Grades

Grades

Posted on 15. Dec, 2008 by in News

It’s a topic many of us enjoy talking about, and no one ever seems to have an answer. It seems to me that there is no solution, and perhaps thats why we all love to talk about it so much. I think grades, at best, are a great tool to track your personal progress, decide what to climb on in a new area, and a general topic of climbing conversation. At worst they are used to put people down, fluff one’s own fragile ego, and a point of manic obsession. Most of the discussions I have been involved in revolve around trying to pinpoint an exact number.

Obviously, it is impossible to tack on a specific value to something that is so subjective. Conditions, body type, personal strengths and weaknesses, style, hold polish, beta, whether or not you are wearing Five Tens etc, can all factor in. Generally I find it easiest to compare problems (Nuthin but Sunshine was harder for me than Slashface, which was harder than Dark Waters) as opposed to having to apply a specific grade. All of this speculation and opinion would die out with the campfire, however websites like www.8a.nu change things when they force climbers to choose one grade or the other. More often than not this seems to lead to uprating. When there is no incentive to take a lower grade it’s not surprising that so many climbers take high grades.
Having traveled to many areas of the country I am surprised to find grades are fairly consistant. There is a range however and often times newer areas have the most overgraded problems. From my experiance, generally, New England has the “softest” grades followed by Hueco Tanks. Colorado seems to be somewhere in the middle, depending on who you talk to. Yosemite, Little Cottonwood and Fontainebleau have the most stout grades. There is alot of talk about how stiff things are in the South, but I find grades there to be fairly normal, albeit conditions dependant. Traveling certainly affects one’s opinions as well. If I live in the Colorado and travel to a new area, for example, I, and many other climbers will often seek out the things they can do quickly to ensure a successful trip. However, I think it’s important to recognize that we generally do this, and so when we have quick success on things that fit us very well, it should come as no surprise. Often this success is used as a tool to make the area one is traveling to seem softer than ones home area. On a longer trip, however, things seem to even out. I once spent 2 months in Hueco Tanks and climbed 13 or 14 v9s. The first few that I did were on the easier end of the spectrum, and I did them quickly or flashed them (PFOS, Frogger, Paleozioc, This is Your Brain on Drugs). At this point most climbers would go home with the opinion that Hueco was soft. However, once I got through those, there were several that were much harder (Try Harder, Brittany in a Blender, French Tickler) including some I didn’t do. When I think about grades in Hueco, all of the V9s come into play and just like anywhere, there are easy ones and challenging ones. The average of all of these problems ends up being about how hard I feel V9 should be and it seems to make sense. I think it is necessary to have a range of difficulty within each grade.
Hueco is an interesting place because it is one of the few places that has problems that are considered standards. Full Service is the classic example at V10. It is interesting that John Sherman (who invented the V-system) chose this problem, which is an extremely unique example to be a standard. (I believe his Hueco Guide Book has the full list of standards for each grade, including several problems he never climbed.)
As I recall, here are the standards for the upper grades that Sherman gives.

V10
Full Service (aka Serves you Right), Hueco Tanks
Left Martini, Hueco Tanks
V11
Full Monty, Hueco Tanks (before it broke)
AHR, Flagstaff Mountain (which had only been climbed once at the time)
V12
Shaken not Stirred, Hueco Tanks
Slapshot, Flatirons (which had only been climbed once and has since broken)
V13
Crown of Aragorn, Hueco Tanks (which had only been climbed once)

I haven’t climbed Shaken not Stirred (aka R. Martini) or L. Martini. Slapshot has broken, was glued, has changed significantly and is probably not climbable.

In terms of a line, moves, and history, Full Service is second to none and has received plenty of attention. It’s popularity has left it slick and polished and it would be hard to argue that it is in a similar condition now than when it was first climbed. It would be nearly impossible to quantify how much harder this has made the problem.
Another issue that arises in terms of grades, and one that is often influenced by 8A, in my opinion, is that first ascents are almost always downrated. It seems that new beta is always found, the first ascentionist wants it to be harder than it is, and more attention to the new problem leads to more brushing (not chipping) and holds become more friendly to grab. Before 8A existed, the first ascentionist would simply make a suggestion, and I think that still goes on, but for many that suggestion now becomes set in stone because it exists in a printed forum for all to see.
I think a better system than the one that currently exists on 8A would be that if you climb a problem, you would have a chance to register the problem at the very specific grade you felt it was for you. For example, I would register Dark Waters as V12.5 as I find it to be right in the middle of V12. Everyone else registers what they think, all of the opinions are averaged and you are assigned a grade based on the consensus. If you climb a problem, then one of the privileges you are afforded is the chance to submit your opinion to the consensus. Each person’s opinion is equal.
Anyways, I just wanted to bring up some points, find out what other people think, and open a discussion on the matter. Although many climbers claim to not care, it’s quite obvious that most climbers are at least interested, if not obsessed, with the topic of grades. Thoughts?

