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ARTICLE: The Five Best Hard Severes in Britain

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 UKC Articles 31 Aug 2016
In a superb position on the overlap of Demo Route, 4 kbHard Severe is a funny old grade. Not quite VS but often far from easy. The very best ones feature interesting climbing throughout and no ledge walking. As Rob Greenwood pointed out in the opening of his recent five best E3s article, the best things about these articles is the endless speculation and debate they stir up. So before we go any further, Main Wall on Cyrn Las doesn't make my list. There. I've said it. And yes, I've done it. And yes I enjoyed it.

Tom Ripley sticks his neck out with this top five Hard Severe article...



Read more
 lummox 31 Aug 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

Haven't done Demo Route : (. Ardverikie just needs to be about three times the length to be perfect ..
In reply to UKC Articles:
A great article Tom but no Right Angle at Gurnard's Head with it's amazing positions reserved for far harder climbs, superb rock and quality of climbing?! Tsk tsk...
Post edited at 14:45
 spenser 31 Aug 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

If Mutiny Crack has any place in this article then Raven's Buttress (HS) is also deserving of a mention, amazing moves for the grade on bigger jugs than riders on the storm!
In reply to UKC Articles:

To have Christmas Crack in the top five, and relegate Main Wall and Moss Ghyll Grooves to also-rans, is quite absurd. Also, Doorpost is a better than Demo Route. Tophet Wall, though, is probably the best in the country.
3
 Tom Ripley 31 Aug 2016
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
> To have Christmas Crack in the top five, and relegate Main Wall and Moss Ghyll Grooves to also-rans, is quite absurd. Also, Doorpost is a better than Demo Route. Tophet Wall, though, is probably the best in the country.

Hi Gordon,

I think you are taking this a little too seriously. The idea of the article is to give a flavour of the best our country has to offer, hence one route from each area. Christmas Crack may be short, but it is on good solid rock, with great moves from start to finish.

Moss Ghyll Grooves is Mild VS so it doesn't really count.

And whilst Doorpost may be better than Demo Route, I have a very distinct memory of slapping round left in extremis as a wide-eyed teenager on Demo Routes. Whilst my memory of Doorpost, which I climbed a few years afters, is just a fuzzy haze of enjoyment. (I also think Commando Ridge is far better than both!).

Cheers,

Tom

P.S: They're all good.
Post edited at 14:57
 Simon Caldwell 31 Aug 2016
In reply to Tom Ripley:

One from each area? Can I nominate Hadrian's Buttress (HS 4b) for Northumberland (it's really VS 4c but you're going by guidebook grades).

And Forest Face (HS 4b) for the NY Moors.
1
 GrahamD 31 Aug 2016
In reply to Tom Ripley:

Nice article Tom, and as you say a good discussion starter. I agree with your view on MVS - its either worth VS or it isn't - and there are plenty of soft VS 4bs around which aren't.

Personally I much prefer Demo Route to Doorpost so its obviously totally subjective.

For me I'd have Central Groove on Dewerstone in as a worthy mention and I'd have Manchester Butress as my HS on grit.
 Steve Perry 31 Aug 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:
Gotta say I thought Tophet Wall was brilliant. Out of the others I've done I'd swap Christmas Crack with Shark Crack at Sheigra any day. I always really liked Fairy Steps at Heptonstall too.
Post edited at 15:30
1
 Big Lee 31 Aug 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

I think Dives/Better Things (VS 4b) is probably still my favour HS. Although I see it is VS in the RockFax guide. Wall Street (HS 4b) probable my second favourite as loads of atmosphere for the grade I thought. Only done Christmas Crack on this list, which I thought was pleasant enough, although wouldn't be on my shortlist, although generally short routes never are.
 Leslie57 31 Aug 2016
In reply to Big Lee:

Having done all the routes described in the article I think that Flannel Avenue at Chair Ladder would be up there amongst the leaders!
 The Ivanator 31 Aug 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:
If you want to extend 5 to 50 here's a UK wide list I compiled after Forum discussion
http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/set.php?id=381
In reply to UKC Articles:
Good article Tom, even though I gave you a lot of shit for it whilst you were putting it together (n.b. always good to keep you on your toes).

My original list consisted of:

Main Wall
Tophet Wall
Central Groove (Dewerstone)
Devil's Slide
Doorpost
Ardverekie Wall
Creag Ddu Wall
Right Angle

Personally I'd have sacked off Christmas Crack + Mutiny Crack for much the same reasons as a few others suggested: they're a bit short, thus - at least from what I recall compared to the others - quite forgettable (nice though they are). Still, maybe I'm being cynical. As you summed up perfectly "they're all good routes"!

As for Final's Flue, genius...
Post edited at 16:16
 TMM 31 Aug 2016
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

The first mention of Central Groove!

First route I think of at the grade. 'Traverse right on dinner plate holds to an airy stance'
 GrahamD 31 Aug 2016
In reply to TMM:

At 15.06 ^^
 TMM 31 Aug 2016
In reply to GrahamD:

Phew! Was concerned that maybe it had fallen down, fallen out of fashion or had been re-graded!
1
 GrahamD 31 Aug 2016
In reply to TMM:

Oops just accidentally disliked your post when I meant reply

As far as I'm concerned Central Groove is benchmark HS. And total quality.
 Noelle 31 Aug 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

Great to see Devil's Slide in there. Absolutely amazing view from the top. And all of the way up, thinking about it. Lundy is such a special place.

I'd also argue for Fairy Steps at Heptonstall being in there. One of my very first leads (Cheers Martin) and when done in a single pitch, is character forming in the best way.
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Dives/Better Things is a good suggestion.
 BarrySW19 31 Aug 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:
I guess, from my limited number of HS routes my top three would be (not sure in what order):

Demo Route (Sennen)
Bow-Shaped Slab (Pembroke)
Central Groove (Dewerstone)

Wall Street (Swanage) comes pretty close too. It should probably get extra marks for giving the Boulder Ruckle feel without the scary top-out.
Post edited at 17:11
 Babika 31 Aug 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

Can't argue with any of the choices, but when you said "I soloed Main Wall in 2015" I kind of got deflated.

IMHO these articles are best drawn up by climbers who operate predominantly in that grade and therefore have a real view of the excitement of a Hard Severe and the exposure/difficulty it brings. I guess if you just romp up solo you probably don't notice the fear of looking up that final wall thinking "is there any gear up there?"
1
 Michael Gordon 31 Aug 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

Personally I'd have had Eagle Ridge at the top of this list (felt HS to me). In a similar vein there could a strong argument for including Integrity.
 Michael Gordon 31 Aug 2016
In reply to Babika:

Dunno, some easy routes can feel pretty mind blowing on the solo. And fear can definitely play a part!
 CurlyStevo 31 Aug 2016
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Yeah Demo route only actually has a couple of moves of great climbing IMO. The initial section is ok, the chimney is awkward and not particularly satisfying, going up and around the overlap is good mind.

I agree many other HS climbs are better.
In reply to BarrySW19:

Funnily enough when I asked Mark Glaister about his thoughts he suggested Wall Street too. I've not done it, but have done Quality Street, and remember that feeling totally out there at the grade too. Pretty impressive that anything can climb out of Boulder Ruckle at the HS-VS mark mind you, it's so steep!!

He also suggestedMyola (HS 4b) in Pembroke and Shangri-La (S 4a) at Baggy Point (although that does get Severe from what I recall), so we can add those to the ever growing list too.

As for Dives/Better Things, I really enjoyed that too - a lovely route up unlikely terrain.

 spenser 31 Aug 2016
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

I climbed Myola at the weekend, beyond the position of the route it doesn't merit any great note I didn't think. Caerfai Crack (HS 4b) is a much better HS in Pembrokeshire (although I still need to do Diedre Sud).
 BnB 31 Aug 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

No mention of Integrity? I know it's VS in the guidebook owing to the (optional) direct finish but the original way out right reduces the difficulty significantly. There are few routes better at any grade and Integrity is HS all the way.
In reply to spenser:

That's interesting, I've never actually done it so it's interesting to know. That said, I was down in Pembroke last weekend so may well have bumped into you without knowing it!

