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Personal first of a grade - first ascent?


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DCohen · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 125

Do you guys and gals think that your personal first of a grade (eg. your first time sending V9, 11a, whatever) can be a first ascent? Obviously the upper echelon of the climbing world can do so because they've run out of routes/problems that challenge them, so they find something that's even harder than the hardest established line. But what about us middling weekend warriors who still have plenty of established routes on which to push our limits?

If you've never sent an established climb of a given grade, how can you know that your new FA is really a full grade harder than your previous hardest redpoint?

Also, please don't let this turn into a conversation about how climbers need to stop chasing grades or about how grades don't matter. Putting up an FA is awesome regardless of the grade, but part of establishing a new climb is suggesting a grade.

lozo bozo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 30

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DCohen · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 125

@headead sick dude, thanks for the insight.

Micah Klesick · · Kalamazoo, MI · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 3,958

I've done a couple FA's that were my first of the grade. You have to get other people to climb the route after to confirm it for you though! (And not get butthurt if they downgrade it. ;) )
I'm currently working on an FA that will probably be two letter grades harder than my hardest redpoint so far. Just because you haven't yet climbed that grade you gave it doesn't mean you can't know that its one or two grades harder than the hardest route you've done so far.

Jon Nelson · · Redmond, WA · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 4,985

The safest thing is to give it the grade of your previously hardest redpoint.

If others think it is clearly harder, then it will probably get upgraded. Otherwise, it will be a sandbag, but as long as that doesn't happen to every route in an area, things should be fine.

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,800

If you've been working your way up through several grades, it's easy enough to get a sense of what a grade feels like. So if it's that much harder than 5.x, it's reasonable to give it a (tentative pending confirmation) 5.(x+1).

But here's the thing - FA's in my experience* tend to feel hard, most likely due to the uncertainty inherent in a new line. Aside from the physical difficulty of the climbing, there is the psychological challenge of pushing upwards in the face of an unknown outcome. NOTE - I'm talking about ground-up, absolutely onsight FA. If you rap bolted a line, then there's going to be vastly less uncertainty.

  • I once pronounced a runout bit of unclimbed rock "solid 5.8", only to realize on subsequent ascents that it's probably 5.6.
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35

I've done that 2 times (3 if you count the time I put up a 12d, I'd climbed 12c and 13a at the time).

I think it's appropriate and maybe even common.

A couple things to think about.

You bolted it or cleaned/trundled it. So you've seen it very closely. You picked it out and deemed it worth it, maybe more worth it than other people would have thought. You got psyched and went back a lot more to send it than you would have if it wasn't your baby. It becomes a piano recital at a certain point (Beckwith 2011) and you can send far beyond your normal level.

All three of those routes I mentioned were beyond me. One took the evolution of me as a climber over about 5 years and a dozen days on the route to send. The other two were my primary goal for a season (different seasons each) and I probably tied into each 50 times. At the start, I couldn't even get to the crux, amazing how training to climb by climbing the route you're training for helps... er something.

In the end I didn't care what the grades were and if they got changed. The experience from start to finish was very worth it. And no, I could not climb any of those routes right now to save my life.

DrRockso · · Red River Gorge, KY · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 356

I rarely ever project routes, my hardest send is 12a, I've onsighted about half a dozen 12a's and of the others I've sent there is only one I've given more than 2 goes. Working a first ascent right now that I've given about 10 goes, it will be graded 12b/c. So the short answer would be yes.

highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35
DrRockso wrote:I rarely ever project routes, my hardest send is 12a, I've onsighted about half a dozen 12a's and of the others I've sent there is only one I've given more than 2 goes. Working a first ascent right now that I've given about 10 goes, it will be graded 12b/c. So the short answer would be yes.
A solid 12a onsight climber can climb 13b or 13c if totally committed to a single route in a season if you don't get injured. You have to try it a lot and not climb too many other routes.

This will not make you a better climber but you'll eventually send.
kevin deweese · · Oakland, Ca · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 420

It's probably more important to realize that people don't tend to put up an FA at their climbing limit and even less seldom a grade harder. Few FAs at limit are going to be onsight as well requiring falls and reworking the pitch again and again until unlocking the sequence. I this case the eventual grade will feel easier than a subsequent climber's onsight grade.

Jeremy in Inyokern · · Inyokern · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 71

Putting in bolts, even ground up bolts, can be done even if all the moves can't be climbed by the FA. It means aid and or falls but I've seen it done many times.

NickMartel · · Tucson, Arizona · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 1,330

I think it's fairy common. For me and my wife it is easier to really make the commitment to a route that is required to push your grade when it is a FA. Obviously the grade is subject to confirmation by later parties, but that is the case for the grade of a FA regardless of how many routes you have climbed at the grade.

