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What does it take to climb 8a?

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What does it takes to climb 8a and how quickly can it be achieved? 

Me and a few friends who climb at a similar level have challeneged ourselves to climb at an 8a route by January 1st 2022! For perspective. I've on sighted some 7a+'s and though I've never climbed a 7b, I've projected and come close to a couple of 7b+'s. I'm clearly not saying that I can climb those grades! Because I haven't! I just want to say where I'm kinda at with my climbing. 7a's usually go after a couple of tries, sometimes on sight. Without further adieu, can I do it?

I'm planning to stop working come January/February and head out to the continent in my van and just climb for the whole year. And so will be training like an absolute beast, but is that even enough? Ultimately, me and these friends want to have fun, travel Europe and get strong. We (and some other friends who have climbed 8a) think its possible. I just wanna ask the community here to see what people think, share some thoughts, give advice, rip it apart or simply start some kind of chinwag

Cillian 😁

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 kristian 07 Sep 2020
In reply to CillianBillion:

Your half way there. I was on-sighting 7a+ and repointing 8a nearly 25 years ago. It often comes down to finding the style of route that play's to your strengths.

I once had an on-site grade on euro jug fests that matched my worked grade on nasty UK crimps.

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 GrahamD 07 Sep 2020
In reply to CillianBillion:

Just a thought : is van life actually conducive to hard training ?

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In reply to CillianBillion:

Sounds like you should be able to give it a decent shot.  Presumably you have a non-UK passport that will allow you to stay in the EU for the duration of time you're planning to?  

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In reply to kristian:

Ahh cool to hear! Yeah im thinking that finding "my kind of route" will definetly come into play closer to the end! I was told to go somewhere with soft grades like kalymnos. So that might happened when I'm feeling strong enough later next year 💪

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In reply to CillianBillion:

Yes it is possible. I would suggest following a training programme to improve your strength and power between now and January. Ideally you should be regularly bouldering font 6c+ / 7a to have the strength and power for 8a routes. Obviously they vary, but that is a good level to be at.

Also, have some training equipment available to you whilst away, perhaps a portable fingerboard. I have found that after about a month away, my fitness will be great but I am starting to lose max strength and power.

TJB.

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 UKB Shark 07 Sep 2020
In reply to CillianBillion:

Sounds achievable and a nice goal to work towards. Make sure you don’t overdo it with the training and get injured before your road trip though. Good luck

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In reply to GrahamD:

Probably not 😅 but not working a 40 hour week should help. And I've been told from a few people that the most important part of the training would be climbing as much as possible outside. So living next to and visiting many different beautiful crags, will help that aspect of training as well as be a beautiful trip of a lifetime around Europe's finest climbing spots! It's a trip I've wanted to do for a while regardless of the 8a target 😁

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In reply to raliadsa skcalbwah:

Probably the best shot I'll ever have! Yes I have an Irish passport 👍

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 remus 07 Sep 2020
In reply to CillianBillion:

Definitely possible, and going on a long trip around europe is probably the best way of building up the experience to do it. Some things to watch out for:

  • Make sure you have some rest to minimise the chance of picking up injuries. A bad injury could easily scupper your best laid plans.
  • Keep an eye on your motivation. Climbing full time sounds amazing, but in practice just climbing gets boring after a while for 99% of people. Don't be afraid to take a few non-climbing breaks. You'll come back chomping at the bit and ready to try properly hard again.
  • Don't underestimate the skill you'll need to develop in redpointing routes.
  • It's tricky to mix hard training with hard climbing. I'd alternate between them, using the climbing periods to hone your skills and identify weaknesses, then focus on training for a bit to address those weaknesses in a targeted way.
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In reply to The Jazz Butcher:

Top advice 👍 a training set up will be part of my van for sure. And I'll be putting together a training plan ASAP 

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 AlanLittle 07 Sep 2020
In reply to CillianBillion:

> many different beautiful crags

This could be a problem, sort of. The urge to go and see all the famous and beautiful places might conflict with the need to choose a project, get your partner(s) to agree to it, and stay there until it's done. 

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In reply to remus:

Thanks for those well aimed points 👍 I can imagine motivation will get curbed while on such a mammoth climbing trip. Thanks for all the advice 

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In reply to AlanLittle:

I see what you mean there. Hopefully I can choose a project closer to the end of the trip, but still, it brings up the issues you've mentioned. If I keep myself at a popular venue when going for the project, hopefully I can mix up climbing partners! 

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 AJM 07 Sep 2020
In reply to CillianBillion:

I think whether a van trip is useful or not depends a bit on what your current gap is. If you go away on a route climbing trip then by and large you'll get fitter, your movement skills will improve, but you'll probably get weaker. If you have a large strength gap, you'll need to either do a decent volume of supplementary training (fingerboard etc) which might detract from the actual experience of climbing. Or spend some of your time at bouldering venues, to build that strength up.

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 La benya 07 Sep 2020
In reply to CillianBillion:

If you're onsighting 7a+ regularly, going on an extended climbing trip and becoming serious about projecting specifically for an 8a, I would pretty much guarantee you will climb one.

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 jezb1 07 Sep 2020
In reply to CillianBillion:

I did a blog a while ago about this, might be of interest: https://www.jbmountainskills.co.uk/post/if-i-can-climb-8a-so-can-you

When I climbed my first 8a’s, 7a+ was my best onsight.

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 ALF_BELF 07 Sep 2020
In reply to CillianBillion:

Very jealous of you taking a year out! If you climb 8a within 6 months I'll give you £50, it's a promise!

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 deacondeacon 07 Sep 2020
In reply to CillianBillion:

> What does it takes to climb 8a and how quickly can it be achieved?

Climb f7c+ a couple of times then get a little bit better 😉

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 Ian Patterson 07 Sep 2020
In reply to remus:

> Don't underestimate the skill you'll need to develop in redpointing routes.

Lots of good stuff already and from what you've said its sounds like 8a should be a very realistic target but this is really good advice.  I've seen quite a few strong people who don't seem to have a very efficient process for redpointing harder grades. If your target is a hard (for you) redpoint then spend some time improving you projecting skills on slightly lower grades (7b-7c?) rather than always being tempted by all the potential routes to o/s.

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In reply to CillianBillion:

Anyone with an inkling of ability and drive can climb 8a .

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In reply to CillianBillion:

In short, yes.

