/ Onsighting 9a or Indian Face - which is harder?
Doesn't that have to go the other way round?
If a trad route takes the same amount of mental/physical effort to onsight as a F7a+ then it's E5.
So if a trad route takes the same amount of mental/physical effort to onsight as a F9a then it's E10.
Actually that sounds a bit harsh.
Its apparently not to hard(but still harder than I can do), but its pretty much a 50ish meter solo with snappy holds.
9a would be more technical, but people are more likely to attempt it.
Absolutely, hence the different grading systems in common use. Of course the headpoint/ab inspection approach to the hardest trad routes does bring the two systems closer together, but watching Pearson's fall on TWOL at Dyer's, whatever its subsequent "correct" grade is a stark reminder of the huge gap between trad and sport as far as possible outcomes if things go pear shaped.
I guess John isn't comparing, he's just asking which is harder.
I don't know how you answer though: what % of the human race could do either - if more could onsight 9a then it's "easier"?
It's a bit like asking which is harder 9b or going sub-10 in the 100 mtrs. Not really the same thing but doesn't mean the question doesn't make sense.
I've got zero chance of doing either, but surely the question lies within the definition of "harder"?
Many people, though certainly not all, could train to become physically strong enough to onsight 9a on bolts. A far smaller subset, I think, could become mentally strong enough to take on something like Indian Face.
One requires the determination and drive to train, the other, I feel, requires a certain mindset that I'm not sure can be acquired, one has to be born with it.
what do you think? You ought to know!
Agreed. I suppose it is a bit like saying - which tastes nicer? Apple or orange? I guess it comes down to the individual who is in the luxurious position to compare.
I think the only way to answer this is with a controlled study:
Take a large sample of climbers across a broad range of abilities and queue them up at the bottom of Indian Face and at a random 9a, keep them in isolation so they don't blow their onsight (or lose their lunches).*
See which route gets ticked first.
* You may have to jet wash the bottom of Indian face a few times
> Many people, though certainly not all, could train to become physically strong enough to onsight 9a on bolts.
Certainly a couple of steps on from the oft said 'anybody can climb 8a' - it's miles away from 'many people' unless the current best world climber in the words are just a load of lightweights. To date afaik only 3 climbers have ever onsighed 8c+, only AO has done it more than twice.
Toby has the right idea about comparing difficulty: more people able to do something = it's easier to do. You don't need to bring the nature of the difficulties into it, as we have a great 'E for everything' grade to do that for you!
It gets complicated by the size of the pool of people interested in doing that type of thing, but I'm sure you get the drift.
To anyone saying you just can't compare, how about comparing 9a onsight to onsighting lower-grade chop-routes (like Archangel or Edge Lane) It's clear then that onsighting 9a is massively more of a challenge. So at what point does it become similarly challenging?
In terms of numbers of British climbers onsighting trad and sport I would guess there are similar numbers who have done 8a os as have done E7 os (I'd expect maybe 100-300 of each). Similarly for 8b os and E8 os (less than 20 of each?) It seems no Brit has yet managed to onsight 8c or E9 but people have been getting close to both so that tallies too.
Then we realise that, despite a pool of very talented climbers trying very hard at sport, nobody in the UK is even close to the level Ondra is operating at on sport (not even the mighty Steve Mac), so we can assume that a similarly ahead-of-the-game trad expert would have at least one E grade on the rest of the UK field. That pretty much means that such a creature would have onsighted plenty of E9s and maybe also E10.
I suppose Caff is our nearest candidate?
To anyone saying you just can't compare...
One option is to fly Ondra in and ask him really nicely if he wouldn't mind doing the honours on IF.
Then we can ask him which is harder.
Or get Dave Mc into training camp until he can onsight 9a.
Or maybe we could just judge which of these approaches is most likely to work and take the answer from that...
Its a skewed question, really - there is only one Indian Face in a wet country, only climbable for short periods any year whereas there are - what - hundreds ? of 9as around the sunniest parts of world.
Its almost a no brainer in my mind that different style 9as will get onsighted much more frequently than Indian Face.
As to which is harder - well one is much harder to train for IF than 9a and neither is going to be done on natural talent alone so I would suggest that, in some ways, IF is harder. IF is a special case, though. I'm not sure what grade Cobra Crack would get but you can see hard trad routes in this style getting onsighted more readily than 9as.
I'm not sure it matters quite what the nature of the difficulties is. The E grade should take all that variability into account so that a chop-route E9 should provide a similar level of overall challenge to a well-protected one. They're both - by definition - similarly likely to be onsighted. We're therefore quite used to comparing chalk with cheese using the same scale.
What I'm getting at is that, by simple reasoning, Ondra seems to be onsighting at a level which would be E10 were it to have been achieved by someone focussing on trad rather than on sport. That to me is a staggering fact and makes me realise quite how far ahead of the game he is - but also, conversely, how possible it potentially is that such a freakishly talented climber could be onsighting E9 and even E10 in the very near future if such a creature were to emerge.
There are hundreds of E9s now, many/most are dangerous and none have been onsighted. There are also hundreds of E7s and E8s, and as far as I can tell the dangerous ones are onsighted roughly as often as the safe ones. That's what the grade means.
