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/ NEWS: Academia E10 repeated by Franco Cookson

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UKC News - on 17 Aug 2018
Franco Cookson has repeated Academia E10 at Boscawen Point. Academia is one of a handful of Cornish E10s put up by Mark Edwards shortly after the turn of the millennium. Unlike many of Edwards' other offerings, Academia is a slab climb, of around 15 metres in height. The route had remained unrepeated for more than a decade, with very little information on any attempts to be found online.

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climberchristy on 17 Aug 2018
In reply to UKC News:

Wow! That man just keeps bouncing. He must be made of (very strong!) sponge!

Brilliant effort again Franco! Well done!

Post edited at 10:44
GrahamD - on 17 Aug 2018
In reply to UKC News:

Is Franco wearing Ron Hills ? respect if so !

Ramon Marin - on 17 Aug 2018
In reply to UKC News:

Bloody hell. As I said a few times before, Franco almost belongs to a different era, no ones does stuff like this anymore except Jules Lines. Having witness the horrifying ground fall Charlie Woodburn took on Hold Fast Hold True, I can't even start imagining how Franco copes with so many ground falls! I think what he's doing is flippin brilliant

Bulls Crack - on 17 Aug 2018
In reply to GrahamD:

 

> Is Franco wearing Ron Hills ? respect if so !

Raining and wearing Ronnies; that really is extreme!

Arms Cliff - on 17 Aug 2018
In reply to Ramon Marin:

Franco seems to have been very lucky on several occasions! 

Toerag - on 17 Aug 2018
In reply to Arms Cliff:

> Franco seems to have been very lucky on several occasions! 


aye, I hope his luck doesn't run out.

Michael Gordon - on 17 Aug 2018
In reply to UKC News:

Great stuff, and nice to see things like this repeated.

Stone Muppet - on 17 Aug 2018

Fair play Franco. All publicity is good publicity but I think it's nice you have fewer armchair detractors these days

Tom Last - on 17 Aug 2018
In reply to UKC News:

Great to see some hard repeats getting done down here. Franco’s right too, there’s basically quality (looking) E-very hard routes at pretty much every crag in West Cornwall - and the rest of Cornwall for that matter. Did you get on Red Rose?

Great work, Franco. 

JLS on 17 Aug 2018
In reply to Bulls Crack:

He must have those water repellent Ron Hills...

 

Wee Davie - on 17 Aug 2018
In reply to UKC News:

Jeezo. After watching him deck out on the MacLeod route I thunk that would be it for the bold stuff. Obviously not. 

Question- has the Hard Sand video ever been released and has anybody a link if so?

 

aln - on 17 Aug 2018
In reply to Wee Davie:

> Jeezo. After watching him deck out on the MacLeod route

Where did you see that? 

Cusco - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to UKC News:

"Whatever you think of the Edwards saga, the routes he recorded do exist. I think it's time now people got down here and jumped on some stuff."

Awesome Franco. You've had so much stick on UKC over the years for grades and not travelling to do harder routes outside of your patch (Mark Edwards had similar - and, obviously, for far more controversial reasons). So it's great to see you doing something like this in the South West.

Ken Palmer repeated a few of Mark's hard routes some years ago (was it Ken who got a bleeding split tip a long way up Question Mark?).

And Alexis Perry had a spell several years ago repeating some of Mark's hard routes.

But there must be a load still unrepeated. Perhaps it's because Cornwall feels or is too far away for climbers from 'up north' (ie of Cheddar - clearly Bristol is an outpost of the Midlands not the capital and jewel of the South West) and/or they're Mark's routes so are tainted just through that. It would be great to see repeats of his hard trad after all these years. There was a good list on here some years ago (from Mark himself?).

Ah Tom, Red Rose. You'll know the comments from those who came subsequently and Mark's comments after about holds and the effect on the grade. The First and Last...

As for the overhanging wall at Carn Vellan, I still can't help feeling that the cutting of the hangar eyes without removing the bolts was an unfinished half-action. Didn't Alexis repeat one of the routes as trad and the other routes are there to be repeated as trad following Mark's subsequent trad ascent/s?

And as Tom says there is so much more potential for some very hard and bold trad in Cornwall.

Anyway, great stuff Franco. And stay safe.

mark s - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to UKC News:

years ago when he first came on to the scene a lot of people jumped on him.

now look at him

great effort 

stp - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to UKC News:

I really don't get why some people think it's cool to take ground falls. Surely that's a sign of misjudgement and incompetence, not something to be proud of.

"I don't really understand how I keep getting away with it. I think I must be really undense."

I think he must be dense to keep making the same mistakes and not learning from them. Not everyone is so lucky. I know several climbers who have taken ground falls and ended up with permanent disabilities. It's really pretty sad because one small error ends up permanently affecting the rest of their lives.

I remember reading, perhaps on these forums, how just one long-ish fall can permanently damage something in your knees. And this was in the context of bouldering, not routes. The effects of such things aren't necessarily immediate but can often manifest themselves later in life.

I'm not against anyone doing bold or dangerous routes. But the key thing is to do them safely. That is doing stuff within your ability and with enough control that you don't fall at the wrong moment. If you can't do that then the route is too hard and it's reckless to try. The fact that you got away with it is just down to chance is really not very smart.

 

For those who can stomach a bit of reality I highly recommend Paul Pritchard's recent reading of the first chapter of his book after his accident on the Totem Pole. Powerful and disturbing stuff:

http://www.niallgrimes.com/jam-crack-climbing-podcast/jcpc-045-paul-pritchard-reads-the-totem-pole

Rob - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to UKC News:

Congratulations are also due to Anna. Even on a top rope this is surely a real achievement; not many folk climb 7a.

Tom Loughlin - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to stp:

Don’t see anywhere where he said it was cool. He’s clearly not incompetent: he could climb it on a top rope so it was physically possible, but the psychological challenge of doing it ‘for real’ is a different thing and what motivates lots of climbers to lead stuff instead of, say, just top roping.

Agreed he’s been lucky, maybe it won’t last forever but you can say the same for lots of stuff, like trad with sketchy gear or even taking a bike out on the roads. 

As for what motivates him to take risk: it’s probably pretty personal to him and I’m not sure trying to look cool would get you up a route like that.

Top effort. 

Edit to add that calling someone dense - ie thick - is pretty harsh: he seems articulate and intelligent from what I can gather. I’ve known a fair few people injured or killed in car crashes, but wouldn’t call you an idiot for driving to work. 

Post edited at 11:48
stp - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to Tom Loughlin:

He's incompetent because he misjudged the route and his ability. He shouldn't have fallen and if he'd been competent he wouldn't have fallen. Maybe that would have meant saving the route for another day, more prepractice or getting better as a climber.

 

> Top effort. 

No. It's not a top effort. It's a shoddy effort mitigated by luck. Remarks like that just feed into the idea that such climbing is good and should be rewarded. People on here shout bravo with little thought and zero responsibility that they might be encouraging someone towards a serious accident in the future.

Britain has a long history of very bold, very talented climbers and they don't go round decking out left right and centre. There's a way to go about doing dangerous routes and this most definitely isn't it.

jezb1 - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to UKC News:

E10 7a/6c in the rain suggests to me that Franco can either climb plenty harder than E10 or it’s not really E10.

Either seems just as likely.

Tom Loughlin - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to stp:

Don’t understand why you’re being so judgemental and negative. It’s up to each individual to judge their own ability versus the difficulty and risk. If he could do the moves surely he had good reason to believe he could go for it, and was obviously willing to accept the risk. 

You refer to British climbing history as if all these people pushing it were always in control and never took any meaningful risk; what about JR taking a hundred footer on cloggy, or JD planning his leg breaker on the scree if he fluffed Indian face and taking repeated falls off angels share without a mat - guess these guys are all incompetent and shouldn’t be remembered or celebrated..?

Post edited at 12:50
stp - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to Tom Loughlin:

> Don’t understand why you’re being so judgemental and negative.

First off because it's potentially very dangerous. This isn't simply about one person this is headline news on one of the most popular climbing sites in the world. If everyone just goes along with it then what's a young or less experienced climber going to think after reading it? Probably that this is the way you go about doing hard bold routes. That decking out is part and parcel of hard trad climbing perhaps? Then they go out nonchalantly on some route, not overly concerned they will hit the deck and then end up in a wheelchair for the rest of their lives.

So I think it's important for someone to say that this isn't the way to it.

What will Franco think if the consensus of what he's doing is really good? Presumably carry on in the same vein. Maybe one day he'll have an accident that will affect him and those around him for the rest of his life. Telling him 'top effort' etc. is pushing him that direction. Telling him he's a dumbass and needs to be more careful might steer him in a different direction.

The examples you give are pretty interesting. The fact JR was OK says something about his risk management perhaps. Also the fact that he didn't take that lob multiple times shows something about his ability to learn.

Johnny is also an interesting example. Sometimes he's portrayed as somewhat reckless but generally I think he was really good at calculating and managing risk. His planned escape off Indian Face is an example of that thinking and the fact he didn't need to is even more indicative of the fact that he was climbing within his ability.

What about climbers like Ron Fawcett, Andy Pollitt, Jerry Moffatt, Pete Whillance, James McAffie, or Alex Honnold? All brilliant bold climbers doing cutting edge bold routes but doing them with a measure of control that I don't see here.

Ultimately hard bold climbing is about pushing the edge without overstepping it. Obviously that's a very fine line and hard to get exactly right. Mishaps can and do happen, even to the very best. But generally they don't seem to happen repeatedly in the fashion here.  The fact he doesn't 'understand how he keeps getting away with it' is not the kind of comment I've ever heard any of the other climbers listed above say.

 

GrahamD - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to stp:

> Ultimately hard bold climbing is about pushing the edge without overstepping it.

Surely if the outcome is 100% guaranteed with no chance of 'overstepping it', its not really any more bold than a roller coaster ride ?

Rick Graham on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to stp:

> What about climbers like Ron Fawcett, Andy Pollitt, Jerry Moffatt, Pete Whillance, James McAffie, or Alex Honnold? All brilliant bold climbers doing cutting edge bold routes but doing them with a measure of control that I don't see here.

 

Fair comment apart possibly from the last few words.

OTTOMH I know that Ron Jerry and Pete have had quite a good selection of broken bones and fall injuries between them.  They all try very hard and overstep the mark sometimes.

 

Goucho on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to UKC News:

Franco is obviously a very talented climber, and now that he seems to be putting that talent to use outside of his normal stamping ground, we could see some impressive repeats.

However there's still a part of me that can't decide whether he's magnificently bold, or magnificently reckless?

Either way, I hope his Jell-O bones keep bouncing

Post edited at 15:49
Tom Loughlin - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to stp:

I find your logic bizarre. So:

you can only set out on a route if you’re 100% sure it will go, but the only way you know it will go is if you set out on the route. 

If you fall off a route you’re incompetent. If you’re soloing you’re setting a dangerous example. If you do something risky but get away with it you’re clever at risk management, but if you don’t then you’re dense. Just seems odd.

I think that someone climbing something this hard without gear is a top effort as a climbing achievement. Am I now going to rush out and solo something dead on my limit? Errrmmm, no. Is someone else? Maybe, but if that’s the criteria best ban anything with highball bouldering ( what if they put the mats in the wrong place or misjudge their spotting ability?), caff’s onsights of hard stuff, Valentino Rossi riding a motorbike fast or the Isle of Man TT in general, in fact UKC and guidebooks as a whole, after all most MR callouts are for people falling off easier graded stuff so providing route descriptions is an incitement to get benighted.

You’re of course right to note the potential life changing risks, and maybe Franco will one day get himself into a sticky patch and regret it. Maybe he is reckless, I don’t know the bloke. That’s life, and ultimately up to him to judge when and how to feed his rat. He got slated on here before and carried on so I doubt anything anyone on webosphere says will be the deciding factor there. I do admire his bottle and skill though.