Your biggest barrier will be injury, particularly if climbing a lot. Don't skip your rest days. Take two in a row often too.

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 lukehodson 07 Sep 2020
In reply to CillianBillion:

It sounds like you're not far off already, definitely very achievable. IMO the danger of a long trip is that you'll build lots of endurance but can easily lose power, and get to the point where you can hang on forever but not be able to do the crux of an 8a. I'd suggest slotting a week or two of bouldering into your schedule every now and then to help counter this. And just have a bit of break every so often, it'll be easy to burn out otherwise. Have an amazing trip! 

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 strudles 07 Sep 2020
In reply to CillianBillion:

my best on-sight is 7a, my best rp is 7c+

so yeah... just hone your on-sighting skills !

I was bouldering ~v7 when I climbed 7c+ (3 sessions)

incidentally I'm bouldering v8 consistently this year, only thing really stopping me climbing 8a is the fact I haven't got on one this year !

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 Pekkie 07 Sep 2020
In reply to Michael Johnston:

> Anyone with an inkling of ability and drive can climb 8a .

You must have wide experience to say something like that. Well on your profile you have one post, this one, no logged Climbs and one photo of you on Britomartis, a technically easy HVS jugfest. You need loads of ability to do 8a - which roughly translates to E7/6c.

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 munkins 07 Sep 2020
In reply to CillianBillion:

I was well on the path to on-sighting 8a (I got as far as 6C+) - all the while slowly destroying my elbows. Now if I fall asleep with either elbow bent it hurts quite a lot for about 30 minutes in the morning. 

This 6C+ was in Thailand too so in reality I destroyed my arms to on-sight 6B. Take care of your elbows.

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 Pekkie 07 Sep 2020
In reply to Pekkie: Wow, 

4 downvotes for introducing some realIty into the discussion! There must be some deluded armchair climbers out there. 

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In reply to Pekkie:

Well, you got that upvote from me.

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 Pekkie 07 Sep 2020
In reply to John Stainforth:

> Well, you got that upvote from me.

Why, thank you! I’m not being sneery or anything but I’ve seen these ‘anyone can do 8a’ discussions before on UKC. I’ve known some very good climbers who could, for instance, piss up Lord of the Flies but took a long time to work eg Raindogs and RP it.

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 Si dH 08 Sep 2020
In reply to Pekkie:

I didn't down vote you. Your last sentence isn't right though. Climbing 8a is a much easier goal to obtain in today's world with modern walls and training knowledge than climbing E7 6c, especially for the younger climbers who have grown up without a trad background (I don't know if the OP fits that category.)

I would say to the OP that if you can onsight 7a+ regularly then you probably just need to get a bit stronger and a bit better at redpointing tactics. If you already boulder regularly in the low-mid Font 7s as well, then you can probably just focus on tactics.  I have climbed 8a and only ever onsighted 7a (admittedly partially due to lack of trying.)

Post edited at 06:08
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 Enty 08 Sep 2020
In reply to Pekkie:

> Wow, 

> 4 downvotes for introducing some realIty into the discussion! There must be some deluded armchair climbers out there. 


I don't know any armchair climbers who have onsighted The Bells The Bells........

E

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 George_Surf 08 Sep 2020
In reply to Si dH:

He didn't say you'd have to be able to climb E7 6c, he just just 8a roughly equates to that which in the main is true. To be honest you could do either but physically (if the route suits) they should be similar, its just people don't work to death trad routes so much because the majority of people must prefer the safety and accessibility of sport.

Id suggest doing a lot of bouldering before January. you'll get route fit quick once you get to Spain, especially if you're getting a lot of high volume on sighting in (id do this for the first 6 weeks anyway). I certainly chime with the comment about being able to hang on forever but not have the power to do hard cruxes! This is a major weak area for me 

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 Richard Horn 08 Sep 2020
In reply to Pekkie:

> You must have wide experience to say something like that. 

At my "peak" I did a few F7c's and the odd F7c+, never quite got to F8a partly because I didnt really want to project something for ages but it probably was within reach and I was also reasonably regularly onsighting F7a+. However I never considered myself a particularly good climber, partly because everyone I climbed with was better but also because it always felt like I had to work for it, my technique was ok, but I need to be on the rock a lot to maintain ability, and I got too scared too easily. I always saw F8a as something you could work to and get, whereas when the grades start heading north of F8a it seemed like some degree of natural ability was required (or starting young enough).

   

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 Ciro 08 Sep 2020
In reply to Somerset swede basher:

> In short, yes.

> Your biggest barrier will be injury, particularly if climbing a lot. Don't skip your rest days. Take two in a row often too.

This is crucial on a long trip. There's lots of different strategies. I settled on 2 on, 1 off, 2 on, 2 off as my favourite routine. This has the added bonus that (when the weather is playing ball) you can have your two days off at the weekend when the crag is going to be busy. 

Some people find 2 on, 1 off works for them for an extended period. Might need an age thing - I'm in my 40s so need more rest than I might have when I was younger. I've also known people who swear by 1 on, 1 off... I always find i climb better the second day back on though.

One strong German lad I met, once he got the redpoint stage, would climb one warm up and one attempt at his project every day. He reckoned this have him the perfect mix of rest due to the low volume but keeping the system firing by not having a day of complete rest. Interesting theory but I never tried it out myself.

I also find it's good to take a week off every couple of months. You sometimes feel a bit sluggish the first couple of days back on but then feel really strong for a few weeks.

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In reply to jezb1:

That was a great read! And very reassuring and motivating 💪

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In reply to ALF_BELF:

Hahah thanks! But if I climb 8a in 6 months, the milkybars are on me! 

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 Jonas Wiklund 08 Sep 2020
In reply to CillianBillion:

Your onsight grade has very little bearing on your redpoint grade. A "well-balanced" climber should have about a letter-grade and a half between their onsight and redpoint grades but there are too many exceptions to this rule to have much predictive value.

Likewise, I know people who have bouldered 7C who has no chance whatsoever on any 8a route, and people who have likely never bouldered 6C but have done solid 8a routes.

A slightly better predictor is your quick-redpoint grade. If you can do 7c within five tries, you can surely do 8a in the same style within 25 tries/2-3 weeks of sieging.

