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#39384 - 09/01/08 03:38 AM Re: new guidebook in August? [Re: tradgunkie]
Mark Heyman Offline
old hand

Registered: 12/23/99
Posts: 1123
Loc: South Jersey (Pinelands)
 Quote:
Originally Posted By: Dana
"…but I think many of the grade changes were justified."

I'm curious; what grade changes do you think were accurate?

 Quote:
I've already mentioned that I think Shockley's isn't a 5.6. It sure felt to be around an 8 each time I did it.


First time leading it I can understand, but each time? It’s a one move wonder, and it’s only difficult because of the visible hold is so enticing, but just out of reach. Few will search for another until they are exasperated.

 Quote:
I haven't been on Baby in a long time, but I vividly remember the time I first did it 10 years ago. I was leading 5.12 at the time and thought Baby would be a good cruise. I was pretty shocked at how hard a 5.6 could be. Now maybe I was missing a key hold or clueless on the particular offwidth technique required.


When I was a only semi-solid 5.5 leader I backed off it. I knew
I was getting to be a 5.6 leader when I went back and led Baby.

 Quote:
I can't be in complete agreement with exact grades since it's been a few years since I've climbed some of the routes. I'm no expert, I'm just an ordinary climber, but some of the climbs feel harder than the grades Swain and Williams have in their guides.


If you want to change a the grading of a route at the Gunks, then to be consistent you have to change the rest too. Besides Gunks grades are the correct grades! Some places other are simply over graded, not the other way round! \:\)


Edited by Mark Heyman (09/01/08 11:46 AM)

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#39386 - 09/01/08 09:11 PM Re: new guidebook in August? [Re: Mark Heyman]
rg@ofmc Online   content
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 12/25/99
Posts: 2472
Loc: Poughkeepsie, NY
 Originally Posted By: tradgunkie
I can tell you without a doubt that the authors climbed every route they covered in the guide with the exception of a few of the 5.12s


And when they went the wrong way, they recorded that as the route without bothering to check the accurate descriptions that already exist.

 Originally Posted By: tradgunkie
Most of the climbs in the book have the same grade as the Grey Dick. I don't really care to take a count, but the grades that were changed only reflect a small portion climbs in the guide.


There are about 45 grade changes out of about 200 routes; to me that represents a significant regrading policy. Well, "policy" is probably not the right term, perhaps if they missed the appropriate sequence or used the wrong technique (e.g. laybacking Baby), then they recorded the grade of their mistakes as the grade of the route.

Of course, given the pervasive fog of errors, it is hard to know what to call a grade change---I'm counting the highest grade given for the route in the various competing formats (descriptions, photo captions, and topos). Most of the time, the highest grade appears in the topos. Since the authors make a big deal about the utility of the topos and their importance as a distinguishing feature of their guide, it certainly makes sense to view these topo grades as definitive, remembering that in this work nothing really is.

Maybe I'll post all 45 at some point so we can all argue about them. Some of the more interesting ones are


Bunny, 5.7.

Jackie, 5.7.

Pink Laurel, 5.10b.

Betty, 5.7 (from the description).

Baby, 5.8.

Easy O, 5.4.

Frogshead, 5.7.

Shockley's 5.9+ (and the bulge above the ceiling is 5.9).

Something Interesting 5.9.

Birdie Party up to bolts 5.10b.

Coexistence, 5.11d.

Star Action, 5.11a.

Friends and Lovers, 5.10c.

Madam G's, 5.7/5.8.

Finger Locks, 5.8.

Gory Thumb, 5.10a.

V3, 5.8+ (from the description).

Balrog, 5.11b/c.

Never-Never Land, 5.11b.

Wise Crack 5.8+.

Limelight 5.8+.

Arrow pitch 1: 5.7, pitch 2 overhang, 5.9, top left of bolt, 5.10, top right of bolt, 5.11b.

Erect Direction, 5.11c.

CCK 5.9.

Modern Times, 5.10b/c.

Falled on Account of Strain p1: 5.10b.

