Friday, 4 April 2008


Bouldering in Stonecutters Glen, Co. Wicklow

The bouldering guide to the Stonecutters Glen is now available here.

As far as I know an onsight climb means you have never seen anyone on the route before, you have not heard any info or received any beta (which is hard these days giving the description you get in some guide books), you have clearly not toproped the route before or even inspected it with an absail. When you are climbing a route after having seen someone on it, it is called a Flash. A lead that you have actually worked out is a redpoint.

Now not so long ago (when I was still a sports climber, that is) an onsight was the base on which a grade was given. So if some route was given 7a, that meant onsighting it would mean that you would have climbed 7a, flashing it was 6c+, leading it was 6c and toproping it was 6b+. But this is sports climbing, I've been told the real trad thing is different.

Anyway when it comes to bouldering, these concepts become very subjectives, and grades are supposedly there as a pure technical info. How come then we are still arguing about adding a + between these 3 and 4 grades? Actually in some guide you can even find problems graded 4a+. And don't oppose me the "Vermine" example, I have also seen some V10+ in climbing magazines...

So anyway, I personnally think we should go back to the good old Font colour code, and I decided to give it a go. I can already ear some people saying "Hey, do you know that rockover problem in the Stonecutters? I think it 's definitly yellow, not blue!" You wish...

Anyway, any comments welcommed!


Neal said...

Pierre, good on you for questioning grading!
It's all a bit subjective if you ask me. I think it works fine so long as it's just 4a, 4b, 4c - i.e. no plus option (e.g. 4a+).
It's the same in sports climbing, and don't get me started on the daft grading system we use for trad :)

Still though, for some reason, I can grade easily in V grades but can't make any sense of the Font one!

Pierre said...

I think Font grade are completly messed up but I don't like the V grades either though: I think they are very elitist and despise the easier climbs.

It's very revealing that we want to be precise when it comes to our maximum grade, while we do not really care with the lower ones.

That's why getting our bum kicked on a 4+ in Font is always good, it brings a bit of humility.

Neal said...

yeah, you're right with the V grades. They start too high. But other than that, they seem to make sense.
Don't think we want to be precise about our max grades, it's just that the guys who invented it were pretty strong and only regard climbing as starting at what they benchmark is V0. Below that, anyone should be able to do them (I'm guessing that's they're theory :).

But in theory that should be easily fixed....just modify the grades so that what is now, say V8 is V20. That means there's now 12 grades below V0.
Or else use New Zealand's system. They have VE, VM, VD below V0 to cover the easier options. Seems to work very well over there.