36 Responses to “Grades”

  1. Ryan J

    15. Dec, 2008

    I am truly obsessed with all things climbing, and grades are no exception. I think most routes/problems can be fitted into a certain grade, however there are definitely many that are slash grades depending on each person and conditions… I think trying to pin a number on each line on any stone is futile and rediculous. But refusing to even play the numbers game is just as futile and juvenile. Of course i am a numbers/stats/info junkie and others may see things different. I think the important thing is to take EVERY grade with a grain of salt and good humor.

  2. Adam

    15. Dec, 2008

    I think you’re right about the grade system on 8a.nu being flawed; however, if any problem was opened to public “averaging” of its grade, some wankers would surely go around sabotaging the grades of controversial (or even worse, classic) problems. But maybe not, cause the climbing community is above all that, right? Right?!

  3. jamie

    15. Dec, 2008

    I think people could sabatoge now, and sometimes there are fake characters but for the most part, most people on 8A are fairly honest, I think.

  4. Trent

    16. Dec, 2008

    This is an interesting question – and while many feel that this discussion detracts from the climbing itself, it is one that we have to wrestle with as we rely on it heavily when we travel to new areas, or are pushing our boundaries in our home areas.

    A friend of mine, Peter M., a boulderer and scientist, has done some thinking on this issue. Apparently, this type of problem – essentially a mathematical one – is well known in certain areas of research where a number of items have to be ranked in their quality (or difficulty, in this case). As long as many people can provide their relative ranking of the items (or problems, in this case; problem a is harder than problem b, which are both easier than problem c), and if we know – for certain – the grade of certain items (problems), then the ‘true’ grade can be obtained.

    His idea was to create on online ‘problem log’ of sorts – a sort of global tick list – where people wouldn’t rank the problems they completed, but would only compare them to other problems of similar grade. An equation would then be able to compute the ‘true grade’ of all problems in the data base based on standards. This would (a) help people who actually wanted to find problems on a certain difficulty in new areas, and (b) help end a lot of the posturing that goes on in the media.

    BTW – great blog – it’s one of the very few I have bookmarked and check in on every week!

  5. oflavor

    16. Dec, 2008

    something we did on chetroy concerning local grades for a possible guidebook was chetroy opened up a poll forum. Here, we could all vote on what we felt a particular problem was rated. Sort of an interesting approach before things are put into print. This opened up a great way to gain concensus

  6. andy

    16. Dec, 2008

    This all seems so stupid. How much energy can one expend on a few digits? That being said, I am about to spend some energy with my opinion. 8A is certainly flawed; and so are climber’s opinions. For example, one could say that you climbed the “soft” problems in new england or that you climbed stiff ones in LCC. Or maybe it was simply a matter of good days vs bad days, whether or not you dropped a deuce before you climbed, etc.

    I do agree with you on your experience with Hueco V9s, and this sort of thing goes to show that grades are all over the map all over the place. Some of the softest problems at the grade i have climbed are at supposed stiff areas and vice versa. So why bother trying to reach a consensus? Cant we be satisfied with differing opinions?

    To top it off, grades represent only ONE aspect of the bouldering experience. What about highballing? Aesthetics? Wouldnt one rather climb Ghetto Simulator over and over than Stubby of the Bush Veldt??? So why worry about the number?

    Not to say that grades aren’t useful. They are. But CLEARLY they have huge limitations. I feel its best to identify the limits of usefulness and go from there. Too many climbers try to define their experience by grades. This seems shallow and superficial. Climbing is SO MUCH more than that…so many rich layers embedded. How come no one debates which highballs are the scariest, or which lines are the prettiest, or which has the coolest movement, holds, setting, etc???? To me these debates would seem equally important.

  7. bob johns

    16. Dec, 2008

    @ Trent and Jamie,

    the problem with either of those senerios is bias… People are predisposed to an opinion based on the opinions expressed previously. A large enough sample size may mitigate this (statistically speaking) though very few problems would be likely to have a large enough population os ascents to derive a statistically significant answer.

