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DemolitionRed


Sep 18, 2012, 2:35 AM
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subjective and not scientific
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When it comes to grading both trad and sports routes its very subjective but I have to admit that when I am climbing rock and I have been told its an E4, I really do know that I have a good chance of completing the climb.
Not so with indoor climbing walls. I can go to one wall and climb every 5.12a route they have and go to another wall and not be able to climb a single 5.11a.
I tend not to stick around the same climbing walls perfecting routes and because we travel a lot, we get the opportunity to try out plenty of new indoor walls which is great but the difference in grading is huge.
We went to one yesterday and the 5.11a routes that I climbed were certainly no more than a 5.9

Anyone else noticed this?


J.Haze


Sep 18, 2012, 5:34 AM
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Re: [DemolitionRed] subjective and not scientific [In reply to]
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Gym grades don't matter you're never going to get a plastic route that would equate to the same grade on rock. I feel like my gym does the most sensical thing for indoor grades by not trying to specifically classify the route as a 5.11a or whatever, we list them as beginner, intermediate, adevanced, and expert (each covering a range i.e beg. 5.7-5.9, int 5.9-5.11 ect.) and a plus ot minus will signify if its on the easier or more difficult side of the range.

Every gym has its own system and within that every setter has his/her own bias on the difficulty of their route, so its easy to assume gym grades will never be accurate. Besides why does it matter what you climb in the gym the only grade that matters is on rock.


DemolitionRed


Sep 18, 2012, 6:55 AM
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Re: [J.Haze] subjective and not scientific [In reply to]
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[quote "J.

Every gym has its own system and within that every setter has his/her own bias on the difficulty of their route, so its easy to assume gym grades will never be accurate. Besides why does it matter what you climb in the gym the only grade that matters is on rock.
Why though is it different on rock? I climb a lot of rock and I have to say that in my experience the grading seems to be pretty accurate compared with climbing walls. Why should it be any different on plastic? if anything it should be easier to set a grade on plastic.
A lot of people only ever climb indoors. Many climbing competitions are held at climbing walls and so I believe it does matter.


Partner cracklover


Sep 18, 2012, 8:35 AM
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Re: [DemolitionRed] subjective and not scientific [In reply to]
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I used to set routes in gyms, and occasionally for competitions. I've also put up sport and trad FAs in a number of states. Here's my two cents:

Assigning a grade to your FA on real rock has serious consequences, at least for your ego and your reputation. So there is a very strong incentive to at least get the grade in line with the other climbs in the area. And now that everyone travels so much, the grades from area to area are reasonably in line with each other.

There is no such incentive for gym routes. In fact, IME, there are strong tendencies for gym routes and problems to drift off in one direction or the other from the norm. Typically an entire gym drifts off toward the soft side or the hard side. I have my theories as to what causes this, but the fact that it happens is undeniable. Here are a few pet theories:

- A well respected route setter who is a very strong climber, but is not all that good at setting problems/routes that are far below his ability. These may, for example, have moves that are physically only 5.10, but require the eye of a 5.11 climber to read, and the technique of a 5.12 climber to execute efficiently. Then other subordinate routesetters take the feel of those routes as "the standard" for grading their own routes. This leads to all the moderates in the gym being too hard for the grade.

- A gym owner who know that climbers have big egos, and wants to feed them. The owner pushes the setters to grade on the soft end, knowing full well that some portion of climbers who visit his gym will happily take the ego boost, and will subconsciously feel more like returning to that gym again. This leads to all the climbs in the gym being too easy for the grade.

Those are just two, I'm sure we could come up with dozens more.

As an aside, it's actually surprisingly difficult to always accurately grade routes you set yourself. It takes time and a good bit of self-knowledge. The tendency is to create moves that make sense to you implicitly. So, naturally, they will feel easier to you than they would to anyone else. You *must* get beyond this if you want to set routes for comps.

GO


DemolitionRed


Sep 18, 2012, 9:52 AM
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Cracklover, thanks, it makes perfect sense.
Interestingly, the busy walls I have visited tend to be much softer on their routes than the quiet walls!
If I ever set up a climbing wall I will know which way to go!


csiebsen


Sep 19, 2012, 11:20 AM
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Our gym recently started marking routes with a chart showing the intended rating 10b for instance, then lets the climbers add their $.02 by checking what they think the route should be rated. I like this in that it keeps the route setters honest.


markc


Sep 19, 2012, 12:41 PM
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Re: [cracklover] subjective and not scientific [In reply to]
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cracklover wrote:
Assigning a grade to your FA on real rock has serious consequences, at least for your ego and your reputation...There is no such incentive for gym routes.

In addition to the other reasons you mentioned, the temporary nature of gym routes may play a part. If you're known for setting good routes, I don't think anyone is going to give a damn if your grading is occasionally off. Old routes come down, new routes go up, and after a few cycles it's water under the bridge. People do remember bad setters, though.