I think people, including myself, struggle to comprehend just how physically difficult 9a actually is, so we're still prepared to accept that an onsight is within the realms of possibility whereas an IF onsight isn't. Would that still apply if the sport grade we're talking about was 9b? 9c? 8c?
Personally I'd say that an IF onsight may not be that far off. I think it's pretty much within the capability of the best trad climbers today, but it will take someone who isn't put off by the aura.
It's given E11 because it isn't well protected. If it were then it would probably be E9 and would be a candidate for onsight attempts (but probably not successes unless Ondra visited again!). To onsight a poorly protected route is obviously harder - hence the higher E grade and the higher sport-grade comparison of achievement (onsighting E11 would be like onsighting 9b!)
I'd have thought that you would also have to factor in the consequences. Someone can become a 9a onsighter by a process that would include a major element of failure - ie. they can afford to fail on 25 9a's before they finally make the breakthrough and make the onsight. However, the trad equivalent would not have that luxury (assuming we are talking about serious/chop routes) since failure = death. Hence the consequences play a large part in what is realistically achievable in serious, hard trad onsighting.
To on sight attempt 9a you don't need any grades 'in hand' because - if you fail - no big deal. How many grades would you want in hand to onsight IF ?
Is it fair to compare directly the two when you are putting different requirements on probability of success ?
I agree - and that's why chop-routes are a huge amount easier physically that well protected ones. That's why Edge Lane is E5 while still being only 5c. But it's also why it's 'only' E5 and not higher.
People seem to be missing the point that we have a grading system that takes all of that into account, and does so very successfully for all sorts of well- and poorly-protested routes of all types. And by that scale Ondra is onsighting E10. It's staggering!
That's exactly the point. There is an answer to this question and it's finite. If IF is really 7b+ physically then some British climbers have 5 or even 6 grades in hand in terms of onsight ability. That should make it pretty much a dead cert, but you could have said that at 4 grades in hand.
If you don't think they're comparable at all then your argument is with the E grading system. If you do then Ondra is onsighting 9a.
But surely my point still stands (I could be wrong!). You say Ondra is onsighting e10, and i'm sure he has the capability, BUT, the reality is he hasn't onsighted e10 - simply because the consequences are just to high. So the consequences means that there can't be a meaningful comparison between the two types of climbing.
To me they are equally difficult. I am confident that I will never do either.
... and that from a trad climber!
> If you don't think they're comparable at all then your argument is with the E grading system.
I don't think it's an argument with the e grading system, it's a recognition of the difference between a route that is extremely difficult, and one that is extremely dangerous.
The grades in hand thing is likely to be very variable depending exactly on what level of certainty you are willing to accept though. The amount of 'grades in hand' to move the certainty from 99% to 99.9% could be huge. I think what I'm saying is that the error bars on the equation for routes like IF vs 9a are so large we probably can't ever get a good answer whereas we probably can make a more accurate comparison between, say, Cobra Crack and 9a.
If that were he case how is it that we can give Edge Lane and London Wall the same grade?
All I'm saying is that if there was a 9a that had good trad gear and placing it didn't add even more difficulty it would get E10. That's effectively what Ondra has proved himself capable of.
Let's say Edge Lane is F6b and London Wall is F7b - that's 6 French grades between very safe and chop to be given the same overall E grade. That means his super-safe 9a is like onsighting a chop-route 8a.
Now compare that to the 7b+ often quoted for IF.
But there is a world of difference between effectively soloing a tenuous,insecure,snappy (?) 7b+ like IF and soloing a steep, positive 7b+ on which your experience and training tells you that you simply aren't going to fall off.
Eh? On the contrary, we have separate grading systems for the very reason that they are not comparable.
i think he's made a redundant point, and one that John has countermanded several times in this thread alone. Our grading system is supposed to take this balance of risk vs difficulty into account, and does so very successfully at all grades; most people would say "I'm an EX climber", and so a bold EX is roughly as challenging as a safe but hard EX, where X is pretty much anything.
There's ample empirical data that this works at pretty much all levels. E6 onsighters tend to be onsighting around 7c on bolts, E7 onsighters, around 8a. James Pearson is the one guy who seems to regularly onsight E8, and he onsights about 8b so the the equivalence holds together pretty well from the low E-grades all the way to E8. Why should it break down for E9 and E10?
In which case, onsighting sport 8c is roughly equivalent to onsighting E9, and onsighting 9a is about the equivalent of a trad E10 onsight. I think the fact that people are reluctant to admit that the two are roughly equivalent is just a sign of how out of touch we all are with just how high the level has become in sport climbing these days.
> All I'm saying is that if there was a 9a that had good trad gear and placing it didn't add even more difficulty it would get E10. That's effectively what Ondra has proved himself capable of.
(Not going to get into the ins and outs of e grades...been done to death.)
I agree with what you've said above about a well protected 9a = e10, hence onsightable by Ondra. But your initial comparison was 9a with an e10 chop route - now the comparison becomes less acceptable because the consequences have a direct impact on ones ability to make an onsight attempt, hence the reason it hasn't happened (yet).
