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At what grade does headponting become acceptable?

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 Wooj 19 Nov 2021

Ethics in climbing matter. We all abide by them. I was just wondering as it’s been the years of headpinting, at what grade does it become acceptable ethically to climb a trad route in this style. Now I know this will vary but just wanted a general consensus. 
Take myself for example. My hardest trad climb to date is Left Wall at Brimham (E5 6a for those not familiar). I practised this on top rope first quite a few times before I lead it. 
these days I only ever onsight. I’m not as good as I was and my onsight grade is now comfortably E1. I can Boulder quite hard (7b). So I don’t think I’ll ever push the boat out onsighting anything harder than E2. But I know I can climb way harder. I have seconded some E7’s clean. So is head pointing the way forward and would it be acceptable say on an E3 or E4? I’m guessing the grade u climb at may determine what grade u seem acceptable. I have a friend who climbs VS onsight. Would it be acceptable for him to headpoint an E1? Is it all a personal thing and it doesnt really matter? I’d love to know peoples opinions. 
Thanks. 

9
 Lankyman 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

Just what is 'headponting'? Or 'headpinting' for that matter? I watched someone painting with their teeth once - 'headpainting'?

88
OP Wooj 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Lankyman:

I apologise for the incorrect spelling lol. As you are aware I’m sure, I actually mean headpointing. My phones auto correct kicked in. 

 ashtond6 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

Absolutely whatever you want. 

Using the term of ethics in regards to top roping is laughable "moral principles that govern a person's behavior".

This is only style.

In a situation when you keep falling on the gear because it's a little too hard, the better style would be to top rope it to reduce that wear.

Many here will tell you otherwise.

3
 Cobra_Head 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

I prefer to onsight almost anything I climb, I resort to top roping, only when there's no easy stuff for me to climb.

I don't like climbing any climbs I've done before either if I can get away with it, so headpointing doesn't appeal.

Maybe that's why I've not progressed above E1.

2
 PaulJepson 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

Any grade you want. It's total rubbish and pure elitism to suggest that headpointing an E9 is any more or less acceptable than headpointing a VS.

  

4
 Jon Read 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

IMHO, what ever grade you like as long as:

  1. you don't harm the rock in the process (see Beau Geste pebble as an example)
  2. you are honest about your ascent
  3. you can live with yourself
1
 Mike Stretford 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj: I'd say whatever you want, but avoid popular routes, rock prone to polish and fragile rock. And make sure your shoes are squeaky clean!

Post edited at 17:22
 Iamgregp 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

I don't see why headpointing would be acceptable at one grade and not at another, the struggle and effort is the same regardless of level.  

As long as you're not harming the natural environment, or spoiling anyone else's enjoyment of it or the crag, I don't see what business it is of anyone else's whether you headpointed, ground upped or whatever.   

Some people may grumble, but frankly that's their problem, not yours.

 gravy 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

The grade at which you struggle to lead something either because you can't physically do it or can't mentally do it but you think you stand a chance it you work it a bit.

"acceptable" here is entirely relative to the grades you aspire to provided you aren't pissing people off along the way (wrecking or hogging routes) and provided you're honest.

In reply to Jon Read:

> you can live with yourself

I think this probably nails it.

4
 DaveHK 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

I think headponting is a bridge too far.

4
 Howdawg 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Lankyman:

Headpinting is when you tan a full pint in one go and place the empty glass upon your crown.

2
OP Wooj 19 Nov 2021

Great! Now I feel I can try on lots of routes I  otherwise wouldn’t of due to thinking maybe I had to onsight them or not at all. Thanks folks. 

1
In reply to Wooj:

> Ethics in climbing matter. We all abide by them. I was just wondering as it’s been the years of headpinting, at what grade does it become acceptable ethically to climb a trad route in this style. Now I know this will vary but just wanted a general consensus. 

> Take myself for example. My hardest trad climb to date is Left Wall at Brimham (E5 6a for those not familiar). I practised this on top rope first quite a few times before I lead it. 

> these days I only ever onsight. I’m not as good as I was and my onsight grade is now comfortably E1. I can Boulder quite hard (7b). So I don’t think I’ll ever push the boat out onsighting anything harder than E2. But I know I can climb way harder. I have seconded some E7’s clean. So is head pointing the way forward and would it be acceptable say on an E3 or E4? I’m guessing the grade u climb at may determine what grade u seem acceptable. I have a friend who climbs VS onsight. Would it be acceptable for him to headpoint an E1? Is it all a personal thing and it doesnt really matter? I’d love to know peoples opinions. 

> Thanks. 

If you think about it, head pointing isn't so different to seconding a route and then saying to yourself 'I could lead that...'

2
 Lankyman 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Howdawg:

> Headpinting is when you tan a full pint in one go and place the empty glass upon your crown.

Well, I'm glad someone else has a sense of humour

7
 robate 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

It's highly subjective.

Specifically it depends on who you are talking to and how much contempt you can tolerate at the back of their eyes, and by reflection how much self respect you want to go home with. Let's face it everyone wants to say at some point 'I've done xxx' and not to have to follow it up with 'i spent hours fannying about on a top rope first'.

Personally I can live with the disdain.

2
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> If you think about it, head pointing isn't so different to seconding a route and then saying to yourself 'I could lead that...'

Except that you have to do so.

3
In reply to Wooj:

If you're improving, at some point you run out of mates who climb harder, so you're not getting to second anything challenging, so you don't know what you're capable of, so you stop progressing. That's when it's time to throw a rope down something hard. Got things moving again for me. Just try not to pick something that'll be in the way or cause damage.

3
 George Ormerod 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

I head pointed a WI5. And embarrassingly fell of taking my only lead ice fall and amazingly doing my self no harm. 😃 Probably not the answer you we’re looking for. 

In reply to Wooj:

First off, you can do what you like so enjoy yourself.

second, if you’re bouldering 7b you should be on sighting harder than E2 if you want to. I wasn’t climbing near the tech difficulty of font 7b back in the day but still managing those higher E numbers onsight.  Keep working those routes, it’ll come.

2
 Marek 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

Historically, I think headpointing arose on hard trad routes when on-sight falling off was both expected AND there was a lack of decent protection to make those falls acceptably safe. So I suppose a somewhat purist approach would stick to that criteria. But then of course the issue of 'damage to rock' and 'worn out placements' rears its ugly head, so you have to strike a balance. Top-rope practice will tend to encourage too many futile attempts and hence more polish whereas the 'lead with falls' approach can damage placement, but probably minimise polish. You have to make your own judgement as to which might be more 'ethical' on any given route.

Oh, and did I mention grade? I don't think so! The rock doesn't care.

Post edited at 20:48
 French Erick 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Marek:

In fact I would even say - nobody SHOULD care!

1
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> If you think about it, head pointing isn't so different to seconding a route and then saying to yourself 'I could lead that...'

You could always second a route and then get your mate to lower you back down again and reclimb it.

Perhaps your mate could set up an anchor and lower himself down to the ground too so he can be a bit more relaxed.. 

Whilst the ropes their, your mate could always have a go. 

If your mate doesn't actually lead the climb and instead just sets up the anchor at the top then it's his dirty habits, not yours.

 DaveHK 20 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

>  my onsight grade is now comfortably E1. I can Boulder quite hard (7b). So I don’t think I’ll ever push the boat out onsighting anything harder than E2. But I know I can climb way harder. I have seconded some E7’s clean. 

​​​​​​That's a huge disparity. What's limiting your trad climbing lead grade so much? 

2
 mattrm 20 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

"It's a personal thing and it doesn't really matter?"

You've hit the nail on the head there buddy.  Do what keeps you happy.  If you're a VS climber and want to headpoint an E1, then crack on. 

OP Wooj 20 Nov 2021
In reply to DaveHK:

my climbing circle of friends when i used to lead routes changed when I got married and had kids. I then moved into bouldering as it was easy to sneak out for an hour or two. I couldn’t do days cragging with young family. So my bouldering developed and now when I do go out and do routes I’m always doing it with mates who don’t usually climb routes so I keep within my abilities so I don’t fall. I’m not confident enough in their belaying for me to be falling on a hard route. I just don’t climb with people who try hard trad. It has a mental affect on you. I end up doing what they do which is play at trad and Boulder mainly. 
Also I tend to enjoy trad just for the pure moves as in flowing nice climbing that I’m in control of. My endurance is poor too. I don’t want to be fighting to put a bit of gear in while pumped with a big fall potential al the time sheeting my pants. I’d much prefer to have it dialed and cruise it. So ultimately I guess it’s a mental thing. 

 DaveHK 20 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

Fair enough, that's all understandable. Maybe headpointing will help but it sounds like there are other things you could do too.

In reply to Wooj:

This is a really personal thing, and only you make your own rules. As someone else said, the rock doesn't care. And its no-one else's business.

However, you said you can boulder 7B (or did you mean 7b?) Either way, thats good and sounds like you will easily onsight above E2 once you get your head on it. Its probably just experience/mileage (head game) thats holding you back.

Personally, I rope solo as a form of headpointing and training, always on routes well above my onsight, and it has brought my grade on loads. I'm now onsighting things I never thought I would, so also have blown the onsight on some cracking routes.

I can currently onsight sport at 7b, but don't onsight trad above E4. I have a young family, and thats my choice.

Do whatever suits you, but make sure you save the good 3 star ones for when you improve, because you probably will. I now generally try to top rope all the obscure hard dangerous ones that no sane person would ever lead.

 peppermill 20 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

Firstly, Left Wall at Brimham Rocks.

Bloody nice work, I've always got the impression it's an exclusive club that have ticked this one off, whatever the style. I used to look up at this in absolute awe as a kid messing about on the bouldering below.

Back to your question: as long as you're honest about the style and aren't causing any damage then who cares? And if someone is the type to lie about it, it doesn't really matter either it's just a bit sad.

I got a bit of grief once for top roping a brilliant but, to my mind at the time, fairly dangerous route (I think it was Silver Lining at Froggat, I forget, I was about 19). 

I think this was the point in my life realised that although everyone is entitled to their opinion, I'm perfectly entitled to file said opinion in a folder marked B1n ;p

1
 The Grist 20 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

I think it depends on the area to a degree. I have never really headpointed specifically except an e5 on grit that I randomly tried on a top rope and worked the moves then decided to lead. I then fell off it about 4 times before I finally did it. I would never have got on it without the top rope first.

I would not headpoint at a place like Pembroke or in the  mountains but I would jump on e3s or even e4s and try leading them onsight. If I fail I may learn things and try them again in the future. 

Climbing at your grade there are plenty of 
E3s and e4s you could safely try leading away from the grit. 
 

Personally I would consider headpointing on grit to be more acceptable than other areas just because the holds can be very specific and the movement very unusual. Consequences are usually high. I do not think it is about a grade. For me probably e5 upwards but I have onsighted e3 on grit. I have also failed onsighting  loads of e2s on grit by way of context. 