My gym uses the V-scale for bouldering, but just easy, mod, or hard (with +/-) for roped climbing. I feel that gives climbers enough of an idea of difficulty, and setters don't really have to invest a whole lot of energy in deciding if something feels more like 5.8 or 5.9, 5.10d or 5.11a, etc.


gunkiemike


Sep 19, 2012, 1:11 PM
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Re: [cracklover] subjective and not scientific [In reply to]
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cracklover wrote:
As an aside, it's actually surprisingly difficult to always accurately grade routes you set yourself.
GO

Do you find this is true also for (outdoor) FAs? In my limited FA experience, things seem much harder to me on the first shot. I know there's a lot of uncertainty in onsight new routing, and often a good dose of fear as well. I suspect that's why quite often I've gotten through a cruxy section by what feels like the skin of my teeth, only to have my partner follow the route and peg it a full grade below what I was thinking.


DemolitionRed


Sep 20, 2012, 3:45 AM
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Csiebsen, I think this is a good idea.
I went up a what should have been a fairly easy new route in a gym last night but I reckon the route setter must have been 7ft tall!


desertwanderer81


Sep 20, 2012, 8:40 AM
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Re: [DemolitionRed] subjective and not scientific [In reply to]
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All route ratings are subjective. I've seen many a 5.12 climber flail on a cruiser 5.9 crack.

So long as routes are consistently graded for a specific style at a specific area, then they'll be useful for you. Just keep it all in perspective.


Partner cracklover


Sep 20, 2012, 9:03 AM
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Re: [gunkiemike] subjective and not scientific [In reply to]
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gunkiemike wrote:
cracklover wrote:
As an aside, it's actually surprisingly difficult to always accurately grade routes you set yourself.
GO

Do you find this is true also for (outdoor) FAs? In my limited FA experience, things seem much harder to me on the first shot. I know there's a lot of uncertainty in onsight new routing, and often a good dose of fear as well. I suspect that's why quite often I've gotten through a cruxy section by what feels like the skin of my teeth, only to have my partner follow the route and peg it a full grade below what I was thinking.

To be honest, I would never suggest a definitive grade on a FA I did until I heard some other opinions. I've been burned before when other people found easier sequences.

But with that said, the nice thing about real rock climbs is that you get what you get. You're not creating a sequence, the way you would setting in the gym, so there is no tendency for the sequence to be catered to you. So it will, on average, feel the same for you as for others.

There are, of course, exceptions. I did the second ascent of a route that was a solid number grade harder for me than for the FA. It involved a full body length roof which you surmount via an undercling at the base of it to a hold at the lip. The FA, who was a good 6 inches taller than me, could reach right to a jug, whereas I had to do two or three very hard intermediate moves with very little for feet to get to that jug.

So, while it's rare, sometimes real routes simply do not have a one-size-fits-all rating.

GO


markc


Sep 20, 2012, 9:34 AM
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Re: [cracklover] subjective and not scientific [In reply to]
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cracklover wrote:
gunkiemike wrote:
cracklover wrote:
As an aside, it's actually surprisingly difficult to always accurately grade routes you set yourself.
GO

Do you find this is true also for (outdoor) FAs? In my limited FA experience, things seem much harder to me on the first shot. I know there's a lot of uncertainty in onsight new routing, and often a good dose of fear as well. I suspect that's why quite often I've gotten through a cruxy section by what feels like the skin of my teeth, only to have my partner follow the route and peg it a full grade below what I was thinking.

To be honest, I would never suggest a definitive grade on a FA I did until I heard some other opinions. I've been burned before when other people found easier sequences.

But with that said, the nice thing about real rock climbs is that you get what you get. You're not creating a sequence, the way you would setting in the gym, so there is no tendency for the sequence to be catered to you. So it will, on average, feel the same for you as for others.

There are, of course, exceptions. I did the second ascent of a route that was a solid number grade harder for me than for the FA. It involved a full body length roof which you surmount via an undercling at the base of it to a hold at the lip. The FA, who was a good 6 inches taller than me, could reach right to a jug, whereas I had to do two or three very hard intermediate moves with very little for feet to get to that jug.

So, while it's rare, sometimes real routes simply do not have a one-size-fits-all rating.

GO

That's one of the things that makes climbing so individual and interesting. One of my partners is around 6'4", and his wife is about 5'2". While he can often reach through problems she has to contend with, she can more comfortably utilize smaller holds. It's fun to watch how they each approach the same routes.


dagibbs


Sep 20, 2012, 12:44 PM
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Re: [cracklover] subjective and not scientific [In reply to]
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cracklover wrote:

So, while it's rare, sometimes real routes simply do not have a one-size-fits-all rating.

GO

I think it can happen a fair bit for cracks, too. Depending on hand-size, it might be a finger-crack for someone with big hands, but a (far-more-comfortable) hand-crack for someone with small hands.


Partner cracklover


Sep 20, 2012, 1:29 PM
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Re: [dagibbs] subjective and not scientific [In reply to]
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dagibbs wrote:
cracklover wrote:

So, while it's rare, sometimes real routes simply do not have a one-size-fits-all rating.

GO

I think it can happen a fair bit for cracks, too. Depending on hand-size, it might be a finger-crack for someone with big hands, but a (far-more-comfortable) hand-crack for someone with small hands.

Good point. For my wife, Quarter of a Man is good solid hands the whole way. Yay ropegun!

GO


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