/ so what is your climbing potential?
Having truly busted a gut training 1-2 hours a day plus climbing outdoors 2-3 times a week for the last 6 months i've seen remarkably little improvement. This has made me think that maybe i havent got it in me to climb any harder. I don't regret anything as I've enjoyed all the training but I certainly expected more improvement.
Sorry if this sounds obvious...
Maybe have another think about/get advise on training regime for what you're trying to achieve, try to identify and focus on anything specific that's holding you back e.g. mental/strength/technique. Are you climbing at such a level already that it's harder to make small gains?
Consider some pro coaching (or harder climbing partners) could help identify problem and give better advise/encouragement?
With 1000+ days of effort I'd guess I could probably get to 8b/8b+ but I doubt I'd get much further than that given my age.
There is nothing really holding me back other than the depressingly mundane reality of real life - basically being skint and struggling to pay a mortgage.
I'd agree with that. I'd be very surprised if any moderately athletic and keen climber wouldn't be able to climb E6/F7c or more given sufficient targetted coaching, a strong will and a couple of years of progression to get there.
For me I doubt I'll ever headpoint as hard trad routes as I have in the past - largely because I live in France now and inevitably do a lot more sport, but also because I've always been much more into adventure and onsight climbing rather than working lines. I'd like to think I could certainly do 8c though if I was determined enough to focus on it, although I'm not sure about ever getting strong enough for much more than that.
Do you not think that it may take a bit more than 6 months of effort? Think a bit more long term...........
"Argue for your limitations and sure enough they're yours."
Being convinced you can do something isn't enough for it to happen or for it even to be possible for you, but if you're convinced it can't happen you can be pretty certain it won't.
For me, it's a recurrent shoulder injury. Take that away and I could train 2-3 nights at the local wall to probable decent gain. As it stands, I'm on the waiting list for an(other) operation so bimbly ledge-shuffling is my limit.
I'd like to do all the 8's. If i had no problems with time/family/money i reckon i'd do it in the next 5 yrs. Sport 8a first, E8 next ( headpoint of course ) using my 8a fitness, Winter VIII is feasable for most climbers but would take some building up to from my single V lead and then the hard one would be font 8a.
When real life kicks in though i'd like to get 8b before, or in, my 40th year. I'm 36 now so fingers crossed. When the kids have grown up a bit more i'd like to get back to the Alps for a few seasons and tick some classic TD's/ED's.
PS i know you don't want advice but you sound as though you're giving up. I feel you may have gone in the wrong direction with your training. You're young and you've got the ability so get to it.
Buy 'The Wizard's Apprentice', sit down to watch it and when it's finished - ask yourself, "do I try that hard?"
I watched it in the summer with the guy who's no. 2 in the world trad rankings, he thought Ondra put him to shame in terms of effort and I know Joe tries hard, really hard. If the answer to the question is yes... then maybe it's just more time you need.
Isn't this two different things? You've reached a plateau and haven't been training in the right way to break through it - that's totally different from how hard you could climb if you jacked it all in to climb and train full time, which is basically limited by your genetics.
I suspect that the thread will boil down to some sort of argument about how hard the average person can climb, because that's basically where you get to if you remove things like having to have a job and whatnot. And given the number of people at different ages, sexes, body types and so on who have climbed 8a or even these days 8b+ (there was some guy who recently did one at Rodellar aged 60-odd, and I don't even want to think about how young people who have climbed that grade have been - 10? Oddo did like 9a at 14-15 didn't he?) now I suspect someone with average genetics should be able to reach at least that level.
Obviously that's a totally different question from what I actually will achieve, which is limited by the practicalities of life.....
I reckon if I applied myself I could maybe onsight those big long E5s that I most aspire to stuff like Darkinbad etc, ie 6a climbing is reasonably alarming positions. I doubt I'd ever have enough time to get much better than that, maybe headpoint E6? I have a feeling I could be a half decent mountaineer, if I didn't keep thinking about my family whenever I'm in the hills! Guess that's half the battle really.
To answer my own question - 8b+ at 10, 8c at 11.
With true focus I could easily climb E5 - in fact that's going to happen anyway but I reckon with true focus I could get higher than that, and certainly into the mid-8's sport.
What holds me back? Not caring enough to make the sacrifices elsewhere in my life to make it happen. There's only so much time, and there's other things, like spending time with my family and friends, which are more important to me.
> What holds me back? Not caring enough to make the sacrifices elsewhere in my life to make it happen.
That is the sensible (albeit obvious) answer for the vast majority of us; however, the OP clearly and unambiguously states
" If you had no other commitments, found 100% dedication"
which implies that no sacrifices are necessary.
Picking a 5 year timeframe to constrain the question slightly: Bouldering-wise I'd be fighting a creaky body, progress would be slow, painful and unexceptional. Even in an otherwise perfect world I doubt we're realistically looking at more than about V10 tops. Fitness on the other hand is easier won so I guess mid to high F8 redpoint based on nothing more than looking at what others achieve when they set to it properly. I'm not naturally a risk taker and I wouldn't look to change that so trad-wise we're looking at genuinely safe, pumpy 8a/b RP. What's that in today's money, safe Pembroke/Mountain E8? OS Probably high F7s so E6/7 maybe?
Pretty stock (and speculative) answer I'd have thought.
What holds me back? Reality and motivation.
Sounds to me like you need to change your training if you've hit a plateau you want to exceed.
> That is the sensible (albeit obvious) answer for the vast majority of us; however, the OP clearly and unambiguously states
> " If you had no other commitments, found 100% dedication"
> which implies that no sacrifices are necessary.
I beg your pardon? Was there a problem with my post?
In the words of Marge Gundersen,
You have no call to get snippy with me
...and all this psychobabble about if you imagine something is your limit then you'll never exceed it ...hmmm.
I'd be bloody pleased if I could get solid at my best onsight grades of F6b and E1, but then I once thought I'd never be a confident VS leader, so expectations can change.
Life does tend to get in the way and I accept I'll never remotely achieve rock God status, so the motivation to train remorselessly for a slightly higher degree of mediocrity is not 100% appealing ...think I'll keep on sipping that extra glass of wine and just enjoy the days when I get out on rock.
In the nicest, most encouraging way possible; Surely you're a flagship of proof for all this 'psychobabble'.
The perils of having a mother who is a Phd Psychotherapist I guess :-)
I'd love to know what I could achieve. Work and the other parts of my life hold me back or rather prevent me from being able to climb all the time. In order to get much more improvement as has been mentioned previously you definitely need a focused training plan.
It says "If you had no other commitments"
So none of this "life gets in the way / boo hoo mortgage etc." nonsense. The question is abstract from the outset.
> In the words of Marge Gundersen,
> You have no call to get snippy with me
Being fair, he was answering a later part of the question...
So in the grey light of morning, was your dismissive response to the "psychobabble" caused by the vino, or by you not wanting to recognise what the real reasons holding you back are (you say that work etc always gets in the way, which is true for most of us, but your post suggests you've already written off any chance of climbing hard anyway, which is a self imposed limit).
You say you can't be bothered to train hard for a "slightly higher degree of mediocrity" - I know you have done a reasonable amount of stuff down at Swanage, so using that as an example you wouldn't put in an extra wall session a week to climb those big classic E3s like Ocean Boulevard or Soul Sacrifice, or those big E5s like Wall of the Worlds & Polaris, or to be able to redpoint Infinite Gravity? Or are you only interested in climbing things you can do without effort? I'm curious as to your motivations...
> Being fair, he was answering a later part of the question...
I had assumed that the "later part of the question" was just part of the overall question.
Being fair, I later asked more generally (i.e. not just directed at John_Hat) about whether people had understood the OP.
There were 3 questions, of which the second is basically just a clarification of the first...
I'm sure I'm not the only ones who reads that as basically saying "how hard could you climb given a free hand, and what stops you from achieving this? So his point seems a perfectly valid thing to include to me.
