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What do you tell people the grade you climb is?
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By Nic Lazzareschi
Dec 7, 2012
Fun times.

I am wondering what people say the grade they can climb when asked by a climber they dont know.

For the record I mostly Trad climb.

My train of thought, not that it's right or wrong, is that I tell people the grade I climb is the grade I can onsight because if I have not onsighted it, i have not conquered the climb and therefore some element of failure remains.

What complicates things is when I go sport climbing, no offense intended henceforth, and people say they can climb 5.12+, for example, by which they mean they climbed it with 5-10 takes one time on a rope essentially just jugging up a route. They pull one move, clip, then rest and repeat. In contrast to the continual exertion that a onsight entails.

There seems to be a fundamental difference between the two. Thoughts?


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By camhead
From Vandalia, Appalachia
Dec 7, 2012
You stay away from mah pig!

Nic Lazzareschi wrote:
I am wondering what people say the grade they can climb when asked by a climber they dont know.


It's simple. You take the easiest climb that you've fallen on in the last six months, and subtract a number from it. That's the grade that you climb.

Next question, please?


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By Jake Jones
From The Eastern Flatlands
Dec 7, 2012
Me and the offspring walking back to the car after a day of cragging.

I don't. Honestly it never comes up. If asked, I say I climb easy stuff- which I do. I can't ever recall being asked specifically what grade I climb.

I think among people that climb harder things, grades tend to come up in conversation more frequently than among people that climb easier stuff. An exception would be spray by people just coming into their own and learning- which honestly I think we've all done at some point. Much more ego involved in the former rather than the latter, IMO.

People that are serious about the sport and say they don't give a shit about grade, yadda yadda- are full of shit most of the time. I know very few people that climb regularly and invest lots of time and money that aren't interested in grades and pushing their abilities. An exception to this would be older climbers who have done a shitload in their climbing careers and are mostly content just to go out and have cruiser days at their favorite areas once in a while.


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By Jake Jones
From The Eastern Flatlands
Dec 7, 2012
Me and the offspring walking back to the car after a day of cragging.

camhead wrote:
It's simple. You take the easiest climb that you've fallen on in the last six months, and subtract a number from it. That's the grade that you climb. Next question, please?


This is so simple and applicable. To everyone. Nice.


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By csproul
From Rancho Cordova, CA
Dec 7, 2012
Summit of Wolf's Head with Pingora in the background

Nic Lazzareschi wrote:
I am wondering what people say the grade they can climb when asked by a climber they dont know. For the record I mostly Trad climb. My train of thought, not that it's right or wrong, is that I tell people the grade I climb is the grade I can onsight because if I have not onsighted it, i have not conquered the climb and therefore some element of failure remains. What complicates things is when I go sport climbing, no offense intended henceforth, and people say they can climb 5.12+, for example, by which they mean they climbed it with 5-10 takes one time on a rope essentially just jugging up a route. They pull one move, clip, then rest and repeat. In contrast to the continual exertion that a onsight entails. There seems to be a fundamental difference between the two. Thoughts

I try not to generalize what grade I climb. Instead, I try to be more specific and relate the grade that I typically onsight or the grade which I redpoint if talking about sport climbing. I also find it relevant for people to communicate how long it took to redpoint a route...was it 2 tries or 6 months. The question is often context dependent, e.g. I'm talking with someone about alpine rock routes. Then I talk about the grade that I'm comfortable climbing on alpine rock routes, not the hardest grade that I redpoint.


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By Josh Kornish
Dec 7, 2012
The Roach

I take the hardest grade I've ever hang dogged and then add 1 number grade to it. I'm a legend in my own mind.


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By Bob Dobalina
Dec 7, 2012

Asking other climbers what grade they climb is a question that nOObs always seem to ask.

For me it depends. On an off day, I will "take" on a 5.9 and other days I can muster the strength to pull 5.11d moves in the rain as darkness approaches... if I absolutely have too!


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By JCM
From Golden, CO
Dec 7, 2012

Jake Jones wrote:
I don't. Honestly it never comes up. If asked, I say I climb easy stuff- which I do. I can't ever recall being asked specifically what grade I climb.


How does that work? Do you ever climb with new climbing partners? I feel like the grade of route that you'd like to climb on is an important bit of information to share when making plans with a new partner, so that you can decide what wall to go to, what routes to try, etc.

