Thursday, 17 February 2011

Lies dammed lies and statistics, I mean grades

If you are a regular visitor you may have noticed that its not very often I mention a grade on here, this is because they drive me fucking insane. I am not sure what it is. I do try to get around a bit and make sure I go on problems I haven't done for a long time, or even repeat other peoples shit occasionally. Maybe I have some weird morphology that means I just learnt the system wrong. Perhaps I have too many late nights and early mornings arriving at crags fucked on a Wednesday the problem seems hard week on Thursday maybe its piss. I do know that I climb a lot on my nerves and emotions and when life is tricky it does have a big effect on what I can pull on. Or it could just be the rarity of going further out of the village than Llandudno. None of this should be a problem I know, but it is because I probably spend longer worrying about the grade than I spend working most of the problems I do.

You see I do care and treated them as a little yardstick to measure my little progression, with this never ending goal of improving. I am not as bad as some when I topped out Wrestling it wasn't the fact that it was 8b or even that it was my first 8b (I had already had 2 other first 8bs one I started a move in and one was swiftly downed to 8a/+) it was the fact that it was Wrestling and something I had aspired to try. Now truthfully I would perhaps be a little bit gutted if it came down but with the my big problems the experience for me would still be massive. Nothing could top that trip for me, it was perfect on and off the rocks.

This year I have had a lot of problems downgraded. Previously my worst effort had been Cosmic Wheels at the Mallory boulder taken down from a tentative 8a to 7c, others had floated up or down as times changed but that was the worst, it rankled and rotted a bit in the back of my brain but a few others thought 7c+ so you know not too far out. Recently Junkyards of my life was repeated by Pete from 7c to a suggested 7b, last year word came back across the jungle drums that Cruiser Weight (a 7c+ I did at Moel Y Gest) was well over soft 7c at most, and now Special K at Crafnant has taken a tumble. None of this affects the quality of my experience or the quality of these problems I personally think they are all brilliant (well maybe not Junkyards but its OK if your passing!), they are also all my problems, and whatever happens with their numbers they always will be.

Now I am not compleatly stupid and generally manage to take peoples comments and hopefully adjust my framework to help it all make sense. But with so many in such a short time its got to call for a grade recalibration scheme, so in order:
-Stop using 8a so I don't have to think about it with every little thing I do.
-Go to font because that's where the little bastard things come from.
-Think what I would like it to be then -1 or 2 for what I give it.
-If all else fails just stop, and leave the job for someone else.

I can't help thinking that the last one on the list is the right one, its kind of what works with the very hardest stuff I have done, I thought the Tracks

was nails and perhaps an 8b. Gave it hard 8a+, and it got confirmed, so far anyway. Top tip by the way, there is an unreapeted 8a of mine in the pass from the same week as Special K, Corridors of Power,

felt a tiny bit harder to me, could be a good one to try. Also Dolly Rocker is probably more 8a than +, just make sure you start right, left hand in the slot right hand on the arete. See what I mean, still wasting my brain power a year later, I could be gathering beta for Font.


  1. Good post. If a route or problem gets undergraded by 1 or 2 grades it's just as inaccurate as if it were overgraded by 1 or 2. Folk seem to be more hung up on the latter and not so much on the former, wrongly I think. Undergrading annoys the shit out of me. For me (thinking about winter routes personally, not boulder problems!) it depends if there's any ulterior motive behind an over/undergrade, it's usually obvious if you know the persons involved. Bracket everything? - can't go too wrong.

  2. Nice post Dave, fuck off 8a nu, complete pile of wank unless you just use it as a log if you ask me....i mean...fuckin points and league table for climbing rock? What the fuck is that all about? insert

    give the grade you genuinely think it is and move on, if you're doing new stuff then let the repeat ascentionist's worry if it's the right grade, you've got boulders to clean and new ground to open!