If it were me, I wouldn't be relying on that particular dose of sarcasm as a defence, in my opinion it was just as uncalled for as your earlier criticisms...
If you saw the state of me at the top of a Swanage HVS I don't think you'd be saying I was climbing "without effort". I feel like I have mistakenly gatecrashed an elite climbers thread here, so I'd better shuffle off back to my staple diet of VSs.
But before I go I will attempt to explain a little:
I am far from ideally built for climbing (heavy and muscular) and I guess this is part of what holds me back from leading harder. Incremental targets work better for me and I do believe I am still improving gradually.
So I do not see getting solid at my best onsight grades as a absolute ceiling, I know if I get to that point I'll be keen to keep pushing on. Grades don't motivate my climbing, although some routes certainly do and progressing to the point where more classic climbs are accessible to me would be great.
I could structure my wall sessions more rigidly and try to increase training hours and adopt a strict diet. Would I enjoy my climbing so much more that all these sacrifices seemed worthwhile? I doubt it. When I get out I do like to push my mediocrity and some days that may just mean getting up an HVS, for me spending time with friends, being in beautiful places, and the movement over rock are all factors in why I climb.
I have partners who are clearly more driven by the pure gymnastic aspects of climbing (and they climb considerably harder than me), perhaps if my focus was equally singular I could muster up the discipline to make significant gains.
As things stand I really enjoy my climbing, I regularly challenge myself and feel no overwhelming compulsion to let it dominate my life to any greater extent.
I guess I have just defined an average rock punter.
Maybe I misread it. It all looks like a single question to me, and upon checking it again, it still does. It is perhaps open to interpretation though. Maybe the OP could clarify.
Where have I been sarcastic in this thread?
> Having truly busted a gut training 1-2 hours a day plus climbing outdoors 2-3 times a week for the last 6 months i've seen remarkably little improvement.
I know you didn't want advice, but I failed to read the abstract OP question.
If you train the wrong things?
Interesting question. I'd be very surprised if 7a onsight was anyone's limit if they trained/climbed full time.
I am absolutely certain that I could climb 8a and E6/7 with a full-time job, so if I just climbed and didn't have a family I reckon I ought to be able to climb 8c and E9. I suspect, judging by the number of full-time climbers who haven't climbed 9a that this level really is incredibly high and a bit of genetics will be kicking in.
I'd be fairly surprised if anyone climbing ful-time without some sort of injury hit their limit before 8a/7C/E8
It clearly isn't a question you expect a serious answer to (did you want someone to reply "yes"?), so I think sarcasm is pretty much right. Asking snarky rhetorical questions I could also go with I suppose.
> It clearly isn't a question you expect a serious answer to (did you want someone to reply "yes"?)
Actually I did. I wanted someone to say "yes, people do seem incapable of reading OPs properly" and to then answer the question of climbing potential with all other commitments removed. I am aware that I haven't answered that question; that is because I am still pondering it. It's an interesting question to me, and somewhat difficult to answer.
I'm not sure there's a simple answer, really. As a lot of people have said, most people would be unlikely to climb to their maximum physical potential even if they had all the time and money they needed, because they'd rather relax and have a curry and some beers with their mates than train for three hours, go for a three hour run and then have steamed vegetables and lean meat for dinner before getting to bed early.
So are we asking "how hard would you climb if you didn't have to work and could live where you wanted" or "how hard could you climb if you didn't have to work, could live where you wanted, had endless motivation and no distractions"? Are we talking about purely physical limitations or mental ones as well?
I think you're doing yourself down, subconsciously or not, by referring to those who believe they could, in perfect conditions, hit mid Fr8s or whatever as "elite". Few people who have said this so far have actually got anywhere near these goals they are stating, after all! As one of those who has said that, I certainly wouldn't describe myself or my peers in that way (admittedly, who would!) - there's plenty of forum posters on here who met me when I was struggling up or backing off Severes and who will confirm that natural talent clearly wasn't in much evidence - it took me years to reach VS, which judging by some of the threads on here a proportion of new starters reach within their first couple of months. And as far as I'm concerned that means that any difference between me and anyone else dealt roughly the same genetic hand, whether they climb 6b or 8b or whatever, is down to how much you want it. If you don't then that's fine, it doesn't really bother me, but a lot of people (not necessarily you here) will go to enormous lengths to find some reason why they "can't" do something when the truth is that they "don't want to" enough.
I don't know many of the other posters on here, but I'd be surprised if you were more than a few trad grades behind any of them, it's just that they have the self belief to state they believe higher grades would be possible if they devoted themselves to it, whereas your post of last night seemed very defeatist in that you responded to a question which was basically "how hard could you climb if you really tried without the distractions of life" by saying "consolidating my existing grades would be about right". I see in your reply below you've clarified this slightly, so maybe it was the vino after all ;)
A few random thoughts - how is structuring wall sessions a sacrifice (ie what are you sacrificing to do it)? Increasing training hours is a sacrifice, although it depends how you do it - I use a fingerboard whilst watching tv and so the only sacrifice I make is that I'm standing up or dangling whilst watching rather than sitting on the couch!
A strict diet can be a sacrifice I suppose, although it rather depends - its possible to eat lots of very nice food whilst also losing weight at the same time and without it being a major hardship. I suppose it depends on where you start from - there are some foods like cake that are always going to be difficult to combine with a good diet so if you are a keen baker you might find it harder than average!
If you gave me 5 years full time and told me to climb as hard as possible I'd back myself to have a decent shot at 9a+. What holds me back? Not being paid to climb. Everything is easier when you're full time - not only can you go on whatever trips you want, when you want, but you can train harder. Recovery is so much easier when you have nothing else to worry about/do; dieting is easier as you don't need to worry about having energy to work; you also have time for all the things that normally get ditched first like stretching. However, if you simply gave me 5 years to climb full time and no instructions that it had to be used to climb hard I suspect 9a would be the limit - I'd probably spend too much time on trips doing fun routes and not enough time training/bouldering to make that extra grade.
I think before your first reply to John Hat most people who had stated a grade (some said they didn't know, admittedly, but then that's not necessarily misreading the question) had stated one based around no distractions etc - Ex Engineer gave a shorter and longer term one (E6/8a and 8b/+), biscuit had a "within 5 years doing the 8s", John Hat said E5 sooner than it would otherwise happen and/or mid 8s, mine was based more around what an average person could do because I think that's what the question boils down to if you strip out other commitments and train right and whatever (the idealised world), John Arran said 8c.....
I think the only way to settle this is for everyone to club together and pay for some random bumbly to quite their job, move to the hills, and train as hard as possible for five years.
It's tough, but I don't mind offering myself as the test subject here...
For me it is certainly a more interesting question to ask what is possible given the contraints of my current life than closing my eyes and imagining myself romping up the Slovak Direct in a single push.
Coming from a triathlon background it is scary how many hours triathletes can put into training alongside jobs and families. It is now my goal to match my previous level of committment that I had to tri with climbing.
I'm guessing I might sneak into the 7s and the low E grades but I fully expect it to take at least a year.
Oh and when I did Mont Blanc I felt I handled the altitude fairly well so I see no reason why, stripped of all other responsibilities, I couldn't beat Killian Journet to the Everest speed ascent without O2
> "Argue for your limitations and sure enough they're yours."
That's true. But if you ignore your perceived limitations you are far more likely to end up in hospital with an overuse injury or a fall injury than someone who backs off.
If you are climbing for fun, rather than to make a living, then when you reach a point where you start getting regular niggling injuries you need to decide whether to push on and risk something that will need surgery to fix.
There are unfortunately individual physical, technical and mental limits which we all have, and the argument that everyone could train and be coached beyond those 'natural' limitations is a bit unrealistic.
Take 50 climbers, all currently climbing at around E2, who could all completely dedicate the next 5 years of their lives to nothing but climbing. Give them the same training, coaching and support programmes, ensure they all climb and train the same amount - does anyone believe that all 50 will be climbing E9 or 8c at the end of the 5 years????
Of course not - you'd be lucky if 10 achieved it.