In other words, you can afford to fail and fall of a hard sport route, you haven't got the same luxury on a bold trad route of comparative difficulty.
If bold trad climbing had progressed as much as sport climbing has, IF would have been onsighted by now (it is a 25 year old route after all). The fact it hasn't been, tells you everything you need to know about how big a part of the overall difficulty of a route, seriousness is.
And while Rhapsody might entail a sizeable fall, it's a fall which probably won't (judging by the number of falls it has seen) see you in the back of an ambulance or a hearse.
I think at the very top of their respective grades, comparing top end sport with top end bold trad, is a bit like comparing chalk and cheese.
> I agree with what you've said above about a well protected 9a = e10, hence onsightable by Ondra. But your initial comparison was 9a with an e10 chop route - now the comparison becomes less acceptable because the consequences have a direct impact on ones ability to make an onsight attempt, hence the reason it hasn't happened (yet).
I don't think your 'hence' has any evidence. It is seems just as likely that the reason that E9s/E10s (dangerous or not) haven't been onsighted is due to the fact that there aren't good enough climbers attempting them. As midgets... says James Pearson probably has the best list of onsights / flashes on UK trad and he 'only' onsights 8b on bolts.
I can't believe nobody has mentioned DJViper's daring exploits yet!
I was beginning to think I'd been suddenly beamed into an alternate world where logic didn't apply!
The E grade is arrived at generally by considering the number of ascents a route has had (assuming a degree of interest in it at least). You could get every climber in the UK to try onsighting a 9a and I could pretty much guarantee none would succeed. You could try to persuade every UK climber to onsight IF and I could pretty much guarantee none would even tie in. It's self-levelling and the grade already reflects that. In fact it reflects everything - it's an 'overall' grade.
> You could try to persuade every UK climber to onsight IF and I could pretty much guarantee none would even tie in.
MountainSpirit is an F7b climber, he might give it a punt...
I see your logic and agree with it. My only point is that there is a rift between the onsight level achieved in sport as oppose to trad, and to me it is more than the fact that there is something wrong with the e grade or that there aren't enought people trying to onsight e10 chop routes because they are in wet uk (although i think both those are influences). My feeling is that even with IF being equivalent to 9a onsight, there just aren't that many people prepared to put themselves in the position of loosing their lives to make e10 onsight attempts that common. Hence there is the knock on effect that equivalent trad onsight grades always lag behind those of sport, even though in theory they are eqivalent. You could argue that the e grade should account for it, and maybe it should...but hey. Ondra is physically capable of an e10 chop route onsight, but as he says himself, it takes a unique type of climber to actually try it. That doesn't make it 'harder', just more specialised.
The point is that there *isn't* a rift between onsight sport level and trad level in this country. Both hover around E8/8b, which have long been considered roughly equivalent grades. Arguing that there are fewer people that would attempt to onsight an E9 chop route compared to those that would attempt to onsight 9a also misses the point that approximately the same number would succeed if the grades are equivalent. The fact that fewer have the nerve for the trad route is balanced by the fact that fewer have the ability for the sport route.
> The point is that there *isn't* a rift between onsight sport level and trad level in this country. Both hover around E8/8b, which have long been considered roughly equivalent grades.
but there is a rift on a global level
But thats not true, there are far more people trying to onsight 8c-9a than there are trying dangerous e9-10 onsights. I belive one factor influencing that is that nearly everyone is too scared to try it (quite rightly!) so this area of climbing lags behind Johns proposed theoretical potential.
> Arguing that there are fewer people that would attempt to onsight an E9 chop route compared to those that would attempt to onsight 9a also misses the point that approximately the same number would succeed if the grades are equivalent.
I think the crux here is what we mean by "attempt" and "fail". A lot of people who would attempt to onsight 9a would fail by falling off the crux. A lot of people who might "attempt" to onsight a dangerous E9 would "fail" by having the good sense not to even go near the crux - or possibly not to even go near the route.
So if two routes have the same E grade meaning that you'd have about the same chance of success on either of them, how does that take into account the fact that on the dangerous one you've got zero chance of success unless you're confident that it's far enough within your comfort zone to accept the objective danger, at which point success is almost a certainty?
To put it another way, you might expect a (well rounded trad) climber who consistently succeeds at onsighting all styles of 9a to also regularly onsight all styles of E10 (including the dangerous ones). But when we're talking about "attempting" and "trying" without being consistently successful, the balance will be skewed in favour of safe stuff...
But what you're failing to consider is that the much greater consequences of a fall off a chop route (and therefore the reduced likelihood of anyone attempting it) are mitigated by the much reduced chance of someone falling once it is attempted, at any given grade. It's just a consequences vs risk ratio.
If you don't believe that these two factors are in fact balanced then you can't believe that the E grade works.
> In which case, onsighting sport 8c is roughly equivalent to onsighting E9, and onsighting 9a is about the equivalent of a trad E10 onsight. I think the fact that people are reluctant to admit that the two are roughly equivalent is just a sign of how out of touch we all are with just how high the level has become in sport climbing these days.