Diedre Sud is fantastic: highly recommended (although maybe not with that swell we had on Sunday).
 spenser 31 Aug 2016
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

I think half of Britain's climbers were in Pembroke last weekend! It looks like I may be down that way with work for a few weeks next year so I'll need to pull my finger out and work through some of the classics which I've not done yet!
For a HS Myola is in a pretty out there position, the chaps who climbed it before us said that Myopia was far better having climbed that immediately after.
 jonnie3430 31 Aug 2016
In reply to jonnie3430:

Integrity is great but I think it was Severe when I first read about it and wanted to do it and VS when I actually did. Has it ever been HS? I'm just back from a tour round Scotland and had my old Kev Howett guide with us, so remembered that when I did the Old Man of Stoer it was the best (and hardest) Hard Severe I had done. I think Northern Highland vol. 2 gives it the more sensible VS.

I can't say I've ever paid much attention to the HS grade - it never seemed a very 'real' grade, really just top end severes or low end VSs. Perhaps the SMC didn't use it much in their guidebooks which were formative to my climbing. But of all the ones mentioned here, Central Groove on the Dewerstone has to be the best I've done. Zelda at Wintour's get HS as well and that's a pretty cool experience considering its on English inland limestone which is very far from the best rock. Funnily, according to my records I've done Demo Route but don't remember an awful lot about it, Flannel Avenue done on the same trip 22 years ago left a stronger impression.
 TMM 31 Aug 2016
In reply to GrahamD:

> Oops just accidentally disliked your post when I meant reply

> As far as I'm concerned Central Groove is benchmark HS. And total quality.

You're forgiven!

FYI. The like/dislike function is just like a toggle switch. Hit the like button and you will remove the dislike.

Totally agree that it is a benchmark route.
 gribble 31 Aug 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

I've always enjoyed Covent Garden at Millstone - well worth it for the second pitch. That said, I see that it seems to have been bumped up to VS. It's not! It's deffo HS, 2 4b pitches.
1
 SenzuBean 31 Aug 2016
In reply to spenser:

> I climbed Myola at the weekend, beyond the position of the route it doesn't merit any great note I didn't think. Caerfai Crack (HS 4b) is a much better HS in Pembrokeshire (although I still need to do Diedre Sud).

Sea Mist (HS 4a) is another good Pembroke HS.

1
 SenzuBean 31 Aug 2016
In reply to The Ivanator:

> If you want to extend 5 to 50 here's a UK wide list I compiled after Forum discussion


Love your ticklist! Only done a few, but they've all been quality
 Trangia 31 Aug 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

I'm surprised to see Devil's Slide in the list. It's very popular, but I thought it disappointing for the Grade and think it hardly merits Severe.

Full marks for including Doorpost though, also Creag Dhu Wall. I agree with the suggestion to include Better Things
 Captain Solo 31 Aug 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:
Just throwing a few more Scottish ones out there...
Leac Glas (HS 4b) lovely gabbro slabs
Shark Crack (HS 4b) wild steep corner crack above the waves
Tennis Shoe (HS 4b) seem to remember this was fun (worthwhile Welsh number)
Grey Slab (Summer) (HS 4b) ok the exit pitch lets it down
Open Secret (HS 4b) immaculate gneiss slabs
Butterknife (HS 4b) more immaculate gneiss with a jaw dropping backdrop
Nirvana Wall (HS 4b) a fine steep rhyolite wall
The Talisman (Summer) (HS 4a) Varied climbing with a nippy crux
Final Tower Direct (HS 4a) adventurous climbing well worth seeking out
Commando Crack (HS) steep and interesting climbing, harder than it looks
Jack o' Diamonds (VS 5a) great gabbro in a fantastic setting, not VS 5a!


 Doug 31 Aug 2016
In reply to TobyA:
I'm struggling to remember any Scottish HS, maybe it wasn't widely used by the SMC (I thought Adverikie Wall was just S but haven't checked). Elsewhere I always felt that MVS were usually easier - often delicate if poorly protected - than HS which often seemed to have one or a few thuggish, but often protected, moves.

& how did you & Dave manage in Scotland last week ?

edit to add - Captain Solo has added a list, many of which I've done but had remembered as S, except Grey Slab which I though deserved at least VS (assuming its the one on Sputan Dearg)
Post edited at 19:36
 Captain Solo 31 Aug 2016
In reply to Doug:
Have also just noticed that The Ivanator has covered most of these on his ticklist
 petestack 31 Aug 2016
In reply to Doug:

> I thought Adverikie Wall was just S but haven't checked

Lang and Hunter graded it Mild Severe and it's somehow crept up to HS. It's absolutely glorious, but I've never seen it as HS, can't understand why people think it is and would personally class it absolutely straight Severe.
1
 Jim 1003 31 Aug 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

Slightly odd article as the author doesn't seem to have done all the routes???

Having done them all, there's better out there...particularly in Scotland....
1
 Zoomer 31 Aug 2016
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

I've just climbed on Hadrians this weekend....sandbag ahoy!!! However I thought that Main Wall on the same crag was superb and surprised it doesn't get a mention more often.
 Zoomer 31 Aug 2016
In reply to Trangia:

I agree, Devils Slide over rated. Great position and feature though.
 Zoomer 31 Aug 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

Why of why was not Right Angle included???? Amazing climbing and an 'experience' at that grade....come to think of it, what about Diedre Sud at Mowing Word!
 Dr_C 31 Aug 2016
In reply to BnB:
It was V Diff when I did it in the 60's! Pretty sensational position for the grade I thought.

Post edited at 22:35
 jonnie3430 31 Aug 2016
In reply to TobyA:

It is the HS to rule them all, the HS to find them, the HS to bring them all and in the darkness bind them...
In reply to UKC Articles:

Cheers for the article, although everyone will have a different opinion on what the 'best 5' HS are it's just very refreshing to see a punter-centric article amongst the reports of athletes pushing their limits on things and in places I'll never get on/to. Also reminded me of the great Ivanator ticklist which is a wonderful source of inspiration!

 Tom Last 31 Aug 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

Demo Route isn't even the best hard severe at the crag.
1
 james mann 31 Aug 2016
In reply to Tom Last:

I'm with you on that Tom.

James
 Mike Conlon 31 Aug 2016
In reply to james mann: Ok then, seeing as we are heading down for a week, which is the best HS at Sennen ? PS I do have considerable knowlege of the cliff but would be interested in your opinion.
 Steve Perry 01 Sep 2016
In reply to Captain Solo:

I forgot about Open Secret, that is a great route. I thought Leac Glas was overrated, was it given 4**** by Gary Latter's guide? We thought 2** max when we did it, but it's all personal opinion I guess.
 Michael Gordon 01 Sep 2016
In reply to jonnie3430:

> It is the HS to rule them all, the HS to find them, the HS to bring them all and in the darkness bind them...

This one?

The Ring (HS 4b)
2
 Simon Caldwell 01 Sep 2016
In reply to TobyA:

> I can't say I've ever paid much attention to the HS grade - it never seemed a very 'real' grade, really just top end severes or low end VSs.

Benchmark 4a is Severe. Benchmark 4b is HS. benchmark 4c is VS. Without HS where do the 4b routes go?
 GrahamD 01 Sep 2016
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

> Benchmark 4b is HS.

....or should be. Unfortunately far too many 4bs are given VS which distorts the picture.
 Offwidth 01 Sep 2016
In reply to Simon Caldwell:
If grades were tidy like that but they are not. HS is often the same as MVS and the benchmark tech is arguably a rising target near the border for all those tech grades ie 3c/ 4a for S; 4a/4b for HS; low 4c for VS . It's only really mid 5a for HVS and then it all breaks down again in the extreme grades. Moff and I have tried to regularise grades slightly and use HVD and HS more, to help new trad climbers get it and progress . Sadly in some cases the numbers seem to lock some into conservativism (eg have you onsighted a route given E1 yet.... someone with your skill level and experience and inspired by the rock should have done quite a few by now).
Post edited at 10:28
1
 GrahamD 01 Sep 2016
In reply to Offwidth:

Arguably the problem is that the rising scale has come about because of grade creep. If the scale was consistently applied and stupid subgrades like MVS were consigned to the dustbin it would work well.


 CurlyStevo 01 Sep 2016
In reply to Offwidth:
I disagree if low 4c was benchmark VS and mid 5a for HVS you'd seen more HVS 4c which weren't bold horror shows. Apart from at Swanage you see very few well protected HVS 4c ( and even there in many cases the HVS 4c climbs actually have a 5a move on them) - For example Aventura I think is 5a to get extablished on pitch 1, Finale Groove I think is 5a going through the buldge where the tat is etc.

