/ Comparative grades

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Wiley Coyote2 - on 11 May 2019

First of all apologies if this has been done before (and I am sure it must have been) but does anyone know of a reasonably accurate real-world chart giving comparative grades between styles and systems? I appreciate that comparing sport to trad is intrinsically extremely tricky because of the very different skills involved. Bouldering to sport grades may be a bit easier except for the stamina element. However, from my own experience and looking at various profiles from time to time it seems the one used in the Rockfax guides, for example,  to bear no relation to what is actually happening out on the rock (sorry, Alan).

For example I climb 6b/6b+ sport with the occasional 6c when I am feeling light and strong. According to the table that equates to E3/4 yet I know perfectly well that if I went on even a  bottom end  E4  I would have kittens. I suspect my best hope would be that I would not get high enough to hurt myself. As another random example - and what prompted this question - the most recent profile I looked at shows a top sport grade of 7b+ which the chart equates to top end E6 yet the profile  declares E3 as the guy's top grade. Yet again that's quite a discrepancy.

So what are the real grade comparisons and where might I find them?

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SenzuBean - on 11 May 2019
In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

Wikipedia has perhaps a more accurate grade table: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grade_(climbing)#Free_climbing_2
According to wiki - your sport grades says you'll mostly solid on E2s with the occasional E3 thrown in (ignoring the 'trad tax')

Post edited at 04:10
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deacondeacon - on 11 May 2019
In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

> So what are the real grade comparisons and where might I find them?

The rockface comparison chart is spot on for me. 

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jimtitt - on 11 May 2019
In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

It is indeed debateable whether a 5a sport route at Kalymnos is actually going to be a similar experience to a HVS at Swanage

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Luke Brooks - on 11 May 2019
In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

The chart is objective, it's a comparison of relative climbing difficulty. An E4 is going to have roughly 6b+/c climbing on it, how much more difficult you actually find it depends on how good/bad you are at trad climbing. You won't find a chart that tells you that! 

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In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

> For example I climb 6b/6b+ sport with the occasional 6c when I am feeling light and strong. According to the table that equates to E3/4 yet I know perfectly well that if I went on even a  bottom end  E4  I would have kittens. I suspect my best hope would be that I would not get high enough to hurt myself. As another random example - and what prompted this question - the most recent profile I looked at shows a top sport grade of 7b+ which the chart equates to top end E6 yet the profile  declares E3 as the guy's top grade. Yet again that's quite a discrepancy.

Ah, you are missing what we are trying to do with the charts which is what the colour codes try and provide some limited guidance on. The idea is that if you top-roped the aforementioned E3/4 routes that you were going to have kittens on, then there is a good chance you would be able to climb them and they would feel roughly the same as a 6b/6b+/6c in difficulty. You often find people giving sport grades to trad routes in the higher grades for this purpose - exactly how hard is the climbing? The colour codes are trying to do what you are looking for - what grade would someone climbing HVS be comfortable trying at sport/bouldering etc. and those are given the orange spot. Obviously though the range is quite large on the colour bands.

That chart you are after doesn’t exist since the variation in what people can climb when they have no, or poor, gear is so massive. I have seen a 7c sport leader fail on a VDiff move with a ground fall. You also have climbers who can crank out tech 6b moves miles above gear but can’t climb 7c sport since they aren’t strong enough. As soon as ‘head’ climbing gets into the equation then all comparisons go to pot. There is also a massive variation in a trad grade. Downhill Racer (E4 6a) and Usurper (E4 6a) both E4 6a, one would be around 6c the other around 7a+. Where would these fit on this chart?

As an interesting aside - this is also something which has plagued the 8a.nu system since they require the comparison chart you want but have never been able to find it and can’t deal with the big E numbers in some of Dave McCloud and James McCaffie’s routes, for example.

Alan

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1poundSOCKS - on 11 May 2019
In reply to Luke Brooks:

> it depends on how good/bad you are at trad climbing. You won't find a chart that tells you that! 

Surely the chart does tell you that.

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Chris Craggs - on 11 May 2019
In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

The comparison chart presumes a roughly equally ability in both disciplines, you can't expect to spend all your time sport climbing and then jump on an 'equivalent' graded trad route,

Chris

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Offwidth - on 11 May 2019
In reply to Chris Craggs:

He seemed to me to be saying he is experienced in both and finds the equivalence in Alan's sensible description as wrong. I think the same... grit routes in particular are much harder to climb on tr in the low extremes than you imply.. You seem to have your view of what consitutes a low 6 stuck at approaching Buoux standards and you need to modernise and get an average of all your sports routes that includes Kalymnos. My view is a middling technical, middling protectable E1 on tr is F6a+ as a headpoint. The wikipedia page says F6a you have top end F5+. For ditto at E2 I'd say F6b, wikipedia says F6b and you say F6a/F6a+ border. These Rockfax equivalences are just nonsense.

