/ Rockfax: Grade Table: Sport -Trad equivalence

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Offwidth 31 Jan 2011
Is it only me that sees the sports- trad equivalances in the Rockfax grade convertor table around VS to E2 as being way out. I'm not much of a sports climber but never found flashing typical French 5 sport routes required much more than general climbing practice. However, onsight HVS consistency is something I've only acheived in a few short periods of high fitness and regular varied climbing (and at a time when the low French 6's felt OK).
Blue Straggler 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Offwidth:

It's not just you and it's been commented on quite a lot
Monk 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Offwidth:

I've always considered the equivalence being leading sport routes compared to top-roping trad. When thought of like that, the table works pretty well I think. As soon as you factor in placing gear, I think that you can easily spend a grade worth of energy.
GrahamD 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Offwidth:

I think the 'equivalence' is primarily a technical one and maybe it doesn't put a high enough premium on route finding or protection
1
In reply to Offwidth:

I think it might depend on whether you are comparing grade 5's at your local climbing wall, which are usually a doddle, or real grade 5's on French sport climbing crags, which tend to be significantly harder.

The table is intended for outdoor climbing, and we established it before places like Kalymnos came along and messed up European grading. It may need a correction, but I think it is the standards elsewhere that are inconsistent, and perhaps it is better to leave the table without adjusting for grade creep in other places and on walls.

Alan
SGD 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Alan James - UKC: ' think it might depend on whether you are comparing grade 5's at your local climbing wall, which are usually a doddle, or real grade 5's on French sport climbing crags, which tend to be significantly harder.'

That is a very good point which has somehow managed to avoid me until now.
Enty 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Offwidth:

They aren't way out they just don't give consideration to hanging around placing gear or holding on 10 times harder when you're pumping out 10 ft above a shit RP4.

If you were to top rope an HVS then a F5 would you be able to tell the difference?

I backed off a French trad route given 6b+ last week - my partner went up instead and thought it was E5. Then I seconded it no problem and thought it was E5 too and was soooooooooo glad I backed of.

E
ClimberEd 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Enty:
> (In reply to Offwidth)
>
> They aren't way out they just don't give consideration to hanging around placing gear or holding on 10 times harder when you're pumping out 10 ft above a shit RP4.
>
> If you were to top rope an HVS then a F5 would you be able to tell the difference?
>
>

Yeah, massively. I can cruise up F5 making almost no effort at all, HVS is always hard work, leading, 2nd or top rope.
Wiley Coyote231 Jan 2011
In reply to Offwidth:
> In my experience the grades only really settle down to anything approaching consistency once you get into the 6s and above. Fives - outdoor here and abroad - seem to cover a multitude of sins and can be anything from a trad severe to a HVS. Still, I suppose it keeps life interesting when you're looking for a warm up on a strange crag.
OllieR 31 Jan 2011
Any grade comparison table should only be taken as a rough guide and can never be considered definitive.

Grading on sport routes varies from region to region (Verdon to Kalymnos) as it does in trad climbing areas (remember Yorkshire VS)!

I usually recommend people try to get to know the separate systems (sport vs trad) and use them rather than trying to covert back to a system they are familiar with. If you go to a new area then start slightly easier until you get a feel for the local grading.
Enty 31 Jan 2011
In reply to ClimberEd:
> (In reply to Enty)
> [...]
>
> Yeah, massively. I can cruise up F5 making almost no effort at all, HVS is always hard work, leading, 2nd or top rope.

Surprises me that one - grades are hard around here but 5's and 5+'s seem to be pretty much benchmark HVS to me.

E

Blue Straggler 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

Good point Alan. I've probably not yet done enough sport on rock at a consensus grade, to be able to comment.
In reply to Offwidth:

One other important feature that you have missed is that the table itself acknowledges exactly what you state anyway.

The original table was done on a comparison of difficulty ONLY not taking account of placing gear, run-outs etc. In this situation, outdoor grade 5 is about the same difficulty as HVS, or at least it should be.