Except that nobody has yet on sighted an E10, has anybody even onsighted an E9 or even an E8?
> But what you're failing to consider is that the much greater consequences of a fall off a chop route (and therefore the reduced likelihood of anyone attempting it) are mitigated by the much reduced chance of someone falling once it is attempted, at any given grade. It's just a consequences vs risk ratio.
> If you don't believe that these two factors are in fact balanced then you can't believe that the E grade works.
There's your barrister skills, right there.
To everyone struggling with this. Think about the same situation, but at a lower grade. We've no problem with a well protected E3 being equivalent to a death E3, or a sport route of the appropriate grade (what would that be, as an aside - 6c?).
Sure, some climbers are better at one style than another. But in the round, we see them as equivalent. If it works at E3, and E6, and E8. Why doesn't it work for E10?
I believe that the E grade (and more relevantly to me, the UK adjectival grade generally) can consistently tell you (or at least, the elusive "well rounded trad climber") what grade you can almost always do and what grade you basically can't do, but it doesn't consistently tell you what grade you've got a fifty-fifty chance, because it doesn't really make sense to talk about a "fifty-fifty chance" on a route where you won't leave the ground unless you're fairly confident that you'll succeed.
> Except that nobody has yet on sighted an E10, has anybody even onsighted an E9 or even an E8?
unless you believe the equivalence holds, in which case Ondra just has. If you don't believe it holds you need a good reason why it breaks down at E9 and E10, when it's fine at E7 and E8....
> Except that nobody has yet on sighted an E10, has anybody even onsighted an E9 or even an E8?
E8 onsight is almost 'common' these days. Especially the non-chop routes.
> To everyone struggling with this. Think about the same situation, but at a lower grade. We've no problem with a well protected E3 being equivalent to a death E3, or a sport route of the appropriate grade (what would that be, as an aside - 6c?).
> Sure, some climbers are better at one style than another. But in the round, we see them as equivalent. If it works at E3, and E6, and E8. Why doesn't it work for E10?
But John wasn't asking about the difference in likelihood of someone onsighting a bold E9/10 and a well-protected E9/10. He was asking about the difference in likelihood of someone onsighting a bold E9/10 and a sport 9a. Completely different!
God told me that no one was going to onsight the indian face apart from me. It looks like Ondra (and no doubt others) can onsight F9a. Therefore F9a onsight is easier.
In which case, bearing in mind DM is climbing a worked grade of E11 7a, how come he didn't onsight IF, and why did he make such a fuss of repeating it (how long did he spend 'working' it??) - I thought most people could onsight within a couple of grades of their 'worked' grades.
And if IF is only E8, low E9, why aren't there more repeats???
I think we all know the answer to that.
would Ondra onsight Muy Caliente....... almost certainly! (granted it may be E9/10?)
Of course the question is entirely speculative until someone does either. Personally I'd wager that someone (Ondra) will onsight 9a before anyone onsights Indian Face.
But the point that some have made about both styles being incomparable is a fair one. The only person who could really compare them in difficulty will be the one who manages both. But will such a person exist?
Folk talk about the huge difference in sport grade between Indian Face and what the top British climbers can onsight/redpoint on sport, reasoning that surely someone with such a lot in hand could find success on Indian Face. Folk go on about what could Ondra achieve if only he turned his head towards trad. But it's perhaps more likely that Indian Face won't fall to a great sport climber but to a great (and slightly mad) bold trad climber, someone who physically doesn't climb much harder on sport than trad.
> But John wasn't asking about the difference in likelihood of someone onsighting a bold E9/10 and a well-protected E9/10. He was asking about the difference in likelihood of someone onsighting a bold E9/10 and a sport 9a. Completely different!
He wasn't, he was comparing E7 to 8a, E8 to 8b, E9 to 8c and E10 to 9a. These were argued to be broadly equivalent and, coincidentally, when sport routes were graded using E grades these were also the grades used. If your concern is that placing gear makes well protected traditional routes harder, then that is also taken into account. Even well protected E8 is rarely 8b, they are often easier, the extra difficulty made up by the placing of gear.
> In which case, bearing in mind DM is climbing a worked grade of E11 7a, how come he didn't onsight IF, and why did he make such a fuss of repeating it (how long did he spend 'working' it??) - I thought most people could onsight within a couple of grades of their 'worked' grades.
Although as far as I can tell, what most people mean by "worked grade" is "checked out the gear placements and basically figured out the crux sequence on a top rope" whereas for Dave Mac it can actually involve moving house to be nearer the route...
> I think we all know the answer to that.
The way I see it is which event would attract the biggest crowd.
And it would be an onsite attempt of IF everytime. Why? cos it's harder and braver and only a nutter would attempt it and a hero would achieve it.
9a sport route? "oh! he's fallen...no problem, he can have another go in a minute"..yawn
> Of course the question is entirely speculative until someone does either. Personally I'd wager that someone (Ondra) will onsight 9a before anyone onsights Indian Face.
Are you writing this yesterday?
No it's not, that's the whole point. Have you read the above posts?
> He wasn't, he was comparing E7 to 8a, E8 to 8b, E9 to 8c and E10 to 9a.