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In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

To further expand on this - the problem here is the UK trad system. It is used to give the sustained factor, and boldness factor, which are completely different aspects as illustrated by the Downhill Racer/Usurper example.

If I remember correctly, when Ben Moon climbed Statement of Youth (8a) he gave it E7 6b since sport grades weren’t being used generally at the time. This was the same grade given to one of the other great test pieces of the time The Bells! The Bells! (E7 6b). It was this very discrepancy that was used to support the use of sport grades more widely.

Alan

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Chris Craggs - on 11 May 2019
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

I remember doing The Boldest (E4 5c) (E2 in the Sharp guide at the time) in the morning and the recent Ride the Wild Surf (E4 6a) (E5 according to Paul Williams) in the afternoon - that was when I knew the system was beyond repair!

Chris

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Offwidth - on 11 May 2019
In reply to Chris Craggs:

The trad grading system was never broken just some people were misusing it. The same applies to your charts. If trad climbers are telling you this and find the sports grades too easy in equivalence to  low extremes on tr you really need to listen.

Post edited at 11:24
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Wiley Coyote2 - on 11 May 2019
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

Thanks for that explanation re the colour bands, Alan, which I had not picked up on. (Yes, I do now see they are explained in the text and I should RTFM). These comparisons do seem much closer to reality both in my own experience and that of my friends as well as my anecdotal reading of other people's profiles.

 I am a very experienced (although not particularly good) climber so I absolutely take your point re the all-important and highly subjective part 'head' plays in all this. (eg when I was leading E2/3 my sport grade was 5+/6a yet now my sport grade is 6b/6b+ my  trad grade is VS. Go figure)

So my reading of it now is that the colours  represent what you probably are on and will be reasonably comfortable doing while reading across the chart is largely nonsense other than being to say: "And this is what you could be on if only you had the balls, you wuss"

PS In my defence re the VS I should say I do about six trad routes a year, which bears out Chris C's point above. However, even with a lot more trad mileage I cannot imagine I will ever lead E4 again).

Post edited at 11:39
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AlanLittle - on 11 May 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

I seconded Left Unconquerable a little while ago and thought it was about 6a+ - so based on this N=1 sample I‘m not really seeing the massive discrepancy.

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Presley Whippet on 11 May 2019
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

I understand what you have said about the comparison being between the pure difficulty of the moves.

How typical of Joe Climber is the grade table though? Through this website, it's user profiles and logbooks you have access to the data required to produce a grade comparison table based in real world data rather than the theoretical table currently used.

It would be interesting to see the results of such an exercise.

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jimtitt - on 11 May 2019
In reply to Presley Whippet:

> I understand what you have said about the comparison being between the pure difficulty of the moves.

> How typical of Joe Climber is the grade table though? Through this website, it's user profiles and logbooks you have access to the data required to produce a grade comparison table based in real world data rather than the theoretical table currently used.

> It would be interesting to see the results of such an exercise.


But the French sport grade isn't for the difficulty of the moves, it's the overall difficulty of climbing the route, it can be a simple long overhanging jugfest with no technical skill required OR a nails boulder move in the middle of a path.

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Presley Whippet on 11 May 2019
In reply to jimtitt:

Agreed. 

It would still be interesting to see the results of some data analysis. In particular whether it supports or undermines the accepted wisdom of the grade comparison table. 

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Offwidth - on 11 May 2019
In reply to jimtitt:

The table compares the typical sport grade to the typical E grade on TR ... E grades can also be safe jugfests or safe cruxy routes.

On Alan's Left Unconquerable point yes I'd agree but its one of the easiest safe E1s on grit and F6a is still more than the Rockfax table indicates. The table is just wrong in the low extremes when we compare the averages (unless we are comparing to polished French low 6 sandbags)

Post edited at 12:30
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Wiley Coyote2 - on 11 May 2019
In reply to jimtitt:

> But the French sport grade isn't for the difficulty of the moves, it's the overall difficulty of climbing the route,

Another spanner in the works is that, as I understand it, some (all?) French sport grades are not necessarily for on-sight lead whereas the UK trad grade usually is

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GridNorth - on 11 May 2019
In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

I don't really understand why someone would want to make these very arbitrary comparisons other than to fool themselves into thinking that if they can lead a 7a they could lead an E4 .  I don't have hard evidence but it's usually the sport to trad climbers that seem to try and bridge this gap and that worries me a little. Even within the same system there are numerous variables that make the whole matter very subjective.  The two systems measure completely different characteristics so we are never going to arrive at a concensus.  Grades are admittedly a great debating topic though

Al

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jimtitt - on 11 May 2019
In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

Offwidth keeps telling us the E grades in the tables are for top roping, I'm confused

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GridNorth - on 11 May 2019
In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

I have always understood that French grades assumed redpointing.  The only guide I know of that says otherwise is Orpierre.

Post edited at 13:01
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Wiley Coyote2 - on 11 May 2019
In reply to GridNorth:

> I don't really understand why someone would want to make these very arbitrary comparisons other than to fool themselves into thinking that if they can lead a 7a they could lead an E4 . 

