Following the grade debates on James' and Dave's blogs, I must say things are getting quite silly... To me, the question about pads or not and whether it should reflect in the grade is rather simple. First of all, this is all about style and has nothing to do with ethics. If you want to bring an unlimited amount of pads to a route or highball, then fine, so be it, as long as you're honest to yourself and others about the style of the ascent, go ahead. The nature of the actual climbing isn't changed, and that, I think, is the crucial and deciding difference between style and ethics. After all we climb routes, not grades. But, you say, an important part of the E-grade is the risk factor. If you reduce the risk, then the grade must change. Seems logical, no? Well, I think that's approaching the problem from the wrong angle. I agree with Dave here. As climbers we must try to avoid unnecessary risks, eliminating the factors we can. This logic is fundamental, otherwise there's no reason to use a rope, gear or anything... If you're climbing a proper route, mats won't matter anyway, so no problem, and if someone should go through the trouble of putting up a huge net or something similar, then the style of the ascent would be pretty obvious. In fact, if mats can change how dangerous a route is, this should be a strong indicator it shouldn't have an E-grade at all. If you then want to climb it without mats, I'm sure you'll get all the cred in the world from your likes, much in the same way as solo ascents today. Stating that one style is superior to any other is impossible as it's simply a matter of preference. Do what you feel like! Photo: Dave on 'Echo wall'. Highball anyone?