I'm not a big fan of MVS or HVD, many areas don't use these grades. I think you have S 4a, HS 4b VS 4c and HVS 5a all falling in the middle of the adj / tech grades in many areas although some areas tend to have more HVS 5b and others more E1 5b IMO.
Post edited at 10:46
1
In reply to CurlyStevo:

So: drop Xmas crack (obviously), reinstate Main Wall, and replace Demo Route with Right Angle.
 Big Lee 01 Sep 2016
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

Bowfell Buttress is benchmark HS
 Simon Caldwell 01 Sep 2016
In reply to Offwidth:

> HS is often the same as MVS

Yes but MVS isn't a real grade

> eg have you onsighted a route given E1 yet

Yes. Admittedly I thought I was on a VS 4b at the time...

> someone with your skill level and experience and inspired by the rock should have done quite a few by now

Maybe so, but what's the point? There are already more good routes at my grade than I'll have time to do before I peg it. I'm currently at my limit/scared shitless on a VS. Why the need to move that limit to E1?
 james mann 01 Sep 2016
In reply to Mike Conlon:

Civvy route is very good but in my mind vertical crack is the winner although is fairly strong for hard severe. . Monday face gets vs but isn't poorly protected like the guide says and has straight forward 4b climbing. Think it got severe for years.

Right Angle is the best hard severe in penwith by a country mile. Flannel avenue and Pegasus at chair ladder are miles better than demo route. Kernyck at cribba is also a brilliant and challenging pitch at hard severe. Autumn flakes at bosigran is great as is dong and ochre slab 2 although these both get severe but are certainly at the top end of the grade and might be soft vs elsewhere in the country.
James
1
 CurlyStevo 01 Sep 2016
In reply to james mann:

Autumn flakes has been HS for donkeys yonks hasn't it? (unless its been downgraded again)
 james mann 01 Sep 2016
In reply to CurlyStevo:

I don't think you read carefully. I was referring to dong and os2.
James
 Offwidth 01 Sep 2016
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

The rock matters way more than the numbers. You are clearly not at your limit at VS from you have done and the tough graded areas you climb on. From what others claim here you are probably a solid VS leader. If something inspires, why not climb it if you can... none of us know what faces us tomorrow. Using your bogus argument there are enough S and below routes to climb in your lifetime without troubling this thread. I've got scared shitless on routes given VD before and commonly on many a correctly graded Yorkshire VS, yet have onsighted many routes I knew were given E grades because they looked good and suited my skills.
1
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

As severe or VS I guess. I understand the logic, I'm just vague on lower tech grades anyway, and looking in my logbook you will see I've done dozens if not hundreds of grit routes around those grades since moving to Sheffield. Not sure I really know what 4a or 4b feels like - some better sense of 4c, 5a and 5b (5c onwards tend to all just be "can't").
 Offwidth 01 Sep 2016
In reply to CurlyStevo:

Partly because VS and HVS are wide adjectival grades... I'm just going on my impression of the distributions: low 4c for VS and to be clearer above mid 5a for HVS. I agree distributions vary from area to area and what we mean by grades vary from area to area... sometimes it's because the rock leads the grade (eg compact rock gives more bold grades) sometimes an area traditionally grades easier or tougher (many of Simon's scary Northumberland, N Yorks or YMC VS climbs might be E1 in some soft graded venues) and grades do creep.

A lot of the list options on this thread are (in my view usually fairly) upgraded routes (... except of course Bowfell Buttress which is not HS).
1
 Offwidth 01 Sep 2016
In reply to TobyA:

You have to be careful with Rockfax logbook data on S 4a... Chris generally stuck this tech grade on whether it deserved it or not.
1
 CurlyStevo 01 Sep 2016
In reply to Offwidth:

yeah perhaps some Northumberland VS would be E1 at Sheigra
In reply to Offwidth:

Mainly using the BMC books now I've earned some money and invested in them. Backed off Amazon Crack at Stanage recently, I didn't like the top section where the crack fades and it's just flatties, but anyway that gave me two chances to 'enjoy' the crux and think that's quite hard for 4a (there's an HS4b about to its right which I'm sure was easier).
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

> Yes but MVS isn't a real grade

Nor is HS. Odd choice of grade for an article........
4
 spenser 01 Sep 2016
In reply to CurlyStevo:

Apparently there's worse at Callerhues!
 Offwidth 01 Sep 2016
In reply to TobyA:

You must be missing holds on the arete on AC (it's not cheating)!?
1
 Offwidth 01 Sep 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

It's at the peak of the logged routes grade data. Its the opposite of odd.
1
 lummox 01 Sep 2016
In reply to Captain Solo:

Open Secret near Gairloch ? A cracking pitch from what I remember, but only one great pitch. Otherwise so so.
In reply to Offwidth:

> It's at the peak of the logged routes grade data.

Maybe (whatever that means!), but I don't think it is considered to be a full grade in its own right (as HVS undoubtedly is) but rather a subdivision of Severe.

3
 Simon Caldwell 01 Sep 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I don't think it is considered to be a full grade in its own right (as HVS undoubtedly is) but rather a subdivision of Severe.

Most of us who climb around that grade will probably disagree with that
 GrahamD 01 Sep 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

HS is a proper grade. There is a very clear grade step from S to HS and from HS to VS. Unfortunately (IMO) its a grade that isn't generally used properly so there are just too many routes given VS 4b or MVS 4b which really ought to be HS.
In reply to GrahamD and Simon Caldwell:

> Most of us who climb around that grade will probably disagree with that

> HS is a proper grade. There is a very clear grade step from S to HS

For anyone climbing at a particular grade (ie about as hard as they climb) it will feel as if there is a clear step up between the middle of the grade and the top of the grade - possibly beween the possible and the impossible! For instance I would feel a significant difference between an average E3 and a top end E3 and would quite appreciate an HE3 or E3+ subdivision (as has indeed occasionally been used) but would probably not notice the difference between S and HS. Probably the same for anyone operating at any grade.

Do those who see HS as a full grade feel the same about HD and HVD?

I presume the uncontroversial use of HVS as a full grade stems from the days when VS was the top grade so HVS expanded upwards without a buffer of another grade above to become a wide band in itself.
In reply to all:

I think you need something between Severe and VS, based on the assumption that benchmark Severe is 4a and benchmark VS is 4c. It's hard to see the sense in using both HS and MVS in the same guidebook, but I think you need one or the other for routes that are benchmark, reasonably well protected 4b.

VS4b makes sense to me when you have something that is fairly sustained at 4b but very bold. This seems to be how it's often used and I think that's OK.

My impression of climbing in the Lakes is that MVS is often used for routes that have more than one move of 4b and reasonable protection. I usually know what I'll get with MVS and it's definitely not a VS but also it's definitely not a Severe. In the Lakes, HS seems to be used for routes that are not VS but somehow otherwise hard to grade. They often seem to be Severes that have one bit that is weird, very hard, very bold or just plain surprising in an unpleasant way. I'd much rather get on a MVS that I've not done before than a HS I've not done before in the Lakes. I think the weirdness of Lakes HS routes is compounded by the fact that, until more recently, it wasn't unusual for there to be no technical grade given. Newer guides seem to be giving technical grades for HS, which makes the confusion over HS/MVS more apparent.
 Simon Caldwell 01 Sep 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

HS is a grade below the hardest I climb, and to me there is a clear difference between it and Severe. Can you tell the difference between 4a and 4b? If not then you won't be able to differentiate S and HS.
 petestack 01 Sep 2016
In reply to cathsullivan:

> I think you need something between Severe and VS, based on the assumption that benchmark Severe is 4a and benchmark VS is 4c. It's hard to see the sense in using both HS and MVS in the same guidebook, but I think you need one or the other for routes that are benchmark, reasonably well protected 4b.

I'd agree with every word of that, with a clear preference for calling it HS.

> VS4b makes sense to me when you have something that is fairly sustained at 4b but very bold. This seems to be how it's often used and I think that's OK.

Me too.
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

> HS is a grade below the hardest I climb, and to me there is a clear difference between it and Severe.

That doesn't surprise me - the nearer you are to your limit the more you'll notice the difference between mid grade and top of a grade. My current limit is E3 and I can certainly tell the difference between average E2 and top end E2 (but I wouldn't argue for splitting the grade.

