Highballs are easiers?


Original Post
Nivel Egres · · New York, NY · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 130

My friend said "move for move, highballs are usually easier". It matches my anekdotal experience with couple highballs - on top-rope they felt much softer then the assigned grade. Wanted to check the communal perspective on this  - do you find that it's true? 

Jack C. · · Calgary, AB · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 325

Absolutely. I onsight highball v4 no problem most times. V4 lowballs sometimes I can't even weight the start holds.

Jonny 5 · · Squamish BC · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 1,220

Yes.  In my experience they are one V grade lower.  I think this reflects the consequences.  Climbing a height where serious injury is probable when falling as opposed to a safe (ish?) distance from the ground seems a reasonable "extra difficulty" imo

Alexander Stathis · · Athens, GA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 35

Storming the Castle is def not soft. 

JP Whitehead · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 0

This is a layered question. Highballs will by necessity require more climbing movements, so from a fatigue standpoint a move that might feel like V3 off the ground might feel more in the V4-5 range after 10 or so moves. Similarly, adding commitment to a movement certainly makes it more objectively difficult, even if the added difficulty is purely mental.

Luca Keushguerian · · RRG · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 255

What do you think is easier. A hard deadpoint 3 feet off the ground, or a hard deadpoint 20 feet off the ground?

Mike Brady · · Van Diesel, OR · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 681
Luca Keushguerian wrote:

What do you think is easier. A hard deadpoint 3 feet off the ground, or a hard deadpoint 20 feet off the ground?

If they are equal then they are equal. Just because your head says it is harder does not make it so.

Usually and unfortunately guidebook authors will assign a bonus point for taller objectives. This is an odd convention that I feel is pretty ridiculous given that there job is to convey accurate information.

NorCalNomad · · San Francisco · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 105

Yup Ambrosia and This Side of Paradise are super soft, go climb them and see. 

Mike Brady · · Van Diesel, OR · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 681
NorCalNomad wrote:

Yup Ambrosia and This Side of Paradise are super soft, go climb them and see. 

On a more realistic note. Take White Rasta at V1 ( which I believe to be far more accurate) or at least it was before several authors crept it up to a 3. You sure as shit need to be a solid V1 climber to do that line. So High, Act of Contrition, Slashface, Digitali Destructi , Up40 just to name a few Josh classic that are all very honest in their grades.

I think it mostly comes down to authors not being completely honest with themselves and their customers. I also think it comes down to people not being able to weigh the difference between objectivity and subjectivity.

AndyMac · · Center, CO · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 580
Mike Brady wrote:

.... I also think it comes down to people not being able to weigh the difference between objectivity and subjectivity.

Well said, I feel this is a common issue with grading. 

Brandon.Phillips · · Alabama · Joined May 2011 · Points: 55

In the southeast you just downgrade problems every time a new guide book comes out.

Mike Mellenthin · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 70

I think a lot of it has to do with guidebook authors not wanting to feel responsible for messing people up.

It's not boulder problems, but take West Crack and Crescent Arch on Daff Dome in TM:

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/west-crack/105859422

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/crescent-arch/105860641

Both are historically 5.9 (and should be IMO). West Crack has maybe one move of 5.9 though, whereas Crescent Arch is sustained awkward 5.9 the whole way. The Chris Mac book rates West Crack 5.9 and Crescent Arch 5.10b and the "10b" move is far from the crux of the route. If I had to guess his motivation, it would be that he didn't want people to see the very popular West Crack full of people and jump on Crescent Arch (supposedly the same grade) and get in over their heads. I imagine a similar thing goes on with highballs.

Funny though, I thought Slashface was super soft for the grade -- on par with White Rasta in terms of difficulty -- and not even highball (the crux is low). Satellite Left and Slashface are the same grade and both tall, but IMO Satellite Left is way harder and way more scary. It's been a while though.

AndrewArroz · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10

Could it be that they feel easier because they usually have the ONE MOVE that rates it a, say, V4 but then a bunch of other V1 or 2 climbing?

Mike Brady · · Van Diesel, OR · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 681
Mike Mellenthin wrote:

I think a lot of it has to do with guidebook authors not wanting to feel responsible for messing people up.

Funny though, I thought Slashface was super soft for the grade and not even highball (the crux is low). Satellite Left and Slashface are the same grade and both tall, but IMO Satellite Left is way harder and way more scary.

On your first point, I fully agree that that is what is going on but their job is to relay accurate and pertinent information not alter the "truth" to account for people not being responsible for themselves.

I feel that the crux on Slashface is every bit as difficult if not more than the crux on Satellite Left. The difference being your feet are at about 5 feet off the ground on the former which highlights my point. Just because it is harder to commit to the move on Satellite Left does not mean it is actually any harder than Slashface. In regards to Slashface being a highball or not, I guess that depends on your definition of a highball. With the crux being on the lower half does that discount the remaining 15 ft of amazing climbing? To me it is every bit a highball as Up40 is. 

Mike Brady · · Van Diesel, OR · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 681
AndrewArroz wrote:

Could it be that they feel easier because they usually have the ONE MOVE that rates it a, say, V4 but then a bunch of other V1 or 2 climbing?

While this is certainly not exceptional it surely isn't the rule.