If headpointing an e5 is going to be fun for you and maybe enable you to lead the route then go for it. Easier grades at your ability I think you should probably at least consider trying to lead. If you fail then maybe headpoint it (providing you are not broken at the bottom of the route). 

In terms of what grade to head point? No hard and fast rule but maybe headpoint e5 if you lead e2. That would equate to headpoint e2 if you lead VS. Depends so much on area and climb though. 

1
 C Witter 20 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

Herford headpointed and dogged his way up Cental Buttress. Of course, he would simply have said that he'd climbed it. "Climbing ethics" is something that has arisen every  now and again at moments of change and became partly fossilised in the 1960s-1980s as a way of conceptualising the vast and sudden changes in standards and defending the "rights" of a self-appointed caste in the face of working-class incomers encroaching on their turf. They then projected these "ethics" mythologically into the past, with nonsense about "back in the day you started at the bottom", omitting the fact that in the 1800s what you actually did was pay a guide to drag you up big hills so you could brag about it to you peers once safe in the valley.

All of the heroes were top-roping punters. (Apart from maybe Menlove and Allen Austin...) That's how they got so good.

1
 deacondeacon 20 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

Personally, if it's going to really, really hurt if it goes wrong (and It's at a grade that it's likely) I may headcount. If it's safe and the only thing that may get damaged is my pride then ill go for a groundup.

 Sean Kelly 20 Nov 2021
In reply to C Witter:

> Herford headpointed and dogged his way up Cental Buttress. Of course, he would simply have said that he'd climbed it.

Well all very well this steeplejacking, but hardly good form or training for the Alps. His membership application for the AC will be blackballed!

Post edited at 11:10
 PaulTanton 20 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

I think E5 is reasonable. I’ve headpointed an E5 at Nesscliff, but still fell off on the lead. Need to go back on it.

I’ve done LW at Brimham. First time was on sight but got slightly too far left on the top section. Took a monster fall. Went back a few weeks later armed with beta from a mate and got it. Can’t claim an on sight but nor was it headpoint.

it’s up to you mate. Be honest with yourself because that’s the only person who’s gonna judge you. 
Left Wall is a great, puppy, route eh? 

3
 B-team 20 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

E8.

2
 Lord_ash2000 20 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

Generally, I'd say it is relative to the grade you onsite comfortably, so maybe two grades above that would seem reasonable.

However, in most cases at the lower grades, there is much more room for error when climbing onsite which does make headpointing. Obviously, some of that room for error is relative to ability but even so, a typical HS route for example will have enough options for getting up it that a set sequence is not required to climb it within the technical grade boundaries. Whereas an E6 may be only climbable via a single sequence (for that climber's height) with little chance of reversal for a climber at that grade, thus headpointing would make sense for them.

It would be very brave to on-site genuinely dangerous routes at or very close to the limit of ones genuine technical ability because unless you're a route reading god you're very likely to make a mistake that will suddenly put the difficulty of the route beyond you and land you in trouble.

For those who only onsite it's likely, they are climbing several grades below what they could theoretically climb but if they wish to limit their grade via their code of ethics that is their choice.

      

In reply to timparkin:

> You could always second a route and then get your mate to lower you back down again and reclimb it.

> Perhaps your mate could set up an anchor and lower himself down to the ground too so he can be a bit more relaxed.. 

> Whilst the ropes their, your mate could always have a go. 

> If your mate doesn't actually lead the climb and instead just sets up the anchor at the top then it's his dirty habits, not yours.

I'm sure all that is true (not sure about the last bit actually) but I don't know what your point is.

1
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Except that you have to do so.

I'm pretty sure there are plenty of people who have started top roping climbs with a view to the headpoint but decide against it. They may not have actually headpointed the climb but they will have engaged in the process.

In reply to PaulJepson:

> Any grade you want. It's total rubbish and pure elitism to suggest that headpointing an E9 is any more or less acceptable than headpointing a VS.

I'm not saying you are necessarily wrong, but I think the vast numbers of likes you are getting is interesting. I wonder how long ago you would have got similar numbers of dislikes for such an "outrageous" statement.

 cb294 20 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

Rock damage aside (and generally not pestering others at the crag, bringing yourself, others or potential rescuers into danger, etc.) climbing ethics matter eff all.

You can choose to abide by certain, arbitrary rules of the game (climbing "ethics" is such a pompous term), but it really is totally irrelevant by which style you climb.

The true and more relevant issue is if you want to climb a route free (which I would aim to do for short sport or trad routes, while I would certainly not be bothered about pulling on a sling or stepping on a peg in the Alps or long multi pitch sports routes), at which point top rope practise becomes an efficient strategy.

At VS lead level, I would guess that generally pushing their climbing ability would be more efficient. As another poster said above, head pointing makes the more sense the fewer options / move sequences there are for climbing a route, and the more dangerous falling off becomes.

That said, if it looks as if dialing in the moves of a specific E1 on top rope was good fun, then why not?

CB

1
 henwardian 20 Nov 2021
In reply to ashtond6:

> Absolutely whatever you want. 

This.

I've headpointed loads of things and I consider that I can pick whatever style I want when looking at climbing something (even just ticking it as a toprope ascent if I feel like it). It goes without saying though that you should be honest about what style you did something in.

There is probably a debate to be had in terms of new-routing though. I've headpointed a lot of new routes and on-sighted a lot of new routes. For me the choice depends on things other than grade too, sometimes the rock quality or a particular worrying block might dissuade me from the onsight. But some people, particularly the older generation, will view new-routing by means other than ground-up as morally corrupt. It's not a view I share, I've probably mellowed with age on my view of the everything-should-be-on-sight ethic.

Speaking personally, on an established route, I'd probably either try for the on-sight or decide I didn't want to try it at all (for any number of reasons) anything up to about E5 and headpoint anything above that. But this casts no aspersions on what I think others should do.

When new-routing it totally depends on the situation but I'd be unlikely to try an on-sight anything that looked harder than E2/3.

 PaulJepson 20 Nov 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

Did the grade ever come into it though? Weren't people up in arms about the idea of headpointing anything? Wasn't dawes' ascent of Indian face criticised by some because he had pre-practiced it? Didn't fawcett put off masters edge because he had practiced it first and thought it unsportsmanlike to do anything other than solo it after?

I can understand people being fussy about the concept of headpointing alltogether but it seems a bit unbalanced to say some grades are okay and others aren't. It'd be a bit like saying you can only use cams on routes harder than E5,  otherwise it's just too safe.

2
 bpmclimb 20 Nov 2021
In reply to henwardian:

But some people, particularly the older generation, will view new-routing by means other than ground-up as morally corrupt. 

Alright if you have lovely, clean, relatively solid rock which isn't vegetated! I'd love to see some of those people try onsighting new routes in my neighbourhood with those ethics - they'd probably have to confine themselves to VD/Severe, and even then have a torrid time of it 

In reply to PaulJepson:

> Did the grade ever come into it though? Weren't people up in arms about the idea of headpointing anything? Wasn't dawes' ascent of Indian face criticised by some because he had pre-practiced it? Didn't fawcett put off masters edge because he had practiced it first.

You may well be right; style of first ascent has probably always been under scrutiny. But what about repeating stuff in poorer style than it had been first climbed - surely just not cricket. And as for headpointing a VS at Stanage -  wouldn't that have been open season for ridicule until fairly recently?

2
 C Witter 20 Nov 2021
In reply to Sean Kelly:

I'm sure things like this really were said: "These rock gymnast monkey antics are all well and good, but they're not in the spirit of serious mountaineering." The more you look at "ethics" from a historical perspective, the more you realise it's bunk. Don't damage the rock, don't damage the place, and don't lie - they're the only things we can all agree on.*

*mostly...

In reply to C Witter:

> I'm sure things like this really were said: "These rock gymnast monkey antics are all well and good, but they're not in the spirit of serious mountaineering." The more you look at "ethics" from a historical perspective, the more you realise it's bunk. 

No, the more you realise ethics evolve.

1
 PaulJepson 20 Nov 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

I'd imagine if you wanted to make a name for yourself then you wouldn't risk the ridicule of pre-practicing easier routes, no. Most people just want to have fun though and don't take it all too seriously.

I wouldn't ridicule someone top-roping a VS but I might if they were giving it the biggun. 

Maybe climbing is a little more pragmatic than it was 30 years ago, and hopefully for the better.

I don't think people should be trying routes they have no business on on a top rope; someone whos max grade is 4a pedalling their way up Downhill Racer is going to be bad for the route. But is there a difference between them trying a VS on a top rope and someone who's onsighted E6 trying an E8? I don't think so.

2
 Andy Hardy 20 Nov 2021
In reply to PaulJepson:

Agreed. Surely the answer to the OP's question is "whatever grade you can onsight, plus 1"

1
 Tom Last 20 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

Where's Fiend when you need him

In reply to Wooj:

Wow, so much fence sitting on this thread.

>=E7 = ok

E6 depends. (bold / serious might best to work, some could go on a good onsight / GU.

E5 onsight/GU all the way.

That is all. 

17
In reply to PaulJepson:

> Is there a difference between them trying a VS on a top rope and someone who's onsighted E6 trying an E8? I don't think so.

I actually do think so, because, whereas someone top roping a VS is very likely to be able to onsight it with a little more dedication and patience, someone who can onsight E6 is far more likely to know where their limits lie and that therefore the E8 is never going to be a realistic onsight for them.

4
In reply to Andy Hardy:

> Agreed. Surely the answer to the OP's question is "whatever grade you can onsight, plus 1"

I would actually have thought "whatever grade you are never realistically likely to be able to onsight plus 1". 

In reply to Wooj:

There is an obvious relationship between grade and head pointing. At one extreme, say E10, 100% are headpointed. At the other end of the scale say V diff, it’s probably 0.00001% with a strong relationship in between these points. Undoubtably head pointing becomes more common in the extreme grades, but it’s acceptable at any grade, but frowned upon on popular routes. There are no “popular” E10’s but plenty of popular E2,3,4,5’s hence the greater likelihood of getting stick on the lower grades…only if you pick the wrong route.

1
 HeMa 21 Nov 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I actually do think so, because, whereas someone top roping a VS is very likely to be able to onsight it with a little more dedication and patience, someone who can onsight E6 is far more likely to know where their limits lie and that therefore the E8 is never going to be a realistic onsight for them.

Actually you are wrong… to onsight E8, they just need to but a lot more time and effort in. Similarly as youbsaid that someone just starting needs to put in the effort to lead VS. Sure, the time might be longer but still.

So either headpointing is allowed, or not. The not applies for all grades. And as we know, it is allowed for the top end routes, then it is also allowed for all grades.

1
 HeMa 21 Nov 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I would actually have thought "whatever grade you are never realistically likely to be able to onsight plus 1". 

Indeed. Or more to the point, what I can’t realistically OS +1 or more.

 PaulJepson 21 Nov 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

People are very different. Some people are old, some are very short with t-rex arms, some have disabilities,  some have a crippling fear of height, etc.

