Friday, August 29, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
Sunday, August 17, 2008
What are your thoughts on the 9a grade in the USA?
It seems a little strange to me that in a country this big, that has produced some of the best climbers in the world, that there are only a few routes graded 9a. Why are so many people scared to throw that grade on something that could reasonably be that hard?
People are worried what others will think if someone repeats their route and then downgrades it. Some climbers love to downgrade things just to boost their own ego by saying, "what? You thought that was hard? Nah...I just did it faster than anyone else so it couldn't be that hard." I think it is a pretty common thing for grades to get a bit bunched up at certain levels like how in Rifle everyone was scared to have their routes downgraded so there are a huge number of 5.13d's that cover a range of difficulty with some of them being regarded as pretty solid 5.14a. Decades ago everything got 5.9+ because people didn't think they could be climbing 5.10. America has always been a more conservative place than countries in Europe; it was founded by a bunch of Puritans no less.... so there you go. I think its interesting how some of the best American sport climbers who are also among the best in the world, are in top shape and do new routes at the top of their ability and then grade them no harder than the hardest routes from 15 years ago. What’s up with that? Where is the progression? I think giving a climb a sandbag grade can be just as much, (or more) of an ego-based thing than over grading.
It's good to hear someone finally say what's really going on. Maybe Peter has a bit of an outsider's perspective on the issue but I think he's calling it absolutely right. My previous comments on the topic are here. Is this in part why the Front Range has seen many of its testpieces first climbed by outsiders such as Dave Graham? The grades might come down later but the innovating achievement remains long after. The confidence and self-belief needed to actually be a pioneer might also include the possibility of that climber proposing a grade that may be higher than what's already been done. Imagine that, progress!
Big congratulations to Dara Torres for 3 silver medals in Olympic swimming at age 41. This is in a way more impressive than Michael Phelps' 8 medals. We'll see if we hear much from Michael Phelps in 18 years.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
This morning I tried to flash the traverse on the north side of Nook's Rock. After a thorough study, and before things got too warm I hopped on and made it to the hueco and finished up the V0 on the right. At some point I will check out the full traverse, starting low and left and finishing further right around the corner. This is definitely one of the best problems/routes on the mountain with great movement and top quality rock. I also have to say that the center of the West Slab is possibly the best easy problem on the mountain with the perfect angle, nice holds and the only true summit that I know of on Flag. No partiers or scramblers are likely to venture there.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
It will be interesting to see if any of the magazines decide to pick up the story. The angle as I see it is that we are increasingly in a post-guidebook era where new areas and even word-class testpieces are in a kind of fluid state of documentation that is ever evolving and changing over time. Falcon was trusting in an older model of recording climbs that depended on a single expert setting down an agreed upon body of problems. The new model is one where users of the "book" rewrite it as it is being written and a tentative consensus emerges within a self-created community. Hence the importance of online guides such as Mountain Project and the new generation of blog guides, as exemplified by Chip's Flagstaff guide. Eventually with new bandwidth capacities, video guides will be common for many routes and areas. This has already happened at Fontainebleau, where a single book could never encapsulate 15, 000 problems.
The move is more and more to "lifestyle" guides that emphasize beautiful visuals which climbers will buy not as references per se but as accessories that enhance the sense of pleasure they get from visiting an area. This is a very significant change that both Wolverine and Sharp End have moved forward on. Falcon, which I do not sense is run by climbers, is way behind the curve on this trend.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Cryptic Magician is one of the great problems on the mountain with technical and delicate movements and a little bit of exposure at the finish. I was hoping to flash it but took a few tries to get it. My beta seems more straightforward than some descriptions I have seen.
Monday, August 4, 2008
Getting closer on the first V10 crux on the Spotdala, a likely V13 crimp problem I set at the Spot. Daniel Woods and Tyler Landman had a crack at it yesterday and said it was pretty hard.
Otherwise not much to report. I heard that Heart of Darkness, a 5.13 I put up in Boulder Canyon has substantially broken leaving a likely 5.14 which is great news. Another project!
Visit my Boulder Canyon Guide and check out updates for the Graham Boulder and Castle Rock areas.