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Grade chasing

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 shaun stephens 29 Jan 2022

Grades, why are they now so important to so many people especially new climbers.  Do climbers no longer just look at a piece of rock find a line that they like the look at and climb it. Im not meaning doing new routes but at all the popular places.  This the way our amazing sport/pastime came about yet now it seems that unless you have got a grade and name for the bit of rock your on it doesnt count for anything.  I hear so many new climbers talking about progressing through the grade ladder that they seem to miss out on routes/problems that would possibly give them a lot more enjoyment, sense of achievement.

59
 AlanLittle 29 Jan 2022
In reply to shaun stephens:

Different people have different priorities and value & enjoy different things. So?

5
 UKB Shark 29 Jan 2022
In reply to shaun stephens:

How come you’ve listed your best onsights on your profile? 🤣

1
In reply to shaun stephens:

Maybe Mick Ward can refresh my memory on this, but I seem to remember grades being the objective in early ‘80s Sheffield (along with pretty well everywhere else) in the S7, S8, S6 and S10 postcodes.

Except with people who weren’t interested….

2
In reply to UKB Shark:

Fair point but the original post still stands and actually since writing my profile back whenever some of my best onsights I've no idea of their grade or name. 

16
In reply to shaun stephens:

I started climbing in 1987 and grades were important to me then. They’ve been important to everyone I’ve ever climbed with since.

2
 Kevster 29 Jan 2022
In reply to shaun stephens:

If there wasn't inches, we couldn't willy wave. 

Waving is important. 

Therefore inches are important. 

 DaveHK 29 Jan 2022
In reply to shaun stephens:

So I've been doing it wrong all these years?

 wbo2 29 Jan 2022
In reply to shaun stephens: you think this new?? 

Whe  were grades introduced? Grade chasing will have started at that time, plus, I'd estimate half an hour.

In reply to shaun stephens:

Can you imagine a climber half way up a pumpy E4, that looked nice, but turns out is quite hard because they can only climb VS and the crux is near the top, out of sight from the ground?

4
In reply to shaun stephens:

I think you will find that it is a reflection of the changes in society - in the same sort of way that sound-bytes have replaced serious reports, the 24x7 response NOW culture, the move from quality and intangibles to quantity and measurement, etc.

I suspect a lot of it is somehow traceable back to the only way to value something is now in £.

All part of the same picture.

34
 deacondeacon 29 Jan 2022
In reply to shaun stephens:

Dearest Shaun,

Tell you what. I'll enjoy my hobby my way, and you enjoy it your way.

Regards

Deacon the grade chasing wan*er    

Xxx

7
 climbingpixie 29 Jan 2022
In reply to shaun stephens:

> I hear so many new climbers talking about progressing through the grade ladder that they seem to miss out on routes/problems that would possibly give them a lot more enjoyment, sense of achievement.

Enjoyment=/sense of achievement

Grades are a useful way to gauge the level of challenge a route will pose and that challenge, for many climbers, is integral to their sense of achievement and satisfaction. The struggle and the element of uncertainty of outcome make routes at my limit much more memorable than those where I'm cruising. Doesn't mean I don't enjoy doing easy routes but given the choice between a 3* classic Severe and a 3* classic E1 I'm almost certainly going to plump for the latter, especially on a non local crag or somewhere with a walk in. Anyway, I can always do the classic Severes when I'm injured, retired or am coming back from a break from climbing, or if I'm with a partner who wants to do them.

1
 VictorM 30 Jan 2022
In reply to shaun stephens:

As others have said, doing something that challenges me is more rewarding than doing something that's (too) easy for me. 

Having said that however, I do enjoy long routes that are well within my comfort zone, especially in the alpine. There is something about the state of flow that that kind of route tends to put me in that is quite compelling. 

But in the gym I like to do at least a few routes per session that are challenging for me, or maybe even just too hard. Getting better is part of any sport and one way to measure that is by climbing the grade ladder. But it's much more about my sense of personal achievement than about willy waving  (although the ego does get tickled a bit when I'm cruising something I see a mate struggling with - I'm only human...)