Tom Loughlin - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to stp:

Also, just regards climbing history. Pretty sure JR took more than that lob. He feel off a route in the Vivian quarry and nearly decked, only saved by a quick belayer. JD as I recall decked off downhill racer and also relatively recently broke his leg. People who are pushing it are doing just that: pushing their skill and luck to the edge. I’ve never been anywhere close to that ability or disposition so don’t feel I should criticise someone operating on the limit.

Footloose - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to Tom Loughlin:

Aye. And as TS Eliot said, only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. Bravo Franco!

Hock - on 18 Aug 2018

Without sounding harsh, have any of the four E10's claimed on this national site been confirmed? To the general public, this makes Franco sound like the UK's top trad climber. While i'm sure Franco is pretty damn good and clearly has balls of steel, I think some clarity about the routes would be good. In an age of self publicity, one can cleverly mould an image that might be slightly skewed. I'm not meaning this to be a dig directly at Franco, just interested to know the consenses out there.  

 

Robert Durran - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to stp:

>  If everyone just goes along with it then what's a young or less experienced climber going to think after reading it? Probably that this is the way you go about doing hard bold routes. That decking out is part and parcel of hard trad climbing perhaps? Then they go out nonchalantly on some route, not overly concerned they will hit the deck and then end up in a wheelchair for the rest of their lives.

You would have to be incredibly dense to think that decking out is to be taken lightly.  I really don't think there is a problem.

 

Will Hunt - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to UKC News:

Stp is getting some stick for his posts. I'm not saying I agree with him, but to try and put it another way, I think what he's saying is that Franco is the hard slab climbing equivalent of that person at the crag who wobbles up severes, nearly falls off every move, places shit gear and kicks it out with their feet, and thinks this is all fine, who everyone hates to be at the crag with.

Basically he's saying that Franco's a punter,  albeit one who is good on hard slabs and walls.

ali k on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to Hock:

I agree some clarity would be good to put this and Franco's other ascents into line with other routes of similar difficulty/style, but I guess that can only come when they get more repeats. The quality of some of the lines can't be disputed. But given the sparsity of 'E10's in the whole of the UK, by my reckoning it would put Franco at the top of the tree (which may well be the case, who knows?).

I also have no idea about the nature of Franco's other H10/E10 FAs on the Moors, but I think this repeat just goes to highlight how pointless/redundant the British trad grade is, especially so in the higher grades. 

How an ascent of a 13/14 metre unprotected slab can in any way be compared to e.g. Neil Mawson's Choronzon in Pembroke (also given a tentative E10 but with steep and physical ~F8b+ climbing on it) is beyond me. That's not to comment on or denigrate Franco's ascent - this is more a broader comment around high E numbers being thrown around in news reports, especially when they're FAs (or first repeats of routes with question marks surrounding them). To be fair to Franco I don't think he actually gave much of an opinion on the grade.

I think highball routes like this are even harder to attach an E grade to, as often it just depends on how you happen to fall (i.e. how lucky you are). The fact that he falls off the top and is ok just to get back on for another go would suggest it must be F8b-8c? slab climbing to deserve E10. Or alternatively just give it e.g. F8b R/X and be done with it. Or maybe it's easier climbing and it was just a really really lucky fall, which nine times out of ten would have put him in hospital.

For reference Dave Macleod reckoned F8c/+ climbing with 'the real prospect of death' from the redpoint crux of Echo Wall. He opted not to grade it, but the description alone is enough to draw your own conclusions as to whether you're capable of climbing it and willing to risk it or not, and that is all that's necessary.

Anyway, good on Franco for getting out and repeating some of these more obscure hard trad routes. I just hope all this slab training isn't preparation for an onsight/flash attempt at Indian Face!

Tom Loughlin - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to Will Hunt:

‘Franco: Uber punter’ soon to surpass gresham’s masterclass for anyone looking for top technique tips 

bensilvestre - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to stp:

I understand your angle, but to say that Franco is the only one doing this is absurd. Can't think of many cutting edge british trad climbers who haven't had close calls. Caff very nearly died on Masters wall and was extremely lucky to survive. I know for a fact that he wouldn't argue that his risk management was top notch that day. JR was arguably equally lucky.  Dave Mac's ankles are practically ruined from repeated falls. Let's not even mention Julian Lines. Sorry, but to push the limit of danger you have to be prepared to hurt yourself. It's Franco's decision, and I doubt many people read what he says and think 'oh yeah I'd like to take a groundfall too.' Probably if he carries on this way he will wind up getting hurt. Same goes for Alex Honnold. It's their choice

john arran - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to ali k:

> How an ascent of a 13/14 metre unprotected slab can in any way be compared to e.g. Neil Mawson's Choronzon in Pembroke (also given a tentative E10 but with steep and physical ~F8b+ climbing on it) is beyond me.

The mistake often made is to assume that it's the climbing itself that's being compared. In reality it's an estimate of the chances that a well rounded climber operating at around that level will be able to cope with the difficulties, regardless of whether they're mainly physical, technical or emotional.

Arms Cliff - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to bensilvestre:

To be fair I think Dave Mac's worst ankle injury was after being lowered off the end of the rope on a 6b+!

It is indeed Franco's decision, but there does seem to be some glorification of the groundfalls by others, which is more the issue. 

I've no idea grade wise, but if you can fall off the crux and be fine, then the climbing would have to be very hard for E10?

 

 

ali k on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to john arran:

I understand that, but surely the whole point of a grading system is to offer the most useful information to anyone considering an ascent of a route, and enable comparisons to be drawn with similar style routes/problems.

If it's a short route / highball boulder problem then a V grade or Font grade (with an R or X warning) is the most appropriate.

If it's a long and sustained route then a sport grade is more appropriate (still with the same R or X warning if there's a chance of hurting yourself).

Shoehorning all routes regardless of length, style,  physical/technical/emotional difficulty into the same grading system and assigning just an E grade and the grade of the most difficult move on the route isn't very useful IMO.

Tom Last - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to Cusco:

Hi Cusco, hope you’re well.

Just so that my Red Rose comment isn’t taken out of context, it’s rather that a friend had a feeling Franco was gonna give it a go - I believe someone at the crag that day, possibly him, mentioned that they might. As you say, obviously lots of controversy surrounding it, but it wasn’t a dig at Mark Edwards, I just always thought that it’s a shame such a wonderful line sees pretty much zero attention these days, though not many capable suitors for sure.

 

Cheers, 

Tom

bensilvestre - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to Arms Cliff:

That might have been the worst but fairly sure he's done significant damage from more normal (mis)use. Don't quote me on that, but having seen him do a highball 8b boulder problem with only a foam roll matt for padding suggests a higher acceptance of risk than average. I certainly wouldn't have risked that fall from that height with that protection with those ankles.

I never quite got the glorification of the groundfall vibe. I've taken nasty falls and getting back on the route is an absolute minefield for the head. What I respect in an ascent like this is that he seems to be able to manage that head game. I don't respect the fall itself. I can't imagine having that level of mind control.

Just remembered regarding JR and the cloggy fall, when asked what he'd have done if he'd got higher to the hardest climbing and a certain groundfall, he replied something along the lines of 'you've got to be prepared to die for it'. Maybe someone with a cloggy guide to hand can check that in the history/ FA section. Not saying I agree with JR on that, but stp suggested that the fact he survived was down to good risk management. Not sure I agree

Post edited at 20:43
john arran - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to ali k:

It's a fair point but IMO your preferred option loses something and doesn't gain anything in return. Overall grades are always supported by 'difficulty' grades anyway, whether they're UK tech, sport or font doesn't really matter much.

The difference then comes down to whether you prefer a separate R/X bit or whether it's better to indicate that added challenge by adjusting the overall grade. The issue for me is that there are difficulties with R/X grades, notably when routes are very dangerous but not on the crux, or when there is gear but it may not be certain to hold; and this can easily lead to the grade giving a misleading impression as to how challenging a route is likely to be. The overall grade really sits completely outside of all contributory factors and simply gives a best guess at what proportion of motivated climbers are likely to be successful.

A good example would be Elegy, E2 5c, at the Roaches. Without the E2 part you'd still have the 5c, but then you'd need to indicate that the top is really very bold, so you'd end up with 5c R or maybe even 5c X, either of which would suggest it should be harder than E2. The beauty of the E2 is that you don't need to decompose the route into parts to give it a grade. Some will find the traverse (5c) the crux, but others will fail on the top (5a R/X) slab. 5c R/X wouldn't be useful for either group, but E2 5c works for both.

Arms Cliff - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to john arran:

> It's a fair point but IMO your preferred option loses something and doesn't gain anything in return. Overall grades are always supported by 'difficulty' grades anyway, whether they're UK tech, sport or font doesn't really matter much.

IMO this is inaccurate at the higher grades, English 6c,7a,7b (does it even exist?!) don’t really mean much any more, but everyone has a good idea what a font grade represents for short routes, or a French grade for longer ones. 

 

Arms Cliff - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to bensilvestre:

You’re totally right re: Dave Mac’s ankles, I think it might be that he just makes the news more for climbing harder stuff without falling off than Franco does! 

thebigfriendlymoose - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to stp:

>If everyone just goes along with it then what's a young or less experienced climber going to think after reading it? Probably that this is the way you go about doing hard bold routes. That decking out is part and parcel of hard trad climbing perhaps? Then they go out nonchalantly on some route, not overly concerned they will hit the deck and then end up in a wheelchair for the rest of their lives.

WON'T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RybNI0KB1bg

john arran - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to Arms Cliff:

> IMO this is inaccurate at the higher grades, English 6c,7a,7b (does it even exist?!) don’t really mean much any more, but everyone has a good idea what a font grade represents for short routes, or a French grade for longer ones. 

Completely agree the UK tech grade is useless at higher grades, which I why I said there should always be some kind of 'difficulty' grade quoted - it matters not which really and it makes a lot of sense to use sport grades for longer pitches and Font grades for short ones. It's how you grade the additional 'head' challenge that's the issue.

bensilvestre - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to Arms Cliff:

Undoubtedly. Franco does seem particularly attracted to this sort of stuff though, probably because that is what he has most ready access to, whereas DM has a lot more variety close at hand. And ultimately I agree that he'll probs wind up hurting himself badly. But power to the man they're his legs to break.

Robert Durran - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to ali k:

> I understand that, but surely the whole point of a grading system is to offer the most useful information to anyone considering an ascent of a route.

Bollocks. It is to massage ascentionists' egos. Which means it is roughly a measure of the proportion of climbers capable of climbing it. Which does, in fact, mean that a well rounded climber should roughly be able to do any route of a given grade (or not).

 

Martin Hore - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

I understand that, but surely the whole point of a grading system is to offer the most useful information to anyone considering an ascent of a route.

> Bollocks. It is to massage ascentionists' egos. Which means it is roughly a measure of the proportion of climbers capable of climbing it. Which does, in fact, mean that a well rounded climber should roughly be able to do any route of a given grade (or not).

I agree with the first comment. Why did you criticise it so? At my standard I get lots of information from the UK grade (both parts). It very much helps me decide whether I can safely attempt the route, and also whether I'm still on the right route as I climb it. It's not foolproof, I don't rely on it absolutely, but it's very helpful information. I couldn't really care if someone else's ego is being massaged.

Martin

Robert Durran - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to Martin Hore:

> Why did you criticise it so?

I didn't. I think the UK grading system is easily the best in use. Having said that, I'm all for a bouldering or sport grade in addition where useful. And of course most people like the ego massaging aspect of the adjectival grade which no other trad grading system provides.

Bulls Crack - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to john arran:

It's funny I know but I alwyas thought that a high tech grade 6c and above meant that a climb had  some really hard moves and, having done  a few 6c moves it didn't take much imagination to  envisage 7a/b. 