I guess that in this context, you aren't so much talking about "what grade you climb", which indicates a consistent ability at a certain level, but are more talking about "what grade of route you'd like to get on in a given day at a given area."

For instance, I'll often say when making plans with a new partner that, for sport climbing, "I like to make redpoint attempts on 5.XXa and onsight attempts at 5.YYa." This seems to avoid the ego-spray of trying to define yourself by a number that you climb, yet still provide the neccesary information for making plans. This can then scale based on context. I'll give a very different (lower) number for the grade I'd like to get on in a given day if making plans to go to Eldo to do a runout 3 pitch route than if making plans to go sport climbing in Clear Creek.

Avoiding the question altogether, though, doesn't seem practical.


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By Sir Wanksalot
From County Jail
Dec 7, 2012

Josh Kornish wrote:
I take the hardest grade I've ever hang dogged and then add 1 number grade to it. I'm a legend in my own mind.


+1


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By A.Javi.Gecko
From San Diego, CA
Dec 7, 2012
V3, Castle Hill, NZ

I've had a problem with defining the grade I climb ever since I got injured a year ago and recovered in a different country with a different grading system. I've had plenty of new partners this fall and every one eventually asked what grades I was looking to climb.

My answer to that constant question was broad (e.g. something in the 5.10 range) and based on my perceived onsight capabilities while out of climbing shape (b/c I was only climbing once a week). Since almost every partner I climbed with this fall was following me, it was important that I could actually onsight or risk losing gear.

Defining your grade might be different depending on who you're climbing with/what your intentions are for the day (e.g. who is the strongest climber in your party/can your partner help you if your ego puts you on a route thats too hard? are you going for a long enduro day or focusing on a single route?). It'll also change based on environmental and personal conditions (is it hot out? did you warm up properly?). Be broad but don't overstate. Nobody likes belaying a hangdog on the warmup and few people enjoy being halfway up a wall and realizing that they're in way over their head.


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Dec 7, 2012
El Chorro

Anyone that asks me that question without having a very good reason just gets a laugh from me. Unless we're going into the wilderness together to do a big and committing route, who cares?


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By Jake Jones
From The Eastern Flatlands
Dec 7, 2012
Me and the offspring walking back to the car after a day of cragging.

Jon Moen wrote:
How does that work? Do you ever climb with new climbing partners?


No, actually. I was lucky enough to hook up with a good group of people a couple years ago when I started climbing and had a couple of mentors to help me along here and there. When I transitioned out of the gym to outside, I just tagged along and followed for a while, and toproped.

Now that I'm planning and organizing my own trips, I go with people that I know in my area and climb with pretty regularly. We all know what general area we fall in strength and skill wise, so grade never really comes up. If we're going to a specific area, we look at what routes we want to get on and kick ideas around.

Example: "Hey, I'm down to go to Moore's with you this weekend."

"What do you want to get on?"

"I want to warm up on something easy at Central, then try to tackle Super Direct and Air Show since they're both right there."

"Sweet. Sounds good."

So basically, this:

Jon Moen wrote:
I guess that in this context, you aren't so much talking about "what grade you climb", which indicates a consistent ability at a certain level, but are more talking about "what grade of route you'd like to get on in a given day at a given area."


Like you mentioned, a general idea can be discerned by what routes you talk about doing, or by just being around people that know you and your abilities to begin with. Actual discussion of grades doesn't come into it.

Granted, I've never done anything over four pitches, because all the areas within 6 hours of me don't lend themselves to it. That might change things a little as far as discussing grades outright. A 2 pitch, relatively straightforward 5.8 is a hell of a lot different than a grade II or III 5.8 C2 that's 8-10 or more pitches.


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By Nate Reno
From Highlands Ranch, CO
Dec 7, 2012
Ellingwood Point Summit, Little Bear in the background.

Are we talking gym climbing or outside here? =)


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By Dom
Administrator
From New Brunswick Canada
Dec 7, 2012
Moby dick 5.11-

That question does come up, when climbing with new partners and you want to work the same routes.

One thing though OP, You do know that redpoint exists right?
If someone asks me 'what grade I climb?' I'll usually say the grade I consistently redpoint.
It's not about any fundamental difference between trad and sport climbing...you just made that up!