 Elsier 30 Jan 2022
In reply to climbingpixie:

True. But grades and level of challenge are not exactly correlated. For one thing there is a huge variability around grades. I might get a big sense of achievement from a 6b+ in Finale, but probably not so much so one in Kalymnos. (This is just an example I am sure there are soft touches in Finale and tough for the grade routes in Kalymnos too)

Also I can get the same sense of achievement from climbing a lower grade route that's not my style as a higher one that suits my style. 

*unless it's jamming, or friction slabs, or offwidths

 john arran 30 Jan 2022
In reply to shaun stephens:

Imagine you just climbed a route that felt hard, near your limit. You enjoyed it and are pleased you got up it without falling.

Now imagine you look again at the guidebook and realise the route you'd done wasn't the one you thought, but one given a higher grade. Who, if they're really honest, is not going to be just that little bit more pleased with themselves?

So what would be wrong with trying to achieve that same extra satisfaction without first having to have misread the guidebook?

We're all to some extent social creatures. We're all to some extent competitive creatures. Some very much more than others, but these things are integral parts of human nature. The important part is not being a dick in how you embrace and present your own, inherent character.

1
 MischaHY 30 Jan 2022
In reply to afx22:

> Can you imagine a climber half way up a pumpy E4, that looked nice, but turns out is quite hard because they can only climb VS and the crux is near the top, out of sight from the ground?

To be honest if your man is half way up an E4 then I'd suggest he smash on and see what he can do. As long as it's got gear then it's safe so where's the problem? 

When I started climbing I started on trad and did exactly as the OP said because I could afford either a guidebook or a set of wires/quickdraws. I fell off a LOT. Did me good though! 

Post edited at 09:09
9
 Fredt 30 Jan 2022
In reply to shaun stephens:

Each to their own. I remember when I first started climbing in the late sixties, the only climbing I knew was in the Peak. Happy days on Stanage with a bunch of mates, and we were competitive, so grades were the aim, not only for the willy waving, but to measure myself. But like most at that time, we aspired to the Alps, and my first trip to Chamonix was in 1973, where we bumbled about on easy classics, but were mind-blown on the complexities of Alpinism, planning, weather, reading the conditions, different rope work, moving together, glacier travel, climbing in the morning dark, glorious sunrises, fast melting snow, forced bivouacs, exhaustion.

Then, back to Stanage, it all seemed very tame. Grade chasing seemed silly, and my attitude had completely changed from competitiveness to simply enjoying myself, valuing the partners, the views, the social side. Basically, after that grades were the least important aspect of climbing for me.

Each to their own.
 

Post edited at 09:36
In reply to shaun stephens:

Grade chasing sounds derogatory. I have to admit that I am more inclined to chase grades when sports climbing.  That's not to say that I do not get a lot of satisfaction out of climbing harder trad climbs but there is a subtle difference in my attitude and approach.

There is a clue in the name and, generally speaking, sport climbing and is treated more like a sport which implies competition. Trad "competition" is more subtle and nuanced.

I do not see anything wrong in either approach.

Al

 wbo2 30 Jan 2022
In reply to Michael Hood:  

> I think you will find that it is a reflection of the changes in society - in the same sort of way that sound-bytes have replaced serious reports, the 24x7 response NOW culture, the move from quality and intangibles to quantity and measurement, etc.

Pure nonsense

What's the first line in your 'anything else' in your profile? Grade chasing... 

1
 Trangia 30 Jan 2022
In reply to shaun stephens:

Grade gave me an idea as to whether or not I could climb it. Apart from that it's pretty irrelevant. I was MUCH more interested in the quality and ambiance of a route.

 climbingpixie 30 Jan 2022
In reply to Elsier:

Oh, absolutely. The challenge is the key, the grade merely a rule of thumb for ascertaining it. And easier stuff not in your style or on a rock type you struggle on can be incredibly satisfying. As a poor gritstone climber, onsighting Suicide Wall at Cratcliffe marked one of my most memorable days that autumn, both for the desperate struggle it posed to me and for signifying my transition from a terrible jammer to a marginally competent one, and was way more satisfying than cruising up another soft touch slate E2. But I still used the grade to judge what challenge I would get, it's just that my calibration is different on natural grit.

 twoshoes 30 Jan 2022
In reply to shaun stephens:

Grades are the best and worst thing about climbing. 

