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June 2008 Update

Posted on 15. Jun, 2008 by in News

There has been a lot going on in the Front Range and I have been busy with work and travel, so here is a quick update.

-Matt Wilder, Nalle Hukkataival and Jon Cardwell have made an ascent of Ode the Modern Man at Mt. Evans, V14.

-Carlo Traversi has climbed the Automator V13 in RMNP.

-Chris Schulte added a new low roof at Emerald Lake called Storm Shadow and suggested V13. Andre DeFelice made a quick repeat and has suggested V11 or soft V12.

-Chuck Fryberger put up some nice problems in Newlin Creek. Newlin is a newer area and the rock there is very high quality. One of the problems Chuck suggests could be V14, “I’m giving myself 14 points for it” Nick Anderson made the second ascent registering it on as V12, with the comment that it could be between V11 and V13. Newlin Creek is about 2 hours south of Denver, which makes it a very long drive from Boulder. I went there two years ago to climb a classic problem called the Nickness V10.

Many climbers are bouldering in our alpine areas and it is interesting to me that many of them take the highest grades on all of the problems. Is this the effect that has on our climbing areas? Or is it the lack of a guidebook? Does 8a lead to uprating? I am not immune to any of this and I certainly don’t have a definitive answer. I am often made fun of for being a “downgrader”, when I think my suggestions are pretty middle of the road. It seems that fewer and fewer climbers are being conservative. Will this lead to a shift in the grade scale? In the end, of course grades are by definition an abstraction. But my interest is not so much in a number, and more in the difficulty. It is irrelevant that Jade is V15, because we all understand that it is one of the hardest problems in America. Pushing the numbers up higher does little for the progression of hard bouldering, when the problems don’t reflect the challenge accurately.

32 Responses to “June 2008 Update”

  1. wade david

    15. Jun, 2008

    I fully agree that there is a uprating issue going here, I tried to sand bag Mostly everything at Waderland, to avoid the uprating issue here, thats why I will have a PDF guide up on my site soon of the area. JE I am super psyched to try Jade this year, regardless of the grade, give me a shout if you want to head up sometime.

  2. Greg

    15. Jun, 2008

    Great post jamie! Im very interested in what other climbers will be saying about this one haha.

  3. Mike James

    15. Jun, 2008

    I think this may be the best post on this blog yet. Well written JE.

  4. JP Williams

    15. Jun, 2008

    I agree completely. Downgraders unite!

  5. dr. phil

    15. Jun, 2008

    Not exactly related to bouldering, but still poignant-Joey Kinder climbing 8B+ in spain. This was on his spray sheet…

    ”EASY AS @#$! 8a+ for me… I have had a @#$% of a month. RAIN. RAIN, RAIN!!! IM TAKING THE 8B+. I don’t give a @#$%.”

  6. gl climber

    15. Jun, 2008

    ok, i got a long winded question here. me personally seems like when the problem is as hard as i have done it seems like the grade should be harder that those previously accomplished…but i dont climb double digits, and then someone else does it making it look easier. can there be this type of mentality w/ top end boulderers with the difference being only a handful of folks can repeat what you do. im not saying v13 is ridiculously sick by any means, but are there even gaps in grades at the high end? id the difference between v5 and v6 equal to that of v12 and v13 or is it a smaller differenec due to the extreme difficulty? i have no clue and there arent many folks here in gl to clarify….awesome site man….

  7. jamie

    16. Jun, 2008

    “Hard to believe it could be 8c, but after seeing some other new 8c’s around, and hearing thoughts from some younger generation climbers, I will agree the current grade. trying to be open!” This comment is from Dave Graham’s scorecard after he destroyed the sit start to Kheops, a supposed 8C in Font. In the past Dave famously rebelled against the uprating in Switzerland but his tone is much softer here. Just another piece of the the puzzle.

  8. tissue

    16. Jun, 2008

    i’m not sure upgrading/rating is ever really intentional.

    for example: i try Blah Blah v9. it suits my style, i get some solid beta from a passerby, and send in 7 goes. the very next weekend, i spot a line moving left from the starting crimps on Blah Blah, and decide to give it some work. and work. and work. and work. not only is this rig all about deadpoints on deadly crimps, but the moves are long and i’m getting spanked. so i pack up and come back out a few days later at which time I finally pull myself together for the big win: Blah Blah Left v11. i don’t REALLY know how hard it is, but it SEEMED a lot harder than the original line (i had no beta, it took longer, the movement was too rowdy). i am compelled to call it a v11.

    sadly, all my friends crushed it and called it a v9.

    did i uprate, or am i just a perfect example of a person’s imperfect ability to reign in a really real grade?

    i’ll go with the latter.

