Entlinge V14/15 flashed

Posted on 29. Nov, 2011 by in News

Daniel Woods has made a flash ascent of Entlinge V15, in Murgtal, Switzerland. Very well done! It wasn’t so long ago that V14 and V15 were almost unheard of. Clearly Daniel is one of if not the most powerful climbers in the world and that he is at the top of the game is no surprise. Adam Ondra has also made a number of very impressive flashes, including Confessions V14, in Cresciano, Switzerland (which he suggested to be V13).

Entlinge was put up in 2005 by Fred Nicole and if my memory serves me correctly it was suggested to be potentially V16 (if someone has a more accurate memory or better info, please share). Here is video of Bernd Zangerl climbing the problem:

This brings to light once again the subjectivity of grades.

Modern climbing lacks an objective measuring stick, in terms of time, (no one has yet to start documenting how quickly they can climb a sport route or boulder problem, but that may eventually come) and it also lacks an objective distance, over which to measure that time. While grading is the best thing we have to measure our personal progress, it remains subjective, and therefore a weak standard.

Imagine if Daniel (for example) went to a track of undefined or arbitrary length and ran as fast as he could. Based on previous performances on other arbitrary tracks around the world and against other runners, he proclaimed that his run was the fastest ever. While there would certainly be some merit to his opinion, it would remain a subjective idea. Obviously this subjectivity leads to much of the debate surrounding grades in climbing. While it is impressive that he flashed a problem that has been suggested to be V15, it’s more interesting that he flashed Entlinge itself. The boulder problem can and should stand alone.

This idea, that the problem itself remains as more objective, is an interesting one. In the past my desire to define this objective measure (by defining where a problem should start, finish and how it should be climbed) has been criticized. Because climbing the problem or not climbing the problem can be a clear standard used to measure progress (given a sound definition), it would be nice to see more emphasis on specific problems being benchmarks. With this comes, of course, the need for more clearly and well-defined definitions of what it means to climb those problems. It would be less important as to which subjective number was assigned to the climb, and more important as to the reputation of the difficulty of the boulder. The reputation could be defined as well, perhaps by location (in a well-traveled area, rock quality, or the number of people which try the problem etc). Problems that come to mind are, for example:

Dreamtime, CH
Esperanza, Hueco
The Shield, LRC
No More Greener Grasses, Mt. Evans
Black Lung, Joe’s Valley

Grades are seemingly inescapable, and while there is (and probably always will be) an emphasis on certain “benchmark” routes, it would be nice if that emphasis was greater. These are all just ideas, and being a fan and participant in climbing myself, I’d like to try to understand what it is we do as well as I possibly can. How much emphasis should be put on grades? Quality? Is it fair to say that Daniel flashing this somewhat obscure and short problem in Switzerland should hold the same weight as if he were to flash a highball like Livin’ Large V15 in South Africa? It remains to be seen if Entlinge will stand the test of time, but regardless, a great effort from Daniel, and always a lot to think about!

21 Responses to “Entlinge V14/15 flashed”

  1. Joe McLoughlin

    29. Nov, 2011

    I like your “benchmark problems” idea in your blog post about Daniel Woods. This sliding of grades makes Woods’ send seem less impressive. Whenever someone flashes a problem, it seems like it just has to be downgraded. What about someone actually raising their game and the bar and flashing the grade? Benchmark problems should be more common place and once set, cannot be downgraded (unless brok…en or altered). If you flash one of these problems, it won’t be questioned.

    Also, what are your thoughts on the widespread availability of video as it applies to flashing a problem? Seems like you can really study a problem closely before attempting your flash. This was not possible not that many years ago.

    Thanks and keep up the good work!

  2. richard gissome

    29. Nov, 2011

    Did Nalle Hukkataival spuge in your mouth or something after sending Livin’ Large?

    How do your “benchmarks” solve anything? What happens when someone flashes Dreamtime but is for some reason unable to even climb Black Lung? Are they better than the climber who did both but it took that person a year+ of work on each or worse? It is still completely subjective…

  3. Disgruntled Dad

    30. Nov, 2011

    Wow! Daniel Woods has once again opened a door that was thought to be improbable and quite literally impossible. While the first part of your post is obviously a story worthy of at least a month of climbing gym conversation, I find the second part pertaining to the subjectivity of grades a cornerstone to our sport that always seems to be overlooked.