In reply to wbo2:

If you read the OP, you'll see that he's not talking about aspiration or improvement, but the increased need to classify and stick numbers on it and be seen to be progressing against those classifications.

My comment was my thoughts on how western society as a whole has gone in that direction and that this is merely its expression within climbing. One could similarly argue that there is some sort of equivalence between sound bytes and bouldering.

I didn't actually express an opinion on whether it was good or bad or whether I did or did not grade chase myself. Certainly the line in my profile you reference doesn't mention grades, merely an aspiration to get back to what I used to be able to do.

My opinions, just so you know. I don't think this societal shift is bad per se, but I am concerned (slightly) that something will be lost if everything has to be measurable and always has to be bigger, higher, faster, harder, etc. to have any validity.

As for grade chasing, sometimes I do and sometimes I don't; depends how I feel. Being an aging punter also reduces the proportion of times that I do 😁

7
In reply to Michael Hood:

Ironic, the older I got the more I chased grades, especially when I was approaching 70. I got a bee in my bonnet about on-sighting 7a at 70.

Al

 GrahamD 30 Jan 2022
In reply to twoshoes:

> Grades are the best and worst thing about climbing. 

On a scale of 0 - 10, how bad do you think they are ?

1
 GrahamD 30 Jan 2022
In reply to shaun stephens:

I don't know about historically, but when I started about 30 years ago I'm sure that grade chasing and big tick chasing were as prevalent then as they are now.  I know I was 'guilty ' of doing routes purely on the basis of grade without even looking to see whether the climb looked any good.

In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

> Ironic, the older I got the more I chased grades, especially when I was approaching 70. I got a bee in my bonnet about on-sighting 7a at 70.

I think as many people get older, they get more into sport climbing (or even discover it). Maybe as they become more risk averse, it is where they still push themselves physically while enjoying the other aspects of climbing in their trad. And, lets admit it, sport climbing is ALL about grades.

2
In reply to GrahamD:

> I don't know about historically, but when I started about 30 years ago I'm sure that grade chasing and big tick chasing were as prevalent then as they are now.  I know I was 'guilty ' of doing routes purely on the basis of grade without even looking to see whether the climb looked any good.

I think you may have just defined "grade chasing".  I have to say I was never guilty of climbing a route just for the sake of ticking the grade, at least not intentionally

Al

 flaneur 30 Jan 2022
In reply to shaun stephens:

> Grades, why are they now so important to so many people especially new climbers.  

I started climbing in the mid-70s. After the first couple of outings top-roping VDiffs and Severes, I insisted we try a VS. I can still remember the satisfaction of only just getting up it (in my trainers, with a hint of tight rope). I've been chasing that feeling of pushing myself and succeeding by the skin of my teeth ever since. Grades are the least worst way of guiding this, people have chased them ever since they existed.

It's hardly a new climber phenomenon, some of the most obsessive chasers I know are in team Grey Power. 

In reply to shaun stephens:

You say "now", "new climbers" and "no longer", but this exact thread has cycled round about every 6 months for as long as UKC has existed.

It wasn't different in the good old days ffs. People have been giving routes grades, and paying attention to them, for quite a while.

Andy Gamisou 30 Jan 2022
In reply to shaun stephens:

> Grades, why are they now so important to so many people especially new climbers. 

Wondering what evidence you have for this.

> Do climbers no longer just look at a piece of rock find a line that they like the look at and climb it.

Yes, I think some do.  I know I do. 

>  I hear so many new climbers talking about progressing through the grade ladder that they seem to miss out on routes/problems that would possibly give them a lot more enjoyment, sense of achievement.

Being able to climb at a higher grade opens up a greater number of routes to go at, so arguably increases the scope for enjoying a wider variety of climbing.  I know this has been the main motivation behind my own limited "grade chasing". 

Bit surprised that you seem to have given up at such a young age, but that's your prerogative.  Just as it's other peoples prerogative to wish to continue to improve, and grade tends to be one of the metrics used to measure this.

