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Downgrading routes when you don't send?


Original Post
MTruelove · · Fort CollIins · Joined Nov 2011 · Points: 0

Seems to be a reoccurring theme here. Why? People take and or fall/flail yet they down grade the route. Doesn't make sense.

Jason Halladay · · Los Alamos, NM · Joined Oct 2005 · Points: 12,044

I've done this a number of times. Did this just this past weekend, in fact. Climbed on a relatively new sport route originally rated 12c. I nearly onsighted it. I'm out of shape now and this was at the end of the day. My hardest onsight is a 12a and I feel there is definitely not a 12c move on the route. Here are a couple reasons why I down graded it:

  • To give a suggested rating so that a 12a climber avoiding the route because it's rated 12c on MP can relax a bit knowing it's not 12c.
  • I know the route developer and he's interested in opinions on how difficult it is as he's not sure. I'm happy to oblige with my opinion. 
· · Unknown Hometown · Joined unknown · Points: 0

If people take or fall on a route they usually rest. Resting in the middle of the climb makes the climb seem easier.  I heard people say over and over this is only a 5.7 in the gunks

Xan Calonne · · Joshua Tree, Ca · Joined Mar 2010 · Points: 35

Why doesn't it make sense? If you've climbed enough at a grade, you can reasonably speculate on any climb's difficulty without having necessarily "sent." Personally, I wouldn't publicly downgrade a route until I had completed it, but I don't think sending is a prerequisite for having an opinion, or being able to accurately assess a route's difficulty. 

Peter J · · Davis, CA · Joined Aug 2017 · Points: 105

I think it is a common issue where people who are very close to sending overestimate just HOW close they were. I.E. they're sure they would send it on their next burn, when in reality it will take them 5 + tries because they don't realize just how pumpy the upper section is after pulling through the crux without a rest (w/o hanging on the rope)... I would guess some of the downgrading is legitimate (see above) and some is not. I would try not downgrade a route unless i sent it.

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,535

Yeah, I'm not a fan of slapping grades on routes unless you've sent on lead. I'll speculate for sure if I think its missed the mark, but until you've clipped the chains on redpoint, you cant really know for sure.

The most famous one here is The Gift- people say all the time they're going to get it next go, only to spend two more seasons on the damn thing even though they've one hung it 15 times. I think after 20 years of punting people off, it finally has a reputation for it, but when I was a new climber, people used to say all the time it was soft for the grade.

Christian · · Casa do Cacete · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 1,470

A route doesn't have to have a 12c move to be rated 12c.

50 feet of very sustained 11c or 11d movement can easily feel like 12b to get through.

I judge a no-send downrate based on what I else I know about the person. Somebody who's consistently exhibited delusional overconfidence about their climbing skill isn't gonna get much credence from me on a sendless downrate. That is, unless they can specifically point out substantially better beta that they found.

If somebody who has crazy power-endurance downrates a route that requires a lot of power-endurance, I know in advance that's pretty much meaningless to me.

Tony B · · Around Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 23,195
MTruelove wrote: Seems to be a reoccurring theme here. Why? People take and or fall/flail yet they down grade the route. Doesn't make sense.

Fair enough, but I guess, but then I'd have to ask how you can assign any route a grade it if you didn't on-sight as well.
I mean, doesn't beta make it easier, particularly if the route is more "technical" than the climber in question?
That's a rhetorical question, of course.

I can see logic in "I can't even do 12b moves, but this only took me 2 tries, which is normal for 11c" or whatever.
For the most part, I shrug.  Don't care so much one way or the other.  Consensus will eventually work it out and likewise, you learn whose opinions you listen to over time.
Guys with long arms and a surplus of strength, but shitty footwork and no endurance probably think my beta/grades are spot-on.  Others, perhaps not so much.
Again, that's the purpose of consensus.

Mark E Dixon · · Sprezzatura, Someday · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 569

I always add two letter grades to anything you rate, Tony

slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,107

semi off-topic / tangential...  i have never really felt that onsighting is the appropriate basis for grading.  i would say redpointing would give a more accurate grade.  ultimately it should boil down to the most efficient sequence/etc of climbing the route (which is rarely what happens during an onsight).  a good example is missing a key hold or two and feeling that the route is much harder than the given grade.  it isn't really harder, you just missed the holds.

Only, Locals · · #iGREWhereUflewHERE · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 1,160

President's crack is not 10d

Brian Prince · · morro bay, ca · Joined Mar 2010 · Points: 1,682
Tony B · · Around Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 23,195
slim wrote: semi off-topic / tangential...  i have never really felt that onsighting is the appropriate basis for grading.  i would say redpointing would give a more accurate grade.  ultimately it should boil down to the most efficient sequence/etc of climbing the route (which is rarely what happens during an onsight).  a good example is missing a key hold or two and feeling that the route is much harder than the given grade.  it isn't really harder, you just missed the holds.

But then a cryptic route that is very very hard to read and has trick beta might actually be "easy?"
Hmmm... what if beta is not available?  Does it get a different grade when nobody is there to offer beta?  
In all seriousness, I think that the "leader must not fall" ethic is incompatible with the redpoint grade concept.
I'n not attached to either idea, if I'm honest, but rather pointing out that most of the values are subjective.
IE: Does someone who only topropes really know what grade any route is?