Exactly the opposite Al. Having led a solitary E4 in my life I am damned certain I cannot do it now, which is why I was querying the comparison chart. I was trying to work out  what a realistic trad equivalent to my current performance on bolts might be and whether there was any chance whatsoever  of my still doing a few hit routes I never got round to when I was doing a lot of trad. A casual glance at the chart convinced  me that reading across the lines was pure  Alice in Wonderland but using Alan's colour banding makes more sense and gives me a chink of hope.

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GridNorth - on 11 May 2019
In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

Fair enough but I would say atypical.

I started on trad many, many years before sport existed and I find that the chart works pretty well for me. People who start on sport seem to have more difficulty and that is understandable.

Al

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Offwidth - on 11 May 2019
In reply to jimtitt:

Thats how Alan describes the equivalence upthread and it's his table.. do keep up.

I'd add that even the style comparisons in the colour bands seem to assume a bit over the average boldness for trad climbers.

Post edited at 14:14
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Brown - on 11 May 2019
In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

But as the Trad grade is for onsighting it correctly in the easiest way is there any difference between a redpoint grade and a correct sequence onsight grade?

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Wiley Coyote2 - on 11 May 2019
In reply to Brown:

> But as the Trad grade is for onsighting it correctly in the easiest way is there any difference between a redpoint grade and a correct sequence onsight grade?


Considerable, I would say, simply because of all the unknowns which make an on-sight difficult both mentally and physically. A redpoint would be more comparable with a repeat of a trad route - no getting lost, no hidden holds you don't know about, no 'secret runners' you don't know about, you know exactly what's coming, you know exactly how much you need left in the tank for the end, no nagging doubts about a scorpion finish to prey on your mind etc etc.

I've never redpointed, treating  sport as trad with bolts, mainly because of my low threshold of boredom. Even so, I know that  on-sighting sport is a whole different game to on-sighting trad. Just knowing you are only a couple of metres from another good, quickly clipped  runner makes sport so much less taxing mentally no matter how hard it may be  physically. As a mate said to me when I told him I wanted to get back into trad after a lot of years on sport: "You'll be amazed how easy it is.....and how scarey" Truest thing he ever said.

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wbo - on 11 May 2019
In reply to GridNorth:it is apparently now ex-trad climbers climbing bolted routes...

I am a little intrigued to see pressure for grade softening so things are more in line with Kalyan rather than the original 'standards'.  I was solid at E2 and got my backside kicked hard on 6bs at Buoux

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GridNorth - on 11 May 2019
In reply to wbo:

> it is apparently now ex-trad climbers climbing bolted routes...

> I am a little intrigued to see pressure for grade softening so things are more in line with Kalyan rather than the original 'standards'.  I was solid at E2 and got my backside kicked hard on 6bs at Buoux

Didn't we all?  Most of the older climbers I know, myself included, now climb more on bolts than trad.  There are a few factors at play here.  Most of us have done all the trad routes many times over and yes the added security of bolts is far more relaxing when you have had a lifetime of running it out and surviving.

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jimtitt - on 11 May 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

> Thats how Alan describes the equivalence upthread and it's his table.. do keep up.

Fair enough! Having now read his explanation AND the blurb that goes with the tables things are clearer now (I don't own any Rockfax guides so didn't even know it existed). Perhaps this could be made clearer on the tables themselves (that the blurb exists and is important to interpret the grades)?

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In reply to jimtitt:

There is a pretty big essay on it here Jim - https://www.rockfax.com/publications/grades/

Alan

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jimtitt - on 11 May 2019
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

Good lord, I've never looked at anything but the forums!

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In reply to Presley Whippet:

> How typical of Joe Climber is the grade table though? Through this website, it's user profiles and logbooks you have access to the data required to produce a grade comparison table based in real world data rather than the theoretical table currently used.

We could do that but I am not sure it would create anything very useful, might do though but we have more pressing things at the moment.

We did create two versions of the Rockfax table. The bold routes table is a very rough attempt to try and compare but we need to have a huge range of difficulty for each trad grade to take account of the death route factor. The sage route ione is probably more useful for most people who tend to avoid 'death routes' if they can.

Alan

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planetmarshall on 11 May 2019
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

>> How typical of Joe Climber is the grade table though? Through this website, it's user profiles and logbooks you have access to the data required to produce a grade comparison table based in real world data rather than the theoretical table currently used.

> We could do that but I am not sure it would create anything very useful, might do though but we have more pressing things at the moment.

I've done a fair bit of processing of UKC logbook data and I'm not sure how you would go about creating such a table. What you want in theory, I think, is the answer to the question "For a climber with a given 'average' trad grade, what is their 'average' sport grade?" However, any given climber in the UKC Database will climb a huge range of grades over their career, subject to ability, preference, arbitrary holidays, injury, performance peak etc. There's far too much statistical variance to be able to answer that question in a meaningful way. About the best you could do is compare a climber's max sport and trad grades, but even then you have the issue of over what time those values are valid.

