/ Routes with trad grades but no protection ?

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SimonMarcYoung - on 01 Oct 2012
I've seen routes recently and seen them in climbing videos before, were there are climbing routes with traditional climbing grades but on the route there is no protection at all, is this because they were made before bouldering and highball came into the climbing world ? or is there some other reason ?

Cheers Simon
Rockhopper85 - on 01 Oct 2012
In reply to SimonMarcYoung: I think it Depends on the height and location, for example in some guides DWS routes are/were given a trad grade. Also some routes do have 1 gear placement that can't be seen until climbed, involving 2 very long run outs, one from ground level and one to the top.. also the highball scenario could be the case. I'm pretty sure there are some older top rope routes using trad grading aswell.
I'd be very interested in hearing other people's view points on this though, as I am just speculating based on a couple of routes I have come across.
Jon Stewart - on 01 Oct 2012
In reply to SimonMarcYoung:

If a route's 30m high and has no gear (nor bolts) what sort of grade other than a trad grade could you give it?

Most climbers wouldn't consider anything that's over 6m high reasonable to highball (and lower if the landing's crap), no matter what top yank climbers do, so trad grades are the most appropriate system whether there's gear or not.
Bulls Crack - on 01 Oct 2012
In reply to SimonMarcYoung:

They give you an idea how hard and serious the route is if you've forgotten your mat!
Jon Stewart - on 01 Oct 2012
In reply to Bulls Crack:
> (In reply to SimonMarcYoung)
>
> They give you an idea how hard and serious the route is if you've forgotten your mat!

Or if you've remembered your mat but it clearly won't protect the route.
andyathome - on 01 Oct 2012
In reply to SimonMarcYoung:
> I've seen routes recently and seen them in climbing videos before, were there are climbing routes with traditional climbing grades but on the route there is no protection at all, is this because they were made before bouldering and highball came into the climbing world ? or is there some other reason ?
>
> Cheers Simon

'Bouldering' has always been in the climbing world. And if you consider some of the leads without any gear undertaken in the past so has 'highball' (though nobody gave it that name).

Are you suggesting that routes with no gear should be given a bouldering grade?
Michael Gordon - on 01 Oct 2012
In reply to SimonMarcYoung:

What a strange thread. Giving unprotected routes trad grades makes perfect sense!
The Pylon King on 01 Oct 2012
In reply to SimonMarcYoung:
> I've seen routes recently and seen them in climbing videos before, were there are climbing routes with traditional climbing grades but on the route there is no protection at all, is this because they were made before bouldering and highball came into the climbing world ? or is there some other reason ?

because trad grades work.

Kevin Woods - on 01 Oct 2012
In reply to Michael Gordon:
> (In reply to SimonMarcYoung)
>
> What a strange thread. Giving unprotected routes trad grades makes perfect sense!

Agree.... at the end of the day I know what E3 5b is going to mean opposed than 5b alone!
The Pylon King on 01 Oct 2012
In reply to Kevin Woods:
> (In reply to Michael Gordon)
> [...]
>
> Agree.... at the end of the day I know what E3 5b is going to mean opposed than 5b alone!

or what Font 6d+ or V21 means
andy farnell - on 01 Oct 2012
In reply to Mr Mark Stephen Davies:
> (In reply to Kevin Woods)
> [...]
>
> or what Font 6d+ or V21 means

6D+ is obviously that bit harder than 6D. Which is still a lot easier than 9D...

Andy F
andyathome - on 01 Oct 2012
In reply to Kevin Woods:
> (In reply to Michael Gordon)
> [...]
>
> Agree.... at the end of the day I know what E3 5b is going to mean opposed than 5b alone!

Not necessarily. I've done a couple of E3 5b routes. Now was that loose rock, exposure or lack of gear that produced that grade? Sure, the grade will indicate the neckiness of the route but maybe not exactly what produces that neckiness. Great Slab on Froggatt is a very different trip to Big Business on Upton Slabs. But both are at that grade.


jas wood - on 01 Oct 2012
In reply to SimonMarcYoung:
is this because they were made before bouldering and highball came into the climbing world ?

You try telling bob smith highballing something new! the bloke was probably throwing himself of the top of back bowden before cams were invented !
andyathome - on 01 Oct 2012
In reply to jas wood:
> (In reply to SimonMarcYoung)
> is this because they were made before bouldering and highball came into the climbing world ?
>
> You try telling bob smith highballing something new! the bloke was probably throwing himself of the top of back bowden before cams were invented !

Jas - see my post above - 'Bouldering' has always been in the climbing world. And if you consider some of the leads without any gear undertaken in the past so has 'highball' (though nobody gave it that name)'.

And having watched some of EUMC's finest going at some of Bob's routes (done solo on first ascent) this weekend I'd agree!
The Pylon King on 01 Oct 2012
In reply to andyathome:
> (In reply to Kevin Woods)
> [...]
>
> Not necessarily. I've done a couple of E3 5b routes. Now was that loose rock, exposure or lack of gear that produced that grade? Sure, the grade will indicate the neckiness of the route but maybe not exactly what produces that neckiness. Great Slab on Froggatt is a very different trip to Big Business on Upton Slabs. But both are at that grade.

Yeah but the missing clue is usually in the text. You know "protectionless slab" is going to be different from "relentlessly steep but well protected" even though they may be both E3 5b.
ellis - on 01 Oct 2012
In reply to Kevin Woods:

> Agree.... at the end of the day I know what E3 5b is going to mean opposed than 5b alone!

Hmm, one of the best routes at E3 5b is "very well protected"!

http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=14444
tom_in_edinburgh - on 01 Oct 2012
In reply to andyathome:
> (In reply to SimonMarcYoung)

> Are you suggesting that routes with no gear should be given a bouldering grade?

Something like V4 10m would tell you a. how hard b. it's not protectable and c. its 10m high.



The Pylon King on 01 Oct 2012
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> (In reply to andyathome)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> Something like V4 10m would tell you a. how hard b. it's not protectable and c. its 10m high.

does it tell you where the crux is?
Iain Peters - on 01 Oct 2012
In reply to andyathome:
> (In reply to Kevin Woods)
> [...]
>
Great Slab on Froggatt is a very different trip to Big Business on Upton Slabs. But both are at that grade.

Big Business will be going in at XS 5b in the next guide. At the time of the FA, Mick Fowler was, to my knowledge, the only one using the grade, but it suits the route perfectly as the start has fallen away.

JJL - on 01 Oct 2012
In reply to Mr Mark Stephen Davies:
> (In reply to andyathome)
> [...]
>
> Yeah but the missing clue is usually in the text.

Um, we all seem to be forgetting that you are allowed to look at the route.

If it's overhanging 10 degrees the whole way you might spot it.
The Pylon King on 01 Oct 2012
In reply to JJL:
> (In reply to Mr Mark Stephen Davies)
> [...]
>
> Um, we all seem to be forgetting that you are allowed to look at the route.
>
> If it's overhanging 10 degrees the whole way you might spot it.

well yes that as well! although i was imagining sitting in the pub, reading a guide.
Jon Stewart - on 01 Oct 2012
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> (In reply to andyathome)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> Something like V4 10m would tell you a. how hard b. it's not protectable and c. its 10m high.