We established the colour-code system to take account of the fact that, in reality, most people can climb technically harder sport routes than equivalent trad routes. So this establishes a colour-code band which people can operate at. The aim is that if someone is an 'orange zone' climber, they can consider all the orange routes in our guidebooks be they sport, trad or boulder problems.

If you extrapolate these colour bands from the table here - http://www.rockfax.com/publications/grades.html then...

Sport 5 is bottom-end Orange spot = HS trad
Sport 6a+ is top-end orange = tricky HVS trad

Alan
Kemics 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Offwidth:

clearly it was made by sand bagging trad climbers, so they can sit back and gleefully giggle as new climbers start indoors, know what they grade they climb there are try to convert it to trad outdoors


To be honest, i've never found placing gear remotely pumpy in the slightest on any hvs and under. You can usually climb to a stance/no hands rest where you can place gear. You just have to be strategic about when is sensible to place gear. God knows i learnt that mistake, getting scared mid crux and trying to place gear on terrible pumpy holds when if you just climb one or two more meters there's usually a bomber hold and sinker placement.

My conversion rule is -1 grade. So French 6c is British 5c, French 6b is British 5b etc etc. I pretty much climb at my sport limit on trad. But i tend to stick to well protect routes.

1
Al Randall 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Kemics:
> (In reply to Offwidth)
>
> My conversion rule is -1 grade. So French 6c is British 5c, French 6b is British 5b etc etc. I pretty much climb at my sport limit on trad. But i tend to stick to well protect routes.

I'm impressed. I use -2 so for me French 6b is 5c and that is about what I climb at i.e. 6b sport and E2, 5c trad.

Al
Blue Straggler 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Al Randall:
> (In reply to Kemics)
> [...]
>
> I'm impressed. I use -2 so for me French 6b is 5c and that is about what I climb at i.e. 6b sport and E2, 5c trad.
>

What Kemics calls -1, you would call -3
Monk 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Kemics:
> (In reply to Offwidth)
>

> ...I pretty much climb at my sport limit on trad. But i tend to stick to well protect routes.

And I think that is often the root of the problems people have with conversion tables. Some people have strong heads/are reckless (depending on your point of view), others are wimps (like me) and others are somewhere in between. Wimps will find that the conversions are way too harsh, whereas stong-headed climbers will feel they are about right. I think that Alan's explanation above shows the situation quite well. These things are always going to be approximations.

Offwidth 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

Most of my outdoor sport climbing was in Spain followed by bits and bobs in the US, UK and France. You get some tricky French 5 sports routes but so what? If graded for the redpoint they can be challenging to flash and some have changed significantly since first being graded due to polish but are many of these really that much harder than a typical safe and hard VS 5b?; and its not as if you don't get brutal HVS 5a and HVS 5b climbs. I stand by my view that for someone competant in both areas, leading nearish to their limit, a typical French 5 is at least a full grade easier to flash than a typical HVS onsight.
Enty 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Kemics:
>
> My conversion rule is -1 grade. So French 6c is British 5c, French 6b is British 5b etc etc. I pretty much climb at my sport limit on trad. But i tend to stick to well protect routes.

Wow - don't go to Annot ;-)

E

Al Randall 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Blue Straggler: Just noticed Kemics best on sight is E1 so I will take his view with a pinch of salt.

Al
Blue Straggler 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Offwidth:

Is there anything "typical" about a VS 5b?
(I know there's a few of them around, I may have done one or two)
Blue Straggler 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Al Randall:

Possibly puts Kemics in a good position to comment!
Jonny2vests 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Kemics:
> (In reply to Offwidth)
>

You've never got pumped placing gear on an HVS? Maybe you're boxing under your weight.

To offwidth:

I agree. There is an offset, and I also agree with Alan's point about colours - coloured routes, trad or sport feel about the same sort of difficulty, its quite well thought out actually.