 

Used on its own? Yes; daft but still perfectly valid in conjunction with the overall grade of your choice. 

 

Dave 88 - on 18 Aug 2018
In reply to Arms Cliff:

> I've no idea grade wise, but if you can fall off the crux and be fine, then the climbing would have to be very hard for E10?

People have survived when their parachutes failed to open, it doesn't mean it's safe or to be recommended, it just means that sometimes you get off lucky.

 

ashtond6 - on 19 Aug 2018
In reply to john arran:

> A good example would be Elegy, E2 5c, at the Roaches. Without the E2 part you'd still have the 5c, but then you'd need to indicate that the top is really very bold, so you'd end up with 5c R or maybe even 5c X, either of which would suggest it should be harder than E2. The beauty of the E2 is that you don't need to decompose the route into parts to give it a grade. Some will find the traverse (5c) the crux, but others will fail on the top (5a R/X) slab. 5c R/X wouldn't be useful for either group, but E2 5c works for both.

Arguing against something by the use of anomalies is not a great really.

I bet there are more anomalies with the current (terrible) UK system! I wanna climb E3 and 4 tomorrow, now is that 6aX or 7a? 

Robert Durran - on 19 Aug 2018
In reply to ashtond6:

> I bet there are more anomalies with the current (terrible) UK system! I wanna climb E3 and 4 tomorrow, now is that 6aX or 7a? 

But that is the beauty of the system. You can get your E3 tick by choosing either according to your strengths or mood, and the two tier system allows you to select the one you want.

 

Ged Desforges - on 19 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

But wouldn't 6a (x) or 7a do exactly the same thing, only with more detail? 

deacondeacon - on 19 Aug 2018

Up to E4/E5 it works percectly. Above that it needs a French grade or Font grade added to each grade. No big deal really. 

 

If you old duffers hadn't been too scared to give technical grades of 7a/7b etc instead of giving everything hard a 6c we would have been fine ;) 

 

Robert Durran - on 19 Aug 2018
In reply to Ged Desforges:

> But wouldn't 6a (x) or 7a do exactly the same thing, only with more detail? 

The same amount of detail (two bits of information). I am not too bothered about preserving the UKtech grade if a French or Bouldering grade is seen as preferable (though rather see them in addition where meaningful and useful). But what I would never want to lose is the UK adjectival grade as part of a two or more tier grading system, which, as I said earlier (in a tongue in cheek way) gives an overall measure of achievement/bragging rights/ego massage (whatever you want to call it). I doubt I have ever come across a climber who doesn't, at least sometimes or to some extent, measure their progress in grades, and the UK adjectival grade is the only trad grade which does this job.

Chris Craggs - on 19 Aug 2018
In reply to ashtond6:

> I bet there are more anomalies with the current (terrible) UK system! I wanna climb E3 and 4 tomorrow, now is that 6aX or 7a? 

Why are you ignoring the Tech Grade?

 

Chris

Ged Desforges - on 19 Aug 2018
In reply to Chris Craggs:

Because even that doesn't tell the whole story. E46a could have a hard 6a move off the deck, with dangerous 5b climbing high up, or could be safe 6a crux high up. Very different propositions. A simple r or x tells you a lot whilst still relying on the climber to make a judgement call  

Robert Durran - on 19 Aug 2018
In reply to Ged Desforges:

> Because even that doesn't tell the whole story. E46a could have a hard 6a move off the deck, with dangerous 5b climbing high up, or could be safe 6a crux high up. Very different propositions. A simple r or x tells you a lot whilst still relying on the climber to make a judgement call.

But 6a/x doesn't tell you whether the run out bit is, say, 5b (E2/3) or 6a (E4/5). 

HeMa on 19 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

But wouldn't safe as sound, yet sustained 6a also get E4/5?
 

Robert Durran - on 19 Aug 2018
In reply to HeMa:

> But wouldn't safe as sound, yet sustained 6a also get E4/5?

Yes. Two bits of information cannot tell you everything. It is a matter of preference which two bits people want. If you want more information you need to go to three or more bits. My preference is definitely that one bit should always be the overall grade. I'd probably go for the tech grade up to about E2 and a French grade above E2.

Tyler - on 19 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

> But 6a/x doesn't tell you whether the run out bit is, say, 5b (E2/3) or 6a (E4/5). 

I still baffled why this sort of thing gets discussed on here. Its pretty obvious if you have a grade which consists of two variables you're only going to describe two variables with it, so you take your pick from hardest individual move, hardest sequence, danger, overall physical difficulty, etc.

I know the British adjectival grade is supposed to give an over all feel but that only works if you are a very well balanced climber, I've certainly been on routes which I think are wrongly graded (not just a bit out) because they play to or against my strengths. Unless you have a system with about 10 variables any system is going to be imperfect, that's why we have descriptions etc. 

Robert Durran - on 19 Aug 2018
In reply to Tyler:

> I know the British adjectival grade is supposed to give an over all feel but that only works if you are a very well balanced climber.

That is fine as long as you know your strengths and weaknesses. I know that I am going to find an E2 slab far harder than an overhanging E2 because I am technically inept but train quite a lot. You can look on the adjectival grade as s means to identify your weaknesses!

 

Marek - on 19 Aug 2018
In reply to Tyler:

> I still baffled why this sort of thing gets discussed on here. Its pretty obvious if you have a grade which consists of two variables you're only going to describe two variables with it, so you take your pick from hardest individual move, hardest sequence, danger, overall physical difficulty, etc.

Quite. Which is why I guess Rockfax (for example) have their little fluttery/pumpy/fingery icons and definitive guides use clue words like 'interesting'. The information is there if you want it.

JohnV - on 19 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

What isn't being considered is the guidebook description, or other information you know about the climb ahead of time. You'll know if it's a slab or overhanging, the guidebook / a friend's description / logbook entries etc. will also give you information about the style of the climb, quality of the gear, run out etc. It must be very rare that anyone climbs with the grade as the ONLY information? 

planetmarshall on 19 Aug 2018
In reply to Tyler:

> I still baffled why this sort of thing gets discussed on here. Its pretty obvious if you have a grade which consists of two variables you're only going to describe two variables with it, so you take your pick from hardest individual move, hardest sequence, danger, overall physical difficulty, etc.

It doesn't even do that, because those two variables are not independent - they are tightly correlated. There are, for example, no E5 4a climbs around - though I'm not sure what such a climb would look like.

Gordon Stainforth - on 19 Aug 2018
In reply to planetmarshall:

Something made of very poor chalk?

ashtond6 - on 19 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

We agree then, I believe the best would be 

E4 6b or E4 7a 

Deacon, you only think that because you climb E5. Why do you think the HVS jump to E1 is difficult for people? Because they don't know if they are climbing F5 or F6b. Some people can barely tell the difference between 6a and 6b, but to some it's a big difference!

Robert Durran - on 19 Aug 2018
In reply to ashtond6:

> Why do you think the HVS jump to E1 is difficult for people? Because they don't know if they are climbing F5 or F6b. 

But they do know whether they are climbing 5a or 5c.

 

Martin Hore - on 19 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

> My preference is definitely that one bit should always be the overall grade. I'd probably go for the tech grade up to about E2 and a French grade above E2.

That makes a lot of sense in the short term because older trad climbers have grown up with the UK tech grade and it works for them (particularly if, like me, they've never climbed above E2). 

But in the longer term having a different system for trad climbs above and below E2 is a bit of a dog's dinner surely. I would now easily be persuaded to replace the UK tech grade with the French grade across the whole grade spectrum (while keeping the adjectival grade for the overall challenge). It would raise a few eyebrows initially, but like decimal currency and Celsius temperatures we would soon get used to it. Most younger climbers are now more familiar with French grades than UK tech grades anyway. There would be a few issues to iron out - I accept French and UK tech grades don't currently measure exactly the same thing - but in the long term we would have a system that worked and was consistent across the full spectrum of grades, preserved the full meaning of the UK two-dimensional trad grade, and was understood readily by today's wall-bred younger climbers. 

To those who say that the UK tech grade measures just the hardest move - very different from the French grade - I would refer them to Alec Sharp's 1976 Cloggy guide, one of the first to introduce Tech grades: "The numerical grades refer to the difficulty of top-roping the climb and so the strenuousness of the climb is an important factor on the steeper routes".  That's how the UK tech grade was originally intended -  much closer to the meaning of the French grade.

Martin

 

Martin Haworth on 19 Aug 2018
In reply to UKC News:

Well done to Franco, good to see some hard trad repeats getting reported rather than all this safe and manufactured sport stuff.

im interested to hear Andy Farnells view.

 

planetmarshall on 19 Aug 2018
In reply to Martin Haworth:

> im interested to hear Andy Farnells view.

Stir... stir... stir...

 

john arran - on 19 Aug 2018
In reply to Martin Hore:

Tech grades being 'cumulative' was IMO the way it should always have been, but the 'hardest move' advocates somehow managed to take precedence.

What you're suggesting now makes complete sense and should have been in place all along. In effect what it gives are 2 grades, both of which are completely meaningful and useful in their own right. One (the sport grade) is the relative difficulty of top-roping a route, the other (the trad grade) is the relative difficulty of leading it.

Difficult to see how it could get much simpler or more useful than that without introducing more factors.

Robert Durran - on 19 Aug 2018
In reply to Martin Hore:

> But in the longer term having a different system for trad climbs above and below E2 is a bit of a dog's dinner surely. I would now easily be persuaded to replace the UK tech grade with the French grade across the whole grade spectrum (while keeping the adjectival grade for the overall challenge).

Yes, but I'm not sure the French grade really works for "ledge shuffling" low grade routes, just as the UK tech grade (apparently!) doesn't work for high grade routes. I think the best solution is to keep things as they are but add a French grade when it seems useful.

> Most younger climbers are now more familiar with French grades than UK tech grades anyway.

But does anyone really have a feel for the difference between 2+ and 3- ?

> To those who say that the UK tech grade measures just the hardest move - very different from the French grade - I would refer them to Alec Sharp's 1976 Cloggy guide, one of the first to introduce Tech grades: "The numerical grades refer to the difficulty of top-roping the climb"

Well at least it was sorted out to mean the difficulty of the hardest move pretty quickly (I never heard any suggestion it meant anything else from when I started climbing in the early eighties). Unlike in the US, where still nobody still seems to know what the YDS is meant to be measuring..........

 

 

Post edited at 17:48
Robert Durran - on 19 Aug 2018
In reply to planetmarshall:

> It doesn't even do that, because those two variables are not independent - they are tightly correlated. There are, for example, no E5 4a climbs around - though I'm not sure what such a climb would look like.

Actually I'm not sure that any information is necessarily lost when two grades are correlated. Suppose we have a numerical protection grade and a numerical physical difficulty grade, which will have zero correlation. We could construct an overall grade by simply adding the two numbers. If we now used the physical difficulty grade and the overall grade there will certainly be non zero correlation but no information has been lost since the protection grade can be retrieved by a simple subtraction.

planetmarshall on 19 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Actually I'm not sure that any information is necessarily lost when two grades are correlated. Suppose we have a numerical protection grade and a numerical physical difficulty grade, which will have zero correlation.

I was referring to the correlation between the adjectival and the numerical grade. It would be an interesting exercise to derive two numerical grades, but I suspect it would be about as popular as other attempts to change the grading scheme. H grades, E0 etc.

There's probably a reason why the existing Trad grading system is so pervasive, its fuzziness reflects the fuzziness of the things it's trying to measure.

 

Wee Davie - on 19 Aug 2018
In reply to aln:

The video was on his blog.

Edit: my post up the page seemed a bit glib on re- reading it. I should have added my congratulations and hope that he doesn't hurt himself in future. 