I could probably reach the dizzy heights of AD, III, VS, 6C and V6! Given my current grades of PD+, II, VS (once), 6B and V4.
> Take 50 climbers, all currently climbing at around E2, who could all completely dedicate the next 5 years of their lives to nothing but climbing. Give them the same training, coaching and support programmes, ensure they all climb and train the same amount - does anyone believe that all 50 will be climbing E9 or 8c at the end of the 5 years????
> Of course not - you'd be lucky if 10 achieved it.
I agree. In climbing there appears to be an odd attitude that anyone can climb any grade as long as they apply themselves. If they fail, it is because they didn't 'want it' enough. It isn't true in any other discipline, so why should it be true in climbing,
The argument that people are making is that you can be coached up to some of them (I'm not sure I understand the concept of a technical limit if we think about redpoints - any move you can physically do can be practised - and I'm also not sure what a mental limit is outside of dangerous trad).
Who said anything about 5 years?
In the real world that's probably true, but a large part of that will be due to willpower (there's training and there's training, even if you force them all to do the same amount the ones who want it more will push that little bit harder or more effectively), another chunk down to injury, and so on. But the op was talking about an ideal world...
Due to physical limitations (reconstructive surgery) and a healthy fear of run out hard routes I suspect my limit would be some carefully chosen E4s. Luckily, I'm happy with that!
But 8c is a very long way from 9b...
To reverse the question slightly, what level do you think you have to be "genetically special" to climb at then? How many of the posters on this thread based on the grades they have already climbed are genetically advantaged?
That's basically the question isn't it - if you think that people fail to achieve given grades because they actually can't rather than that they didn't want it enough/didn't train right/etc, you must have an idea in your head of where the cutoff between what can be done by hard work and what can be done by hard work plus being dealt a genetically good hand is?
I think your argument is something of a strawman to be honest - no one posting so far has suggested they could climb 9b+ after all. Climbing is a young sport in terms of training knowledge both amongst coaches and amongst climbers themselves, and so when 99.9% of people say they can't climb a given grade it's not due to an actual physical limitation imposed on them by genetics but actually a reflection of their lack of willpower, training knowledge and what have you. For a few maybe they have actually reached their genetic limit, but so few that I'd argue it's almost irrelevant, especially since it probably includes none of the sorts of people who would reply to threads like this one!
Perhaps in 20 years time, with better training knowledge and a larger pool of candidates to draw on, someone will be able to say things like they can in running where you can say 5 minute miles are for the average club runner and 4 minute miles require some extra spark that most people don't have or whatever, but I suspect that when they find out what that level it is it will be a lot higher than you think!
In terms of trad (headpoint) I am probably not willing to take massive risks these days but I would like to climb E9. I top roped Meshuga fairly steadily last year but I would need to get into the right mindset to lead something like that. Onsight trad I would like to onsight E7 which wouldn't be a massive ask based on my general sport climbing fitness but I would need to be doing trad week in week out to build up and that doesn't seem to happen this days.
Bouldering I would like to climb an 8A bloc but that would also need more power and finger strength whilst avoiding injury.
In reply to the original poster. You need to address whether your indoor training is relevant to your outdoor goals. I see a lot of people going well down the wall pulling hard moves but on big yellow blobs and first joint egdes etc with fairly decent feet but wonder why they can't perform on British lime!
Which is more or less the attitude I was referring to.
I noticed the old chestnut "every can climb 8a" popped up to - but only if they really want!
Yes, but you've not given any reason why it's not true. I'm with AJM.
If the 'average runner' should be able to do an x minute mile with appropriately dedicated training (not being a runner I don't know what value x is), there will be an equivalent 'x' for climbers. People who I see who are highly motivated and train properly seem to get into the 8s given enough time, leading to a quick estimate that 'x' for climbing is 8something. If there were really a reason why 'normal' motivated people couldn't get to 8s, then you would expect to see plenty of people at the wall training hard and training well, for many years, and still being stuck much lower than that. That doesn't tally with my anecdotal experience.
I suspect the main limiting factor is predisposition to injury in your chosen sport, as this is what will stop most people with the motivation to train hard.
I don't follow.
You have said "there's an attitude that you can climb whatever you want if you try hard enough. It isn't true anywhere else, why is it for climbing?"
I don't think it is true for everyone, hence why I think your argument is a strawman, but i think that it is true for almost everyone who asks the question. Basically we believe the same thing, but you just think the bar is a lot lower than I do. I don't believe that given all the time and money in the world I could redpoint Ondras new 9b+, but I am confident I can do 8a. You presumably would place those grades a bit lower, and that's where the disagreement lies.
So go on - do you think the average VS leader is limited in improvement by their genetics or by their actions (combination of how and how much they train and climb and what they do outside climbing in terms of diet)? How about the average E2 leader? The average Fr7a leader? The average E5 leader? The average 8a leader?
Where do you think the average person can justifiably say "I can't climb this" and it be something they could do nothing about, given all the time, coaches, dieticians and climbing trips money can buy? To be so dismissive of the notion that hard work will get you a long way you must have some preconceived idea of how far it will get you?
Do you think you topped out at whatever your max grades were at your fullest potential? I am afraid I don't know what your experience of seriously trying 8a is, so I'm unsure as to whether your last comment about the 8a chestnut is based on having actually seriously tried and not succeeded, or having just assumed it is beyond you.
Nobody is really talking about the dizzy heights of human performance here. In fact the the only person to even suggest F9 upwards appears to be near as damnit there already anyway. Mid F8s for the average Joe with no time/life/job constraints and no serious underlying medical issues hardly seems ambitious let alone absurd especially given how many achieve it within the framework of a relatively normal life.
> I am afraid I don't know what your experience of seriously trying 8a is, so I'm unsure as to whether your last comment about the 8a chestnut is based on having actually seriously tried and not succeeded, or having just assumed it is beyond you.
This is what makes the question very difficult for me to contemplate!
Let's say I am climbing around 6c, V3, and HVS right now.
I can look at a V7 problem - even see someone do it (ditto an 8a and an E6) and be unable to even imagine myself doing the moves. So how can I extrapolate from this and reach an answer much beyond 2 or 3 grades harder?
That's the technical climbing dealt with :-)
I think with no commitments and the ability and desire to climb all the time, I would tend toward the mountains. They are a bit harder to quantify in the context of the question posed by the OP though
> This is what makes the question very difficult for me to contemplate!
> Let's say I am climbing around 6c, V3, and HVS right now.
> I can look at a V7 problem - even see someone do it (ditto an 8a and an E6) and be unable to even imagine myself doing the moves. So how can I extrapolate from this and reach an answer much beyond 2 or 3 grades harder?
> That's the technical climbing dealt with :-)
And yet i did just that within the space of a few months. I got in with the right bunch of people who showed me how to REALLY try. Not just pull as hard as you think you can. I went from doing lots of V3 and no V4's to doing my first V4 and V5 in one day then my first V6 a week later. The V7 took a while longer ;0)
In that year i also went to 7a+ from 6c and E4 from E2.
Without normal world limitations we could all achieve massively, if we wanted to. Therein lies the difference. I got frustrated at not being able to climb those problems and went for it. Others may not be able to climb them and not want to, or tell themselves they can't/don't want to so there is no point.
I could be training now but i am on here instead. Another missed opportunity to improve ;0)
agreed. (also find myself much closer to the Ivanator than most other respondants)
There is a feature here that is being ignored: the concept that if we all trained as hard as the elite, we could all (mostly) achieve the same gains. what this misses is that the elite have a make-up (mostly genetic I suspect) that enables them to take that much punishment in training. Most of us would crack up trying. Take Mo Farrah - running 100 miles plus every week with lots of speed work - if I tried that I'd get injured, as my legs just wouldn't cope. Same with many hours a week of wall training.
So maybe the question should be 'if I was 100% committed etc etc AND remained 100% uninjured...'