It would also tell you it was probably E1 6b, or E2 6a or E2 6b or E3 6a or E3 6b or E4 6a or E4 6b or...

And it would also give a route with, for example, a load of 5c climbing up to a 6b crux at the top above a death-landing the same grade as as a two-move sit-start problem in a perfectly flat grassy meadow. So we'd have a grading system that didn't represent the difficulty of different climbs in any meaningful way.
Ramblin dave - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to JJL:
> (In reply to Mr Mark Stephen Davies)
> [...]
>
> Um, we all seem to be forgetting that you are allowed to look at the route.
>
> If it's overhanging 10 degrees the whole way you might spot it.

Yeah, although it's a bit harder for easier routes where 'sustained' is a bit less extreme. Also the trad grade for a route with a well protected crux tells you nothing about how well protected the rest of the route is - eg VS 4c could be a 4c move off the ground followed by easy but totally unprotected moves to the top.

TBH I'm generally a defender of the two part UK trad grade and I doubt that anyone not operating in the high extremes has a problem with it in the Real World, but the pedantic engineer in me gets annoyed by the statement that they tell you everything you need to know or are in some sense optimally useful...
Kevin Woods - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to ellis: Hah! The trad grade is wild. It just reveals more and more magic as time goes on.....
victim of mathematics - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> (In reply to andyathome)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> Something like V4 10m would tell you a. how hard b. it's not protectable and c. its 10m high.

Are you a troll or an idiot? Why bend a grading system totally out of shape to cover something it isn't designed to cover, when there is an existing system which covers exactly this eventuality and which everybody already uses?

GrahamD - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to SimonMarcYoung:

Trad grades work for any route, irrespective of how much gear it has. If there is no gear at all, you might expect it to have a higher grade than a route with lots of gear.
Bulls Crack - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to Mr Mark Stephen Davies:
> (In reply to tom_in_edinburgh)
> [...]
>
> does it tell you where the crux is?

Quite
tom_in_edinburgh - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to tom_in_edinburgh)
> [...]
>
> And it would also give a route with, for example, a load of 5c climbing up to a 6b crux at the top above a death-landing the same grade as as a two-move sit-start problem in a perfectly flat grassy meadow.

You are right. The E number is much more useful than just giving the height of the route and difficulty of the crux because the distance above the ground of the crux is more important than the total height of the route.



tom_in_edinburgh - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to victim of mathematics:
> (In reply to tom_in_edinburgh)
> [...]
>
> Are you a troll or an idiot?

Nice debating technique. You could have just pointed out, as several other people did, that a V grade plus the route height doesn't tell you anything about how high the crux is so isn't useful. Faced with this argument I'm happy to admit my suggestion wasn't a good one.

> Why bend a grading system totally out of shape to cover something it isn't designed to cover, when there is an existing system which covers exactly this eventuality and which everybody already uses?

My issues with the UK grading system are general ones which apply to any grading system rather than specific ones about climbing:

a. Having lots of competing measuring systems with complex conversions between them is a waste of time and energy. For example, US gallons being a slightly different size than UK gallons is just a nuisance and everyone would be better off using litres. There are too many different competing systems for grading climbs and it would be a good thing if one of the international standard grading systems could be extended with information about danger/protection and gradually displace UK trad grades. 'Everybody' does not use UK trad grades, they are used by a subsection of climbers in one relatively small country.

b. If you are trying to capture two orthogonal quantities of interest (like 'danger' and 'difficulty') then it is better to have two separate components in the measurement than lose information by conflating them into a single number/grade and then have heuristics to try and extract the information back out again. The UK grades are particularly bad for this at the lower end.

jonnie3430 - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to SimonMarcYoung:

You know how HVS usually means 5a and VS is 4c. That stops working after E1 5b. If you are going to "fix," the grading system you may want to start there....
Andy Say - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
I offer you the Ward-Drummond grading system - http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=160255

English technical grade and then a numerical evaluation of (if my memory serves me correctly) number of crux moves; quality and quantity of protection; rock quality; exposure.
victim of mathematics - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> (In reply to victim of mathematics)
> [...]
>
> Nice debating technique. You could have just pointed out, as several other people did, that a V grade plus the route height doesn't tell you anything about how high the crux is so isn't useful. Faced with this argument I'm happy to admit my suggestion wasn't a good one.

Well at least you can see it was a bad idea. I can't imagine what possessed you to suggest it in the first place.

>
> [...]
>
> My issues with the UK grading system are general ones which apply to any grading system rather than specific ones about climbing:
>
> a. Having lots of competing measuring systems with complex conversions between them is a waste of time and energy. For example, US gallons being a slightly different size than UK gallons is just a nuisance and everyone would be better off using litres. There are too many different competing systems for grading climbs and it would be a good thing if one of the international standard grading systems could be extended with information about danger/protection and gradually displace UK trad grades. 'Everybody' does not use UK trad grades, they are used by a subsection of climbers in one relatively small country.

Ignoring your tedious pedantry about how exactly we're defining 'Everybody' (the UK in UKC does stand for something I believe), this is clearly never going to happen as everybody is so protective about their own grading system. Also, I'm not clear that some generic foreign grading system + danger is obviously better than UK trad grades though (or vice versa).

>
> b. If you are trying to capture two orthogonal quantities of interest (like 'danger' and 'difficulty') then it is better to have two separate components in the measurement than lose information by conflating them into a single number/grade and then have heuristics to try and extract the information back out again. The UK grades are particularly bad for this at the lower end.

You are, yourself, here rather conflating a number of different quasi-orthogonal quantities of interest (primarily technical difficulty and strenuousness/sustainedness) into 'Difficulty'. Isn't the real problem that these are 3 mostly orthogonal things that UK grades (and every other system to my knowledge) collapse into 2 (or 1) bits of information? How you make that collapse is the tricky/debatable bit, but I don't see anybody sensibly advocating a 3 part grading system. I'm also baffled by how you think low-end UK grades are broken, would you care to elaborate?
Kemics - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> (In reply to victim of mathematics)
> [...]
>

>
> b. If you are trying to capture two orthogonal quantities of interest (like 'danger' and 'difficulty') then it is better to have two separate components in the measurement than lose information by conflating them into a single number/grade and then have heuristics to try and extract the information back out again. The UK grades are particularly bad for this at the lower end.

You mean like the adjective and technical grade? :)

My only problem with the British trad system is that it's a little bit danger obsessed which has led to a weird mentality of very dangerous climbing done in a very stable way (how many people solo but are scared of safe trad falls?). Trad is just a system of protecting the climb, it sounds stupid to state that, but it's made out to be so much more. If you separated the danger/difficulty element of the British trad grade, 90% of people (myself absolutely included) would have to admit they're not very good at climbing :P
tom_in_edinburgh - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to Andy Say:
> (In reply to tom_in_edinburgh)
> I offer you the Ward-Drummond grading system - http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=160255

Interesting! It's a lot of information for a grading system for printed guide books or telling your firends but in a web database a system like this with lots of structured information on each route might come into its own.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to victim of mathematics:
> (In reply to tom_in_edinburgh)
> I'm also baffled by how you think low-end UK grades are broken, would you care to elaborate?

