Thursday, December 18, 2008

What is Up at 8a.nu?

8a.nu has had its detractors since it was first established. There were claims of fostering overt competition, overgrading, commercialism, etc. but a recent post in the forum at the ClimbingNarc titled "What's going on at 8a?" had me thinking that there is a deeper problem. There have been a number of peculiar posts in the news section at the site that indicate something needs to change:

High ball & DWS grading: 7A!!!
First Anchors and extensions
The fourth gripping position
Maximizing/Understanding your grade
Comparing grades performances into seconds etc.
Differences in Trad & Sport ethics

Endless top ten/five lists

And so on. Many of these seem primarily to have annoyed people particularly the posts about trad climbing, which have attracted a number of angry responses. My main concern about 8a.nu is the relentless push for rankings in everything such as "All-around Climber" or "Best Female Climber." My view is that the website is trying to make itself something that doesn't yet exist and probably shouldn't, a kind of Google for climbing that everyone ultimately has to use/refer to or be left out of the conversation. They even have a suggested list of Top Ten English-speaking climbing blogs!(naturally this one was ranked 11th, though Climbing Narc did make it, congratulations) Enough already with the obsession with ranking everything! The scorecard is fine as a motivational tool but past that I really question its worth. I'm not saying boycott the site, though Tyler Landman has done so, but I hope they recognize that they are not the final or even important arbiters of anything climbing-related.

5 comments:

dawoolston said...

Well put, it's nice to see climbers stand up to the grade/rank obsessed online community of 8a.nu. I do in fact have a log book account on 8a to record my ascents but I pay little attention to grade "mathematics", articles discussing anorexic WC climbers or who gets a photo in the annual yearbook. What matters to me is going to the local crag with my buddies and having fun, something 8a has seemed to forgotten.

dreaminvertical said...

One of the problems I find with 8a.nu is how everything must fit in. Climbs, climbers, areas must all be ranked and rated. As an all-around climb I think that climbers have different mindsets and priorities in relation to effort, risk, fear etc. Such attitudes were made even more apparent to me when I was chided about having a daisy chain while sport climbing last weekend (I must climb trad with those silly widgets). On 8a I find it odd that trad climbs are classified by the use of cams and nuts for protection. The idea of traditional ground up style is ignored. What happened to the idea that climbing is dangerous and full of adventure. For many climbing is more about style than numbers, beauty than speed. I'm sure this is why 8a has gotten so many negative remarks in response to Jens analysis of the E grades, climber rankings and other ways 8a tries to order the climbing world. I suppose my answer is a plea for people to be more understanding. Climbers have different objectives and desires; different strength and vision and do not need to be ranked and rated to be valued.

J V said...

who even reads that feed?

Peter Beal said...

I don't particularly mind talking about grades etc., but they seem to have become entirely an end in themselves at the site. Everything is squeezed into an artificial matrix that ultimately feels silly and sterile.

JV, some great photos at your blog!

Peter Beal said...

Here's one option