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Your criteria to rate routes


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Dan Knisell · · Townsend, MA · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 2,377

I’m sure this has been hashed and rehashed and hashed again (I know there will be people “tired” of the subject) but I’m wondering how folks rate routes.  To be clear I’m talking about the four star system that mountain project uses. Do you give high ratings because it’s the best problem in the area?  Low ratings because of bad pro or landings?  Does it remind you of another favorite climb? Do you not give classic ratings out readily?  Do the established classics the set bar and nothing can ever come close?  Are there certain holds or movements you’re looking for?  There’s lots to mull over and obviously there will be varying opinions. I’d like to hear what you think. 

David Arredondo · · Austin, TX · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 0

Consistency, exposure, and aesthetics inspire me most in a climb. 

Consistency: More climbing joy per pitch.

Exposure: nothing wrenches at the heart and mind like a serious amount of void creeping up your back.

Asethetics: beauty sells.

There are other factors, but those generally boil down to personal bias. 

For example,

I like tufas, so I might give a route an extra star for giving me the opportunity to slap my paws all over my favorite rock feature. Or maybe there is a mandatory rose move or two.

Overall, I weight prettiness, consistency, and exposure the most, and I think those three things make for a fantastic rock climb.

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

Rock quality is high on my list (in other words, if there is loose or breakable rock or dirty rock or kitty litter, it's not such a good climb). Aesthetics, funness of movement are right up there. Quality ratings are subjective, just like difficulty ratings. 

CrimpDaddy-WesP · · Hollis nh · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 375

Cool radical moves and beauty of the line. Especially obvious, natural lines.

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 582

Is it fun? Outstanding, or just a routine climb? A fun puzzle to work out, or unusual (for that rock) moves or style is a plus.

I look at the other ratings, and usually find I'm about in with the group, if a lot have starred something. When I'm the first to add a route, I give it an average star rating, then others can build that into a consensus.

Best, Helen

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

is it worth repeteing?. if it does not kill me  and it climbs decent and I would do it again it gets 1 star.

If it was pretty fun and I will certainly do it again  2 stars.

It was really fun and I will recommend to friends that they do it 3 stars.

As good or better than  anything of similer style and grade in the country =4 and 5 stars.    I break that up into catagorys.  30m/ half pitch face, crack etc. long single pitch/ full rope, short multi pitch, long multi pitch...





C Archibolt · · Salt Lake City, UT · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 871

I’ll sometimes give 4 stars for an area classic. If it really stands out for the area, even if it’s not world class. 

Pavel Burov · · Russia · Joined May 2013 · Points: 50

Boring — don't remember anything good or bad about the route.

Shitty — the whole route is a whole bunch of shit.

OK — boring route with a few good moves.

Good or fun — overall fun route.

Cool — the whole route is fun.

Dan Knisell · · Townsend, MA · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 2,377
  • If I’m apt to repeat a route I’d consider it for classic status myself but looks and movement for sure come into play. However the repetition argument might fall apart for some of the harder routes.  Maybe someone completes an awesome project ie cobra crack but moves on to something else.  Any under rated or over rated routes?  
Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 195

I think that some of the things that make one route a classic make another a bomb - for example, “bad pro” is a defining characteristic of some of the area classics here (headpoints), and “bad rock” seems to be part of the allure of the Fisher Towers.  I think what universally makes a classic is that hard to define but essential climbing esthetic - you can’t always identify exactly what it was that you liked about a climb, but most people will know it when they’re on a classic, much like they’ll know it when they’re on a well-set gym route.  Some people describe it as “flow,” or “cool moves,” or others simply say the route was “fun.”  Some say they felt at one with the rock and tuned into the vital forces of nature; all of these describe the same thing, I think, which is that indescribable feeling you get that hooks so many of us into climbing in the first place.  Routes that tap into that better than others are called classics.

Jeff Scheuerell · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 1,636

My #1 suggestion is look up the word classic.

Dan Knisell · · Townsend, MA · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 2,377

Would you say that there’s no such thing as an instant classic then?

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 582
Pavel Burov wrote:

Boring — don't remember anything good or bad about the route.

Shitty — the whole route is a whole bunch of shit.

OK — boring route with a few good moves.

Good or fun — overall fun route.

Cool — the whole route is fun.