Post edited at 21:28
Michael Hood - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to planetmarshall:

Having two grades of two totally independent quantities tells you two things.

Having two grades of two quantities that are correlated tells you three things; the two quantities plus the bit that's left.

That's why the UK grading is so good (in principle).

The important thing with a two grade system is to have an overall grade plus another useful quantity. Doesn't matter if it's UK tech, French or V. The correlation then tells you something else (a third thing ) about the climb.

If you need more detail about that third thing then you either need more grades or descriptive stuff or look at the route.

planetmarshall on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to Michael Hood:

> Having two grades of two totally independent quantities tells you two things.

Yes it would, but if you mean the adjectival and numerical components of the UK Trad grade, then they aren't independent. They aren't even nearly independent. For example, given a climb graded E1, it is overwhelmingly likely to be 5b. In fact the numerical component of the grade is almost completely redundant, you could replace it with a 3 step discrete quantity, say "Sustained/Bold/Protected-crux" and be much less ambiguous.

> Having two grades of two quantities that are correlated tells you three things; the two quantities plus the bit that's left.

Well it would if each component of the grade told you two separate and independent things, but I don't see how it does. The adjectival grade tells you how hard the climb is overall, and that's it. The numerical grade adds some information to that in a fairly ambiguous way. That's one and a bit pieces of information, not three.

> If you need more detail about that third thing then you either need more grades or descriptive stuff or look at the route.

Well absolutely.

 

Hardonicus - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to UKC News:

From reading the responses on these and related threads, I can't make up my mind whether Cookson is a pound shop Jon Redhead or a high-rent Si O'Connor?

Which one is it?

 

Post edited at 09:28
Andy Moles - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to all grade theorists:

Come on. Stop it.

Ramblin dave - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to Andy Moles:

I don't know, an extended detour into basic information theory seems quite appropriate given the name of the climb.

planetmarshall on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to Ramblin dave:

> I don't know, an extended detour into basic information theory seems quite appropriate given the name of the climb.

I'm this close to doing a graph and some PCA.

john arran - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to planetmarshall:

> Well it would if each component of the grade told you two separate and independent things, but I don't see how it does. The adjectival grade tells you how hard the climb is overall, and that's it. The numerical grade adds some information to that in a fairly ambiguous way. That's one and a bit pieces of information, not three.

If we're going to get all arithmetic about it, the equation would be

E = T + R + O

where E is the overall Adjectival or E-Grade,

T is the physical difficulty (Tech grade, but could equally be sport or Font grade),

R is the risk (as given by R/X suffices, P grades, etc.), and

O is 'other', i.e. anything not already included, such as exposure, commitment, possibly sustainedness.

It could be argued that T, R and O are all independent of each other.

Without breaking down O further, we have 3 degrees of freedom and we're using only 2 grades to describe it, so inevitably there will be something left unspecified by means of the grade alone.

Regardless of whether it's (E and T) or  (T and R) that are given, there will usually be some unknown as to the relative size of the other two; the exception could be for purely-physical routes, where, e.g., E1 6a would tell you that both P and O are negligible.

The question then becomes, whether to use only 2, which 2 to use, and why?

Who was it (Drummond? Crew?) that once devised an absurdly detailed grading system based on about 10 different factors? That clearly didn't catch on, suggesting we're happy to leave some ambiguity in grades we use. And rightly so, IMO. Worthwhile it may be as an academic exercise, climbing will lose something valuable if everything we set foot on is catalogued, published and known by all to the nth degree before we do so.

Bulls Crack - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to Ged Desforges:

 

> Because even that doesn't tell the whole story. E46a could have a hard 6a move off the deck, with dangerous 5b climbing high up, or could be safe 6a crux high up. Very different propositions. A simple r or x tells you a lot whilst still relying on the climber to make a judgement call  

Yorkshire Grit P grades sorted that but were dropped 

Ramblin dave - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to planetmarshall:

> Yes it would, but if you mean the adjectival and numerical components of the UK Trad grade, then they aren't independent. They aren't even nearly independent. For example, given a climb graded E1, it is overwhelmingly likely to be 5b. In fact the numerical component of the grade is almost completely redundant, you could replace it with a 3 step discrete quantity, say "Sustained/Bold/Protected-crux" and be much less ambiguous.

It's actually kind of interesting (if you're a massive nerd like me) - the relationship between uk tech grade and overall grade means that although there are loads of possible tech grades, for a given overall grade it's only really going to take one of three, maybe five values. If you use a secondary grade which is less tightly coupled (eg protection) then you can use the full range of values of the secondary grade, but in practice (Yorkshire P grades, US film-certificate grades) there only ever seem to be about four possible values.

Long story short, I think we must like having about that much information. 

planetmarshall on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to john arran:

> Who was it (Drummond? Crew?) that once devised an absurdly detailed grading system based on about 10 different factors? That clearly didn't catch on, suggesting we're happy to leave some ambiguity in grades we use. And rightly so, IMO. Worthwhile it may be as an academic exercise, climbing will lose something valuable if everything we set foot on is catalogued, published and known by all to the nth degree before we do so.

Agreed, and I think I said that

 

planetmarshall on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to john arran:

> ...some maths...

> Without breaking down O further, we have 3 degrees of freedom and we're using only 2 grades to describe it, so inevitably there will be something left unspecified by means of the grade alone.

The thing is, you've picked three (arguably) independent quantities, but then picked two correlated variables to describe it - when you could have picked two uncorrelated variables and not lost as much information.

The problem is, you want at least one of those variables to be some intuitive sense of difficulty rather than some mathematically abstract combination of boldness/technicality that no one has an intuitive grasp of (see your reference to a 10-factor grading system).

> Who was it (Drummond? Crew?) that once devised an absurdly detailed grading system based on about 10 different factors? That clearly didn't catch on, suggesting we're happy to leave some ambiguity in grades we use. And rightly so, IMO. Worthwhile it may be as an academic exercise, climbing will lose something valuable if everything we set foot on is catalogued, published and known by all to the nth degree before we do so.

Yes.

 

Doug on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to john arran:

Drummond in a guide to the Avon Gorge, see https://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.php?id=160252

planetmarshall on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to Doug:

> Drummond in a guide to the Avon Gorge, see https://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.php?id=160252

Given Drummond's literary credentials, it reminded me of this - https://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/society/southern-rail-to-replace-timetable-with-avant-garde-poem-20160704110166

Post edited at 10:11
john arran - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to planetmarshall:

> The thing is, you've picked three (arguably) independent quantities, but then picked two correlated variables to describe it - when you could have picked two uncorrelated variables and not lost as much information.

I would argue that no information has been 'lost' whichever two you choose.

> The problem is, you want at least one of those variables to be some intuitive sense of difficulty rather than some mathematically abstract combination of boldness/technicality that no one has an intuitive grasp of (see your reference to a 10-factor grading system).

Well I don't think anyone is suggesting losing the tech/sport grade, so that box is well ticked. I would also argue that the E grade is also intuitive, not in terms of its constituent parts (which we agree are many and diverse) but in terms of it being a measure or estimate of the proportion of climbers capable of succeeding, regardless of the particular nature of the challenge in each case.

 

Robert Durran - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to Andy Moles:

> Come on. Stop it.

No, no! This business about whether correlation can add or (intuitively) lose information is fascinating. I've been thinking about it on and off all morning.......

planetmarshall on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to john arran:

> I would argue that no information has been 'lost' whichever two you choose.

> Well I don't think anyone is suggesting losing the tech/sport grade, so that box is well ticked. I would also argue that the E grade is also intuitive, not in terms of its constituent parts (which we agree are many and diverse) but in terms of it being a measure or estimate of the proportion of climbers capable of succeeding, regardless of the particular nature of the challenge in each case.

Yes I agree, in so far as the E grade gives us an intuitive sense of the difficulty of the climb. I'm less convinced that the numerical grade is all that useful, as above.

What I was getting at is that you *could* arrive at a grading system with two components that gave you more information about the climb with respect to seriousness, protectability, technical difficulty etc than the current system but that it would as a result be less intuitive to use, which is the whole point.

john arran - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to planetmarshall:

> What I was getting at is that you *could* arrive at a grading system with two components that gave you more information about the climb with respect to seriousness, protectability, technical difficulty etc than the current system but that it would as a result be less intuitive to use, which is the whole point.

Well yes, if those details were your priority then of course you could prioritise them! But it seems we are in agreement anyway regarding usefulness and, as I mentioned upthread, I can't see two factors ever being more useful than a lead grade and a top-rope grade.

Robert Durran - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to john arran:

>  I can't see two factors ever being more useful than a lead grade and a top-rope grade.

I can't see how this gives more information/is more useful than a top rope grade and a seriousness/protection grade (everything not covered by top rope grade) for deciding whether or not to try a climb, and I think it possibly gives a bit less due to correlation. I still think the only argument (and I think it is a very strong and popular argument) for an overall (E) grade is the achievement/kudos/bragging rights thing which, like it or not, is an important part of climbing culture.

 

john arran - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

I do agree about the ego/kudos thing but not about the information/usefulness. If by information you mean detail, then yes. But if x+y=z, knowing any two will precisely determine the other one so theoretically the amount of info from any two is identical. In this case it's a little more complicated as we have unknowns in the equation. What we're left with then is whether one detail by itself is more useful than the whole by itself, since neither can be precisely determined from the other due to the unknowns.

My case for the overall grade would be that it better quantifies the unknowns by including them elsewhere, so there should be fewer surprises. An E4 5c will typically be either bold (5c) or very sustained (5c R) but in either case you'll know the magnitude of the challenge. A 5c R will certainly have some bold climbing on it, but by how much how much will it affect the challenge as a whole? And still we don't know if it's sustained, which could affect the range of possible challenge from maybe E3 to E5 

Robert Durran - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to john arran:

> I do agree about the ego/kudos thing but not about the information/usefulness. If by information you mean detail, then yes. But if x+y=z, knowing any two will precisely determine the other one so theoretically the amount of info from any two is identical.

Yes, I pointed this out yesterday (no information is necessarily lost through through correlation)

> In this case it's a little more complicated as we have unknowns in the equation.

If you use a top rope grade and an seriousness grade, then everything is covered (by definition!) though obviously not all the detail is there (is it hard to top rope due to pumpiness or one desperate move?  Is the seriousness due to lack of protection or loose rock?)

> My case for the overall grade would be that it better quantifies the unknowns by including them elsewhere, so there should be fewer surprises. An E4 5c will typically be either bold (5c) or very sustained (5c R) but in either case you'll know the magnitude of the challenge.

You will know the magnitude of the challenge for a "well rounded" climber and you'll know what bragging rights are up for grabs, but you won't know the magnitude of the challenge to you personally, because you don't know whether it is playing to your strengths (boldness or fitness/strength). For example a massively pumpy well protected E4 5c would be right up my street, but I'd steer well clear of a really run out E4 5c!

> 5c R will certainly have some bold climbing on it, but by how much how much will it affect the challenge as a whole?

If the boldness grade takes into account whether the bold bits are hard or not then I think you have very good information for deciding whether to attempt the climb or not. And, of course a French grade rather than a UK tech grade works far better too in most cases.

> And still we don't know if it's sustained, which could affect the range of possible challenge from maybe E3 to E5.

With a French grade I think this problem mostly goes away.

 

Post edited at 12:53
john arran - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

> You will know the magnitude of the challenge for a "well rounded" climber and you'll know what bragging rights are up for grabs, but you won't know the magnitude of the challenge to you personally, because you don't know whether it is playing to your strengths (boldness or fitness/strength). For example a massively pumpy well protected E4 5c would be right up my street, but I'd steer well clear of a really run out E4 5c!

So really it comes down to whether you feel you're an all-round climber (in which case the overall grade is the most important info) or whether you're keen to make sure you only try routes at one end of the safe/scary spectrum (in which case a risk grade will be invaluable.)