  8. jamie

    16. Dec, 2008

    Andy, as someone who I assume follows this blog, it should be quite obvious that I am mostly interested in things not having to do with grades in regards to climbing. It is however part of this activity that we all participate in and I felt that after having the blog for more than a year, it was time to bring it up. Basically the only point that I am trying to make is that we all know grades, we all talk about them, we all look at 8A for the most part, and I just wanted to get peoples opinions on the matter. I love the idea about debating all of the things you suggest we debate. I never said grades are more or less important than any of those things. I think its foolish not to talk about them, or pretend we aren’t interested.

  9. jamie

    16. Dec, 2008

    bob johns, you know more about statistics than I do.

  10. mk

    16. Dec, 2008

    For the hardest boulder problem list…Morphine?

  11. peter

    16. Dec, 2008

    I think the freezing cold weather in Boulder has pushed you towards the brink and you must get outside ASAP. What about a V12.567? How many decimal places do you want to go? Grades are a rough tool for approximating difficulty. Soft or hard, they are still figments of the human imagination and should be treated as such. They are a summation of an experience that is transitory, subjective, and impressionistic at best. To try to concretize it by consensus is to pile multiple fictions to make a fact, which is essentially what the whole 8a enterprise is.

  12. climbingnarc

    16. Dec, 2008

    I agree with bob johns. This is the problem with 8a and sites like mountainproject. Once one person suggests a grade for something, their suggestion automatically biases future opinions. As Jamie mentioned, for several reasons people seem to err on the highside when grading FAs which then carries over to subsequent ascents. This happens all the time when new problems are added to mountainproject.

    Obviously this discussion is “pointless” in the grand scheme of things, but I find it a very useful diversionary topic in between actual climbing sessions.

  13. das bpc

    16. Dec, 2008

    another facet of the grade fog is when something feels IMPOSSIBLE… utterly impossible for you… then, surprise: you stick a move. then, you stick another. then you link that shiz, top er out and it just went from v-impossible to “not that bad, but fun”

    this glass ceiling shattering, restrictive bubble popping event is what blows me away about grades and probably is what gives rise to massive downgradings on consensusly [!] difficult lines.

    i do agree, though, that even though it is not of pinnicle importance, grade discussions can be interesting, fun, and just another way to talk with each other rather than talking about the weather and the buffalo bills or the quality of our morning consitiutional.

    bigandy: know this: many of us talk about the scare factor of different highballs, including debating the concept of what constitutes a highball… height only? nope. the delicate interplay of height and landing and exit moves. for instance: while considerably taller, “the nothing” is less of a highball than “the wind below” in my opinion. though shorter, “the last dance” would be more of a highball than the much taller “peasants into leaders” when there’s no snow below.

    if you want this talk, contact the shining light of ultimate truth and justice. i’m there for you, baby.

    also 5:56am’s viewing told me this: the god father does not look particularly tall or scary. super tanker, however, looks terrifying, though the god father may be somewhat taller. i’d have a ton of pads for each, but i’d back off super tanker and i’d get the eye of the tiger on the godfather. trust that.

    final point: captain hook is more of a highball than the turning point, even though the turning point is a bit taller …captain hook has a worse landing.

    DIATRIBE FOR 8a KIDS, wise up: the solution to 8spray.spew is simple: stick with it and present the truth without politics or ego. if you felt like you worked your ass off on something, don’t be afraid to show it in the grade you assign. some folks will think you are worthless weaksauce… oh wellz. if you think something is easier, don’t be an arrogant #$% who deserves a dirty slap across the mouth: don’t take the high grade and comment “piss easy!!! this shiz would be SOOO EASY in my home area cause i’m so ill!!!! omg i killed it i am a MAN!!!! ” just take a lower grade and comment on the moves if you enjoyed em.

    the problem with 8a is that instead of tracking the success of one’s friends and learning about new lines or old forgotten classics, #$%#$ use it as a tool not just for personal spray, but to negatively portrey other climbers. personal spray is fine if that’s what twiddles your happy button… but when you use a website to launch an attack on someone else, you’ve lost your soul.

    truth^^

  14. jamie

    16. Dec, 2008

    narc, peter, again, I wrote, I think a “better solution”, not the final solution. I like 8A and I wish it could fullfill its potential. Obviously I realize all of its shortcomings.