It's an interesting intellectual exercise to ask yourself what kind of data you would actually need to answer this question, and if the fact that it's so difficult might be an indication that the exercise is ultimately pointless.

Post edited at 16:42
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Presley Whippet on 11 May 2019
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

> We could do that but I am not sure it would create anything very useful, might do though but we have more pressing things at the moment.

It would produce a technically underpinned grade comparison table, rather than one based on opinion. 

I can appreciate why you wouldn't want to do it, evidence based conclusions are difficult to argue with. What would happen to all the endless grade threads if we had that?  

Post edited at 17:54
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wbo - on 11 May 2019
In reply to GridNorth: absolutely - I rarely climb trade now, although I'm actually planning a trad 'campaign' as a change.  You could also argue that very often I'm not climbing sport either as I'm not going out and pushing hard enough to call off repeatedly.  Plaisir style?

There have been a few threads where grades for imaginary bolted grit classics are touted- left unconq, 6, the right 5 or 5+, 3 ps 5 ,? These are more realistic comprises than what people lead. (Left unconq 6+ ? - I'd like to climb at your reference crag )

Post edited at 18:12
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planetmarshall on 11 May 2019
In reply to Presley Whippet:

> It would produce a technically underpinned grade comparison table, rather than one based on opinion. 

As I stated in my reply to Alan, I don't think the evidence necessary to produce such a table is available.

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Presley Whippet on 11 May 2019
In reply to planetmarshall:

I think it there, in the profiles and logbooks. 

A simplistic method would be to look at user profiles. Discount those users who solely sport climb or solely trad climb. Compare max on sight grades. 

A deeper trawl of the data could compare log book entries of those with a broad base in both disciplines. 

Clearly any output would be a starting point to base further revisions on, in time, when the data set has grown. 

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AlanLittle - on 11 May 2019
In reply to wbo:

> I am a little intrigued to see pressure for grade softening so things are more in line with Kalyan rather than the original 'standards'. 

Me too (writing from the balcony of an apartment in Masouri). Surely for uk climbers the sport benchmarks should be places like Portland or (god forbid) Horseshoe for easier grades, Malham or Cheedale for 7's upwards. Arguing for Kaly as some kind of grading benchmark is basically arguing for the abandonment of the entire concept of standard grades.

> I was solid at E2 and got my backside kicked hard on 6bs at Buoux

When I was an E1/2 trad leader who occasionally went on Euro bolt trips, I could tiptoe my way up slabby 6b's but got totally shut down on anything steep & strenuous. But that was true of my trad climbing too. The equation of 6b to somewhere around E2/3 physical difficulty always seemed about right to me.

Goose Creature (E3 6a) is as close to sport climbing as you can get without actually being a sport climb (at least on the crux), and is 6b+. Heading the Shot (E5 6b) is 7a+ or E5 depending on what you think about the bolt spacing. Etc etc. I'm really not seeing the alleged huge discrepancy.

Post edited at 19:29
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planetmarshall on 11 May 2019
In reply to Presley Whippet:

> I think it there, in the profiles and logbooks. 

> A simplistic method would be to look at user profiles. Discount those users who solely sport climb or solely trad climb. Compare max on sight grades. 

Sure, but the question you've answered there is that given some climber, the highest trad grade they've climbed is X and the highest sport climb is Y. It says nothing about the equivalence of those grades. Those climbs could have been 10 years apart. They could have completely given up on trad at VS and gone on to climb 8a (or vice versa). This thread was started by someone who has stated that he once climbed far higher trad grades than he does now.

I actually think that the reason why it's so hard to find an objective equivalence between sport and trad grades Is because there isn't one. You may as well be trying to compare 3000m steeplechase times with the 100m butterfly.

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Presley Whippet on 11 May 2019
In reply to planetmarshall:

Yes there are flaws in the equivalence but given a sufficiently large data set, they should iron out. Log books will give more detail than a profile, year on year comparators etc. The output may be flawed but would it be any more flawed than the current assumptions? 

N=1 but 7b, I might have a go, it may take a few tries, I might not get it. E6, nope, not a chance, no thanks! Is that me being soft, or is it more typical? 

Does anyone know how the original table was derived? Not blaming rockfax here as it probably predates them. 

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Lord_ash2000 - on 11 May 2019
In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

Comparing one's sport and trad max grade is only ever at best going to be a rough guide based on what typical climbers do, assuming they are equally focused on sport and trad, which few are. Many climbers will focus on one discipline and only half arse the other, a sport climber pottering up some 'easy' trad or the tradder, taking some time out to clip some bolts in the sun just for a fun holiday. 