All that aside, its also worth remembering that the two systems measure entirely different things.
Bulls Crack 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Offwidth:

Are there many 'typical, VS 5b's'?! That would imply that equivalent 5's are cruxy - and we know sport grades don't work too well with cruxy routes. In terms of physicality homogenous 5's can be like homogenous top end VSs and low-mid HVS

Unless you're in Montanejos that is!
Al Randall 31 Jan 2011
In reply to jonny2vests: I agree. I think these comparisons are interesting but academic. They work for me because I on sight every thing and never redpoint. For the past few years I have been applying my own grading system for interest to both sport and trad and found that it works quite well. I consider the E as an E for effort and tag a digit on the end for protection and use the UK method for technical grading i.e. to signify the hardest move on the pitch. This way a typical French 6b might get E2, 5c, 0. If it had long fall potential or a possible nasty landing It might warrant a 1. Trad climbs go up in number according to their protection potential.

Al
Offwidth 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Enty:

Firstly isn't the 6b+ an equivalent redpoint grade if applied to a French trad route and in any case 6b+ is shown as just above middle E3 in the table, which is pretty hard for a typical average onsight.

As for your top-rope question: I'd say in my experience most sports routes at French 5 would be more straightforward technically than seconding or top-roping an HVS but on average more sustained than an HVS (at the easier technicality), I'd be more likely to fall off the average HVS unless horribly unfit. I think one issue that perpetuates the misalignment is that the effect of nerves, gear fiddlyness under pressure and boldness for HVS leaders can get highly underestimated by mid extreme climbers.
Offwidth 31 Jan 2011
In reply to jonny2vests:

I think the colours are wrong in some places as well. I think UK trad sport and bouldering link fine but Orange should be two grades lower down for UIAA and for US grades (can't comment on Norway or Aus or SA).

If you put something up its best to get it right and why is the match OK at higher grades?
In reply to Offwidth:
> I stand by my view that for someone competant in both areas, leading nearish to their limit, a typical French 5 is at least a full grade easier to flash than a typical HVS onsight.

Which is exactly what the colour-code system acknowledges and takes account of. Leading sport 5 is about the same as leading a HS.

I realise now that this isn't very well explained on the web site grade table pages, but it is well explained in the guidebooks where we use the tables.

Alan
Chris Craggs Global Crag Moderator31 Jan 2011
In reply to Kemics:
>
>
> My conversion rule is -1 grade. So French 6c is British 5c, French 6b is British 5b etc etc. I pretty much climb at my sport limit on trad. But i tend to stick to well protect routes.

That is just tripe; French 5+ routes often have UK 5b moves on them, and F6a's can be UK 5c. Plenty of F6b routes have UK 6a moves on them.

Chris
Al Randall 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Chris Craggs:
> (In reply to Kemics)
> [...]
>
> That is just tripe; French 5+ routes often have UK 5b moves on them, and F6a's can be UK 5c. Plenty of F6b routes have UK 6a moves on them.
>
I totally agree with you Chris but I do love these discussions so I think we should encourage outlandish claims.

Al

Offwidth 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Bulls Crack:

There are enough fair VS 5b's and the idea behind that grade is what matters: routes with a short section of hard safe moves (off the ground above a good landing or with high gear). Something that has the equivalent feel of a sports route with a weird redpoint crux or one of the routes in France that was French 5 once but is now polished to death (you could argue the grade table is fair for these but then then comparitive grades will be inconsistent with unpolished or harder lines).
Monk 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Bulls Crack)
>
> There are enough fair VS 5b's and the idea behind that grade is what matters: routes with a short section of hard safe moves (off the ground above a good landing or with high gear).

Are you climbing grit too much? I don't think that VS 5b is a remotely normal grade on most rock-types.
In reply to Offwidth:
> ...why is the match OK at higher grades?

There is no real difference, actually I think it is spot on, but then I designed it.

Bold E4s could be around 6c is given a sport grade, but proper sport routes of 6c feel way easier than bold E4s. To lead a bold E4 you should really be confident at 7a+ on sport routes. This is what the colour-code says.

Alan
Offwidth 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Chris Craggs:

French 5+ routes often have UK 5b moves on them, sure. But 5+ in the table equates to top of HVS or lowish E1 routes which can have UK 5c moves on them. F6a's can be UK 5c sure but in the table this equates to hard E1's or bottom E2 which can have 6a moves on them. Then add the seasoning that French grades don't link so explicitly to onsight.