> Can you tell the difference between 4a and 4b?

I don't know. I'd have to go and do some to find out!
 GrahamD 01 Sep 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

HS is still two or three grades below where I operate and I would say that to me there is still a clear grade step between what I consider VD-S-HS-VS-HVS-E1-E2 (ie discounting ridiculous up grades). Personally HVD and MS feel like a non-grade, probably put there because so many Ds are given VD so tough but genuine VD starts to feel like an outlier. Similarly MVS is a non grade.
 CurlyStevo 01 Sep 2016
In reply to cathsullivan:
I don't think a climb needs to be bold to be VS 4b as long as its too pumpy / sustained to be HS it could still be well protected.

trying to think of good examples but this comes to mind
http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=31115
Post edited at 17:36
In reply to CurlyStevo:

> I don't think a climb needs to be bold to be VS 4b as long as its too pumpy / sustained to be HS it could still be well protected.

Yes, agreed - very sustained 4b could be VS too.
 GrahamD 01 Sep 2016
In reply to cathsullivan:

In theory, but I can't think of any off the top of my head. At 4b routes start to be less pumpy, I think, as there are usually rests between moves. To me, routes like Inverted V should never get VS 4b. They are either VS 4C (which some might argue with increased polish) or it should be HS 4b. Blue Sky possibly.
In reply to UKC Articles:

Terrific article. There's always lots of debate around the grade and I'm coming late to it having not looked at the site for a few days. Hopkinson's Crack (HS 4b) is a lovely climb, perhaps not in the top five (...or ten...) on absolute quality but a gem nonetheless. Zelda (HS 4b) always flutters between the grades (HS or MVS? Do it and decide for yourself)) but like many routes at Wintour's Leap is worth doing for the view. And Grendel (VS 4b), given VS here but is a soft touch at the grade, one of those routes I think is on the border between HS and VS, is worth the (admittedly long) walk in.

I'll now go and read the rest of the comments...

T.
In reply to GrahamD:

So what would you give something that's 4b with very little gear?

And how would you differentiate it from something that's well protected 4b?
In reply to cathsullivan:

> So what would you give something that's 4b with very little gear?

Mild VS

> And how would you differentiate it from something that's well protected 4b?

Hard Severe
 Offwidth 01 Sep 2016
In reply to cathsullivan:

A few very bold but currently graded VS 4b routes really should be HVS: anything with a 4b move where you will be in serious trouble if you fall. Sunset Slab is the classic example where it does get used correctly. Most MVS routes I've climbed (mainly Lakes and YMC), either felt like very solid VS (minor sandbags) or standard HS (ie a HS but with a protected 4b crux) , not something in the middle. I think it's either a non-grade like Graham, or another way of saying HS, and without popular benchmarks won't be convinced otherwise.
1
 CurlyStevo 01 Sep 2016
In reply to GrahamD:
there is tonnes of them on grit which are the wrong grade and should be HS 4b or VS 4c.

Nelson's Nemesis (VS 4b) should be HS 4b
Right-Hand Crack (VS 4b) should be VS 4c
Square Chimney & Whisky Crack (HS 4b) should be HS/VS 4c
Straight Crack (VS 4c) should be HS 4b

etc
Post edited at 18:29
 CurlyStevo 01 Sep 2016
In reply to Offwidth:

I seem to fail on MVS in northumberland more than on HS or VS climbs, quite often some awkward move thats hard to work out.
In reply to UKC Articles:

Nice one Tom, didn't realise you'd used the photo of me on the The Devil's Slide (HS 4a) until now. It was certainly a route remember!
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

I can kind of see the sense in that but am still not entirely convinced it's worth using both hs and mvs in the same guide.
 GrahamD 02 Sep 2016
In reply to cathsullivan:

> So what would you give something that's 4b with very little gear?

There is no reason why middle of the grade has to mean really well protected. I think this is a modern interpretation where if there isn't a solid runner every 2 metres the grade has to go up. So VS 4c does not (or should not) mean WELL protected for VS, it means (or should mean) its AVERAGELY protected - which could feel spaced (think Hargreaves Original or High Nebb).

So if a 4b climb genuinely has very poor gear (where it matters), then give it VS 4b. But this should be the exception rather than the norm.

Of course if it really is a a well protected short lived 4b then its S 4b.

 Michael Gordon 02 Sep 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

I can never understand it when some folk say HS isn't a 'real' grade. You only have to compare the difference between V-diff and Severe (only a little) with the much bigger difference between Severe and VS to see that it's silly not having something in between.
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> I can never understand it when some folk say HS isn't a 'real' grade. You only have to compare the difference between V-diff and Severe (only a little) with the much bigger difference between Severe and VS to see that it's silly not having something in between.

Oh well, can't say I'd noticed, but if that's the concensus........
So is HS now a fully fledged full grade on an equal status with HVS?

2
 Offwidth 02 Sep 2016
In reply to GrahamD:

Despite all the professed love for the UK trad grading system and its utility to express risk, too many do seem reluctant to use it properly. Too many moan that a chop route is adjectivally overgraded at VS 4a, HVS 4b, E1 4c etc or that a safe isolated boulder problem move from a ledge gets undergraded at VD 4a, S 4c, HS 5a, VS 5b...
1
 Simon Caldwell 02 Sep 2016
In reply to CurlyStevo:

> I don't think a climb needs to be bold to be VS 4b as long as its too pumpy / sustained to be HS it could still be well protected.

To me this would be the perfect example of a pumpy sustaind VS 4b, except it's given 4c
The Nose (VS 4c)

 Offwidth 02 Sep 2016
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

I m not sure about the route being a 'perfect' example but agree with the sentiment... a move that feels hard because you are getting tired doesn't make it technically harder. A sustained 4b effort with other factors like an exposed position or inescapability (like say most of A Dream of White Horses) should also justify HVS in its own right.

Sadly Stanage logbook votes are pretty distorted on starred routes at the bottom end of the VS band (you can subtract at least a quarter of an adjectival and tech grade from the vote average of the easiest 3 star classic VS climbs there)
1
 The Ivanator 02 Sep 2016
In reply to Offwidth:

I hate hard moves off ledges, even if you get gear in it's often going to be no use in terms of preventing a broken ankle, I much prefer a well protected crux on steeper ground, as long as there are good holds to place gear from - I've noticed that the first type of route I described (the ankle breaker) often gets the HS 5a, VS 5b etc. whereas the steep crux which is well protected and easily placed usually gets a higher adjectival grade.
Still no grading system is perfect and with a reasonable amount of experience you can often interpret the vagaries of the British system once you are stood at the foot of a route.
 The Ivanator 02 Sep 2016
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

A correctly graded route of the type you describe (long, sustained, pumpy, but well protected) would be Questor (VS 4c) in the Wye Valley.
In reply to The Ivanator:

> I hate hard moves off ledges, even if you get gear in it's often going to be no use in terms of preventing a broken ankle,

I suspect you're not alone. I think on long multi-pitch routes, the answer to a single disproportionately hard move off a stance is combined tactics (if needed) not upgrading the whole route to a higher grade. That's the issue with Bowfell Buttress, I think (although it's years since I did it).

> Still no grading system is perfect and with a reasonable amount of experience you can often interpret the vagaries of the British system once you are stood at the foot of a route.

I guess that's what we always come back to.