With all this in mind, here are the requirements for being able to do fast redpoints of 7cs, any 7c, any length from one-move wonder to a 50m endurance monster of a route:

  • Bouldering grade: 6C - 7A when in good shape for bouldering, i.e. shortly after the strength-phase of a training programme
  • Strength endurance: 3 x 6 x (6A-6B) boulder; rest = 10 s between laps, Rest = 6 min between sets of 6 boulders. 
  • Endurance: 10 x (30 move 6c-7a route); rest = 1 min between laps. Falling 1-2 times at the end of the exercise.

If you just want to do one single 8a, choose the softest possible route that you also think fits your strength best, try it immediately right now, find out what you are lacking and improve that, try the route again, find out what you are lacking and improve that ... and repeat until you have done the route. That is the king's road to any given grade.

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 1poundSOCKS 08 Sep 2020
In reply to Jonas Wiklund:

> I know people who have bouldered 7C who has no chance whatsoever on any 8a route

You've got me wondering why?

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 Jonas Wiklund 08 Sep 2020
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

Fear of falling + shockingly bad endurance + inefficient climbing style (=really bad at easy climbing).

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 1poundSOCKS 08 Sep 2020
In reply to Jonas Wiklund:

> Fear of falling + shockingly bad endurance + inefficient climbing style (=really bad at easy climbing).

I can understand the fear of falling if you're not used to leading, but it does go away when you try a route for long enough. And some routes don't require endurance or efficiency. For example the hard bit of Kleptomania at Hollywood Bowl isn't even long for a boulder problem, and that start is so trivial. I would've thought it's a bit of a gift for anybody that strong.

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 Timmd 08 Sep 2020
In reply to munkins:

> I was well on the path to on-sighting 8a (I got as far as 6C+) - all the while slowly destroying my elbows. Now if I fall asleep with either elbow bent it hurts quite a lot for about 30 minutes in the morning. 

> This 6C+ was in Thailand too so in reality I destroyed my arms to on-sight 6B. Take care of your elbows.

Ouch! That's worse than my elbows. When I think of Rab Carrington climbing 8a after retiring, it vaguely sets me thinking that just aiming at an incremental improvement per year is potentially a good idea.

Edit: My own elbow issues have changed the course of my life, to do with available career opportunities and lifestyles, so it's certainly worth looking after one's elbows quite carefully, potentially very worth it.

Post edited at 14:00
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 Enty 08 Sep 2020
In reply to Pekkie:

>  I’ve known some very good climbers who could, for instance, piss up Lord of the Flies but took a long time to work eg Raindogs and RP it.

Hardly surprising. Raindogs is probably 6 grades harder than Lord.

7a - 7a+ - 7b - 7b+ - 7c - 7c+ - 8a

E

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 Will Hunt 08 Sep 2020
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

Which begs the question, "is Kleptomania 8a"? My sources say no, though it will go in the guide at 8a.

(Hi, by the way. I was the chap on Obsession on Sunday!)

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 1poundSOCKS 08 Sep 2020
In reply to Will Hunt:

> Which begs the question, "is Kleptomania 8a"? My sources say no, though it will go in the guide at 8a.

I wouldn't know, I've tried it but it just feels impossible. Steep bouldering is my anti-style. I always just take the guidebook grade unless it's an obvious misprint. But the point is the same regarding the style of route. Some are just boulder problems.

> (Hi, by the way. I was the chap on Obsession on Sunday!)

Hi Will. Yes, I did work it out. Spotted the post about the lunch box when I was warming up downstairs.

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 Will Hunt 08 Sep 2020
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

Have you tried it with a kneepad? A couple of friends did it early in the season and they never really had to move their hands without being locked into a good kneebar - hence their suggestion that 7c+ might not be untoward.

Still, if you don't like bouldering then there's obviously oodles of better routes to try! I get what you said initially though. Any 7C boulderer should be able to drag their way up it with ease.

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In reply to Will Hunt:

It really does seem that climbers in the UK have become absolutely obsessed by grades.

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 UKB Shark 08 Sep 2020
In reply to John Stainforth:

> It really does seem that climbers in the UK have become absolutely obsessed by grades.

That’s been the case since at least 1983 when I started

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 1poundSOCKS 08 Sep 2020
In reply to Will Hunt:

> Have you tried it with a kneepad?

Sadly yes.

> A couple of friends did it early in the season and they never really had to move their hands without being locked into a good kneebar

The kneebar only seems to get you so far. I did watch YouTube for some beta but it didn't help.

> Still, if you don't like bouldering then there's obviously oodles of better routes to try

For sure. Not inspired to get back on it really.

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 Will Hunt 08 Sep 2020
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In reply to Will Hunt:

Your comment about me littering threads is pretty rude BTW

You show one picture from the mid 70's when indeed grades started to become more refined, and people started to really care what minor differences in grades meant. In the late sixties, grades were not taken very seriously. One was well aware of the supposed grade of the climb one was on, but grades were all over the place. We knew that Wales and Lakes VS's were inconsistent with each other and different from Peak District grades, which were different again from Yorkshire grades. VS could mean anything from VS to E2, in today's terms, and HVS anything from VS to E3. So one took them with a big pinch of salt. One would have been a fool to take them too seriously, or expect that one might not get onto some seriously difficult terrain on something graded VS, say.

But, I agree, times have changed very greatly, in many ways. And not just in rock-climbing. In walking and running and cycling, there is much more talk nowadays of miles or kilometres; in hill-walking of heights reached, number of Munros etc etc.

Post edited at 16:44
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 jezb1 08 Sep 2020
In reply to John Stainforth:

> It really does seem that climbers in the UK have become absolutely obsessed by grades.

If it makes them happy who cares?

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In reply to John Stainforth:

> It really does seem that climbers in the UK have become absolutely obsessed by grades.

It's sport climbing. Of course it's all about the grade!

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In reply to jezb1:

Fair enough.

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In reply to Robert Durran:

I have done a fair amount of sport climbing in the last twenty years, not in the UK, and for me it was not all about the grade. Quality of line, the technical interest of the rock climbing moves, the view and natural setting were all far more important. Each to their own.

If I had focussed more on grade instead, I might have broken through the 5.12 barrier, but never quite managed it! From a modern perspective, I suppose my priorities were f****d up.

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 Pekkie 08 Sep 2020
In reply to Enty:

> >  I’ve known some very good climbers who could, for instance, piss up Lord of the Flies but took a long time to work eg Raindogs and RP it.