Cheers. I actually chose most of those grades quite arbitrarily, they are not specific to me, they were used to illustrate why I'm struggling with the question. Possibly if I set some goals and put a plan in place, I could extrapolate from whatever improvement I see, and imagine the OP's scenario a little better. It is a good question. And you have reminded me - last night I meant to dig up this link for the OP, which is not directly related to the question but is always worth a read:
45 years ago I thought E2 in Llanberis would probably be tops. 35 years ago, I thought that E4 on grit might be the outer margin of sane behaviour (it probably was, for me!). 20 years ago at Malham, I couldn't imagine myself ever doing anything more demanding than Obsession. But this year, I'm looking for another 8a to redpoint.
So either, a Wilton VS is about equivalent to French 8a. Or grade slippage is more widespread than we think. Or climbing shoes have got better (they have). Or we shouldn't allow ourselves to be hampered by self-imposed expectations? Any other theories?
I don't disagree, but I think it's very much a matter of degree. My body probably couldn't take 100 miles a week of training, and I'm sure as hell if I tried to work as hard as someone like Rich Simpson (or abarro81 above for that matter) my body would probably explode.
But most people, including me, do far far less than that! I reckon on a good week I could do 2 wall sessions (couple of hours each, but probably only half at best of that time spent actually climbing, so say 3 hours of actually climbing and that's being extremely charitable), and a couple of fingerboard sessions where I spend what, maybe 10-15 minutes of continuous time actually hanging each time (let's again be charitable and call it an hour total). So that's 4 hours of indoor training load.
Then at highest intensity my weekend could consist of 2 days sport climbing, where I'll be out for most of a day and have a few goes at things. Climbing ratio (actual moves rather than hanging on the rope resting between attempts at a move) probably far less than a half, say a third, so maybe 6 hours of pure climbing time across the two days? I don't even think its that to be honest. If i was actually on redpoint then if a uk power endurance route takes maybe 5 minutes you could get 12 goes and it would only be an hour of actual climbing time!
That's 10 hours. If I was scrambling or climbing trad or whatever the time would go up but the intensity would take a massive hit downwards.
That's not an elite training load. It just isn't. And it's likely to be enough to get me to 8a, which Chris who you're agreeing with seems to think is something special (on the basis that he thinks that it's beyond the level where trying hard will get you, judging by his response).
So yes, there is a genetic predisposition to tolerate high training load which is undoubtedly one of the things that separates the very elite from the rest of us. I don't know where this sort of thing starts to kick in - maybe abarro81 has a better idea than any of us - but I'm pretty sure it's not at my level. The time I've been injured through training was my own stupidity rather than an excessive training load.
I thougt I'd try throwing some actual numbers in here. I'm seeing a lot of comparisons to running and 4 and 5 minute miles, and people seem to be arguing that four minute miles are only schievable by the well traned and gentically gifted, whereas any healthy runner willnig to work at it could run a five minute mile. OK.
How many people have run 4 minute miles? Well over a thousand. How many people have climbed 9a? There are lists online of around 150 to 200 people. Ergo: climbing 9a is significantly harder than running a four minute mile.
Ah, but sport climbing is an immature discipline. OK: 9a was first climbed about twenty years ago, and has since been climbed by a couple of hundred people. Between 1954 and 1974 there were - guess what - a couple of hundred four minute milers. Ergo: climbing 9a is about as difficult as running a four minute mile.
But what sport climbing grade is about as hard as running a five minute mile?
If I've given the impression of arguing that it's because I've made numbers up on the spot! Alex's "x for runners; there is an equivalent x for climbers" way of describing it is better.
No comparison to running is going to help in my opinion - there's a larger pool of runners, there are more people who treat it as a sport (as opposed to a hobby/way of life/etc as many climbers say they do) and there's far more knowledge of how to train well for running (I don't know, but I get the impression it's a type of training that's more easy to quantify as well, which perhaps makes it easier to follow a training plan? Possibly complete balls though). It's going to be very difficult to get the numbers for any of 9a, 4 min mile, 5 min mile or the "mystery unknown grade you're trying to solve for" of the number of people who want to do it and follow that up with enough action to make it happen (ie I bet there are loads of people with ridiculously hard routes on their wish lists on the logbooks who have them on there but aren't in any way trying to make that dream a reality), because I reckon you need that to get a sense of how hard it is - assuming you want the answer as some sort of "55% of serious attemptees on a 4 min mile succeed, ditto for 9a, therefore they are equivalent" sort of result.
Pretty interesting topic...am not exactly sure of my own opinion on this. I tend to think that as some people have said there is a large element of genetics determining how hard you can climb but that genetics probably isn't the limiting factor most of the time.
I certainly think that most people who applied themselves, over a number of years and who despite the injuries (that everyone trying to improve gets) didn't give up, could achieve somewhere in the low 8s (sport grade). obviously there are some people whose genetics wouldn't allow this but most people (and I base this only on my own anecdotal experience of seeing lots of people do 8a who simply train reguarly and train well)
For me personally I suspect that 8c will be the limit, if I was younger then it could be higher but given that I will be 40 soon I reckon that I will probably top out at 8c as long as we don't have another apocalyptic summer where the route I want to do stays wet most of the year (I'm looking at you True North!)
To the OP: As some people have mentioned earlier you might want to change a couple of the things about your training. I know the question was not about your training but here is my two penneth anyway!
1. 6 mths in climbing training terms is not very long. Personally if I have a winter's training I am happy if I see a small improvement in strength.
2. Have you talked to other people about the training that you do? I don't mean people who climb at the same grade as you but people better. What do they do that is different to you? If you don't know anyone then I would just approach them at the wall and chat - I don't know anyone who isn't happy to help someone keen improve.
3. Is your technique anygood? Have you compared how you climb a problem to someone else? If you look at people who are obviously good - see how they do problems it is prettyy helpful to look at others and see what they find easier or harder. I do this myself all the time. I don't mean that technique will be a substitute for power and strength but good technique on all angles and all rock types is a base level skill that you need.
4. Sometimes strength and power improvements indoors don't always translate to outdoor performance. Don't let this get you down, it happens to everyone. I can't count the number of times I have felt like a beast indoors, been climbing harder than ever and achieved new pbs on campusing/fingerboarding and then gone outdoors and got completely spanked! Personally I just accept that is the nature of climbing and keep going back until I stop getting spanked on that route/problem etc...
Finally in my opinion the training that works is the simple boring stuff that represents the things you want to do outside. Fingerboarding - trying to hold things that you currently can't hold. Bouldering on a 45 board on crimps and small edges. Circuits of 20 - 40 moves, routes indoors that you fail on and then redpoint.
Anyway good luck
> There are unfortunately individual physical, technical and mental limits which we all have, and the argument that everyone could train and be coached beyond those 'natural' limitations is a bit unrealistic.
> Take 50 climbers, all currently climbing at around E2, who could all completely dedicate the next 5 years of their lives to nothing but climbing. Give them the same training, coaching and support programmes, ensure they all climb and train the same amount - does anyone believe that all 50 will be climbing E9 or 8c at the end of the 5 years????
I agree with your basic point, but with a few exceptions I think limits are basically mental rather than physical or technical. I'm not convinced that genetics and upbringing have left different people with massively different points beyond which they'd be unable to get any stronger or improve their technique, but it seems true (and you see it in pretty much everything) that people are differently wired in terms of how far they'll go with a training regime / lifestyle that will actually get them near their physical limitations.
To put it another way, if you did a brain switch between me and Adam Ondra (that the left motor functions with the body) and then left them for five years, you'd probably find that Ondra's brain in my body massively outclimbed my brain in his body.
My plan is to redpoint at least an 8b before I die, I suspect 8c would be possible if I committed enough, I don't know if a 9a would be having started training in my 30s. Trad wise, I've no idea what's possible really as I only started it this year.
What holds me back? In no particular order:
* Being too tight/stubborn to pay for a professional coach to point out my weaknesses.
* Complacency - it's too easy to think I've cracked a particular aspect of my climbing, when in fact all I've done is hit the ceiling of my current imagination of what's possible to achieve in that aspect.
