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How far off line...?

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 ceejaysix 02 Oct 2020

Is there a general rule for how far off the direct line between bolts you can stray before not climbing the route as set/graded?

I've had a couple of routes recently where I found a sticky spot and found that by moving off the line a little one way or the other there was an easier option, but then questioned whether I'd actually completed the route. I get that this is to a degree necessary for any ascent, but where's the limit?

On both occasions I can't have moved more than say 1m off a direct line, and not far enough to be on the route next door (which in one case was pretty close and a couple of grades easier), but I'm only really starting out so don't have enough experience to judge whether I felt I made the route easier than the grade - not helped by the fact I seem to climb some things no problem at a higher grade then struggle on a different style climb at a lower grade (again lack of experience and needing to learn different techniques etc).

Any general pointers?

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 profitofdoom 02 Oct 2020
In reply to ceejaysix:

For me - just for me - if I use holds on another route [say route B] to do the crux of a route [say route A], I consider that I haven't done route A properly or at all. My personal opinion only!

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 ceejaysix 02 Oct 2020
In reply to profitofdoom:

Thanks and agreed - but assuming you're not straying onto another route, how far off the bolt line can you move before it's (probably) outside the route as graded?

I'm not sure whether I avoided the crux or just found a better way (by which I mean a way that suited me better) of doing it! No doubt once I get a better feel for what grades should 'feel' like this will become more obvious.

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 nikoid 02 Oct 2020
In reply to ceejaysix:

Sometimes bolts are placed off line to take advantage of better rock quality, ie to make the bolts more secure. So you might feel as though you are not strictly following the bolts. 

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 Webster 02 Oct 2020
In reply to ceejaysix:

at the end of the day its all just an arbitrary game we play, so does it really matter, as long as you had fun/exercise? for me, unless it is explicitly an eliminate in the guide/topo, any hold which i can reach within my armspan of the line of bolts is fair game. the problem with grid bolting which you will see at allot of crags which lack distinct lines (you could say that about most sport...) is that routes can share crucial holds as they are so close together. i know a crag near me which has four 6a+ routes in a row, barely a meter apart with vertical lines of bolts. its impossible that each route can have an entirely independent set of holds!

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 john arran 02 Oct 2020
In reply to nikoid:

> Sometimes bolts are placed off line to take advantage of better rock quality, ie to make the bolts more secure. So you might feel as though you are not strictly following the bolts. 

Also, sometimes the bolts are placed so they form a fairly straight line to reduce rope drag. Generally, as long as you can reasonably clip each bolt while following your preferred sequence, and as long as you're not entering or crossing the path of another bolted line, then it's usually fair game.

Of course, some particular routes, occasionally including some really rather good ones, follow eliminate lines, and for these there may be stricter limits as to how far you may be permitted to stray from the myopic line, but I'd expect in most of those cases such restrictions should be clear from a guidebook description.

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 GrahamD 02 Oct 2020
In reply to ceejaysix:

In general, I think you know whether you have taken the 'purest' line.  Whether that is important to you is up to you. 

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 ceejaysix 03 Oct 2020
In reply to GrahamD:

Thanks all. The arm-span seems like a decent rough guide, thanks Webster. Sure I enjoy the day out regardless and as a noob all experience is good experience, but I like to know where I am in ability / progression - for me improvement / achievement is a big part of the satisfaction in any sport, especially one where you're only competing against yourself!

I'd rather dog a route and come back to it another day than cheat for the sake of a tick - but to me there's an (unavoidable) grey area. Any climb can be made harder by seeking out moves with fewer / worse holds. I presume routes are graded based on the easiest way up them within the limits of the line. I guess I'm trying to define the area within which that easiest route may lie.

When you say 'pure', do you mean following the general direction/flow of the climb? Of my two tenuous ones, I would say in one case I did: though there was certainly a harder move to be made (I'm only climbing in the 5s at the moment but it's all relative) slightly left, the easier option was a similar distance slightly right and both required a bit of divergence. The other maybe I should have another go at, as I hit an overhang with a break below whilst left of the bolts and made a deliberate traverse of maybe 1.5m to the right side of the bolts to tackle a less severe version of it. This one also had an easier line close on that right side, and the area I climbed was probably halfway between the two, hence not sure I haven't skirted the crux (and on your basis of feeling whether you've done it pure, I guess if I'm doubting it the answer is probably no!).