> Hardly surprising. Raindogs is probably 6 grades harder than Lord. 

> 7a - 7a+ - 7b - 7b+ - 7c - 7c+ - 8a

> E

Ha-ha, yes! The first example that came into my head - and not a good one. Comparing trad with sport is unrealistic because of the strength wasted in trad in hanging about finding and putting in gear. What I was getting at was That in the transition to sport from trad in the 80s many climbers at the cutting edge of trad had to work long and hard to do 8a and you still need a lot of ability and willingness to work hard - it’s not as easy as some are making out on here.

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 Jonas Wiklund 08 Sep 2020
In reply to John Stainforth:

Grades or direct competition on routes are what make sport climbing a sport, together with clear rules of what constitute the style of an ascent. There are other types of climbing than sport climbing. They are inherently inferior though.

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In reply to Jonas Wiklund:

> Grades or direct competition on routes are what make sport climbing a sport, together with clear rules of what constitute the style of an ascent. There are other types of climbing than sport climbing. They are inherently inferior though.

Thanks for the information, superior one!

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 Michael Gordon 08 Sep 2020
In reply to Enty:

Nothing to do with current discussion, but what trad grade would Raindogs get if done on trad gear?

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 Blanche DuBois 08 Sep 2020
In reply to Will Hunt:

> Is this a bot account that just litters threads with comments to the effect that everything was better when Whillanses walked the earth?

I agree, and it's getting increasingly tiresome.

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 Blanche DuBois 08 Sep 2020
In reply to John Stainforth:

> I have done a fair amount of sport climbing in the last twenty years, not in the UK, and for me it was not all about the grade. Quality of line, the technical interest of the rock climbing moves, the view and natural setting were all far more important. Each to their own.

Exactly.  And harder routes often have these characteristics too.  It seems odd to me that you only find easy routes to possess them.  

> If I had focussed more on grade instead, I might have broken through the 5.12 barrier, but never quite managed it! From a modern perspective, I suppose my priorities were f****d up.

Oh FFS!  Have you ever tried listening to yourself?

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In reply to Blanche DuBois:

I didn't say that. I actually agree that climbing quality generally increases with grade. I was often climbing near my limit and was always trying to get better. Increasing my grade *was* one of objectives for about twenty years, but it was not usually my *main* objective. I usually picked classics in any area that I thought I might just be able to get up.

In my penultimate sentence I was being factual. If I had just worked at becoming a 5.12 climber, I think I probably would have got there. My last sentence is obviously sarcastic - is that what you object to?

BTW, age comes to all of us, and as we get older it gets hard enough to maintain a standard, let alone improve. At least that is what I have found. I am 70 now, and my strength is a fraction of what it was in my youth.

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In reply to deacondeacon:

> Climb f7c+ a couple of times then get a little bit better 😉

Is 7c+ a grade people actually project when the hardest they’ve climbed is 7c? I’d go straight for an 8a but perhaps a relatively easy one. 

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 Ian Patterson 08 Sep 2020
In reply to Misha:

> Is 7c+ a grade people actually project when the hardest they’ve climbed is 7c? I’d go straight for an 8a but perhaps a relatively easy one. 

There's plenty of reasons to project 7c+, the UK has some brilliant routes at the grade (the Ashes anyone), those quality routes are often much less popular than  equivalent (or lower) quality 8as, its 5.13a which is great if you're American ;) 

Post edited at 22:48
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 Timmd 08 Sep 2020
In reply to Misha:

> Is 7c+ a grade people actually project when the hardest they’ve climbed is 7c? I’d go straight for an 8a but perhaps a relatively easy one. 

Let me polish your ego ;-)

It could help towards avoiding injury for somebody  to project/consolidate at 7c+?

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In reply to Pekkie:

Its my son on britomaris .yes I have experience . I just don't need to shout about it on here .

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 Naomi Buys 08 Sep 2020
In reply to CillianBillion:

Redpointing a route at your limit, whatever the grade, necessarily takes a lot of time and effort. I find the most important key is to choose a route that you truly enjoy, otherwise you will end up having a negative (probably unsuccessful) experience. Not all 8a's are equal.... Pick the right project and it becomes almost a friend who you know intricately, and is a relatively lengthy, memorable chunk of your climbing life. All the best with your trip, hope you have a great time! 

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 Will Hunt 08 Sep 2020
In reply to John Stainforth:

It sounds like you're saying they couldn't obsess about grades because there wasn't a functioning grading system. It hadn't gestated into maturity and stability yet. Climbers of the generation you describe will have obsessed over difficulty outwith a grading system. Of course they will have done. It is in our nature as climbers and humans.

It doesn't mean that you can't also obsess over the quality of moves and the purity of line too.

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 seankenny 09 Sep 2020
In reply to John 

> You show one picture from the mid 70's when indeed grades started to become more refined, and people started to really care what minor differences in grades meant. In the late sixties, grades were not taken very seriously. One was well aware of the supposed grade of the climb one was on, but grades were all over the place. We knew that Wales and Lakes VS's were inconsistent with each other and different from Peak District grades, which were different again from Yorkshire grades. VS could mean anything from VS to E2, in today's terms, and HVS anything from VS to E3. So one took them with a big pinch of salt. One would have been a fool to take them too seriously, or expect that one might not get onto some seriously difficult terrain on something graded VS, say.

This was obviously dissatisfactory for many climbers, because they then invented modern grading systems. This process involved putting all those routes into some kind of order and working out where the boundaries actually lay. 
 

That’s a big undertaking. Sounds to me like those guys were obsessed with grades.

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In reply to Jonas Wiklund:

> Likewise, I know people who have bouldered 7C who has no chance whatsoever on any 8a route, and people who have likely never bouldered 6C but have done solid 8a routes.

I’d bet my absolute bottom dollar that those <6C climbers do not climb in the UK.

Post edited at 00:30
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 Pekkie 09 Sep 2020
In reply to Michael Johnston:

> Its my son on britomaris .yes I have experience . I just don't need to shout about it on here .

Thank you, Michael. Trouble is, you were making a big, controversial, claim - that you don’t need much ability to climb 8a - which translates to E7 6c more or less. In future when posting on UKC - a cruel stage - it might be best to be a bit more modest. Gesundheit!

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 Pekkie 09 Sep 2020
In reply to ashtond6:

> I’d bet my absolute bottom dollar that those <6C climbers do not climb in the UK.

