UKC

/ Given that he maxed out around f6b/c

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overdrawnboy - on 08 Mar 2018

Given that he maxed out around f6b/c, and these ‘complimenting’ girls max out at f9a+, it seems he should have given it some thought ;-)

Pinched this from another topic, started to wonder what modern grade a fit young Don Whillans, Joe Brown , Pete Greenwood etc would have achieved with a rack of quick draws modern footwear and  presuming they had the  same motivation they showed bitd.  Bit of a "how many angels fit on a pinhead" sort of discussion I realise.

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AlanLittle - on 08 Mar 2018
In reply to overdrawnboy:

I recall reading, in Crags or somewhere like that, that Joe was climbing around E3/4 in the eighties. Not bad by the standards of that time for somebody in his 50s.

Having seen film of him - and some other earlier gritstone great, Arthur Dolphin iirc - in their heyday, they moved *beautifully*. 

Comici, from one or two clips of him that are online, didn't particularly. Curious.

Post edited at 21:39
Michael Gordon - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to AlanLittle:

What really struck me is that Martin Boysen refers to Cemetery Gates at the time he did it as being a hard route, then later in his book he's talking about doing E5s.

Tyler - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to overdrawnboy:

Humans haven't evolved in the last 50 years so the reason grades have a risen is due to training and attitude and not some alteration phsyiology of climbers today and yesterday. So it is probable that the top climbers of yesteryear would be the top climbers of today and would be climbing near (but not necessarily at) the top grades we have now - the difference being the very top climbers around today probably do have some physiological advantages which someone like Joe Brown won't necessarily have. 

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jkarran - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to Tyler:

> Humans haven't evolved in the last 50 years so the reason grades have a risen is due to training and attitude and not some alteration phsyiology of climbers today and yesterday. So it is probable that the top climbers of yesteryear would be the top climbers of today and would be climbing near (but not necessarily at) the top grades we have now - the difference being the very top climbers around today probably do have some physiological advantages which someone like Joe Brown won't necessarily have. 

Homo Sapiens hasn't evolved much but the attributes that take you to the very top in the different eras have changed. Modern hard (sport) climbing is safe but physically very hard, climbing in the 60s was much less safe but physically easy. The people who have the physiology or character to excel in one genre may or may not thrive in the the other, they're not playing the same game. Some in each era may have the abilities required to swap genres but I don't think we can automatically assume most could.

jk

baron - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to overdrawnboy:

I found this article quite interesting, a description of the first route at each grade worldwide.

http://www.emontana.cz/climbing-milestones-from-6a-to-9c/

 

Tyler - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to jkarran:

I'd be surprised if the top climbers of the day aren't also the physically most able. No doubt they were bold but equally they would have been strong as well as they would have been climbing with a huge margin in reserve and massive stamina (cleaning as you go). I agree (and said in my first post) they wouldn't necessarily be climbing the hardest grades but would be among the best (although it's impossible to tell because of the myriad of other factors involved, e.g. your more likely to find the top climbers of the current generation being PhD students than plumbers apprentices despite the number of walls in towns these days).

nutme - on 09 Mar 2018

Training curve and motivation changed. Starting competitively climbing at young age make a huge difference. It's a new sport and there's not much data evidence still, so it's hard to tell then one can peak out performance. In endurance running for example you can expect to be at you best around 27. After that it's only road down until you die or quit. 

GrahamD - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to overdrawnboy:

I find it very hard to picture Don Whillans putting in the hours on a campus board.  He may have been naturally talented but would he have ever had the motivation to put in the training and diet ?

jkarran - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to Tyler:

> I'd be surprised if the top climbers of the day aren't also the physically most able. No doubt they were bold but equally they would have been strong as well as they would have been climbing with a huge margin in reserve and massive stamina (cleaning as you go). I agree (and said in my first post) they wouldn't necessarily be climbing the hardest grades but would be among the best (although it's impossible to tell because of the myriad of other factors involved, e.g. your more likely to find the top climbers of the current generation being PhD students than plumbers apprentices despite the number of walls in towns these days).

How far has something like gymnastics come since the 60s vs climbing? There were very fit strong people in the past when climbing was still a dangerous niche activity requiring stronger nerves than muscles/lungs. Someone capable of ragged E2 OS with decent kit has loads in reserve on HVS, you don't need to be *that* much stronger than the minimum requirement at a given grade to be able to safely hang about cleaning, testing, exploring as you climb. Someone capable of ragged E2 is going to be redpointing what, maybe mid 7s when they put their mind to it. It's an interesting point about the changing social/economic/education status of top climbers, sort of makes sense that people with the single-mindedness and drive to get through a phd might also be the types driven to train to a very high standard. Could also be to do with time and cost.

jk

paul mitchell - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to jkarran:

When Boysen did the gates ,pro was poor.I have seen him climb English 6c .Graceful mover but very strong as well.