 Offwidth 02 Sep 2016
In reply to The Ivanator:
We all have our preferences on easy but bold vs safe but hard, but your fear of ankle breaks seems disproportionate to me: they are not to be expected from a 1m slip onto a good landing with your second paying attention as a spotter ... those are the boulder problem moves I was thinking of (often very short routes that should get boulder grades anyway due to lack of any pro like the Dane routes at Birchen). Bowfell Buttress is a good example of a multipitch route where things have got daft.. giving that route HS for a short wall above a good landing messes up the trad grading system: its a VDiff with a toughish 4a crux that can be spotted (with a shove if required) . At the other extreme we have Lands End Long Climb... given VD** 4a in the brand new CC guide with that top wall harder and way more scary than the crux on Tophet Wall (The Elbow Crack and traverse/jump also deserve HS in their own right in my view).
Post edited at 10:33
2
In reply to Simon Caldwell: Similarly with The Punk a bit further left at Stanage; another ex VS 4b now improperly given 4c.
 Offwidth 02 Sep 2016
In reply to Michael Hood:

Thats a better grit example.... of course its only 4c in the more recent Rockfax guides but that sadly forces the forum grade.
1
 GarethSL 02 Sep 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

Another shout for Central Groove being in the top 7 (or probably 10 by now)

two pitches of granitic gloriousness and tourmaline brilliance. Just f*cking brilliant at the grade.
 The Ivanator 02 Sep 2016
In reply to Offwidth:

Your argument sounds reasonable, though there are certainly examples of routes where more than a 1m slip onto a benign landing is the risk.
A few that spring to mind: California Here I Come (HS 5a) is above a rock ledge, the gear placed from the ground is swiftly redundant and you are quite high before things ease - definitely ankle breaking territory.
If I recall correctly the 5b moves at the start of the final pitch of Direct Route (VS 5b) don't have a friendly landing (though I guess the potential for spotting is there).
Before useful gear and easier climbing you are high enough for spotting to be fairly redundant on the hard start to Jeffcoat's Buttress (HS 5a) (admittedly the landing is grassy, but I certainly didn't want to fall placing the post-crux runner).
 Mark Bull 02 Sep 2016
In reply to The Ivanator:

> Still no grading system is perfect and with a reasonable amount of experience you can often interpret the vagaries of the British system once you are stood at the foot of a route.

From a mathematical point of view, there is no way you can represent three variables (e.g. difficulty of hardest move, protection, sustainedness) using two values (adjectival grade and tech grade) without some loss of information. As you say, reading the guidebook and/or visual inspection will provide the missing information in almost all cases.

 Offwidth 02 Sep 2016
In reply to The Ivanator:
Jeffcoats is the upper limit of HS to me (would be VS at Stanage). Direct Route seemed fine to me... hard move for a VS but not HVS nor desperate for 5b. Not done the other route. Yorkshire grit used to be famous for scary VS 5a sandbags. Route 2 and Old Lace at Crookrise got an upgrade but I'm sure some are still there.
Post edited at 11:21
1
In reply to Mark Bull: Well actually you can as long as the third variable is totally dependant on the other two which would be the case in something like...

x + y + z = 0

However I agree that this isn't the case with adjectival/tech grades; the missing bit from those actually consists of more than one item so effectively you've got something where the mathematical analogy would be something like...

x + y + z1 + z2 + ... + zn = 0

 lummox 02 Sep 2016
In reply to Offwidth:

What's that arete near Marble Wall at Stanage ? Gets HS and is really quite tasty. Seem to recall a bit of potential for pranging yourself.
In reply to Offwidth: I always reckoned that the main reason that Direct Route (VS 5b) isn't HVS is because it can be outwitted by combined tactics or by doing a pendulum from the flakes above the belay.

Doh, I always reckon that the two main reasons...

Etc.

NOETSI
 GrahamD 02 Sep 2016
In reply to lummox:

HS does not mean that there is no chance of a prang, though. There are plenty of mountain VDs where a fall would be really nasty but they are still VDs, for instance. HS does not mean safe, it means Hard Severe
In reply to Michael Hood:

> Similarly with The Punk a bit further left at Stanage; another ex VS 4b now improperly given 4c.

Why "improperly"? I thought the moves on the Punk were pretty tough, and I had already done a load of VS routes that day so was in a good position to compare.

Come on chaps, it's rock climbing grading. There's not some meter that can scientifically say how hard a move is.
 Mark Bull 02 Sep 2016
In reply to Michael Hood:

> Well actually you can as long as the third variable is totally dependant on the other two which would be the case in something like...

> x + y + z = 0

Yes, I should have said independent variables....

> However I agree that this isn't the case with adjectival/tech grades; the missing bit from those actually consists of more than one item so effectively you've got something where the mathematical analogy would be something like...

> x + y + z1 + z2 + ... + zn = 0

In a hand-wavy sort of way, the tech grad is one of the variables and the adjectival grade the sum of all of them. Other variables such as looseness and seriousness of situation can sometimes come into play, but only rarely.



 lummox 02 Sep 2016
In reply to GrahamD:

I know exactly what it means - I climb on Yorkshire grit ; ).

As for those mountain V.Diffs, I highly recommend Wisdom Buttress on Beinn Lair- perfect example.
 CurlyStevo 02 Sep 2016
In reply to Simon Caldwell:
I found the nose at Stannage really pumpy and failed to do it some years back, quite high in the grade I think. One problem was I was failing to commit to a large nut behind a small flake and getting pumped. The flake is now broken.
Post edited at 12:25
In reply to cathsullivan:

> I can kind of see the sense in that but am still not entirely convinced it's worth using both hs and mvs in the same guide.

A very important part of that post was the big smiley emoticons.

I think it's vastly important that we never take grades too seriously.
 Offwidth 02 Sep 2016
In reply to lummox:

Marble Arete where the start was also part of the old VD Marble Tower Flake.... its given VS 4c in the last two Stanage guides... 4c for the start and VS for the bold top (a classic case of why reading the description can be important with UK trad grades) . You can bypass the hard start with a (side-belayed) jump at about 4b... still VS though.
1
In reply to TobyA: No single move on it is 4c (IMO), in some ways it's not a technical route at all. But it is very goey and pumpy and pretty high in the VS grade.

By saying it should still be VS 4b, I wasn't implying that it was low in the VS grade - although that's what we all tend to assume when we see VS 4b.
 Offwidth 02 Sep 2016
In reply to TobyA:

Its as scientific as much social science research. Its a label system with clear definitions and benchmarks that when investigated experimentally gives consistent qualitative and quantiative evidence. The Punk has no 4c move nor a move made to feel 4c by movement to get set for it or to be ready for the next move; 4b moves obviously feel harder when the route has made you tired... but that tiredness only affects the adjectival grade, hence its a toughish VS.
1
 lummox 02 Sep 2016
In reply to Offwidth:

Think I must have been using the Paul Nunn guide. It was good fun from what I remember...
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> A very important part of that post was the big smiley emoticons.

> I think it's vastly important that we never take grades too seriously.

Quite.
In reply to TobyA:
> I can't say I've ever paid much attention to the HS grade - it never seemed a very 'real' grade, really just top end severes or low end VSs. Perhaps the SMC didn't use it much in their guidebooks which were formative to my climbing. But of all the ones mentioned here, Central Groove on the Dewerstone has to be the best I've done. Zelda at Wintour's get HS as well and that's a pretty cool experience considering its on English inland limestone which is very far from the best rock. Funnily, according to my records I've done Demo Route but don't remember an awful lot about it, Flannel Avenue done on the same trip 22 years ago left a stronger impression.

I would agree with you up to a point but seems to me Demo Route, Central Groove and Gates of Eden seem very much more than severe without being VS.
Post edited at 13:39
In reply to Michael Hood:

> By saying it should still be VS 4b, I wasn't implying that it was low in the VS grade - although that's what we all tend to assume when we see VS 4b.

Really? Surely the alarm bells start ringing - really pumpy or really scary for the grade! just like HVS 4c, E1 5a, E3 5b, E5 5c etc. Are people really so ignorant of how the grading system works? Surely nobody sees the technical grade as a sort of subdivision of the adjectival grade.

 Michael Gordon 02 Sep 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:
> Really? Surely the alarm bells start ringing - really pumpy or really scary for the grade! just like HVS 4c, E1 5a, E3 5b, E5 5c etc. Are people really so ignorant of how the grading system works? Surely nobody sees the technical grade as a sort of subdivision of the adjectival grade.

I can see your point but in practice it often does work that way. A VS 5a for example will rarely be in the lower half of the VS grade range.

At E2 which will have the highest proportion of low in the grade routes - E2 5b, E2 5c or E2 6a? Experience tells me E2 5b on the bold but not too bold, or the sustained but well protected slabby routes.
Post edited at 16:32
 Michael Gordon 02 Sep 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Oh well, can't say I'd noticed, but if that's the concensus........

> So is HS now a fully fledged full grade on an equal status with HVS?

Yes. I'm certainly unaware of any guidebooks which don't use it.
 GrahamD 02 Sep 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Really? Surely the alarm bells start ringing - really pumpy or really scary for the grade!

Unfortunately, for some reason it doesn't seem to be applied very well at VS 4b. More often than not it is actually a soft VS which should have been graded HS 4b. Even though it should have, VS 4b doesn't have the same impact as HVS 4c or E1 5a

In reply to Michael Gordon:

> I can see your point but in practice it often does work that way. A VS 5a for example will rarely be in the lower half of the VS grade range.