Exactly. He was comparing trad with sport, not trad with trad.
> Are you writing this yesterday?
Why? No-one has yet done either as far as I know. Feel free to correct me!
> No it's not, that's the whole point. Have you read the above posts?
Yes I read them, that doesn't mean I agree with all of them. It's all a matter of opinion, particularly in an entirely theoretical discussion such as this.
And the reality is, that as good as E grades are, they are not a perfect measurement of all the aspects which make a route hard.
The reality is, that if you fail attempting to onsight a 9a sport route, you fall about 10 feet onto a nice safe bolt. Fail on your onsight attempt on IF, and you're more than likely up shit creek without a paddle!
The level of commitment required for a route like IF, is far greater than a 9a sport route.
But the level of climbing required for a 9a sport route is far greater than for Indian Face, hence their putative equivalence in difficulty
This is kind of what I mean about it making sense to talk about what adjectival grade someone will consistently fail at and what adjectival grade they'll consistently succeed at but not what adjectival grade they'll sometimes succeed at.
The comparison of Edge Lane and London Wall is probably a more interesting one, because there are a lot more people around who can do E5 easily than E9. From my armchair I'd imagine that someone who onsights E7 would be about equally happy to get on either of them, because London Wall might be safer but Edge Lane is a scramble as far as they're concerned. Someone who onsights E3 basically isn't going to get up either - because they'll fall off London Wall and won't touch Edge Lane with a bargepole. But someone who's climbing E4ish will actually stand some chance on London Wall, and will have a crack at it because it's comparatively safe, but they probably still wouldn't touch Edge Lane with a bargepole.
Maybe...but you should try getting BT to activate a phone line...Virgin Media to cancel a subscription..SKY to explain their internet speeds...That is really really reallife CARDCORE!
Having onsighted both London Wall and Edge Lane I can safely say that London Wall is considerably harder (Edge Lane is actually pretty straightforward).
However, I have also onsighted Profit of Doom and Hairless Heart within a few days of each other, and I was certainly more relieved when I got to the top of the latter than the former - mind you, at over 6' 2" with a +10" ape index, Profit is probably only soft 6a for me :-)
Having just skimmed this thread, it seems a pretty silly debate. Trying to say that someone who can climb f whatever sport should be able climb E whatever trad is a non-argument - as pointless as saying that someone who can climb an E3 finger crack should be able to climb an E3 slab. They are two different beasts and there is no reason to believe that someone who can do one should also be able to do the other. It is only meaningful to say that the same proportion of the entire climbing population should be able to climb the E3 crack as the E3 slab (pretty much by definition). Talking in terms of individuals is meaningless. In the case of 9a versus E10, the proportion of the climbing population we are talking about is so tiny that any statistical significance is lost and we are effectively talking aboput individuals, which, as I have pointed out, is pointless.
I think part of the problem is that when you mention the words "Indian Face" people suddenly apply the mystical-trad-boldness thing and declare that it's basically impossible for anything to be harder than onsighting this because, well, you could die!
Maybe looking at 9a onsight vs E9s like Big Issue or Mission Impossible would get more sensible answers, I don't know. I would bet that more people think that 9a vs that kind of E9 is a comparison that it's possible to make. However, if they believe this whilst believing that a comparison with equivalently graded necky E9 routes like Indian Face or bold grit things is impossible, then logically they must have some sort of problem with assigning Big Issue and Indian Face E9, which as you correctly say means there's an issue in terms of how they see the E-graded system in its entirety.
Fwiw I'd be surprised if Pearsons attempt to flash Muy Caliente hadn't planted a few thoughts in a few heads - it's far more comparable, I suspect, to steep modern sport and so personally I'd bet on something like that being onsighted before Indian Face on account of this.
But yes, I think on reflection I'm with you - a 30m E10 with 12 bomber in-situ threads protecting it would probably weigh in at about 8c+ or 9a or something in difficulty, and at the moment there's only one person on the planet who you'd pick as your favourite to onsight it. If you believe that a bold E10 is the same overall difficulty as a safe E10, which our grading system suggests it should be, then an onsight of any E10, bold or safe, would be an equal achievement to onsighting this hypothetical thread-protected beastie, and no one is operating at that level in the current trad scene.
> If that were he case how is it that we can give Edge Lane and London Wall the same grade?
But they're not, one is 5c and one is 6a! Same adjectival grade but subject to your skillset you can maybe get up one and not the other. A fault with E grades or a fault with the climber's all-roundedness?
I used to question the usual equivalencies but that stemmed more from my own strengths/weaknesses than anything. I think there are enough people operating at the in the 8b/E8 level and below to show that there is broad truth in the comparison. As you say, I can't see any reason why it should break down for E9 or 10.
To all those questioning Adam's ability or willingness to onsight E9: he has publicly gone on record to say he has no interest in trad climbing. I think it safe to assume that he could breeze Indian Face if he had any desire to do so. Suggesting he may be scared to try something he doesn't much like is akin to suggesting I am scared to play a round of Golf.
The choice to participate or avoid one discipline of climbing does not change it's 'difficulty' relative to another. The equivalency can still exist. This is not particle physics; observation doesn't change the state of the thing being observed.