It wouldn't be fair to draw a line anywhere based on expectations on what someone 'should' be able to climb. 

People have different goals about what they want from climbing as well. I've known of people climbing a good few grades harder and much better than me who would only toprope or second. Personally I don't really enjoy redpointing but loads of people do. 

Ondra said in a recent video that he believes everyone can climb 8a if they dedicate themselves. What does that take us to, E8? I don't think general human potential should dictate what is ethical in climbing. If you don't damage the rock more than you would trying it ground-up then who cares.

 B-team 21 Nov 2021
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

> Wow, so much fence sitting on this thread.

Not from me. I said E8. I suspect people thought I was trolling, but I was serious - more or less. 

Advances in standards have often involved compromises or adaptations in what we call either ethics or style. But that has always been accompanied by an aspiration to improve on style/ethics. Advances in best style have always followed hard on the heels of advances in standards. Indeed, they have often been extremely close. And there is always a moving leading edge in both. So, we climb in a historical context and what is "acceptable" should always be a moving target - not least as we see massive advances in equipment and training facilities and knowledge and a huge exponential increase in access to information. 

So what are some historical contexts? E5 is often seen as one of the most important benchmarks (and perhaps an acceptable level at which to start head pointing). The grade was certainly established by the very early 1970s - 50 years ago. A climber of the 1970s looking back 50 years is contemplating routes established in 1920. E8 was established in 1986 (and had been climbed OS or GU by around 1990) - 35 years ago. If we look back 35 years to 1986, the climber of 1986 looks back 35 years to 1951. I'm just building some historical perspective on how old these grades are. 

This is very elitist, I know. But let's face it, except for a tiny handful of the very best, all of us know there are thousands and thousands of routes that will always be beyond us. And thousands and thousands of routes that aren't and that we've yet to do. 

Of course, people are free to do whatever they want. We are not governed by a rule book. But I think that makes climbing's aspiration to always try and do better even more important. 

4
In reply to B-team:

Mild pedantry, but E8 was established in 1983 (Requiem).

Will try to type up an actual reply later. 

 B-team 21 Nov 2021
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

Fair point. I'd forgotten Requiem. 

 PaulTanton 21 Nov 2021
In reply to PaulTanton:

FFS! Pumpy. 

In reply to Señor Últi:

> Where's Fiend when you need him

Most likely banned and frothing at the mouth in apoplexy at some of the apologists on here.

 bpmclimb 21 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

 at what grade does it become acceptable ethically to climb a trad route in this style. Now I know this will vary but just wanted a general consensus. 

As far as I'm concerned headpointing is just a description of a process, and nothing to do with grade. Elite climbers may be headpointing at E8 minimum (and I'll follow their efforts with interest), but that doesn't mean it's wrong for me to practice an E4, say (which I have done on occasion) If someone came along and said what I was doing wasn't acceptable to them, they wouldn't get a very polite reply!

 Johnhi 21 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj

Head point anything the f*cking want.

In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

I was just comparing seconding, lowering and repeating while seconding, seconding with the leader on the ground & top roping. 

I was pointing out that seconding is similar to top-roping. If you have a tame climber (or the budget to always hire guides) then would you consider this effectively the same as top-roping?

In reply to bpmclimb:

E grades are for the onsight up to at least E6. Practicing until learnt is in essence, red pointing. 

12
 mrjonathanr 21 Nov 2021
In reply to timparkin:

any, or none.

In reply to Philb1950:

> E grades are for the onsight up to at least E6. Practicing until learnt is in essence, red pointing. 

Not really the same though. I recall someone doing an E9 at Black Rocks saying that, even after numerous practice attempts, there was still a move that was only 50/50 when he went for it.

In reply to Wooj:

Headpoint a VDiff if you want, the main thing about any account is honesty, so if you headpointed it and said that's what you did -- then fair play. Assuming of course that it wasn't likely to damage the route (like a route that depends on a critical pebble that you might dislodge)

 Fredt 21 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

> Ethics in climbing matter.

No they don't

> We all abide by them.

No we don't.

7
In reply to Fredt:

> No they don't

Incorrect

> No we don't.

Correct.

3
In reply to CantClimbTom:

> Assuming of course that it wasn't likely to damage the route (like a route that depends on a critical pebble that you might dislodge)

But it is ok to damage a route when onsighting? It is interesting that you appear to make this distinction.

And does this apply to E8's as well as V.Diffs? Or is that another distinction?

Post edited at 19:51
1
In reply to Wooj:

Headpointing in theory is equally acceptable at any grade.

But is it worthwhile (i.e. is it useful)? And this can be split into 2 halves, is it an efficient way of climbing a harder route, and is it a satisfying way of climbing a harder route?

Efficient - certainly at the leading grades of the time, it may be the only way of climbing a harder route so for those routes it would be efficient. Similarly you may have all the physical attributes to do the route but you need to improve the mental aspects; here too, headpointing is likely to be efficient.

For lower grades there are many other ways to improve; get stronger, get fitter, improve your technique, improve your headspace, etc. So it may be that one (or a combination) of these is more efficient. If you can't do some of the moves even after significant practice, then headpointing isn't going to get you there.

Satisfying - this will (obviously) depend on your personal values - how much you value onsight or ground-up or flashed compared with pre-practiced. Although the value "gap" varies with people, IMO very few people value pre-practiced as much as onsight or ground-up or flashed. Maybe the question then becomes, am I likely to be able to lead this route by one of the other methods of improvement (mentioned above); if yes, will I feel as satisfied shortcutting this by headpointing? - again the answer to that is subjective. If the other methods of improvement won't get you up the route, then headpointing will feel much more acceptable.

I believe that the reason headpointing is seen as less acceptable on lower grades is simply because those other methods of improvement are more available. Of course they are also available at higher grades, but the effort required to improve by a similar amount (to a lower grade improvement) is much greater.

In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

That was in a ground fall situation and that would be obvious. Back in the day before sport climbing and lots of people were on sighting E5 it was considered a non event and cheating if a protectable route was top roped. A trad. climb is more than the technical moves, being a whole experience and the ability to control the scare factor. Non like ticks just illustrate to me the mainly current risk averse structure of climbing. 

4
In reply to Wooj:

It’s interesting that most, of not all of the posts focus on the adjectival grade. My experience is pretty well black and white and is associated with the tech grade. 6a will (mostly) go ok, 6b (mostly) won’t and delineates the head point boundary nicely. French grade for trad would work even better for me. 

In reply to Philb1950:

I'm not convinced it shows that climbers are more risk averse.

Is it any more less 'risk averse' to never go for an E6 because you don't feel you are ready for the onsite than to top rope it and go for it knowing that any mistake is perilous?

 PaulJepson 22 Nov 2021
In reply to Philb1950:

The attitude to climbing and safety has changed a lot in the past few decades in that it's now a recreational activity for the many, not just the hard men. Things evolve in climbing and the attrition rate has been on a steady decline since the advent of climbing.

If people choose a cautious approach to climbing and it doesn't hurt anyone then I don't see a problem. It's not like it's going to cause the envelope to stagnate; this year we've had multiple FAs and repeats of >E9s. 

In the 60s, routes were climbed with points of aid and gradually the style was improved on as they were free-climbed. I don't really see how pre-practice is any worse than this; we still celebrate the ground-up or on-sight of a route. 

Is it more impressive and worthy of praise to on-sight an E8 than to headpoint one? Absolutely. Should it matter to anyone though? Not really. 

Post edited at 11:00
1
In reply to PaulJepson:

> In the 60s, routes were climbed with points of aid and gradually the style was improved on as they were free-climbed. I don't really see how pre-practice is any worse than this; we still celebrate the ground-up or on-sight of a route. 

This seems an odd parallel to draw in the context of this discussion. Yes, both aid points and headpointing have been used at the top end to push standards while leaving room for the style to be improved on with the aspiration for people to remove aid points and to onsight. But while headpointing seems to be filtering down the grades until we seem to be getting to the point where a punter can work a V.Diff without ridicule, this has very definitely not happened with aid points - use aid on a V. Diff and you have "failed", set out intending to use aid on a V.Diff and you are a joker. Why the difference? How come "failure" to onsight a punter route is being made a respectable "style of ascent" under the banner of headpointing, while frigging it is not?

Post edited at 13:21
 Hardonicus 22 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

E5 and below you have to call it toproping and face up to the shame you're feeling inside.

Post edited at 13:22
4
In reply to Hardonicus:

> E5 and below you have to call it toproping and face up to the shame you're feeling inside.

preplace the gear on London Wall, call it f7a+, redpoint it, and all shame is gone

In reply to Wooj:

I think headpointing becomes "acceptable" when it is not possible to improve by climbing easier routes. So if you aspire to climb an E2 it is better IMO to climb more E1's until such time that you are capable of climbing an E2 so headpointing an E2 in that context seems like cheating.

But I'm an old fart and for me personally the essence and point of climbing is and always has been the on sight led cleanly. Everything else is to one degree or another cheating. I'm not judging or condemning this is simply my personal feeling about it. Cheating is perhaps too strong a word for what I am trying to describe.

Al

3
 Iamgregp 22 Nov 2021
In reply to The Thread:

Like I've said before, climbing is a contrived game with a set of rules that change all the time.  Some climbers would prefer us to play the game by the same rules they did ("We never used to headpoint things in the 70's, or below E5").

This isn't a question of ethics, it's just a question of whether people will accept people headpointing easier routes as still being valid under the rules of this contrived game as they see it. 

Given that it's an imaginary set of rules around a leisure activity, which we play in places that none of us own, and receive no financial gain from doing something one way or another.  I don't see what it matters if people want to play different rules (often disguised as "ethics").

Like I said upthread, don't harm the environment, don't spoil anything for other people, don't lie then you can do what you like.  If people are unhappy about what you're doing outside of that, that's part of their own game, not mine.

1
 HeMa 22 Nov 2021
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

> I think headpointing becomes "acceptable" when it is not possible to improve by climbing easier routes.

And here lies the fallacy. You can always get better, simply by climbing more. Even at the top end.  The issue is always about marginal gains... at which point it becomes acceptable to "skip" the training period.

For a beginner going from zero to VS might actually take a few years. But with dedication from and E6 onsighter, getting to OS E7's it's about the same (albeit more dedicated approach is needed). How come the latter is OK, but the first is frowned upon.

Is it because you (and I and others) needed to go through the arduous path of groveling up slimy Diffs or VDiffs until they felt ready to tackle their first S or VS. To be honest, where I live majority of the climbing is S minimum... and they aren't of that good quality. VS's start to also have some actual good climbing and HVS-E1 is where the crap/quality balance start to be in your favor. So here, it is not that uncommon to see people "headpointing" or toproping easier routes. And later lead them (so in essence headpointing). And pretty soon they will also start OS routes they can. No does everyone do it, no... Do I do it, yeah if I want to tick something harder and with highly limited time (and actually routes close by). Which is why I mostly boulder these days. 

 wbo2 22 Nov 2021
In reply to Philb1950: but headpointing is really only a term applicable to unprotrctable , or badly protected routes.  At what grade do you consider that to be acceptable? 