So in 'HVS 4a' you have one component 4a which relates to 'difficulty' and one component 'HVS' which combines 'protection/danger and difficulty' and you are expected to use a heuristic "Oh 4a is not very hard for an HVS so it is probably dangerous/badly protected" to separate the information out again.

All I'm saying is if you have two components in the grade you could just use one for difficulty and one for 'danger/protection', preserving the original information and presenting it explicitly.

victim of mathematics - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> (In reply to victim of mathematics)
> [...]
>
> So in 'HVS 4a' you have one component 4a which relates to 'difficulty' and one component 'HVS' which combines 'protection/danger and difficulty' and you are expected to use a heuristic "Oh 4a is not very hard for an HVS so it is probably dangerous/badly protected" to separate the information out again.

That doesn't seem broken to me. Unless you mean that you don't get technical grades below 4a, so Diff leaders have less information available in a grade than Severe and above leaders? Where are the disgruntled Diff leaders?

>
> All I'm saying is if you have two components in the grade you could just use one for difficulty and one for 'danger/protection', preserving the original information and presenting it explicitly.

I know what you're saying, you're just failing to acknowledge that 'Difficulty' is not a single quantity of interest.

Bulls Crack - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to jonnie3430:
> (In reply to SimonMarcYoung)
>
> You know how HVS usually means 5a and VS is 4c. That stops working after E1 5b. If you are going to "fix," the grading system you may want to start there....

Not so much stops working as changes - and as long as you know that it's usually fine!
Ramblin dave - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh: But the flipside is that with the UK trad grade you have a nice single headline figure and then some extra data to refine it. If you use two orthogonal components then you pretty much have to give both, because neither one is much help without the other.

I'm not convinced that the UK tech grade is the optimal extra bit of information - if we were starting from scratch I'd probably replace it with some sort of danger grade, although it's quite hard to explain what you actually mean a danger grade: some sort of measure of how run out is the most run out bit of serious climbing, but what constitutes serious climbing?

But in practice, the only people who ever seem to have a problem with UK grades are a) people who haven't spent three minutes reading a sensible explanation of them and b) people operating in the high E-grades, who seem to find the UK tech grade less useful than the sport grade as a measure of technical difficulty.
Bulls Crack - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to Ramblin dave:

I've always found the UK tech grade very useful and largely accurate (as long as you're prepared to be a bit flexible - literally) - for routes and bouldering. Individual moves have a level of difficulty whether its recorded or not!
Gordon Stainforth - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to Ramblin dave:

> But in practice, the only people who ever seem to have a problem with UK grades are a) people who haven't spent three minutes reading a sensible explanation of them and b) people operating in the high E-grades, who seem to find the UK tech grade less useful than the sport grade as a measure of technical difficulty.

c) people who haven't climbed very much (at least in Britain).

The thing is it always worked fine, for years even after the advent of technical grades, and then suddenly a swathe of people seemed to become baffled by it after about 1995. I suppose it has a lot to do with climbing walls.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to victim of mathematics:
> (In reply to tom_in_edinburgh)
> I know what you're saying, you're just failing to acknowledge that 'Difficulty' is not a single quantity of interest.

I'm happy to acknowledge that 'difficulty' could possibly be split down into several components e.g. crux difficulty, sustainedness.

However, this strengthens the argument for not losing information by adding an orthogonal aspect like protectability/danger into the difficulty grade. The more stuff you add in to the single number the harder it is to reliably separate all the aspects out with heuristics.

Suppose you see HVS 4a and you think "HMM a 4a crux move but its an HVS so it must be really badly protected. Oh, wait a minute, maybe its just very sustained and the protection is actually OK. Or maybe its getting HVS because the protection isn't great and its fairly sustained".

Andy Say - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> (In reply to andyathome)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> Something like V4 10m would tell you a. how hard b. it's not protectable and c. its 10m high.

V4 tells me roughly how hard it is and the style that people choose to adopt when climbing it; many boulder problems ARE protectable.
victim of mathematics - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> (In reply to victim of mathematics)
> [...]
>
> I'm happy to acknowledge that 'difficulty' could possibly be split down into several components e.g. crux difficulty, sustainedness.
>
> However, this strengthens the argument for not losing information by adding an orthogonal aspect like protectability/danger into the difficulty grade. The more stuff you add in to the single number the harder it is to reliably separate all the aspects out with heuristics.

As somebody mentioned above, it's better to think of UK grades as an overall grade (the adjectival grade), with a bit of extra detail (the technical grade), rather than two equal orthogonal aspects. But if you must view it like that, then you view it as more desirable to be unable to parse out whether a route is sustained or cruxy than to have difficulty parsing out how bold it is? One's an informed heuristic, the other isn't. I don't see how your way is better at all? Notwithstanding the difficulties in defining what a 'protection/danger' grade actually means. What about a route with a hard safe crux and then bold, easy climbing? If you keep your elements orthogonal and don't allow them to interact then you cannot deal with subtleties like this.

>
> Suppose you see HVS 4a and you think "HMM a 4a crux move but its an HVS so it must be really badly protected. Oh, wait a minute, maybe its just very sustained and the protection is actually OK. Or maybe its getting HVS because the protection isn't great and its fairly sustained".

If only there was some extra available information available to you before you started up the route. Like some words in a guidebook. Or your eyes. If only...
Jon Stewart - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to Ramblin dave:
> (In reply to tom_in_edinburgh) But the flipside is that with the UK trad grade you have a nice single headline figure and then some extra data to refine it. If you use two orthogonal components then you pretty much have to give both, because neither one is much help without the other.

Yes. The most useful piece of information any grade can give is an overall assessment of difficulty, which is what the adj grade aims to do. So when someone says "it's HVS" they have summarised succinctly how hard a route is, and any experienced climber at that grade will probably be able to climb a short bit of 5b with gear, sustained 5a with gear, solo 4b, boulder out 5c, etc.

> I'm not convinced that the UK tech grade is the optimal extra bit of information - if we were starting from scratch I'd probably replace it with some sort of danger grade, although it's quite hard to explain what you actually mean a danger grade: some sort of measure of how run out is the most run out bit of serious climbing, but what constitutes serious climbing?

Nail on head. The technical difficulty can be defined better than than the danger element, so that's the best supplementary info. The UK tech grade probably works better than the french grade for grit and cruxy routes, whereas the french grade would work better for sustained routes. We have more of the former (or maybe more of the former get climbed more often) so the Brit tech is the best one to use.

Frankly I pity poor johnny foreigner who has to live with some comparatively useless system.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to Ramblin dave:
> (In reply to tom_in_edinburgh) But the flipside is that with the UK trad grade you have a nice single headline figure and then some extra data to refine it. If you use two orthogonal components then you pretty much have to give both, because neither one is much help without the other.

Yes, the ability to just use the adjectival grade as a headline is an advantage. Although, even with a two factor system you can omit one factor for brevity if it is not of interest e.g. not bother to mention the Danger number for a safe route.

With an orthogonal system using French sport grades for difficulty the trad and sport/indoor systems converge. Sport climbs get low D numbers which are omitted for convenience.
andyathome - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to Mr Mark Stephen Davies:
> (In reply to andyathome)
> [...]
>
> Yeah but the missing clue is usually in the text. You know "protectionless slab" is going to be different from "relentlessly steep but well protected" even though they may be both E3 5b.