  9. jamie

    16. Jun, 2008

    I think this is a valid point, however, I would argue that it is proven that many FAs get downgraded (particularly in comparison to the number of new problems that get upgraded). New beta is found, more crashpads and group motivation, and simply knowing that the problem can be climbed almost always make subsequent ascents easier. These facts are so ubiquitous that they must be taken into consideration when grading an FA. Again, instead of suggesting the highest possible number, maybe something more conservative.

  10. tissue

    16. Jun, 2008

    i see what you’re getting at. given recent trends i think its safe to assume a lot of people start with inflation because they expect the community downgrade. the initial upgrade works as a buffer of sorts before the inevitable “easy peasy. not v10. not even v9” comment.

  11. GD

    16. Jun, 2008

    Jamie, spot on analysis. These factors _must_ be taken into account when suggesting a grade. Also I think “suggesting” is just what you are doing if nobody else has climbed a problem/route. No way a solid grade can be attributed without some confirmation or consensus. Some may say if a route or problem feels almost identical to another, you can attribute the same grade. The problem with this is that your body does not perform exactly the same on any given day. Maybe on this day you are stronger or weaker than on the day you sent the other problem/route. In this case attributing the same grade would be the wrong thing to do.

    And as for upgraders… Who would want to be known as an upgrader? How embarrassing….

  12. climbingnarc

    16. Jun, 2008

    Not that this is the intent, but the method of aiming high with FA grades and downgrading at a later date has an unintended consequence that I always find interesting when reading old climbing magazines. You often see printed the latest news with proposed grades that many times end up being higher (to much higher) than what becomes the consensus at a later date. However, once it is printed on paper that grade is in whatever magazine for all eternity and the initial ‘glory’ that comes with a big number FA is there to stay. This is prevalent among hard new sport routes as well as boulder problems.

    As for, it is somewhat ironic that despite espousing the ‘brave and humble’ downgraders, the scorecard system seems to be leading to more grade inflation than deflation.

  13. matt

    16. Jun, 2008

    i’m not a particularly strong climber, but from my experience i tend to downgrade problems based on that if i can do them, they’re probably not V9’s or V10’s if i do them (quickly). i know i can generally onsight/flash a 6 or 7 so when i bang out an eight or a nine in a few tries, to me they can’t be that hard. if can do it in three tries, i probably could have flashed it if i were better prepared. although i haven’t spent a significant amount of time in areas outside of the northeast (being two weeks here and there for the past 14 years), i’ve always felt most places outside of PA,NY, and New England tend to be soft. that’s just my opinion (of the “easier” problems). ya’ll can debate the double digit ones. Like jamie said, i’m not in it for the number as much as pushing myself physically and mentally.

  14. baron "big poppa" von chosscrush VII

    16. Jun, 2008

    climbing’s a strange game. even stranger is the subset game of grading. when one sees a pro fall off a v10, for instance, but later that person goes on to finish a v12 in the same day, the game is even stranger. bottom line for me is that discussing grades and trying to find a consensus has merit and value for bouldering. having emotional or ego investment in a grade does not, nor does getting angry about grade discussions. if one walks away from such a discussion with conviction, the game has been lost. only the contestant with the reeling mind, a smile, and shaking head, is the true winner.

    also: for the comedy/perspective record: i got back on ‘silverback’ in much poorer conditions than before [it was in the sun, stopped for a few burns on the way up to gorillas a few weekends back]… couldn’t stick the first move. !! oh the game goes on.

  15. Lee

    16. Jun, 2008

    I’ll just withdraw two cents for this one – it’s a game of variables. Weather, exhaustion, ignorance, dehydration, safety, ego, style, preference, psych, motivation…. I saw paul pierce miss a layup last night, but then I saw him sink a 3 pointer with kobe’s hand in his face.