There's no way we're going to be able to please all the people all the time. But 'twas ever thus!

aln - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to UKC News:

What a depressingly UKc thread. There's a report about an amazing climbing achievement and what happens? Someone posts a load of self righteous moralising, having a go at the climber, then it degenerates into yet another boring grading debate. 

Post edited at 13:37
planetmarshall on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to aln:

> What a depressingly UKc thread. There's a report about an amazing climbing achievement and what happens? Someone posts a load of self righteous moralising, having a go at the climber, then it degenerates into yet another boring grading debate. 

Yes, God forbid people should disagree with anything or move the discussion onto other areas. Echo chambers only, please!

Robert Durran - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to aln:

> ...........degenerates into yet another boring grading debate. 

Degenerates? It's actually a rather interesting, thoughtful and constructive grading debate.

 

Marek - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to john arran:

> ... But if x+y=z, knowing any two will precisely determine the other one so theoretically the amount of info from any two is identical.  

Actually that not always true. It's certainly true from a 'pure maths' perspective, but not from an 'engineering' (real world) perspective. In the real world x, y and z will have errors associated with them and although x, y and z make be correlated you can't assume their errors will also be correlated. So you might have a precise x and vague y and z and in this scenario you can't recover the precise x from the difference between the vague y and z. Going even further, assuming x, y, and z are not integers (gradings are better thought of as real numbers) then even the '+' is not well-defined (i.e., it may be some other function similar but different to '+'), but that may be a detail too far.

Sorry, what was the question again?

Ah yes grading precision/accuracy. I think we have to go back and look at 'what is the purpose of grades?' and make sure we don't lose sight of that purpose...

Priority 1. Minimise the risk of unexpectedly getting on an irreversible chop route at (or above) the limit of your climbing ability.

Priority 2. Reduce the risk of wasting time on route which are boringly easy or just too hard to be worthwhile (albeit safe-ish).

In my limited experience, the existing grading systems (in all their variety) all seem pretty much fit for purpose. Further tinkering is an amusing thought experiment, but is trying to solve a problem that does exist (for me at least).

Simon Caldwell - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

> It's actually a rather interesting, thoughtful and constructive grading debate.

I'll take your word for that, my eyes glazed over and I skimmed to the end, hoping for some good old fashioned Franco-bashing.

john arran - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to Marek:

Engineering? Pah!  ;-)

Actually, in jumping straight to risk management I think you missed out on the single most important use of a grade, which is to indicate routes of about the right standard for you to consider trying.

Robert Durran - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to Marek:

> In my limited experience, the existing grading systems (in all their variety) all seem pretty much fit for purpose.

I assume one of the limits of your experience is never having used a one dimensional grading system, such as a French grade alone for trad. And lets not even mention the YDS.

TobyA on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

> I'll take your word for that, my eyes glazed over and I skimmed to the end, hoping for some good old fashioned Franco-bashing.

Ha ha. Very much my thoughts. Where's whatshisname? Andy something these days?

Well done Franco. Amazing effort. Please try not to hurt yourself though!

 

Post edited at 14:31
Ramon Marin - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to aln:

Second that.

As far as I can tell, only the person who's actually climbed E10 in this thread is Ali K who originally raised the grade viability to grade hard routes. So not sure why we are discussing E2 grades on news post about climbing and E10. 

I said fair play to Cookson climbing this hard slab, whatever the grade. And if any armchair climbers have any qualms about his achievement, specially STP, can go a repeat the route and report back. 

john arran - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to Ramon Marin:

Ahem!  ;-)

Goucho on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to aln:

> What a depressingly UKc thread. There's a report about an amazing climbing achievement and what happens? Someone posts a load of self righteous moralising, having a go at the climber, then it degenerates into yet another boring grading debate. 

Isn't this the essence of UKC?

planetmarshall on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to Ramon Marin:

> Second that.

> As far as I can tell, only the person who's actually climbed E10 in this thread is Ali K...

You're forgetting John - Doctor Dolittle (E10 7a) (Has anyone actually repeated that, John?)

Post edited at 14:52
Robert Durran - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to Goucho:

> Isn't this the essence of UKC?

That a thread can go off in all sorts of weird and wonderful directions with generally intelligent and well informed discussion.

Post edited at 14:54
jamesg85 - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to planetmarshall:

How hard is that in terms of a font grade? Why hasn't it been repeated? 

john arran - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to planetmarshall:

> You're forgetting John - Doctor Dolittle (E10 7a) (Has anyone actually repeated that, John?)

Not to my knowledge. Many years ago I know James Pearson was seriously looking at it, as I remember helping with some beta, but I'm pretty sure he didn't do it as sometime later I read that he'd dismissed it as a shit route and moved onto other things.

Hard grit hasn't really been in vogue since.

Kristof252 - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to UKC News:

Good effort Franco! Really looking forward to Hard Sand - when's that coming out?

planetmarshall on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to john arran:

> Many years ago I know James Pearson was seriously looking at it, as I remember helping with some beta, but I'm pretty sure he didn't do it as sometime later I read that he'd dismissed it as a shit route and moved onto other things.

Lol

 

Ramon Marin - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to planetmarshall:

Oops, yes I stand corrected sorry John

Marek - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I assume one of the limits of your experience is never having used a one dimensional grading system, such as a French grade alone for trad. And lets not even mention the YDS.

You are correct there - I've never had the pleasure of dealing with a sport graded trad route! Although I thought YDS has a nominal (if binary) R dimension?

Marek - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to john arran:

> Engineering? Pah!  ;-)

> Actually, in jumping straight to risk management I think you missed out on the single most important use of a grade, which is to indicate routes of about the right standard for you to consider trying.

Err, I thought that was in the second half of my post?

Marek - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to aln:

> What a depressingly UKc thread. There's a report about an amazing climbing achievement and what happens? Someone posts a load of self righteous moralising, having a go at the climber, then it degenerates into yet another boring grading debate. 

I don't know - 100 posts of "Well done!" would be a pretty boring thread (except perhaps for Franco).

Robert Durran - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to Marek:

> I don't know - 100 posts of "Well done!" would be a pretty boring thread (except perhaps for Franco).


Indeed, but that seems to be what some people expect of these threads and are outraged if it's not!

Robert Durran - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to Marek:

> You are correct there - I've never had the pleasure of dealing with a sport graded trad route! Although I thought YDS has a nominal (if binary) R dimension?

Sometimes, which is an improvement!

 

john arran - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to Marek:

Oops! Sorry Marek. That'll teach me to read what I think will be written rather than what's actually written!

deepsoup - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to planetmarshall:

> You're forgetting John - Doctor Dolittle (E10 7a) (Has anyone actually repeated that, John?)

Ha ha - and yet clicking on that link, I see that 10 people have voted on its grade on the logbook here.

Climbthatpitch - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to deepsoup:

Just by looking at it from Google earth they could easily see it was E11 so they had to vote

Tyler - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to john arran:

> Not to my knowledge. Many years ago I know James Pearson was seriously looking at it, as I remember helping with some beta, but I'm pretty sure he didn't do it as sometime later I read that he'd dismissed it as a shit route and moved onto other things.

He presumably did that so he had a sequel to his Redemption film.

 

aln - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Indeed, but that seems to be what some people expect of these threads and are outraged if it's not!

If you're referring to my post I'm not outraged at all. I thought stp's posts were self righteous moaning like I said, and just another excuse for someone to have a go at Franco. And as for the grading discussion being "interesting"...maybe it was the 1st thousand times... I'd join in but I just spotted some trains with paint drying on them....

Robert Durran - on 20 Aug 2018
In reply to aln:

> If you're referring to my post I'm not outraged at all. I thought stp's posts were self righteous moaning like I said, and just another excuse for someone to have a go at Franco.

I wasn't specifically referering to you, so I may have come across a bit strongly. I think stp could have made his point a bit more subtly, but it was certainly a defensible viewpoint and stimulated some interesting discussion.

> And as for the grading discussion being "interesting"...maybe it was the 1st thousand times......

I enjoy a grading debate and this one differed from others on here in discussing the effect of correlation in two tier grades - fascinating to some of us.

If the discussions in this thread didn't interest you then that is fine and you can skim over them and ignore them, but you really shouldn't moan about thoughtful discussions on a discussion forum. I find much of the discussion on here of no personal interest, but I don't begrudge other people getting something from it.

 

Post edited at 23:38
Michael Gordon - on 21 Aug 2018
In reply to stp:

I think a point can be made about an ascent being poorly judged or executed, but labeling the climber as 'incompetent' seems over the top. Going for a flash ascent of a potential E10 might seem a tad 'overconfident'(!) but preceding to fall off the route is not incompetent, it's just the likely result of the risk taken. I assume Dave MacLeod, Neil Mawson and Jules Lines are also incompetent?

Post edited at 07:46
eggburt1952 - on 21 Aug 2018

In reply to ali k: it's not E10 or 7a even an old fart like me has managed to do it without falling ..on a top rope of course ... also 90% of it is a route called " By stealth" , FFA Pete O'Sullivan.. the people who live down here know the real history of these routes.

 

Michael Gordon - on 21 Aug 2018
In reply to eggburt1952:

So what is the difference between 'By Stealth' and 'Academia'? Sounds like there is still a difference.

GrahamD - on 21 Aug 2018
In reply to eggburt1952:

> .. the people who live down here know the real history of these routes.

prey tell.

stp - on 21 Aug 2018
In reply to Tom Loughlin:

> you can only set out on a route if you’re 100% sure it will go, but the only way you know it will go is if you set out on the route. 

In the context of headpointing you can be 100% sure a route will go. You've top roped it first, possibly multiple times. Whether you can still do it in bad conditions when it's raining though is another question.

 

> You’re of course right to note the potential life changing risks, and maybe Franco will one day get himself into a sticky patch and regret it. Maybe he is reckless, I don’t know the bloke. That’s life, and ultimately up to him to judge when and how to feed his rat. He got slated on here before and carried on so I doubt anything anyone on webosphere says will be the deciding factor there.

As human beings we are social creatures and all going to be influenced by what others think and say about us to some degree. Praise and positive reinforcement will have a different effect to criticism and censure.

I do ponder the ethics of this. There's little difference between praise and encouragement. And encouraging anyone to do something that may lead to serious injury or death seems highly questionable to me.

If the next route Franco attempts results in his death I've no doubt that no one on here would take responsibility for encouraging him. Of course not. The responsibility for what he does is his and his alone. But at the same time it would be equally naive to think that his motivations are not influenced to a large degree by the opinions and reactions he gets from the climbing community as a whole.

 

stp - on 21 Aug 2018
In reply to Will Hunt:

> Basically he's saying that Franco's a punter,  albeit one who is good on hard slabs and walls.

You make a good point but I wouldn't put it exactly like that. I don't know Franco and I'm sure he's very talented to do the stuff he does. I suppose my point is really less about Franco and more about our reactions to such ascents.

I think we often tend to get dazzled, blinded even, by high grades and performances. I wonder what would the reaction would have been had he done similar but on a route of say Hard Severe? My suspicion is that it would be pretty much the complete opposite.

 

stp - on 21 Aug 2018
In reply to bensilvestre:

> Sorry, but to push the limit of danger you have to be prepared to hurt yourself.

I'm not sure that's true. I think people do bold routes 'knowing' they're capable of doing them without hurting themselves. Mishaps happen but I don't think anyone goes up expecting an injury to be the result. If they did they'd be really stupid.

In the context of falling off a route the word 'hurt' in your above comment is a really a euphemism. To show what I mean here's the same statement with a more realistic outcome of hitting the ground:

  • to push the limit of danger you have to be prepared to be paralysed from the waist down for the rest of your life
  • to push the limit of danger you have to be prepared to suffer permanent brain damage
  • to push the limit of danger you have to be prepared to die

I don't think anyone doing bold routes really thinks like this. In fact if they did I'd consider them crazy. If you love climbing the last thing you want to is to injure yourself so you have to take loads of time off, or even stop permanently.