I WAS responding to a post that suggested that 'I know what E3 5b is going to mean opposed than 5b alone' rather than one that suggested I know what E3 5b means after I've also read the guidebook description, had a good look at the route in question and phoned my mate for some beta...'

I know how to read guidebooks :-)
tom_in_edinburgh - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to victim of mathematics:
> (In reply to tom_in_edinburgh)
> [...]
>
> But if you must view it like that, then you view it as more desirable to be unable to parse out whether a route is sustained or cruxy than to have difficulty parsing out how bold it is?

What I was saying is there is less information loss with two sets of information conflated into a single difficulty number (i.e. cruxy/sustained) as in a French grade than with three sets of information (cruxy/sustained/protection) as in a UK adjectival grade.

> One's an informed heuristic, the other isn't. I don't see how your way is better at all?

I would say even if it wasn't better but just nearly as good it would still be the right approach because converging trad grades with the French grades and having fewer grading systems is a significant advantage in itself.

> Notwithstanding the difficulties in defining what a 'protection/danger' grade actually means. What about a route with a hard safe crux and then bold, easy climbing? If you keep your elements orthogonal and don't allow them to interact then you cannot deal with subtleties like this.

Why not? It would get an overall difficulty grade based mainly on the 'hard safe crux' (because the rest of the climbing is easy) and a 'danger' grade based mainly on the 'bold easy climbing' (because the crux is safe). No problem.

>
> If only there was some extra available information available to you before you started up the route. Like some words in a guidebook. Or your eyes. If only...

Obviously there is more information available outside of the grade but that's not an argument for one grading system over another. We're discussing how well the grading systems capture information.

AJM - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to Jon Stewart:

The instant quotability of a headline grade is nice, for sure, but the one thing which really puzzles me is the fact we then pair it with the hardest move rather than an physical-difficulty-to-climb grade (a French grade, or the kind of thing that people like Fawcett tried to use the uk tech grade for for a time)...

Guessing the overall physical difficulty of a pitch from the combination of your eyes, the tech grade and the overall grade seems so much less logical to me than having the physical difficulty summed up for you. Personally the grade of the hardest individual move doesn't mean as much to me as the difficulty of the whole pitch, much as you say above about the HVS leader being able to do sustained and bouldery the same sort of comparison could be made within a French grade, some Fr5 will be bouldery and some cruxy but an experienced onsighter at the grade should be able to take them all in their stride.

I suppose if you do this though, since you then have to infer danger from the combination of E and tech (plus your knowledge from elsewhere of what "normal" French grades for each overall grade is), you might as well just go for an explicit danger grade and have done with it, although I guess that would annoy bold slab leaders who would lack a big overall number with which to label their achievements ;)
andyathome - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to andyathome:
Oh - and I've googled 'orthogonal' so I can follow this thread a lot betterer now.
andyathome - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to AJM:
> the fact we then pair it with the hardest move rather than an physical-difficulty-to-climb grade (a French grade, or the kind of thing that people like Fawcett tried to use the uk tech grade for for a time)...
>
> Guessing the overall physical difficulty of a pitch from the combination of your eyes, the tech grade and the overall grade seems so much less logical to me than having the physical difficulty summed up for you.

But isn't that because many trad routes are just not simply about 'physical difficulty' but about overall 'hardness'; within which the physical difficulty of the moves is just one component - the mental side can be just as daunting.
Ramblin dave - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to AJM:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
>

> Guessing the overall physical difficulty of a pitch from the combination of your eyes, the tech grade and the overall grade seems so much less logical to me than having the physical difficulty summed up for you. Personally the grade of the hardest individual move doesn't mean as much to me as the difficulty of the whole pitch, much as you say above about the HVS leader being able to do sustained and bouldery the same sort of comparison could be made within a French grade, some Fr5 will be bouldery and some cruxy but an experienced onsighter at the grade should be able to take them all in their stride.

I kind of agree with this in principle, but it doesn't bother me much in practice.

> I suppose if you do this though, since you then have to infer danger from the combination of E and tech (plus your knowledge from elsewhere of what "normal" French grades for each overall grade is), you might as well just go for an explicit danger grade and have done with it, although I guess that would annoy bold slab leaders who would lack a big overall number with which to label their achievements ;)

I'd say that adjectival grade + danger grade is actually more or less optimal for two grades, since the basic things that I want to know about a route are:
* am I reasonably confident that I'll be able to get up it?
* if I'm not but I take a punt on it anyway, am I more likely to end up a) having to ab to get the gear or b) dead or in hospital.

It's interesting to wonder what the impact of applying either grading system across the board would be though - would people climb harder on well protected trad if they knew that the sport route they did last week was the equivalent of a well protected E2?
Ramblin dave - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to Ramblin dave:
And when I say "across the board" I mean either grading trad routes with a sport grade + danger grade or giving sport routes an adjectival grade as if they were a trad route with bomber and easily placeable gear...
victim of mathematics - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> (In reply to victim of mathematics)
> [...]
>
> What I was saying is there is less information loss with two sets of information conflated into a single difficulty number (i.e. cruxy/sustained) as in a French grade than with three sets of information (cruxy/sustained/protection) as in a UK adjectival grade.

Less information loss, yes. Also less information.

>
> [...]
>
> I would say even if it wasn't better but just nearly as good it would still be the right approach because converging trad grades with the French grades and having fewer grading systems is a significant advantage in itself.

Be a little pragmatic here. We're not about to swap our grading system for another 'nearly as good' one, just because it reduces the number of grading systems in the world by one. It just wouldn't happen. I can't agree that the almost entirely aesthetic achievement of one less grading system in use outweighs the substantial cost involved.

>
> [...]
>
> Why not? It would get an overall difficulty grade based mainly on the 'hard safe crux' (because the rest of the climbing is easy) and a 'danger' grade based mainly on the 'bold easy climbing' (because the crux is safe). No problem.

So how do you differentiate between hard, safe crux but bold easy bit, and hard, bold crux, but safe easy bit? Without some interaction between the terms you can't. That's my point.

>
> [...]
>
> Obviously there is more information available outside of the grade but that's not an argument for one grading system over another. We're discussing how well the grading systems capture information.

But if your stick to beat any particular grading system is an inability to differentiate between sustained and bold, then the fact that the difference is very likely to be blindingly obvious to a climber before they embark on any route is very relevant.
andyathome - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to Andy Say:
And I will trump you with the good old Yorkshire Gritstone 'P' grade.

As in 'Little Peach - E3 P3 5c. ...the lack of protection and worrying landing make for somewhat stimulating climbing'.

P1 - generally well protected routes...
P2 - Those bolder routes with sparser protection which may even give deckouts if the fall is short on to reasonable landings...
P3 - Dire consequences...Get full life insurance now.

Possibly could be replaced by 'M' grades where M4 represents the size of the stack of mats to use?
AJM - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to andyathome:

> But isn't that because many trad routes are just not simply about 'physical difficulty' but about overall 'hardness'; within which the physical difficulty of the moves is just one component - the mental side can be just as daunting.