If you did want to compare your own abilities though you're best bet would be level the playing field and see what the hardest thing you can do after practice on top rope is. Providing you stick to fairly typical routes, in styles you're comfortable with. (no point comparing a steep sport route to a balancely grit slab if you can't climb slabs anyway for example) and avoiding super cruxy or other anomalous routes then you've boiled them down to just two rock faces and you can compare them as well as you could compare any two other bits of rock in the same style. You can then see what the actual trad grade of the given climb is and that'll be the theoretical trad grade you could climb as a sort of hypothetical perfect scenario climb. (Assuming it's accurately graded in the first place of course)

But this, of course, is going to have little bearing on real-life performance. Comparing even onsight sport climbing to onsight trad there are so many factors at play, particularly around the head and risk elements, it's apples and oranges really. I guess you'd get a closer match comparing really hard but safe trad climbs with sport as risk is less of a factor. So a 7a'ish sport route with say an E4 6b'ish hard safe trad route you might be equal, assuming the trad route isn't focused around one really hard crux move and you're confident with falling on gear. 

So coming back to where I started, I think the only reasonable guide you've got is just what people are typically climbing trad and sport if they treat both with a similar focus. I, for example, would be a terrible example, I've bouldered V10 this year but only climbed like f6b and probably about HVS tops trad.

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trouserburp - on 12 May 2019
In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

I totally agree with your appraisal- i probably climb sport and trad 50/50 - at 4c to 6a uk tech grade i find adding 1 equates to sport grade pretty well (so 5b uk is about 6b). That's seconding, danger makes the overall difference much much greater

If the chart is supposed to be toproping equivalent then why not say so? 

Post edited at 12:45
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trouserburp - on 12 May 2019
In reply to Presley Whippet:

Another difficulty of this and i might be alone- i don't really log sport climbs because i don't attach the same value to them (won't look back over them as treasured memories in years to come!)

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GrahamD - on 12 May 2019
In reply to trouserburp:

I don't log any routes but I think my opinion on the grades I climb are as valid as anyone's. This view that the whole climbing world is represented by UKC logbooks is a bit short sighted IMO.

I'd rather leave grade decisions to a few respectected pundits than the mob vote of UKC logbooks any day.

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trouserburp - on 12 May 2019
In reply to GrahamD:

Well that hasn't worked. They could do a survey

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wbo - on 12 May 2019
In reply to trouserburp: I've always gone with English 5b is approx sport 6a, and that is seconding or on lead, and that's always felt pretty decent an approximation.  

I also noted your comment on whats more notable - are you doing much trad? 

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In reply to trouserburp:

> If the chart is supposed to be toproping equivalent then why not say so? 

To be honest, it is not really meant to be top rope, it is really mean to be whatever takes the protection element out of the equation. Slightly hypothetical maybe but it is the protection element that messes up the comparison tables. 

Alan

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GrahamD - on 12 May 2019
In reply to trouserburp:

> Well that hasn't worked. They could do a survey

Why dont you think the present systems aren't working, by and large ?

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HeMa on 12 May 2019
In reply to GridNorth:

> I have always understood that French grades assumed redpointing. 

Nope, it assumes that the easiest sequence is used.

Not much difference on easier lines, but at higher or godly grades, it certainly often means a lot.

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GridNorth - on 12 May 2019
In reply to HeMa:

Which in a way is for the redpoint as that is typically needed to establish the easiest sequence is it not?  In any case if you read some of the French Guides they do specifically state "Graded for the redpoint" or words to that affect except as I mentioned Orpierre so I don't accept that I am wrong.

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HeMa on 12 May 2019
In reply to GridNorth:

Yup...

Albeit stating it is graded for this kind of style of climbing is wrong... the route is the same, as is the sequence, no matter what style you end up climbing it.

That being said, some crags and routes (even at harder grades) are pretty easy to read... others less so (either too featured or blank). 

So sport routes are graded for the easiest (acceptable) way up. And on some lines, the easiest way is easy to spot... on others, next to impossible.

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john arran - on 12 May 2019
In reply to HeMa:

> Albeit stating it is graded for this kind of style of climbing is wrong... the route is the same, as is the sequence, no matter what style you end up climbing it.

But it isn't really the route that's being graded, is it? It's the difficulty of climbing said route. Therefore the nature of the attempt can in some cases make a big difference to the relative chances of success compared to other routes attempted in similar style.

That said, I doubt there ever will be consensus as to whether sport route grades assess the difficulty of an onsight or a redpoint, but thankfully there aren't a huge number of routes that wouldn't get the same relative grade in either case, so for the most part the distinction is academic.

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trouserburp - on 13 May 2019
In reply to GrahamD:

Because the respected pundits' chart says an e1 is about as difficult as a 6a, which is rubbish

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Presley Whippet on 13 May 2019
In reply to GrahamD:

> Why dont you think the present systems aren't working, by and large ?

This thread and countless others. 