 HeMa 22 Nov 2021
In reply to wbo2:

> but headpointing is really only a term applicable to unprotrctable , or badly protected routes. 

Not really, it is more in common used to describe Redpointing ethics or sportclimbing when done on a trad route. 

The risk of injury is often a sound case for the headpointing approach. But it is also done on safe, but hard routes... hard enough that they deem they have a high probability of failing. So they want the "easy" tick, thus practice it using any non destructive method available prior to the actual successful redpoint or actually the headpoint.

In fact, I would say that for trad routes, headpointing is actually "better" in the sense that you are less likely to break key protection feature. Where is this is actually more probable on a failed on sight attempt, or on a ground up attempt (e.g. Parthian Shot). The only case where headpointing (toprope practice until wired, either a fixed rope or with a belayer) should be frowned upon, is when the whole route is friable and every ascent makes it possible for the route to actually break (e.g. pebbles on Appointment with Fear and such).

But let's face it, currently (or in the past), not much focus has been put on the actual rock per se. But ones egoistic boosting has been the prime focus. This is still showing, in the sense that we rate higher a failed OS attempt breaking the route for all future generations instead of valuing the actual route. Let's remember that historically chipping and aid were fare game... now loss so chipping is almost generally not approved, and aid is only for the high mountains and new routes... waiting to be free climbed/freed.


Instead of stating always that what we think NOW is the only right thing, we should actually question which is the best in the long run... Remember, chipping was absolutely OK not so long ago.

In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

> preplace the gear on London Wall, call it f7a+, redpoint it, and all shame is gone

Maybe not the laughter though.

4
 Mike Stretford 22 Nov 2021

In reply to Shani:

> This is the point i was making above with regard to sport routes. We drill & bolt the rock to make it safe. But bolts are just a hangover from trad - it is the non-alcoholic beer of climbing. Many venues could be saved from the damage of bolting and TR'd - which actually satisfies the objective of safety much better.

> The climber who onsight TRs Hubble is better than the one who leads it on bolts after 20 sessions practice, but we'd only recognise the latters ascent.

Nah... most sport climbing is on crags where 'chucking a top rope' on it isn't an option. So a lower off is needed, and some way to get there safely....

 jkarran 22 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

> So is head pointing the way forward and would it be acceptable say on an E3 or E4?... I’d love to know peoples opinions. 

If you want to headpoint E3, do it, if you don't, don't. Nobody else cares and even if they do, tell em to feck off and mind their own business.

jk

1
In reply to Wooj:

To those who do headpoint, do you not feel that you are taking away one of the challenges and skills required to lead on sight? i.e. quickly and calmly work out the moves whilst in a position of stress. Does it not feel a bit robotic after several attempts?

7
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Maybe not the laughter though.

Well that’s certainly possible. Equally possible is that outside the online echo chamber of boomers (including me), nobody gives a rat’s ass and just gets on with having a good time whatever.

In reply to wbo2:

With modern footwear, E7. Previously with non sticky rubber E5. Wearing old  EB,s I once top roped a new E5 slab route on Curbar before leading it. One top roped ascent to check it out above an appalling landing, then go. I can still remember the feeling four decades on, but I can’t remember the names of the routes I did in Kalymnos a month ago, although some of them were very good fun with amenable holiday grades.

7
 wbo2 22 Nov 2021
In reply to Philb1950: actually I should have been clearer about the grade I meant... at what English tech grade would you think onsight dangerous moves becomes untenable- English 6B? I think that has a bit more meaning in this context than the grade.

 Don't Slip Now?  Good route

 Michael Gordon 22 Nov 2021
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

> To those who do headpoint, do you not feel that you are taking away one of the challenges and skills required to lead on sight? i.e. quickly and calmly work out the moves whilst in a position of stress.

Generally there's more skill involved on onsighting a particular route than headpointing it. But if you only headpoint stuff which you wouldn't have managed ground-up, then you aren't really avoiding the challenge since the alternative is not doing the route.

"Does it not feel a bit robotic after several attempts?"

The final lead should be well executed since you know the moves, gear etc. It can sometimes feel a bit like that, yes.

Post edited at 20:16
 GrahamD 23 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

Anyone can pre - practice a VS.  Just don't expect anyone to take any claims of being a "VS climber" with anything other than amusement. 

In reply to GrahamD:

> Anyone can pre - practice a VS.  Just don't expect anyone to take any claims of being a "VS climber" with anything other than amusement. 

Obviously the same goes for any other grade (or at least it obviously should).

 cb294 23 Nov 2021
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

Different ways of enjoying climbing, I guess. Figuring out moves at the absolute top end of  my technical ability can be great fun, and I sometimes even work sports routes on top rope for that purpose.

Leading sports or trad routes at a slighty lower level is different.

CB

 jkarran 23 Nov 2021
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

> To those who do headpoint, do you not feel that you are taking away one of the challenges and skills required to lead on sight? i.e. quickly and calmly work out the moves whilst in a position of stress.

Surely that's the very point of it.

> Does it not feel a bit robotic after several attempts?

My experience is mostly on bolts but no, it's very satisfying while you're making progress and once you're tantalisingly close you're really invested in it, each go feels a big deal.

jk

1
In reply to jkarran:

> Surely that's the very point of it.

> > Does it not feel a bit robotic after several attempts?

> My experience is mostly on bolts but no, it's very satisfying while you're making progress and once you're tantalisingly close you're really invested in it, each go feels a big deal.

> jk

Same for me bouldering, always looking for stuff that won’t go now, but could with some work. I really enjoy that.

 HeMa 23 Nov 2021
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

> To those who do headpoint, do you not feel that you are taking away one of the challenges and skills required to lead on sight? Does it not feel a bit robotic after several attempts?

Yes for the former, after all as we currently rate things, clean OS is about as good as it can get, be it actually a bolted line, a trad line or boulder (ok, technically can be arqued that for boulders it's always flash).

As for the latter, I guess it could. But at least for me, the practice rounds haven't been that extensive. Quite often it is a play or two on fixed roped to clean it and check out the moves gear/clips. Then it is time to lead and it'll often go on the first headpoint/redpoint. But I'm not much into properly working routes (or even boulders) and very rarely put considerable effort into them (multiple working sessions etc.). Realistically speaking, if the route is clean I might actually have a change of OS it. But due to time constraints, I don't have the time to keep it the needed fitness/stamina or amount of suitable routes around within reasonable distance. Other are in a better position than me, and I can certainly value their approach.

Out of interest, I had to check out the fabled London Wall (E5 6a) and it has about 200 public ascents. Of those ascents 23% are either Lead O/S or Lead G/U. Naturally some older entries don't have anything on the style... but still a lot (~3/4 or even 4/5) that are using UKC Logbooks, have climbed London Wall using other methods than OS or G/U....

1
 JIMBO 23 Nov 2021
In reply to Wooj:

I still can't work out if I can use chalk, guide books, cams, anything other than pebbles and hemp rope, sticky rubber, word of mouth rumour of crucial gear, abseil inspection, video beta, bouldering mats, crack gloves, brush sticks, knee bar pads, tape, and if any climbs on other rock types other than grit actually count as worthy!

Personally, as a I have less free time now and broken legs which won't take much falling or decking out, I'd rather climb a route in a 'lesser' style  rather than not climb a great route at all.

 HeMa 23 Nov 2021
In reply to JIMBO:

> I still can't work out if I can use chalk, guide books, cams, anything other than pebbles and hemp rope, sticky…

if you wanna be on the safe side, only solo routes naked in the dark, preferably with a blindfold.

2
 gazhbo 23 Nov 2021
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

> To those who do headpoint, do you not feel that you are taking away one of the challenges and skills required to lead on sight? i.e. quickly and calmly work out the moves whilst in a position of stress.

Maybe, but I get so unreasonably stressed by not knowing what's coming up in terms of gear/holds that, even on "safe" routes, I can't get up stuff that's well within my ability and, after a while, it just isn't any fun.

It's fine when you're able to get out all the time, but now that I can can only get out rarely, it is much better experience for me (and certainly my belayer) for me to have a look at some gear and maybe practice some moves before having a go, than to spend 2 hours shitting my pants strung out on a ledge, all for the sake of climbing in "better" style or having a harder challenge.

I'd hardly call it headpointing, although I have done a bit of that as well.

Does it not feel a bit robotic after several attempts?

Sometimes, but if the route's hard/necky then you've still got to get to the top of it.  

1
 keith sanders 28 Nov 2021
In reply to gazhbo:

Maybe you need to O/S more routes within your grade so to build on your mental side of climbing, How many time's have climbers got the leg shake and soon as you place that runner you calm down, it's that that needs to be controlled .

We all climb routes for different reasons and should continue to do that but for me O/Siting is so more mentally satisfying . 

As Al Randall say's .

Keith s

2
 GrahamD 28 Nov 2021
In reply to gazhbo:

> Maybe, but I get so unreasonably stressed by not knowing what's coming up in terms of gear/holds that, even on "safe" routes, I can't get up stuff that's well within my ability and, after a while, it just isn't any fun.

With all due respect, if you can't get up it, it really isn't "well within your ability" is it?

9
 gazhbo 28 Nov 2021
In reply to GrahamD:

> With all due respect, if you can't get up it, it really isn't "well within your ability" is it?

I expect you knew what I meant but “well within my technical ability.”

 gazhbo 28 Nov 2021
In reply to keith sanders:

Maybe you need to work stuff a bit more?

 GrahamD 29 Nov 2021
In reply to gazhbo:

> I expect you knew what I meant but “well within my technical ability.”

Its kind of the point I was making upthread.  A grade like VS isn't a technical grade - it's an overall difficulty, or ' 'challenge' grade if you like.  Claiming to climb a route of a grade without accepting all aspects of what that grade implies is (IMO) at best misguided.  Does it matter ? It does if we are trying to maintain a common view of what a UK grade means and to avoid common fallacies like "no gear so it can't be VD".

2
 strudles 29 Nov 2021
In reply to keith sanders:

I think this comes back to people should feel free to do whatever we they want as long as it doesn’t harm the rock or seriously impede others (e.g topping a popular route on a busy day when others want to on sight it)

not all of us have the same circumstances - for example myself with a busy job and family means getting out and on sighting loads of trad is not realistic.. the time simply isn’t there so I tend to boulder or get short sport sessions in when I can. 

Very occasional I fancy doing some trad.. if I’m lucky I can rock up and on sight E4 with no mileage under my belt.. but often not if there is a trad route I really fancy climbing but I’m unsure about gear or conditions I might choose to ab down and check it out, practise it even. It might be significantly within my technical grade. Personally I care more about climbing a great route over onsighting it and hurting myself due to a placement mistake. Another time in my life I might be lucky enough to on sight loads and the need to be cautious is mitigated by mileage ! 

 UKB Shark 29 Nov 2021

 Alasdair Fulton:

> Wow, so much fence sitting on this thread.