I don't understand what your comment has to do with the difference between a "hardest move" and "physical difficulty of a whole pitch" measure as one of the parts of a grade?
AJM - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to Ramblin dave:

> It's interesting to wonder what the impact of applying either grading system across the board would be though - would people climb harder on well protected trad if they knew that the sport route they did last week was the equivalent of a well protected E2?

I wonder if it would increase the emphasis on harder but better protected trad if you had a "difficulty + danger" system since the ego boost from doing some necky undertaking would be less - I reckon Fr6a PG would sound more impressive than Fr4 X although they probably correspond to about the same thing (E1 5b and E1 4c or something respectively)...
andyathome - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to AJM:
> (In reply to andyathome)
>
> [...]
>
> I don't understand what your comment has to do with the difference between a "hardest move" and "physical difficulty of a whole pitch" measure as one of the parts of a grade?

That's because my comment has got nothing to do with that differentiation :-)

I've never really got my head round the 'hardest move/cumulative difficulty' thing. I think we all tend to grade things as easy/OK/hard (which is why a lot of good climbers are absolutely pants at grading easier routes).

What I was suggesting was that the pure physicality/technical difficulty aspect of grading may well be fine for sport routes whereas the 'head game' can have a major part to play in the perceived 'difficulty' of some trad routes. And that the trad grade was reflecting the 'perceived difficulty' of a route.
andyathome - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to AJM:
> (In reply to Ramblin dave)
>
> [...]
>
> I wonder if it would increase the emphasis on harder but better protected trad if you had a "difficulty + danger" system since the ego boost from doing some necky undertaking would be less - I reckon Fr6a PG would sound more impressive than Fr4 X although they probably correspond to about the same thing (E1 5b and E1 4c or something respectively)...

Depends what you are after, I guess. If you climb routes because they 'sound more impressive' than others then maybe.

Personally I rate an XS 4c, as an experience, way higher than an E4 6a.

Not sure if that is about 'ego boost' Oh and 'I reckon Fr6a PG would sound more impressive than Fr4 X' is just total cobblers. Isn't it?
AJM - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to andyathome:

Perhaps my wording could be better (you seem to have tried to be rather dismissive in your reply after all), but it's notable that many people seem to choose their first routes of a grade to be bold slabs with little gear because the climbing is easy - if you defined the grade differently you might well get different results because you would no longer be "pushing your grade" on the route, and so I think there might end up being more emphasis on better protected routes as a result...

AJM - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to andyathome:

> That's because my comment has got nothing to do with that differentiation :-)

Why did you quote my post in your reply then if your post was nothing to do with it?

> I've never really got my head round the 'hardest move/cumulative difficulty' thing. I think we all tend to grade things as easy/OK/hard (which is why a lot of good climbers are absolutely pants at grading easier routes).

I think that most of the people I climb with can do a lot better in granularity than that! Not that it's relevant but I think familiarity with a grade is far more important than how near a grade is to your limit.
Jon Stewart - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to AJM:
> (In reply to Ramblin dave)
>
> [...]
>
> I wonder if it would increase the emphasis on harder but better protected trad if you had a "difficulty + danger" system since the ego boost from doing some necky undertaking would be less

Most climbers I know prefer harder but better protected trad (although I mainly prefer necky routes). I think that the grades certainly motivate people to climb certain routes (a soft-touch will get more ascents than a sandbag), but I don't think changing the grading system would alter many people's overall preference towards different sorts of routes: people do what they're good at. If Great Slab was graded f5+ P3 it would still be a classic 3* route and popular with those who like necky grit slabs. People like me would be unlikely to think "I'm not risking it for a 5+" and go and do a f6b+ P1 instead.

As others have said upthread, the equivalent french grades for E-grade routes sound a bit rubbish. The number of E2/3 routes I think are "hard" (for me) are of course about f6b which I think sounds "easy". But it's easy to ignore the physical effort that goes into protecting a trad route, as well as the psychological difference - how many failures on trad routes are because "I got pumped placing the gear". I might feel exhausted after climbing an E2, but not yet warmed up after a f6b of the same length.

So another thing included in the adj grade is how hard it is to place the gear. Two routes could be the same physical difficulty, and both be safe, but one might have all the gear being straightforward,instantly trustworthy and placed from easy positions, while the other might have loads of tiny wires placed from crap holds. The adj grades could be different but a difficulty + danger system wouldn't capture the difference.


AJM - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to Jon Stewart:

The gear point is fair, although, to use the usual excuse whenever a flaw in measuring about 3 things (minimum) in a 2 grade system, you could probably tell from the ground! ;)

In terms of soft touches and sandbags - I'm sure I'm not the only one to think that overall there are a lot of soft touch necky slabs and lots of sandbag butch cracks. People wouldn't change their overall preferences, but I wonder whether some of the usual "low in the grade" recommendations would become less popular. Who knows...
Jon Stewart - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to AJM:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)

> In terms of soft touches and sandbags - I'm sure I'm not the only one to think that overall there are a lot of soft touch necky slabs and lots of sandbag butch cracks.

For sure. It's way easy to pick up cheap E-points by sticking your neck out a bit rather than climbing anything difficult. Many HVS leaders could cope with Brown's Eliminate, for example. That said, I do think Great Slab is worth E3, it's definitely a grade harder than Chequers Crack ;)
andyathome - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to AJM:
> (In reply to andyathome)
>
> [...]
>
> Why did you quote my post in your reply then if your post was nothing to do with it?
>


I really tried to reply to that but didn't know how to make what I was trying to say intelligible. Maybe folks can just read the posts.
andyathome - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to AJM:
> (In reply to andyathome)
>
> you seem to have tried to be rather dismissive in your reply after all - but it's notable that many people seem to choose their first routes of a grade to be bold slabs with little gear because the climbing is easy - if you defined the grade differently you might well get different results because you would no longer be "pushing your grade" on the route, and so I think there might end up being more emphasis on better protected routes as a result...

I'm getting lost here. Not sure where I've been dismissive?

BUT I fundamentally disagree with what seems to be your first point. I think that most people trying to push their grade look for well protected routes upon which they will not likely die...?
andyathome - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to AJM)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> For sure. It's way easy to pick up cheap E-points by sticking your neck out a bit rather than climbing anything difficult.

Love it! Lets go for easy stuff.....
AJM - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to andyathome:

> BUT I fundamentally disagree with what seems to be your first point. I think that most people trying to push their grade look for well protected routes upon which they will not likely die...?

Not in my experience. I know plenty of people who did the usual soft touch bold things to break into new grades - people doing Browns Eliminate or similar things on grit as first or very early E2 (I've a friend who did Mousetrap as his first, although that's a slightly different case!), I did a bunch of Culm slabs as my first E grades and followed it up with a load of similar things at Fairy Cave and similar...
andyathome - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to AJM:
Good effort. Culm is cool. Brown's Eliminate gets E2 now...? :-)
SimonMarcYoung - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to SimonMarcYoung: wow there's so much info coming in on this, all valid points really,
tom_in_edinburgh - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to AJM)
> [...]
> So another thing included in the adj grade is how hard it is to place the gear. Two routes could be the same physical difficulty, and both be safe, but one might have all the gear being straightforward,instantly trustworthy and placed from easy positions, while the other might have loads of tiny wires placed from crap holds. The adj grades could be different but a difficulty + danger system wouldn't capture the difference.