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kevin stephens - on 13 May 2019
In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

The table is spot on for me and at the grades you mention, sounds like you really need to work on your trad climbing skills (if that’s where you want to go) . Doing more training at the wall won’t help with that. Also many profiles top end sport grades are redpoint rather than proper insight. Redpoint grades are irrelevant to trad skills

Post edited at 06:26
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GrahamD - on 13 May 2019
In reply to trouserburp:

> Because the respected pundits' chart says an e1 is about as difficult as a 6a, which is rubbish

It's not rubbish. It's necessarily imprecise and only a loose guideline because it's comparing apples with oranges.

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Offwidth - on 13 May 2019
In reply to GrahamD:

Ask around ... pretty much every trad climber who sports climbs finds 6a headpoint (the UIAA equivalent) easier on average that top roping/seconding an E1. The Rockfax table implies 5+. A little further up the E grades and sport grades and you are out of my range but I hear few complaints. Rockfax just need to tweak the table for grades around E1. The complications are things like the polished horror show of some old French lower grade sports climbs and the variation of E1 grading and style in the UK. Yet comparing average with average the equivalence should be E1 to 6a+ in my view. When top climbers add sport grades as useful beta to hard trad  (as per the grit list) the sport grade given is the tr redpoint.

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john arran - on 13 May 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

The 'problem', if there is one, may well be that many 6a sport routes in the UK may be softly graded compared to their international equivalents. I haven't climbed many sport routes of that grade in the UK but folk are often surprised when they find 6a in other places is no walk in the park.

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Webster - on 13 May 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

> Ask around ... pretty much every trad climber who sports climbs finds 6a headpoint (the UIAA equivalent) easier on average that top roping/seconding an E1.

maybe i am unusual (ok, i definately am a strange bloke!), but i generally find most E1's much easier than outdoor 6a's. I dont think there is an e1 in the country that i couldnt get up on top rope/second 'cleanly' (ok except the occasional 1 move wonder freek), but im not sure i have ever lead clean an outdoor 6a... there are some 6a's im sure i would struggle to get up even on a top rope.

To the OP, i think most comparrison tables are purely technical difficulty, the head game doesnt come into it. Therefore 'most' people will climb a grade or two harder equivalent on sport than trad (i am an exception there), and a grade or two harder in winter than trad again (i am also an exception there). so while E1 may technically feel like 6a/+, most e1 climbers will climb 6b or higher sport grade.

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GrahamD - on 13 May 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

> Ask around ... pretty much every trad climber who sports climbs finds 6a headpoint (the UIAA equivalent) easier on average that top roping/seconding an E1.

Not a Buoux 6a, I bet !

Fine, tweak the table to make a 6a+ redpoint (hardly any trad climber who does some sport will chose to redpoint 6a+) 'equivalent' to an arbitrary E1 top rope (Which isn't the E1 experience, obviously).

Strikes me that its trying to add a level of precision to a comparison of grades (each of which is necessarily somewhat subjective) of two (unrepresentative) climbing styles that just isn't realistic.

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Offwidth - on 13 May 2019
In reply to Webster:

I'd argue from your profile you are very unusual. at the other end of the spectrum I know quite a few sport climbers who normally climb in the 7s but enjoy trad yet who rarely lead any Extreme. We have to deal with an average experience.

Here is an HVS classics list from the definitives for you, so you can see if what you doubt about being able to get up 'any cleanly' might be true (its easy to knock up a similarly brutal E1 list but that wouldn't prove my point): Masocism; Desperation Crack;  Teck Crack;  Hen Cloud Eliminate; The Mincer, Roof Route; The Grogan; Tower Crack; Kellys Ovehang; Suzzanne; The Trident; Jams to the Slaughter; Orpheus Wall;  Chequer's Crack.  If you seriously think a 6a sports climber who can crack climb could climb any of these on tr and have a similar experience to an average 6a redpoint we will have to agree to disagree. Not all of these are sandbags (Masochism is probably the hardest and solid E2) and as a VS leader I've done the odd onsight and climbed the majority and think most are OK as being arguably low to mid E1 at most.

On Graham's point for every Buoux there is the opposite (and many more routes of the grade) at a Kalymnos.

Post edited at 11:53
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Offwidth - on 13 May 2019
In reply to john arran:

I agree but a lot of that is that is because some overseas routes haven't been upgraded to account for the polish. The french in particular seem very loathe to shift grades. We have to form a common average. I barely ever sports climb in the UK and all my main references are France, Spain and the US. My view is sadly no one cares much about consitency at these grades.  

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Presley Whippet on 13 May 2019

In reply to 

Interesting grade related statistical analysis here. And the answer IS 42 after all. 

https://rockandice.com/climbing-news/over-the-hill-or-still-ascending-an-analysis-of-climbing-performance-and-age/

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HeMa on 13 May 2019
In reply to john arran:

> But it isn't really the route that's being graded, is it? It's the difficulty of climbing said route. Therefore the nature of the attempt can in some cases make a big difference to the relative chances of success compared to other routes attempted in similar style.

So, are you saying that if I climb a route with bad sequence OS, I can claim a higher grade ;).