* Lack of flexibility (I find it hard to improve my lower back flexibility after a couple of slipped disks, if I try too hard it bites back and seized up, putting me out of training for a while).
* Not knowing what's holding me back. See point 1. It's time I started paying for a coach to periodically examine my climbing.
Eric Horst covered this topic briefly. Basically we can fit the general population to their ultimate genetic potential at climbing in a normal distribution. Lets assume everyone trained perfectly so it was always a case of genetic limitation. Horst reckoned the vast majority of the population given the right training could climb 7b. The numbers would fall with harder grades until a tiny percentage of the population with better genetics will be able to climb 9b or whatever. Equally, the numbers would fall with easier grades until a tiny percentage of the population with poor genetics will be only able to climb 5+ or whatever.
Another thing to consider is that we tend to do things we are good at, so you would expect most regular climbers to be on average the upper side of genetic potential for climbing. This skews the bell curve to the right.
So to answer the OP's question, I would estimate that given perfect conditions the vast majority of climbers will be able to climb up between 7a to 8c.
Of course training perfectly is impossible and due to the reality of normal life none of us are able to reach the limit of genetic potential... which makes the question impossible to prove one way or the other.
I think I'd meet my limitations pretty quickly as existing (as far as I can tell, permanent) injuries (shoulder and fingers) would get worse.
It's funny that many are convinced that 'if they only applied themselves' they could climb 8a or whatever. Many might get injured one way or another. A lot of other variables can hold you back other than motivation, job, family commitments etc.
Well onsighting 7a+ and redpointing 7c you've certainly got the potential to climb a lot harder than E2 on trad, that's for sure.
Not aimed at anyone in particular but the whole injury/creaky body/i could never do THAT much training is a bit of an excuse. There are so many thoughts on how it could all go wrong and you would get injured or never climb past 6c even if you trained full time. Where's the positivity ?
Everyone gets injured. Look at the recent blog from Natalie Berry about recurring injuries and the example of Shauna Coxsey's broken leg. I know people think: " Yeah but they're 'full time' climbers i could never do that." but it's not true. They work round it. Find Ricky Bell's amazing video on vimeo about what he did when he broke his foot. Positivity in action.
My regular climbing partner has a permanent injury from a bad trad fall. She has very little power in her right leg. She's managed to climb a couple of 8b's with it and many 8a and 8a+'s. She got an 8a in a day the other week and she's in her late 40's.
They all work, they all have families etc. they have just made their lives fit around climbing, not climbing fit around their lives. It's how much you want it. That's what it comes down to. No excuses, apart from the rare cases where stuff happens you can't control. If you really want it you'll get it, if you don't you won't.
There is a noticeable difference in attitudes noted here between those who are climbing in the 'higher' grades and those who aren't. I'm the first to say climbing should be fun and if it's not it's time to change. Everyone is different and we all climb for slightly different reasons. If you don't want to put the effort in to climb HVS because you're happy where you are, and there's more than enough quality routes at VS in the world, then say so. It's not admitting anything bad. I think it's quite positive.
However if you think you would like to but are hiding behind excuses or just can't believe you could ever climb grade x then step out into the spotlight, announce your goals and go for them. If you fail what have you lost ? The world is still turning and hopefully you won't have become so obsessed you lose your job and partner. You will hopefully have learnt some positive things about yourself.
I sat on my arse this afternoon when i could have done something and i didn't get out of bed early before the kids got up to go for a run. Why ? Because i didn't want to. My lie in was more important to me at that time than 7c.
I made up for it tonight though ;-)
Have a look at this:
Nice one !
Reading this thread has made me feel guilty for sitting on my arse all day and having a cheeky glass of red with dinner!
I agree with dave about your perceived lack of obvious gains/improvement. You should make your goals clear in what you want to achieve (outside I assume?) and find problems/routes which will help to build towards said goals.
Have short/med/long term goals so you can get some momentum/positive vibes from achieving the short term ones and then be specific in your training when indoors in terms of hold types/angles/number of moves/style of problem/route.
Work out what holds you back the most from getting up your goal. Ask others who you climb with and then work on these more than you would (if you did at all).
In answer to the question posed. I'm not sure that I would have the dedication/drive to achieve much more than another bouldering grade given no commitments and all the time in the world. I'd like to think a couple if it was perfectly suited to my strengths but the extra training required would most likely lead to many more injuries!
Now I'm nothing special, but what sets me apart is PSYCHE! Seriously, I reckon everyone has the strength to work routes a grade and a half above their current 'comfort grade'. What I find puts people off climbing way out of their grade range is their perception of the higher grades. What gets harder is the movement, the holds are still pretty big. You just have to be willing to fall and take a lot in the beginning. The determination to finish a route clean, to "project" a route, will help you develop the hunger and desire necessary to push at or beyond you physical limit. I find that the importance of mental game is key to huge leaps in improvement. What also helped me in my performance was my footwork. With good footwork, that means a lot of matching and switching feet to get the optimum balance wherever you are on a route, you can see a jump of almost a full number grade. I say I usually look at my feet to hand movement at a ratio of at least 3:1.
In case it helps anyone, the general rule of thumb I've been working by is: anything that that I need to "take" 6-8 times on the first few tries that I think will take me 6-10 goes to do clean, is at the edge of my physical abilities or beyond, and is what I should be getting on. I don't do any other "training" except normal climbing.
Everyone who has climbed with me has changed their mental attitude towards climbing and are now climbing harder than ever. My friend who was climbing F6a two months ago is now trying F6c. Just goes to show that a change in mental game will make you a better climber.
At first the gains are slow, especially at 7a I found, and all effort will feel in vain. However, stick with it and push through, and you'll be climbing stronger than ever, even skipping grades (I've only ever done one 7b because I felt I could push harder)!
Hope this gets someone psyched to try harder stuff!
Do you train with anyone, and do you have a training plan. 1-2 hours doesn't sound like enough time to properly train and 6 months isn't very long in training terms. By the time you warm up and warm down there can't be a lot of time left.
I'd take a look at why you fail on a route and alter your training to target that. Re-evaluate every 2/3 months to see if the targeting has worked.
If you climb at the Barn there are plenty of people who could give you advice on training.
Remember that the harder you climb the more difficult it is to improve appreciably enough to notice and it might be that although you don't seem to be climbing any harder, if you look closely you might find you are consolidating at a certain grade, and might make the leap to the next one soon!
As to how far I could get: I'm at about 6a at the moment but am aiming for 7a by this time next year. It will be a struggle, but if I concentrated on nothing else I think it would be fairly doable. I do have lot's of excuses lined up for if I fail though......................
I'm not going to feel bad just because I don't want it enough. And yes, genetics comes into it. 20 years in, fumbling around somewhere in the upper echelon of mediocrity, I find I have an inherited joint condition. It's only ever going to go one way. Thanks DNA :)
Makes sense to me. Eric's point was that the given the right training (by following his books presumably) the average grade people could climb would be around 7b. So I presume what he means is that (a) the bell curve isn't dramatically skewed, (b) the modal point lies on 7b. Which given real life empirical evidence doesn't seem unreasonable. Course we have no data here so placing a numerical value doesn't add anything. I would interpret "vast majority" as above 50% though, probably closer to 1 standard deviation (around 70%) perhaps
I've read in a bunch of places that it takes 10 years of focused practice to reach 'expert' level in any discipline. Give me 10 years of no commitments other than climbing, 100% dedication and effective climbing training - I fancy I could climb pretty hard - Font8a even, which should get me well into the sport F8s, and up some pretty hard Egrades.
Evidence? With lots of other commitments and about 5 years of regular climbing, I've climbed into the mid F7s. I've seen people at my sort of level up their commitment to climbing and start heading into the F8s.
I think the longer you climb without having picked up good technique/training habits, the harder it is to reach your true potential, because you have to unlearn bad habits in order to progress. To the poster above who cites Horst - there's some good stuff in there, but I found the Self-coached Climber a much better resource for training knowledge. Combined with 9 out of 10 climbers make the same mistakes and Neil Gresham's training vids you've got a good foundation to build towards high grades.