I don't see that. The physical difficulty of a sport climb includes the effort of clipping the rope. The physical effort of a trad climb includes the effort of placing the gear and clipping the rope. The effect is to make the trad route more 'sustained' than a sport route on identical rock. The fact the route is more 'sustained' because of the need to place gear can be taken account of in the difficulty grade in a difficulty + danger system.

Jon Stewart - on 02 Oct 2012
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
> [...]
>
> The fact the route is more 'sustained' because of the need to place gear can be taken account of in the difficulty grade in a difficulty + danger system.

Yes it could be. I was thinking a french grade + danger points system, rather than a new difficulty grade that included the fiddling in of wires. After all, not everyone will use the same gear - normally this is a trade off (leaving the adj grade more likely unchanged) - but a difficulty grade including the effort to protect it would have to take an 'optimum' or how the route 'should' be protected. Imagine the grade debates then!
tom_in_edinburgh - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to victim of mathematics:
> (In reply to tom_in_edinburgh)

> So how do you differentiate between hard, safe crux but bold easy bit, and hard, bold crux, but safe easy bit? Without some interaction between the terms you can't. That's my point.

The trad system can't do that either e.g. you see a grade of E3 6b - the 6b bit tells you the crux is hard. You can't tell whether the E3 is because the crux is bold or because there is a very sustained bit of bold easy climbing or a second easier but badly protected crux higher up.

Look at the maths. The trad system gives you a tuple <f(c, s, d), c> i.e. the adjectival grade which is some vaguely defined function of crux, sustained and danger followed by the actual value of crux. The idea being you can estimate d based on your knowledge of c. However even if you could cleanly reverse the combining function to 'subtract' c you'd still be left with a combination of s and d with no means of separating them.

The alternative is <f(c, s), d> i.e. the difficulty grade is a function of crux and sustained followed by the actual value of danger. The second system gives you a number for how hard it is to get up the route followed by one for how likely you are to get hurt trying.

The force that will drive globalisation of climbing grades is the commercial pressure for guidebook publishers and internet databases to cover many countries and provide richer search functions to help people decide where to go. In the context of an internet database the more information captured in the grade the better.
Ramblin dave - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to andyathome:
> (In reply to AJM)
> [...]
>

> BUT I fundamentally disagree with what seems to be your first point. I think that most people trying to push their grade look for well protected routes upon which they will not likely die...?

Seems to vary - although personally I go for the not dying option.

When I talked about using "the same grading system" though, I was thinking as much of a 6a being E1 (bolts) as an E1 being 5+ PG (or whatever). Not sure if that makes a difference, though...
victim of mathematics - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> The trad system can't do that either e.g. you see a grade of E3 6b - the 6b bit tells you the crux is hard. You can't tell whether the E3 is because the crux is bold or because there is a very sustained bit of bold easy climbing or a second easier but badly protected crux higher up.

Yes it can! A bold crux after easier safe climbing would give you a different (higher) adjectival grade than a safe crux after easier bold climbing, whereas your grading system can't differentiate between these two. I can't imagine an E3 6b with a bold crux (6b is pretty hard for E3!).

>
> Look at the maths. The trad system gives you a tuple <f(c, s, d), c> i.e. the adjectival grade which is some vaguely defined function of crux, sustained and danger followed by the actual value of crux. The idea being you can estimate d based on your knowledge of c. However even if you could cleanly reverse the combining function to 'subtract' c you'd still be left with a combination of s and d with no means of separating them.
>
> The alternative is <f(c, s), d> i.e. the difficulty grade is a function of crux and sustained followed by the actual value of danger. The second system gives you a number for how hard it is to get up the route followed by one for how likely you are to get hurt trying

The problem here is that you are fundamentally failing (or refusing) to understand or acknowledge that the interaction between c, s and d is of substantive interest. Piling them all together therefore gives you some information about this interaction, whereas having them separate doesn't. Yes, unpicking them is non-trivial, but people seem to manage it pretty well on the crags every weekend. If your idealised climbing grade is <c, s, d> then I'm not sure even that's an improvement on the current system.

>
> The force that will drive globalisation of climbing grades is the commercial pressure for guidebook publishers and internet databases to cover many countries and provide richer search functions to help people decide where to go. In the context of an internet database the more information captured in the grade the better.

I will happily wager you that there will be no 'Globalisation' of climbing grades in my lifetime. On a day-to-day level very, very few people face a choice of crags in multiple countries for their climbing that day. So cross-country comparability is not really a major problem. Perhaps you have a private jet, which is skewing your perspective somewhat?

You are trying to solve a problem that:
a) Barely exists
b) You appear not to understand very well
and c) The acceptance costs of any solution are very likely to far outweigh the benefits.
Offwidth - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to andyathome:

"Brown's Eliminate gets E2 now...? :-)" Only in the BMC guide because the volume editors were outvoted by the team :-(. Its an upper middle E1 in my view with a technical 5b crux moving up from a bomber cam at your feet and care required for potentially snappy rock on unprotected 4c/4b terrain near the top.

I can't see any mention of US film ratings further up the thread, with their explicit inclusion of risk...they even get round Victim's orthogonal heuristical difficulties as they will stick stuff like 5.5X on the topo of a 5.9. P grades seem to be taking a rest for gods own rock this time round.

I think the allocation of UK grades has never been better than now but this further highlights the problem in explaining the variation in meaning as things get harder.. low grade routes don't get tech grades when you would think its where they are most needed and the combination just doesn't work in the high extremes as the tech grades are too wide (the system is broke here and the sooner we start using something like 6c-; 6c and 6c+, or some equivalent, the better). I don't agree with Gordon that people understood grades before 1995 (at least not away from the classics). I think there is evidence that they maybe did before 1950 but something went wrong with the internal consistency of grading as standards improved leaving all sorts of weird graded routes (mainly at the lower grades), some of which are still out there. What happened around '95 was probably the growth of the internet, where suddenly ordinary climbers had a voice.
deacondeacon - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to Offwidth: On Browns Eliminate what is the deal with gear in Green Gut?
I chose not to as it seemed a cop out and i felt that the mental crux was commiting to the traverse with no gear in. The 5b crux felt much easier/safer in comparison.
The Pylon King on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to Offwidth:

A 5b move with gear below your feet is E2.
victim of mathematics - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to Offwidth:
>
> I can't see any mention of US film ratings further up the thread, with their explicit inclusion of risk...they even get round Victim's orthogonal heuristical difficulties as they will stick stuff like 5.5X on the topo of a 5.9. P grades seem to be taking a rest for gods own rock this time round.

I can't take the credit for introducing either orthogonality or heuristics to the debate, but this is an interesting example. Obviously it requires topos for whole routes, with all that that entails, but it is a good way of breaking down the elements that give the overall grade. There are some instances where you could do this with UK grades though, although the process by which you get from the individual pitch (or section of a pitch) grade to the route grade would be different.

Bulls Crack - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to Mr Mark Stephen Davies:
> (In reply to Offwidth)
>
> A 5b move with gear below your feet is E2.