Post edited at 00:34
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In reply to ceejaysix:

> Any general pointers?

I normally use how much criticism and ridicule my belayer is shouting at me as a good judge as to whether I'm taking the piss or not with regards to going off route...

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 ceejaysix 03 Oct 2020
In reply to FactorXXX:

I climb with my wife. I'm completely deaf to ridicule and criticism.

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In reply to ceejaysix:

> I climb with my wife. I'm completely deaf to ridicule and criticism.

You hear it, but choose to ignore it is probably closer to the truth. 🙄

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In reply to ceejaysix:

It's why the best routes tend to follow clear features, and less satisfying routes are often grid bolted efforts. When a route, sport or trad, is the easiest way up a piece of rock it tends to be a good line, even more so when although the climb is the easiest line it's far from easy climbing, and it's just that the rock that's either side is 'impossible' to climb.

On rock where bolted lines are squeezed close to each other, the artificiality is more apparent when you reach out, say, to the left for a hold and notice your hand is in line with the next line of bolts. Doesn't mean it's not fun, but it can feel a bit silly and you can be left thinking 'did I do it right?'

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 ceejaysix 04 Oct 2020
In reply to TobyA:

> even more so when although the climb is the easiest line it's far from easy climbing, and it's just that the rock that's either side is 'impossible' to climb.

This...'impossible' by my my standard at least! Path of least resistance...

> On rock where bolted lines are squeezed close to each other, the artificiality is more apparent when you reach out, say, to the left for a hold and notice your hand is in line with the next line of bolts. Doesn't mean it's not fun, but it can feel a bit silly and you can be left thinking 'did I do it right?'

I guess this is the conundrum. I think I'm going to give myself the benefit of the 'arm-span' from the line so long as this doesn't take me obviously onto the route next-door. I'm sure with time it will become more naturally obvious what the 'correct' route is.

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 ceejaysix 04 Oct 2020
In reply to FactorXXX:

You sound just like her ;-)

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 springfall2008 06 Oct 2020
In reply to ceejaysix:

Bolts are not always on the climbing line as they need to be in solid rock.

The guidebook will say if there's a "cheat" alternative, otherwise as long as you don't go onto the next route it's normally fair game.

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 dgbryan 06 Oct 2020
In reply to ceejaysix:

"Sport climbing is neither".

Wisdom from the 80s ...

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 webbo 06 Oct 2020
In reply to ceejaysix:

Given that you are climbing sport 5’s unless the route follows a like a groove. There is a fair chance that you might be able to climb anywhere on those bits of rock at 5, so as someone pointed out higher up the thread. The bolts are just in the most solid bits of rock, not necessarily where the holds are. Also given the nature of British limestone what you are climbing now might not be what the first ascensionist climbed especially on easier routes where the holds are going to be larger and therefore and more likely to break.

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 RD 06 Oct 2020
In reply to ceejaysix:

Very simple.

Measure (estimate) half way to the bolts on the routes to either side. If you are past this point you are on the route to that side, hence off route.

RD

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 ceejaysix 06 Oct 2020
In reply to ceejaysix:

Thanks all, there’s certainly a bit more leeway in a lot of the replies than I expected, not necessarily a bad thing at current standard!

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 raussmf 18 Oct 2020
In reply to ceejaysix:

As far your conscience will let you! When you know you know

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 Rod_Vortex 18 Oct 2020
In reply to ceejaysix:

When you get some more experience you will start to be able to gauge what grade you are climbing. I wouldn't worry about it. Unless you're elite then it only matters to you and grade-ticking isn't the best approach to having a good time.

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 ceejaysix 01:30 Fri
In reply to Rod_Vortex:

Good point well made...but still has a certain satisfaction to it!

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 Iamgregp 10:49 Fri
In reply to raussmf:

Agreed, deep down you know if you've borrowed a hold off next door or gone around difficulties.

I reclimbed my first ever outdoor 6b recently, first climbed it about 4 years ago, it's a slab with bulging overlap near the top.  Back then I went left to some easier ground and went around the bulge, this time it took it straight up, found the right holds and went through it like you're supposed to.

I've always called it my first ever outdoor 6b, but I knew.  Worst still, it knew too

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 Enty 12:28 Fri
In reply to ceejaysix:

Ask my climbing partner. He can climb 4 routes at once.

E

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