So are you saying that 8a is easier in some places eg Thailand than the UK?

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In reply to Pekkie:

Not necessarily, i’m saying UK ones are often bouldery. I’ve heard of the odd one being claimed to have a 6C crux but there aren’t many. Never heard of one with a 6B crux, for example.

My main point is that if you can’t climb 6C in the UK, you can’t climb 8a in the UK.

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In reply to Ian Patterson:

Fair enough. Outside my ability for the time being so was just musing.

To the OP - as you say, not having to work should make a big difference. It might not get you to 8 in itself but just being able to climb a lot more should enable you to improve your grade by a few notches. That’s something you could probably bank and build on when you do go back to work, as long as you keep training and climbing regularly. I suspect resting properly and avoiding injuries or indeed demotivation would be your main issues. Good luck!

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 1poundSOCKS 09 Sep 2020
In reply to Misha:

> Is 7c+ a grade people actually project when the hardest they’ve climbed is 7c? I’d go straight for an 8a but perhaps a relatively easy one.

I did try an 8a after my first 7c because the 7c had an 8a finish. But it was far too hard at the time. I ended up doing a couple of 7c+ before I did an 8a. Even then the 8a felt like a big step up from the 7c+. Obviously depends on where you personally find progression gets a lot harder. 

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In reply to Pekkie:

You make some very bold assumptions . I stand by the comment ... was at boulder uk last night where there were dozens of kids many who probably havent been doing it long or not done much outside who are well capable of doing 8a and beyond . Its not that hard anymore . As for this E7 6c bit theres no correlation , very few 8as have 6c moves and require zero commitment in the age of the clipstick etc . No criticism just the way it is . 

Post edited at 08:27
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 Michael Gordon 09 Sep 2020
In reply to Michael Johnston:

> was at boulder uk last night where there were dozens of kids many who probably havent been doing it long or not done much outside who are well capable of doing 8a and beyond . 

Would guess these kids are fairly talented though, i.e. with more than "an inkling" of ability?

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 1poundSOCKS 09 Sep 2020
In reply to Michael Johnston:

> very few 8as have 6c

I'm not so sure about that. I haven't been on loads but the ones I've been on usually have something that is pretty desparate and requires a bit of practice just to scrap through. On the other hand 6b moves can feel pretty easy (in a similar style anyway, I the 6b finger locks on Milky Way are the living end for me). But I think Bongo Fury used to get E5 6c (now F7b) and I did it quickly, years before 8a became realistic. 

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In reply to CillianBillion:

Try REALLY hard every single attempt and you shall get there. And make sure you climb for the fun as well, as just climbing for a number can be tricky on the motivation as it’s tangled with ego. Make sure you pick a line that inspires you and that you really want to climb. I only climbed 8a because i wanted to climb certain lines i thought were amazing, just happened to be 8a and wasn’t climbing at that grade at the time. 

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In reply to Michael Johnston:

> require zero commitment in the age of the clipstick etc .

Climbing 8a requires commitment. Getting on a route at the absolute limit of someones capability, at whatever grade; 8a, 7a, 6b, needs a lot of commitment. Just because more people are able to climb 8a as a result of better walls, understanding of physiology involved and training methods, doesn't mean there is no commitment. You still have to try really hard.

Saying there is zero commitment sounds as though you are approaching this from a trad climbing "commitment" perspective, which, if that is the case, isn't really relevant in this discussion.

TJB.

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 Jonas Wiklund 09 Sep 2020
In reply to Michael Johnston:

It is hard to judge someone's capabilities on rock from bouldering on plastic. The boulder grade on plastic is even less correlated to the sport climbing grade than the bouldering grade on natural rock. A few of the people I regularly boulder with in the gym, who are way better than me on every type of boulder from slabs to roofs, have not even sport climbed 7b on rock!

To various people: There are no magic grades. There is no grade that everyone can achieve. There is absolutely no evidence for this, there is however plenty of evidence that humans react wildly different to imposed stimulus. Hard sport climbing does not start anywhere particular, but the international standard is 9b for men and 9a+ for women: anything less that this is amateurish. Competence can be found at almost any level, as can incompetence.

Post edited at 10:28
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 arran_deakin 09 Sep 2020
In reply to Michael Johnston:

The easiest way to climb 8a is to climb a 7c+ and wait. 

Hope you're well mick. 

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In reply to arran_deakin:

Thats sound advice right there ..have you considered life as a coach ? Im fine thanks ..well i was until i joined in on this..i was only bored at brewtime !

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In reply to CillianBillion:

I can't climb for sh*t but what I have seen watching young comp climbers for the last few years is that there's a point around 7c onsight where progress slows or stops for many of them because it is limited by picking up injuries. 

 When they start out they can progress through grades fairly quickly by training strength and learning technique but many pick up persistent injuries and it becomes a cycle of improvement / training hard towards a comp/ aggravating injury / backing off until it gets better.    

Post edited at 11:30
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 AlanLittle 09 Sep 2020
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> there's a point around 7c onsight where progress slows or stops for many of them

Maybe, but anybody who can onsight 7c could redpoint 8a, assuming they were interested in putting the time & effort into a project

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In reply to Will Hunt:

> It sounds like you're saying they couldn't obsess about grades because there wasn't a functioning grading system. It hadn't gestated into maturity and stability yet. Climbers of the generation you describe will have obsessed over difficulty outwith a grading system. Of course they will have done. It is in our nature as climbers and humans.

> It doesn't mean that you can't also obsess over the quality of moves and the purity of line too.

To Will and Seankelly

What you say is partly correct, but there was no obsession with the grades themselves. You say the climbers of the day “will have” done this or that. May I give you a little bit of an insight into what was actually going on, at the beginning of the ‘70s at least. The chief protagonists at that time, such as John Syrett and Pete Livesey and Alan Rouse, were all about doing difficult good new routes, but they were not interested in grades per se. John Syrett, for example, had little idea how to grade his routes. He soloed quite a few of them: if he breezed up them, he gave them a VS grade (e.g., Propellor Wall at Ilkley) but if he had to work at them, HVS (e.g. Joker’s Wall at Brimham).


I was personally very concerned with the grades in Yorkshire at the time, mainly on safety grounds. We had already had a major safety incident in the Leeds University Union Climbing Club. A beginner on our Freshers Meet had slipped and fallen 130 feet in the descent gully off Gimmer, breaking his neck and fracturing his skull and was very lucky not to be killed. As Secretary of the LUUCC, I was charged with getting helmets and new ropes for the club. 