Chris Craggs Global Crag Moderator31 Jan 2011
In reply to Offwidth:

I agree with Alan, I think the table is just fine as it is - then again I helped sort it too!


Chris
Monk 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Chris Craggs)
>
> French 5+ routes often have UK 5b moves on them, sure. But 5+ in the table equates to top of HVS or lowish E1 routes which can have UK 5c moves on them. F6a's can be UK 5c sure but in the table this equates to hard E1's or bottom E2 which can have 6a moves on them. Then add the seasoning that French grades don't link so explicitly to onsight.

I know you write guidebooks and all, but surely the definition of a lower end HVS is that it will only have 5a moves on it, and top-end HVS will be 5b or even (rarely) 5c, and that lower end E1s will be 5a or 5b, with 5c reserved for the harder E1s?

Maybe this all depends on style. It sounds to me that you think a short cruxy route is easier than a longer route of the same grade.
Offwidth 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

"Bold E4s could be around 6c is given a sport grade, but proper sport routes of 6c feel way easier than bold E4s. To lead a bold E4 you should really be confident at 7a+ on sport routes. This is what the colour-code says."

Then looking at the colours and the distance from the next colour 5+ should be top end VS (not top end HVS) which is my point (and trad 5.6 should be orange and trad V- should be orange. Bloody grade elitism!;-)
Chris Craggs Global Crag Moderator31 Jan 2011
In reply to Monk:

I thinks this may, in part, be where the problems lie - what is "easier" an E1 5a with no gear and precarious climbing, or an E1 5c with one hard move and nut above your head?


Chris
Offwidth 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Monk:

No I don't apply that approach. Adjectival graded lists to me are semi-detached from technical grades. Some E1 5a's will be adjectivally harder than some E1 5c's and some will even 'feel' physically harder (E1 5a for effort very sustained routes) and I presume its 'feel' that links the table. I am usually a bit unfit so prefer short cruxy stuff but that means I should find sports routes harder than their grade ;-)
Enty 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Chris Craggs:
> (In reply to Monk)
>
> I thinks this may, in part, be where the problems lie - what is "easier" an E1 5a with no gear and precarious climbing, or an E1 5c with one hard move and nut above your head?
>
>

Here we go again ;-)

E

Bulls Crack 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Chris Craggs)
UK 5c sure but in the table this equates to hard E1's or bottom E2

Err yes - no problem there!

which can have 6a moves on them.

But rarely - i think we're talking about the norm here.

Offwidth 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Chris Craggs:

So on the other point, you think 5.9 US leads are equivalent to HS in the colour code?
Al Randall 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Enty: Yes. I love it though, its the next best thing to talking about down the pub. My grading system which I mentioned earlier gets round this problem though. The grading that is not the endless discussions

Al
Reach>Talent 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Offwidth:
Can't we solve this quickly and easily by retro-bolting a few dozen trad routes?

Chris Craggs Global Crag Moderator31 Jan 2011
In reply to Offwidth:

Eh - are we looking at the same chart. 5.9 is 'equivalent' to HVS which isn't too far from the mark.

Having said that, the Orange Band could start at 5.7 for me, and the Red at 10a.


Chris

;=)
Monk 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Monk)
>
> No I don't apply that approach. Adjectival graded lists to me are semi-detached from technical grades. Some E1 5a's will be adjectivally harder than some E1 5c's and some will even 'feel' physically harder (E1 5a for effort very sustained routes) and I presume its 'feel' that links the table. I am usually a bit unfit so prefer short cruxy stuff but that means I should find sports routes harder than their grade ;-)

I guess it's a personal thing, and reflects why people will always argue over grades. If I climb a route with a relatively high technical grade (E1 6a) I might well comment that it was hard, but if I climb a route with a low technical grade (E1 5a) I wouldn't normally call it hard but may well call it scary. I think that over the years, I have come to accept that I don't have the head to transfer my sport grade to trad according to the Rockfax conversion, but I think that I know why (I climb closer to failure on sport, I clip very efficiently etc.) so I can understand how the conversions work for me.
Enty 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Chris Craggs:
> (In reply to Offwidth)
>
> Eh - are we looking at the same chart. 5.9 is 'equivalent' to HVS which isn't too far from the mark.
>


Ha ha!! That's a laugh - ever been up the Stoveleg cracks?