Post edited at 21:09
In reply to shaun stephens:

Looking back (from age 72) on all the climbs I have done, the ones that mean the most in retrospect and are remembered most fondly aren’t the admittedly excellent ones that I strolled up easily but the equally excellent ones that I had to push myself very hard on. When you are young your grade tends to improve continuously if you climb a lot. If you just cruise and never chase grades you miss these top experiences. I would suggest that anyone who climbs regularly rather than sticking to hillwalking has to some extent followed the grade chasing path even if they are reluctant to admit it to themselves. Maybe they soon stopped, perhaps when they began to feel uncomfortable or fearful. Maybe that is why there is a resentful attitude to those that unashamedly try. Chasing the hardest you can manage is rewarding (but different from pretending you climb harder than you do: I don’t defend that at all).

 Offwidth 31 Jan 2022
In reply to harold walmsley:

Some good points. I would say though from a personal perspective I felt all my hardest adjectival onsights (all effectively unprotected E2s) were a mistake at the time. My most memorable climbs were long mountain routes (summer and winter) which were hardish for me but safeish and in great surroundings with great company and often with some logistical planning involved; especially so those where I was in control but relaxed on lead, so started to get into a flow state. I can barely remember anything about the moves on the hardest sport climbing I've done, unlike harder bouldering (maybe as I find working things more fun without rope faff). Climbing is full of really interesting games and each to their own.

 Howard J 31 Jan 2022
In reply to shaun stephens:

Of course grades, and grade chasing, has always been part of climbing. Humans are naturally competitive. Most people will want to measure their own performance, if only to manage the risk and to know how they compare with others, and some will be outright competitive.  Even the least competitive of us will feel a buzz when we succeed on something beyond our usual comfort zone.

However what seems to be increasingly overlooked is that grades are just one aspect of climbing. I'm sure that previously far more attention was given in climbing writing to the pure enjoyment of it.  The supreme example is Bill Murray's Mountaineering in Scotland which dwells mainly on the beauty and spirituality of the mountains, rather than that they were putting up some of the hardest routes of the time.  Of course there is still some, but (to judge from UKC) people do now seem to be more interested in grades.  Perhaps this is a consequence of sport climbing and indoor climbing, which deliberately strip away the other aspects to focus on the gymnastic performance.  If you think of climbing as a sport then sporting achievement has to measured, and grades are the main way of doing that. 

Of course it is possible to enjoy all aspects of climbing while still wanting to improve one's performance, and it is also possible to enjoy climbing while remaining mostly within one's comfort zone.  One thing I have observed is that those of my friends who were most focussed on their own performance were most likely to lose interest once they were no longer to maintain the standard they aspired to, and instead sought out other challenges, whereas those (including me) whose enjoyment comes from being moderately challenged in spectacular places with good companions have bimbled happily along for decades.

1
 Cobra_Head 31 Jan 2022
In reply to shaun stephens:

I'm with you on this, though I'm still competitive with myself and my mates.

Gaining my E1 stripes, made me almost instantly lose my mojo for climbing, I lost 18 months of joy and fun, because I'd "made it".

When I started climbing, I wanted to get good, so I could look at a piece of rock and just climb it, no guidebook, just my judgement and skill. I still can't do that, what I think will be OK usually turns out to be desperate. It's still fun though

Post edited at 17:35
In reply to Tyler:

Grades in rock climbing have always mild very important, or just very important, certainly since I started climbing in 1965.

In reply to Cobra_Head:

> I'm with you on this, though I'm still competitive with myself and my mates.

> Gaining my E1 stripes, made me almost instantly lose my mojo for climbing, I lost 18 months of joy and fun, because I'd "made it".

That's weird, because once you've broken into E1 a whole new world opens up ... you've scarcely 'made' anything yet. As important a step up as VS from Severe.

 Tom Valentine 31 Jan 2022
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

I think the problem arises when you go to a crag with a partner who is more interested in chasing grades than quality.

I had one occasional partner who wouldn't entertain *** HVS routes if there were a few lower quality but  tickable E2s in the same vicinity.

1
In reply to Tom Valentine:

Agreed. The quality of a route was always most important to me. When I was climbing at my best though, it ideally had to be something close to my limit.

In reply to wbo2:

> you think this new?? 

> Whe  were grades introduced? Grade chasing will have started at that time, plus, I'd estimate half an hour.

I believe Owen Glynne Jones in 'Rock Climbing in the English Lake District', 1900, with Easy, Moderate, Difficult and Exceptionally Severe. The Abraham brothers then codified it further, I think, but I'd have to look it up.