Then I was commissioned to do the section on Gordale and the Stoney Banks for the 1971/2 edition of the Yorkshire Limestone climbing guidebook, and my relationship with the YMC editor gradually soured over the grading issue. I was of the view that the Yorkshire Grades had become totally farcical; that they no longer gave any proper indication of difficulty and were downright dangerous. Ron James had already come up with three subdivisions of an E grade for a rock-climbing guide to North Wales, and I thought this was the way to go. The first friction point with the YMC arose over Rebel, which had been graded VS A… Roger Baxter-Jones and I reduced that to three points of aid. I had a real frightener on the first pitch which was about 60 feet long on poor rock with absolutely no protection. I had great difficulty persuading the editor that that it should be upgraded to HVS, or someone was going to get killed. Then we freed Ivy Groove and I insisted it should be graded Extreme for its seriousness. No, I was told, we don’t have Extreme on Yorkshire limestone. I was furious about that, because I thought the HVS grade was downright dangerous.

Then we just got beaten to Face Route by Pete Livesey. I had attempted that, but backed off because I couldn’t see the way ahead. Pete inspected it on a top-route and then led it. This prior inspection infuriated the YMC, and Livesey was regarded as cheat. Ken Wood repeated that route and found it fine. Livesey then added Jenny Wren and insisted it should be graded Extreme. I didn’t feel like checking that route myself, because it would mean repeating that unprotected first pitch of Rebel, but I sided with Livesey. The row with the YMC now really heated up, because if these new routes of Livesey’s were to be graded Extreme, it was obvious there were quite a few others (such as Ivy Groove) that should be graded likewise. An absurd compromise was reached in which Livesey’s routes were put in an Appendix to the guide. Later Livesey retaliated by coming up with his own “pirate” guide to his routes in Yorkshire and the Peak District, which, with his tongue in his cheek, he called Lime Crime because he was breaking the existing “rules”.


My worst fears over the safety issue of the Yorkshire grades were realized when John Harwood attempted to repeat Ivy Groove later in the year in bad conditions. He rested in slings on a tottering pinnacle of rock just beneath the cave stance, and the whole thing came off. His second was not paying attention with a standard waist belay, lost control of the rope, and John fell nearly to the ground was only saved from certain death by a kink in the belay side of the rope jamming upwards in a carabiner. Even after that, the editor of the guide refused to allow it to be graded Extreme.  Ironically, I was accused later of “sandbagging”. C’est la vie. 


IIRC, it took most of the rest of the 70’s for the E grades to become established in the UK, and it was not until the ‘80s that sport climbing and French Grades came in. Before that time, there wasn’t a reliable scale by which to grade climbs. To debate climbing grades then was rather like trying to judge temperatures before the Fahrenheit and Centigrade scales had been invented.
 

Post edited at 12:54
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 dabble 09 Sep 2020
In reply to John Stainforth:

Kinda sounds like you were obsessed with grades.

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In reply to ashtond6:

I agree.  At the other end of the scale... I think if you can boulder font7B then you could probably do the moves on most UK 8a routes.  After that you'd just need to be fit enough.

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 Will Hunt 09 Sep 2020
In reply to John Stainforth:

That's really interesting history, John. I'm currently editing a guide which will contain sections of Yorkshire limestone trad. It's a difficult thing to get right because much of the difficulty, to my mind, derives from the quality of the rock. I've resigned myself to a max grade of HVS where it's middling; happy to try harder when the rock is good; God only know what I'd be capable of in Gordale. You have to try and give people a fair idea of what they're letting themselves in for without trying to scare people away, because a lot of the lines are really inspiring, historic, and worthwhile. Some of the crags where the rock quality is excellent deserve much more traffic.

My advice to budding Yorkshire limestone tradders would be to go in with a few grades in hand and work your way up, with an appreciation that some of the rock and gear is not beyond suspicion.

I don't see what all that has to do with your original comment in the context of a thread about people wanting to climb harder things. It sounds like you're saying the only reason that people weren't obsessed with grades is that there wasn't a functioning national grading system. In which case I can't see what point your original post was making.

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In reply to Somerset swede basher:

Substitute that with font 6b

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In reply to AlanLittle:

> > there's a point around 7c onsight where progress slows or stops for many of them

> Maybe, but anybody who can onsight 7c could redpoint 8a, assuming they were interested in putting the time & effort into a project

Yes, I would expect that's true.   As well as the onsight vs redpoint factor the ability to choose a route that suits you rather than dealing with whatever the comp routesetter decides will make a difference.

Post edited at 18:41
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 Timmd 09 Sep 2020
In reply to Misha:

PS, pardon my irreverent cheekiness.

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In reply to Michael Johnston:

Really? Have you been on some of the short bouldery Peak 8as?

Rattle and hump - hard 7A+ into another hard move into easier ground.

Out of my tree - 7B into another hard move into easier ground.

Hot fun closing - 7A+ shake out at the break then another hard couple of moves.

Salar - a couple of fingery pulls into probably 7A+ unless you're really tall

Baby Chimes - about 7B from the break jugs to the top.

Font6B might get you up a long sustained 7c route but equip you for most UK 8a routes if will not!

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 Si dH 09 Sep 2020
In reply to Somerset swede basher:

Agree. 

I would see the ability to boulder 7A reasonably regularly as a probable minimum requirement to have much chance on 8a in the Peak.

Some of those you mention with bouldery starts are hard for those given boulder grades too. Rattle & Hump and Kudos both always felt like solid 7B to me when I was going well. 

Post edited at 19:44
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 john arran 09 Sep 2020
In reply to Si dH:

> Agree. 

> Some of those you mention with bouldery starts are hard for those given boulder grades too. Rattle & Hump and Kudos both always felt like solid 7B to me when I was going well. 

I'd say the start of Entrée (8a) would be a good deal harder than that!

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In reply to john arran:

I nearly added that to my list but I think most consider if 8a+ now?

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In reply to Somerset swede basher:

Your post said most UK 8a routes not short specifically bouldery 8a sport routes 

Post edited at 20:12
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In reply to Michael Johnston:

How hard do you think the crux of longer 8as like Call of Nature or The Sissy is? I think they are harder than font 6B.