E

Enty 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Offwidth:

There should be two grades "Steady" and "Hard", worked for Jerry Peel and Ron Fawcett.

E
Al Randall 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Offwidth: I mostly tend to look at the UK/Sport conversion and find it works for me. Indeed I think Alan James and Chris Craggs deserve congratulations for a) attempting this and b) to a very large extent succeeding. Unless I can come up with anything better you will not get any complaints from me.

Al
Chris Craggs Global Crag Moderator31 Jan 2011
In reply to Enty:
> (In reply to Chris Craggs)
> [...]
>
>
> Ha ha!! That's a laugh - ever been up the Stoveleg cracks?
>
> E

Sad to say - no. BUT I have done hundreds of 5.9s that would be HVS, plenty that would be E1, a few that would be E2 and even a couple that would be E3.

Chris
Al Evans 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Al Randall: as very much an oldie, I have always found f5 to be equal to about VS, occaisionally HVS an f6a to be equal to HVS occaisionally E1
Al Randall 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Al Evans:
> (In reply to Al Randall) as very much an oldie, I have always found f5 to be equal to about VS, occaisionally HVS an f6a to be equal to HVS occaisionally E1

I have no argument with that. You being an oldie that is

We oldies need to stick together.

Al
Offwidth 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Bulls Crack:

What's rare? Just looking down the top quarter of the Froggatt E1 guide graded list now: Toy (5c) ; Soyuz (5c); Left Eliminate (5c) Rythmic Itch (5b) Smoke on't Watter (6a); Hercules (5a); Dead Bay Crack (5b); Good range there! Maybe its just grit but I'd say in this guide over 10% of the E1 routes are 6a or above even after a lot of micro-routes got converted into boulder problems (eg 3 from 18 on Froggatt; 7 from 48 on Curbar ..inc 3 6bs).
Reach>Talent 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Enty:
There should be two grades "Steady" and "Hard", worked for Jerry Peel and Ron Fawcett.

We could just move to the universally applicable T-grade?

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=434742&v=1#x6133153
Offwidth 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Reach>Talent:

How long now until E0 or the nazis come up? Shit answered my own question. Time for some TLC now... Lynn has come back from Morocco with an upset stomach to go with her Toubkal ascent.
Jonny2vests 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Enty:
> (In reply to Chris Craggs)
> [...]
>
>
> Ha ha!! That's a laugh - ever been up the Stoveleg cracks?
>
> E

Or the Split Pillar. Or about half the Lotus Flower Tower.
AJM 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Offwidth:

I reckon it's probably a grit thing. I reckon a limestone HVS is a better comparison - something like Suspense or Suspension Bridge Arete at Avon would probably feel similar to a juggy 5 or 5+ on a toprope.

Having said that I've done some very precarious feeling grey limestone slabs in France (Seynes in particular sticks in my mind) that have felt harder than many/all HVS slabs I've done - certainly a good grade harder than something like Oiseaux at Marsland (esoteric example but it's one of the few HVS slabs I've done that I've toproped, plus I've not done as many of late) and similar slabby numbers.
Yanis Nayu 31 Jan 2011
In reply to Offwidth: I agree. 6a feels around the same as HVS to me. As for the indoors/outdoors sport comparison, I led 6a onsight outdoors the first time I sport climbed, but subsequent to that it took me months of indoor climbing to do it.
In reply to Kemics:

>To be honest, i've never found placing gear remotely pumpy in the slightest on any hvs and under

There goes a man who's never done Terrazza Crack.

jcm
In reply to Reach>Talent:
> (In reply to Offwidth)
> Can't we solve this quickly and easily by retro-bolting a few dozen trad routes?
>
>

Or better still debolting half of Kalymnos.

jcm
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:
> There goes a man who's never done Terrazza Crack.

or the Vice!

