/ THE LOWDOWN: VIDEO: Dave Macleod, The Natural Method

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Björn Pohl - UKC - on 20 May 2012
Dave MacLeod, 3 kbRecently Dave Macleod returned home to Scotland after what must be described as a very successful trip to Switzerland, where he repeated boulder problems as hard as 8C.
Now he reveals, part of the reason he went was he wanted to compare the Swiss problems to his own The Natural Method on the...

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=67136
Fraser on 20 May 2012
In reply to Björn Pohl - UKC:

Saw this on Dave's blog last night and I thought it was an incredible looking problem. The technical mastery displayed in climbing it is so impressive. I'd love to see some of the other Euro wads coming over and trying his problems. Hat's off to Dave...again!
Mr Fuller on 20 May 2012
In reply to Fraser: Absolutely, can't this guy get knighted or something?!

I thought that maybe his problems were tougher than those in Switzerland, purely based on the time he takes to do them.
JimmyKay - on 20 May 2012
In reply to Björn Pohl - UKC:

Is this his 5year project which was on Committed 2? 8B+ despite doing an 8c in a week?

Give it 8C Dave!!!!!
Kyuzo on 20 May 2012
In reply to JimmyKay:

Its interesting that he's decided to be consistent with other boulders in Scotland rather than other problems abroad. I know some regions and countries are known for being soft our hard, but I always thought at the very top end there was more consistency.
jas wood - on 20 May 2012
In reply to Björn Pohl - UKC: awesome core strength on the cut loose dave. Can't believe i fall off exactly the same way as dave does, can't wait to tell the lads. looks very hard that mind
tom bre - on 20 May 2012
In reply to Björn Pohl - UKC: I always find following Dave on his blog inspiring as he will devote a lot of time to get something done whether its the pressure boulder problem at Dumbarton or his new problem at Skeleton Boulder - Gives me hope that i will send things eventually that i have tried on and off for years at V3/V4.
It was telling how quickly he repeated problems in Switzerland and it made me think that either Dave is harsh in his own gradings or he had hit a rich grain of form.
Daniel Woods has climbed numerous Font 8C which seems to be the present standard maybe Dave McLeod's and John Gaskins problems are harder?
Ramblin dave - on 21 May 2012
In reply to Björn Pohl - UKC:
"There are quite a few problems around Scotland now which are a lot harder than both New Base Line [8B+] and Mystic Stylez [8C] which I climbed in Magic Wood recently."
That's as close as Dave gets to "come and 'ave a go if you think yer 'ard enough", isn't it?

Amazing effort, as ever.
doylo - on 21 May 2012
In reply to Björn Pohl - UKC:

It's kinda nice that we have hard grades in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK but it's meaningless really as Daniel Woods and friends travel the world repeating and putting up top end problems wherever they go and so have a pretty good handle on the grading scale at the top end. Effectively some of the Scottish and Gaskins problems are just sandbags out of line with the global benchmark! Sod it though, we shouldn't be applauding ourselves too much, we're British! Dave is phenomenal, to be able to combine his ridiculous trad climbing abilties alongside world class bouldering performance is phenomenal. They are hardly disciplines that complement each other. He's not too shabby at sport climbing either, keep it up Dave!
Calder - on 21 May 2012
In reply to Björn Pohl - UKC: It normally really grates when people moan about music on climbing vids, but f*ck me that's bad!
Jimbo W on 21 May 2012
In reply to Calder:
> It normally really grates when people moan about music on climbing vids, but f*ck me that's bad!

Nonsense, croft no.5 are ace!
Brendan - on 21 May 2012
In reply to doylo:
> (In reply to Björn Pohl - UKC)
>
> It's kinda nice that we have hard grades in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK but it's meaningless really as Daniel Woods and friends travel the world repeating and putting up top end problems wherever they go and so have a pretty good handle on the grading scale at the top end. Effectively some of the Scottish and Gaskins problems are just sandbags out of line with the global benchmark!

But I think there's quite a lot of debate over the grading scale among people climbing at the top level. When Dave Graham did The Story of Two Worlds he said it was 'proper' 8C and suggested lots over other 8Cs were over-graded. When Paul Robinson repeated it he downgraded a bunch of his other problems so that they were in line with TSOTW. I think Nalle Hukkataival said his 8C in South Africa was 'proper' 8C too.

Maybe Dave should give New Base Line and MS 'proper' Scottish grades!
Ramblin dave - on 21 May 2012
In reply to Brendan:
> (In reply to doylo)
> [...]
>

> Maybe Dave should give New Base Line and MS 'proper' Scottish grades!

Which would be ironic given the name of the former!

But that blog post looked like someone not touching an issue with a forty foot pole, tbh...
Nemo - on 21 May 2012
What Dave's saying about grades shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. It's been obvious for years (decades really) that the older generation of boulderers in the UK use much tougher grades on average than what has become the norm elsewhere. There are stacks of examples - e.g Tim Clifford doing the second ascent of a Fred Nicole Swiss 8C - Dipende - and downgrading it to 8A+ etc etc etc... On their own they don't mean too much - different sequences / body shapes do sometimes make a big difference on boulder problems (although not that often on the steep hard stuff - it's certainly NOT the main reason for most of the grading arguments). But when people go to places like Switzerland and say that pretty much ALL the problems they've done would get much easier grades in the UK, then it's pretty clear that there is a systematic use of different grading systems.

