guest hueco installment and the inaccuracy of grading

15 03 2009
Schwerer Gustof

kyle shows that his guns are bigger than those of 'schwerer gustov.'

it’s been a while since i’ve guest-written anything for this blog.  tommy has amassed quite a readership on his own, laying down his philosophical musings and keeping us all up to date and well informed on the goings on in the climbing blogosphere.  but i just got back from hueco, bringing with me pictures and further ambiguity to the great debate that is climbing grades, and i might, for once, have some meaningful input. 

i was directed towards peter beal’s blog this morning after talking with tommy, and i must say, it was refreshing to see how peter tackled the issue, mentioning such aspects as height, tradition and overall fitness.  i think this is a step in the right direction.  because in order to accurately grade a problem we have to consider all the aspects that make it hard specifically to ourselves.  i would further suggest that we then not only analyze a climb from an overall position but also from a move by move stance;  a climb is just a sum of its parts.  and an overall grade given to a climb should be a sum of the difficulty of its individual moves based upon how hard they feel to each person in sum.  add to this statistical averages based on the sum of all the climbers to complete the climb and you might actually have a meaningful measure of the climb’s difficulty, instead of a pseudo-rigorous way to assess your dominance over climbers from a different geographical region.

this is of course if you want to take climbing grades seriously.  and i don’t necessarily condone that.  because i just got back from hueco and i’m just more confused than ever.  the birthplace of the V-scale and the golden standard was by far the most inconsistently graded area i’ve ever been to.  far from being in my peak physical shape, i was able to tick my hardest grade yet, while also get completely shut down on problems i should – according to the grades – be able to climb.  no doubt this comes as a result of the discrepancies between present day grading and the scale utilized in hueco’s early history.  as i’ve seen pointed out, back then V9 meant something.  now that i can climb it, it has lost practically all meaning.

and this just kills any legitimacy that the V-scale might have had for me.  if i were to ever try to pass off the V-scale as a predictive tool to measure chances of success i would have to include an uncertainty and probability of error of about +/- V2 or V3, essentially rendering the scale useless.  so to argue over the grading of a problem within those margins does not only seem like a waste of time in my eyes, but also blatantly stupid and ignorant in the face of crystal clear uncertainty.

if we’re going to do this, we ought to do it right.  take a clue from ken pomeroy and quantify this s**t.  take all of the subjectivity out of the equation.  until then i’m going to stay out of this tired old debate.

and i’m out.

-greg

daily dick dose

the author on 'daily dick dose.'

black mamba

kyle bites back on 'black mamba.'

animal acts

the author demonstrating his 'animal acts.'

better eat your wheaties

kyle absolutely crushing 'better eat your wheaties.'

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One response

15 03 2009
tissuetendons

if you’re reading this, then you have been amassed. again.

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