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viktor kramer death heads


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I like the death heads -- they add excitement to the X-treme sport of reading a guidebook. I don't remember the classification information Viktor gives in the introduction, but I interpret them just like the PG/R/X system: one death head means it may be a little scary but probably not bad, two heads means it is probaby somewhat dangerous, and three means its completely nutty.

 

In the "Lost Shoes" thread, we have been talking somewhat about a possible rating system for hazards on a route. In addition to the technical rating, some said there should be a "second tier" rating system that will tell you how dangerous a route is. That was, I said, what the death heads and the PG/R/X system are for (in the latter, PG was defined to be "scary," R indicated that there was injury potential associated with a leader fall, and X indicated there was death potential. Dru countered that this doesn't account for how good or bad the rock is, noting that he'd feel safer on lots of run-out climbs on good rock than some closely protected ones on choss.

 

I don't think a rating system will completely address these issues. If you want the guidebook to tell you what you really want to know, wouldn't it be more informative to have a simple comment such as:

 

excellent rock; runout

loose rock; runout

no pro

dangerous thin flakes

solid rock

suspect nubbins

shattered rock

loose in places

1st pitch loose (to suggest that the rest of the route is better)

or

treacherous descent gully

 

The death heads are cool, though. Climb a tripple skull route and you know for sure you're badass, even if it was only 5.6.

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mattp said:

I don't think a rating system will completely address these issues. If you want the guidebook to tell you what you really want to know, wouldn't it be more informative to have a simple comment....

 

I agree with this idea. I prefer commentary over guidebook specific "2nd tier" systems.

 

The death heads are funny, but I think the Watt's Smith Guide is funnier in that he even gives 1 and 2 stars to routes that he considers worthless or low quality. I flipped through that book and saw all the stars and thought ... "whoa what a quality climbing area!" ... nope. yellaf.gif

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I would say you need the death heads in addtion to the route commentary, because there will always be people to simply glance at the page and don't bother to read the text. The death heads get one's attention and force one to read the comments, and hopefully, think a little first.

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catbirdseat said:

I would say you need the death heads in addtion to the route commentary, because there will always be people to simply glance at the page and don't bother to read the text. The death heads get one's attention and force one to read the comments, and hopefully, think a little first.

 

I'm not sure guidebooks should always cater to people who cannot read or think for themselves. Yes, you will climb a lot of good routes by selecting only three-star routes without any noted fear factor, but you will also miss out on a lot of the excitement and exploration that climbing has to offer. These people that need everything to be rated and categorized will be way to focussed on the specific ratings, which can be subjective at best: rather than looking at a piece of rock and judging for theirself whether or not they think they like the looks of it, they tell themself a nice clean 5.9 arete must be too hard and they'll try the 5.8 crack nearby even though it is wet. And they'll never climb Mt. Rainier by any route other than DC, Emmons, Lib Ridge, or Ptarmigan (contrary to popular belief, there are at least 10 other good routes on the mountain).

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the adjectival comment from the guidebook author can be hijacked by personal opinions about runouts or whatever as ref; the two Squamish bouldering guidebooks

 

a problem in one is described as "a bold and impressive ascent pushing the limits of highballing into free soloing, bring cool head and numerous spotters" and in the other as "a contrived traverse going nowhere, this route is unjustifiably dangerous, best left unrepeated" rolleyes.gif

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Indeed, Dru. Some guidebook author's may prefer their own routes or ones their friends put up, some may deliberately overrate some climbs in order to help assure that their readers don't get in over their heads, or they may have an unusual taste for short and contrived climbs, or their information may tend to be out of date (these represent my views of certain Washington guidebook authors -- guess who). Whether interpreting a rating system or written commentary, you have to get to know a book and an area or talk to others who have already done so in order to be able to account for these kinds of bias.

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I was just look'n through the new levenslab guide book and I noticed some dude named Jim Yoder has all kinda first ascents with death heads , What up wit dat, has he got brass balls or couldn't aford bolts ? smirk.gif

Buy the Frenchmans Choss guide book he sure can aford them now yelrotflmao.gif

How bout that picture of him from the old newspaper, what a geek Geek_em8.gif (just kidd'n)

Yoder seems to be cool cool.gif and he climbs hard.

 

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I think the term is "skull", not death heads, as in "5.6 double skull!". And if it really isn't "skulls", then it should be.

 

I love those skull guys. In my version of the guide he even has a rant about why there are no pg/r/x ratings ("because it's a climb, not a movie!! madgo_ron.gifmadgo_ron.gifyellaf.gif)

 

Anyway. Love the skulls.

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