The fact that things have gone wrong for some climbers on occasion doesn't disprove this. Accidents happen simply because sometimes they do, in all walks of life. We don't drive to the supermarket preparing for injury or death on the way. Rather we're convinced nothing will happen to us despite the fact people die on the roads every day.

 

 

Tom Loughlin - on 21 Aug 2018
In reply to stp:

Nothing is 100% til you do it. You can practise something a hundred times and then on the lead you could slip, pause more than on a top rope, hit a hold slightly wrong, the conditions be humid, rock break etc etc etc. 

I can’t speak for people who are pushing physical/ mental limits but I do think you’ve got an idealistic view of cutting edge climbers as balanced, objective, supremely controlled rock Jedi types who know exactly what they’re doing and never take a risk. It just doesn’t ring true. Johnny for example, setting off up Indian face: he’d done some top roping sure but a possible death fall would obviously make the climbing different. As far as I know he was not in a calm state in his life, rather he was conflicted and almost desperate: I can’t say if he was willing to die on the route but surely he was willing to risk it. 

It’s a fair point that he ought to be careful, he could hurt himself. Not sure what more you can say really, if he wants to push it that’s his choice. Still a top effort though: there’s a reason why people falling off a HS would be cautioned more than someone falling off a super-hard route, because one is routine and the other is exceptional. 

By your logic anything to do with climbing needs to be preceded with a disclaimer. What about news reports of alpine ascents on big peaks...?!

Offwidth - on 21 Aug 2018
In reply to stp:

What do we do with all the famous climbers, let alone punters and beginners who have come close to killing themselves or others on sports routes though rope length misjudgements, failed knots, lack of attention or poor communication. It seems to me in your weird logic, given all the risk in climbing, we need to dump the whole collection of climbing games. The most common place I've personally witnessed preventable accidents that caused hospitalisation is indoor bouldering.

Top trad climbers and rock soloists display amazing amounts of psychological control at times in terms of climbing high risk routes at close to their very limits , Franco is just close to the tip of that particular spear. If we want to start from the most irresponsible risk some at least pick on the high alpine mountaineers first as they shake the dice way more often than Franco does. I think a more useful approch might be if you can't apply sharp focus in your climbing or accept the risk in the activities you undertake, don't climb that way, but please don't kid yourself that any climbing is safe.

PS your historical perspective is dreadful. The worst maybe being including Andy Pollit in your list: I'm just finishing his autobiography and some of his ascents are as compelling stories of facing extreme risk as I've ever read. Especially his ascent of The Bells, The Bells.

Marek - on 21 Aug 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> ..., but please don't kid yourself that any climbing is safe.

I think it's well documented that human have a pretty poor ability to assess risk in activities they are very familiar with ("What I do is safe") and conversely the unfamiliar ("What they do is lunacy"). It seems we all have a tendency to 'turn up the contrast', perhaps in order to justify to ourselves why we do (or don't do) certain things.

Offwidth - on 21 Aug 2018
In reply to Marek:

Sure and I'd be more forgiving of such distorted arguments from a non climber. There are really intelligent books out there that are responsibly critical on risk in climbing from the climber perspective: we don't need this trite analysis from a climber. I've listed a few starter volumes below:

https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780312339012

http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/On-the-Ridge-Between-Life-and-Death/David-Roberts/9780743255196

https://www.v-publishing.co.uk/books/categories/baton-wicks/the-games-climbers-play.html

This one even looks at the motivational brain chemistry:

http://movingoverstone.com/books/

 

 

 

 

Marek - on 21 Aug 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> Sure and I'd be more forgiving of such distorted arguments from a non climber...

I guess I'm more forgiving - there's probably a bigger conceptual gap between what I do and what Franco does than between a non-climber and me!

paul__in_sheffield - on 21 Aug 2018
In reply to Michael Gordon:

By Stealth misses the crux of academia by traversing out and in, which I guess is what makes Academia much harder

Michael Gordon - on 21 Aug 2018
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

Thanks

Michael Gordon - on 21 Aug 2018
In reply to stp:

> I think people do bold routes 'knowing' they're capable of doing them without hurting themselves. Mishaps happen but I don't think anyone goes up expecting an injury to be the result. If they did they'd be really stupid.>

Things are rarely as black and white as the above. Those actually pushing the boundaries will go for stuff when success is far from guaranteed. OK they may have the route wired to the extent that they judge the ascent to be worth going for, but if it's hard it's going to be far from 100%. Ask Dave MacLeod about Echo Wall and he may well put (in retrospect) his chances as being nearer 80% or even 70%. When he did The Fugue (E9), he was only getting a clean toprope first go but not subsequent goes.

Sometimes a route gets under a climber's skin to the extent that they judge the very real risk of serious injury to be worthwhile. As ever, it's risk vs reward and everyone draws their own line as to how much risk they decide to accept.  

Offwidth - on 21 Aug 2018
In reply to Marek:

I can't see how that can be true. Anyone with wide trad experience will have felt what its like to hit that magic focus or flow where attention and performance seem enhanced. It doesn't make one indestructible but it does increase possibilities in the face of risk.  Its explains why high performers are not as crazy as they can look. Personally I've experienced it rarely and more when in trouble, and resigned to that, than out of route choice (like I hope is the case for Franco) but I think it's the same thing.

Maybe you need to read Doug Robinsons book that I linked above... something like this in brain chemistry makes sense (and feeling it could be potentially addictive, so its not all good).

Climbers who don't fall into this category (never led anything risky at their limit in great style) or even non climbers are capable of understanding the philosophical and psychological (and maybe now brain chemistry) arguments, and clearly some climbers, who should know better, are capable of overlooking them. Risk and the casualties of risk are not what we would expect from such trite views. The best statistic proof if this is John Dills article based in YOSAR deaths and serious injuries... accidents just don't happen as one might expect (from such simplistic arguments), in the seemingly riskiest terrain (as indicated from grades) precisely because the climbers are capable and fully focussed then. On the other hand preventable deaths, especially due to loss of focus on easier terrain, are still all too common. The same thing that leads to accidents for experiencd climbers in 'safe' environments indoors or on sport routes. 

https://www.friendsofyosar.org/climbing

Patrick Roman - on 21 Aug 2018
In reply to Tom Loughlin:

 

> ... anything to do with climbing needs to be preceded with a disclaimer.

 

Ah, brings back memories ...

 

https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/features/low_winter_sun-2293

 

Stuart en Écosse - on 21 Aug 2018
In reply to UKC News:

Going slightly off-topic...

...chapeau to Franco. Hope to hear of you ticking (and putting up) more top end routes across the country, without any injuries along way.

Michael Hood - on 21 Aug 2018
In reply to Stuart en Écosse:

Although it's good to see Franco doing some pretty hard climbing (he seems to be quite bold!!!), I do miss some of the contentious posts he used to make when he was a bit younger - they were so much fun.

Offwidth - on 22 Aug 2018
In reply to Michael Hood:

We do need a few more new, young and exciting voices like that.  Tom Ripley was another when he first arrived. I loved their climbing passion and scattergun approach to the English language that in combination spat out unexpected discussions that must have driven the conservative minded and pedantic into near apoplexy. You can just tell from the keeness that such rude youth will go on to do some impressive things.

James Mann - on 28 Aug 2018
In reply to UKC News:

Bumped into Alex Moore on the way back from climbing nearby yesterday. He was on his own carrying a couple of pads. He said he had repeated this and had a poke about a bit of bouldering on the way back. Good effort. 

 

James

Post edited at 07:39
MischaHY - on 28 Aug 2018
In reply to Patrick Roman:

Gosh, what a fantastic piece of writing. I felt like I was there. 

In reply to James Mann:

Just seen a comment by Alex over on the Rusty Peg FB Page:

Pads - low E6
Without - High E7
Tech - 6b

Going by my experience of similar routes in Cornwall and beyond.

The most interesting thing about Franco's ascent - at least in my eyes - is that he actually bothered to go down there and take a look at it. These routes have been lying around for years with only the occasional interest from the likes of Alexis Perry, Ken Palmer, Shane Ohly and a handful of others. In doing so, and in doing it, Franco dispelled the myth of this particular route, making it a whole lot easier for subsequent ascents. That said, it's still good to get a bit of consensus and Alex's ascent undoubtedly helps in getting a better idea of what Academia entails (i.e. there's no way it's E10...).

Now that Academia, Question Mark, Tears of a Clown, and Off the Mark are known entities, the real prize is going out there and getting the others Edwards' routes done. It would be great if more of Mark's other unrepeated routes could get some attention, because there's enough of them, and the numbers attached are astronomical.

jezb1 - on 28 Aug 2018
In reply to UKC News:

From E10 7a to E6/7 6b, that’s quite a grade change!

CurlyStevo - on 28 Aug 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

That and he was bouldering to UK 6b in his first year or so of climbing ;)

In reply to jezb1:

There are other such examples of Edwards' grading anomalies over in Costa Blanca:

I guess from a UK perspective it's nice to see the Cornish routes getting repeated and getting consensus, because there seems to be a lot of mystery surrounding these routes. I guess this is further fuelled by the randomness of the grades and the lack of attention they've received throughout the years.

Hopefully this is all about to change with this renewed sense of interest, because I'm sure that in/amongst Mark's routes there's some absolute stunners. After all, Mark and Roland probably knew/know the Cornish coastline better than any others!

Post edited at 10:38
Tom Last - on 28 Aug 2018
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

In fairness Rob, a great many of Mark's routes have been repeated, at least up to E7, but as you point out his routes go two or three grades above that. Most of these repeats have gone unreported since they're not newsworthy in anything but a local context.

Wall of Attrition at Pellitras Point is the best looking unrepeated mega hard thing of Mark's that I can think of, at E9.

Post edited at 11:09
In reply to Tom Last:

Sorry Tom, should have been clearer with my original post: it was very much those routes I was focussing on. It's good to clarify though, not least because of the ground work that you and many others put in to get the recent round of Cornish guides as daggerless as possible.

Following on from that, I'm there's an article to be written on all this should a keen/local activist and photographer would be willing to write one ;-)

Post edited at 11:20
Tom Last - on 28 Aug 2018
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

No need to apologise Rob, but yeah I get ya, I just didn't want everybody to think we were all slouches down here - although I am ;)

 

Somebody's deactivated this activist, but I'll drop you an email.

Cheers.

Patrick Roman - on 28 Aug 2018
In reply to MischaHY:

 

> Gosh, what a fantastic piece of writing. I felt like I was there.

 

Ha! I never intended for anyone to read it, I only posted the link because of the disclaimer reference  My writing back then was a real work in progress. I think I forced it too much. Since then I’ve written a great deal, about a broad range of experiences I’ve had throughout the world and those pieces read so much better. They’re less contrived, less poetic. Nonetheless, it’s nice to hear you enjoyed the article!

MischaHY - on 29 Aug 2018
In reply to Patrick Roman:

Any more links? Personal I liked the poetic edge because it added more weight to the blunter, focused moments when they arrived. 

Michael Gordon - on 29 Aug 2018
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

I guess the grade, while over the top, isn't stupidly far out if you consider that without pads it may well feel like E8 (even by James Mann's reckoning, and did he do it in that style? Doubtful but who knows). Then again, a padded ascent is surely the most logical way to climb it. Overall, the thing probably hinges on the tech grade (and possibly how nasty one wants to be with it!), as 7a to 6b is massive, but Franco reckoned 6c. 

Arms Cliff - on 29 Aug 2018
In reply to Michael Gordon:

Franco thought it was the same grade as all his hardest ascents, but was climbing it in poor conditions when it was essentially raining, I wasn’t expecting the grade to stick! 