Alan
Michael Hood 31 Jan 2011
In reply to johncoxmysteriously: Nah, it's not pumpy placing gear on TC, as long as you restrict yourself to 3 pieces
auld al 01 Feb 2011
In reply to Offwidth: SO - are Kalymnos grades regarded as a bit 'soft' then - thinking of going in the autumn
Rich Guest 01 Feb 2011
In reply to Offwidth:
> Is it only me that sees the sports- trad equivalances in the Rockfax grade convertor table around VS to E2 as being way out.

The only people they screw up though are beginners, punters and foreigners, so I don't mind
Chris Craggs Global Crag Moderator01 Feb 2011
In reply to jonny2vests:

I have done the Split Pillar, I thought that was 5.10b?


Chris
Jonny2vests 01 Feb 2011
In reply to Chris Craggs:

Yeah, gets 5.9 though, no? Stiff at 10b.
Jonny2vests 01 Feb 2011
In reply to Cragrat Rich:

So you don't consider yourself a punter then Rich?
Al Evans 01 Feb 2011
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Bulls Crack)
>
> What's rare? Just looking down the top quarter of the Froggatt E1 guide graded list now: Toy (5c) ; Soyuz (5c); Left Eliminate (5c) Rythmic Itch (5b) Smoke on't Watter (6a); Hercules (5a); Dead Bay Crack (5b); Good range there! Maybe its just grit but I'd say in this guide over 10% of the E1 routes are 6a or above even after a lot of micro-routes got converted into boulder problems (eg 3 from 18 on Froggatt; 7 from 48 on Curbar ..inc 3 6bs).

I think Toy would be 6b as a sport route.
Rich Guest 01 Feb 2011
In reply to jonny2vests:
> (In reply to Cragrat Rich)
>
> So you don't consider yourself a punter then Rich?

Nah... Punters don't onsight The Vice!!... (They get lowered off it with mangled hands) ;)

flaneur 01 Feb 2011
In reply to jonny2vests:

Split Pillar gets 10b and is fair at the grade 'but feels like 5.11 to sport climbers'. It may have been 5.9 BITD when 5.9 was the equivalent to Yorkshire HVS.

The Rockfax trad. to sport grade comparison seems spot on to me, assuming the sport grade is for the physical difficulty of climbing only ie a top-rope grade.
Simon Caldwell 01 Feb 2011
In reply to Cragrat Rich:

Quiet day at "work"?
Yanis Nayu 01 Feb 2011
In reply to Alan James - UKC:
> (In reply to johncoxmysteriously)
> [...]
>
> or the Vice!
>
> Alan

That's E1 though.
SteveSBlake 01 Feb 2011
In reply to jonny2vests:
> (In reply to Chris Craggs)
>
> Yeah, gets 5.9 though, no? Stiff at 10b.

That's if you opt to jam it rather than layback.

The latter is more difficult, and a bit more run out...........
Jonny2vests 01 Feb 2011
In reply to SteveSBlake:
> (In reply to jonny2vests)
> [...]
>
> That's if you opt to jam it rather than layback.
>
> The latter is more difficult, and a bit more run out...........

Steve - jamming, laybacking, bridging, squirming - you name it I did it.
Misha 02 Feb 2011
In reply to Offwidth:
I think E1 = 6a+ to 6b, E2 = 6b to 6b+, E3 = 6b+ to 6c, assuming we ignore soft touches, top of the grade routes and routes that get a higher E grade for their seriousness.
ericinbristol 02 Feb 2011
In reply to Offwidth:

My equivalence re on sight/ flash (doing them routinely rather than occasionally) is E1 and outdoor sport F6b+, so I am underperforming on trad cf sport by Rockfax's table, even though I have done a lot more trad. Similarly, my on sight /flash best is E2 5c and F7a, so a similar underperformance for trad by Rockfax's table. But I know of people whose underperformance is in the other direction.

Interesting to look at the UKC graph. E1 upwards is about 16% of logbook trad ascents. F6a (the Rockfax equivalent) upwards is a whopping 60% or so of logbook sport ascents. The top 16% or so of sport ascents is F6c+/7a. If you mapped the two normal distributions across the whole range of grades you would see the same pattern I think.

Caveat: all a bit of fun as far as I am concerned.

mrjonathanr 02 Feb 2011
In reply to Offwidth:
I think your post is confused.