> >=E7 = ok

> E6 depends. (bold / serious might best to work, some could go on a good onsight / GU.

> E5 onsight/GU all the way.

> That is all. 

Yep. Depending on the route used to be ~E7 but judging by the other thread it’s now E4/5 if its ok to publicly advertise for partners to work that grade with you.

Another 20 years time then E2/3 on the current trajectory?  🤣

14
 Marek 29 Nov 2021
In reply to UKB Shark:

> Another 20 years time then E2/3 on the current trajectory?  🤣

Hopefully, long before that we'll stop arguing (as though our lives depended on it) about things that really don't matter.

Anyway, headpointing is only relevant in single pitch cragging - which is hardly 'real' climbing anyway...

2
In reply to Marek:

> Anyway, headpointing is only relevant in single pitch cragging - which is hardly 'real' climbing anyway...

Don't people work and headpoint big wall free routes?

 Marek 29 Nov 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Don't people work and headpoint big wall free routes?

Not round here.

OK, I admit: I wasn't being serious...

 keith sanders 01 Dec 2021
In reply to gazhbo:

Maybe I need to work stuff a bit more so I can claim an higher E OR F grade but am I achieving anything in the end ?

I can see the advantage of working a route I just choose not to as I prefer the mental challange 

keith s

4
 keith sanders 01 Dec 2021
In reply to strudles:

Totally agree with you we should climb in our own style and generally not damage the rock or placement where possible .

We all damage the rock 1 way or the other and I probley have by repeating routes and helping to polish them.

keith s

1
In reply to Wooj:

I can't help but think that if we called it practising the moves on a top rope it wouldn't be nearly so popular or "cool"

Al

5
 gazhbo 01 Dec 2021
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

> I can't help but think that if we called it practising the moves on a top rope it wouldn't be nearly so popular or "cool"

> Al

Maybe, but only if you ignore all the people in this thread telling you that that’s exactly what “we” call it and that the main reason they do it is because it’s convenient when you’re time poor.

For what it’s worth my best trad experiences have been routes I’ve worked.  I know this opinion is “wrong” but I find them more memorable and on my hardest insights I can’t actually remember much about enjoying the climbing, just about being relieved.  My worked routes just about sneak into the grades at which some people above decree it acceptable to head point but they’ve all been safely onsightable.

1
In reply to gazhbo:

> Maybe, but only if you ignore all the people in this thread telling you that that’s exactly what “we” call it and that the main reason they do it is because it’s convenient when you’re time poor.

Whilst this reasoning may be true for you, I'm not convinced it applies to the majority.  Indeed I suspect that working routes in this manner is actually more time consuming overall but there is no need to defend your position.  I'm old and past it, I've had my day, now it's yours but you will struggle to convince me that it is anything other than practising moves on a top rope and that calling it headpointing simply makes it sound more sexy and acceptable.

Al

9
 gazhbo 01 Dec 2021
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

I’m agreeing with you.  Most would call it practicing/working/top-roping.  No-one’s trying to sex it up to justify it.  
 

It may not be the majority view but judging from this thread I’m definitely not the only one who feels they’ll get more out of a rare day trad climbing by chucking a top-rope down a route than by insisting that everything needs to be on sighted.  Especially if like me you’re crap at onsighting and don’t have any spare weekends in a year to improve that situation.

1
In reply to gazhbo:

If by "getting more out of a rare day trad climbing" you mean improving your grade/ability in a short space of time then you are correct but I did not think that was the point of the debate.

Al

Post edited at 14:53
6
 UKB Shark 01 Dec 2021

What gets me reading through the thread is the poverty of ambition and aspiration. Headpointing is the poorest acceptable way to tick a route reserved for when a route is beyond your current and likely future capability - it shouldn’t be the first resort.

With the indoor walls and training knowledge and the prevalence of sport climbing and bouldering to hone on-rock abilities climbers should be better than ever yet general trad onsight levels seem to be lower than they were 30 years ago. The general acceptable level to headpoint should be higher now, not lower. There really is no excuse. 

I wonder if the Belgian climber who came here and flashed Gaia was motivated by the thought that we were a nation of bold climbs and bolder climbers and psyched to climb Gaia in the best possible style. Hope he’s not reading this thread. 

18
 Marek 01 Dec 2021
In reply to UKB Shark:

> What gets me reading through the thread is the poverty of ambition and aspiration...

I'm not sure it's anything to do with 'ambition and aspiration'. Perhaps people have come to realize that the buzz you get from nearly-but-not-quite-dying is not worth the risk of dying?

> With the indoor walls and training knowledge and the prevalence of sport climbing and bouldering to hone on-rock abilities climbers should be better than ever...

Physically, perhaps. But sport and indoor climbing don't really help develop ones mental abilities in terms of onsight route reading and boldness.

> ... yet general trad onsight levels seem to be lower than they were 30 years ago. The general acceptable level to headpoint should be higher now, not lower. There really is no excuse. 

Ah, an 'excuse' is something you come up with when you've done something 'wrong'. I can't blithely equate 'headpointing' with 'wrong'. And I still haven't seen any justification for the concept of an 'acceptable level'. Every climber climbs within their own personal grading system of can-do/might-do/will-never-do. The fact that my might-do is the same E-grade as your can-do is completely irrelevant to how I approach the business of making that might-do route into a can-do route.

> I wonder if the Belgian climber who came here and flashed Gaia was motivated by the thought that we were a nation of bold climbs and bolder climbers ... 

I doubt it, but either way it's irrelevant. I don't climb to impress other climbers.

PS: Just for the record, I don't think I've ever headpointed (or even just 'practiced') a route. But I accept that others may want to.

Post edited at 22:03
1
 strudles 01 Dec 2021
In reply to UKB Shark:

Not entirely sure why I’m wading in on this as I’ve only ever head pointed 1 trad route ever but..

not everybody climbs for the same reasons or gets the buzz / satisfaction / whatever for the same thing.

While some might be chasing grades when headpointing many might not - we all have different reasons to climb and take different things away from it. The things you hold as important others might see no value in but we still all ‘climb’

personally I really like executing rehearsed moves with control (much like a dance or gymnastic routine). While I’ve on sighted many 100’s of trad routes it’s the redpoints of sport routes and boulders that stick in the mind for me.

There are so many classic ‘sequences’ on trad that I might try one day and i couldn’t care about what people might think or the state of the current generation of climbers if I chucked a rope on it first.

the stupid thing is I prob won’t and unless it’s a proper death route E5 doesn’t feel particularly worrying so I’ll happen to be ‘ok’ cos I’ve chucked a rope down an E6 or 7 and for some bizarre reason that’s ‘fine’ but E3 or 4 is not !! Crazy   

 Kinda feels like elitism maybe.. possibly that’s why I’m posting.. I kinda don’t like that.

1
 Graeme Hammond 01 Dec 2021

In reply to Shani:

> We're in this strange world where we are physically stronger than ever but that head-game is missing. In an era of endemic mental health the benefits of onsight trad - testing yourself against often illusory levels of danger - cannot be overstated. There's nothing quite like The Talk before a crux where you know the gear is good, technically within your ability, and, you just need to go for it. Pulling over the top after battling inner demons is the perfect tonic.

Agree these are often the climbs I remember the most, utterly brilliant. However I accept that climbing has many forms and the motivation and reward for these different forms are not universal which is why they exist in the first place.

> I do wonder why we don't recognise a TR ascent. As I've mentioned on other threads, i view sport climbing as 'trad re-enactment' and headpointing falls in to the same space IMO as you've removed most of the danger.

Not sure you are correct, some climbs are dangerous, regardless of if someone has tried them on TR or not. Sport climbing often removes the danger and focuses on the purely difficulty of the moves which motivates many others. It is a form of climbing itself not a means to reenactment trad any more that trad is a means to reenactment one ready for the Alps or the greater ranges.

> If you want an authentic experience on Silly Arete of Quietus, it won't be found from practicing the route. You need to get on the sharp end and have The Talk. That's a big part of the value of the route. It's what makes it a 'classic'.

So many other things make a route classic or enjoyable, I prefer to do them on the sharp end onsight but the experience can be just as enjoyable the second time cruising it or getting it clean after previous failures, or even relaxing in safety on second. Just because you like the the Talk doesn't mean everyone does on every route they climb.

 Graeme Hammond 01 Dec 2021

In reply to Shani:

> Loving your cut & paste skills.

> I'm curious; have you upped the dose or increased the frequency?

😆  the speed at which it disappeared must add to the conspiracy

 Graeme Hammond 01 Dec 2021
In reply to thread:

What I want to know is at what level does Redpointing become acceptable or does that need it's own thread? 

what about when having more than 10 goes at a boulder problem or ten sessions on the same problem?

When does the number of ground up attempts become unacceptable?

 Wicamoi 01 Dec 2021

In reply to Shani:

I basically agree with you, but still I want to begin this post with "no, no, no." Headpointing doesn't "remove most of the danger." What it removes most of is the adventure. It is perfectly possible to take on a headpoint which involves plenty of danger, perhaps often more danger than is generally involved in a hard onsight. What headpointing removes is the unknown, the terra incognita, the 'here be dragons'.

But I agree with you that facing those dragons is the biggest experience in climbing. Whether that is materially better for mental health than headpointing - as you suggest - is an interesting notion, but one of which I am sceptical.

In any case, I am happy for people to do just whatever they want so long as it harms no-one else. The only thing I would say to young climbers is this: be careful not to start headpointing too soon. If you begin before you have reached your potential you risk stealing a treasured onsight from your future self. As a callow youth I top-roped just two routes... one of them turned out to be likely the only E5 I could plausibly ever have onsighted. Since I could even now, but for that youthful trespass, still have plausibly onsighted it, it still wrankles. And there's no point in leading it now - I know i can do it - I carelessly snuffed out those dragons from a safe distance, and to no purpose.

When you are young the dragons of the world seem infinite - but they are not.

 Darkinbad 02 Dec 2021
In reply to Wicamoi:

Come on now, don't be coy. If there was one E5 you could plausibly onsight, even now, there are sure to be others. Give us a name and I am sure that the UKC community will not be shy in coming forward with similar alternatives.

Your point is nevertheless a good one. I would note that it also applies to seconding, which is harder to avoid if you want to maintain a fair and equitable relationship with your climbing partners.

 HeMa 02 Dec 2021
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

> Whilst this reasoning may be true for you, I'm not convinced it applies to the majority.  Indeed I suspect that working routes in this manner is actually more time consuming overall but there is no need to defend your position. 

I actually think you're wrong.

To climb the route of the same grade... top roping into submission is quicker... than to drive around the country to search for yet another likely candidate for your (failed) OS attempt.

Now, if you drop the grade then you can OS (which again is as you put it, faster). 

Also amount of suitable routes comes into play. Some locales might just not have them around in vast quantities... I know for a fact, that I'm currently running low on suitable (hard for me to lead) routes in sub 2h range from home. And as said, with limited time, I put emphasis on quality of the routes, meaning that the list grows even shorter.