In reply to Cobra_Head:

> Gaining my E1 stripes, made me almost instantly lose my mojo for climbing, I lost 18 months of joy and fun, because I'd "made it".

I can relate to that.  A few years ago I made the mistake of telling my younger mates that I wanted to be on-sighting 7a as I approached 70 years old. They thought they were helping but every trip out was like a training exercise with them encouraging and cajoling and it did spoil my enjoyment somewhat.

Al

 Brown 01 Feb 2022
In reply to Tom Valentine:

Maybe they are saving the three star HVSs for when they are climbing badly so they can find them hard.

In my opinion crusing three star routes is a bit of a missed opportunity. Struggling up a classic route at the absolute top of your grade, giving it absolutely everything to make the top is about the most enjoyable bit of climbing.

Leave the easy classic routes until you are injured, old or hungover to give them a sporting chance.

1
 Tom Valentine 01 Feb 2022
In reply to Brown

> Leave the easy classic routes until you are injured, old or hungover to give them a sporting chance.

I made that mistake with a few classics and the upshot is that I never have and never will climb them.

 Phil79 01 Feb 2022
In reply to shaun stephens:

Everyone chases grades to some degree, as its reasonable measure of progress, and only one we really have in climbing. Its natural human instinct to do things better/harder.

I suspect it might be a bit more prevalent among new (mainly) wall based climbers, as aesthetics or looking for a 'perfect line' don't really come into the equation at the bouldering wall, and some of that might carry through when venturing outside?   

1
 Cobra_Head 01 Feb 2022
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> That's weird, because once you've broken into E1 a whole new world opens up ... you've scarcely 'made' anything yet. As important a step up as VS from Severe.

The might be the reality, but psychologically that's what happened to me.

I'd argue extreme grades are different, if only because of their name, you're in big boys land.

I'm well aware that there are plenty of HVSs harder than many E1s, but this doesn't take away from what happened to me.

Thankfully after 18 months to 2 years, I got back into climbing and love it more than I ever did. I'm not chasing grades any more, I don't have a "target"I climb as hard as I can, sometimes, but I'm after enjoyment rather than numbers.

 Jimbo C 01 Feb 2022
In reply to shaun stephens:

I'm not particularly a 'grade chaser' but I think there's something good about doing your first route of a particular grade. It makes you feel kind of smug. And then there's also doing your first 'proper' route of the grade where you realise that your first route was just a soft touch that all the grade chasers go for.

 Hovercraft 01 Feb 2022
In reply to Cobra_Head:

I can definitely relate to this. When I was climbing a fair bit 15 years ago, one of my main ambitions was to on-site an E2. When I then did (and only one) and circumstances meant I couldn’t climb as much, I really struggled with motivation and enjoyment of climbing for 2-3 years.

I am now older, possibly wiser, and definitely more interested in speed, style and companionship than the grade.  But the satisfaction of fighting to the top of a “hard for me” route is still very much there.

 Offwidth 01 Feb 2022
In reply to Brown:

I understand what you are saying, but others think differently. To me climbing achievement, like most achievement is more of a challenging job well done in physical effort and skill, problem solving, and mental control terms, not because after a massive risk or fight (or both) I got through by the skin of my teeth. All my 'skin of the teeth' trad routes were certainly memorable but I would have preferred to have climbed all of them in better style. I think grades are important to find "Goldilocks routes" and for me that's not too easy for the style of ascent but also not so hard that I just scrape through.

 Brown 01 Feb 2022
In reply to Offwidth:

I was discussing a variety of amazing climbing locations with someone the other day and they mentioned one of their lifetime favourite routes. I'm ashamed to say that I had climbed it and have no memory of it at all. I was climbing really well and climbed it with someone else climbing really well. We pissed it.

In retrospect I see the whole thing as a missed opportunity. We could have gone big and I'd have had another epic/memorable day in the bank.

I can't imagine I'll ever look back from my deathbed and say "I wish I'd spent more time climbing easily forgotten routes well within my grade". It's not chasing the grade, it's chasing actually trying and you only have a finite number of chances in life to actually try.