The table states comparison with safe trad routes, not trad routes in general. So you should not consider any bolder trad.

Climbing wall grades are often very generous: the table is for rock climbing so plastic grades should not be considered.

That leaves the physical difficulty of a French graded sport route compared with the physical difficulty of easily protected trad routes...and it's spot on. I've climbed a lot in France and Britain and if anything it's a bit generous on the trad side: I've done French 6b+s with English 6b moves though they are the exception.

Obviously HVS will be more difficult to climb than F5+ because protecting yourself is physically and emotionally so much more demanding. But the difficulty of the climbing won't be significantly different. And that's what the table shows.
ericinbristol 02 Feb 2011
In reply to mrjonathanr:
> Obviously HVS will be more difficult to climb than F5+ because protecting yourself is physically and emotionally so much more demanding. But the difficulty of the climbing won't be significantly different. And that's what the table shows.

I don't see the Rockfax table as just being about physical difficulty. Alan James wrote 'this establishes a colour-code band which people can operate at. The aim is that if someone is an 'orange zone' climber, they can consider all the orange routes in our guidebooks be they sport, trad or boulder problems.' It isn't true for me: I am red zone on trad, black zone on sport. And the UKC logbook graph for UKC users generally. See http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/graphs.html


mrjonathanr 02 Feb 2011
In reply to Eric Herring:
I get your point but you can't produce a prescriptive equivalence between trad and sport when trad climbing adds such very different skills to the equation.

I've seen 8a climbers wobble on E4 and climbers who climb at their physical limit on trad. All you can do is say roughly how hard that piece of rock is to haul yourself up, not considering other factors.

Put it another way, you can't legislate for wimps. And I don't buy into that colour-coded guff anyway. I'm colour blind.
ericinbristol 02 Feb 2011
In reply to mrjonathanr:

If your preference is not to take the approach of the rockfax table of course that's up to you and fine: my comments were about the table which does try to provide equivalences/operating zones. And the facts are clear that when it comes to trad I am a wimp - I am nowhere near my physical limit. And as far as I can see from the UKC aggregation of log-book scores, a similar wimpiness is the norm not the exception.


mrjonathanr 02 Feb 2011
In reply to Eric Herring:
Absolutely, although you seem to have not taken the comment as tongue-in-cheek as intended. You can't give a true equivalent difficulty between the two disciplines because they draw on skills that aren't shared.

Bulls Crack 02 Feb 2011
In reply to mrjonathanr:
> (In reply to Eric Herring)
> Absolutely, although you seem to have not taken the comment as tongue-in-cheek as intended. You can't give a true equivalent difficulty between the two disciplines because they draw on skills that aren't shared.

You're saying there are no shared skill etc between sport and trad climbing? They're both rock climbing usuing the same medium and mostly the same skill - quite easy to make 'a' comparison but never a completely accurate one!
mrjonathanr 02 Feb 2011
In reply to Bulls Crack:
No, I'm saying some skills are not common to both disciplines. That's not the same as saying none of the skills are shared. It's fairly obvious surely?
Offwidth 02 Feb 2011
In reply to mrjonathanr:

Trying to be clear and specific...

On the safe table, sports-trad I think the orange band is right but by what Alan says I think the grade alignment from the centre of VS to E2 is wrong by over one notch so should be shifted (as I said earlier). I think Alan is maybe thinking the 'feel' of standard trad grade with his alignment ...safe for the grade trad routes often feel hard. Also the bands are too wide...eg safe HVS 4c is brutal and not far in feel to me from HVS 5b. The trad grade ranges on that table should not overlap much at all. UK trad centre band vs US is about right. I also think the colours are seriously out for US as orange should start two notches earlier at least and possibly similar for UIAA (although I've less experience on those).

On the bold table the centre trad band alignment is worse. Plus the table includes safe trad ranges (!?.... and that appear safer than the safe table by alignment!?). If they keep safe on the same chart the trad grade ranges should be wider (I'd say at least one sports grade wider as well as shifted at the centre at least one). Compared to sports 'feel' trad grade range 'feels' should overlap quite a bit if they include a range from safe to bold (as you would expect if they widen).

