasons..) he really thought it was at the time he did it.

I suspect Dave Macloed gave the route E9 because (for whatever combintaion of reasons..) he really thought it was at the time he did it.

Clearly they disagree on the grade of this one route, this hardly merits conspiracy theories as to what each of them is "really" up to. Probably what they are up to is going climbing on routes they are hoping to find challenging and enjoyable. Dave pretty much had no choice but to comment on the grade having done TWOL after all the press the route had recieved. I would very surprised indeed if he had really thought it was E11 but lied about his opinion just to make James look bad. Having met Dave, he just doesn't strike me as a secret agenda type of a guy, in fact I doubt Pearson is either he probably just got the grade wrong (at least a bit?) on this occasion.
MattH - on 10 Mar 2009
In reply to Simon:

Indeed, I don't recall any of it being mundae either. I will be taking delivery of the raw footage hopefully this week and will see whether I can put any roughly edited segments on YouTube.

MattH
Stuart S - on 10 Mar 2009
In reply to craig d:
>
> How come out of all the people who have slagged off James Pearson for being a media hype chasing sponsered climber haven't said the same about Dave Mcleod. At the end of the day him giving Walk of Life E9 is potentially The same as JP giving it E12. By giving it E9 is he not saying how great he is and seeking publicity in the same way as JP?

Given what Dave said in his blog about the Walk of Life relative to other hard routes he has climbed (particularly that he found it easier than If Six Was Nine, and similar in standard to Hold Fast), how could he grade it anything other than E9? How is voicing an honest opinion seeking publicity? I think you're looking for an angle that simply isn't there.
Michael Ryan - on 10 Mar 2009
In reply to Stuart S:

I agree Stuart.

There are very few people who can make an honest assessment of grades at the upper levels.

Only those with a broad experience (trad short routes, long routes, grit, mountain, and sport) can make a real and honest assessment, and importantly a grade proposal.

You need to look at a climber's CV - their list of repeats of the routes of others - to find if they are truly qualified to attach a number to an 'experience'.

Mick

MattH - on 10 Mar 2009
In reply to craig d:

Did the debate cover any new ground?

I think it did yes. That's why I want to put out some more cips as and when I can. Of particular interest was a general consensus on attaching bouldering grades to highball solos of routes above pads.
craig d - on 10 Mar 2009
In reply to Stuart S:

It is the old dark art of sand bagging. Is it a coincidence that you guys defending Dave are Scottish or am I looking for another angle that doesn't exist?
The brainn - on 10 Mar 2009
To all: I think it would have been a great scoop for Dave to have been on the stage. I'm Scottish but that makes no difference all you need is to watch Dave climbing and you soon realise how much work he's put in and what a great climber he is. I still think a winter route that is 35meters long should never be giving XI but what the hell, Dave is an awesome climber....
Andy Cloquet - on 10 Mar 2009
In reply to UKC News: It's all a far cry from the days of The Scotsman's Pack!
neil the weak - on 10 Mar 2009
In reply to craig d:
>
> Is it a coincidence that you guys defending Dave are Scottish or am I looking for another angle that doesn't exist?

I was kind of defending both of them actually. It doesn't really matter to me which of the two of them is "better". I don't like to see people suggesting that decent people are operating based on unpleasant motives though, when they are fairly obviously not.
Stuart S - on 11 Mar 2009
In reply to craig d:

> It is the old dark art of sand bagging.

It's not impossible that Dave's sand bagging, but I think Mick's post immediately after my one sums up why Dave's suggested grade is credible.

> Is it a coincidence that you guys defending Dave are Scottish or am I looking for another angle that doesn't exist?

Given that Mick agreed with me and he's English, I suspect so! :-)

Michael Ryan - on 11 Mar 2009
In reply to Stuart S:

I don't give a took what nationality you are, and I don't take sides or favour any top climber above any other. I'm not in any camp, nor am I a fan.

I want truth and honesty.
Stuart S - on 11 Mar 2009
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

Agreed. I was simply arguing that Dave's suggested grade is credible and shouldn't be dismissed as him "saying how great he is and seeking publicity".
Michael Ryan - on 11 Mar 2009
In reply to Stuart S:

I have had the discussion with Dave before - top grades, especially new ones are assigned through a mixture of honest assessment and for publicity reasons, and sometimes ignorance.

It ain't one or the other. Claim otherwise and you are lying.

As spectators we have to realise that and look at the honest assessment - meaning the climbers experience, to comprehend if the climber is near the mark.

When that is done - the publicity kicks in, on here, on blogs, by outdoor companies and in the print media.

New grades become almost a brand.....they sell stuff....and increase the marketability of the climber. The best example recently being E11 - film, T-shirts, slide show tours, better sponsorship.

The Holy Grail for top climbers who want to make a living out of climbing is to become a Chris Sharma and also a Leo Houlding - Leo has gone beyond the climbing market of course.

This is in no way a criticism of any of the above, or anyone else, it is just how it works. The key is knowing how to make it work - the only path to that is through truth and honesty.

Mick
Stefan Kruger on 28 Mar 2009
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

If a cutting edge route has had a single ascent, how can the grade be anything but a guesstimate? Even if you've climbed plenty other routes in the same grade neighborhood, grades develop over a number of ascents by consensus, surely. I can imagine if you're putting your neck on the line, for prolonged periods of time, as the first ascentionist, the route will appear to be harder than for subsequent repeaters, as they at least know for a fact that it can be done.

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