 PaulJepson 02 Dec 2021

In reply to Shani:

'The talk' when you know the gear is good is all well and good but you don't know whether it will be when you set off (hence the reason a lot of people headpoint). 

Personally, the feeling when I 'get away with it' on a bold or dangerous route is not exhilarating; it's one of the worst experiences in climbing for me and I feel like a f*cking idiot to have put myself at risk. 

People saying that standards have dropped in the last 30 years need to remember that trad climbing was the majority of climbing and sport climbing had only just startrd. I'm sure there are way more people onsighting hard trad than there was in the 80s, you just remember more from 'back in the day' because that's literally all there was.

 Michael Gordon 02 Dec 2021
In reply to UKB Shark:

> I wonder if the Belgian climber who came here and flashed Gaia was motivated by the thought that we were a nation of bold climbs and bolder climbers and psyched to climb Gaia in the best possible style.

Presumably not or he'd have gone for the onsight?

 Michael Gordon 02 Dec 2021
In reply to Graeme Hammond:

> What I want to know is at what level does Redpointing become acceptable or does that need it's own thread? >

Yes, I'm never quite sure why headpointing gets put down and yet folk seem quite alright with working sport routes.

2
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> Yes, I'm never quite sure why headpointing gets put down and yet folk seem quite alright with working sport routes.

At least I'm consistent, I don't like either

I don't care what others do it's simply that neither appeal to me.

Al

 GrahamD 03 Dec 2021
In reply to Michael Gordon:

There are two questions there.  One is what does that grade I want to claim actually mean in terms of style of ascent ? The other is really reflected in the words "trad" and "sport", isn't it ?

 UKB Shark 03 Dec 2021
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> Yes, I'm never quite sure why headpointing gets put down and yet folk seem quite alright with working sport routes.

Because the challenge sport climbing is mainly about doing the physically hardest climbing you can whilst the special thing about trad climbing is revolves around adventure/uncertainty. As I said on the other thread headpointing seeks to minimise or negate uncertainty and so removes what is special about trad climbing.

I don’t think headpointing is trad climbing. Even ground up (when it becomes siege) scarcely qualifies. 

10
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> Yes, I'm never quite sure why headpointing gets put down and yet folk seem quite alright with working sport routes.

That is a bit like someone asking why we treasure a Ming Dynasty vase but chuck the plastic tray from Tescos straight in the recycling.

7
In reply to UKB Shark:

> I don’t think headpointing is trad climbing. Even ground up (when it becomes siege) scarcely qualifies. 

At least setting out to headpoint a route you know you can't onsight is an honest style of ascent whereas ground up seems like inventing a term to make failure seem more respectable.

10
 UKB Shark 03 Dec 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

Lots of grey areas. If you had a go at an onsight then fell off and lowered off and pulled your ropes then did it next go that is obviously a successful ascent and also a far better style of ascent than working it to death on top rope then headpointing it. Conversely a quick abseil inspection and trying a couple of moves might be better style than multiple falls ground up. It depends on the route. 

1
In reply to UKB Shark:

> If you had a go at an onsight then fell off and lowered off and pulled your ropes then did it next go that is obviously a successful ascent.

That is what I mean. In this scenario it is only successful because you are using "ground up" as plan B having failed on the onsight.

2
 UKB Shark 03 Dec 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

Even with multiple falls (pulling the ropes each time) and over several days it has been generally established as a legitimate style of ascent - even if you don’t think so.

Interestingly in the US ground up is even more strongly regarded as a defining aspect of trad - more so than bolting - hence the establishing of trad routes that incorporated placing bolts ground up / on lead.

 Mike Stretford 03 Dec 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

>> Yes, I'm never quite sure why headpointing gets put down and yet folk seem quite alright with working sport routes.

> That is a bit like someone asking why we treasure a Ming Dynasty vase but chuck the plastic tray from Tescos straight in the recycling.

So 'working sports routes' ~ a Ming Dynasty vase, 'headpointing'  ~ plastic tray from Tescos? You have a funny way of putting things. Didn't know you were so keen on sport!

1
 Mike Stretford 03 Dec 2021
In reply to UKB Shark:

> Because the challenge sport climbing is mainly about doing the physically hardest climbing you can whilst the special thing about trad climbing is revolves around adventure/uncertainty. As I said on the other thread headpointing seeks to minimise or negate uncertainty and so removes what is special about trad climbing.

> I don’t think headpointing is trad climbing. Even ground up (when it becomes siege) scarcely qualifies. 

I'd say this was trad

https://www.ukclimbing.com/news/2021/09/second_ascent_of_lexicon_e11_7a_by_steve_mcclure-72884

I think you're trollin... doing it on here so you don't get bad 'karma'!

I've never headpointed but I know full well tope roping grit routes to to occasionally push the technical side of things in nothing new, across the grades.

Post edited at 12:24
In reply to UKB Shark:

> Even with multiple falls (pulling the ropes each time) and over several days it has been generally established as a legitimate style of ascent - even if you don’t think so.

Yes, I know it has. What I am saying is that part of the legitimisation might come from giving it a name. And I would make a distinction between a planned ground up siege which could be seen as an improvement in style on headpointing after top-roping to death and getting a route "second or third go" after a failed onsight; if it were not possible to, say, log this as "ground up" on UKC, would as many people bother? A bit like, as I suggested earlier, would as many people headpoint if you only got H points rather than the same currency (however devalued) of E points as an onsighter gets?

4
In reply to Mike Stretford:

> So 'working sports routes' ~ a Ming Dynasty vase, 'headpointing'  ~ plastic tray from Tescos? You have a funny way of putting things. Didn't know you were so keen on sport!

Apologies if I did not make myself clear. What metaphor I intended is that Trad is like a priceless vase, so some people see fit to value it and protect it, not sullying it with headpointing, whereas sport is like throwaway trash, so who cares what we do with nit. 

And yes, I do love a bit of trashy sport climbing - nothing wrong with that.

5
 Offwidth 03 Dec 2021
In reply to Martin Haworth:

Come on Martin, I've seen many VDiffs led after recent prior seconding or tr. A well above single percent is very likely for headpoint rates on VD.

All my handful of E1 FRAs were headpointed, partly as they needed a clean or some hold excavation from veg first.

 Holdtickler 03 Dec 2021
In reply to Wooj:

Having struggled signficantly with my health for most of the last decade and not knowing whether it would ever be possible for me to climb again I came to the realisation that all this stuff is essentially just games that we play and nowhere near as important and many seem to think that it is.

The first time I got back to a crag, just being able to get there felt like a complete miracle. I top roped a Vdiff and it felt like one of the biggest chalenges of my life and I was every bit as chuffed as Ondra after a big success when I got to the top I can tell you. In my earlier life I'd say I was very much a traddy tradster with “thou shalt not fall” perpetuating my fear of it which is why I never climbed up the grades much. I'd never done much toproping really nor had I been lucky enough to 2nd many routes beyond my onsight grade and because of that I never knew what my potential was, half the routes in the guidebook just seemed like they were utterly impossible and reserved for the pros.

But now that none of the ethics actually mattered any more, being over the moon just to be able to move on rock again I actually felt really liberated. After months of training and building myself up, I managed to top rope a VS (which again I was just extatic about) and I even went on to lead it half a year later, so shock horror, I headpointed a VS. So I kept going... I headpointed an HVS+ (odd lakes grade) when a mate showed up unexpectadly just when I was doing it on TRS so I got on the sharp end. The confidence of having top roped it (cleanly) twice showed me that I could do it but still I'd consider that headpoint to be one of the greatest achievements of my climbing life and the lead still provided a huge challenge for me to be fair.

Post lockdown1 I went out without a care in the world and top roped a bunch of classic E2-E4s, way beyond anything I'd ever climbed that I'd always been “saving for the onsight” and to my utter astonishment I found that they were not impossible afterall. Unfortunatly health hasn't provided me with the window of opportunity to get back to the crags but one day I'd love to to try and lead them (ethics creeping back in maybe? Old habits...). Even if I don't, I'm still more than content to have climbed them on TR, having loved it. Sure I lost a few onsights, there are 1000s more, but the confidence I gained from the process was just a complete game changer for me and really upped the grades I'd consider an onsight attempt on in the future (if the body allows) and suddenly all these amazing routes became options.

Sure I still love the aventurous style of the onsight and recently I urged a friend, who is fairly new to trad but physically very able, that he would get more fulfillment breaking through the sub-E grades onsight so as not to miss out on that (along with training his head game) instead of grade chasing. However, we are all different and have different challenges so any attempt to say what is and isn't “acceptable” at any given grade is purely elitist nonsense. I'm sure headpointing can be a useful tool regardless of the grade you climb. Either way it's certainly nobody else's business anyway.

 Holdtickler 03 Dec 2021
In reply to Holdtickler:

sorry that was lengthy

 UKB Shark 03 Dec 2021
In reply to Offwidth:

> Come on Martin, I've seen many VDiffs led after recent prior seconding or tr. A well above single percent is very likely for headpoint rates on VD.

Nominally a headpoint but hardly what the term was coined for. Probably best categorised as a repeat ascent in the logbooks

> All my handful of E1 FRAs were headpointed, partly as they needed a clean or some hold excavation from veg first.

Those would be ascents with beta rather than redpoint/headpoint in the logbooks
 

3
 Offwidth 03 Dec 2021
In reply to UKB Shark:

Your pedanrty is delightful sometimes, your elitism less so. I climb a lot with and around low grade leaders so I know what a headpoint is (a conscious choice to pre-practice before a lead) and I certainly know myself (I practiced the crux moves to see if the rock needed more cleaning or if I could trust the friction).

1
 Marek 03 Dec 2021
In reply to UKB Shark:

I think this separation between 'sport' and 'trad' is part of my problem. I just enjoy climbing and I don't much care what labels others have assigned to the style. Sometimes I want to go for the full trouser-filling-oh-shit-my-only-runner-fell-out-and-I'm-lost-in-a-sea-of-blank rock experience. But not always. Sometimes I just want to de-stress after work or just enjoy being out on the rock. Where I live (Western Peak) there's nothing much other than 'trad' crags. Sport climbing is something I can only really do on holiday, so the whole 'trad/adventure' vs . 'sport/exercise' distinction is (for me) more to do with what's in my head than the crag label in the guide book. And in practice it's not binary - it's more of a continuum with onsight soloing at one end and top-roping at the other and I will dabble with everything there and in between as the mood takes me. But it's on whatever rock/crag is convenient at the time. I'm not a trad climber. I'm not a sport climber. I'm just a climber.

Post edited at 15:08
1
In reply to Offwidth:

> Come on Martin, I've seen many VDiffs led after recent prior seconding or tr. A well above single percent is very likely for headpoint rates on VD.

> All my handful of E1 FRAs were headpointed, partly as they needed a clean or some hold excavation from veg first.