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In reply to Somerset swede basher:

It seems most of the UK 8as are in the peak .my mistake .

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 AJM 09 Sep 2020
In reply to Michael Johnston:

Which UK fr8a routes in the UK do you think have a crux that's Font 6B or less? I'm curious. At various points I've tried 4, I think, all outside the peak, and would have said they all had a harder than 6B crux.

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In reply to AJM:

Many dont have a crux ... maybe a redpoint crux thats just an accumulation of whats gone before ...Statement of youth for starters...considered by many to be a hard one ... put a 7b boulder problem up there it would be 8b or more 

Post edited at 20:56
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In reply to Michael Johnston:

Let’s have some examples then! We are all waiting. 

More than one, obviously.

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In reply to ashtond6:

Is that one not good enough ... the original and one of the best....who are the we you speak for ? Whats your opinion ?

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 arran_deakin 09 Sep 2020
In reply to ashtond6:

Defcon 3

The Bulge

Raindogs

Baboo Baboo

New Age Traveller 

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 Timmd 09 Sep 2020
In reply to Michael Johnston:

> Is that one not good enough ... the original and one of the best....who are the we you speak for ? Whats your opinion ?

I've only just noticed this exchange, and I'm waiting too. ;-)

Post edited at 23:06
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In reply to Timmd:

your wait is not in vain Timmid as Arran has spoken for me ... how he can comment when he's nothing logged is beyond me !

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In reply to arran_deakin:

4 of those are 7c + !!

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 Timmd 09 Sep 2020
In reply to Michael Johnston:

Ha ha.

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In reply to Michael Johnston:

The we are the numerous people that have asked the same question. 
 

are you seriously saying that if you can boulder 6B in the UK, you can climb 8a across the country if you get a bit of fitness?
 

raindogs and statement are clear and obvious anomalies. Plenty of discussion on the other channel as to baboo being 7A.

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 Tyler 09 Sep 2020
In reply to arran_deakin:

So basically you're saying Yorkshire is over graded? Your work has been in vain

Post edited at 23:48
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In reply to ashtond6:

Its all subjective ... yeah some  8as have one hardish move (not usually 7b)  many however don't they certainly aren't anomalies as you put it . 

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 Timmd 09 Sep 2020
In reply to Michael Johnston:

I'll always remember the late Paul Nunn writing in one of his books (in my Dad's collection) about grades being invented to bamboozle the gullible. 

Paul Nunn was cool, almost like a David Attenborough of the climbing world or a Clive James, or a mixture of the 2.

Post edited at 00:00
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In reply to Timmd:

Indeed he was ....gullible is all to common .

Post edited at 00:08
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 redjerry 10 Sep 2020
In reply to CillianBillion:

I've known people who could o/s 8a's before they really knew how to climb and I've known people who, despite years of dedicated training, never made it to 8a.
I'm not sure that a long road trip is the best time to make such a big leap in grades. The absolute last thing you want to do on a long road trip is get injured. Pushing your o/s and quick redpoint game would probably be a lot better for your climbing, a lot more fun, a lot safer and ultimately a better way to get to 8a in the long run.
Good luck anyway.

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 arran_deakin 10 Sep 2020
In reply to Michael Johnston:

> 4 of those are 7c + !!

I refer you to my very first post. 

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 Jonas Wiklund 10 Sep 2020
In reply to no one in particular:

Very sustained long 8as without good rests very rairly has a section of anything approaching 6C on them, it would be hard to convince me that Les ailes du désir Extension (8a) has anything even approaching to a short Fb 6B on it.

Even shorter power-enurance 8as rairly have 7A sections. Where would the 7A crux on say Anabòlica (8a) be found? I have no memory of anything like that.

Even fairly cruxy 8as, with say sustained 7b climbing up to crux rairly has anything harder than 7A or 7A+ max.

An 8a that has one hard boulder off the ground, followed by adventurous walking usually have a 7B to 7C crux, depending on where the local climbing community is on the strength/fitness spectrum.

Climbers who can do 8a without being able to boulder 6C do not have a little fitness, they have an insane amount of fitness.

Post edited at 09:34
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In reply to Michael Johnston:

I think you misunderstood my post. I didn't say you needed to be able to boulder 7B to climb most 8as. I said if you could boulder 7B then you'd be able to do the moves on most 8as. I. E. You could get on the cruxy ones too and not just be limited to the stamina plods. They aren't the same thing. 

My examples are all Peak centric as that's where I live.

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 Jon Greengrass 10 Sep 2020
In reply to Michael Johnston:

7c+ sounds better when you translate into YDS, 5.13a 

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In reply to Jonas Wiklund:

You are missing the point. 

100% true what you are saying in most places on earth.

The UK is weirdly a little different, and that is not a good thing  

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 Andy Reeve 10 Sep 2020
In reply to ashtond6:

> You are missing the point. 

> 100% true what you are saying in most places on earth.

> The UK is weirdly a little different, and that is not a good thing  

It's not a problem unless you're weak ;)

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 Jonas Wiklund 10 Sep 2020
In reply to Andy Reeve:

Yeah, but from the OP, I got the impression that he was psyched on climbing on the continent? 

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 Andy Reeve 10 Sep 2020
In reply to Jonas Wiklund:

> Yeah, but from the OP, I got the impression that he was psyched on climbing on the continent? 

I was replying to ashtond6. He'll know what I mean  

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In reply to Jon Greengrass:

> 7c+ sounds better when you translate into YDS, 5.13a 

... and the Teflon Corner and the Boulder Problem on the Salathe Wall are apparently *only* 5.12d (f7c). Michael Johnston has told us "anyone with an inkling of ability and drive can climb 8a", which translates into 5.13b.  So those notorious 5.12d pitches should be a breeze for climbers with less than an inkling of ability. So, how come Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell found them so hard?

As a climber, who was never able to get anywhere near those grades (presumably, because I lacked even an inkling of ability), I am baffled by the logic of this thread!

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In reply to Andy Reeve:

I’m just gonna blame it on the fingers ;) 

I bet I’ll have climbed 10 continental 8a’s before my first peak!  

