The Trad Climbers Inequality

Placing a cam? Slotting a nut? Slinging a tree?
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L K Day
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Post by L K Day » Fri Apr 11, 2008 5:16 am

OW and krampus are both right. You don't raise the grade on a trad route because it's more "difficult" than a sport route of the same "technical" difficulty. But, for those who give a damn, the point system should award points for all fifth class climbs. It's kind of snobbish to award points for routes only above a certain grade. Why not start with one point at 5.0?

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Post by 512OW » Fri Apr 11, 2008 5:21 am

I'll agree with that. If we switched all 5.8's to 8 points, then the rest is easy...

5.7=7
5.6=6

etc...

Ok, maybe 5.0 should be zero. You went a little far Larry. :lol:
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Post by L K Day » Fri Apr 11, 2008 5:22 am

Yep.

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Post by der uber » Fri Apr 11, 2008 5:38 am

Not only should climbs of a lower grad be awarded points, but what about a different scale for trad vs sport?

I'm of the belief that the actual climbing dificulty of a trad 5.x is on par with a sport 5.x, but the act of placing gear adds a little something extra. I'm pretty unexperienced when it comes to trad so I'll defer to your experience.

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Post by L K Day » Fri Apr 11, 2008 5:48 am

Too complicated. You're suggesting points for 'work done', in which case the FA of a sport route should be awarded astronomical points for establishing the route. Yeah, the ascent of a trad route is more work, all else being equal, but fat chance getting credit for that in an area where most people climb sport exclusively. But...., what about sport points, trad points, and combined points?

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Post by Wes » Fri Apr 11, 2008 6:06 am

Meh, climbing is climbing. Separate points is dumb. Go to the creek and you will see people warming up on 5.11 trad, climbing 12's and 13's all the time. Just like sport routes in the red. Gear routes are not any harder then sport routes, just like slab routes are not any harder then steep routes - it is all what you are used to.

As far as scary trad routes being harder leads, that isn't really true, there is just more of a commitment factor. Just like highball boulder problems don't get rated an extra v number harder, just because they are tall.

I really like the British system - a grade for the moves and a grade for the commitment, much better then the pg13/r/x grades we use.
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der uber
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Post by der uber » Fri Apr 11, 2008 6:25 am

Points well taken (no pun intended).
But...., what about sport points, trad points, and combined points?
For clarity's sake, I was thinking points would be points (i.e. there wouldn't be seperate totals), but a 5.10 trad would be work a couple points more than a 5.10 sport. That said, I'll gree that it's too complicated, and probaby puts mroe energy into the whole point system than its worth.

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Post by caribe » Fri Apr 11, 2008 6:27 am

The fact that you have to hang on your limbs long enough to get out a piece of gear and make sure the placement is good and then hang a rope in it versus clipping a quickdraw should make the same line more difficult on trad than sport. If it is a crack the crack is going to get easier. This is especially true during the onsite attempt.

Kris i got you to come my way a little bit here. i digested what you are saying and it makes sense. My mind is now more open to the fact that my opinion may change when I climb on gear more. I realized that my opinion is based on little experience.

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Post by caribe » Fri Apr 11, 2008 6:36 am

As far as points go, we are talking about Ray's brain child as if it is a communistic or a democratic affair. I am not sure we all own it and its character may not be subject to majority vote, not even by the super delegates (the inner office).

oooo . . . what is and who is in the inner office? That would be a funny conversation.
:twisted:

At the crag one time I was leaning on Ray to change the way number of tries are defined. He told me that he had that system going for a while and made it public for Joe climber.

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Post by JR » Fri Apr 11, 2008 6:59 am

Myke Dronez wrote:face climbing seems more intuitive- stepping up and pulling like a ladder.
I agree.
Myke Dronez wrote:I think the folks who maintain that trad is harder are probably spending little time seriously developing the technique.
I agree.
512OW wrote:You folks who believe that trad climbing is harder than sport climbing, just lack technique. Spend the time "training" for trad the same as you would in a gym for sport.
True that.
caribe wrote:The biggest diff between trad and sport is the time spent making decisions about your safety.


I don't think so. This seems like a personal thing. Are you using tri-cams or something?

And about the points for easier climbs. Bring it on!

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Post by caribe » Fri Apr 11, 2008 7:07 am

JR: you mean that tricams are not part of the trad repertoire? If I use a tricam in one out of ten placements, the tricam placement turns my statement above into a true statement; more time will be spent on protection. Did the availability of SLRs in the mid 80s make the statement above false IYHO?

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Post by absolutsugarsmurf » Fri Apr 11, 2008 7:29 am

I haven't been climbing as long as many of the posters on this topic, especially Larry and OW. Sport climbing for 6 years total, trad for a little over two now. Here are my observations about my progressions through the grades and why I do think climbing while placing traditional gear is more difficult than climbing while placing quick draws.

In sport climbing the path is clearly marked out for you in 4 to 15 foot sections. Look for a bolt, find a way to climb it, clip the bolt, look for the next bolt, etc. etc. etc. While the movements between the bolts and stances for clipping the bolt may have to be worked out, the short term destinations are clearly defined. In "trad" there is not such a clearly defined "connect the dots" method. You must constantly analyze the route to find adequate protection. This is not nearly as obvious on many routes as it is on all sport routes. This lack of obviousness leads definitively to a harder onsite for trad routes than sport.

