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TimL

The New Medium Grade for Climbers

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if you don't care, then why did you post, assworked?

 

Seriously, you're screaming "i don't care" so loud i think you do care...otherwise, move on...

Care about what? I actually find the sociology of sport climbing pretty interesting. How much do numbers mean for most climbers? It seems like a lot, and a lot more than most are ready to admit. Do people want to climb say Chronic because they expect it to be an enjoyable climb, or because it will be their first 5.13? How much self-worth and motivation is wrapped up in the feeling of needing to measure up to "rising standards?"

 

To be fair, most are probably getting on something like that because it represents the next step for them--they want a challenge. But that is a personal challenge, that has nothing to do with what "everyone else" is climbing these days. One person's 5.8 is another's 5.13...

 

Of course, numbers matter A LOT... if you are trying to sell magazines.

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the new mediaum grade huh? i think someone else mentioned something about HOW you climb it. the problem with simply looking at the number is that it is a very limiting factor and does nothing to indicate (shall we say) other environmental factors.

 

i aint talking about heat, sweat or humidity.

 

what i am talking about is the ability to balls to the wall actually climb something in the R/X range. me, i am proud to say that i was a damn solid 5.10 climber. what that means to me is that i didnt fall on 5.10 for about 12 years and on site soloed sometimes at that grade. yep, sub-moderate by your standards, but i wonder how many of these gymbo's can actually climb near their best on-site ability when the chips are down (ie: no frickin pro on a big fricking wall with serious consequences of a fall and no bolts in site?)

 

sorry, but what you are talking about is impressive to me but it is severely limiting and is a different sport than the one that i practiced for many years. i could be kind of biased since i sucked at the high numbers because the best i ever on-sited was 12b and best i ever red-pointed was 12b. but if there was a 10 off-width or whatever with limited pro, give me the rope and i am game. i am damn proud to call myself a mediocre 5.10 climber under those standards. just recognize that it is a different game than the all out quest for numbers.

 

i apologize for the spray but wanted to throw out a a different viewpoint....

 

 

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I would suggest that as rock climbing becomes more and more popular, the "medium" grade is going down. When was the last time you lined up to get on a 5.13?

 

I would say the average climber leads 5.9 to 5.10-, with relatively few leading 5.13 and up compared to the masses of 5.7/8 leaders.

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At the climbing gym I go to (in Germany), there are a lot of people climbing VI and VII (5.10-5.11), and the walls with harder routes have only 1 or 2 pairs on them. Also, there is such a fear of non-bolted routes, I am having a hard time finding anyone who wants to go with me on trad-protected climbs. The reaction is always complete bafflement..."why?" I've kind of given up for the season, and will climb easy high mountains instead. Maybe I'll meet one of these eurobadasses later. But he'd prolly want to climb trad 5.12 offwidth and that's just too damn hard. crap.

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...

A friend of mine went to Splitter Camp in Indian Creek. He said Jim Donini argues that there are few real 5.10 climbers out there, climbers who are solid on any 5.10 demanding any climbing style. 5.13 overhanging face climbers might get shut down on 5.9 offwidth. Do numbers even make sense in this context?...

 

Great Fucking post!

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Well I'm glad to be stuck in the lower part of the middle because there is not a lot of people climbing these routes. Too hard for those weekend warriors and too easy for sporto badasses. It was even less crowded here 10-15 years ago I think. But as others have said whats really cool about climbing is that everyone can find routes that challenge them. The ratings are just a tool to help you get the amount of challenge you're after.

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It seems to me the harder you climb (13 and up).....the bigger your ego becomes. I do know some very humble 13 climbers....but one or two.......the rest of them have huge heads.

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I would suggest that as rock climbing becomes more and more popular, the "medium" grade is going down. When was the last time you lined up to get on a 5.13?

 

I would say the average climber leads 5.9 to 5.10-, with relatively few leading 5.13 and up compared to the masses of 5.7/8 leaders.

 

 

Agreed. I'd say the average alpine grade is thus "mid-fifth" given the increasing number of people in the mountains over the years.

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When was the last time you lined up to get on a 5.13?

 

I dont.......but you need to climb at smith more. This happens alot there.

 

 

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A friend of mine went to Splitter Camp in Indian Creek. He said Jim Donini argues that there are few real 5.10 climbers out there, climbers who are solid on any 5.10 demanding any climbing style. 5.13 overhanging face climbers might get shut down on 5.9 offwidth. Do numbers even make sense in this context?...

 

Great Fucking post!

 

Jim use to say the same thing to me except it was 5.11 then!

 

Climbing standards are much higher than they were 30 years ago. EG: When first freed both Japanese Gardens and Sloe Children were rarely climbed. Now there is a line every weekend.

 

Tim - Did you ever hook up with Dick? I haven't heard from him in a while and was wondering what he was up to.

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Interesting reponses. Lets just say maybe now I'm psyched about grades but not fanatical.

 

Its fun deciding you want to climb something, putting work into it and then getting it done. In this post, I'm talking about grades, not the satisfaction you get from doing them, although thats highly interwoven. In terms of climbs, my best memories are mountain routes, usually in the lower grades.

 

Its funny, I see a lot of pure sport climber fight burining out after a while. For me, when I get tired I go into the mountains. Deep down, for me, sport climbing is training to do harder cracks and harer mountain routes.

 

As for attitude and sport climbing, you every walk through camp 4 during the Spring or Fall. The worlds full of assholes and it doesn't make a difference if its sport or trad.

 

In Washington, higher grade sport routes have appeared around Little Si and I don't know how many other places, but what higher grade cracks can you think of. 5.12 and upwards. And...how many hard crack climbs are there in the Alpine?