As said, the (sport) grade actually reflects how hard climbing the line is with optimal sequence. Not a proportion of climbing population.

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AlanLittle - on 13 May 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

> I know quite a few sport climbers who normally climb in the 7s but enjoy trad yet who rarely lead any Extreme.

That's because they're not interested in putting the effort in, not because they couldn't.

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In reply to AlanLittle:

> That's because they're not interested in putting the effort in, not because they couldn't.

Actually I'd say it was the opposite, but probably more important is what you enjoy. I climbed E6 and 7b+ with a couple of tries when I was going well, but could never be bothered to put the effort in to climb 7c-8a sport routes which I reckon most E6 leaders would be able to get up if they 'put the effort in'.

Hard trad climbing isn't effort, it is emotion.

Alan

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Offwidth - on 13 May 2019
In reply to AlanLittle:

Sure, but as I always said we need to compare those who do: where are all these middling protected mid grade E1s that feel on tr like the average 6a (the slightly better UIAA equivalent). I'm not sure that even applies to softer graded trad areas like Pembroke (but lack the breadth of experience to be certain)

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AlanLittle - on 13 May 2019
In reply to john arran:

Totally agree.

VI+ in the Frankenjura, or 6a in your average Austrian sport climbing area, I would say can be pretty solid E1. Even on Kalymnos some of the grey razor slab 6a's can be pretty thin & tricky and would be quite thought-provoking to climb on wires.

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john arran - on 13 May 2019
In reply to HeMa:

> the (sport) grade actually reflects how hard climbing the line is with optimal sequence. Not a proportion of climbing population.

Of the whole climbing population maybe not, at least for the more esoteric style of routes, but among climbers reasonably well versed in routes of a particular nature it would be absurd to claim route B is harder than route A if fewer well-versed climbers (could) get up it.

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krikoman - on 13 May 2019
In reply to john arran:

> The 'problem', if there is one, may well be that many 6a sport routes in the UK may be softly graded compared to their international equivalents. I haven't climbed many sport routes of that grade in the UK but folk are often surprised when they find 6a in other places is no walk in the park.


This is massively true if you go from indoors to outdoors too!

The recent inclusion of the Speed Wall at Warwick, has meant all the route we used to be able to do (up to 6c) are now nails, because the 6cs were more likely 6a+ - 6b. since the is now a "standard" if you like of the Speed Climb - the same route all over the world at 6b means you can't have 6c which is a piece of piss and the 6b you can't get off the ground on.

I'm pretty happy with my E1 lead being 6b in the real world I've only done a few of each but they've both been about the same for me, scary as!

the +- a grade is simply what you get across different crags, rock types and styles.

Post edited at 18:36
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trouserburp - on 13 May 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

> Here is an HVS classics list from the definitives for you, so you can see if what you doubt about being able to get up 'any cleanly' might be true (its easy to knock up a similarly brutal E1 list but that wouldn't prove my point): Masocism; Desperation Crack;  Teck Crack;  Hen Cloud Eliminate; The Mincer, Roof Route; The Grogan; Tower Crack; Kellys Ovehang; Suzzanne; The Trident; Jams to the Slaughter; Orpheus Wall;  Chequer's Crack.  If you seriously think a 6a sports climber who can crack climb could climb any of these on tr and have a similar experience to an average 6a redpoint we will have to agree to disagree. 

> On Graham's point for every Buoux there is the opposite (and many more routes of the grade) at a Kalymnos.

Totally agree - Orpheus wall and Kellys Overhang are good examples because they're super protected and still feel at least 6b moves

 I was thinking the only trad route I've tried to headpoint (so wuss not a factor) I physically could not do clean on a top-rope - Aerobic wall E2 5c

That's so hard it's just a bit beyond my physical ability- I'm not going back to try it properly unless I feel stronger

The equivalent sport climbs that have physically shut me down are 7a or 7a+ 

According to the bible - it's equivalent to a 6b!

- not saying the pundits are wrong just in my experience they are, and if you don't want to put it to a survey or stats then you have no basis of argument. I have never climbed at Buoux is it 6 grades harder than everywhere else?

Doesn't matter except when a sports climber tries trad and breaks their back on an E2, which I know has happened

Post edited at 20:13
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krikoman - on 13 May 2019
In reply to trouserburp:

But isn't that the point, and it shows why it's impossible to define specific grades, because there are always exceptions, when I was climbing at E1 tad, I could lead 6b inside and did a 6b or 6b+ down at Portland, that didn't help me not being able to climb a VS at Froggatt, one that's defeated me 3 times out of 4.

so how is any grading equivalence supposed to cover that scenario?

At best it's an approximation only, and people in general know that.

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In reply to trouserburp:

>  I was thinking the only trad route I've tried to headpoint (so wuss not a factor) I physically could not do clean on a top-rope - Aerobic wall E2 5c

> That's so hard it's just a bit beyond my physical ability- I'm not going back to try it properly unless I feel stronger

> The equivalent sport climbs that have physically shut me down are 7a or 7a+ 

> According to the bible - it's equivalent to a 6b!