2
 Offwidth 01 Feb 2022
In reply to Brown:

Again, I prefer trad routes that test me but I remember and enjoy pretty much all the easier long climbs I've done and loads of easier short climbs (partly as I often go back and solo those several times). Whatever way we enjoy climbing there is no bad way if we don't trash the rock.

 earlsdonwhu 01 Feb 2022

Is this related to the idea that many folk can't just go for a bike ride these days- they are obsessed with Strava segments. Or people can't enjoy a day skiing without app watching to check distance covered and maximum speeds.

I guess such things don't matter if they don't impact others. Chasing climbing grades doesn't do that but the quest for specific goals in cycling and skiing could lead to injuries to others. I suppose there is a blurring of the line between a leisure pursuit and sport.

 Brown 01 Feb 2022
In reply to earlsdonwhu:

People have always been puerile tickers. Sir Hugh Munro was trail blazing the concept of list ticking 1891.

 Ramblin dave 01 Feb 2022
In reply to earlsdonwhu:

> Is this related to the idea that many folk can't just go for a bike ride these days- they are obsessed with Strava segments. Or people can't enjoy a day skiing without app watching to check distance covered and maximum speeds.

My understanding was that a pretty large proportion of cyclists had always been interested in pushing their fitness, wanting to keep up with a faster club ride, burn off their mates sprinting for city limits or cover a bigger distance or a higher pass on their Sunday ride. Strava may have tapped into that, but roadies weren't exactly a bunch of happy-go-lucky bumblies before it came along.

I mean, this is fundamentally what all this stuff is about, isn't it. It's basic human nature to try to get better at stuff that you do, and people are going to chase after any quantifiable way of measuring the stuff they're doing as a way of checking their progress.

That said, it also seems to be basic human nature for older people to act like extremely normal things that have been happening forever are actually shocking new developments that demonstrate the poor moral fibre of "the younger generation."

 Michael Gordon 01 Feb 2022
In reply to Tom Valentine:

> I had one occasional partner who wouldn't entertain *** HVS routes if there were a few lower quality but  tickable E2s in the same vicinity.

If you're talking single pitch, then I can't see the problem. If you mean multi-pitch routes then yes, you just wanted different things. If E2 was a challenge for them then I'd empathise as those routes would likely often be much more powerful experiences than classic routes they could waltz up. Playing devil's advocate, one might say that they were chasing experiences and you were chasing stars.  

 Darkinbad 01 Feb 2022
In reply to Michael Gordon:

Pah! This is the sort of puerile star-chasing that leads to runaway star inflation. Give me a one-move-wonder soft-touch 7b in a grotty quarry any day.

1
 rurp 02 Feb 2022
In reply to shaun stephens:

Absolutely, damn the youth of today with their grade obsessions.
It was that tik tok influencer O.G.Jones that started the whole grade thing. I’ll DM him and give him a dislike. 
 

Just checked his instagram and turns out he died on the Dent Blanche in 1899.

Seriously though grades keep people alive long enough to learn the experience to judge by eye. No one wants to see more accidents. 
 

And good for bragging

 Uncle Derek 02 Feb 2022
In reply to shaun stephens:

My two best days climbing ever.

First ascents onsights at an unclimbed crag, my only regret is I named and graded the routes.

Going to a crag in Wales without a guidebook, and just climbing, it was totally engrossing, never know what grades we climbed that day, but pretty sure non where E4.

No criticism of people interested in grades, but people should try my two examples at least once in their climbing career.

Post edited at 08:03
 Offwidth 02 Feb 2022
In reply to Uncle Derek:

I've done some first ascent onsight new routing in the Sinai. It was the perfect climbing experience: an amazing place enjoyed with friends and local guides with the aim of producing a guidebook and encouraging responsible tourism, to an area that had massive unused capacity and was really struggling financially (because the massive pilgrim market had dried to a trickle due to terrorism). My favourite route was a moderate right above where we we sleeping. We told ourselves we should be careful, given accident rescue (unless we were very lucky with helicopters) was in some areas hours by camel......I was involved in new routes in the range from that Mod to a three pitch E1. Frank the Husky of this parish led our team.

 John Gresty 02 Feb 2022
In reply to shaun stephens:

I always worked on the principle that the harder one could climb opens up more possibilities, makes more impressive lines available. 