Anyone can hang-dog any grade given the right circumstances... sport, trad, ice etc. (with exceptions obviously)

Sorry I may sound harsh but you come off as a guy that looks down on sport climbing...


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By Spam
Dec 7, 2012

Nate Reno wrote:
Are we talking gym climbing or outside here? =)

Why would you tell anybody what you climb in a gym???....like it even matters!
I tell them what my hardest redpoint is in sport and trad. I break it down like that......then I throw in one of the "humble me phrases".....then I tell em my sighn...


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By ErikaB
From Boulder, CO
Dec 7, 2012
me

This question seems to come up a lot but it seems kind of meaningless b/c who replies with a one number answer and then end of discussion? It is usually a discussion you have with someone when you are trying to figure out if you can climb together and what you can climb together so it usually goes something like …”Well I will normally lead around this in sport and this in trad. If it is really easy to protect then I will try blah…” and so on. One number tells you very little about another climbers ability. All these stupid rules some people put on what you should say seem to be more about one upping each other then getting the beta you need.


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By Pitty
From Marbach
Dec 7, 2012
My cool Elly....

I tell them what I onsight.....
Nothing else counts!


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By nicelegs
From Denver
Dec 7, 2012

What I can climb today or what I have climbed? There is a huge difference.


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By Matt N
From Santa Barbara, CA
Dec 7, 2012
OTL

Spam wrote:
Why would you tell anybody what you climb in a gym???....like it even matters! I tell them what my hardest redpoint is in sport and trad. I break it down like that......then I throw in one of the "humble me phrases".....then I tell em my sighn...


Some people only climb in a gym.


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By JonnyGreenlee
From Evergreen, CO
Dec 7, 2012
Delicate Arch, Sturdy Arch.

If they want to know for a genuine reason (like going climbing together): "I can normally onsight A, I can normally repoint B with a few tries, and I am trying to redpoint C." I mostly climb sport.

Nic Lazzareschi wrote:
I am wondering what people say the grade they can climb when asked by a climber they dont know. For the record I mostly Trad climb. My train of thought, not that it's right or wrong, is that I tell people the grade I climb is the grade I can onsight because if I have not onsighted it, i have not conquered the climb and therefore some element of failure remains. What complicates things is when I go sport climbing, no offense intended henceforth, and people say they can climb 5.12+, for example, by which they mean they climbed it with 5-10 takes one time on a rope essentially just jugging up a route. They pull one move, clip, then rest and repeat. In contrast to the continual exertion that a onsight entails. There seems to be a fundamental difference between the two. Thoughts


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By Spam
Dec 7, 2012

Matt N wrote:
Some people only climb in a gym.

That's the funniest thing I heard today....well....and the unicorns...
How do you ONLY climb in a gym???????? It's beyond me!!!!


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By Nate Reno
From Highlands Ranch, CO
Dec 7, 2012
Ellingwood Point Summit, Little Bear in the background.

Matt N wrote:
Some people only climb in a gym.




Video added, for full dramatic effect


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By FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Dec 7, 2012

Josh Kornish wrote:
I take the hardest grade I've ever hang dogged and then add 1 number grade to it. I'm a legend in my own mind.


Great answer! I usually see what Honnold is climbing, then divide his grade by two, carry the four, put a "c" or d on the end of the final number, then add a "+" to it. Sometimes, long division and calculators are involved.

Simple.


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By Nic Lazzareschi
Dec 7, 2012
Fun times.

Sweet, glad to see this blew up.

I ask people the grade they climb when I get new partners or when old partners want to climb new terrain or new types of climbing. Asking a new partner can be helpful to sort out what you want to climb. I usually never ask old partners (Duh!). Also when taking people from the gym to the crack it can help gauge how strong they are, but it is only one of a few things that help gauge that.

I dont look down on sport climbing. I recognize it as difficult and a specific legitimate type of climbing. And give a guy the benefit of the doubt, I'm just asking an honest question here.


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By Guy Keesee
From Moorpark, CA
Dec 7, 2012
Big Boulder, just a bit downhill from Temple of Kali. Alabama Hills, CA.

5.15C is my standard answer. I don't wish to brag.


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By Nic Lazzareschi
Dec 7, 2012
Fun times.

5.15C is the best answer.


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