  15. das bpc

    16. Dec, 2008

    thanks for editing my dirty mouf, jemerson [for serious… i forget that non-adults may actually internet along with us old coots]

    if das bpc cannot have peace on earf, he at least wants peace on rock climbing forums. internetting world: know that anytime i call you a __tch, or toss hate your way, it is really with LOVE. sometimes you cannot comprehend the love that the bpc has for his fellow humans, but the bpc’s love works in mysterious ways and you must have faith that it is to support your development and your walking or crawling progression towards righteousness and consensus grading.

    !!

  16. campusmang

    16. Dec, 2008

    First off Grand Ledge has the most stout grades.

    everything comes back to 8a.nu, this info is for the trump on grades

    I filled out the scorecard, it seemed wrong but everything was correct and from the books. I was thinking, that felt harder than that, this felt softer than that but thats graded harder than that too…
    Getting a list of climbs I have completed let me compare the difficulty better, a lot better. Awesome.The original grades seemed off now that I could compare so well.#$@.with a little finagling (grade change) I tried to make things seem right.
    the comparison still seems off still. #w$%.
    im breaking rules now, going outside of what i have learned about changing grades. @#$%. as i change them they are still wrong, and I know they are just more incorrect!.suck.

    ANSWER
    my opinion it too good for everyone
    they are shorter and weaker than me
    i don’t care what others think of my opinion that is not 100% anyways
    the climbing was awesome.

  17. Blake

    16. Dec, 2008

    The idea of giving everyone the same grade based on an average from the community is good, and could be made more rigorous by assigning each climber a confdence level (the standard deviation of their ratings from consensus) and a bias (the average positive/negative difference of their ratings from consensus) could be used to weight each climbers opinions. Then an intentional upgrader or downgrader’s opinion would be discounted due to a low confidence level, and reverted back toward the mean by applying the bias. The end result would be not only ratings for each climb, but a confidence level of those ratings, and a rating of the rating ability of each climber, along with their standard bias. The result of such a system would be that any bias is diminished, and the effective sample size in the rating of a climb is increased by the relatively large sample size of the total number of climbs done by each climber.

  18. das bpc

    16. Dec, 2008

    jamie: some fun with annoying you:

    this morning, 5:45 – 6:15am, replete w/ coffee and climbing video viewing rests, i determined that a pair of katanas that are two full sizes too large for me performed equally as well as the my-sized anasazi velcro shoes.

    then, i put on my blown out cobras with the old rubber and owned both.

    plz discuzz.

  19. Waking Life

    16. Dec, 2008

    “You can’t fight city hall.” “Death and taxes.” “Don’t talk about politics or religion.” This is all the equivalent of enemy propaganda, rolling across the picket line. “Lay down, GI! Lay down, GI!”. We saw it all through the 20th Century. And now on the 21st Century, it’s time to stand up and realize, that we should NOT allow ourselves to be crammed into this rat maze. We should not SUBMIT to dehumanization. I don’t know about you, but I’m concerned with what’s happening in this world. I’m concerned with the structure. I’m concerned with the systems of control. Those that control my life, and those that seek to control it EVEN MORE! I want FREEDOM! That’s what I want, and that’s what YOU should want! It’s up to each and every one of us to turn loose of just some of the greed, the hatred, the envy, and yes, the insecurities, because that is the central mode of control, make us feel pathetic, small, so we’ll willingly give up our sovereignty, our liberty, our destiny. We have GOT to realize we’re being conditioned on a mass scale. Start challenging this corporate slave state! The 21st Century’s gonna be a new century! Not the century of slavery, not the century of lies and issues of no significance, of classism and statism, and all the rest of the modes of control… it’s gonna be the age of humankind, standing up for something PURE and something RIGHT! What a bunch of garbage, liberal, Democratic, conservative, Republican, it’s all there to control you, two sides of the same coin! Two management teams, bidding for control of the CEO job of Slavery Incorporated! The TRUTH is out there in front of you, but they lay out this buffet of LIES! I’m SICK of it, and I’M NOT GONNA TAKE A BITE OUT OF IT! DO YA GOT ME? Resistance is NOT futile, we’re gonna win this thing, humankind is too good, WE’RE NOT A BUNCH OF UNDERACHIEVERS, WE’RE GONNA STAND UP, AND WE’RE GONNA BE HUMAN BEINGS! WE’RE GONNA GET FIRED UP ABOUT THE REAL THINGS, THE THINGS THAT MATTER – CREATIVITY, AND THE *DYNAMIC* *HUMAN* *SPIRIT* THAT REFUSES TO *SUBMIT*! WELL THAT’S IT, that’s all I’ve got to say. It’s in your court now.