Mike Mellenthin · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 70
Mike Brady wrote:

On your first point, I fully agree that that is what is going on but their job is to relay accurate and pertinent information not alter the "truth" to account for people not being responsible for themselves.

I feel that the crux on Slashface is every bit as difficult if not more than the crux on Satellite Left. The difference being your feet are at about 5 feet off the ground on the former which highlights my point. Just because it is harder to commit to the move on Satellite Left does not mean it is actually any harder than Slashface. In regards to Slashface being a highball or not, I guess that depends on your definition of a highball. With the crux being on the lower half does that discount the remaining 15 ft of amazing climbing? To me it is every bit a highball as Up40 is. 

Yeah I'm not saying its right, but it is what it is.

And don't get me wrong, I think Slashface is one of the most perfect boulder problems there is. I do think "highball" implies climbing at the grade high off the ground, and by that definition Slashface is not, even though the jug hauling is super fun. Put another way, "highball" to me means that you might blow it high off the ground. It would be very hard to do that on Slashface. I haven't done Up 40 so I can't compare.

It's the same thing as where a 5.11 route that's run out on 5.7 usually doesn't get an R grade even though you might go 40 feet between pro.

jmmlol · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 0
Mike Mellenthin wrote:

Yeah I'm not saying its right, but it is what it is.

And don't get me wrong, I think Slashface is one of the most perfect boulder problems there is. I do think "highball" implies climbing at the grade high off the ground, and by that definition Slashface is not, even though the jug hauling is super fun. Put another way, "highball" to me means that you might blow it high off the ground. It would be very hard to do that on Slashface. I haven't done Up 40 so I can't compare.

It's the same thing as where a 5.11 route that's run out on 5.7 usually doesn't get an R grade even though you might go 40 feet between pro.

Highball only means it's tall. Tall climbs are going to be longer than short ones, so many (if not all) of the moves will be below the grade. It's no different than a traverse or long ass dragging roof. Some highballs do have high cruxes though.

Mike Mellenthin · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 70
jmmlol wrote:

Highball only means it's tall. Tall climbs are going to be longer than short ones, so many (if not all) of the moves will be below the grade. It's no different than a traverse or long ass dragging roof. Some highballs do have high cruxes though.

Respectfully, I just disagree, not that it matters.

Funny though: go look at the MP page for Slashface and you can see John Long himself weighing in on whether it's actually a highball.

Mike Brady · · Van Diesel, OR · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 681
Mike Mellenthin wrote:

Yeah I'm not saying its right, but it is what it is.

And don't get me wrong, I think Slashface is one of the most perfect boulder problems there is. I do think "highball" implies climbing at the grade high off the ground, and by that definition Slashface is not, even though the jug hauling is super fun. Put another way, "highball" to me means that you might blow it high off the ground. It would be very hard to do that on Slashface. I haven't done Up 40 so I can't compare.

It's the same thing as where a 5.11 route that's run out on 5.7 usually doesn't get an R grade even though you might go 40 feet between pro.

Oh I know you just adding to the conversation, as am I.

I too think that Slashface is a superb line. I do wish it was a bit more sustained though. I can get behind the concept of desiring lines to be sustained through out to be an honest highball. It is kinda annoying when people claim some hard as nails V11 highball when in fact a huge majority of the climbing is substantially easier.  Personally though the moniker of "highball" does not really have anything to do with the difficulty of a climb.  I here ya on the anology of route safety ratings although I am not sure I would agree with the consensus if it were to not give an R rating to any route, sustained or not, that had potential for actual R rated situations.

I wouldn't urge anyone to go boulder Up40 but if you get a chance to climb that thing in a safe (whatever that means to you) manner take it! It is an absolute gem with amazing movement and sustained difficulty. 

jmmlol · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 0
Mike Brady wrote:

Oh I know you just adding to the conversation, as am I.

I too think that Slashface is a superb line. I do wish it was a bit more sustained though. I can get behind the concept of desiring lines to be sustained through out to be an honest highball. It is kinda annoying when people claim some hard as nails V11 highball when in fact a huge majority of the climbing is substantially easier.  Personally though the moniker of "highball" does not really have anything to do with the difficulty of a climb.  I here ya on the anology of route safety ratings although I am not sure I would agree with the consensus if it were to not give an R rating to any route, sustained or not, that had potential for actual R rated situations.

I wouldn't urge anyone to go boulder Up40 but if you get a chance to climb that thing in a safe (whatever that means to you) manner take it! It is an absolute gem with amazing movement and sustained difficulty. 

Until you've climbed said V11 highball, I don't think there's much room to talk about the "substantially easier" section of the climb. It's quite easy to fall at half your limit after doing the crux of a climb.

Mike Brady · · Van Diesel, OR · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 681
jmmlol wrote:

Until you've climbed said V11 highball, I don't think there's much room to talk about the "substantially easier" section of the climb. It's quite easy to fall at half your limit after doing the crux of a climb.

I hear ya and that is why I think Slashface is indeed a highball as I stated earlier. I was just rapping with dude about something he was trying to convey. I am fully aware of how easy it is to fail at a difficulty that is far below ones norm.

As far as there not being room to talk about some hypothetical problem I am not sure I agree. While one grade may be harder/easier than another the experience will be relative to ones ability. So my Vx will feel the same to what yours does to you. So in the context of this conversation everyones view is valid.  

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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