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Can a route be too polished?


Original Post
Leslie McG · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 410

So I am in El Chorro and notice how polished some of the classic climbs have become and I have two questions: Can a route become so polished it loses its luster( intended pun)? And do grades change as a result of polished features creating a more slippery climb?

Jona Dul · · New Milford, CT · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 75

The Howl in Ice Pond in brewster ny has this one sloper than CAN feel too polished but depends on some stuff, one, if it is free of chalk or not from rain, cuz just a bit too much can make it so bad, and if you approach it right. it's a dyno with not a whole lot of room to swing or anything so you really need to know exactly how to do it or it just slips like sanded wood that has been oiled by hand, no rag. might help to note it is a boulder problem, so it's a bit odd to start with anyways. i believe to answer, yes, and i think they can, because either the route becomes a grade or two harder, or new beta is found which can very much alter things

ViperScale . · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 235

Routes do change difficulty over time especially sandstone. I know of routes at red river that I don't think ever had the grade changed but the local people told me are alot harder now than it used to be. What used to be a jug rail you could do pull ups on is now a slopper rail you will struggle to stay on. I think people rarely go back and change grades although they will sometimes.

I know of one 5.14 routes that have gone from c to d because a hold broke off. So yes routes do tend to get harder over time, although there are some cases where something at a crux could break creating an easier route. I only know of 1 boulder problem that a hold broke off and made it easier to climb (than someone went and glued the broken piece back on to make it hard again, keep forgetting to take my hammer to remove the piece and make it the way it should be)

Mark O'Neal · · Nicholson, GA · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 1,285

This route is a prime example

mountainproject.com/v/blood…

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,530

1) Yes. The Great Train Robbery at the Roost (1st pitch) is a good example in Vegas. What used to be a fun route is now just a slimy warm-up that we all have to do because its the easiest thing on the wall and guards two of the best extensions on the wall that aren't super hard.

2) Probably- or the climb will gain a reputation for being sandbagged. The Train Robbery is rated 5.11b and feels every inch of that. A few more years and it'll feel harder, especially down low.

BrianWS · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 790

Sure, especially limestone. For stateside evidence, check out the most popular routes at American fork in UT -- I remember thinking some of the huecos and buckets were wet and too slick for good purchase, only to realize that they were bone dry and simply over polished.

Popular lines in Tonsai, Thailand and Yangshuo, China were horribly polished when I climbed there 9 and 6 years ago, respectively. Word is that both areas are much worse now, with the original grades needing revision.

Tim Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,470

Very much so. This mainly happens on limestone routes, but some sandstone routes get the polish to the point of losing aesthetic points.

Doug Kinsman · · Atlanta, GA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 0

Granite gets it too, check out Nutcracker in Yosemite. All kinds of polish, even overheard a guy saying on routes like that people should only climb it once to save it for future generations to avoid "wearing it out". Pretty crazy that we are putting that much wear on rock.

Kent Richards · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2009 · Points: 83

"Luster" is subjective.

One person's polished choss is another person's gemstone.

Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175

climbing friend,

yes, and yes,

just travel to cave of ruckman in park of rifle mountain, route of pinchfest. it is so polish it is like the ice climb except with no tools. also there is a hole you are utilizing hand jam in, with sufficient dried and fresh blood to cause infection.

do not climb with open wounds, possibly you should utilize rubber gloves before executing this hand jam, myah...

the peoples they will criticize for complain of polish. they say it make you better climber. this is just thin veil attempt to deny the crushing truth.

20 kN · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,348
Kent Richards wrote: One person's polished choss is another person's gemstone.
Said no one ever. Polished routes are the absolute worse. I remember climbing a popular trade route in American Fork Canyon. Halfway up there was a massive ledge that you could get a no-hands rest on. It was so polished that the second I let go, my feet slid right off despite the fact the ledge was large enough to sit on. Once we get a reliable and quick way to replace bad bolts, the next big restorative "thing" coming to climbing is resurfacing of the rock. It will be interesting to see how we address that. Portable sandblasters maybe?
Robert Michael · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 116

Yes to both, though the officially published grades rarely change.

I've done a lot of climbing in two heavily polished areas. The original grades have not changed, but all the regulars know that many of the routes are now sandbags. I found them one or two grades harder than climbs of the same grades I've done in a lot of other areas.

When newcomers show up and ask me the grades, I tell them, but I warn them that they likely will find the routes stiff for the grades, and they usually do.

I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit that there is one 5.6 I hate leading because the start is so polished I always think I'm going to come off before the first bolt.

kevin deweese · · Oakland, Ca · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 350
RMS wrote:I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit that there is one 5.6 I hate leading because the start is so polished I always think I'm going to come off before the first bolt.
After Six in Yosemite is quite polished and without the tree that used to be there, is definitely NOT a 5.6 anymore by any stretch of the imagination. It will never get upgraded in the guidebooks and will remain the 5.6 that noobs love to hate and locals hate to love.
Kent Richards · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2009 · Points: 83
20 kN wrote: Said no one ever.
You've heard every single climber utterance since the beginning of time?
ViperScale . · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 235
kevin deweese wrote: After Six in Yosemite is quite polished and without the tree that used to be there, is definitely NOT a 5.6 anymore by any stretch of the imagination. It will never get upgraded in the guidebooks and will remain the 5.6 that noobs love to hate and locals hate to love.
We did it on a break day when I was there and I didn't find it any harder than some 5.5s of the same type of climbs. I don't remember anything feeling polished but than it has been a few years.
Optimistic · · New Paltz · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 300
Kent Richards wrote: You've heard every single climber utterance since the beginning of time?
I'm pretty he's right on this one. Polish is just a straight up drag.
Kent Richards · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2009 · Points: 83
Optimistic wrote: I'm pretty he's right on this one. Polish is just a straight up drag.
Polish is fun. It forces me to concentrate on my feet -- maintaining pressure and maximizing the use of available features.
kevin deweese · · Oakland, Ca · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 350
ViperScale wrote: We did it on a break day when I was there and I didn't find it any harder than some 5.5s of the same type of climbs. I don't remember anything feeling polished but than it has been a few years.
My post only applies to the first pitch
ViperScale . · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 235
kevin deweese wrote: My post only applies to the first pitch
Yea, I don't know if it is because I have done a ton of routes similar to that first pitch or what but I don't remember sliding anywhere on it unlike some other climbs I have been on so I wouldn't personally call it polished at all.

I have been on routes that were like slick glass if you toe wasn't jammed in the crack.
Stagg54 Taggart · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 10
ViperScale wrote: Yea, I don't know if it is because I have done a ton of routes similar to that first pitch or what but I don't remember sliding anywhere on it unlike some other climbs I have been on so I wouldn't personally call it polished at all. I have been on routes that were like slick glass if you toe wasn't jammed in the crack.
My experience matches Kevin's
aikibujin · · Castle Rock, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 294
Kent Richards wrote:Polish is fun.
I'm pretty sure there's a glass building somewhere in the world you can climb on, that's about as fun as it gets.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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