  20. das bpc

    16. Dec, 2008

    i AM death and taxes. muhahahahaahahahahaa

  21. campusman

    17. Dec, 2008

    I dont pwn, I just rock lol

    know 1 n their —> my n d can pwn me w/ d ke bored 2

    try yit i dare u

  22. campusmang

    17. Dec, 2008

    no 1 n d –> my n d no lie g i

  23. campusmang

    17. Dec, 2008

    Frankenstein is rated B2 fa tim toula
    wild iris

  24. kb

    17. Dec, 2008

    If you recreationally ski, there are what, 4 grades to rate the difficulty?

    Whitewater rafting has maybe 6?

    What is added beyond these grades is your own impression of the terrain and conditions. Your own opinion on your own experience.

    Why don’t you want bouldering to be the same?

    Is there really a big difference between v0 and v3? No.

    Between V5 and V7, not really.

    V10 and V12? Don’t know, but really – what value are you adding by drawing the distinction?

    And my goodness, the whole ‘soft’ rating has got to be the dumbest, most ego driven comment to add to any discussion of a rating. I see that on 8anu and it blows my mind the punter just didn’t enter a route as a lower grade if that is what they thought. Of course they would get less global ranking spray points if they did.

    Wouldn’t other indicative information be of more value in relation to a problem? Height? Landing condition? Altitude? Location of crux – start vs exit move?

    Why not va, vb, vc, vd. And then you look at the problem and decide for yourself if it is ‘safe’ for you to do, or something potentially within your ability / style or not.

    You folks seem to want it to be like weight lifting – every ounce is measured.

    I recall some video where ben moon is trying to compare bouldering to sprinting …. the guy who runs 50 meter dash quickest is the fastest, the guy who climbs and unrepeated line is the strongest… I always thought that comment said more about him than bouldering.

    But then again, I am not climbing anywhere near the high end of things, not even the middle end for that matter. Maybe if one is, the distinctions from one problem to the next are far more acute, obvious and important.

    – Great content on the blog, especially the pictures. They help inspire my training!

    kb

  25. D

    17. Dec, 2008

    @kb I think Moon’s comparison to other sports is valid.

    No one would criticize a track athelete for training for a 4 minute mile, and stating sub-4 min as their goal. It would be silly to call them a “number chaser.”

    Jamie, just out of curiosity, I hope you dont mind the question- Why do you choose not to log your hardest ascents on 8a?

  26. hayden

    17. Dec, 2008

    i have to agree with kb. i think the distance between grades is too small in climbing (not to mention that the distances are often unequal (i.e. 5.12a to 5.12c is not the same distance as 5.14a to 5.14c).

    somewhat jokingly, my friend ander and i started grading things last year using the first number of the font scale. by this i mean we made v0-v5 = grade 6. v6-v10 = grade 7. v11 through v16 = grade 8. having only three grades may be a bit broad for some, so i guess a -/+ could be added (8-=v11-12, 8=v13-14 and 8+=v15-16), making there nine bouldering grades, which seems more than enough to track personal progression and decide what to climb on.

  27. jamie

    17. Dec, 2008

    I haven’t really logged anything since mid-summer. For me, while I have enjoyed being a part of it and do look at the site every day, it seems to take something away from my climbing. Maybe less focus on friendships and laughter, I’m not sure, but I am happier without it.

  28. zachary lesch-huie

    18. Dec, 2008

    Great thoughts on grades, Jamie.

    I didn’t read all the responses in detail, so my apologies if this was mentioned. But the bleau.info site seems to have a consensus system similar to or exactly as you described. You’ve likely seen it, but it’s basically like an online poll, with people “voting” on what grade they think a problem is. Peoples’ votes for a particular grade assignment are indicated with percentages. When I first saw this, I thought it was the most sensible system I’d come across.

    On a slightly different topic, I appreciate you thoughts on 8a.nu. I wonder if 8a.nu is reaching a peak in it’s popularity? There are small symptoms in and around rock climbing cyber culture that suggest folks are losing their enthusiasm for it. I personally hope so.

