/ What counts as beta, exactly?

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steve7734 - on 12 Jun 2013
Possibly a stupid question here, but what exactly counts as beta?

For example, if you only read info about a route/problem in a guidebook (grade and a brief description), but don't get any further info such as verbal advice, then it's still an onsight right? Or are you supposed to know literally nothing about the route in advance except for the grade? In which case you might not necessarily know you're on the right line
woody0606 on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to steve7734: Reading the guidebook is fine. I would say beta is any significant information on the moves or gear placements.
Milesy - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to woody0606:

A lot of people would disagree with you. A guidebook description can sometimes give away the full route and sometimes very very vague.

It is a pretty open question and only each person can decide for themself where the line is and I think one man's beta isn't always another man's. Some people might think "take a few cams" as beta and some might not in comparison to something more specific like "take a .5 camalot and a no 3 RP."
GridNorth - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to woody0606: I agree but what if the guidebook says climb the crack to jug on the lip of the overhang with a good rock 4 for protection. Strictly speaking telling you about the jug and the Rock 4 is beta.

I don't get hung up on it and personally if I'm climbing near my limit I will take on board any information that's offered and be grateful for it but then I'm not too concerned what other think about me in that regard.
Jon Stewart - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to steve7734:

There is no answer to your question.

That doesn't make it stupid, since so many people bang on about what an 'onsight' is. But the reality is that it doesn't matter. Every climb ever done lies somewhere on a scale of a redpoint after years of work and a first ascent without any prior knowledge. Where you want to draw the line is up to you.
woody0606 on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to GridNorth: I agree that guides sometimes give away quite a lot, but at the end of the day, you need to know roughly where you're going and short of asking your belayer to read the route to you leaving out anything that could count as beta, I don't see anyway of avoiding seeing that stuff. It's a grey arrea that we're not all going to agree on, but I would still say that anything in the guidebook is fair game, anything beyond that is beta.
jkarran - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to steve7734:

There is no single correct answer which is just fine because it doesn't matter a jot.

Apply common sense and you'll be fine talking climbing with all but the most anal of oddballs.
jk
derryclimbs - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to woody0606:
> ( It's a grey arrea that we're not all going to agree on, but I would still say that anything in the guidebook is fair game, anything beyond that is beta.

So whoever writes the guidebook is the god of what is beta and what isn't?
woody0606 on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to derryclimbs: That's not at all what I'm saying. I did in fact say that guidebooks often give away a lot. However, I'm not going to avoid reading the guidebook, in case in ruins my onsight. And if they guidebook happens to tell me that there is a jug just over the lip, or something equally useful, then I would still class it as onsight.
steve7734 - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to jkarran:
That's the thing isn't it, it depends how much of a purist (in other words, how anal) you are. No doubt there are some people out there who think that simply knowing the grade before starting off is too much information. Nevertheless I do think route descriptions in guidebooks should have the bare bones and no more
humptydumpty - on 12 Jun 2013
What about being told about loose rock? Might ruin the onsight, or might save a nasty mess...
Justin T - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to derryclimbs:

> So whoever writes the guidebook is the god of what is beta and what isn't?

Basically yes, bearing in mind that most descriptions are originally written by the first ascentionist. Essentially the route is graded by the first ascentionist and grade confirmed by subsequent ascentionists for an onsight attempt based on the description given.

Often descriptions will include info on specific holds "move up to a sharp side-pull", occasionally info on how to do moves "rock up left" etc, normally as much as is required to ensure someone goes the right way on the route. A lot of hints are given such as "continue with interest" or "climb boldly to the peg". Sometimes critical gear is mentioned ie "climb to the break (friend 2.5)". At the end of the day a good route description gives you enough clues where you're going but leaves enough out to leave something for you to work out for yourself.
The Pylon King on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to steve7734:

Chalked holds are beta
GrahamD - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to steve7734:

"beta" is an American term. It means additional information. Hope that clears that up.
bpmclimb - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to derryclimbs:
> (In reply to woody0606)
> [...]
>
> So whoever writes the guidebook is the god of what is beta and what isn't?

Sounds a bit melodramatic, the way you put it, but basically - yes. Is that such a bad thing?
There will be minor variations in style between different guidebook writers, but by and large they will find a pretty good middle ground - providing enough information to keep you on route, without providing unnecessary beta.

I reckon the solution of guidebook info = onsight, any other info = beta is a reasonable and practical one. Of course, you're entirely free to categorize your own ascents any way you want. By all means log every lead as beta unless you didn't have a guidebook at all.

bpmclimb - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to The Pylon King:
> (In reply to steve7734)
>
> Chalked holds are beta



Yes - usually. But perhaps not if the holds are very obvious anyway. And sometimes there's so much chalk that it's more of a hindrance than a help. FWIW chalked holds wouldn't stop me logging a lead as an onsight - but if the chalk made things considerably easier I might mention that in the notes.
duchessofmalfi - on 12 Jun 2013
"what exactly counts as beta?"

There are two answers to this:

(1) who cares?

(2) it is up to you.

Seriously, unless you are climbing >E8, >F8c no one cares but you so it is entirely personal. From an ethical standpoint everything is fair game so long as you, don't hurt anyone (or the environment), don't alter the rock (beyond what is agreed in the community) and don't misrepresent your achievements / lie.

From a practical PoV any information beyond the route description that makes a difference counts as beta.
David Kay - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to bpmclimb:
> (In reply to The Pylon King)
> [...]
>
>
>
> Yes - usually. But perhaps not if the holds are very obvious anyway. And sometimes there's so much chalk that it's more of a hindrance than a help. FWIW chalked holds wouldn't stop me logging a lead as an onsight - but if the chalk made things considerably easier I might mention that in the notes.

I would still log a climb with chalked holds as an onsight, otherwise it would be mighty hard to onsight some climbs. Interestingly in 'How To Climb Hard Trad' Dave Macleod suggests taking advantage of chalked holds when going for an onsight attempt. Just shows that people draw the line in different places.
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Chris Harris - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to GrahamD:
> (In reply to steve7734)
>
> "beta" is an American term. It means additional information.

That's what I always thought.

Guidebook info is alpha info. Additional info above & beyond this from mates/interweb/photo's etc = beta.

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