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MrGecko

Route Grades

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Grading is a subjective thing and hence the challenge with quantifying it.

 

Which is why time and time again I always hear people suggest to ignore the grades for the most part. It's not an exact science, and it can never be with the large variety of body types, climbing styles, and different routes.

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You want subjective? Try ice climbs. I've done routes that the guidebook gives WI6 but is soft WI4 due to being completely hacked out.

 

Or aid grades, the conventional A1-5 system is pretty silly. The casual rating system is much more accurate and helpful

 

NBD-No Big Deal

NTB-Not Too Bad

PDH-Pretty Damn Hard

DFU-Don't Fuck Up

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I personally think that YDS does a pretty good job describing difficultly of routes as whole. I think it fails at rating cruxes. So I prefer a mix of YDS and V grades. For instance, I climbed Closet Nazi (12a) at Broughton Bkuff today. I would describe that route as a 12a with a V3 crux. That tells you the route grade is partially due to pump, as V3 along would be 11+. obviously it's not perfect, but I think gives a better visual of the routes difficulty than just YDS.

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Do you think routes are generally graded for on sight or red pointing? Are sport and gear routes graded differently in this respect?

 

Depends where you are in the world. In the UK the trad grade is on sight.

 

In France the grade (except for very easy routes) is for a red point. This means you know where any hidden holds are. This make some places in France a lot harder to on sight routes than others.

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Grades probably should be less subjective than they are. Rock grades in any country are an attempt to list the routes in an order dependent on the number of climbers able to climb them. So if only 125 out of 1,000 climbers can climb route A and only 30 out of 1,000 can climb route B. B is harder than A. Full stop.

 

Where we then put the boundaries, 5.12a, 5.12b etc is less clear, but not random, as usually benchmark climbs are used, again with the idea of the fraction of climbers who can climb them. This works well in areas where the routes have been climbed by very large numbers.

 

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I prefer a three-grade system derived from the YDS. the three grades are self-explanatory:

 

5-fun

5-whine

5-phooey

 

no other beta is necessary or desirable...

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If you have too much info on a route before you start up you are disqualifying yourself from an onsight. Knowing the grade but not the reason for it would be a better test of your abilities than knowing where the 6 crux moves are and how hard each one is. You only have one chance to do a climb onsight so why would you want to cheapen it? So a route grade should be the easiest way to get up it which is with beta and using all the holds. Its up to you solve the cruxes and find the holds on an onsight attempt, if you cannot unlock a sequence or find the hold that makes it go, your failure doesn't make the climb any harder.

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