    Enjoy the blog, Cheers,

    Zachary

  29. peter beal

    18. Dec, 2008

    Jamie,
    I have written today on my blog about the changed tone at 8a.nu and tend to agree with your assessment of the problem with the site and its concept. Zachary may have it right.
    Peter

  30. B Russ

    24. Dec, 2008

    I read more than one comment above about how grades are so useful/important when going to a new area and deciding what to climb. Personally, one of my favorite parts of bouldering is going to a new area and leaving to guidebook in the car. In fact I make it a point to explore areas sans guidebook(other than locating areas, parking etc). I walk around and try to climb the ones that look fun. If I don’t make it up one then I move on to the next. I always feel like a kid in a candy store. These are my happiest memories climbing. On a rope, grades can keep you out of danger….on a boulder……what does it matter as long as it feels good when you are climbing it???

  31. […] want to start by saying – “YES” -  i emphatically agree with jemerson’s consensual grading database […]

  32. gianluca

    27. Dec, 2008

    idea for the “lower” end of the scale in popular areas.

    just look at who does a specific climb.

    a system like 8A can be used to roughly identify the “climbing level” of those registering all their ascents.

    looking at the “average level” of the repeaters of a boulder problem or route is one idea.
    the idea is : if V10 “A” has an “average repeater” who has done a few V9’s and never a V10, it should be easier than another V10 “B” that gets a lot of V11 climbers on.

    the possible unwanted effect is that this kind of grade will incorporate some elements that go beyond the pure climbing difficulty. It is not what we usually think as “grade”.
    Example : a dangerous highball with bad landing and very precarious moves will discourage people not having a fair margin on the grade, and so it would appear harder than things requiring the same climbing effort with less danger.
    Or : a popular problem that gets a lot of teamed assaults will appear easier that something that gets less attention and motivation (etc)

  33. tissue

    28. Dec, 2008

    i just want people to stop downgrading everything after i send. it’s making my fragile ego…um….brokened.

    and while i think consensus would be cool, now that i think about it, it would even be cooler to appoint a grading czar: 1) it seems to be ‘super-hip’ in the federal gov at the moment, and 2) someone would get to be the grading czar.

    i vote for sock hands. heez a jd. they know about the law. laws do stuff. czars do stuff. grades are stuff. stuff>stuff>stuff. don’t agree? it’s all in plato.

    read.

  34. cardboard_dog

    08. Jan, 2009

    No doubt grades are subjective. It always comes down to personal honesty. I found it interesting that despite the press you recieved for sending Freak of the Industry V14, you downrated it to V13. There is a problem in my home area rated V9 that i sent as a newish v7 climber. It’s been in the circuit since I sent. I tell people it’s hard V7 and they think I’m crazy. Enough people who have sent it think it’s hard enough that I could claim the 9 points but I just don’t want to. It’s not that hard for me. It’s fits my style. Very thin, small holds, very balance and foot work oriented. Some people claim Bierstadt is 9 points, but I took the 10. It’s pure power and some big moves, and it took me at least 4 sessions over 2 seasons. F that, I earned the 10 points. But whatev. I don’ care about the points anyway. I just sent a beautiful classic that i really wanted to get to the top of. In the end, unless you want sponsorship or a full score card, fo rsomeone like me grades are just another way to randomly choose a problem at a new area, or measure whether I’m getting better or if I’m stuck on a plateau.

  35. RP

    17. Aug, 2009

    I think climbs should be rated like ski trails. the color system allows for a general idea,but makes it more difficult to get caught up in the actual number aspect. I understand that there is no easy answer to the “grading” problem but this is just my two cents

  36. Eddie

    04. Nov, 2009

    The consensus rating on Mountain Project is a great feature. I in that most of the grades are different on MP than in some guides.
    I myself travel a lot and doing so get to experience new areas and I am definitely on of the research climbers. I will have a tick list two pages before I leave. I start with two grades lower than I normally climb and then move to two grades harder than I climb. You never know how stiff an area is going to be. A great example is my last trip to up state NY. The grades at the Gunks area far more stiff than at Pok-o-Moonshine.

    I climb up to v5. I find that if a problem was put up by someone that climbs 5 to 6 grades harder than the problems are far more stiff. It seems in some way that that person has lost touch with what a v5 really feels like. “If its easier than v9 than its a v4” seems to be what tends to happen. Is that a god thing or a bad thing? I think it is just apart of the grading system that will never really change. But that’s what makes it fun to talk about.

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