Oh my, I almost forgot how to log in to this blog :) Let’s see if this old thing still worked.
To be honest, I’ve had no inspiration whatsoever to write anything for a long time now. What should I write about? Constantly writing about yourself is not that fun at all, especially when not much new stuff is going down. I’ve been climbing comps for over ten years, and now, and big surprise: I’m still in the game! Good old university is still asking for some hours learning how rocks form deep down below surface and then beg to be climbed. My life, except for a slight quarter life crisis that is of no interest to the world wide web, is kind of what it used to be.
Then one fine day I was surfing around, trying to regain a bit of motivation to train for the last comps – that keep on coming in spite of a feeling that my season ’12 has already ended – and was quite surprised what the climbing websites had to offer. Of course a lot of it was about numbers – and superlatives as always – which logically involves the great Wizard (mr Ondra that is), and then the casual people screaming around in loud electronical voices, to let everybody know their opinions, often based on very thick air.
So, training motivation had te be found elsewhere (on a snowy mountain, where else), but it got me in a mood to put in my tuppence worth to several themes swirling around the planet in bits and bytes, maybe more terabytes thesedays…Since very few actually made it across the upper text and were even willing to click the little link continue reading, I hope I don’t do nobody wrong – to be read in strong American accent.
In his usual trips of true carnage the Wizard has been setting the upper limits of modern sportsclimbing, alike a mission to take down all the hard routes the planet has to offer. Lately he visited the Red River Gorge (RRG), where he was not the only one pulling hard on its majestical sandstone crimpers. A fine selection of top climbers showed their skills on the local testpieces, which put a coin in the machine that sets the climbing internet rolling. Beside lots of merited praise the usual polemics on (down)grading started, and within no-time the RRG seemed to loose most of its charm. What suprised me, is that most talk is about how hard the high-end routes in this area really are, instead of pointing out their sheer beauty as well. I have seldom climbed routes as nice as these, which weighs ten times more than the question if we’re handling with a 14c or d. These climbers didn’t come to the Reds as an army to destroy soft grades, they went there and climbed those routes because other people told them: Go do it, these routes are first class!
Now don’t get me wrong, of course the question comes up about what grade a route deserves, like it did to me, after I climbed in the Reds, but to get lost at this point will put the rest in shade.
To point out my confusion and reason to lack of interest after a while, here’s my thoughts on grading some specific hard routes:
It only seems logical to compare routes to each other, in able to figure out its grade. For this, you need a benchmark. Since I haven’t climbed many hard routes I picked one which seemed the best to me: Hades 9a, several repeats, all seem to agree, the Wizard even said a tough one. Comparing this route with Pure Imagination, a proposed 9a in the Reds, it seemed quite similar. The amount of time it took me, the feeling of how near or how far this was to my limit, the style of climbing, it seemed to align. One on sight and one flash later the grade has dropped to (soft) 8c+. To me there’s a big difference between easy 8c+ and tough 9a, so where’s my comparison? Lost. That’s why I had dropped it already. To me it felt weird to be able to climb a route in a couple of tries, reaching the anchor with some fuel left, and believe this route was 9a, hence my correction of some of the routes I’ve done lately. To come to the point, 8c or 9a, maybe there’s something else about certain routes that is more important than a subjective number. And maybe even the Wizards opinion cannot always be taken for granted, as nowadays it seems to be new law. Even guys that climb a hundred 9a’s still have a teinted opinion, only a more trustworthy one, because they just have more comparison.
Another topic that quite angered me was the debates going on about competition climbing, mostly taken place on rockclimbing focussed websites. Statements were being made without sufficient – or any – information on the topic, routesetters and judges attacked (only verbally, don’t worry), always mixed with the theme of the day: the climbers’ olympic dream. To be honest, I am a strong critic of climbing competitions, and after a couple of years in the athlete commission trying to improve stuff, I’ve gotten pretty tired of messed up worldcups myself. But I don’t understand why people, after watching a couple of live streams, scream murder just because they think climbing competitions should be according to their ideas. Maybe it would be a good thing to keep in mind that quite a few souls within the IFSC and the national federations, as well as organizers themselves, have spent a long time pondering about different solutions for problems to be solved, and that lots of possible schemes have been thought over or tried out, until the current one was picked.
That surely wasn’t more than two pence,was it? A short inspirational moment to write something unimportant…