To the OP - don't be discouraged. I've trained hard and seen negative progress over 6 month periods. Recently I've worked on training smarter and resting between sessions more and have seen some good steady progress. Training 1-2 hours every day may mean you're in a depressed 'training' phase and need some rest in order to get to a 'performing' phase.
I've known people who can cruise 7b/c sport, but put them 30' above gear on E3/4 and it's a whole different ball game.
>I notice all this talk of training and commitment is only being translated into sport grades - try the same approach with Trad, and you won't be able to make the numbers stack up, because that's where the 'head' comes into play, and in my opinion, you've either got a 'head' for big committing leads, or you haven't.
I guess there's no point in sports psychologists and mental coaching then.
Why do you need to get 30ft out from gear on big committing leads? Some hard trad is bold, some isn't.
> I guess there's no point in sports psychologists and mental coaching then.
Of course - if you need it, just seems strange to me to need a psychologist for a sport like climbing - if I was wary of 'pushing it out' I doubt I'd have taken the sport up in the first place, but maybe that's just me.
> Why do you need to get 30ft out from gear on big committing leads? Some hard trad is bold, some isn't.
I think it's obvious I was talking about 'bold' trad as part of my argument.
But the original question was about how far one could go with all the time and professional assistance required.
Ok, so you're a bold climber, good for you. I'm not. If I wanted to tick bolder routes then I would have to address the psychological side of the game yet somehow I still got into and enjoy climbing despite my cowardice.
It's not that obvious since you didn't say so, you just said people were focusing on sport and that ability in that game doesn't necessarily translate to trad.
Not sure I agree with you there and nor does Dave Macleod if you read his blog. Being bold has always seemed to me to be something that is just as possible to get better at as anything else in climbing. The more you build up doing trad and moving above gear the easier things get at that style.Obviously some people have a naturally stronger "head" (personally I don't fit in that category!) and some people find that they have to work hard at going above gear etc... but that is the same with most apsects of climbing.
To be fair I don't do any trad anymore but have done quite a bit in the past.
In reply to JM: We'll see next year!
Looks like it's a 3 way race to 8c next year then...
Don't even try counting Unjustified Ally!
I suppose it all boils down to the early influences and attitudes when we start out climbing, in my case at the beginning of the 70's - it's a generational thing - we weren't as risk averse as today's generation seem to be, judging by a lot of posts on this forum.
There's also multiple types of bold - people can be bold when they're doing moves well below their limit in the deckout zone, or they can be bold doing really really hard moves they stand a solid chance of falling off with a bomber runner just below their feet, but being able to do one doesn't necessarily translate to to being able to do the other.
In response to your original point - do you have any evidence that you can't train a head for hard trad, or is this just an opinion? I seem to remember McLeod thinks you can from one of his books/articles, and personally I'd believe him...
Likewise, doing moves at your limit with a bomber runner below your feet, isn't being bold either.
As for 'head' training, well I'm sure it's possible, however, just because Dave McLeod thinks you can, doesn't mean it's carved in factual stone, irrespective of his superb credentials.
Sorry, but bollocks - if you are on a route 40ft out from a runner 99% of climbers would call that bold and for a leader of that grade the moves will be well below limit (eg for an E4 leader 6b moves might be roughly at the limit of what they would usually try on trad, well protected E4 6b, but bold E4s don't have 6b moves in dangerous positions they have 5c ones).
What do you call E6 6as, E4 5cs and so on then if they aren't bold, cos sure as hell the moves won't be at limit for a solid leader at that grade?
There's at your perceived limit and at your limit. There's a lot of people who won't commit to a move with a bomber runner at their feet with a 50% chance of falling off. If you don't like the word "bold" then lets just say it takes a different kind of commitment to do this move than to do the balancey move above a deckout. And plenty of people who can do one just fine really don't like the other, in both directions.
I'm glad then - it seems that you, me and Dave are all in agreement, and so if a head can be trained like anything else then why did you claim it was either something you had or you didn't in your earlier post? You seem to have changed position, which is good, but I wonder why?
As for your definition of boldness. You seem to be separating tech and adj grades, Also, you seem to be basing your argument on E grades denoting seriousness - they in fact mainly denote overall difficulty/sustained nature - hence the discussions over the years about introducing a third grade to denote seriousness.
As for perceived limit, well I'm sorry, but perception is reality 99% of the time.
For instance Bloody Slab is E3 5b and poorly protected. Yet West Buttress Eliminate is E3 5c, yet isn't poorly protected. Whilst the latter is harder, the former is more serious.
At the end of the day, we all have our different opinions, and often there is no right or wrong one, they're just different.
Sorry, I misunderstood "I'm sure it's possible" to mean agreement. Since there seems to be a pretty solid consensus that you can use fall training to cure a fear of falling itself, extending that to falling on trad gear on reasonably safe routes is presumably something you wouldn't disagree with, enough people have found it works now after all.
There's a very good description in one of Dave Mcs books of his mental processes for if 6 was 9 I think it was, where he basically says that from a chop route you can turn it into a route where you're calm and focusing on the climbing rather than the fear and there's actually only a half a second where the consequences are actually terminal. Well worth a read in terms of how his mental training helps him break routes like that down.
I don't need telling how E grades work, i understand that perfectly well. If you have read into my posts that i think they mean seriousness then im afraid theres been some misunderstanding at your end. And of course i am seperating adjectival and technical grades, how on earth could i express my point otherwise!? From the fact you've picked up on these two things I'm wondering whether you just haven't quite got the point I am making yet? I'm probably not being clear enough, so I'll give it another crack.
My initial comment was "people can be bold when they're doing moves well below their limit in the deckout zone", which is a perfect description of what an E4 leader maybe does on an E4 5c, to my mind. Would you say an E4 leader on an E4 5c is doing moves at their limit? How many E4 leaders can do E4 5c but not E4 6a, which would be the case if the moves were at their limit after all.
What I am then saying is that there's a different type of boldness, or commitment if you prefer, that's required to push yourself onto individual moves in a safe situation but where you stand a high chance of falling off. There's a very different mindset required to actually accept the possibility of a fall and give it 100% anyway to the mindset required to climb with plenty in reserve in a situation where falling off is not an option.
And my argument is that these two things don't transfer over very well, despite the fact that you could encounter both types whilst out climbing - the former on bold trad and the latter on safe trad and sport. My evidence of this is based on not having seen loads of sport onsighters (where falls are far more regular) suddenly rock up and start knocking out bold slabs with for them pathetically easy moves, and also having seen accomplished trad leaders with plenty of bold leads under their belt fail to commit to moves when sport climbing because actually a lifetime of being cautious and ensuring that you are never in a position where you might fall on bold trad routes doesn't prepare you very well for the idea of having to accept the fact that you're likely to fall off and go for it anyway. Safe trad sits in a middle ground between the two, obviously!
Hopefully I've made things a bit clearer now.
I think you missed AJMs point - that an 'E5 leader', say, will never be doing moves at their limit in a bold situation on an E5 - they'll either be below their physical limit in dangerous/bold situations, or at their limit in safe non-commiting situations.
Personally I can't think of many people who ever operate in a genuinely dangerous position at their limit. Fulfilling both of these criteria simultaneously seems to be your definition of being bold, but I suspect yours is a more stringent definition that the 'norm', if there is one. Anyway, if that's your definition then I'm not sure that it's possible to be 'bold' repeatedly since if you can do it repeatedly without hurting yourself you can't, by definition, be fulfilling both criteria!
Thinking about it, you said that you were talking about sport grades not transferring to 'bold' trad. However these people with big sport grades who get scared away from gear on an easy trad route aren't actually being bold - by your definition - as they're not near their actual limit, they're just conforming to being bad at one of AJMs definitions of 'bold' i.e. bad at being in dangerous situations away from their limit.