Yes, absolutely. The giddy heights of UKC posts aren’t really representative of the sport as a whole, or as practiced. I wonder what proportion of the entire climbing ecosystem would resonate with this thread or even care when they’re out enjoying a Saturday afternoon hobby, where they most likely might think ‘ok boomer’.

In reply to Shani:

> Using art as an analogy is the grades most commonly climbed

> Onsight Trad Flash -> Bob Ross

 Offwidth 03 Dec 2021

In reply to Shani:

A fun game...

Hard trad headpointing ^ Dave MacLeod

or

√(Offwidth)

Post edited at 18:29
In reply to PaulJepson:

Back in the day as you say, when most E5/6,s were first climbed, sport climbing did not exist at all. If I remember correctly Ron started the ball rolling in the Peak with his incursions into Raven Tor. Trying to on sight those routes at the standard of the day was absolutely desperate, until adopting red pointing,( a bit like top roping or practice moves), then the goal posts moved and sport climbing, with its own rules was adopted separate to trad. Quite simply, practicing an established route, or top ropeing  was regarded by everybody as cheating. I know this has currently evolved to accommodate a lack of commitment, but E grades are intended solely for an onsight, as a measure of how quickly you can safely and successfully work out moves maybe in a possible position of exposure or peril. You can try to fast track that by practice or roping, but you,ll fall into the trap of only ever being able to practice routes and not genuinely progress through the grades as you gain experience. When I started climbing the top grade on grit was E3 and took me 8 incredibly enjoyable and exciting years pushing to progress to E5/6, but for the following 15 years I could usually lead most routes of those grades. In the Peak, on nearly every grit crag you used to go to  there would probably be people leading E4/5 and soloing E1/2 and the leading lights of the day harder. If you walk along Stanage today, nearly everyone you see is being instructed and if someone starts up an E5 everyone stops to watch. All the above explains why so many people with high sport grades have modest trad. E5 is usually no harder than 6C and at most 7A. I laughingly heard someone claim Golden Mile on Chee is 7B+ and that’s  after practice. Should try it on sight wearing old EB,s. For an acknowledged genuine 7B+, Masters Edge on Millstone and that’s with minimal gear.

8
In reply to Robert Durran:

> That is what I mean. In this scenario it is only successful because you are using "ground up" as plan B having failed on the onsight.

...and what is wrong with that?

 Offwidth 03 Dec 2021
In reply to Philb1950:

Get down with the kids Phil. Sports grades are lower case abc these days; ABC indicates a bouldering grade.  (You're right about Stanage though).

Post edited at 23:07
1
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> ...and what is wrong with that?

Nothing. It's ok to fail. 

 UKB Shark 04 Dec 2021
In reply to Mike Stretford:

> I'd say this was trad

> I think you're trollin... doing it on here so you don't get bad 'karma'!

There’s only one person who can properly answer that so I asked him:

>Here’s a question @Steven Mcclure 

The way you did Lexicon do you consider it’s:
1. more like sport climbing than trad climbing 
2. More like trad climbing than sport climbing 
3. Something entirely separate


>So, in answer to Simon.... 'Routes like Lexicon are no doubt traditional routes. All routes protected with traditional protection are trad routes. However, the question maybe is perhaps are these routes climbed in traditional style.

Personally (i.e., for me!), I think of traditional climbing as climbing in what we consider the traditional way, to try and climb a route onsight (or perhaps with some info), but basically taking on the challenge of the cliff and figuring stuff out as we go. This requires a huge skill-set.

Once the protection is known, the danger assessed, the moves worked out and the route considered at least possible (and in the case of dangerous routes, at least very likely) then much of the 'traditional' experience is removed.

In many ways, the head-point experience feels more like sport climbing, certainly in the way one attacks the climbing. All the decisions are made before even leaving the floor, unlike the trad onsight, where most decisions are made on the route.

In some cases where protection is very good, a 'headpoint' is certainly closer to sport climbing than trad climbing, though with routes like Lexicon, the danger element is a considerable component, and this is probably the biggest component to consider for that route; how one assesses the risk, deals with the risk and remains calm on hard moves.

I consider I climbed the traditional route Lexicon but personally I don't consider I climbed it in traditional style'

 UKB Shark 04 Dec 2021
In reply to UKB Shark:

Steve’s point of the decisions being made before even leaving the floor vs most decisions being made on the route is a great way of expressing the uncertainty/adventure of trad climbing (style) vs the greater certainty of redpoint/headpoint style.

Also his point about climbing a traditional route in a non-traditional style reminded me about belaying someone (Fiend) earlier this year who led a sport route on natural gear so climbed a non-traditional route in traditional style!

1
 alan moore 04 Dec 2021

In reply to Shani:

> Chipping/Overbrushing -> Rolf Harris

> 😬

Ooft! He was also voted 'Britain's favourite artist' before he became infamous...does the analogy still hold?

 Andrew Wells 04 Dec 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

If there's one thing that genuinely puts me off bothering to go anywhere near trad it's trad climbers who think it's the only, truest and best form of climbing.

8
In reply to Robert Durran:

It's not a base two situation. There isn't just failure/success.

Quite early on in my climbing career I seconded an older more experienced climber on Vector. At the time a climb I had not thought of even trying. I managed it fine and this inspired me to go back and lead it a few weeks later. It was one of the most pleasing and most ejoyable climbing experiences I've ever had and led me on to so many others. I've repeated the route a couple of times since and have enjoyed it on each occasion as much or more than many routes I've onsited. But your above comment suggests I've just made failed ascents.

 GrahamD 04 Dec 2021
In reply to Andrew Wells:

> If there's one thing that genuinely puts me off bothering to go anywhere near trad it's trad climbers who think it's the only, truest and best form of climbing.

Go somewhere quiet, then.  Don't conflate the actual climbing experience with the company of those who hold that experience dear.

 Offwidth 04 Dec 2021
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

Another example is that in different conditions a climb can feel very different on lead, plus in my case although I have a good memory for trad, unless I had a relatively exciting time on a climb in the late 80s or the 90s, I cant remember much of it at all, so it may as well be onsight. I do remember trad way better than sport, which is one reason I take mostly trad climbing holidays. Nearly all of my sport climbing was flash attempts and I can only remember the feel of a few of those (usually with unusual structure, for example a brilliant half tube F4/5 at Toix).

In reply to Andrew Wells:

> If there's one thing that genuinely puts me off bothering to go anywhere near trad it's trad climbers who think it's the only, truest and best form of climbing.

Eh....... but it is.

2
 Andrew Wells 04 Dec 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

Lol alright mate 

6
 UKB Shark 04 Dec 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Eh....... but it is.

Even though I just sport climb and boulder now I concede on that one! 

 JIMBO 04 Dec 2021
In reply to Offwidth:

> Nearly all of my sport climbing was flash attempts...

this really grinds my gears 😡

Sport climbing is all about redpointing and all I see are trad climbers trying to onsight sport routes well below their physical limit... the standards these days are slipping and it worries me... these poor ascents shouldn't be logged 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

lmfao reading this thread 🤣

In reply to JIMBO:

> Sport climbing is all about redpointing and all I see are trad climbers trying to onsight sport routes well below their physical limit.

Nonsense. It is perfectly possible to onsight at your physical limit; it will just be at a lower grade and less efficient than redpointing at your physical limit. Personally I find it easier to climb to my limit when onsighting because I find it far more exciting and because I know I only have one shot at it.

6
 JIMBO 04 Dec 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

I think your sarcasm meter is off whack... 😘

In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> Quite early on in my climbing career I seconded an older more experienced climber on Vector. At the time a climb I had not thought of even trying. I managed it fine and this inspired me to go back and lead it a few weeks later. It was one of the most pleasing and most ejoyable climbing experiences I've ever had and led me on to so many others. I've repeated the route a couple of times since and have enjoyed it on each occasion as much or more than many routes I've onsited. But your above comment suggests I've just made failed ascents.

No, because you did what you set out to do. Maybe I did not make myself clear. I was referring specifically to the situation where you set out to onsight a route and fail, but then maybe get it second or third go and then give your failure respectability by labelling it "ground up". 

8
In reply to JIMBO:

> I think your sarcasm meter is off whack... 😘

Maybe, but I have heard that opinion regularly made without sarcasm.

1
 UKB Shark 04 Dec 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

> No, because you did what you set out to do. Maybe I did not make myself clear. I was referring specifically to the situation where you set out to onsight a route and fail, but then maybe get it second or third go and then give your failure respectability by labelling it "ground up". 

If that’s the (ludicrous) benchmark for failure then all headpoints are failures

In reply to UKB Shark:

> If that’s the (ludicrous) benchmark for failure then all headpoints are failures

Not at all. Sorry, I really don't know how I can make myself any clearer. 

1
 Offwidth 04 Dec 2021
In reply to JIMBO:

Why is what someone else enjoys any issue for you? Why cant we just celebrate the differences in what we enjoy in the variety of games we play?

I've tried quite a few proper redpoints and find it a faff, which looks no fun for the belayer. I have no problem with those climbers who enjoy it and totally get the tactics and  pushing of limits. I just brush up tactics and push my stamina beyond my flash limits on boulder traverses and indoor boulder loops. Overall having tried hard in most climbing games on rock I just get more out of trad onsights, soloing and bouldering.

1
 JIMBO 04 Dec 2021
In reply to Offwidth:

> Why is what someone else enjoys any issue for you?

It isn't. I wasn't meaning to poke fun at you (sorry)... I find the whole thread ridiculous... just have fun 👍 

 UKB Shark 04 Dec 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Not at all. Sorry, I really don't know how I can make myself any clearer. 

By applying logic 

In reply to UKB Shark:

> By applying logic 

Exactly.

Achieve what you set out to do: success.

Not achieve what you set out to do: failure.

1
 Offwidth 04 Dec 2021
In reply to JIMBO:

Fair enough...ditto.

 Michael Gordon 05 Dec 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Exactly.

> Achieve what you set out to do: success.

> Not achieve what you set out to do: failure.

But you can fail repeatedly on something until you eventually succeed. The goal for most climbs is usually to climb a route in one go from bottom to top without recourse to aid. When you eventually manage that, it's fair to ackowledge you have succeeded. You might have failed to onsight it, but you have succeeded to climb it free.

I think there has to be an allowance that one's goals can be adjusted during the process. Only you can know whether what you eventually achieve feels like a 'success'. Success is relative to the magnitude of the task undertaken.

Say you try something which in all honesty you would have only a small chance of onsighting. But there's enough gear so might as well give it a go, even if you'll probably fall off. Which you do. At some point you might even end up having to abseil in and work a few moves. So you could've shortcutted the whole process and just headpointed it from the start. It seems ludicrous to suggest that the latter would automatically be a success, while trying it in better style first before accepting you've given it your all and adopting a different tactic would automatically be a failure.

 Mike Stretford 05 Dec 2021
In reply to UKB Shark:

> There’s only one person who can properly answer that so I asked him:

> >Here’s a question @Steven Mcclure 

> The way you did Lexicon do you consider it’s:

Thanks for a very well researched reply!