> But they're not, one is 5c and one is 6a! Same adjectival grade but subject to your skillset you can maybe get up one and not the other. A fault with E grades or a fault with the climber's all-roundedness?
You could apply that argument just as easily to sport climbs. I can onsight some 7a's but not others. They're still about the same difficulty (7a).some just suit me better than others. Edge Lane and London Wall are both still E5, whether they suit different strengths and weaknesses is irrelevant.
I think it's also fair to point out that EL is reckoned easy for E5 and LW hard; they are probably around 0.95 grades apart anyway, so perhaps the problem is in the choice of example.
IF is what, 7b+? That is very doable by many climbers.
9a is definitely not doable by many climbers. 8a and harder bouldering problems are not easily doable by many climbers, so how can 9a be - yet alone onsighting 9a?
Effectively soloing a big 7b+ slab is clearly not that doable else more would have done it. If you're going to compare it, you can't ignore the main reason why something is hard, because its not just about pulling.
It seems that the harder routes that have been onsighted on grit and in Wales have been done so on the back of a lot of headpoints and ground ups. Indian Face isn't ever really going to have this.
I love the romantic notions that IF seems to evoke with a lot of climbers - is it because it's technically easy but very dangerous, and people somehow see this as harking back to trad climbing's tweed and hemp past?
I read Ondra saying the opposite, that he liked to try every style of climbing in the future, (but commenting that headpointing do not inspire him.)
This summer he was seen placing gear in Norway, seems to need some more experience though, taking a bad groundfall in loose terrain.
I hope he still focus on exploring he´s ability to move on rock. That would be more effective in sportclimbing. Tradclimbing can wait,I think Ondras dedication and desire to climb hard could lead to very high risktaking should he turn to bold trad routes. That would be a waste.
Onsighting 9a is physically and technically harder than onsighting a bold E10. Onsighting a bold E10 is way braver than onsighting a 9a.
Don't know if 'bravery' and 'strength & skill' are comparable - they are likely earned in different ways.
If Ondra tried his hand at on-sighting IF he might die, it's not an option for him. The guy is a very talented wimp.
> If Ondra tried his hand at on-sighting IF he might die, it's not an option for him. The guy is a very talented wimp.
And we all know who is to blame for him turning out like that, don't we...?
That comment is beyond clueless.
Ondra ahas climbed WoGu, a multipitch 8c route with 20m run outs and serious fall potential. There are other examples like this. You don't have to place your own gear to be bold. http://www.alpinist.com/doc/web08x/newswire-adam-ondra-redpoint-wogu
Imagine what grade a route with 8a+ climbing between bolts and 20m fall potential would get on slate. It wouldn't begin "Fr" it would begin "E" and no f*cking mistake.
It's a shame that probably no one from the uk has repeated the route, because if they did I'm sure an E grade suggestion would have been made for the news reports of it. There's probably only a handful of people who could deal with that sort of runout and that overall difficulty mind you.
Climbing as hard as on Rhapsody (8c, seems to have settled at), an entire league of difficulty beyond Caffs impressions of the big pitch on Long Hope (8a+, and beyond McLeods of 8b+ too), easily as big falls as available on either, but multiple pitches with more sustained difficulties (it's shorter than Long Hope, but the average pitch difficulty is far higher). Wimp my arse.
He will have done this a LOT of times. Even in Europe it rains occasionally and washes the chalk off.
> Maybe looking at 9a onsight vs E9s like Big Issue or Mission Impossible would get more sensible answers, I don't know. I would bet that more people think that 9a vs that kind of E9 is a comparison that it's possible to make. However, if they believe this whilst believing that a comparison with equivalently graded necky E9 routes like Indian Face or bold grit things is impossible, then logically they must have some sort of problem with assigning Big Issue and Indian Face E9, which as you correctly say means there's an issue in terms of how they see the E-graded system in its entirety.
And IF may be very hard to onsight (it involves insecure climbing in an exceptionally dangerous position on a crag that's rarely in condition) - since it hasn't been climbed onsight then it's a meaningless comparator. AO has said that there's 8b/+'s that he finds really difficult to onsight:
'If I want to onsight 8b in the Frankenjura I can't afford to make a single mistake, the routes are so short and if you get a wrong hand, that's it.'
Does this make these routes harder than the 8c+s he's onsighted?
IF may never get on onsight, this doesn't make it any more difficult than it already is i.e. an amazing cutting edge ascent in the later 80's now superceded by harder routes. And AOs exploits repeating the worlds hardest routes and boulder problems, putting up new routes that are almost certainly harder and onsighting harder than anyone else already put him at a position in climbing history where a lot of this thread looks a bit sad.
> I think part of the problem is that when you mention the words "Indian Face" people suddenly apply the mystical-trad-boldness thing and declare that it's basically impossible for anything to be harder than onsighting this because, well, you could die!
It's also a bit of a funny case because the climbing is so unlike most sport routes, so even if someone climbs technically much harder stuff on steep limestone then it's hard to imagine what they might do on a horrible sustained balancey slab thing.