;-) OLH

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 122
  • Natural/contrived lines: My personal aesthetic is that I have little patience for climbs that require you to ignore obvious holds. If I wanted someone to tell me where I can put my hands and feet, I'd climb indoors where it's color-coded.
  • Interesting/fun/challenging moves: do I remember anything about the climb? Particularly climbs with cool footwork, an unusual style of climbing, or a variety of different climbing throughout the route.
  • Protection: did I think I was going to die at any point on the climb? If so, was I in any actual danger? I like climbs that challenge me mentally, so if a climb is safe but terrifying, I rate it higher. I'm not a fan of actually dangerous climbing.
  • Rock quality. Is the rock falling apart? Is it sharp?
  • Dirt/trees/other environmental factors. Is the rock clean? Do you have to bushwack through shrubbery? Do you get sandblasted by wind no matter the time of year or time of day?
  • Visual aesthetic: Some climbs, when I see them, I think, "I want to climb that". Horseman, Golden Dreams, Ken's Crack, Shockley's Ceiling.

It's maybe a bit controversial, but I get annoyed when routes are misrated in difficulty or protection. If I was told 5.7G and got 5.9PG13 I'm probably going to rate the route lower. It's not the route's fault when people sandbag, but it definitely makes it less fun for me when I'm put into a dangerous situation I didn't expect.

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 582
David Kerkeslager wrote

It's maybe a bit controversial, but I get annoyed when routes are misrated in difficulty or protection. If I was told 5.7G and got 5.9PG13 I'm probably going to rate the route lower. It's not the route's fault when people sandbag, but it definitely makes it less fun for me when I'm put into a dangerous situation I didn't expect.

This is, to me, when the stars and ratings are really super helpful. If only three people have scored a route? Buyer beware. But, if I know one of the people, it's a different story.

Someplace like City of Rocks, where there are 50-300+ people who scored it? I can look at that to judge the "fun" factor, and crowds. If I see a friend who loves crack climbing (for example) gives it a good review, and that's what I'm after, then I will take their "recommendation" and get up earlier, or hike farther out.

Best, OLH

Dead Head · · an asshole · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 65

I think my number one is: Does it make you think?

Jplotz · · Wenatchee, WA · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 1,170

Are you compelled to climb it every time you return to the crag?  That's my main criteria. 

On a related note, "your suggested grade" criteria I wish we could agree that grades are based on an onsight lead, and not on a top rope burn. It seems to be a trend on here to downgrade route grades based on how easy it felt on top rope, which has almost zero equivalency to an onsight lead. 

ViperScale . · · McMurdo Station, AQ · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240

I grade most things based on my onsight of the route... however I will say there is a handful of boulder problems that I was turning into a V6+ because of the way I was climbing them that once I saw what I was doing wrong turned them into V1 / V2 problems.

Then there was that 1 time a frog was sitting in the jug and scared me to death when I grabbed it and he jumped out on me and made a V3 turn into alot harder of a route.

Dan Knisell · · Townsend, MA · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 2,377
Jplotz wrote:

Are you compelled to climb it every time you return to the crag?  That's my main criteria. 

On a related note, "your suggested grade" criteria I wish we could agree that grades are based on an onsight lead, and not on a top rope burn. It seems to be a trend on here to downgrade route grades based on how easy it felt on top rope, which has almost zero equivalency to an onsight lead. 

I agree although I’m mainly a boulderer.  

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 122
Jplotz wrote:

On a related note, "your suggested grade" criteria I wish we could agree that grades are based on an onsight lead, and not on a top rope burn. It seems to be a trend on here to downgrade route grades based on how easy it felt on top rope, which has almost zero equivalency to an onsight lead. 

Well, that's really just another debate, which is whether the rating includes the mental aspects of the sport, or if the rating is just how physically demanding the route is. All the big differences between TR and onsight leading is mental: route finding, figuring out the sequences, controlling your fear, etc. There's of course the physical demands of placing protection, but I don't find these to be my big problem when I'm onsight leading.

The YDS and Hueco scales I think generally are supposed to be just the physical demands of the route, while the British adjectival grades are supposed to include the mental aspects of the sport. The two roughly correspond unless there's some aspect of a climb that's very mental. I tend to think the British adjectival grades would be more useful for onsight leading (which is mostly what I do outdoors) but nobody uses the British adjectival scale where I climb.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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