Franco Cookson on 29 Aug 2018
In reply to Arms Cliff:

I was hoping to avoid too much of this style of discussion, but that may have been naive considering the fact that such a big grade was initially given to the route.  In hindsight I should have come out and said that it wasn't E10, probably around E8, but that I can't be too sure as conditions were bad. I didn't want to do this for a number of reasons: I didn't want the headline to be that I'd jumped on the Edwards-bashing bandwagon; I don't have a wide-enough knowledge of UK climbing at this grade; I've only done a handful of routes in Cornwall. A point of clarity on the conditions that day: they were not too bad when I top roped it, quickly became worse, and then actually started humid-raining shortly after I topped out on the solo. Even in terrible conditions however, it's easy to tell the difference between 6a & 7a!

I think we need to keep an eye on what we're hoping to achieve by all this debate. I'm after climbing areas being documented and understood as well as they can be - I don't want an E8 masquerading as and E10, similarly, I don't want people thinking an E8 is E6. I was hoping that those with an interest in this route could read between the lines and do the Maths of a change from 7a to sketchy 6c and the resultant E grade. It's certainly a long way off cutting edge. 

Thinking about it now the grade is important for two reasons: 1) for the accurate documentation of the crag 2) as a kind of trial for Mark Edwards.  I think the original E10 fails on point 1, particularly now pads are going to be used (Maybe E7 for this style - but I can't really comment, as I've not done it thus). On point 2: There seems to be an incredible amount of animosity towards Mark Edwards in the area (only ever seen this online however), but I don't think this route really adds any more weight to the case against Mark Edwards. Whatever else he has or hasn't done, the story of this route needs to be assessed on its own merits. E10 was over the top & 3 stars fanciful, but I don't think this suggests a moral failing. To take that wall on without pads is bold, particularly if you don't know the outcome of a fall, it's a new route and maybe you're not the worlds best slab climber - I'm sure an E8 at Carn Vellan would feel E10 to me! I should have maybe said on here at the time what I said on the climber website: 'I suppose you could put it in that category of “not outrageously hard, but fairly dangerous”. ' I think that sums it up well.

I know Alex Moore is originally from Cornwall, so I'm not sure what his position on Edwards was prior to this ascent. I'd take his grading with a pinch of salt mind, as he seems very keen to project an image as a harsh grader - he's done a few routes up in Northumberland at the E7/8 mark, with comments such as "safe with a wire and pecker - E6". Curiously his initial comment on the grade of this was British 6b/c, which is fair, but for some reason he's now started comparing it to British 6as..

Hopefully this is all one small painful step on the road to one of England's best climbing areas getting it's top end routes sorted out.

Thanks all.

 

Patrick Roman - on 29 Aug 2018
In reply to MischaHY:

 

There’s a couple of other pieces in my profile you can click on. There was another one at the time too but I withdrew it and subsequently deleted my own copy. Everything after that is private for the time being. Btw, thanks for the feedback!

Arms Cliff - on 29 Aug 2018
In reply to Franco Cookson:

Thanks for taking the time to flesh out your thoughts on this Franco

 

Michael Hood - on 29 Aug 2018
In reply to Franco Cookson:

When Mark and Rowland were putting up hard routes in Cornwall they were fairly isolated from the hard climbing scene in other parts of the UK.

I suspect that a lot of Mark's overgrading is actually him not suffering from the grade compression that seems to be a characteristic of UK grading over time.

Arms Cliff - on 29 Aug 2018
In reply to Michael Hood: so are you saying that the Edwards were applying the grading scale correctly and everyone else was getting it wrong? 

 

Michael Hood - on 29 Aug 2018
In reply to Arms Cliff:

To some extent yes. I think they weren't subject to the pressures that inhibited people going into the next grade.

Look how everyone complains that at the top end, the UK grades (especially technical) get wider and wider. If the system had been used properly then this wouldn't have happened.

ali k on 29 Aug 2018
In reply to Franco Cookson:

I have to pick you up on this I'm afraid Franco.

As I said before, good on you for getting out and repeating these routes and helping to dispel some of the myths. However, I think given the headline grabbing E10 number attached to the news article on this site, other climbing sites, and your Instagram page, it was pretty remiss not to clarify the grade. Especially if, as you say now, there is a significant discrepancy between what Mark Edwards gave it and what you thought it to be. E10 down to E7/8 is a massive difference.

> I was hoping that those with an interest in this route could read between the lines and do the Maths of a change from 7a to sketchy 6c and the resultant E grade. It's certainly a long way off cutting edge. 

It shouldn't be up to the wider public to have to 'read between the lines' when they see an E10 headline and click on an article to read about repeats like this. I think it's fair enough if you're not confident about grading routes, especially when travelling to new areas. But I also think it's your responsibility to at least let Natalie or other news editors know that the route is far from the given grade before they use it in the headline. There are literally only a handful of proposed E10 routes in the UK, so it's a f*cking big deal when one gets repeated!

Also, Adam Hocking asked you directly on your Instagram page if it was actually E10. You replied and said 'Certainly not a million miles away'. So, do you think it's close to E10? Or closer to E7, as Alex suggested?

> I know Alex Moore is originally from Cornwall, so I'm not sure what his position on Edwards was prior to this ascent. I'd take his grading with a pinch of salt mind, as he seems very keen to project an image as a harsh grader.

I don't know Alex, but maybe he's just an honest grader that is erring on the side of caution?

Alex moore - on 29 Aug 2018
In reply to UKC News:

For sake of clarity on my thoughts on the grade of Academia I have attached what I wrote on the Rusty Peg Facebook page below:

 "I've not previously commented on what E grade I thought would suit the climb, only compared it to other routes. In comparison to Boomerang wall for example, I found the climbing more straight forward, again scallop at Armathwaite felt more difficult in its climbing. therefore I would suggest that the Tech grade would sit at the higher end of 6b. (the UKC grade voting options do not go this low due to the climb originally being given 7a, therefore I voted "low 6c" in lieu of a "High 6b" voting button)

E grade wise it is hard so say, hence the wide range of grade mentioned above! I worked the moves on a rope, and so never fell on to my pads (the foam's good for another day!), thought like I have said before I'm sure the psychological aspect of having a pad helped me to concentrate on the climbing rather than the fall. Its well understood that the E grade reflects the danger on the route as well as the climbing, pads reduce danger, the E grade is lowered from previous ascents accordingly. I used pads on both Boomerang and Scallop.. have pads, will use! I consider both these routes to be in a similar grade range and with more straight forward climbing I suggest the grade of E6 is appropriate for Academia. 

Karma Kings in Langdale has the grade of E7 6c, I feel this is more dangerous and near impossible to protect with pads and the climbing is substantially harder. A real step up in this style of climbing; but E7 all the same. 

Grades are an absolute f*ck about to use these days with pads and everything else thrown in the mix. This is the very reason I have thus far avoided talking about grades. Nonetheless I have attempted to grade this route honestly and with my justification detailed above I hope it is evident that this process had not been a stab in the dark affair."

Furthermore I'd like to clear up the following:

My feelings toward Mark Edwards extend no further than any other controversial British climber and I would not purposely under-grade a route, this is not my agenda.   

I am not intent on "projecting an image of myself", Leonardo Direct Finish (allured to in Francos comment) really is E6 6c, I hope further ascents will confirm this. 

In my logbook I have compared Academia to Demolition, they're of similar style so this seemed appropriate. I should however make clear that the climbing on Academia is harder. The jumps between English tech grades are quite large as I'm sure anybody still reading this thread is aware. 

Lastly, I can only echo Francos words in that I hope this has added clarity to the grading on Cornish routes.        
        

Michael Gordon - on 30 Aug 2018
In reply to ali k:

I agree with much of that, though would point out that a climber dismissing a headline-grabbing grade does not necessarily stop that grade being used in a headline!

As Alex Moore says, grades can be a bit of a ball-ache when you have to consider both pad and padless ascents. In my view it is often (not in all cases) clear whether using a pad or two will make a considerable difference in protecting a route, and when it does, surely the climb should be graded for an ascent utilising all forms of (widely available) protection? I think in the past, climbers taking a stand against pads for the sake of it, while an interesting stance and making some bold ascents in the process, have been pissing in the wind when it comes to (relatively) short routes like this.   

*Edited to say that the suitability of pads is obviously also venue-specific, and that a nasty bold start to a multi-pitch mountain route is not going to be protected in this way, even it would be effective!

Post edited at 06:18
MischaHY - on 30 Aug 2018
In reply to Alex moore:

> have pads, will use!

This being the only niggler for me in an otherwise very measured and sensible response - I don't personally think it's reasonable to say that pads make only a small difference. Many bold grit routes (Narcissus (E6 6b)White Wand (E5 6a) Archangel (E3 5b) Nosferatu (E6 6b) Renegade Master (E8 6c) and more are considerably softened by pads and can be made (relatively speaking) very safe - but this doesn't change the prospect of the original grade without pads. 

I'm not after scoring points, just pointing out that maybe the grade wouldn't be as much of a f*ck-about if there wasn't a pad thrown into the mix. ;-) 

 

 

Arms Cliff - on 30 Aug 2018
In reply to MischaHY:

Alex seems to have compared this ascent to other E graded climbs of similar length and character that he has climbed. These climbs would have also received their grades for pre pads ascents, so this seems to be a sensible way of coming to a conclusion about what E grade Academia May merit with the are ground. 

AJM - on 30 Aug 2018
In reply to MischaHY:

> This being the only niggler for me in an otherwise very measured and sensible response - I don't personally think it's reasonable to say that pads make only a small difference. 

He's suggesting it makes a solid grade of difference though? Having just re read the post I can't see where the argument you're responding to is made...

MischaHY - on 30 Aug 2018
In reply to Arms Cliff:

Fair point. I was thinking more along the lines of grit solos which basically turn into highballs when done with pads and are very safe. Perhaps this is not the case with this route - and frankly my 'armchair' opinion is really not worth much here. 

Michael Gordon - on 30 Aug 2018
In reply to MischaHY:

"have pads, will use!"

This is only four words, and it seems difficult to me to construe any kind of point from it. I thought he was just being light-hearted!

Hugh Cottam - on 30 Aug 2018
In reply to Michael Gordon:

He has some pads and is happy to use them. Not sure what construing is required.

Michael Gordon - on 30 Aug 2018
In reply to Hugh Cottam:

That was exactly my point.

Post edited at 22:43
pete osullivan on 02 Sep 2018
In reply to Michael Gordon:

Boscawen Point Firstly I would like to congratulate Franco on his ascent. As far as the difference between the 2 routes and at the risk of being attacked by all and sundry let me explain the historical facts. In 1991 I climbed By Stealth on sight with Andy McFarlane on my first visit to the crag. We started some way left of Looking Glass War and climbed direct for about 20 feet to some small holds which enabled me to shuffle rightwards to place a runner in Looking Glass War this is the only point where this is possible on the route. I then moved back left back along the same small holds to above where I started and climbed direct and slightly left to a shallow depression just below the final bulge. When Mark Edwards first led Academia, as she states in his first ascent details, he climbed up about 20 feet and then moved right and put a runner in Looking Glass War then he went back left and climbed up and slightly left to the shallow scoop, sound familiar? I graded By Stealth E4 6b as it was technical and a bit serious near the top. Anyone familiar with Penwith climbing will know that there is a bit of a history of Mark Edwards retro claiming routes and wildly inflating the grades, see Pellitras Point as an example.  I personally couldn't care less but I thought I would put the record straight. In reply to Paul in Sheffield, how can you be so categoric about where I went on the first ascent as you weren't there.  As I have explained above I didn't bypass the crux as described by Mark Edwards I went on the same line. This is unfortunately yet another example of keyboard pundits talking bollocks.  