Are there any comparatively dangerous routes that are more on the steep-and-positive side? I know Dave Mac has said that If Six Was Nine is basically like a steep positive F8a+ sport route except that you'd probably die if you fluffed the crux, so that might make for an interesting comparison...
In fact, this whole article makes for interesting and relevant reading on danger vs technicality:
Fwiw, hasn't Ondra made a point over the years of repeating a whole host of hard (8c and up) routes in the very "unfashionable" vertical techy style, plus of course that Tough Enough big wall in Madagascar with its 8c odd granite slab pitches? I imagine they're all relatively insecure, and insecure in a way that's a whole climbing generation ahead in insecurity and difficulty from Indian Face. And those Ratikon etc routes linked to above always in the pictures look blank and vertical, and I imagine blank and vertical 8b+ probably has holds as small or smaller than balancey slab 7b+. Not all sport is steep.
I think it's odd so few people have climbed it in truth. Reputation obviously counts for a lot.
The Big Issue type climbs onsight vs F9a onsight is a different question.
> I think it's odd so few people have climbed it in truth. Reputation obviously counts for a lot.
I'm not sure the French grade means that much in this context - my limited experience of sports grades for slabs is that they can feel desperate for the grade, certainly font 7a slabs in font mostly appear utterly impossible to me. Since IF is give a 6c technical grade I expect it may have a crux in the font 7a/7a+ range, much harder than you average limestone 7b+, add in the insecure nature of the climbig etc and I guess it's no longer a walk in the park.
Missed this! So you're giving 1-3 sport grades for the fear. I see that you've onsighted 7b+ so on the generous side of your equation you should be happy onsight soloing 7a. Really?
Whether this applies higher up the scale I don't know but as E5 can cover 6bish to 7bish the whole equivalency thing doesn't seem to stack up.
Also, while there are some who demonstrate this equivalence, I'd bet that most do not and that those who apply themselves equally to both disciplines onsight somewhat harder than sport than on trad. But I guess there is a difference between what you can onsight 'all the time' on sport and what you occasionally fluke your way up.
Maybe the difference in onsight ability between the 2 disciplines is more a reflection of many climbers' limitations on trad rather than a lack of equivalence between the 2 grading systems?
how many human beings have done either?
As far as I know, which is not far, no one has onsighted either (or both) to tell us.
I suspect both are close to impossible.
To onsight indian face you would need to be mentally ill and a very good climber which seems very unlikely. Suicidal people choose less complex ways to end it. Anyone in their right mind would at least abseil inspect first.
To onsight 9a you just need perfect genetics, perfect training from birth and luck, for me that seems more probable.
Yes, he flashed it. Keep up.
> I think it's odd so few people have climbed it in truth. Reputation obviously counts for a lot.
> The Big Issue type climbs onsight vs F9a onsight is a different question.
It is interesting isn't it - a quick count on my fingers suggests 9 letter grades between 9a and 7b+. Let's say that someone who has onsighted one 9a can onsight solo any 7b+. Then if the grades are of equal size, someone who has onsighted one 7b+ should be able to onsight solo the nastiest F6a you can think of.
Speaking personally, I can think of loads of F6a routes I would not even have considered onsight soloing when climbing regularly. eg. almost every route at Buoux of that grade.
That's a good comparison and shows that climbing particular types of route well requires particular strengths. Ondra's clearly mastered the technical wizardry and has relatively little experience of the extreme-head end of the game but there have been plenty of people who have been very much at the other end of the spectrum.
Your grade analogy is also curious; I tend to be reliably onsighting anywhere between 7b+ and 7c+ depending on if I've been climbing much lately, with the odd very rare 8a, while at the same time I'd class anything up to 6b+ as being fair game for onsight soloing, including multi-pitch limestone with some sections of poor rock, and have onsight soloed plenty of 6c or more too, including on multi-pitch sandstone. That's an 8-grade difference or less. Were I to be climbing 6 sport grades harder and have an all-time best onsight of 9a I'd then expect to be considering anything up to 7b+ as fair game, regardless of the nature of the route, and would have climbed some harder and equally insecure routes too.
Indeed with this grade shift analogy 7b+ solos on scary terrain would be a whole lot easier for me than 9a onsights. I'd also hazard that (taking the analogy one step further) there are plenty of climbers around who have onsight soloed dodgy 5b+ (maybe E1 5a?) while not having a hope of getting up any 7a's onsight.
so I was right.
someone has done one. no one has done the other. (or have they? I am sure you will tell me!)
Inevitable, really given that a 9a gets climbed every week somewhere in the world by someone whereas E10s don't because there aren't that many of them, the ones there are you can't climb on all year because of the weather and the pool of trad climbers is relatively small (on a world wide scale)
This assumption of something which, in itself, is virtually meaningless is another reason why this whole discussion is more or less pointless. We are trying to compare two different things (therefore quite rightly measured with two different scales) by wrongly assuming the scales are not only equivalent but also linear - completely absurd!
How do you measure the "size" of a grade? And if you are mad enough to try, why should it be a linear scale? We could equally ridiculously assume that grades are, say, a logarithmic scale and come up with totally different answers. Grades are just arbitrary cut off points in the hypothetical perfect gradeed list of all climbs covered by that grading system.