> At E2 which will have the highest proportion of low in the grade routes - E2 5b, E2 5c or E2 6a? Experience tells me E2 5b on the bold but not too bold, or the sustained but well protected slabby routes.

I don't think I agree. Maybe this just reflects a personal preference for routes where the weight of the adjectival grade is not in the technicality. Others might find otherwise. I would tend to find a pumpy E2 5b easy for the grade but a bold E2 5b hard for the grade - but that's just me. E3 5b is almost always pretty nasty for the grade!
 Michael Gordon 02 Sep 2016
In reply to Offwidth:

> Despite all the professed love for the UK trad grading system and its utility to express risk, too many do seem reluctant to use it properly. Too many moan that a chop route is adjectivally overgraded at VS 4a, HVS 4b, E1 4c etc or that a safe isolated boulder problem move from a ledge gets undergraded at VD 4a, S 4c, HS 5a, VS 5b...

Of course, if the majority think the chop route is overgraded then it probably is and if the majority think the isolated boulder problem route is undergraded then it also probably is. Grades are arrived at through consensus.

In terms of the latter short but safe cruxy routes, to me those grades above should be for boulder problem starts, not for moves off ledges at height on multipitch routes.
 Michael Gordon 02 Sep 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

I agree regarding the real chop routes (E3 5b etc) but there's quite a few slabby E2 5b lines with only one or two tricky moves which you don't want to fall off of (and which you can downclimb from if you don't fancy it). As long as you do them in control they tend to feel relatively easy afterwards.
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> Yes. I'm certainly unaware of any guidebooks which don't use it.

Yes, I am aware that guidebooks use the HS grade, but what I asked was whether it is now seen as a fully fledged full grade in the same way that HVS is rather than a subdivision of Severe (as it originally would have been). Other grades such as HVD and MVS appear in guidebooks too. If I'd been asked whether HS or MVS had the more distinct status before I'd seen this thread, I'd have probably (apparently incorrectly) gone for MVS!
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> There's quite a few slabby E2 5b lines with only one or two tricky moves which you don't want to fall off of (and which you can downclimb from if you don't fancy it). As long as you do them in control they tend to feel relatively easy afterwards.

But that doesn't mean they are low in the grade. It means you need to have a bit in hand for them not to feel intimidating beforehand and terrifying at the time.

 Sean Kelly 02 Sep 2016
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> I would agree with you up to a point but seems to me Demo Route, Central Groove and Gates of Eden seem very much more than severe without being VS.

You are right in that Gates of Eden is not VS, it's HVS 5a so certainly not a candidate for a HS in it's present state. Gates of Eden (HVS 5a)
In reply to Robert Durran:
> Really? Surely the alarm bells start ringing - really pumpy or really scary for the grade! just like HVS 4c, E1 5a, E3 5b, E5 5c etc. Are people really so ignorant of how the grading system works? Surely nobody sees the technical grade as a sort of subdivision of the adjectival grade.

I think we tend to assume it because VS 4b could either be a route that has just crept into the grade or it could be one of your "alarm bells" routes. Without seeing the route or description it can be impossible to know which. Part of the fun of the UK grading system Similarly for HVS 4c, E1 5a, E2 5b (but not E3 5b!).

Since the technical grade forms part of the adjectival grade, it does inherently form subdivisions if all other things are equal (which of course in reality they never are). I'm sure it would be theoretically possible to have two almost identical routes; one a VS 4b and the other with one move that weeny bit harder to make it VS 4c. They'd both be correctly graded but the VS 4c would be a harder route - and hey presto - subdivision. I know that you (but not everyone) are aware that the UK grading system should be used with care.

Regardless; any grading system with 2 measures will convey more information than a single variable grading system.
Post edited at 17:07
 Lemony 02 Sep 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

On the subject of brilliant HS 4bs that get given VS 4c, Flasherman at Armathwaite's one of my favourite HSs, it's just graded wrong.
 Offwidth 02 Sep 2016
In reply to Michael Gordon:

Moves off ledges on multipitch routes to are the same to me as the ground, as long as the ledge is big enough, the landing is flat and a belay is available. I dont know why Bowfell Buttress, a route of this type, was changed to HS but it certainly wasn't by consensus.

Bowfell Buttress (HS 4b)
 Michael Gordon 02 Sep 2016
In reply to Offwidth:

I can't comment on Bowfell Buttress but to me the extra 'commitment' required means a 4c move on a multipitch Severe feels a bit off. I know I wouldn't regard a 6a move three pitches up an E1 as fair, even if it were straight off a ledge. OK I know you can just ab off but in practice it's about who is going to feel up to attempt the route. If everyone attempting the line is going to be climbing at E2/3 then to me the E1 grade would be a bit meaningless.
In reply to Michael Hood:

> Since the technical grade forms part of the adjectival grade, it does inherently form subdivisions if all other things are equal (which of course in reality they never are). I'm sure it would be theoretically possible to have two almost identical routes; one a VS 4b and the other with one move that weeny bit harder to make it VS 4c. They'd both be correctly graded but the VS 4c would be a harder route - and hey presto - subdivision.

Mmmmm..... maybe.

But suppose we had a grading system which maintained the adjectival grade but replaced the technical grade with a seriousness grade. You could make an equivalent argument (almost identical routes except that one has a slightly better runner at some point etc) which seemed to show that low seriousness tended to push routes further down the grade. But this would imply that physically harder routes tended to be lower in the grade and this contradicts your conclusion. Both arguments can't be correct and since they rely on equivalent reasoning, I would argue that both must be wrong!
 Michael Gordon 02 Sep 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

You may be correct in theory but not in practice?
 CurlyStevo 02 Sep 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

Just open ANY guide book and count the number of MVS and HS climbs on a large crag. HS is much more of an established and used grade than MVS. Obviously HS is a proper grade it has been for a long time now.
 petestack 02 Sep 2016
In reply to Michael Hood:

> Since the technical grade forms part of the adjectival grade

But it doesn't! Surely the grade for the route using the system *as intended* is just HS, VS, HVS etc. and, while the (per pitch) 4b, 4c, 5a etc. does provide valuable additional information, we're all using it wrong (yes, me too!) by quoting the route grade as 'VS 4b' or 'VS 4c'...
In reply to petestack:

> But it doesn't! Surely the grade for the route using the system *as intended* is just HS, VS, HVS etc. and, while the (per pitch) 4b, 4c, 5a etc. does provide valuable additional information, we're all using it wrong (yes, me too!) by quoting the route grade as 'VS 4b' or 'VS 4c'...

Eh? So we shouldn't be using the technical grade for single pitch routes?!
 petestack 02 Sep 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

Look it up, Robert! We all do, but it was apparently never the intention of the system to include it in the overall route grade.
 petestack 02 Sep 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

http://bobwightman.co.uk/climb/article.php?p=uk-grades

'Note that the grade was, and is, still: VS, HVS, E1, .... So to grade a route E2 5c is wrong: the route is graded E2 and it has a technical difficulty of 5c.'

Perhaps wrong but, given its universal (?) acceptance, now de facto normal/right?
In reply to petestack:


> 'Note that the grade was, and is, still: VS, HVS, E1, .... So to grade a route E2 5c is wrong: the route is graded E2 and it has a technical difficulty of 5c.'

Yes, but saying a route has a grade of E2 5c is just shorthand for saying it has a grade of E2 and a technical difficulty of 5c. I really don't see what the issue is.
 petestack 02 Sep 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

There's no real issue AFAIC... just commenting on the *intended* use of the system as I understood it. No doubt the distinction Bob's making there was intended to make folks think of the adjectival grade rather than technical grade as defining their safe limit (and haven't we all looked at a grade as evidenced by the 'subdivision' discussion above and thought 'it's only tech. Xx... I can do that'?), but it's probably an academic distinction now when we rarely see one without the other.
 Michael Gordon 02 Sep 2016
In reply to petestack:

The great thing about the 2 tier system is the interplay between overall and tech grades (even if this wasn't the intention). So saying a route is E3 5b actually seems to tell you more than saying "the route is E3 and none of the moves are harder than 5b". The first thing you ask if someone tells you the overall grade of a route is "what's the tech grade?" and this isn't just to see if it's technically within your capability.
 simes303 03 Sep 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

"...grit's undisputed best crag".