I think that why people think it has to be qualified in some particular way is a more interesting question than the grade itself.

Healyje · · PDX · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 456

It's somewhat unfortunate that the 'a'-'d' suffix on grades wasn't instead used to indicate how sustained a route is. There's a big and unstated difference between a route with one 5.11 move on it and a one where almost every move is. That way if you saw 5.11d you'd have a better idea what to expect.

Colonel Mustard · · Sacramento, CA · Joined Sep 2005 · Points: 1,185

Everybody gets a say.

Ken Noyce · · Layton, UT · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 2,104
Healyje wrote: It's somewhat unfortunate that the 'a'-'d' suffix on grades wasn't instead used to indicate how sustained a route is. There's a big and unstated difference between a route with one 5.11 move on it and a one where almost every move is. That way if you saw 5.11d you'd have a better idea what to expect.

Which is exactly why a route with one 5.11a move is rated 5.11a whereas a route that is entirely 5.11a moves is most likely going to be rated somewhere in the 5.12 range.  Now I am well aware that back in the infancy of the YDS a route was rated based on the most difficult move, but at least for the past 20 years or so endurance has also been factored into the rating.

lech · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 936

I find it shocking that we seam to believe that a climb is 11d or 12a.  The following statements are sarcastic in case it is not apparent. There is no in-between in grades.  It is impossible for a climbs difficulty to change based on your strength or body type or hand size.

As an example.  Echo canyon dry wall has 2, 5.12b's on the wall in close proximity.  One is 80 + feet and one is very short.  One has no moves harder than V2 one has several V3's maybe a V4 depending on your size, strengths, local bouldering grade perception, etc.  I find the short one to be a good warm up and very soft and the long one to be very solid at the grade, as do a couple of my friends. The climb must be down rated... but wait... I also know more than a few who feel the exact opposite to be true. This is why everyone should put in what they feel for the grade and not be concerned with others opinions.  The consensus can work it out. There is no clear difference between one grade and the next.  The line will shift and blur for a given climb based on your climbing strengths.  

I believe some of this thinking is driven from the extreme top of the sport where one pro will not put the next grade on their climb out of the fear that it will be down graded by another pro. My internal dialog on this goes something like this.  Even though this 15C was harder than the last 2 15C's I would hate for Adam or Alex to come along and say nope it is only 15C. It would be utter shame forever if they said 15B/C I better put 15a just to be safe.

slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,107
Tony B wrote:

But then a cryptic route that is very very hard to read and has trick beta might actually be "easy?"
Hmmm... what if beta is not available?  Does it get a different grade when nobody is there to offer beta?  
In all seriousness, I think that the "leader must not fall" ethic is incompatible with the redpoint grade concept.
I'n not attached to either idea, if I'm honest, but rather pointing out that most of the values are subjective.
IE: Does someone who only topropes really know what grade any route is?

I think that why people think it has to be qualified in some particular way is a more interesting question than the grade itself.

if you look at it from the other side though why would toproping a route not be a good method of determining the difficulty of the climbing?  it will probably be the most subjective approach.  for example a really bold climber may place a piece every 30 feet on a route, while a more cautious climber will place more gear.  the cautious climber will probably grade the route harder and the bold climber will really rate it easier, but at the end of the day the route is just the route - it doesn't care how the climber climbed it.

in terms of beta being available or not available, again, the route doesn't care - it is what it is.  that's why i think the actual route (and not so much how somebody climbed it) should dictate the grade.
slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,107
Tony B wrote:

But then a cryptic route that is very very hard to read and has trick beta might actually be "easy?"

i forgot to address this part.  i would still say the route grade is based on the easiest way, but that this route is tricky to onsight.  a person who is really good at onsighting (or just gets completely lucky...) may find the route to be easy, indeed.

sort of related, but tangential again...  i have several friends who literally can not redpoint harder than they can onsight.  one in particular literally can't redpoint within 2 letter grades of what he onsights.  my guess is that it is some sort of lack of stimulation mental thing - if they aren't onsighting they just aren't as focused.  i find this really fascinating.
Ryan Swanson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2018 · Points: 50

If I go hang on a 11b and then say it is only 10d, does that make it 10d?  The same goes for calling an 11c a 12a  It is purely subjective.  Who cares that someone thinks it is sandbagged and another thinks the grade is soft.  One person rating a climb one thing doesn't automatically make it so.  What someone rates the climb is merely their opinion of the difficulty, nothing else.

reboot · · . · Joined Jul 2006 · Points: 125
slim wrote:

if you look at it from the other side though why would toproping a route not be a good method of determining the difficulty of the climbing?  it will probably be the most subjective approach.  for example a really bold climber may place a piece every 30 feet on a route, while a more cautious climber will place more gear.  the cautious climber will probably grade the route harder and the bold climber will really rate it easier, but at the end of the day the route is just the route - it doesn't care how the climber climbed it.

Maybe, but people don't climb 30 ft run-outs or free solo the same way top roping a route. Even ignoring the mental aspect, people usually choose much more secure (and likely physically more taxing) sequence given a dire consequence.

Grading w/o sending or only TR send is typically bad form. Doesn't mean you can't have a reasonable opinion, but you don't have to offer it freely either.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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