Well that's easy. On land, the wolf. In the sea, the shark. Next. ;)
> Well that's easy. On land, the wolf. In the sea, the shark. Next. ;)
but what if the sharks had laser beams, and the wolf had a submersible exoskeleton...?
> Well that's easy. On land, the wolf. In the sea, the shark. Next. ;)
Which just about sums it up: pure sport climbers are better on sport routes, pure trad climbers better on trad routes. All round climbers somewhere in between.
No it's not, it's the doubt that makes trad hard.
Adam Ondra can go on flinging himself at 9a's until he gets lucky and onsights one.
I occasionally onsight 7b+ on bolts, so I think I'll start flinging myself at virtually protectionless E10's until I get lucky and onsight one.
Can anyone see any flaws in this game plan?
> Can anyone see any flaws in this game plan?
I don't think that anyone has made any suggestion even close that suggestion have they?
If you'd said you occasionally onsighted 7b+ on bolts so you were going to go and throw yourself at some bold e3's that would be about right...
> so I was right.
> someone has done one. no one has done the other.
Right about what? Neither have done either.
> Is it?
I found onsighting Indian Face much harder, but onsighting 9a was spiritually more satisfying.
Maybe you have missed my point; you can play the percentage game with 9a - even if you blow ninety-nine out of a hundred, you will still have got the onsight tick. On the other hand, with bold E10 you have to get the first one, first go. Otherwise you're dead. This could be said to make 9a relatively easier.
I'm not sure it was Arms who missed the point. The comparison is of 9a onsight with bold E10 (or E9 if talking about IF)
You can indeed play the percentages game but that doesn't mean you have a hope in hell of winning it. Even if the best sport climbers in Britain blow the 9a onsight 99 times they will still have effectively zero chance of getting up the next one. Just because they won't die trying doesn't mean success is a genuine possibility.
If the best bold trad climbers in Britain took an interest in trying IF onsight effectively all of them would say 'no thanks, not today', which equates to a similarly negligible success rate. You don't need to fall and die in order to have not succeeded.
However, a day will come when a British super-talented bold onsight climber will decide that trying IF onsight is within his/her capability and acually try it. They may get high and back off but sooner or later one will commit to the crux, in which case it's likely they will succeed (how many people have fallen from cutting-edge chop routes?).
A day will also come when a British sport climber is good enough to onsight 9a and actually succeeds in doing so.
My guess is that day of the former will come before the day of the latter.
ps. I've kept it to talk of British climbers as I believe the top levels being climbed by Brits at present in trad and sport are roughly comparable. IF is one E grade above today's top level, whereas 9a is 3 sport grades (1.5 E grades?) above today's top level. Ondra is streets ahead.
pps. I'm sure The Cad (E6, equating in overall comparative difficulty to sport 7c) has been onsighted by people who have never even come close to being able to onsight 7c. There's also pleanty of people who've onsighted 7c who wouldn't want to go near The Cad onsight. Horses for courses, yes, but that's what the E grade compares and does so very effectively on the whole
> You can indeed play the percentages game but that doesn't mean you have a hope in hell of winning it. Even if the best sport climbers in Britain blow the 9a onsight 99 times they will still have effectively zero chance of getting up the next one.
Yes, but that's because British climbers are not good enough! I suspect Adam Ondra is. Personally I have a very small chance of onsighting any given 7b+, but I do succeed on the odd one simply by trying lots and occasionally getting lucky. I was just making the point, because the debate had seemed so far not to have taken the percentages game into account.
My guess would beb the other way round. Do you want a wager?!
Cockblock Fr 7b
Flashdance Fr 6b
Possibly extreme examples but you get the idea (oft discussed on here before).
I have to say though that my few successful E5s have felt 6c-7a so maybe closer to what you're saying than I might like to think. So maybe equivalence does exist but my point about (or the problem with) many people onsighting harder on sport than trad remains.
Not sure if this tells us anything about Wolf v Shark or IF v 9a for that matter (kind of dud given that Adam has done the deed, or maybe he hasn't and Red River is full of duff grades?)
I agree with your point about slabs being unpredictable.
Gallam1: Never climbed at boux. Guessing the pockets make it uber sequency? Again, not sure I would onsight solo a sequency F6a (though I'm sure I will have done in trad grades), but others climbing at a similar level to me would without question.
Someone put it well earlier: Horses for courses.
How about Jerry Moffat v Reinhold Messner?
Yes, Obviously. But that wasn't the question.
Elsewhere on the site
With four photos in this week's top ten, and a UKC gallery of stunning images we thought it was time we had a chat with... Read more
F ounded in 1993, Mountain Hardwear are a pretty young mountaineering clothing and equipment manufacturer but are also one of... Read more
This years ROCfest will be slightly different. We've decided to run a Climbing Festival, not just a competition! Over... Read more
The Epicentre Mega Winter Sale starts in store 9am Christmas Eve. We have a great selection of in store only deals from... Read more
On Saturday 13th December Greg Boswell and Guy Robertson kicked off their Scottish winter season early by making the... Read more