It is a mistake to trust bolts completely, but from experience and climber interactions, I can confidently state that the majority of climbers (and the majority of trad climbers too) trust bolts more than gear, in most situations. This becomes especially clear when you are on multi-pitch and come across a nice shiny bolt anchor. What a relief! This natural tendency to trust a nice, strong bolt, as fallacious as it may be, decreases the "headiness" of a climb, and therefore makes it less difficult. It is foolish to ignore the mental aspect of a route when assessing the difficulty. Fear can make even the simplest of movements difficult when sweat starts to run, your heart starts to pump, and your legs start to quiver.

Placing a cam is more difficult than placing a draw, period. Placing a nut, tri-cam, or big-bro is usually more difficult than placing a cam. Then, often, you must use a draw on said placement. Therefore for many gear placements, you must first find the placement, and then sling it. That is, at least, twice as much work as placing a quick draw. Additionally, I have never reached for a quick draw, and then realized it would not fit the bolt. This happens often on small cracks when placing nuts and cams with expansion ranges in the low mm range. This inequality becomes more pronounced when draws are pre-hung on sport routes. Placing gear necessarily requires the climber to hang on longer. You have to evaluate the potential placement, choose the piece, place the piece, evaluate the quality of the placed piece, and clip the rope. This is way more involved than clipping a quick draw.

Additionally, what does a rack of quick draws weigh? A pound? Two pounds? Compare that to a trad rack. 5-10 pounds of gear for most I imagine, if you climb on a .1-3 C4 plus a rack of nuts and slings. Compounding this problem is that a new sport leader needs just as many draws as a veteran leader, while new trad climbers tend to carry twice as much gear as necessary. So a 5.8 sportie carries 2 lbs of draws, maximum. A 5.8 traddy carries 15 pounds of gear. Even if this is ignored, you realistically have to carry more gear for a trad lead than a sport lead, and you therefore have a higher effective weight by at least 5 pounds.

I also have experienced a compression of grades at the level I am climbing at (<5.10b). Consider at Sky Bridge, the routes No Return (5.9+) and Good Times (5.8+). There is no question which route is more difficult. How often do you hear the quote "beware 5.8+"? Combine this with the strenuous nature of many elements of trad routes and you have some beastly hard routes at relatively low grades, The Quest for example. How many burns in one day could I put in on The Inhibitor? Four maybe before I'm too bloody and exhausted to try any more. I can putz around all day on many 5.11 sport climbs.

Another factor that has been ignored and can be a great contributor is the physical proportions of the climber. Everyone knows the rules about Indian Creek cracks and hand size. One man's 5.12 is another man's 5.11 or 5.13. While also an issue on some sport, the relative importance of relative body size is greatly less important when judging difficulty.

I have a friend who has been climbing Trad much harder than I do, and I much less time than I would have liked :) He had a strong sport back ground climbing many hard 5.12 routes. I commented on his fast progression through the trad grades. He responded that all trad was hard, no matter the grade, so why not just skip the lower grades and save yourself the trouble? So far I have been too afraid to follow his motto.

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Post by der uber » Fri Apr 11, 2008 7:49 am

Smurf, you are clearly oversimplifying the issue and glossing over the facts.

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Post by L Day » Fri Apr 11, 2008 7:59 am

Right on smurf. And I think you're right not to skip the easier routes. There's a great deal to be gained by working your way up through the grades and climbing many examples of each type of problem, fingers, hands, ow, etc. at each grade. That's what makes one confident and solid.

One of the best climbers I've ever had the good fortune of knowing and climbing with is Rich Perch. I used to run into him wherever I went, Seneca, the Valley, Lover's Leap, Boulder. Rich didn't much look the part of a rock climber. He was kind of thick limbed, and not all that athletic looking. The lenses in his glasses looked kind of like they were just big clear marbles stuck in the frames. They gave him the big googley eyed look. But man could that guy climb. No matter the difficulty, he was pure fluid motion. Once he showed me his journals. Nothing fancy, they listed the name of the route, his partners, and the date. But, there were volumes and volumes of journals, all hardbound. It looked to me like he had climbed hundreds of routes at each grade as he worked his way up. As a result, he was solid at problem solving like noone I'd every seen. Whatever the nature of the climbing, he just cruised. Surely the breadth of his experience, and not trying to skip anything along the way, contributed to his ability.

Contrast that with a couple of my young punk climbing buddies in Colorado, who certainly considered themselves to be 5.10 climbers, who suffered great humiliation when they got turned back by a 5.4 chimney on what they thought would be the next Eldorado 5.10 to be ticked off their list.
Last edited by L Day on Fri Apr 11, 2008 9:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Horatio Felacio » Fri Apr 11, 2008 8:14 am

i didn't really read that last long post by smurftasticle, but basically what you all need to know is that i am the smartest person alive...

i was going to say a bunch of stuff about trad being easier...then i changed my mind, that sport is easier...then i decided that they are the same...now i don't really know. i got confused because i started thinking about all the different places i've been and the idiosyncrasies of each area. so long story short, i think this is a really stupid topic with no possible solution...except to jerries who think they know everything in the world about climbing, and who think that tri-cams are necessary equipment. carry on...
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