Aside from the above I would use a different 'feel' alignment if they were my tables. Whatever you say in the books, people might get confused moving into UK trad from sport and the confusion might spell trouble. I'd use something like a comfortable lead feel rather than closer to a top-rope 'feel'.
Bulls Crack 02 Feb 2011
In reply to mrjonathanr:
> (In reply to Bulls Crack)
> No, I'm saying some skills are not common to both disciplines. That's not the same as saying none of the skills are shared. It's fairly obvious surely?

OK but I'd say most - it's all climbing rock
mrjonathanr 02 Feb 2011
In reply to Offwidth:
Sure. I'm not going to analyse the grid in detail other than to tell you that in physical difficulty it all looks ball park to me and I've got enough experience to feel sure of my opinion.

As a guidebook writer you might want to do something different to guide your (not necessarily experienced) customers into informed choices. I guess that's the idea behind the banding, just I've never even looked at it, let alone tried to apply it. And I am colour blind, so it would be a pain for someone like me to use if I were minded to. You might bear that in mind: somewhere towards 10% of guidebook users are likely to share that problem.

How hard something feels is likely to be part cultural and most relevant to the lower grades. By the time someone gets to be onsighting in the uppper 7s that's likely a savvy climber who knows their own mind anyway. As today's new climbers learn more on plastic and less on the Milestone Buttress in the rain, that basic trad competence is likely to be lower than when I started climbing, and consequently trad standards in general have gone backwards if anything. There aren't that many trad climbers wombling around the E4-5 range when there used to be more, cos we were all trad climbers way back when. Or so I believe, anyway.

So trad routes are going to be more arduous to your average climber than they used to be, climbers who are now much stronger thanks to the proliferation of indoor walls. BTW the grading of sports routes has softened too - if you can lead HVS I can show you F6a/b routes at Buoux you might simply not dog up.

It's all going to make sport routes seem relatively easier than trad ones nowadays. So a conversion table to guide people as to how they might FEEL on trad coming from sport is probably a great idea. But that's not the same thing as how hard the moves are etc, and Rockfax, of which I'm not particularly a fan, seem to have got that aspect right.

I look forward to your table - and your guide. I bet the data in the UKC will be helpful in pitching it right too.

PS To the suggestion that trad doesn't draw heavily on different skills to sport. Pur-leese!
Misha 02 Feb 2011
In reply to Eric Herring:
> And as far as I can see from the UKC aggregation of log-book scores, a similar wimpiness is the norm not the exception.
Perhaps, but this isn't really the point. The Rockfax table is trying to compare the difficulty of the climbing, not what people who climb at a certain level on trad can climb on sport. Just because 16% climb E1 + and 7a + doesn't mean that E1 is as difficult as 7a as far as the physical and technical aspects of the climbing are concerned.
Offwidth 03 Feb 2011
In reply to mrjonathanr:

Now I am confused. My point is about sport-trad alignment from mid VS to mid E2, whats all this stuff about harder grades? You say you won't analyse the table in detail but know its right (in contrast I might add to someone I spoke to last night who agrees with me and has been heavily involved in guidebook work for decades...not proving I'm right ... but showing there is a debate to be had)? The table operates for the experience of todays climbers, not 20 years ago, so if sports grades have softened and trad has stiffened overall isn't my point supported?

Are you sure your 6a/b routes at Buoux are not out of place being old and heavily used as warm-ups for the harder stuff thereabouts, harder than average grades elsewhere. In any case, 6a/b is stretching out of my commented range.

The guidebook I've been most heavily involved in is published, it is not mine (its a team effort and I'm a co-editor), and it doesn't use colour bands.
Budge 03 Feb 2011
In reply to Offwidth:

>trad has stiffened overall

mmm I think you'll have trouble getting this one to stick, I can think of very few routes that have been downgraded
Offwidth 03 Feb 2011
In reply to Budge:

That was referring to the logic presented in the post from mrjonathanr (not my view). He has a point though, that HVS leaders are maybe less well versed than they used to be, but then then again many routes given HVS 'now' were VS or easier 'then' (despite being less well protected 'then').

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