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A friend of mine went to Splitter Camp in Indian Creek. He said Jim Donini argues that there are few real 5.10 climbers out there, climbers who are solid on any 5.10 demanding any climbing style. 5.13 overhanging face climbers might get shut down on 5.9 offwidth. Do numbers even make sense in this context?...

 

Great Fucking post!

 

Jim use to say the same thing to me except it was 5.11 then!

 

Climbing standards are much higher than they were 30 years ago. EG: When first freed both Japanese Gardens and Sloe Children were rarely climbed. Now there is a line every weekend.

 

Tim - Did you ever hook up with Dick? I haven't heard from him in a while and was wondering what he was up to.

 

Haven't seen nor heard of Dick, although we've traded a couple emails now and then. I'm going to the Pyrenees in a week ((Cavallers). The place where I'm going is supposed to be one of his favorite areas. Maybe I'll see him.

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What I think is cool about climbing and grades is that you can jump on any climb you want and have a go at it, without a judge or coach or proving yourself worthy and if you can send,you didn't have to kiss ass to get there.

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Yeah sorry TimL for being obnoxious. You're right, climbers are climbing harder routes in general. That is what this thread was about with the numbers missing. Do the numbers really lend any extra meaning?

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This is kinda a troll and kinda cause I'm bored. Anyways, last weekend I spent a couple days pulling down on some limestone sport routes. While at the crag everybody got into a big conversation about the lower, middle and upper grades. I just listened. This is what I heard. Most people consider 11+ to 13a middle grades or an average grade that the majority of people are climbing. Higher grades are 8a or 13b and upward. Easy grades are 5.7 to 5.11-. Although almost everyone fell in the middle grade category, believe me there were some heavy hitter there that day, and everyone still agreed that stanards are rising. A teenager that goes to my gym just put down 2 14d's in a row at Rodellar. There is at least one person at my gym who has climbed 15a. Tommy Caldwell is doing sick shit on El Cap. The Cobra crack got put down at 14a I think.

 

Not that grades really matter in relation to having a good time, but it seems standards are really rising and what was hard when I started climbing 11 years ago is no longer hard.

 

You do you think about all of this?

 

Tim, very interesting post, and something i have been thinking about. I think that "being able to climb" means something different now than it did 9 years ago when i started climbing. To me i am a 5.9 climber because i can go any where and make it up a 5.9 the first time clean(usually). I can work a 5.10 and i am sure i could work an .11 to the point i can climb that one climb of that grade. but that doesn't mean i can go on a trip and reliably be able to crank on .10's or .11's. I know i have old crusty ethics. but it works for me.

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Here in our relative backwater, it is kind of rare to find a lot of folks who can climb a 5.13a, but I've heard that is not the case in Europe, and Tim's direct experience seems to bear this out.

 

One can talk about who those rad sport climbers can't struggle up a 5.9 offwidth, but that's only because they haven't applied themselves to it, it's not something that appeals. I think the Huber brothers have pretty well proven that one can move from short really hard sport routes to hard long gear routes. A provincial bias against sport climbing, whether you think "it's neither" or you decry the relative lack of risk when it's compared to run out 5.8 choss, just holds back your own ultimate ability.

 

Climbing splintered into a number of different disciplines quite awhile ago, but many top climbers will work across the spectrum, from ice/mixed to sport, cracks to runout slabs, bouldering to big alpine stuff. It's what being a well rounded climber is all about. There was a time when it was assumed that everyone who considered themselves a climber had aspirations to all that stuff, not just calling themselves a bolderer or a trad climber.

 

I think a lot of moral outrage about sport climbing is just a face saving posture that avoids admitting you can't climb that hard. Any euro sport dog is going to have an easier time on a 5.9 offwidth than I will have on an overhanging 5.13a, I guarantee it.

 

The saving grace about it all is that when your sort it all out, all climbing is personal. It matters much less to me how hard I climb compared to you than how hard I climb compared to own my past efforts. Grades are just numbers that let you make some relative comparisons, well, and provide something to argue about around the campfire.

 

 

xoxoxoxoxo

I *heart* Offwhite!!!!!

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Get a room.

;)

The numbers game is only as much a game as the players are assholes. If played by those seeking information it is very useful.

Another factor I do not hear discussed here is our place in history. If Fred Becky (insert favorite antique climber) was born 15 years ago instead of 80, what level would he be climbing in 2010? Or if Colin had been born in 1920, where would he be at age 2X? I remember when the best shoes available were EB's and Friends had not been invented yet. Any overnight climbing trip involved a 50 lb pack if not more. Point made.

Grades are being pushed because we can. Or YOU can as the case may be. There are all kinds of specializations and branches into strange new pursuits the participants call climbing. At some point a climber will emerge who can do it all at the top level of each pursuit. Then the rest will know their place. At least until the next one comes along. That "place" will be good, bad, or indifferent depending on your own motivation. It will define your attitude toward climbing. Perhaps it will define what kind of person you are. Why do any of us climb at all? It's not like we are doing the world any favors. I have never climbed a first ascent with the primary motivation being "to open new vistas for mankind". Every single one was purely selfish. It was what I liked to do. It was where I wanted to be. I,I,I.

"I" would rather be climbing right now instead of typing but I have too many other things I have taken responsibility for. Would I be a better person if I were climbing 5.15 and cruising Robson with Colin? I do not think so but I am still jealous of Colin and his generation. All of this is rhetorical. Colin is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet and Fred, well, he is not evil. The "better person" rating is really what seems to be debated here in this thread. Ratings have been used effectively since climbing began as a guild in Chamonix in the 1800's. It is abused by some and restored by others.

Who are you?

Why do you climb?

What is most important to you in life?

This seems to be what we are boiling it down to.

 

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