    The only variable that doesn’t change is that the same person is always doing the climbing – you. Staying consistent with yourself is the only way progress can really occur. This works because, given my personal form of consistency, I’m always right

  16. chris schulte

    16. Jun, 2008

    I want to start off by complimenting a well organized site, with a focus on NEWS. I like that. To get into the mix, I’ll just tell a story:
    Kheops is graded 8b. Laurant Avare did the first ascent, at 8a.
    Dave Graham did the FA of Nothin but Sunshine at v14. Now, several have called it v12 with “new micro-beta”.
    “where the monkey sleeps”- v8, re-FA’d (?) and called freak bros. v10.. And heinous at that grade, I think, with my big ‘ol sausages… I shudder to think of it as a v8..
    The full (super!) sit to Get Over It… FA’d at v11 ( the easiest I’ve ever done, more like a v9 move into v8), but now it’s v12… (??)
    Don’t Get Too Greedy.. v13, but it’s v12, or something, and it’s also Reve de Wills assis, but it’s not…
    Dark Waters.. if you did it a couple years ago, it was v13. Now you only get v12. It took me forever to do that f@#$%.
    The Joker at Stanage was first done at 8a+/b.. Now you campus it at soft 8a.. Back and forth and so on…
    Anyhoo.. I prefer the font grades anyhow, 8a+ is a nice, wide band, not so much like v12.. What can I say?

  17. chris schulte

    16. Jun, 2008

    And, there is a distinctive “it’s cool to downgrade” group out there.. Nothing new in climbing..

  18. das bpc

    17. Jun, 2008

    tangential note: i’ve uprated as many “moderates” as i’ve downrated “hard climbs” and i’ve felt no embarassment in the least.

    like lee’s opinions on ratings, i hold my own opinion out, whether up or down from consensus, to be the brilliantly shining light of truth and justice. dissent is clearly impossible, unless it’s lee, and then the opinions must enter thundardome to battle it out since the shining light of truth and justice must be a single beam. two may enter; one may leave.

  19. Cam

    18. Jun, 2008

    I once considered working for a company. During the interview process I learned that they loved to give out self evaluations to all the employees. On a very simple level, it was a way of tracking what the employees did in terms of productivity, quality, efficiency, etc. The structure of the evaluations seemed a bit odd, so I asked about it.

    The interviewer gave me a smile and subtle wink, then answered that the majority of the info on the evaluations didn’t matter. The company wasn’t concerned about quality or even efficiency. They merely used the productivity numbers the employees gave to show the shareholders how great things were going.

    As the interview was coming to a close, the interviewer mentioned that there was a “friendly” competition between all the employees to see who could boast the highest productivity without getting called into the boss’ office for lying on an evaluation. In typical big business fashion, they even turned the evaluations into a game in recent years by giving each employee a “scorecard” to record their productivity on. The interviewer informed me that the game was marvelous fun and an essential part of the company.

    When asked if all employees had to play the game, he simply looked at me in a perturbed manner and said…”Well, technically no, but…if you don’t play, you don’t earn anything. It’s all in good fun, plus the shareholders love it and we have to make them happy, they’re who pay our bills.”

    With that, one final question came to mind. “Do the productivity numbers that the shareholders see correlate with the actual productivity and quality of the company?” I asked, to which he replied, “our shareholders can’t tell the difference between productivity levels of 10, 12 or 14. All they want to see is that things are progressing, you know growing. No one wants to believe that there is an actual limit to how productive we can be. If an employee inflates the productivity a little bit, who cares? The product is still the same, the only difference is that the shareholders sleep a little bit better at night.”

    Walking away from the interview, I had a hard time accepting that the company could put so much value (and survive) on the results of a trivial game played by employees. In the end, I realized that arriving at any kind of truth was irrelevant, while controlling perceptions was paramount. The shareholders expected progress and thus, the company gave it to them, avoiding the inevitable and uncomfortable reality that productivity levels will eventually peak.

  20. jamie

    18. Jun, 2008

    Cam, great story, thanks for sharing.