If it was a bad fall maybe otherwise not necessarily
AJM - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to victim of mathematics:

> The problem here is that you are fundamentally failing (or refusing) to understand or acknowledge that the interaction between c, s and d is of substantive interest. Piling them all together therefore gives you some information about this interaction, whereas having them separate doesn't.

Without the seperate parts, the combined grade doesnt tell you anything much about the interaction specifically, only the sum. You're left guessing which bit of the overall is from the separate components and which is from the interactions between them

> I will happily wager you that there will be no 'Globalisation' of climbing grades in my lifetime. On a day-to-day level very, very few people face a choice of crags in multiple countries for their climbing that day. So cross-country comparability is not really a major problem. Perhaps you have a private jet, which is skewing your perspective somewhat?

Thankfully, I think we are already moving in the right direction - some guidebooks now include French grades for some routes (generally at the top end where the uk grading is generally felt to be weakest), there is increasing accessibility of French grade knowledge on easier routes too off of ukc/ukb (I asked for route recommendations last week and got told that one route was "strenny 6c with good gear" I think, which tells me everything I need to know about it really), as well as things like Varian declining to give an E grade for his new super highball in Northumberland because a Font grade is more informative to the sort of people who would actually repeat it.
Offwidth - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to victim of mathematics:

It works and helps climbers avoid super-bold routes if they dont like them. I remember comparing my experience on The Pause (HVS then) on Etive Slabs with big US granite 5.8s and thinking I wish someone had warned me how bold this was going to be! I think I recall one 5.9 having only 5.8 crux sections but that might be a typo. You also get plenty of sandbags away from the classics (at least you do in Joshua Tree).
Offwidth - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to Mr Mark Stephen Davies:

Nonsense. On grit, cruxy E2 5b with a clean fall line is bold... gear well below your feet.
Offwidth - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to deacondeacon:

It's allowed as its on the route unless you climb further up Green Gut for a high side runner. You get a semi-baby-bouncer when its placed which counters a swing round left in a fall with the risk of hitting the arete on the way back.
victim of mathematics - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to AJM:

>
> Without the separate parts, the combined grade doesn't tell you anything much about the interaction specifically, only the sum. You're left guessing which bit of the overall is from the separate components and which is from the interactions between them

Exactly. What this all boils down to is whether you think the extra complexity in unpicking the combination of 3 things is worth the extra difficulty in doing so. I do, because you're not just guessing, you are making an informed judgement based on your experience, the guidebook description and what you can see on the route. For me, the interaction between the things is sufficiently important to make this worthwhile. Perhaps you disagree, that's fine, what I cannot accept (because I have seen no convincing evidence for it) is that any 'new' method of grading trad routes along these lines would be much/any better than the current system. That being the case, why are we bothering to argue about it, since there is very little point (I don't accept some idealistic twaddle about there being one true grading system to unite them all) or realistic probability of it being adopted?
victim of mathematics - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to victim of mathematics)
>
> It works and helps climbers avoid super-bold routes if they dont like them. I remember comparing my experience on The Pause (HVS then) on Etive Slabs with big US granite 5.8s and thinking I wish someone had warned me how bold this was going to be! I think I recall one 5.9 having only 5.8 crux sections but that might be a typo. You also get plenty of sandbags away from the classics (at least you do in Joshua Tree).

I agree!
Gordon Stainforth - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to andyathome)
>
> I don't agree with Gordon that people understood grades before 1995 (at least not away from the classics). I think there is evidence that they maybe did before 1950 but something went wrong with the internal consistency of grading as standards improved leaving all sorts of weird graded routes (mainly at the lower grades), some of which are still out there. What happened around '95 was probably the growth of the internet, where suddenly ordinary climbers had a voice.

What I meant was that I don't remember anyone having any problems with the grading system or any debates about it at all. (I'm talking about trad grades from Mod to about E3) I don't remember having any problems with it either. I think one reason was that part of the adventure was that you never knew quite what to expect, and that was one of the attractions of it.

AJM - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to victim of mathematics:

> Perhaps you disagree, that's fine, what I cannot accept (because I have seen no convincing evidence for it) is that any 'new' method of grading trad routes along these lines would be much/any better than the current system.

I suspect that the more you sport climb the more you see the advantages of using a common difficulty rating across sport and trad, and also that as you climb harder grades you start to see the limitations of single crux move grading more and more (hence why I think the most prolific users of alternative/supplementary means of grading like Fr/Fb grades are top end climbers) because the sustainedness becomes more of an issue (plus supposedly the grade bands get wider which compounds the problem).

> That being the case, why are we bothering to argue about it, since there is very little..... realistic probability of it being adopted?

I don't know that it will replace UK grades in the short or medium term, as guidebooks are often quite conservative about that sort of thing, but I can very easily see the French grade becoming a more and more common addition to the headline grade, or mentioned in the route description as it is for some of the routes in the Pembroke Rockfax etc. And let's face it, the UK grade is hardly unchallenged any more, it's been replaced totally for sport climbs, replaced almost completely for DWS now, it's been supplemented by V grades for the highball/route hybrids in the Peak, it's being supplemented with French grades in many guidebooks for top end routes (and those which can be trad or DWS), and so on. The unofficial use of other grade metrics when discussing routes online shows no signs of going away either.
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
> I think one reason was that part of the adventure was that you never knew quite what to expect, and that was one of the attractions of it.

Nail, head, hit!

I think part of the problem is lots of folks nowadays want to know EXACTLY what to expect before leaving the ground - which is of course is impractical; people can't even agree if a well trodden classic is VS 4c or HVS 5a for example!


Chris
Gordon Stainforth - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to Chris Craggs:

It's strange, isn't it? It's almost as if the grades have become more important than the routes. E.g We didn't climb Cemetery Gates because of the grade, but because it was a superb line. No one could quite agree on the grade anyway (and it didn't matter much).
galpinos - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> The force that will drive globalisation of climbing grades is the commercial pressure for guidebook publishers and internet databases to cover many countries and provide richer search functions to help people decide where to go. In the context of an internet database the more information captured in the grade the better.

You seem to be hell-bent on sucking any individuality out of climbing and making it into some globalised homogenous soul-less sport.

A grade gives you an idea of whether you can get up your chosen route or not (n.b. you don't choose a route because of the grade, you choose a route because you want to climb it).

If a route is graded E2, I know my chances of getting up it. Itís not certain, but I know where I sit on the ďprobability of success spectrumĒ and whether the risk is worth it. If the route is graded E2 5c, I have an even more informed opinion of my chance on success but I still donít know until I get on it. Thatís the fun bit.

Even cragging should have a modicum of adventure involved. Setting off up every route knowing the outcome would be somewhat dull.



ads.ukclimbing.com
victim of mathematics - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

What is strange is that you get a few old duffers complaining about how there's no adventure any more, but no younger climbers complaining that things aren't adventurous enough... :p
Bulls Crack - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to galpinos:

Exactly! And in the 30+ years I've been climbing I struggle to recall (in general maybe) incidences where a misgraded route has been a real problem.
Maybe it was a County education!
Kemics - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to Bulls Crack:

learning to enjoy a good sand bag is a fine part of climbing :)
tom_in_edinburgh - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to galpinos:
> (In reply to tom_in_edinburgh)
>
> [...]
>
> You seem to be hell-bent on sucking any individuality out of climbing and making it into some globalised homogenous soul-less sport.
>
> A grade gives you an idea of whether you can get up your chosen route or not (n.b. you don't choose a route because of the grade, you choose a route because you want to climb it).