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 AlanLittle 10 Sep 2020
In reply to John Stainforth:

Nobody is suggesting that "anyone with an inkling of ability and drive can climb ANY 8a". Clearly developing the requisite strength and fitness to climb AN 8a on typical Euro limestone is vastly easier for Brits and Europeans than developing the ability to do intricate highly technical sequences on Yosemite granite, which is its own peculiar thing that has to be learned by doing lots of mileage in that particular style. So I don't see how the comparison is at all relevant.

Given your obvious vast amount of experience and knowledge, I'm pretty sure you know this perfectly well and are just being contrarian for the sake of it at this point.

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In reply to AlanLittle:

No, I was not trying to be contrarian, I really thought I might have got the wrong grading scale or something. What I overlooked was the bias towards limestone.

Wouldn't it be great if we could come up with one world-wide grading system, without biases to country or rock type!

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In reply to John Stainforth:

Ridiculous comparison .

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 AlanLittle 10 Sep 2020
In reply to John Stainforth:

> Wouldn't it be great if we could come up with one world-wide grading system, without biases to country or rock type!

Would be completely hypothetical though. Everybody's strengths & weaknesses are going to vary depending on (among other things) what rock type they grew up on or spend most of their time on. I think you have to grade for locals with a good degree of familiarity with the local rock type and climbing style.

I think the assumption is that default sport grades / the "average generic" sport climber is limestone focused, at least in Europe. Anything else is going to require adaptation & acclimatisation to the local style before grades will feel anything like comparable. And even all limestone is not the same - see the extensive discussions upthread about Peak district boulder routes vs Euro stamina burns.

A 5.13b offwidth somewhere in the desert in Utah might in some abstract sense "similarly difficult" to an overhanging 8a pocketed limestone wall in Spain - that doesn't mean we could reasonably expect the same set of climbers to be capable of doing both of them. The closest you could possibly get would be to say we could expect a similar percentage of the climbers who are experienced in that particular style to be capable of doing them. Or something.

Post edited at 21:35
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In reply to Jonas Wiklund:

Have you climbed much sport in the UK, especially in the Peak and Yorkshire? It’s pretty different to Euro sport, from what I’m told (haven’t really done any Euro sport). Admittedly the OP is looking to climb  in Europe, so your advice may well be more relevant. It feels like people are comparing apples and oranges.  

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In reply to ashtond6:

> You are missing the point. 

> 100% true what you are saying in most places on earth.

> The UK is weirdly a little different, and that is not a good thing  

Nah, we just have proper grades. In the same way that a lot of sport outside the hard crags in the Peak and Yorkshire is overgraded ;-)

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 Si dH 11 Sep 2020
In reply to Misha:

There are Euro sport venues and routes that are more like the UK if you look for them. Some bits of Siurana are fairly short and hard. I'm sure there was a popular crag in Costa Blanca that was only ever about 10m high (Belus?) I remember finding a 4 bolt bouldery 7a+ in a cave at Boffi a hundred yards away from the main routes there which it seems no-one ever does (I enjoyed it more than the long routes!) But obviously the majority are longer, less cruxy and less difficult to read because of the style of rock so tend to be more stamina focused.

Post edited at 07:34
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In reply to Michael Johnston:

I was answering and extending the comparison between French and Yosemite grades, made by a previous poster, to point out that it didn't seem to work. 

You are right, it is absurd: it's a form of argument called reductio ad absurdum.

Post edited at 13:11
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In reply to Michael Johnston:

It is absurd: it's a form of argument called reductio ad absurdum.

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 flaneur 11 Sep 2020
In reply to Misha:

I think Jonas has a fair idea about UK sport climbing even if he’s never experienced the discrete charms of Raven Tor. 
 

In reply to those who think nails quasi-boulder problem routes are mainly a Yorkshire/Derbyshire phenomenon: 

The Frankenjura. 

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In reply to Si dH:

Of course, with the amount of rock in Euroland, there will be routes of all shapes and sizes there and there are places like the Frankenjura as flaneur has pointed out. Anyway, I should shut up as I don't have any real experience of Euro sport, certainly no experience of 8a and have no idea about bouldering grades (other than indoors, where the grades seem to be several notches easier than what they should be).

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In reply to Si dH:

> There are Euro sport venues and routes that are more like the UK if you look for them.

Why would you look for them?...

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 ian caton 12 Sep 2020
In reply to Misha:

UK grades, in 7b and less, in comparison to EU seem average to me. The costas are easier. as you gain altitude in the pyrenees they get harder. Provence a bit easier than here. Briancon harder than here but not by much. Frankenjura, southern Germany a completely different planet. 3 grades harder IMHO.

Just my pennyworth.

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 AlanLittle 12 Sep 2020
In reply to ian caton:

> Frankenjura, southern Germany a completely different planet. 3 grades harder IMHO.

Very different to my opinion. Admitted I've sport climbed a lot more in the Frankenjura than the Peak, but I certainly don't climb three grades on harder on my occasional UK visits. I find straightforward pocket pulling far easier than the kind of non-obvious, ultra technical sequences that come up on Peak lime. But that takes us back to grades only really being comparable for people who are used to particular climbing styles.

I think the Frankenjura reputation for hard grades comes about at least in part because - at least on the classics up to about the mid french 7's - the bolting tends to be quite runout, and people confuse fear with difficulty. If can somehow abstract that away and look at the actual physical difficulty of the climbing the grades are pretty bog standard.

Post edited at 15:10
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 ian caton 12 Sep 2020
In reply to AlanLittle:

???? I think we must have climbed in completely different parts of the frankenjura the times we have been. The bolting varies, mostly super safe, some death literally but clearly says that in guide. All bolts marked on topo. 

I haven't climbed much in peak, Yorkshire is my thing. 

In the costas I reckon to have a good go at on sighting 7a, in the frankenjura I am not surprised if I literally can't get off the floor on a 6b+ equivalent and have absolutely no chance of on sighting 6c equivalent. 

Maybe the grade comparison chart in the guide is different. 

Most likely I am just weak. 😊

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 AlanLittle 12 Sep 2020
In reply to ian caton:

Well, I know I generally expect to do Frankenjura 6c+ (VIII-) in a handful of goes. So by your reckoning I should expect the same on English 7b. Never in a million years; I wouldn't even expect to even see what to do on the average Cheedale/WCJ 7b.

(Kalymnos maybe)

Post edited at 18:00
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 Albion 13 Sep 2020
In reply to Pekkie:

Technically easy jugfest? I doubt if you've ever been near Britomartis. Certainly not within the last 30 years. 

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