    One of the most frustrating questions climbers often hear is: What makes it so hard? It should be a simple answer. The steepness, the hold size, and the spans are all factors that contribute to the difficulty of a piece of rock; however, the trouble lies in the fact that these variables are subjective, or as Jamie put it, “Modern climbing lacks an objective measuring stick”. Without an objective measurement (which I hope climbing never discovers) we are faced with relying on the integrity of one another to report ascents accurately and honestly. Now I know climbing is viewed by most as a fun-loving and community oriented escape from the every day grind of life (unless your a professional climber) but there is a staunch reality that arrived some time ago and is overlooked or even outright ignored.

    Before I make my argument I’ll issue a friendly warning: If your too smug to even think about grades because of your long departed hippie trad climbing days or your narcissistic desire to keep climbing “pure” then quit reading now because you wont like whats next.

    Climbing is an industry and it’s growing rapidly. With that comes a competitive market that boasts sponsored athletes who get paid to travel the world and represent the companies that sign their checks. Well, just like in the real world, you don’t get paid unless you get noticed and you don’t get noticed unless your (as Carlo Traversi said) “at the head of the inch worm”. How do you know who’s at the head of the inch worm? …Grades… Grades are the only form of measurement climbers can use to determine who’s at the top and thus getting paid to travel the world doing what they love. I know that some of you think being a “cool dude” or a great ambassador should get you paid but lets be honest, who wants to watch Joe Shmo project Daily Dick Dose in Dosage 6? I didn’t think so. I know he’s a friendly guide at Hueco who everybody knows, but the fact still remains that he’s not in the movies, on the websites, or in the magazines. Some of you might be saying: “None of this has to do with me. I’m not a sponsored athlete, I just want to enjoy climbing for the movement on the rock.” Well, have you thought about how hard your project would be without those new 5.10’s or that brand new Flashed pad? So it turns out grades are important to the climbing industry after all, huh?

    The problem with subjectivity is that you could subjectively say whatever you want. “I climbed a new FA at my home crag and it’s V14! And last week in Bishop I flashed a V12!” (even though no one was there to witness it). Nonetheless, you’ve got yourself a pretty nice tick list and next thing you know you get an email saying your resume has been reviewed by Prana and they’re offering you a paid sponsorship! There’s no way someone would lie about doing a rock climb, where they started, or how many tries took them; would they? If you don’t believe someone might lie to make some money for doing nothing you need to reevaluate your education level.

    The reason why Jamie (a.k.a The Sheriff) is always policing climbers is because the integrity of our sport lies with the climbers themselves (and I’m sure he likes the superiority he feels when handing out “citations”).

    So, the next time you see someone dab a pad and claim a send or start two moves in, think about the message your sending to new climbers about what’s allowed and what’s not. Climbing is a fragile sport and it takes the entire community to make sure it’s not mistreated.

  4. peter beal

    30. Nov, 2011

    Interesting to see NMGG as a “benchmark” problem. It has been flashed 2, maybe even 3 times, along with a number of very close flash attempts, yet is regarded as a V-grade harder than Clear Blue Skies which has not yet been flashed. In fact according to 8a.nu, there are roughly the same number of ascents logged overall for NMGG and CBS.

    The holds are certainly bigger on NMGG. Is is just that CBS is somewhat more obscure and shorter?

  5. B3

    30. Nov, 2011

    Peter, Having climbed both problems, I can say that there is no comparison. I think I did CBS with relatively minimal effort compared to NMGG, which took for me a near maximal effort. It wasn’t that hard for me nor for Angela (and nearly everyone else who has climbed both, ask them) who said it was “definitely not V12”. I don’t think time is an indicator of difficulty. Climb both problems, and see for yourself.

  6. peter beal

    30. Nov, 2011

    Jamie, you didn’t answer my question. I didn’t ask what you thought the grade of CBS was. I already know that. Nick Duttle called it standard V10 on 8a.nu. I am looking at the actual overall record on the two problems.