Stanage?
You've got to be kidding.
In reply to Robert Durran:
> But suppose we had a grading system which maintained the adjectival grade but replaced the technical grade with a seriousness grade. You could make an equivalent argument (almost identical routes except that one has a slightly better runner at some point etc) which seemed to show that low seriousness tended to push routes further down the grade.

- yep, no problem with that.

But this would imply that physically harder routes tended to be lower in the grade - I can't see why this implies this - am I being thick this evening?
Post edited at 22:14
In reply to petestack:
One of the best descriptions of the grading system that I've seen is in the Stanage 2002 (?) "wrong way round guide" - don't know if this description is copied from other Peak guides or has gone into later guides.

Basically it says that only a fool would take grades seriously and that there are more exceptions to the rule than abiding by it (or something similar). I think its tone is pretty much spot on.

Of course Stanage is all single pitch (barring girdles). With respect to multi-pitch, giving a multi-pitch route a grade of E2 5c basically means it's E2 and none of the pitches have a technical move harder than 5c. It doesn't necessarily imply that there's a 5c pitch that would be E2 if it was all on its own but most of the time the 5c pitch(s) will be the bits that give the E2 - although I'm sure there are loads of exceptions where the E2 comes from 5b bits etc.
Post edited at 22:21
In reply to UKC Articles:

Christmas Crack ahead of Right Angle?!?! It's like listening to Ken Wilson!

jcm
 Michael Gordon 04 Sep 2016
In reply to Michael Hood:

> With respect to multi-pitch, giving a multi-pitch route a grade of E2 5c basically means it's E2 and none of the pitches have a technical move harder than 5c. It doesn't necessarily imply that there's a 5c pitch that would be E2 if it was all on its own but most of the time the 5c pitch(s) will be the bits that give the E2 - although I'm sure there are loads of exceptions where the E2 comes from 5b bits etc.

This is actually where the system is misused by some guidebook authors in my view. A multi-pitch route given E2 5c (as opposed to just E2 which would be totally fine since you are given the pitch grades anyway) should imply that (one of) the 5c pitch(es) is the crux. That pitch needn't necessarily need to merit E2 on its own, but it usually will.

However an E2 (5a,5c,5b) where the crux pitch is the 5b and not the 5c should get E2 5b in the main heading, not E2 5c. You still know the pitch grades so it's not as though you lose that info, but this way the grade actually makes sense. (Again you could just as well leave it as just E2)
 petestack 04 Sep 2016
In reply to Michael Hood:

> It doesn't necessarily imply that there's a 5c pitch that would be E2 if it was all on its own but most of the time the 5c pitch(s) will be the bits that give the E2 - although I'm sure there are loads of exceptions where the E2 comes from 5b bits etc.

Like The Pause on the Etive Slabs... arguably HVS 5b on the third pitch and E1 5a on the fourth, though doubtless someone else will say that pitch is only HVS 4c!

In reply to Michael Gordon: Nice idea to have the tech grade of the crux of the route with the adj grade and then have tech grades for each pitch - but it falls down when you have more than one pitch of same grade or multiple cruxes; e.g. E2 5c (5a, 5b, 5c, 5c, 5b) - overall the description should really tell you where the crux(s) are.
 Michael Gordon 04 Sep 2016
In reply to petestack:

> Like The Pause on the Etive Slabs... arguably HVS 5b on the third pitch and E1 5a on the fourth, though doubtless someone else will say that pitch is only HVS 4c!

Well it's definitely not E1 5a. No E1 pitches, hence HVS overall (but a brilliant sustained one).
 Michael Gordon 04 Sep 2016
In reply to Michael Hood:

Might as well just have it as E2 then; E2 5c doesn't provide any more info.
 petestack 04 Sep 2016
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> No E1 pitches, hence HVS overall (but a brilliant sustained one).

E1 in some guides, HVS in others... but sure you knew that!

 Offwidth 04 Sep 2016
In reply to Michael Gordon:

The Pause is now E1 in the latest guides and deservedly so in my opinion... HVS 5b for the technical crux and E1 4c/5a for the two very bold pitches above. It would have been safer when the pegs were even vaguely trustworthy (or not missing in one case!?). It is also utterly brilliant.

In reply to Micheal Hood

I think that Stanage text is intended as humour. They changed loads of daft grades, so clearly they took the grading job a little more seriously than they did in 1989. In the end bad grit grading was a sad joke usually played on lower grade punters... how many extreme routes shot up multiple grades at Stanage in that or the next guide, it was nearly all stuff originally given Diff to HVS. The essence of grades and guides is to maximise our experience on the rock... we want a difficulty that is approximately right to fit the level of adventure we choose. What grades have become for some is an end in itself, the rock a means to that end... thats the bit that shouldn't be taken seriously.

In reply to Offwidth: Humorous - yes, true to a large extent - yes

I certainly remember the "sad joke" grading - I did Straight Ahead on a "solo loads of Diffs" day many years ago

 Offwidth 04 Sep 2016
In reply to Michael Hood:

I first did that onsight solo (its only a diff afterall). It gave a new meaning to using my head to get out of serious trouble (having mantled the chock and in a precarious position I found no holds other than the cleft edges and as concerns started to rise the clever solution of a headlock in the cleft allowed me to shake out and think).
 GrahamD 04 Sep 2016
In reply to Michael Hood:

> Nice idea to have the tech grade of the crux of the route with the adj grade and then have tech grades for each pitch - but it falls down when you have more than one pitch of same grade or multiple cruxes; e.g. E2 5c (5a, 5b, 5c, 5c, 5b) - overall the description should really tell you where the crux(s) are.

The system doesn't "fall down". Its just that as the route it describes gets more complex, the less comprehensive a single grade becomes. You can always resort to the description for any other information.
 Simon Caldwell 05 Sep 2016
In reply to Lemony:

> On the subject of brilliant HS 4bs that get given VS 4c, Flasherman at Armathwaite's one of my favourite HSs, it's just graded wrong.

26/30 votes in the logbook seem to disagree
 Lemony 05 Sep 2016
In reply to Simon Caldwell:
They're wrong, naturally... I'm not even convinced it has a 4b move on it and it's really well protected.
Post edited at 09:38
In reply to Offwidth:

> Jeffcoats is the upper limit of HS to me (would be VS at Stanage).

I think it's got even harder of late. I very nearly failed to get up it seconding on rather damp sweaty evening recently. If you can't reach the good edge at the top of the corner from the finger jam where the runner is, the small, awkwardly placed and now very polished footholds aren't very helpful!

Either that or I really should retire; I first led it almost exactly 40 years ago. I can still do Joe's Arete though.
 Big Lee 05 Sep 2016
In reply to Dave Garnett:

Yeah I found the start hard at HS as well. And let us of speak about the start of Crack and Corner at the same crag! I ended up aiding the start of that.
 Simon Caldwell 05 Sep 2016
In reply to Lemony:

It's still on my to-do list
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> Might as well just have it as E2 then; E2 5c doesn't provide any more info.

Correct, and that's what happens, isn't it? Not sure I get what all this is about. Which guides give an overall technical grade in the title line for multipitch routes?

Actually, I do see a few examples in my oldish West Cornwall guide but it's an inconsistency. Overwhelmingly, the standard practice is to list a route with its adjectival grade in the title (or index) and give an individual technical grade with each pitch description. Personally, I don't like having the technical grade in the title line even for single pitch routes.

Occasionally, a guide might say that a particular pitch would be worth E4 6a, or whatever, in isolation - usually where the pitch is somewhat independent, one of several variations, or is a good first pitch followed by a nasty or scruffy second pitch many people don't bother with.
In reply to Offwidth:

> The Pause is now E1 in the latest guides and deservedly so in my opinion... HVS 5b for the technical crux and E1 4c/5a for the two very bold pitches above. It would have been safer when the pegs were even vaguely trustworthy (or not missing in one case!?). It is also utterly brilliant.

>Not sure I agree about the grade, though I do on the quality. It seemed very bold in 1968 when I first did it with nothing but the peg pro. Did it a few years ago for about the fourth time and was amazed at how much gear you can get on it now. Still think it's HVS.
As a matter of curiosity, I remember when sticky rubber first came out and people were saying "Well that's the Etive Slabs buggered. You'll just be able to walk up them". I've found that it hasn't made the slightest difference to the climbing there.

