Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Hardboiled Emergency Blog Post

The little problem called Hardboiled in Boulder Canyon has been getting quite a lot of attention recently. First ascended by Daniel Woods about 7 years ago, it quickly became part of a circuit of V10/11 problems in the canyon. Most recently a number of ascents included a strapped-on kneepad and it was clear that what had been a reasonably soft 8a was something else. Ryan Silven was the first to state the obvious by climbing it both ways. For the 8a version he wrote, " sans kneebars. the sequence is different enough that it's almost a different boulder. can we still call this 8a if new, easier beta has been used? idk. it sucks my 100th double-digit boulder is mired in controversy. and kneebars." and for the 7c version, " with kneebars and a kneepad. not 8a. a kneebar takes weight through all the crux moves. 1.5 grades easier than w/o kneebars."

The talented female boulderer Alexandra Kordick continued the trend, grading her ascent 7c and commenting, " This problem is more funny than fun. An all around good humping sesh with Andrea Finklestein. I know this is a proud tick for lots of people and I don't want to take that away from anyone, but I'm kinda a kneebar specialist and v9 for it seems REALLY generous." And so on. Most recently Jens at 8a seemed to be implying that here was a woman who, in the words of Brian Kimball, "rode into town, cow~girled up with her guns a blazin' and just LAID DOWN THE LAW with an official down rate too V9 and 'that was being generous'."

Well not exactly. Comparisons with Rifle immediately spring to mind, since that is the place, with the exception of perhaps Jailhouse Rock, where kneebarring rules supreme. In Rifle everyone expects to use the maximum amount of kneepads, kneebarring, and general jessery. This may be in part why internationally known climbers visiting the US tend to go elsewhere to climb and why the canyon's hardest grades are pegged at a lowly 14c-ish. But be that as it may, kneebarring is a real climbing technique.

However bouldering has been fairly slow to accept this technique and indeed problems that feature kneebarring and kneepads tend to rate lower, maybe even much lower, on the desirability scale. Boulderers by definition are not automatically interested in the easiest method and will create and even seek out eliminates of all kinds. Hardboiled with kneepads and kneebars is one way of doing the problem which may be interesting to some. Without the pads, but with the kneebars, it could feel quite different again. Instead of a downgrade of Hardboiled to soft 7c there is no reason not to list separate variations of with kneebars or without them. If you want to tick the problem regardless of method, that's your choice and you get 7c if you use kneebars. But choosing to skip the kneepads and the new beta is a legitimate option as well.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the relevant post Peter. I think that deeper here is the motivation to "get" grades- as if they were prizes. This is a tricky subject, climbing a boulder of a grade at your limit is deeply satisfying, and ultimately most of us look externally to confirm progress as we humans are inherently bad at objective self judgment. I've recently ran into some gray area of the b3 kind with not starting on the right holds, knee bar pads, etc., and my conclusion is that if you're into the 8a rankings, spraying down about your sends, and/or looking for sponsorship, then you better get ready for some ridiculous quibbling and sophistry. Otherwise just accept that bouldering grades are a very un-scientific tool, that personal experience doesn't need exact quantification, and try to have fun!

Unknown said...

Hmm, I think maybe it matters less how you get to the top, but that you look good doing it.

Grovel, and you should lose points. However, expertly placed technique to allow for a Mentos break, and you'll earn extra points with no clarification needed.

Bouldering is more about style than people give it credit. That style should be subjective, but is rather easy to interpret compared to the V system.

More coffee now.

Anonymous said...

Sport climbs with kneebars don't have separate grades if you do or don't use them, and are graded for how hard they are using there any logical, coherent reason why boulder problems shouldn't also follow this system of grading?

Anonymous said...

Did Jamie hijack this site? Sounds to me like this is one for the "Sheriff".

Jokes aside. I completely agree with Anon.

Mike Williams said...

We've reported news on DPM about hard boiled ascents by both Robyn and Shawn Raboutou. I received the following email from DPM pot-stirrer and all around shit-head Suburban Wankster:

Did you see Alex Kordicks comment for Hardboiled? She thinks v9 is REALLY generous. Those fagbags claiming v11 are pretty bad. Thats as disingenuous as lying about whether you sent a problem at all. Especially when its a girl claiming shes one of the rare few women who have climbed v11. Its an insult to girls who legitimately climb v11.