Post edited at 15:19
jon on 02 Sep 2018
In reply to pete osullivan:

Brilliant Pete! E4 6b to E10 7a in one swell foop!

pete osullivan on 02 Sep 2018
In reply to jon:

I never knew I had it in me but I'm a shy retiring sort 

 

paul__in_sheffield - on 02 Sep 2018
In reply to pete osullivan:

my bad, I thought the grade discrepancy with ME meant By Stealth left lower and came back higher. Congrats on a brill on-sight.

Paul

pete osullivan on 02 Sep 2018
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

Thanks Paul

Post edited at 16:03
Michael Gordon - on 02 Sep 2018
In reply to pete osullivan:

Thanks for that. Just to be clear, are you saying there is no difference at all between the routes? I was a little confused since eggburt said "90% of it is a route called 'By stealth'".

Regarding the grade, Franco was obviously going by not traversing for the gear, which I imagine could make a significant difference?

Post edited at 16:06
Michael Gordon - on 02 Sep 2018
In reply to pete osullivan:

Sorry, I see you've explained this in your crag link.

Ollie Keynes on 04 Sep 2018
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> Regarding the grade, Franco was obviously going by not traversing for the gear, which I imagine could make a significant difference?

E10 to E4... a repeat which gets a zillion comments.

Meanwhile James Squire climbs a proposed font 8c and get 6 comments. What a bizarre world is ukc

Andy Moles - on 05 Sep 2018
In reply to Ollie Keynes:

Comments are not merits, they happen when people have an Opinion.

Bit of controversy = opinions = lots of comments.

Frank the Husky - on 05 Sep 2018
In reply to Ollie Keynes:

> E10 to E4... a repeat which gets a zillion comments.

> Meanwhile James Squire climbs a proposed font 8c and get 6 comments. What a bizarre world is ukc


It isn't at all bizarre. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of font 8c problems in the world. Another one will be good for the guy's sponsors and for himself, but has no real merit in terms of news. It's a very dry and uninteresting event for practically everyone. In contrast, there's plenty of news & juice in this event.

Mike Stretford - on 05 Sep 2018
In reply to Frank the Husky:

> It isn't at all bizarre. That story hasn't got 'E10' or 'Franco Cookson' in the title. 

Fixed that for you Martin....there was no need to be churlish. 

 

Robert Durran - on 05 Sep 2018
In reply to Frank the Husky:

> It isn't at all bizarre. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of font 8c problems in the world. Another one will be good for the guy's sponsors and for himself, but has no real merit in terms of news.

Even if it does have merit in terms of news, it's newsworthiness is not necessarily related to it's comment worthiness; sometimes there really isn't much of interest to say about really big news and sometimes less newsworthy things can prompt much worthwhile discussion.

FactorXXX - on 05 Sep 2018
In reply to Ollie Keynes:

> Meanwhile James Squire climbs a proposed font 8c and get 6 comments. What a bizarre world is ukc

With you not being one of them.

 

Bjartur i Sumarhus on 05 Sep 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

Exactly, Kuwaiti fishmonger sticks googly eyes on his out of date fish to make them look fresher and this news gets shared millions of times globally! 

 

Does Franco Cookson have googly eyes maybe?

Jack_F - on 05 Sep 2018
In reply to Frank the Husky:

Whilst I agree with the amount of comments concerned isn't bizarre. It's your later comment that I find somewhat offensive.

"no real merit in terms of news. It's a very dry and uninteresting event for practically everyone"

I'd say there is a huge amount of merit in it and merit in it being news.

There are only a handful of 8c's in the UK, mainly climbed by the likes of Gaskins, Adams, Varian, Feehally, Skoczylas - (Probably have missed one or two) and they certainly don't get done often. 

Although you are right there is juice in this forum, it's actually pretty old news considering Pete and others have long been siting that this was never E10... 

 

 

 

 

Franco Cookson on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to pete osullivan:

This changes quite a lot in my eyes and I apologise for my part in making the waters more murky. I was maybe so keen to avoid a witch-hunt that I went a bit too far the other way. 

I would say comments like this don't help a balanced conclusion being reached (I know this wasn't your post Pete):

"the people who live down here know the real history of these routes."

If people spout this kind of stuff without a detailed clarification, the only effect you're going to have on visiting climbers is to make them think that people in the area really do unjustly have it in for Mark Edwards (which now doesn't look like the case). Most people coming to the area will be pretty open minded. If they try a route that is mostly independent, British 6b/6c high above a bad landing and there are vague comments making out it's the same route as an E4, even though the E4 has gear, they're going to be more than a little confused!

Generally, I get a bit of a funny feeling when one person gets so much stick, as I think they deserve a fair trail. They might ultimately be found to have been guilty, or at least wrong, but we need to do it right. I'd hope I'd always stick up for someone until the evidence is indisputable. This doesn't mean I support Mark Edwards in any way. I had a good look for info on the route prior to trying it and the only thing that alluded to what you've written above was the bizarre crag description on UKC. In isolation this didn't seem to make any sense. This is now a lot clearer. 

From your reply above it seems clear that you made the first ascent of that wall with a runner in Looking-Glass War. There doesn't seem to be any debate there. I'm sorry for implying you didn't - my understanding was based on incorrect information.

As for the first solo ascent, what are we saying for that? Would that have been Mark Edwards? Or is there more information behind the scenes? There is a significant difference between soloing that wall and doing it with a runner. So I think that's the next thing that's important to find out. 

jon on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to Franco Cookson:

As I understood Pete's post, Mark also put a runner in the right hand route. Apologies if I'm wrong.

Post edited at 10:03
Frank the Husky - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to Mike Stretford:

Exactly, you obviously get my point. "A new 8c" - yawn. "Franco" - interesting.

Tom Last - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to Franco Cookson:

From 2010 West Cornwall Supplement.

F.A. Mark Edwards (solo) no bouldering mats below, no side runners

Climbed by Mark Edwards, Tony Thompson in July 2007 (took three falls due to crystal holds snapping) with a side runner preplaced in Looking-Glass War and considered E7.

 

 

Post edited at 10:26
jon on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to Tom Last:

Muddier and muddier! We'll soon have all the E grades from 4 to 10 represented! But E7 with a preplaced (preclipped?) side runner vs E4 on sight (presumably) placing side runner on lead, doesn't really unmuddy them that much!

Tom Last - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to jon:

 

Sorry, add to that that the date given for the FA (presumably without the runner) of Academia in the supplement is August, 2007.

Hardonicus - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to jon:

I propose an armchair grade of E4(H7) with side runners.

Andy Farnell was wondering if the Hard Sand routes now need recalibrating in light of this...

Post edited at 10:52
Tom Last - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to jon:

"Muddier and muddier!"

Except to say that since we now know that they both (By Stealth and Academia) follow exactly the same ground, either Pete O'Sullivan has graded By Stealth harshly, or that Mark Edwards graded (his repeat of By Stealth) softly - there is no implied criticism there by the way!

 

None of that really clears up the grading of Academia itself, for which we have only Mark's, Franco's and Alex's suggestions to go on.

 

It does throw up an inadequacy in grading systems however, whereby it seems to be broadly accepted that soloing a route of a given grade (where the route in question does actually offer runners) whilst no doubt giving a vastly different experience, doesn't actually change increase grade of that route.

Whereas, there are certainly some instances where the grades of existing bold routes, i.e. with zero runners (some Froggatt slabs for example) are conversely, generally accepted to be revised downwards when a side runner is in place.

This seems like a bit of a contradiction to me and begs the question, which set of rules apply when a route is first ascended with a side-runner, which is later eliminated?

Post edited at 11:15
GrahamD - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to Tom Last:

> It does throw up an inadequacy in grading systems however, whereby it seems to be broadly accepted that soloing a route of a given grade (where the route in question does actually offer runners) whilst no doubt giving a vastly different experience, doesn't actually change increase grade of that route.

That isn't really the grading system so much as choice of style and the way in which routes are described/reported.  Generally you would hope with time that a style consensus is reached for routes which is recorded in the guidebook(s) - and in the majority of cases the accepted style is obvious and uncontentious.  So the grade is whatever the grade is for the generally accepted style of ascent for the route.  If you choose a different style (solo, top rope, side runner - whatever) then obviously your experience will be different. Its clear that in this case the generally accepted style for the route hasn't found a consensus and so the grade debate is a bit meaningless.

Tom Last - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to GrahamD:

Yes, all good points.

"Its clear that in this case the generally accepted style for the route hasn't found a consensus and so the grade debate is a bit meaningless."

Nor will it ever I suspect, given the location and obvious difficulty of the route one way or another, unless everyone's looking for soft E10s these days!

 

Tyler - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to Frank the Husky:

> Exactly, you obviously get my point. "A new 8c" - yawn. "Franco" - interesting.

Yes, if climbing is all about the characters. Similarly, if the cultue of celebrity is more interesting to you than cutting edge climbing then Ben Fogle climbing Everest is interesting and those dudes climbing Latok is yawn. 

Post edited at 12:24
Marek - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to Tyler:

I think you've missed the point: Thread length has little to do with the merits of the climbs - this is a forum ( a place to exchange opinions), not a marking exercise.

Tyler - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to Marek:

> I think you've missed the point: Thread length has little to do with the merits of the climbs - this is a forum ( a place to exchange opinions), not a marking exercise.

I didn't miss the point, I was agreeing with the point whilst also, probably a bit too obliquely, pointing out that it was nonsense to claim an ascent of a cutting edge route has "no real merit in terms of news", although I expect Frank t H was trolling anyway. 

 

Tyler - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to Tom Last:

> "Muddier and muddier!"

> Except to say that since we now know that they both (By Stealth and Academia) follow exactly the same ground, either Pete O'Sullivan has graded By Stealth harshly, or that Mark Edwards graded (his repeat of By Stealth) softly - there is no implied criticism there by the way!

Is this really known? Could there be two lines on the slab, albeit one being a bit strict or eliminate?

> None of that really clears up the grading of Academia itself, for which we have only Mark's, Franco's and Alex's suggestions to go on.

If what you say in the previously posted paragraph is correct we also have Pete O'Sullivan's view. Has Franco given a view on the E grade other than what he wrote on Instagram?

ashtond6 - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to UKC News:

Just a crazy crazy idea...

If its only E4-E7 with a side runner. Why doesn't someone else just go and do it?

Plenty operating at that grade range.

GrahamD - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to ashtond6:

> Why doesn't someone else just go and do it?

> Plenty operating at that grade range.

Better things or better routes to do nearer to home ?

Mike Stretford - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to ashtond6: Alex Moore did go and do it, over pads rather than a side runner, gave it E6 compared to other climbs he's done. See higher up thread.

 

Post edited at 16:42
jon on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to GrahamD:

> So the grade is whatever the grade is for the generally accepted style of ascent for the route.  If you choose a different style (solo, top rope, side runner - whatever) then obviously your experience will be different. 

Absolutely, in the same way that if you solo a sport route it doesn't turn it into a trad route. It is what it is.

 

ashtond6 - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to Mike Stretford:

Already saw, one guy disagrees therefore it needs more of a consensus.

If a 6b/c move at 10m is soft E6, the entire peak needs regrading.

Timmd on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to stp:

> You make a good point but I wouldn't put it exactly like that. I don't know Franco and I'm sure he's very talented to do the stuff he does. I suppose my point is really less about Franco and more about our reactions to such ascents.

> I think we often tend to get dazzled, blinded even, by high grades and performances. I wonder what would the reaction would have been had he done similar but on a route of say Hard Severe? My suspicion is that it would be pretty much the complete opposite.

I'm glad that you've said it's less about Franco. My own feeling on reading about Franco bouncing again is generally one of mild alarm and hoping that his luck doesn't run out. 


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