So are you saying that your chart would have E2 at the same difficulty level as 7a?

Alan

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tlouth7 on 14 May 2019
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

I have been using the conversion tables for a while and never realised that the colour codes are trying to convey an 'equal challenge' comparison - perhaps this could be mentioned on the page (rather than via a link).

I am primarily a trad climber but was just (this weekend) in Ariege doing multipitch sport. We looked at the tables in an attempt to gauge whether we as HVS trad climbers would cope with 6a+ sport. The answer appears to be yes, at approximately equal levels of scaredness. AIUI this means that if I were massively bold I ought to be able to handle E2, but the colour codes appear spot on (based on a small sample). I can't comment on whether it would work as well going the other way (could a 6a+ sport climber handle an HVS?)

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GridNorth - on 14 May 2019
In reply to tlouth7:

I can't comment on whether it would work as well going the other way (could a 6a+ sport climber handle an HVS?)

Anecdotal evidence suggests not necessarily.  I knew a 7b competition climber who couldn't climb VS.  That's partly why the comparisons are for very rough guidance only. To be fair sports climbs, especially hard ones, tend to have different characteristics to relatively easy trad which require a different style and approach.

Having said all that I have heard of some doing so very successfully but I would suggest that this is not typical.

Al

Post edited at 12:00
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Wiley Coyote2 - on 14 May 2019
In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

Well, perhaps naively, I did not expect my simple OP to run this long but just to throw another rock into the pool and perhaps show how hard comparisons are once you take mental pressures (OK Fear) into account....

Once you move up the sport grades it seems to me that by and large the routes generally get safer. Sure, there will be exceptions but, generally speaking, harder routes tend to be steeper than easy ones and so the falls tend to be cleaner. I certainly tend to feel safer on  6b+ than on easier warm ups. Fall  off some overhanging horror and nothing but fresh air awaits you. Take a plummet off a 5 and there is often lots of stuff to smack into before you stop so the fear factor is consequently justifiably higher. Plus of course by the time people are on 7s they are more accustomed to taking the plunge and better able gauge  a safe fall from a dangerous one.

Reading all the above I think that perhaps for most of us the colour bands on the Rockfax chart as explained by Alan near the top of this thread may well be as close as we can expect to get. It is imperfect but, as most people seem to agree, we are asking for the impossible if we want anything more than a very rough comparison

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In reply to tlouth7:

> I have been using the conversion tables for a while and never realised that the colour codes are trying to convey an 'equal challenge' comparison - perhaps this could be mentioned on the page (rather than via a link).

Everywhere we include it in our publications, and on the page I have linked to above on the Rockfax site, this is explained. A lot of people use our table at walls and places and I suspect it isn't explained there, but I am really not sure what more we could do in this case.

Alan

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tlouth7 on 14 May 2019
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

I think I have just never scrolled down far enough to see the bit about colour codes, and so have always assumed that the horizontal lines were showing grades of equal 'challenge' rather than equal technical difficulty. I realise that this is my problem rather than yours.

Why on the web page is the piece of text about British Technical Grades above the charts, but all the rest below?

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Martin Hore - on 14 May 2019
In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

Only just come to this (I've been away actually climbing). This reads like a similar thread a few weeks ago.

It seems to me that it's not that problematic to compare the difficulty of the climbing on a given sport route and a given trad route. Just put a top-rope on both routes, point a few climbers at both routes on the top-rope (preferably climbers for whom the routes are at the top of their comfortable grade range), then head down the pub to discuss. 

The consensus for the sport route will be not far from its sport grade. It's a little harder to lead a well-bolted sport route than to top-rope it, but not much. The consensus for the trad route will be not far from its UK tech grade. The original definition of the UK tech grade was precisely "how difficult is it to top-rope". That's changed now to become "the difficulty of the hardest move" which makes the comparison between sport and UK tech grades a bit more problematic, but choose an averagely sustained route and it's not impossible.

On the above basis, for my money, f6a is roughly equivalent to UK 5b. That's also pretty much how I read the Rockfax grade comparison table. I'm surprised how controversial that seems to be in comments above.

Of course. what this experiment won't tell you is the comparative difficulty of f6a and E1, because you are not then comparing the same thing at all.

Martin

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Offwidth - on 14 May 2019
In reply to trouserburp:

Agghhh! forgot to check the bible!?  HVS equivalent to F5+; E1 equivalent to between F6a and F6a+. E2 to F6b.. Pretty much the same as Rockfax above this. It's the exact tweak I think Rockfax need.

Even found an amusing old post on the subject.

https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/rocktalk/rockfax_grade_table_sport_-trad_equivalence-444472

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trouserburp - on 14 May 2019
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

Yes (have a like)

How about you shift the columns up so the colours are side by side, then you're at least within a couple of grades of reality

Or do a survey or analyse people's max grades

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