Sorry to accuse you of trolling but it did seem like quite a leap to go from some of the articles you've written to having a pop at someone in the Lifts and Partner section. I interpreted the para 'Let the tribes increase' here

https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/features/grades__and_style-1477

as a more relaxed attitude to style, as long as the climber attaches an appropriate grade to what they've done (eg worked  a v4 sequence on top rope rather than 'did and E5'). I must admit though I didn't quite appreciate it's 13 years since you wrote that!

Post edited at 13:58
 Marek 05 Dec 2021
In reply to Michael Gordon:

There's an old adage that you learn more from your failures than from your successes. Or the stronger version is : "If you're not prepared to fail then you'll never really succeed".

Of course all this presumes that failure does not result in death.

 Michael Gordon 05 Dec 2021
In reply to Marek:

And to paraphrase Dave MacLeod regarding long term projects, "you only fail once you stop trying them".

Post edited at 17:04
 UKB Shark 05 Dec 2021
In reply to Mike Stretford:

Gracious of you - apology accepted

I’ve never really been attracted to headpointing.It didn’t surprise me that Steve felt that headpointing Lexicon was more like sport climbing than trad climbing. 

When headpointing came on the scene with Hard Grit etc I instinctively felt that it wasn’t what trad is about for me but was generally ambivalent to others doing it. When Rory posted I was going to get in touch with him but then re-read and gutted to see that he was looking for someone to work E4’s and E5’s. I regret posting anything but I’d had a couple of glasses of wine to drink and at the time it triggered me.

E4/5 was very much not a grade that was headpointed when the term was coined and it’s a bit sad that it’s become so now which seems to be the case. Personally I think it is better to do lower grade routes in better style and leave those routes at the higher grades until you have improved enough to do them on reasonable style and in the process you preserve the possibility of the onsight. There are routes at that level that I have held off trying for over 30 years and wouldn’t dream about top roping in order to lead now. The thought of doing them now turns my stomach but who knows. There were also climbers in the 80’s and 90’s trying to onsight or do E7’s and E8’s with minimal practice and inspection and my impression is that this also doesn’t happen so much.

I don’t think a trend towards headpointing of lower and middle grade routes is something to be celebrated. There has been amazing progress with bouldering and sport climbing but with regard to trad routes done in trad style it seems general standards and aspirations have gone backwards. That’s what I’ve been railing against.

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 wbo2 05 Dec 2021
In reply to Offwidth: I have to say that it is a little rich that you are complaining that other people are telling you how to climb things.   

 Michael Gordon 05 Dec 2021
In reply to UKB Shark:

> I’ve never really been attracted to headpointing. It didn’t surprise me that Steve felt that headpointing Lexicon was more like sport climbing than trad climbing. 

You say that as though it's a bad thing. Steve obviously has done a wee spot of sport climbing here and there and 'sport-style trad' is arguably his thing?

> E4/5 was very much not a grade that was headpointed when the term was coined and it’s a bit sad that it’s become so now which seems to be the case. Personally I think it is better to do lower grade routes in better style and leave those routes at the higher grades until you have improved enough to do them on reasonable style and in the process you preserve the possibility of the onsight. >

That would be a fine position to take if everyone with a little hard work could eventually end up onsighting hard routes. In reality some are naturally much better than others and for most people, onsighting E5, E6, E7 etc will never be an option no matter how hard they try. It does seem a strangely elitist position to take whereby an E1 climber pulling out all the stops to headpoint an E5 doesn't get your respect but it's quite alright for an E6 climber to lower their ethics and headpoint an E8.

 Michael Gordon 05 Dec 2021

In reply to Shani:

There are countless examples of lower E grade routes with marginal or very little gear. Of course there's no 'need' to headpoint them but perhaps some people may want to and I can't think of a good reason why they shouldn't. If I was playing devil's advocate I'd say there's no 'need' to headpoint established E8s since a few have been onsighted and others presumably will be in future.

 Marek 05 Dec 2021

In reply to Shani:

> But as a general rule, ...

Whenever is encounter that phrase my bullshit early warning bell goes off. It typically translates as "I have absolutely no evidence, but I choose to believe that..."

> ... anything up to E4 will have excellent gear ...

Really? I'm guessing you haven't climb much slabby grit then. All grades from Diff upwards and not a single bit of pro anywhere.

> ... (or if little protection, will be technically easier than otherwise).

Well, duh! That's because lower grade climbs are usually easier than higher grade climbs.

> Much beyond E6 again as a general rule, gear placements are more marginal or harder to place, and the technicalities increase.

You seem to have a lot of 'general rules' - all of which are equally defensible.

> So is there a 'need' to headpoint many of the lower Es??

What's 'need' got to do with it? There's no 'need' to actually climb anything. We do it because we 'want' to in the same way my grandson wants another chocolate button. Let's not pretend it's anything more than that.

Some people want to climb an route at Ex grade which is at their limit. To do that - with reasonable safety - they choose to practice the moves on top-rope. What does it matter the value of 'x' - it's just a number. And a number that is only significant to the person trying the climb.

> I'm crap at climbing but that buzz of overcoming fear (a fear that manifests even when the gear is good), is still a much valued and sought after feeling - a real sense of achievement be it E1 or E-whatever.

You should think about the distinction between the fear you feel when failure will actually result in injury or death (objective fear) as opposed to the fear you feel when you are safe but in an exposed position (subjective fear). They are quite different and not appreciating the difference (and how to react to them) risks an unhappy ending.

 Marek 05 Dec 2021
In reply to Marek:

The only logical reason I can think of to deprecate headpointing below a certain grade - which I don't think I've seen in this thread - relates to the issue of 'personal progression', i.e., if (say) at age 20 you are contemplating headpointing an E1, then you should consider that with a bit of application and training, you should be able to onsight it next year. It might be better to save the route for when you can do it in better style and hence gain more satisfaction. There are probably plenty of other HVSs to enjoy today. However if you really believe that you have reach the limit of what you'll ever be able to do (and that's unlikely to be HVS at age 20), then go for it - headpoint away - you have nothing to lose. Notice that nowhere in that analysis does anyone else's opinion come into the discussion - it's purely about what *you* are and what *you* do.

 Marek 05 Dec 2021

In reply to Shani:

> i didn't say 'all' with this very example in mind. So where are all these blank slabs with routes up to E4?

Hmm OK, I don't have my guide books at hand, but from memory and on my local crag (Roaches)...

Diff/VDiff : Chicken Run or perhaps Rooster.

S : Beckermet Slab, Heather Slab

HS : Technical Slab

VS : Mantleshelf Slab, Condor Slab, Black Pig (and probably many more)

HVS : Batchelor's Butress, Prelude to Space, Wild Thing

E(<4) : Not my sort of grades, but Chalkstorm and Elegy come to mind.

All the above - as far as I can recall - are unprotected (where it matters). And no, 'high side-runners' (i.e., off-route) are just top-roping for people who don't want to admit that they are top-roping.

I doubt that the Roaches are particularly unusual in this regard. Millstone has its Great Slab, the Cuillins have Arrow route, Snowdonia has the the Carnedd y Filiast Slabs. Bold easy climbs are not rare. No one would 'headpoint' these climbs, but they demonstrate that protection-less climbing does start at the magical grade of E4.

 Marek 05 Dec 2021

In reply to Shani:

> Of course there are. I've conceded that very point. If any way lethal then they'll be technically easy.

An E1 onsight is as hard for an E1 leader as an E10 onsight is for an E10 leader. The numbers are irrelevant. The arguments for-or-against headpointing are the same in both cases.

> I'm pretty sure if you plan to hesdpoint E5, such an E1 would be onsightable.

Irrelevant. Headpointing is something to contemplate for a route at (or above) your limit grade, not four grades below. What grade anyone else climbs doesn't come into it.

 Offwidth 06 Dec 2021

In reply to Shani:

"But as a general rule, anything up to E4 will have excellent gear (or if little protection, will be technically easier than otherwise)."

Marek's list is correct but more importantly it's generally a very bad idea to fall off low grade routes anywhere as you tend to hit things like ledges. Then things differ by rock type:  a significant proportion lower extremes on grit are very bold, so much so I remember David Jones's guide to climbing in the UK advised caution for onsights. Styles change with grade and other factors for good reasons.

Then you have typical rock conditions. I gave up onsighting on obscure VS in my YMC guidebook work as it was just too mentally grueling due to a combination of poor gear and rock condition. I'm really glad they used the hollow star system at all grades to indicate many really good routes that might need a pre-clean.

 PaulJepson 06 Dec 2021

In reply to Shani:

> My god, a tiny list given the number of routes at The Roaches. Exactly my point, really.

Sorry, what is your point again?

 Offwidth 06 Dec 2021
In reply to wbo2:

Then you clearly misunderstand my views. I'm grounded in the idea of climbing games and respect all of them irrespective of my preferences. I'm pretty rare in my experience as I've climbed with and around every ability from some of the highest grade to some of the lowest grade climbers in the world, so I respect elite performance but despise top-down elitism.

3

In reply to Shani:

I don't think it was an attempt to provide a definitive list, more an illustration at various grades.

Of course on a rock type like gritstone, the proportion of protectable routes will be higher at lower grades, but that's simply because the easier routes are more likely to follow major protectable features, whereas harder routes are more likely to jump between such features.

 Marek 06 Dec 2021
In reply to Michael Hood:

> I don't think it was an attempt to provide a definitive list, more an illustration at various grades.

Exactly. But based on the last few posts I don't think Shani was interested in a reasoned discussion, so I left it there.

 UKB Shark 06 Dec 2021
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> That would be a fine position to take if everyone with a little hard work could eventually end up onsighting hard routes. In reality some are naturally much better than others and for most people, onsighting E5, E6, E7 etc will never be an option no matter how hard they try. It does seem a strangely elitist position to take whereby an E1 climber pulling out all the stops to headpoint an E5 doesn't get your respect but it's quite alright for an E6 climber to lower their ethics and headpoint an E8.

How very strawmanish of you. I never passed comment on an E1 climber headpointing E5 (does that even happen? sounds reckless) or use the word respect so stop putting words in my mouth. 

If it’s elitist to be disappointed that more climbers are doing lower grade routes in worse style than in the past then guilty as charged.

At the upper end I got more of a kick out of learning that Steve onsighted Nightmayer than headpointing Lexicon FWIW. 

8
 Michael Gordon 06 Dec 2021
In reply to UKB Shark:

> I never passed comment on an E1 climber headpointing E5 (does that even happen? sounds reckless) >

Why reckless? Stranger things have happened. E7 onsighters have headpointed E11 which at least on the face of it is a comparable difference in difficulty.

1
 Michael Gordon 06 Dec 2021
In reply to UKB Shark:

It's possible I have the wrong person, but I seem to recall reading that Jack Geldard headpointed his first E7 at a time when he was onsighting E3.

1
 UKB Shark 06 Dec 2021
In reply to Michael Gordon:

Home in on a minor point in my post rather than address the main points. Typical. I’m out of here.

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