  21. Chuck Fryberger

    18. Jun, 2008

    Hi Jamie.
    Just for the record, I never proposed V14 for the problem at Newlin. I only said it felt harder than V12, and that I gave myself 14 points for it. I dont really care where the consensus grade lands on it because that has more influence for people who keep a scorecard. I gave myself 14 points because it felt harder *for me* than any of the 13’s i’ve done. I’m in Rocklands now and (for context only, not to spray!) I just did The Vice (considered hard V13) in two tries. I only gave myself 12 points for that one because I didn’t send it in very good style. I think that climbers should be able to decide for themselves how many points to give themselves, unless the point value is more than 2 points away from the actual V-Grade, in which case you need to file a written appeal with John Sherman. Also, when will people realize that no single person gets to ‘down-grade’ a problem. Every single ascentionist gets one vote towards the consensus. Wow. Sounds like a hip hop lyric.
    Not that I need to say this given the length of this post, but Rocklands weather update: It’s raining.
    Keep cranking Jamie!!!!

  22. slabdyno

    18. Jun, 2008

    so doe that mean colorado is softer than ivan’s pillows?

  23. tissue

    19. Jun, 2008

    chuck fryberger+too much coffee+training to El-P, Aesop, and Dilla =

    every single ascentionist gets one vote towards the consensus
    but sorting through all the spray needs a test just like the litmus

    i’m not so sure i see the logic in the scoring
    i mean. even john sherman has to think this shiz is boring

    now i could keep going and make more rhymes about the grade
    who sent this, who flashed that, ticking projects, getting paid

    but i think instead i’ll leave the question in the air
    cuz when i clip the chains or stick the crux i do not care


  24. das bpc

    19. Jun, 2008

    chuck this explanation is bullpoops unless you explain that my vote is like a super delegate compared to the hanging-chad one-person/one-vote masses. to think that they can sway the outcome of the grading election is shenanagans. i control that shiz. always have, always will. it’s just taking me a loooonnnnggg time to get around to voting on hard stuff. procrastinating, ya know? maybe i’ll go out and grade that stuff sometime. maybe not. you’re on my bueracratic shedule of DOOM, bishes, DOOM.

  25. Lee

    20. Jun, 2008

    bpc – I think we need to talk. meet me at the thunderdome that is mt. evans this weekend so we can decide who gets to shine the light of truth and justice.

  26. hunt

    20. Jun, 2008

    Boy Chuck, sounded like spray to me

  27. bc limbr

    21. Jun, 2008

    @ bc we got sharma

  28. das bpc

    24. Jun, 2008

    FOR THE RECORD: LEE DEPARTED THE THUNDARDOME that is MT EVANS EARLIER THAN I ON SATURDAY. does this mean that i won as i clearly should, or does it mean that the DEATH mechanism of thundardome has been broken and need fixed since TWO left without one being deaded or even slightly dead?

    anyone have a good thundardome mechanic they’d suggest?

  29. bored at work

    24. Jun, 2008

    It is funny how much attention people pay to grades cause they supposedly don’t matter, but i guess sharma is dropping grades now so its back in vogue. i’m just curious what does it matter if someone decides to call something two or 3 grades harder then what it is? how does that effect your life? i’ve noticed that some of you colorado heads spend a lot of time playing america (trying to police everything and make it your opinion or else you are a punter). does what grade another climber gives a route (on his score card…. what do you mean those things are just for fun? you mean i don’t get an A if its correct, i don’t win if i have more points, but men without thier shirts off might like me more if i have more points right)?change your impression/experience of it? oh my god that guy was at the park and he called stinkbug a v12, what a punter let snicker and talk trash behind his back, hehe. I once did a v10 at the sad boulders (oh my god he wasn’t at the buttermilks) and it later got down rated to a v9, but it felter harder to me then some things of that grade that i have done in places like font, rocklands, squampton, so i have it in my little book as v10. do i have the right to have my own opinion of a route? how can i dare to disagree with wills? oh my god am i a horriable person?

  30. das bpc

    26. Jun, 2008

    whether or not you are a horrible person depends on what ** I ** would call it. i’ll let you know.

    i had a bunch of other points about downgrading, social fabrics, SLC, etc, but i’ve delorted them.

    –bored despite level 9 shitstorm at work

  31. campusmang

    28. Jun, 2008

    dear criz from,
    u r a weirdo

  32. lee

    01. Jul, 2008

    left earlier or left quicker? Who was running the trail their first time up this season@!

    I heard you had Herm carry you out?

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