Never chased grades for the sake of wearing a badge claiming I'm  a Grade ? climber, but simply to increase the range of routes that are within my limited capabilities.

John

 Offwidth 02 Feb 2022
In reply to John Gresty:

I used to think that always applied but changed my mind. Firstly there are more trad routes at or below low extreme than you could climb in several lifetimes so you don't ever need to climb harder than that, unless you have specific targets in mind. Secondly, as some have said here, they find climbing routes that are easy for them forgettable so as they open up new experiences in higher grades they can lose them below. As I said earlier it's why I don't sport climb much.... life is too short to invest in things that you soon forget. We are all different though and climbing has so much variety on offer. For me it is as much about shared experience with people I like, in interesting places.

 Cobra_Head 02 Feb 2022
In reply to Offwidth:

> I understand what you are saying, but others think differently. To me climbing achievement, like most achievement is more of a challenging job well done in physical effort and skill, problem solving, and mental control terms, not because after a massive risk or fight (or both) I got through by the skin of my teeth. All my 'skin of the teeth' trad routes were certainly memorable but I would have preferred to have climbed all of them in better style. I think grades are important to find "Goldilocks routes" and for me that's not too easy for the style of ascent but also not so hard that I just scrape through.

I'm with you on most of this, but I've sometimes found "easy" routes when taking newbies out, also quite unexpectedly memorable, movement and position are high on my list of enjoyment factors.

For some the "Goldilocks routes" are soft touch higher grades so they can tick off another set of numbers.

 henwardian 02 Feb 2022
In reply to shaun stephens:

Grade progression represents a challenge. Lots of people like to feel they are succeeding at something, progressing at something. Ski runs have colours, white water has grades, mountain bike routes have difficulty ratings, even chess has elo ratings. Try opening a guidebook for gentle walks in some rolling hills somewhere, I would be very surprised if you didn't find some sort of technical difficulty/endurance rating system to differentiate the walks.

It's worth remembering that, and I know some people will balk at this, in the UK grading scheme at least, the harder you can climb, the cooler the lines are (at least up to about E5 or E7 or so). There are cool lines at every grade but the most spectacular sections of climbing are mostly quite hard. So chasing harder grades actually leads to climbing cooler lines.

There are definitely some people who are so driven that they seem to suck the joy out of their own climbing but even at a pretty high level there are plenty of people who will happily bimble up a 6a or a 7c when their projects are 8c or 9a.

(I've not climbed with anyone breathing the rarefied 9b/c air so can't comment on the very top level).

On a personal note, part of my own grade drive, on sport at least, is an unrealistic dream of one day climbing this:

youtube.com/watch?v=yDx98Ax0kfo&

Anyone who looks at this line and says "nah, doesn't look that worthwhile" is a liar!

1
 Tom Valentine 02 Feb 2022
In reply to henwardian:

Balk 

 Fishmate 04 Feb 2022
In reply to shaun stephens:

Working at a wall, I can relate to what you are saying.

I find it easy to accept that people climb for many reasons.

Yes, it is a little sad as a person who enjoys the beauty of climbing movement when I see a majority of newbs see climbing as just a challenge and not a learning opportunity. They all hit plateau's quite soon and don't have the knowledge to do much about and because 'they can pull 'ard' they don't need coaching. However, I also consider that many people are embracing new things and have never challenged themselves and of course such things inform our self-identity, so let them chase grades. Some of them will get it and some do straight away!

When one of my Level 1, 10 year old NIBAS students walks up a slab or technical problem the grade boys can't touch, it tends to restore world order in my little mind...

Climbing = Dancing

Grade chasing = Fighting

That's what it looks like to me and if people enjoy the way that makes them feel, I am no one to argue the toss.

1
 Cobra_Head 04 Feb 2022
In reply to henwardian:

> Ski runs have colours, white water has grades, mountain bike routes have difficulty ratings, even chess has elo ratings. Try opening a guidebook for gentle walks in some rolling hills somewhere, I would be very surprised if you didn't find some sort of technical difficulty/endurance rating system to differentiate the walks.

Doesn't this serve the purpose of people NOT finding themselves in the shite, by trying something too adventurous, rather than a target?


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