Sorry, kind of lost my way there but can't easily think of a more eloquent way to put it.
Anyway, I'm with AJM - there definitely are two distinctly different types of head for pushing the boat out mentally. The mindset for being at your physical limit above a safe but terrifying lob vs the mindset for being in a serious and dangerous position but not actually at your physical limit.
> I think you missed AJMs point - that an 'E5 leader', say, will never be doing moves at their limit in a bold situation on an E5 - they'll either be below their physical limit in dangerous/bold situations, or at their limit in safe non-commiting situations.
It's a shame you and AJM weren't around in the late 70's/early 80's with routes like Footless Crow and some of Pete Whillance routes on the late Deer Bield Buttress - think you might have a different opinion on the matter :-)
Anyway, if that's your definition then I'm not sure that it's possible to be 'bold' repeatedly since if you can do it repeatedly without hurting yourself you can't, by definition, be fulfilling both criteria!
Do you want to try running that argument past John Redhead :-)
How many 'terrifying' lobs are there on sport routes???
Anyway, I think I've now had far too many glasses of a rather delicious Cote Du Rhone to debate this subject further with any clarity :-)
That's a really inspiring post. Are you based in London ? I'd really love to get together with you for a session. I can travel too.
Obviously there are exceptions to the ideas stated above that you won't be doing moves near your limit in a dangerous position. Like you said Redhead (and probably Dawes) are good examples of this. However they are so far removed from what most people would count as bold (I would say suicidal but with an amazing talent) as to not be relevant to this discussion.
As I said earlier, in my opinion boldness or "head" however you want to define it is trainable. It certainly is in my experience. Obviously some people have a better head and are naturally bolder (not me!) but my experience is that over a period of time doing lots of trad routes I got much bolder and my head strengthened - my ability to move into dangerous situations improved.
This post is about climbing potential and I think there is an element of truth in what you say about boldness being a limiting factor - personally I will never be a really bold climber, I'm just not wired that way and there certainly is an upper limit of what I would ever be prepared to do. However if I was going to get back into trad (I have no plans to do so - so can confidently spout these views without being put to the test!)I would view my lack of bottle as just another trainable thing to work on.
As to whether performance and improvement is not as straightforward with trad as it is with talking about sport-climbing- well you may have a point to some degree. However physical strength and fitness (climbing specific) will generally translate well to trad - look at most of the top trad climbers (they are all handy sport climbers)and yes boldness will hold some back but so does lack of finger strength like any other climbing attribute.
I think earlier you made a point that "this generation" is not as bold as yours. I am just wondering how you came to that conclusion? Personally I am not sure - I think it is always easier to look back to the past with rosy tinted glasses and think everyone had enormous balls and was running it out 50 foot above an rp 1 etc...Whereas in reality this was a select few psycho/sociopaths.
Okay I am now off out to yet again fail to live up to my climbing potential and make me wonder if any of that training this week was worthwhile!
To the OP, yes you should be improving, but 6 months isn't a long time. Don't expect the improvements to kick in straight away. It may well take a year or so for the true effects of concentrated training to have a real and measurable effect.
If they aren't terrifying then you'll need to let me know why ie seen so many leaders of all types whining about being scared when faced with safe falls above bolts. trad climbers in particular always seem to suggest these sort of lobs can't be terrifying because there's no danger, but then I've seen many climbers suddenly develop commitment issues, shall we say, when faced with one!
To take it to trad though, things like Skinhead Moonstomp are rumoured to have big runouts on steep ground between good runners. I've no doubt though that when pumped out of your skull at the top of one of those runouts the situation won't feel as objectively safe as it actually is!
Regarding your other points - you seem to be suggesting that Footless Crow and the other routes defy the usual niceties of the way E grades work; that for a given grade there can be hard or easy moves and that if the grade comes from difficulty it should be combined with better protection, whereas if the grade comes from a lack of protection the difficulty of the moves eases. The E grade reflects the overall difficulty of an ascent after all, so if Footless Crow has moves in a dangerous position that other routes of the same grade have right next to gear then arguably its misgraded...
Just had one more thought on this: Verdon. Exposed but bolted. So if lobs onto bolts can't be terrifying why is it universally regarded as a bit of a gripping place when you first go there?
> I think earlier you made a point that "this generation" is not as bold as yours. I am just wondering how you came to that conclusion?
EB's (big difference compared to today's sticky rubber and fit), no cams (which meant a lot of routes now relatively well protected, weren't) in fact better pro full stop nowadays.
We were bolder, because we had to be, not because we were naturally.
> Okay I am now off out to yet again fail to live up to my climbing potential and make me wonder if any of that training this week was worthwhile!
Very jealous... have fun, and just remember that it's simply not possible for it to feel scarey, spacey or anything beyond totally safe and secure ;)
I recognise your point about there being different types of 'boldness'. I tend to think of it as the difference between 'bold' and 'serious'. You have to be bold to make hard moves above gear even if essentially you're in a safe position - 'bold' can still be safe. The word 'serious' however gives the impression that if you come off you're likely to do yourself some damage.
I would also agree that many are fine with one but not the other. In the former case folk get to the hard moves and are suddenly spooked out about being a little above the gear whereas in the latter case those not cut out for the routes just tend to avoid them (probably wisely!). Good trad climbers should arguably be capable of both while of course there's many who can't cope with either.
I think it's very rare that someone will do moves near their physical limit but also in a truly serious position. It probably often happens by accident rather than design, like getting committed on something which was a lot harder than expected (e.g. when putting up new routes) or on something steep being too pumped to place gear and having to continue in an ever worsening position! Unless you're just very bold in which case it tends to become a numbers game.
Well I was around then and I think you are wrong! The hard bit of Footless Crow was fairly well protected when first climbed. It was also UK6b (~Font 6c). The Whillance routes (Take It To The LImit) were extremely bold but not harder than UK 6a/b (~Font 6b). At the same time, folk like Al Manson, Jerry Peel and Andy Brown were climbing around Font 7b in safer surroundings.
So your theory that in the 70s people were climbing close to the highest technical standards of the day but in genuinely dangerous situations is not supported by the facts.
And I suppose you can split hairs on whether there were bold routes at the hardest technical standards, or slightly below, but that is working on the principal that the tech grade is the arbiter of difficulty alone and we all know there are a number of factors which determine overall difficulty.
As we've both obviously done Footless and Take it to the Limit in the late 70's early 80's era, I would say that whilst they might have been a tech grade or two down on the hardest problems, they were still big bold (along with many others) leads not to be taken lightly.
Put it like this I reckon even today, there are more people doing 6b/c on bomber gear, than bold run-out 6a/b.
Of course, if we run your argument to it's conclusion, how do you explain Indian Face? And how often do routes like The Bells/Hollow Man get climbed in comparison to 8b/c sport routes?
Thanks for this, this is the sort of inspiration I need, now I just need to get on with the training
> With 1000+ days of effort I'd guess I could probably get to 8b/8b+ but I doubt I'd get much further than that given my age.
> There is nothing really holding me back other than the depressingly mundane reality of real life - basically being skint and struggling to pay a mortgage.
I find this kind of topic a bit difficult and far from any reality.
With perfect conditions everyone could (or not, we'll never know) achieve amazing things in any domain/sport. Considering pure physical abilities without the rest of life's constraints etc ... is completely unrealistic.
For having done some cross country skiing sport in competition (rather tough and demanding for the body) 10 years at a reasonable level I can say that the environment and financial conditions, most of all mental strength and will are as important as personal physical possibilities. Financial conditions because they buy you some peace of mind which is essential to succeed.
I know that much less gifted guys than others have been much more successful on the long term because of their perfect dedication and sacrifices to their sport i.e no parties, no girlfriend, no deviance from the goal whatsoever. Also because in many cases their family was here to support them and take away from them almost all the burden of real life.
A climber like others is a person before all with all it's aspects and speculating on how one could do in perfect conditions is pointless to me other than as a phylosophical debate of ideas, precisely because perfect conditions never exist, and even the best athletes quite often have to make compromises.