The way I see it an internet database of climbing routes is like a knowledgeable local guide or a sommelier in a restaurant. Its function is to help you find routes that you would enjoy climbing. A grading system which does a good job of capturing information is part of the solution. It doesn't take the soul or adventure out of the sport, it adds to it by making it more likely that you put your limited climbing hours and travel budget into a route or holiday destination that you will enjoy.


galpinos - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> (In reply to galpinos)
> [...]
>
> The way I see it an internet database of climbing routes is like a knowledgeable local guide or a sommelier in a restaurant. Its function is to help you find routes that you would enjoy climbing.

In the case of the database on here, it's the description and (mostly)pictures that make me want to climb somewhere. The grade then tell me what my chances of getting up the route that has inspired me are (Severe - probably, E6 - not likely!). The fact is that the grade is a slightly wider, less well defined band than you would like. For me, however, it's fine. Grading is subjective, it can't be shoe horned into a system with very small step changes.

> A grading system which does a good job of capturing information is part of the solution.

And what we've got at the moment tells us enough.

Offwidth - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to Chris Craggs:

I think you and Gorden are suffering from rose tinted specs and selective amnesia. I've known a fair few people before 1995 get upset that their Diff turned out to be Severe or their VS turned out to be E1; even if no-one sensible gets fussed if a tough VS is really an easy HVS (or if you can even really tell). Thing is we can complain here now or on the logbook and there was no public route then.
Dave Garnett - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to Iain Peters:
> (In reply to andyathome)

> Big Business will be going in at XS 5b in the next guide. At the time of the FA, Mick Fowler was, to my knowledge, the only one using the grade, but it suits the route perfectly as the start has fallen away.

That's alarming as I thought the start was the only solid bit. It was overhanging so it must have been reasonably well glued together!
Gordon Stainforth - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Chris Craggs)
>
> I think you and Gorden are suffering from rose tinted specs and selective amnesia. I've known a fair few people before 1995 get upset that their Diff turned out to be Severe or their VS turned out to be E1; even if no-one sensible gets fussed if a tough VS is really an easy HVS (or if you can even really tell). Thing is we can complain here now or on the logbook and there was no public route then.

No, we really didn't discuss grades very much. We were always discussing routes, typically what the next route/s would be. We tended to laugh if we did a route where the grade seemed wrong, and then would put a comment in the guidebook. The fact that there are so few of those (sometimes just a + or a - is annotated) bears out my memory. I have no recollection ever of a 'Diff that turned out to be Severe' or a 'VS that turned out to be E1'.) I can remember some rather stiff VSs at Avon and rather tough Severes in the Ogwen Valley, but we just accepted that the grades were a bit tougher there. I don't remember anyone 'getting upset'.
Jim at Work on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
Fair enough. If you remember some of the crag diagrams in the 'old' days (Lakes especially) this is unsurprising, as it was sometimes tempting to locate the routes by holding the picture upside down, they were that bad!
So a bit of sandbagging was neither here nor there.
Returning to the OP's question though, curious how most of the debate has been about 'high' grade climbs, when Crescent Climb (Diff?) on Pavey sprang to mind, as a classic example of an easy climb with significant death potential. There must be several others.
Gordon Stainforth - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Jim at Work:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth)
> Fair enough. If you remember some of the crag diagrams in the 'old' days (Lakes especially) this is unsurprising, as it was sometimes tempting to locate the routes by holding the picture upside down, they were that bad!
> So a bit of sandbagging was neither here nor there.

Yes, that's the main point. One half-expected it. There used to be lots of places where it seemed as if the locals were trying to compensate for some kind of climbing 'inferiority complex' with very harsh grades (SE Wales and Avon being a prime examples). And then of course there was Scotland ... where for a long time they resisted the idea of any grade harder than VS.

Mind you, Joe himself used to call all his routes VS...

> Returning to the OP's question though, curious how most of the debate has been about 'high' grade climbs, when Crescent Climb (Diff?) on Pavey sprang to mind, as a classic example of an easy climb with significant death potential. There must be several others.

Yes, the higher grades are of no serious consequence because they are used by experienced climbers. Your Pavey example makes me think of an even easier climb, the notorious Grade 1 scramble Jack's Rake, which in damp conditions has a very high death potential (as demonstrated by a spate of recent tragic accidents).

Offwidth - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Jim at Work:

Its wierd you mentioned Crescent on Pavey. It nearly killed a couple we helped rescue (amazing luck only that they survived). That was mod at the time. Its the one of the worst examples Ive seen. Ive been terrified on routes and would not have amused to meet the crag author straight after. Ive also belayed a few folk on sandbags where accidents led to sprains and once to a minor breaks. I dont mind too much being sandbagged on a safe route but when the route is bold and someone gets hurt its simply not funny anymore.
Bulls Crack - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Offwidth:

Sort of related to this I was climbing at Earl Crag once when a local lad struck up a conversation. I'd just done Earl Buttress and he very seriously informed me that the local 'custom' was to solo these routes. 'How interesting' I said but didn't say - regrettably - how many times had you top-roped them before?
Gordon Stainforth - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Bulls Crack:

Gosh. I remember being there when John Syrett first attempted it. He may even have done it that day, I can't remember.
Iain Peters - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Jim at Work)
> I dont mind too much being sandbagged on a safe route but when the route is bold and someone gets hurt its simply not funny anymore.

You're absolutely right. Earlier editions of the West Cornwall guide used to carry a warning about Anvil Chorus in view of the number of bad accidents. This was in the days before Friends, which undoubtedly reduces its bite.

However if there is a Diff for example that is dangerous in certain conditions or lacks obvious gear then I would still give it the same adjectival grade but emphasize the possible dangers in the description. I also think that in this day and age of high res photography and detailed topos some people hardly bother with the written description. Of course it is entirely the individual's responsibility to use the information provided.
Ramblin dave - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Iain Peters:
> (In reply to Offwidth)
> [...]

> However if there is a Diff for example that is dangerous in certain conditions or lacks obvious gear then I would still give it the same adjectival grade but emphasize the possible dangers in the description.

Agree - this is why we have the phrase "in anything less than ideal conditions it becomes an altogether more serious proposition..."
Offwidth - on 08 Oct 2012
In reply to Ramblin dave:

In ideal conditions the arete start pitch of Crescent was hard for mod just in terms of the moves and in addition with every piece of gear you wish to choose it's still poorly protected with some of the not so plentiful runner placements that do exist being suspect. Belay failure caused the accident we saw.

I think the UK system is pretty fit for purpose but only if you use it properly. There are plenty of routes that are fairly graded that will rough someone up at a grade so I don't see why we need incorrect grades to keep folk modest and honest (the old reasoning for sandbags?). Equally overly soft grading (say because a route is popular with beginners) is doing no one any favours.

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