Back on the HS theme, whilst Ardverikie Wall is a lovely route in a lovely place on exquisite rock, it seems to lack variety in my opinion, and has no significant crux. But that's just me...
In reply to Andy Long:

> Back on the HS theme, whilst Ardverikie Wall is a lovely route in a lovely place on exquisite rock, it seems to lack variety in my opinion, and has no significant crux. But that's just me...

I find there is something just a little bit bland about Ardverikie Wall. Words like "lovely" and "nice" are appropriate rather than "brilliant" or "awesome".

1
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I find there is something just a little bit bland about Ardverikie Wall. Words like "lovely" and "nice" are appropriate rather than "brilliant" or "awesome".

Whereas 'brilliant' and 'awesome' (for grade) can be said of Main Wall on Cyrn Las.
In reply to Big Lee:

> And let us of speak about the start of Crack and Corner at the same crag! I ended up aiding the start of that.

It's been a while since I've done that. I suspect that the further erosion and polish haven't made it any easier but I recall that small fingers help with underclinging the crack at the start.
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> Whereas 'brilliant' and 'awesome' (for grade) can be said of Main Wall on Cyrn Las.

Yes........ probably.......
 Michael Gordon 05 Sep 2016
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> Correct, and that's what happens, isn't it? Not sure I get what all this is about. Which guides give an overall technical grade in the title line for multipitch routes?
>

Gary Latter's Scottish Rock guides do this. I probably assumed some others (south of the border) did as well though admittedly my Lakes guides seem fine.
In reply to UKC Articles:

I was in the peak this weekend and it was a bit wet (to say the least) on Saturday. However with this article fresh in my mind, we wondered up to Stoney to have a look at Finerals Flue. It was indeed nice and dry despite the weather. Don't think I'd put it in my top 10 but it was definitely an "interesting" adventure.
Having not really planned to do this route we didn't have head torches which added to the 'fun'. At first I assumed it went out the big obvious hole at the front of the cave, it was only when we shone out phones about a bit that we spotted the tiny, barely person sized hole in the roof. Bridging up the start was a bit bold, but the hole it's self wasn't actually too bad to get through. The steeper mid-section of the cave crawl after the hole however was about the thrutchiest thing I have ever done, my limbs being largely to long to actually do anything useful with them in the confines of the tunnel, not being able so really see what I was pushing off or pulling on certainly added to the experience.
Thanks for the article, I'd never have even thought about doing this had I not read this beforehand and I'm definitely glad I did it, probably one of the more memorable climbs I've done if not the best/most enjoyable and it definitely made up for the wet miserable-ness that was Saturday afternoon.
 The Ivanator 05 Sep 2016
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> Whereas 'brilliant' and 'awesome' (for grade) can be said of Main Wall on Cyrn Las.

Agree, and Right Angle would qualify for the same accolade, probably the best 2 HS routes in the UK and neither make the top 5 in the article. I guess I have a personal preference for memorable 'experiential' routes over short, unintimidating outings (however fine the rock and moves may be).
 CurlyStevo 05 Sep 2016
In reply to The Ivanator:
I thought the positions on Main Wall were good but didn't massively rate the climbing, bit of a two star climb for me.

One climb that hasn't been mentioned is http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=90104 - better than many of the climbs on the list IMO.

Also as others have said http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=26065 is very good
Post edited at 17:12
In reply to Robert Durran:

Have you done it? I was a bit disappointed by Main Wall - highly polished ledge shuffling I would say (particularly if I was trying to wind up Gordon).
 The Ivanator 06 Sep 2016
In reply to CurlyStevo:

I was blown away by Main Wall, it was one of the first multi-pitch climbs I'd done, and probably about the 15th UK Trad route I'd got on. Now with more than 1000 UK routes behind me I wonder if the experience would be as intense, I'll have to repeat it someday and find out.
 Mick Ward 06 Sep 2016
In reply to The Ivanator:

Ivan, I feel pretty much the same way. I was taken up Main Wall when I was about 16. I'd done a lot of long 'mountain' routes in Ireland so the setting didn't faze me. But it was a great day out (which I'll always remember) with a great bloke whom I never met again. It was very atmospheric with mist swirling all around. At one point, the mist parted and we could see a sheep's skull stuck to the rock (on The Skull?) I've never been back - always meant to solo it on a mellow Autumn afternoon or some such time. Obviously I'll never rediscover my first experience and there's no point trying. But a very happy memory.

Mick
 CurlyStevo 06 Sep 2016
In reply to Mick Ward:
I think the position you get in to standing on the top of that pinnacle and doing a cruxy move is top notch and the setting is pretty good too. However I just didn't think the actual climbing was all that amazing. I did do it when HS was well within my limit though, I think we enchained 4 multi pitch climbs that day, starting on Western Slabs and ending up on Gambits.
Post edited at 10:28
In reply to TobyA:

> Have you done it? I was a bit disappointed by Main Wall - highly polished ledge shuffling I would say (particularly if I was trying to wind up Gordon).

I soloed it one evening thirty years ago and did it again in the rain for a laugh a few years back (the polish made it desperate!). I said "probably" brilliant and awesome because I havn't experienced it conventionally or when it wasn't absolutely miles within my comfort zone.
 Simon Caldwell 06 Sep 2016
In reply to TobyA:

I did Main wall many years ago (maybe 20) and it was so good I can still remember it in some detail. I'm planning on climbing it again soon so will see if it lives up to the memory.
 Offwidth 06 Sep 2016
In reply to Andy Long:
Maybe an HVS for a mid extreme leader... I'm very good with gear and always carry micro-cams and RPs on stuff around my limit and it still seemed very bold for me on the two pitches after the technical crux (above the overlap)... the rest was well enough protected. I've done tons of granite slab stuff in the US in the 5.7 to 5.10a range so the padding bold style suits me... I don't grade soft.


Oh... for the others I also think Main Wall is brilliant and 'polished ledge shuffling' would be a wind up description.
Post edited at 14:01
In reply to Offwidth:

> Maybe an HVS for a mid extreme leader......... I've done tons of granite slab stuff in the US in the 5.7 to 5.10a range so the padding bold style suits me... I don't grade soft.

So what YDS grade would you give it?
 Pero 06 Sep 2016
In reply to Big Lee:

> I think Dives/Better Things (VS 4b) is probably still my favour HS. Although I see it is VS in the RockFax guide.

That would be my favourite too. There's no reason for it to be VS, as it's solid well-protected 4b throughout.

My other favourites from round the country are:

Central Groove (Dewerstone)
Xmas Curry - Micah (Tremadog)
Deidre Sud (Mowing Word)
Open Secret (Stone Valley Crags)
Asterisk (Gimmer)
Great Slab (Millstone)

In reply to Pero:

With Gimmer you often need to combine two routes to make a really good route to the top of the crag. So with Asterisk it would probably be best to finish up D Route.
 Simon Caldwell 06 Sep 2016
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Except Asterisk is VS (or is it MVS)?
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

> Except Asterisk is VS (or is it MVS)?

MVS - but you know already what the response will be.
 Offwidth 06 Sep 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

5..8 technical crux 5.7R on the E1 bit but Yosemite slabs are graded harder than cracks and although bolts normally go in when things get risky that doesn't always happen when its a lower graded section. It was similar (but longer) in its airy feel to say that top slab on South Crack on Stately Pleasure Dome (E1 4c?) that I did around the same time (the crack bit on South Crack in contrast was perfect VS 4c jamming).
In reply to Pero:

> That would be my favourite too. There's no reason for it to be VS, as it's solid well-protected 4b throughout.

> My other favourites from round the country are:

> Central Groove (Dewerstone)

> Xmas Curry - Micah (Tremadog)

> Deidre Sud (Mowing Word)

> Open Secret (Stone Valley Crags)

> Asterisk (Gimmer)

> Great Slab (Millstone)

I was thinking of Arch Slab (Gower) but apparently that's VS too these days.
 Pero 06 Sep 2016
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

> Except Asterisk is VS (or is it MVS)?

Yes, I remember now. It is MVS but I couldn't in all conscience record that as a VS lead, so I've logged it myself as a HS!

In reply to Sean Kelly:

> You are right in that Gates of Eden is not VS, it's HVS 5a so certainly not a candidate for a HS in it's present state. Gates of Eden (HVS 5a)

Hadn't realised it had changed so much. Shame as it was a really nice route at HS.

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