    Why do you think a number of people have flashed NMGG and nobody has yet flashed the supposedly much easier shorter, easier to inspect, and definitely less scary CBS?

  7. sidepull

    30. Nov, 2011

    Great post.

    I think the track/running metaphor is a bit off. Think gymnastics. There are moves that are harder than others but different body types might make them feel easier. A harder sequence means combining these moves but again, a different body type might make one sequence seem harder than another. As much as you might get people to agree that, on average, one set of moves is more difficult than another, you can never remove the element of subjectivity because, unless you have Procrustean fantasies, you’ll never make all climbers the same. So we need to rely on averages.

    That said, if people and sponsors were really serious about making grades more standardized then they might revisit my idea about creating a bouldering museum with problems that represent standards for a given grade, similar to the Office of Weights and Measures (http://www.nist.gov/pml/wmd/). You think you just climbed V15? Come to the gym, climb a confirmed V15 and see if it feels as hard.

    At any rate, mad props to Daniel and thanks to Jamie for the always thoughtful conversation.

  8. cameron

    30. Nov, 2011

    well mr. disgruntled, i wouldnt worry too much about liars making their way to the top of the ranks, climbing is a pretty small community and reputation counts for a lot. and also, “lifestyle” ambassadors/athletes seem like they are doing pretty well in this sport lately.

  9. klaun

    30. Nov, 2011

    defining benchmark problems for bouldering without naming fontainebleau just seems foolish – as impressive the v15 flash is (in fact i didn’t believe it, reading 8a.nu) as improbable is flashing the grade in the forest.

    i personally would love to see somebody flash kheops assis, amok assis or gecko assis.

    nevertheless great and inspiring effort by daniel

    (sorry for the bad english – maybe i’ve missed the point in the article but as far as i’ve understood it was about defining grades for bouders in comparison to certain benchmarks: feel free to correct me if i’m wrong)

  10. Jake

    30. Nov, 2011

    haha i could see daniel taking a big dump on this thing. very much his style amazing looking boulder

  11. B3

    30. Nov, 2011

    I would be happy to include problems from Font. I’m just not familiar with which ones those would be. The idea is not to define grades, but to gain understanding that there are certain problems which represent a level of achievement.

  12. B3

    30. Nov, 2011

    I think people flash NMGG because it is a better problem and they try harder. It means more to flash this boulder and so more people try to flash it. I heard maybe 6 people say they’d like to give it a real flash attempt but I’ve never heard anyone say that about CBS. I don’t know anyone who has climbed NMGG but can’t do CBS, but I can think of any number of people who have done CBS but can’t touch NMGG.
    I think this again speaks to the idea that problems of better quality are the ones which define our sport. Even while Ondra’s ascent of a really hard traverse is a great step for difficulty, he seems to be almost apologetic for climbing such a problem. I think what he is speaking to is that he knows it would be better if were climbing on better problems. Having climbed a number of challenging problems myself I would have to agree.

  13. Nortebouldering

    30. Nov, 2011

    It is impossible that bouldering ceases to be subjective. The day that happens, it becomes something else. Even putting aside the grades and creating “benchmark problems”, which is a variation of the B scale as the problem rather than the grade is enhanced, subjectivity is always present, because each one feels the problem differently, therefore its perception of difficulty is different. And the “natural problems” change with use, sometimes just a little, sometimes a little too much. Not to mention, the perverse effect that would be draw everyone to the same problem, because it is “the benchmark.” Ultimately, and in a moral sense, could lead to a loss of personal freedom, which is one of the foundations of climbing. Difficulty is a personal thing that each one builds for himself and makes sense within its inner world. When it passes outside it becomes a projection of the ego with all the associated perverse and adverse effects, which ultimately lead to the state in which climbing is at the moment.
    Excellent post, as always when they the subject is the fracturing issues of bouldering. SM

  14. Jabroni

    30. Nov, 2011

    I switched off right about when you put ‘moral sense’ into a post about climbing!

