Are grades important?

by Björn Pohl - UKC Nov/2008
This news story has been read 652 times

There have been many grade discussions lately... James Pearson's Walk of life, Skyler Weekes' dyno Zion ans Kevin Jorgeson's repeat of The Promise are just the latest examples. Most climbers I know say they don't think grades are that important and have nothing to do with why they climb. So, why do these discussions stir up so many strong feelings then?
It seems those who say they don't care are still very active in the debates... Why is that? I mean, if you don't care, you don't care, right? But then again, if you REALLY don't care about grades or who has done what etc, there's no reason for you to visit 8a.nu or similar websites, is there?
So, why not be true to ourselves and admit grades ARE important to almost everyone, and not only "to find a good warm up"? Chris Sharma is probably the only person I know who genuinely doesn't give a f***, and even he has opinions.
My own position is that I use grades to meassure my progress (or lack there of) and I can't see anything wrong in that, even though I'm fully aware of that they in no way are an objective representation of any kind of "truth". Because face it, difficulty is highly subjective and, hence, imeassurable. This means we can't take grades too serious or attach a lot of prestige to them. Climbers whose FA:s get downgrading gets a lot of shit, both in media and in the community for being "soft". This is So wrong! Anyone who's made FA's knows how difficult it is to tell how difficult something is. It takes time!
8A to me, means "somewhere between 7C and 8A+", but it's very likely that there are still gonna be people for whom the problem is impossible. For routes, that are typically a lot longer, and therefor less body specific, the span is probably somewhat smaller and you can be a lot more exact in your opinion, given that the route doesn't have an extremely bouldery crux.
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