/ THE LOWDOWN: Climbing and where it's going, by DW

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Björn Pohl - UKC - on 25 May 2010
Daniel Woods has written a piece about where he thinks climbing is going.I think this is a very complicated issue... and I suspect I'm not unique in this sense (either). On the one hand, if we by progress mean more difficult climbing, a significantly harder problem or route must get a higher grade,...

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=54430

Some of these replies were posted on Björn's old blog website, and so won't be from registered UKC users
John Liungman on 25 May 2010 - thelowdown-blog
Hi Björn!

What do you mean when you say "consensus is impossible"? Just curious!

John Liungman
Björn Pohl - UKC - on 25 May 2010
Hi John,
I simply mean, we'll never arrive at a situation where we all agree on how difficult any given problem or route is. Grades are, have always been and will always be subjective.
Well... come to think of it, we should all be able to agree on that ;)
/Björn
John Liungman on 25 May 2010 - thelowdown-blog
Precisely my point! Consensus just means finding SOMETHING to agree upon...

The more interesting problem, I find, is that at the the top end of the spectrum, repeats are few by definition. As you say, a grade is a span, not a dot. So when a super athlete claims a 9c, his peers may agree that it's super hard and harder than previous 9b+s, but how much harder? Agreeing on grades within the existing levels is hard, but agreeing on a new letter grade must be hopeless!

My guess is that when in the future, hundreds of climbers climb 10b+, they will find that increments in difficulty become smaller the higher the grade.
Fredrik on 25 May 2010 - thelowdown-blog
...that is why reference-, or standard-problems (and routes) is so helpful. That way we can use the same scale for many years and it will make (some kind of) sense. The problem is just to decide when a "new" grade is reached. But if we agree that Radja (OG), Gecko assis, Esperanza, Ode to the modern man and New base line is
8B+ than we can take it from there - right? So any problem that feels significantly harder than these would be a contender for the
8C grade. And these are(?): The Island, Jade, Terremer... ? But for an even higher grade to be established there should be some number of (confirmed) problems in the former grade, don?t you think? And to suggest, or at least with some credibility, a "new" grade you should have climbed a few of the confirmed problems to be able to make a good comparison. Off course it might be accurate to describe Hydrangea, The Game, Lucid dreaming or The Story of two worlds with the 8C+ grade, but I think that we don?t really now just yet.
Björn Pohl - UKC - on 25 May 2010
As long as it's possible to agree on a number of benchmarks for every style, this could be the way forward. I'm not sure this is as easy as it seems though. Just to illustrate this, a couple of the problems you mentioned (Radja O.G (with the broken hold) and Ode to the modern man) have already been suggested to be 8B, rather than 8B+.
And as you say, the harder it gets, the fewer repeats.
I think it's important to treat grade suggestions as exactly that. Suggestions. Especially as, which everyone who's made FA:s know, grading a new climb is extremely difficult. Until there have been enough repeats, the grade hasn't settled. So, if someone repeats a problem with the suggested grade 8C, and thinks it's more like 8B+ or 8C+, this is also just a suggestion.
Eventually, after enough repeats, it will be possible to give the problem a more permanent grade. An average grade really, because it still doesn't mean it's the same difficulty for all.
To me, "8B" means "somewhere in the 8A+ to 8B+ spectrum for most people".
What do you think?
FS on 25 May 2010 - thelowdown-blog
Well the suggested 8B fore those problems might indicate that people are starting to get to strong to recognize an 8B+ when they climb one - they sandbag some might say. Or they genuinely feel it is just 8B compared with other problems and that is fine cause, as you say: "8B means somewhere in the 8A+ to 8B+ spectrum for most people". But it shouldnt take away the 8B+ benchmark-label ones recognized.
joe on 25 May 2010 - thelowdown-blog
"...any number of reasons (body type, specific strengths or lack there of, skin type, flexibility or lack there of, style, rock type..."

Skin type? Really? I'd like to hear someone explain that one...
Anonymous on 25 May 2010 - thelowdown-blog
I, like most people like to read the grading debates. I like to compare my opinions to that of other people. However, in most of the posts, blogs, etc that i have read a lot of people talk about the span in a grade range, but no (at least what i have seen or read)one ever tries to quantify the span in a grade range (funny i would make a suggestion but i don't even know where to began). I'm not sure that it is possiable but it might be something interesting to think about or do.
Björn on 25 May 2010 - thelowdown-blog
@ Joe: some people have dry skin, others haven't, some people's skin cut easier than others and so on
matt on 25 May 2010 - thelowdown-blog
complaining about skin conditions is a rare but known ailment called vaginosis.
Anonymous on 25 May 2010 - thelowdown-blog
too much talk for nothing, talk is cheap
ads.ukclimbing.com
Biffo on 26 May 2010 - thelowdown-blog
Ah sexism, really takes ya back.

I'm excited to see these v18/v19s.

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