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olyclimber

Ice Climbing Grade discussion

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Shouldn't WI5 be a sustained vertical pitch that runs for a long distance?

You mentioned NH in your original post, my understanding is that New England ice climbs tend to be graded harder than continental or west coast route. Thus the 'NEI' ratings.

Edited by DPS

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Shouldn't WI5 be a sustained vertical pitch that runs for a long distance?

You mentioned NH in your original post, my understanding is that New England ice climbs tend to be graded harder than continental or west coast route. Thus the 'NEI' ratings.

 

NEI is simply northeastern folks being different. An NEI 3 is the same as a WI3. Both system go up to "grade" 6 ... although there are the unusual specimens that are pushing the limits of incredibly difficult ice climbing well past grade six (Helmcken Falls, Canada).

 

Edited by dave schultz

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I would respectfully disagree in stating that the northeast grades harder than the continental or west coast. What I have climbed in Colorado, Utah, Canada, and the Northeast all seems similarly and appropriately graded. The West Coast does not see a lot of ice, and that could lead to poor application of the otherwise fairly standard grading system (although my two Washington examples at the end show ice graded appropriately).

 

Pictures rarely do justice for the steepness, or difficulty of a route, especially true with ice as it usually has very little definition. I have not climbed the North Buttress Direct, it looks like a proud line, and will be on my list when I return. But, I also felt the photos provided did not show anything that looked like grade five ice, and barely showed grade four ice.

 

It really probably needs a second ascent to confirm the grade ...

 

Edited by dave schultz

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Some of my pictures:

 

IMG_20160305_161613.jpg

Lake Willougby, this is grade 3-4, depending on your line.

 

IMG_20160229_110523.jpg

This was the crux pitch of Cilley-Barber, supposedly grade four, felt like hard grade 3 or easy grade 4.

 

IMG_35172.JPG

This looking down from the top of the Rigid Designator in Vail, CO. Graded as 5-. You can barely see the follower (about 10-15 feet off the ground already).

 

 

 

Some examples of grade five or five plus:

 

Mindbender (WI5+) Lake Willoughby, VT

 

Last Gentleman (WI5) Lake Willoughby, VT

 

Dropline (WI5) Frankenstein Cliff, NH

 

Bridalveil Falls (WI5) CO

 

Bird Brain Boulevard (WI5 M5+) Ouray, CO

 

Skylight (WI4+ M4-5) Ouray, CO

 

Some West Coast routes for perspective (from Wayne's site)

 

The Cable (WI5)

Zenith (WI5)

 

https://waynewallace.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/banks-ice-13/

 

Additionally, look at the route in Ghost River area of Canada and the Weeping Wall on the Icefield Parkway, they will blow your mind for how ice should be graded.

 

Edited by dave schultz

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The site is still broken and posting large replies and trip reports is still a huge PITA. I'm sure people are working on it, but man it makes it hard to take the time to provide a response or post a trip report.

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Shouldn't WI5 be a sustained vertical pitch that runs for a long distance?

Depends on how one grades it, if one grades it strictly based on steepness then yes WI5's must be almost completely vertical. But in many cases the quality of ice, and strenuous natural of the climb Is factored into the grading. This climb would definitely fall into this category , if it doesn't meet the vertical requirement.

 

From Alpinist Link to Grades. I think this section of text is what the site program code or whatever does not like ... but ...

 

It still must be 85-90 degrees with few good rests. The only thing is that it could be "shorter," perhaps 30m. I don't see any photos showing anything that represents this definition.

 

Something that is not vertical or nearly vertical (85 degrees of so) does not qualify as grade five, regardless of its ice quality.

 

"Depending on how one grades it"? there is actually not that much ambiguity in the higher grades of ice. Grade three ice is probably the largest and most gray, grade four can be fairly gray, but there is a pretty distinct change from grade three to four, and grade five is obvious compared to grade four.

Edited by dave schultz

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Hey Dave, yeah we are working on it.

 

Can you take the discussion of grades to the Ice Climbing forum in a new topic? I'm sure there is merit to the discussion, but we'd like to keep that separate from the Trip Reports so as to not take away from any one's accomplishment. Grades can be pretty subjective as has been mentioned here...but that debate should have its own thread.

 

Awesome possible FA guys, they are getting harder and harder to come buy in such a popular area.

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Olyclimber, feel free to move as you see fit, although it is relating to this particular trip report, so might be valid to stay with it?

 

Thanks for your hard work with the site.

Edited by dave schultz

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Well as you can see the discussion has derailed from talking about the particular TR to a general discussion of grades. It makes more sense to keep that general discussion separate as it applies to all climbs. It is also being respectful to the folks posting the Trip Report, which at the end of the day, is the thing that makes this site the most valuable. I'm going to go ahead and pare this conversation over to the Iceclimbing forum. Thanks for your understanding.

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"Depending on how one grades it"? there is actually not that much ambiguity in the higher grades of ice.

 

What about how well formed the route is? I've heard Sea of Vapors, one of the original WI7's, goes at WI5 some years.

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Kind of a dumb discussion since ice especially in the mountains is so variable. Doubly so in the Cascades.

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The ice is certainly variable. But, overall, the grade is relatively consistent. It might move a half grade up or down. A easy four in awesome shape could probably be considered a three (but then was it maybe a three the whole time?). A middle-of-the-road-five in terrible shape is probably not really climbable simply due to the danger, but it is still a grade five, but it might take a grade six climber to be comfortable enough to climb it in those conditions, it still doesn't make it grade six (good use of the 5+ rating, this I imagine would be terrible enough that it is not really protectable or has very infrequent reliable protection, and could possibly introduce a factor two fall onto an anchor).

 

Sea of Vapors is a good example, and probably the best example to dis-prove my opinion on ice grading as it is so inconsistent in its potential condition, but its grade is consistent at WI6.

 

When it was put up in the 90s it was considered to be the hardest ice climb in the world, hence it gathered the grade seven rating (the FA was also likely the thinnest it has been in while also being climbed, according to Waterfall Ice).

 

Under today's standards and with the other hard routes around the world, I think it clearly falls into the grade six category (but still has the grade seven attached due to the FA and it keeps the prize with climbing what was once the hardest ice route in the world ...), but it probably never fits the grade five description. If it comes in epically fat, someone who leads grade five might be able to give it a go and get through it, but that means they probably can climb grade six, not really that the route is actually grade five.

 

The variability in conditions will make it seems harder or easier, but the grade 1-6 is relatively consistant.

 

I think in the moderate grade of three and four there is a tremendous amount of gray area and overlap, because there are so many variables (like trying to sandwich 5.3-5.10 into two divisions). But, once you break into the grade five and six realm there is a little bit less gray area (similar analogy to 5.11 and then 5.12). When trying to differentiate between a grade five and a grade four - there is pretty big, clear line (at least the way I read it). I view a grade six as essentially a grade five that is just harder (normally longer; similar steepness but fewer ledges, rests, features; protection will he harder to place, probably hanging belays due to the length and sustained nature).

Edited by dave schultz

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Right, well waiting for someone to repeat the Dragontail route to confirm the grade is dumb. You're obviously going to have a lot more consistent ratings somewhere where the conditions are more reliable like the Rockies or back east. This route might be way way harder or way way easier next year or not in at all.

 

We should just accept the fa'ers grading and stop Monday morning quarterbacking based on a couple photos.

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We should just accept the fa'ers grading and stop Monday morning quarterbacking based on a couple photos.

 

Agree

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