   As for Whillans,with cams he would be doing e8 no probs whatever.He didn't seem to be the kind of guy that would be interested in hanging on bolts all day.Boldness was his bag,and for me,that is  what I respect,not the patience to spend 3 years on a route at Ravenstor.

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trouserburp - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to nutme:

I thought long distance running was the sport where you peak much older than most others - like 35 or 40s for really long distance

paul__in_sheffield - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to overdrawnboy:

Difficult to predict. The only thing we do know for sure is where people were relative to everyone else using the same kit in the same era.

The Rock and Ice were leading UK climbers at the time, but weren't 'world class'. Say, John Gill in the States was putting up V8-10 and soloing the first 5.12a in the '50s and 60s, plenty of other examples in Europe and world wide. So a reasonable guess would be UK class if the Rock and Ice were brought forward to today. 

The next question is physiology and genetics, how far can you train and how prone are you to getting injured? Nobody knows that. However with BM leading 9a at the age of 50, it looks likely that the world class UK climbers of the '80s would be world class now if they were in their 20s.

Gordon Stainforth - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to paul mitchell:

Boysen is one of the most stylish climbers I've ever seen on rock. 

James Malloch - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

> However with BM leading 9a at the age of 50, it looks likely that the world class UK climbers of the '80s would be world class now if they were in their 20s.

That was mentioned on a podcast with Alex Megos. I think he was saying something along the lines of people today aren't much stronger than Ben in his prime. And having looked at (or maybe tried?) the old school shoes that were around at the time he believed that Ben would have been up there with the very best today were he back at his 20s level. Especially since there have been so many new, harder, routes opened since.

overdrawnboy - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> Boysen is one of the most stylish climbers I've ever seen on rock. 

Some people make it look easy, I've watched Boysen climb and seen film of younger Joe Brown and its all very undramatic and smooth, sadly there seems to be no film from 60's of Whillans rock climbing  that I know of. What I see of modern high grade sport climbing it all seems very power based due to the gradient, harder for innate balance and footwork to succeed over power/endurance. I wonder what would be the hardest sport route that is purely vertical where "old style" technique would be essential.

Goucho on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to GrahamD:

> I find it very hard to picture Don Whillans putting in the hours on a campus board.  He may have been naturally talented but would he have ever had the motivation to put in the training and diet ?

The climbers of yesteryear didn't have the luxury of being full time sponsored athletes.

They had to do physically demanding jobs (certainly in the case of Brown, Whillans and the rest of the Rock and Ice) during the week, so only had weekends and holidays in which to climb.

However, they still produced scores of routes, and climbed no matter what the weather conditions - not just soft days, but hard new routes - which certainly indicates a substantial level of motivation, dedication and commitment to their climbing ambitions.

 

Gordon Stainforth - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to overdrawnboy:

The route I saw Boysen on was Esso Extra at Stanage in 1976. He was with Escourt, Rouse and Brian Hall. Escourt and Brian both did it OK, but made it look quite hard - which it obviously is, i.e. very awkward and strenuous. Then Rouse did it slightly better. And then Boysen just floated up it, absolutely effortlessly, making it look incredibly easy. 

It was the occasion that I took this picture, https://cdn.ukc2.com/i/11018.jpg, which is on page 8 of my UKC gallery.

GrahamD - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to Goucho:

> However, they still produced scores of routes, and climbed no matter what the weather conditions - not just soft days, but hard new routes - which certainly indicates a substantial level of motivation, dedication and commitment to their climbing ambitions.

Dedication to getting out climbing is undoubted.  I was questioning whether the motivation would have been there to do everything he'd need to do (or not do) outside climbing to reach the current top performance levels.  Training, serious diet and no beer belly.  I never knew the man but from everything I've read this doesn't sound like him.

Goucho on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to GrahamD:

> Dedication to getting out climbing is undoubted.  I was questioning whether the motivation would have been there to do everything he'd need to do (or not do) outside climbing to reach the current top performance levels.  Training, serious diet and no beer belly.  I never knew the man but from everything I've read this doesn't sound like him.

Whillans in his prime was in superb physical shape. 