Micah Klesick · · Kalamazoo, MI · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 3,958
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion wrote:I've done that 2 times (3 if you count the time I put up a 12d, I'd climbed 12c and 13a at the time). I think it's appropriate and maybe even common. A couple things to think about. You bolted it or cleaned/trundled it. So you've seen it very closely. You picked it out and deemed it worth it, maybe more worth it than other people would have thought. You got psyched and went back a lot more to send it than you would have if it wasn't your baby. It becomes a piano recital at a certain point (Beckwith 2011) and you can send far beyond your normal level. All three of those routes I mentioned were beyond me. One took the evolution of me as a climber over about 5 years and a dozen days on the route to send. The other two were my primary goal for a season (different seasons each) and I probably tied into each 50 times. At the start, I couldn't even get to the crux, amazing how training to climb by climbing the route you're training for helps... er something. In the end I didn't care what the grades were and if they got changed. The experience from start to finish was very worth it. And no, I could not climb any of those routes right now to save my life.
This. If its a hard FA that you're super amped on, you know it so well you can do the moves in your sleep, and probably do. If that's the case, you're really working it, the chances of it being a harder route than you've done prior is totally realistic.
Walter Galli · · Las vegas · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 2,267

For me it is very difficult to give numbers to rocks, first of all because I got no experience on how, and second I almost have nobody to teach me or to try the routes that I named in those last 2 weeks, but I got many more problems to do in the island, boulders, walls, I got a couple of routes where a friend with a bit more experience of me give the grade to the problem, but onestly I don't know if is the real grade, I prefer to climb a route or a boulder without even knowing the grade, so I don't intoxicate my mind, but I just enjoy the magic of climbing as a natural way of approaching the rock, I will say that I am not a beliver of grades at all, I think that is just a total confusion, is all personal. May I wrong, but is just how I feel.. I think that sometimes we just forget that this awesome sport is all about embrace the climb and make it a good experience.

Suburban Roadside · · Abovetraffic on Hudson · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 1,504

Wolverine -
Good for you! That is a very old school way of doing things
Find a line and try it when it gets climbed a bunch of times a grade can be given
I do not agree that grades have to be a part of doing a 1st ascent
In fact it shows an ego issue,

In many areas the way one climber goes up may not be the only way in the lower grades especially
As the 5.9 climbing starts to get sequential the holds and route may only go in the one way.

if you are six foot six and the second ascent is made by a 4 ft 8 inch climber ?the grades will be different
I'm glad that you got bit by the climbing bug and the islands just wait it may be years but other climbers will show up!
Good luck good sends have fun
Try not to care what others say
michaeljschneider@hotmail.com I have not been to the islands in decades, but I always hope to return
I know that an American climbing and fun trip for you is a dream and I hope that it happens soon!
You might find that some one will
Trade a trip to Boulder for a trip to St Martian

Walter Galli · · Las vegas · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 2,267

Yes Michael, thanks for the advice, I just can't wait that some climber show up on those rocks, at least I have something to learn.

Suburban Roadside · · Abovetraffic on Hudson · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 1,504

Hey Wolverine!
That is always fun I was out in the rain here,
And wanted to say hi again I'm a old guy but am a life long climber
I was born a climber
So I also think that some of the posts are not . . .right...So true they are opinions
From good climbers but there are many ways to play this game.
I have good understanding for your world stay on a rope that keeps you off the beach and rocks if you fall.
Use a chest harness to keep you up right, for many years I climbed without a helmet
But now I try to wear mine always, safety first!
Try to climb without chalk
Try to find a few different types of shoes. Get a few pairs cheap here on the Forsale thread and switch them around to make them last longer.
Are you working for Marriot? Or Hilton? They often offer education here in the Us
Or they did ?

Optimistic · · New Paltz · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 289
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion wrote: You have to try it a lot and not climb too many other routes. This will not make you a better climber but you'll eventually send.
Off topic, but I'm curious as to why you say that. Seems like you could learn a lot in the course of figuring out a climb that was way over your head.
Kris Fiore · · Burlington, VT · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 1,876

Jaws II was Vasya's first 5.15 and that grade seems to have held up...

I have never put up a new line that was a new grade although I did pit up a gear route that was my first 11 on gear. I had done enough 11s on bolts to know what the grade felt like though...

Bottom line I would say yes. You can tell when something is a full grade harder than anything else you've done before. First ascent or not.

DCohen · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 125

Thanks for all the input, everyone. Hopefully the rig is as sick as I think it is and will attract some repeats!

DCohen · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 125
Michael Schneider wrote:I do not agree that grades have to be a part of doing a 1st ascent In fact it shows an ego issue
Michael, I disagree that grading climbs shows an ego issue. While they can be distracting sometimes, grades help climbers manage risk. It's completely unreasonable and unsafe for a 5.7 climber to try to lead a 5.13 or a 5.10R. You could argue that you can roughly tell the difference between these difficulties from the ground, but how often have you sized up a route from the ground, only to open the guidebook and find that it is multiple grades harder/easier? Furthermore, when was the last time you opened a guidebook and didn't see any grades?

I don't really understand why, as soon as someone mentions grades, some climbers immediately start talking about how she/he is ego driven. I've had as much fun climbing some extremely easy climbs as I have some of my hardest, but I personally feel more accomplished after sending something at the edge of my ability (physical, technical, or mental - my first grade III wasn't much of a physical challenge, but it whipped my brain's ass).

I can understand that people approach climbing with different mindsets. Some climbers are content not to push their physical limits, while some climbers find physical and technical progression to be a driving force in their climbing. Advancing through the grades is a good way to measure this progression. To each his/her own.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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