    There is nothing fractured about the sport or pastime of climbing. People worry about what sponsored climbers do as if it really, really affects their lives. Oh my! He claimed a V15 but had a dab! He called it high-end V15 but it could actually be V16!!!

    *WHO CARES, IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE TO US WEAKMOS*

    If we were talking about the bolting insanity ala David Lama, then I could understand the worry, but really…

    And I think some people have gotten Jamie’s post wrong. He’s not trying to define grades down to the nth degree. If he wanted to do that, he’d be trying to work out exactly which climbs are low, middling and high in the grade and perhaps even assigning some kind of decimal system to it (oh, I think that was V10.3 if Full Service is V10.5)…

    At the same time, I think ‘achievement’ is a vague and amorphous term. Is ‘Livin Large’ a bigger achievement than ‘Entlinge’ because it’s higher and scarier?

  15. cardboard_dog

    01. Dec, 2011

    I like the fact that you posted a video of Bernrd Zangrl climbing another extremely difficult problem in this post. The man has practically dropped off the radar even though he continues to be sick strong. There is something to be said for people like him.

    It’s really hard to talk about the subjectivity of grades without most of the context of the conversation being opinion, something that is …. incredibly subjective.
    Another factor, especially when people talk about certain climbers doing a problem, whether they think because this person, who ever it is, did it, the problem is either the respected grade, or in some negative cases, must be easier than graded. All climbers have good days and bad days. I’ve seen the biggest noob gym rats pull highly improbable sends out of their butts because they were psyched on the rock and the group they were climbing with , etc. And it’s soooo RAD when it happens. Man sometimes a motivated group can get a new climber up a boulder problem with pure psyche and energy.
    Obviously you have to be fit to climb double digits .. but it still happens even at the top of the V-scale. Energy is everything.
    I actually like the subjectivity of grades. Keeps things honest on a level that concrete or benchmark grading couldn’t. Benchmark grading would weed out the grade chasers and 8a card fluffers, but it still wouldn’t eliminate out right liars.

  16. Sam

    01. Dec, 2011

    Did Daniel use the same foot sequence as Bernd? Sorry this doesn’t contribute to the ‘subjectivity of grades’ discussion in any way, I’m just curious.

  17. g

    01. Dec, 2011

    i find it interesting that an impressive flash generates a grading system/measuring stick discussion.

    the underlying question is : what makes it difficult?

    i find there is at least two possible definitions of difficulty :
    a) It is difficult because very few humans are able to climb it
    b) It is difficult because it requires a lot of time and effort (attempts) to be climbed

    Generally a) and b) go together but there can be anomalies.

    Let’s say that now everybody will go try “entlinge”, without much success.
    We’d have a problem that is only possible for few humans (a) but has been climbed at least once with minimal time and effort, so it doesn’t really fit criterion (b)

    On the other side i could cite many easy-graded problems in fontainebleau that because of their tricky nature often require much more attempts than one would suspect. But in the end everybody can climb them.
    So, really easy in sense (a) and not that simple in sense (b).

    Back to the original post : “standard” problems should be chosen giving priority to criterion (a) or (b)?
    What other criteria could be chosen?

  18. Joe

    02. Dec, 2011

    “in terms of time, (no one has yet to start documenting how quickly they can climb a sport route or boulder problem, but that may eventually come)”

    http://www.steve-mcclure.com/routes
    Steve McClure keeps track of how many days it took to send his routes.

  19. B3

    02. Dec, 2011

    I was referring to the time it takes to climb up the rock, from the moment the climber pulls on the wall until they finish.

  20. Nietzsche

    04. Dec, 2011

    Some more benchmarks:
    Slashface
    Full Monty
    Both Sides of the Spectrum
    Mandala (???)
    Veritas Assis
    God Module
    Midnight Lightning
    Ride the Lightning
    The Thimble

    Not to say being centered in a given grade range is not important, but I think history has already given us a few benchmarks that combine both a vision of the possible (at the time) as well as (almost) impeccable boulders. To that I would ask JE (“subjectivity” aside) to clarify what exactly makes a benchmark?

  21. Vishal

    16. Dec, 2011

    @klaun
    Looks like gecko assis got flashed

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