GridNorth - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to GrahamD:

I don't know about climbers in general at the time but to most of those I knew and mixed with in the 60's/70's, we did NOT train to climb, we just got mileage in.  There were a few half hearted attempts amongst a few to do pull-ups and some weights etc, and perhaps a bit of running before an alpine trip but that was it.   Indeed one of the reasons I took up climbing was because of it's lack of a training discipline mentality. These days the training seems to be the dominant element. I manage a reasonable grade for my age these days but I couldn't maintain it without indoors walls and even there I just climb with no real routine or structure.

Al

Mick Ward - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> Boysen is one of the most stylish climbers I've ever seen on rock.


The most stylish movement on rock that I've ever seen.

Mick

megamonkeyman on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to Mick Ward:

Do you happen to have a link to him climbing? Sounds interesting.

JimR - on 09 Mar 2018

After doing Sentinel Crack with cams and modern shoes, I was filled with utter admiration for Whillans doing that in sandshoes and what must have been virtually unprotected.

 

Post edited at 20:23
Mick Ward - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to megamonkeyman:

Sorry, haven't. Saw him one day, in the mid-90s, on one of the 7bs on The Embankment. He hadn't got enough power; Rab scratched up it by the skin of his teeth. But the technique was flawless, well, beyond flawless, it was something else entirely.

It was as though he was born to the stone.

Mick

Mick Ward - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to JimR:

Totally unprotected, I believe. I think he had a rope on and Sutty (late of this parish) holding the end of it. But I don't think he had any gear (the chockstone magically inserted itself some time later, before being un-magically removed by the late Jim the Gob). Also he can't have been certain whether it was doable by the standards of the day.

Mick

 

no_more_scotch_eggs - on 10 Mar 2018
In reply to baron:

> I found this article quite interesting, a description of the first route at each grade worldwide.

1st 9b was Jumbo Love? Not Akira 13 years earlier? 

 

 

 

baron - on 10 Mar 2018
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

To be honest I didn't read the last few grades properly as they are so far beyond my comprehension not to mention my ability.

GrahamD - on 10 Mar 2018
In reply to Goucho:

> Whillans in his prime was in superb physical shape. 

I'm sure but then so is Anthony Joshua. Just been in good shape is not the same as being honed for the hardest rock climbs today.

paul__in_sheffield - on 10 Mar 2018
In reply to GrahamD:

> I'm sure but then so is Anthony Joshua. Just been in good shape is not the same as being honed for the hardest rock climbs today.

It’s interesting that they weren’t producing the hardest rock climbs of their own era. There’s probably more complexity here than how fit they were. Brits didn’t really catch up until the 80s.

Post edited at 10:47
stp - on 12 Mar 2018
In reply to overdrawnboy:

> I wonder what would be the hardest sport route that is purely vertical where "old style" technique would be essential.

The Big Bang at Pen Trwyn is steep but the crux of the route is said to be the 'slab' at the top. That route is 9a. There's video of James McCaffie doing the second ascent:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLz56lDzjAg

There's another vertical style 9a put up by Italian climber Manolo. Adam Ondra attempted it last year and didn't finish it as far as I know.

The problem with really hard vertical routes is that the holds just tend to get smaller and more unpleasant to pull on. The cutting edge of pure skill on the vertical and slab is probably now found on indoor bouldering competitions, many of which feature the kind of skills Johnny Dawes started experimenting with back in the 80s. Some of the Japanese climbers are exceptional at this kind of climbing, as is Alex Megos who won two CWIF's both by being the best on the slab problem in the final.

 

stp - on 12 Mar 2018
In reply to overdrawnboy:

Also forgot to mention that the 9a crux pitches of The Dawn Wall are both vertical too.

Gordon Stainforth - on 12 Mar 2018
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> The route I saw Boysen on was Esso Extra at Stanage in 1976. He was with Escourt, Rouse and Brian Hall. Escourt and Brian both did it OK, but made it look quite hard - which it obviously is, i.e. very awkward and strenuous. Then Rouse did it slightly better. And then Boysen just floated up it, absolutely effortlessly, making it look incredibly easy. 

I've just looked it up in my logbook and it goes to show just how bad the memory can be. Boysen was even more impressive than I had remembered in that he did it first. This is the logbook entry:

'... Finally take pics of Boysen leading Esso Extra superbly, followed by Pete Minks (v. strenuous), Al, Rab, Brian (v strenuously – G sharp) – Nick Escourt failed!'

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