Perphaps why not thinking about: At what stage will you stop having pleasure climbing for too much training or sacrifices required over other things in your life ? That might be the real limit for most people, in my opinion.
Finally I would also say that the constant mediatic pressure on how others achieve big things in exceptional conditions is just wrong. Why would there be any standard level to reach, why would 7 something or 8a be a reference?
These grades just don't take into account all the rest: training time, personal abilities. But media take care of well occulting all that.
As for the third sentence in your post - well to paraphrase your opening sentence - bollocks - no one ever said that.
If you're going to put words in my mouth, make sure they are the correct ones.
Your post: "...put them 30' above gear on E3/4..."
These were your exact words on the subject of 30' runouts on E3/4s, to help refresh memories...
I think basically everyone could headpoint E6 and redpoint 7c with an infinite investment of time/effort in training.
> I think basically everyone could headpoint E6 and redpoint 7c with an infinite investment of time/effort in training.
If they wanted to...
And if we're talking about what people could achieve (in the theoretical world, because in the real world there are very real limitations) then far more people could be likely to achieve a headpoint of an 8c sport route, than an E9 trad route like Indian Face.
> And if we're talking about what people could achieve (in the theoretical world, because in the real world there are very real limitations) then far more people could be likely to achieve a headpoint of an 8c sport route, than an E9 trad route like Indian Face.
That's the case in the real world, not just the theoretical one! But you make a good point about balancy death routes being harder to train for.
I suspect with routes that have a very high level of boldness you get to the "just not worth it" barrier, where even though people know they won't fall the consequences are more than most people want to risk. As with everything, you've got to want it enough!
I suspect if you took a population of people who really really wanted to do Indian Face and who really really wanted to climb 8c and compared them the ticks of Indian Face would take less time than the ticks of 8c. But people who, when the chips are down and you have to commit to a move in that position, really want to do Indian Face are rare (although I suspect a lot of armchair 8c wannabes might baulk at the sacrifices involved too, but it's a different type of sacrifice!)
Would you extend the same thing downwards though? Some big bold deathonastick Cloggy E7 or E5 versus an appropriately chosen sport grade (say 8b and 8a, to pluck some numbers from the air)? I don't know how much of it is in the name/reputation, would you say someone could do (headpoint, since I assume that's the style you meant for Indian Face) the E7 less rarely than the 8b, or the E5 than the 8a?
There, fixed that for you.
Not really qualified to comment but I would have thought headpointing a bold E7 6b or E5 5c is surely a good bit easier than redpointing 8b or 8a respectively?
Why do you say it of E5/7 but not of Indian Face at E9?
Well protected E5 is about 7b, so that's 4 grades off 8a.
Well protected E7 about what, 7c+ (don't know, but things like point blank and divided years are safe but airy 8a and E8), so about 3 grades from 8b
Well protected E9 about 8a+, so again 3 grades from 8c
The well protected end of the grade, but it gives an idea of how far apart the sport and trad grades might be. So yeah, why not the same for E9? Or is it just the style of that E9 in particular, and you'd say a bold E9 6c on crimps up a wall would be far easier than an 8c, but that a smeary insecure E5/7 would be harder than 8a/b?
ive always found sport routes far harder for the equivelent trad grade
Well of course not.
Goucho was suggesting that more people would do 8c than Indian Face (serious 7b+), presumably both in red/headpoint style.
I was just wondering whether he thought that the same could be said of 8b and serious 7a+ (E6/7?) and of 8a and serious 6c+ (E6?) - my grades of E5 & E7 might not have been right, but that was my idea.
I don't know I quite believe that more people headpoint bold E7s than climb 8bs, although that's just my perception.
Yes I do, and when it comes to onsighting, the margin will be even greater.
To try and clarify my point regarding the 'head' aspect of climbing in regards to realising climbing potential, I'll use the following:-
Green Death at Millstone is E5 5c. Now, how many sport climbers regularly 'headpointing' F7b+, or onsighting F7a would be comfortable onsighting it - even though technically and physically, they should be able to cruise it without breaking into a sweat?
Or let me put it another way, what is the difference in grade, between peoples best onsight grade, and their best soloing grade - I reckon quite a bit lower in most cases (probably 2 or 3, or maybe more). Now it's obviously nothing to do with their technical or physical ability (someone who onsights E3, should be able to solo at least top end HVS probably E1 with ease, but how many can?) but it's all about the increased boldness required to solo - e.g the 'head' aspect of climbing.
There is a world of difference between doing hard moves next to bomber gear, and doing the same moves 15' above potentially fragile gear.
It might be a bit of a generalisation, but in my experience, the grade people can climb, reduces proportionately to how far they are above their last piece of bomber gear.
More people who headpoint green death (or can - tricky I suppose since at E5 I imagine headpointing is a bit less prevalent since us mortals can aspire to onsight it, whereas the proportions start to decrease as you go higher) than climb Raindogs? I have to say I struggle with that one.
Taking sport climbers and throwing them straight onto green death wasn't really the question though was it, you were claiming that given a load of people at a start point more would hit 8c than E9 (more specifically Indian Face). Presumably by the time the Indian face group reached the edge lane stage of their training they'd already be fairly used to bold slabs and running it out and they'd have probably have done archangel and stuff.
I'm not sure how your arguments in the post above relate to that original argument. I can kind of see the point you're making, in that personally I don't think I'll ever care enough to want to get good at that kind of smeary/insecure shit (I'll keep my bold to Gogarth probably because that stuff inspires me whereas the other stuff doesn't) - theres far more important things to do in life - but I'm not sure what it's got to do with ease of training people for 8c versus Indian face.
I just think you will be able to train more people to headpoint an 8c sport route, than onsight The Bells as an example.
I've just read this bit properly. Isn't it just a statement of the bleeding obvious? Of course people climb less confidently further from gear - that's why Indian Face at 7b+ and Mission Impossible at 8a+ (or whatever) and The Big Issue at 8a+ all get E9 after all, because one of them is a lot bolder than the other two.
If this weren't such an obvious truism, we wouldn't be seriously discussing whether in any way redpointing 8c is equivalent to headpointing bold 7b+. We would have already concluded that the 8c is a world of difficulty harder and moved onto whether 3ps is HVS or E1... :)
I assume you meant in your earlier posts that you thought headpointing IF and 8c were the two things you were comparing? Hence I used headpointing when I moved the example to the lower grades. From the fact that you're now saying E7 onsight and 8c redpoint are your choice comparisons I'm assuming I am right.
You tried to switch the argument, but that wasn't my question to you.
> I've just read this bit properly. Isn't it just a statement of the bleeding obvious? Of course people climb less confidently further from gear
No it isn't actually, because I know several people, myself included, who can still climb confidently, and without too dramatic a reduction in grade (maybe 1 tech grade), further from gear.
The switch of style in 2 separate ways is pushing me beyond my knowledge zone, but the few people I know who have done E6s weren't climbing beyond about 8a/+ at the time I don't think. But I don't really know.
If i need guidance on how i conduct myself in life i hope someone gives it to me before i come across as an arrogant person who won't apologise even when he's been rude to someone for no reason.
There you go fixed it again ;0)
Sorry, it was tongue in cheek but doesn't always come across well on the web. However you were caught with your pants down ranting at someone and it turned out you were in the wrong. In my book that normally merits an aoplogy.
Anyhow it's an interesting thread i am enjoying following so i won't keep straying off topic with it.
So why did you argue it in the first place then?! I was quoting directly from your post...!
Back in the day I used to be too scared of trying 5c because i thought I would fall off to try E2 5cs but got on a load of E2 5b slabs. I'm not sure it says anything terribly meaningful though; I was just a very unbalanced climber in terms of what I tried (I was probably still unbalanced in what I could climb, but less so than what I did).
As you wish - as you said above your argument has got a bit confused, so probably for the best.
And I've never been able to get into the mindset to 'work' a route - low boredom threshold.
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