Of course, there's no right and wrong in this. It's essentially an argument about how wide you want grades to be. And it's been going on for ages at the top end of bouldering, although there does seem to be some sort of consensus emerging outside the UK finally. There are a variety of reasons why the systems have evolved in the way they have in different areas. In particular the UK has been very isolated in bouldering - in a way which it never was in sport climbing - there was large amounts of cross pollenation early on in sport climbing with various hard French / German climbers doing lots in the UK - the same never happened in bouldering. Also thanks to Ondra repeating vast amounts of stuff in recent years, it is now pretty clear in sport climbing how Huber's routes compare to McClure's or Sharmas etc etc (the only real uncertainty remaining is with a few of Roughlings routes). Again the same hasn't happened in bouldering, with almost all the top guys heading to the same spots - Switzerland, Rocklands, Font etc (for a variety of reasons). There are plenty of areas including the UK, which have seen little outside traffic, and thus where the grading systems have sometimes gone off at tangents.

Noone really knows, but it probably is a fair guess to suggest that quite a few of the unrepeated problems in the UK - Bewilderness, a few Gaskins problems in Lakes, a few of Dave and Malc's things in Scotland - as well as things like The Singularity done by UK climbers outside the UK - may well turn out to be harder than quite a lot of the 8C's floating around in other areas. And that really old problems like Superman are considerably harder than stuff like La Danse Des Balrogs - which was supposed to be the first 8B. Quite what will end up being done about it who knows. Generally speaking, as Doylo suggests, it's Americans who've been doing the most travelling and so it's their grade widths which are generally becoming the standard. So the trend which has gone on for quite a while is for a lot of things in Switzerland / Rocklands / the newer stuff in Font to get downgraded to come into line with the standards in the US. And at the same time, some of the older stuff in Font and a few bits elsewhere have been getting upgraded. But the UK has stayed pretty isolated, with few people bothered enough to make a fuss about it other than a few comments by Ty Landman ages ago. That is perhaps starting to change a little with a few more people from outside the UK starting to visit - Michele Caminati made it pretty clear this year that in general the grades here were way tougher than in Switzerland etc etc.

Of course, there are plenty of other areas that haven't seen much international traffic as well - Germany, Japan, all those unrepeated 8C's in Austria etc etc - although I'm not sure any of them have ended up with the very harsh grades some people use here. It will all get sorted out in time though... Perhaps in a decade or so it might actually mean something to say you've climbed an 8C... At the moment it still needs qualifying by where it was and who did the FA to mean much of anything at all...

Oh yeah - flippin great effort by Dave regardless of numbers...
In reply to Nemo:

> Of course, there are plenty of other areas that haven't seen much international traffic as well - Germany, Japan,

...Finland. Nalle's problems here sound something similar to Dave's Scottish problems. He said that he spent considerably longer on Circus Elephant Syndrome 8B+ than on any other problem he's done. http://nallehukkataival.tumblr.com/post/11373333885/circus-elephant-syndrome They seem to have a similar approach to grading - give it something they know it must be, and then see if anyone else wants to suggest it's harder than that. Seems both a fair and modest approach.
doylo - on 21 May 2012
In reply to Björn Pohl - UKC:

We have a Gaskins 8b on the Orme that would be 8c in Magic Wood! If only Jonny had travelled more
whispering nic - on 21 May 2012
In reply to doylo: Looks like you have an 8c then.
doylo - on 21 May 2012
In reply to whispering nic:

We do but its unrepeated so gotta go with FA grade (which was 8a+/b actually)
Quarryboy - on 21 May 2012
In reply to Nemo:

tldr
Epsilon - on 22 May 2012
How many climbers have climbed an 8B/V13 or harder in Switzerland, Fontainbleau, the UK, the United States, Rocklands, and at least one other place?

Paul Robinson definitely qualifies, but who else? Dave Graham? Ty Landman? Nalle Hukkataival? Others?
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ericinbristol - on 22 May 2012
In reply to Quarryboy:

yntwoyas
Dave MacLeod - on 22 May 2012
In reply to Björn Pohl - UKC: I wonder if you guys could tweak a couple of things in the news story? First I'm pretty sure natural method isn't one of the worlds hardest problems. In my blog I was trying to say that there are many problems in less well travelled corners of the globe which are comparible or harder than those in famous bouldering spots which are known for soft grading. Natural method is one among many like this. There are quite a lot in the uk. I know Dan V likes the idea of grading by area. More achievable yes but desirable I'm not sure. It does rather prolong the wonky system. I sense it's a part of British psyche to revel in this; sandbag furiously at home and tick hard with ease abroad. But if the grades were more consistent they could be discussed less which is a seriously worthy goal!!! Having said that so many hard bouldering FAs are downgraded so it's a balance. They are harder to grade than routes to be fair.

Second I didn't go on a Swiss bouldering trip to compare it to my Own climbs. That was just a bit of fun. I just went because the climbing is good.

The biggest challenge, or at least one of the top few in world bouldering in my mind must surely be a repeat of Shadowplay. Its one of the few climbs I can think of there where I'm not sure if there is a climber that could do it.
Peter Walker on 22 May 2012
In reply to Dave MacLeod: I suspect you have better things to do than engage in daft speculation on the internet Dave, but...

I assume you've seen Shadowplay at first hand...can you see a way in which it could be climbed? (I remember Dan Varian blogging to the effect that he'd now managed to formulate an idea in his mind as to how it might be done).

Obviously that would be a very different kettle of fish to actually attaining the level required to put those ideas into practice, but I've seen a few folk on various forums post to the effect that 'it looks impossible. As in genuinely impossible.'
Brendan - on 22 May 2012
In reply to Björn Pohl - UKC:
Where exactly is the Skeleton boulder? And is there anything more moderate to climb there? It looks like a great place.
simes303 - on 26 May 2012
In reply to Calder:
I thought it was great.

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