No doubt, some of these are typos and, in some cases, are probably the grades of pitches that aren't included as part of the route. If there were one or two goofs like this, no one would think anything of it, but in this book the scale of inattention to critical detail is unprecedented. I can't claim to be an expert on guidebooks, but I've obviously used a few in fifty years of climbing, and I've never seen anything even remotely close to this.

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#39387 - 09/01/08 11:54 PM Re: new guidebook in August? [Re: rg@ofmc]
Smike Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/01/01
Posts: 3143
Loc: in your backyard
Ok, just to be clear I did take a look at the book this past Sunday. (Trying to stay out of R&S these days, as I tend to develop D-Elvis like instincts upon entry)

The best part of the guide is the by far the photos, awesome selection and great work by Dennis O’Conner. It could almost stand on that alone as that’s the one area that is lacking in all other guides in the gunks (Past and present). The ground level photos for finding routes is nice approach. It’s like some people need to ‘see’ it as no amount of words can get them a clear idea.

The inconsistencies and typos are a big deal and are counter to what the author stated in the interview posted. The grade inflation on some routes is startling and for some unknown reason…random. The biggest issue with Gunks ratings vs most other places in the world is the gunks routes tend to be beta intensive (if you do the route exactly the right way the grand is spot on, if you mess up the sequence then it can feel, or be much harder)

But for the list posted above by RG, I now have no fringing idea what logic was used to explain all that???


Edited by Smike (09/02/08 01:12 PM)

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#39388 - 09/02/08 01:35 AM Re: new guidebook in August? [Re: Smike]
Coppertone Offline
old hand

Registered: 08/17/00
Posts: 1055
Loc: Newtown, CT
I will have to let my wife know that her first 5.9 lead, Friends and Lovers, is actually 10.c. She will be thrilled. Good to know that my first 5.10, Never Neverland is actually 11.b. I had no idea I was so strong. This book is either going to get someone hurt or prevent someone from doing a great number of classic routes.

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#39391 - 09/02/08 11:48 AM Re: new guidebook in August? [Re: Smike]
Mark Heyman Offline
old hand

Registered: 12/23/99
Posts: 1123
Loc: South Jersey (Pinelands)
 Originally Posted By: Smike
The inconsistencies and typos are a big deal and are counter to what the author stated in the interview that Zack posted. The grade inflation on some routes is startling and for some unknown reason…random. The biggest issue with Gunks ratings vs most other places in the world is the gunks routes tend to be beta intensive (if you do the route exactly the right way the grand is spot on, if you mess up the sequence then it can feel, or be much harder)


Agreed, which makes the authors ignorant and arrogant thinking that they know better than long established grades. The Gunks isn’t a gym there the routes are taken down “soon” after a grade consensus is reached if it ever is.

When I climb a route and find it hard for the grade I don’t re-grade it. Eventually I try again to figure out the easier way –after all I have a Williams guide book and can pretty much depend on it!

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#39392 - 09/02/08 01:12 PM Re: new guidebook in August? [Re: Mark Heyman]
Jim Lawyer Offline
member

Registered: 08/23/00
Posts: 157
Loc: Pompey, NY
 Quote:
The biggest issue with Gunks ratings vs most other places in the world is the gunks routes tend to be beta intensive (if you do the route exactly the right way the grand is spot on, if you mess up the sequence then it can feel, or be much harder)


An issue guidebook authors deal with is whether grades should reflect an onsight attempt, or the easiest way to climb a route (after climbing it, say, 10 times). I prefer grades for the onsight, but that's just me. Another characteristic of Gunks routes is that they often "feel" harder -- exposure, roofs, and tricky gear -- even though the technical moves are easier. To me, this head game is what makes the Gunks so enjoyable and challenging.

Perhaps these authors (although extremely poorly and inconsistently) are trying to take these factors into account?

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#39393 - 09/02/08 02:16 PM Re: new guidebook in August? [Re: Jim Lawyer]
chip Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/06/01
Posts: 2679
Loc: Sittin' Pretty in Fat City
Good point, Jim, although it is pretty hard to justify grading Betty higher than the 5.3 it is. I think that the competition of our world is what makes it great and reveals excellence. In this case, the photos are a nice touch but it is Dick's excellence being revealled. Perhaps the photos can be incorporated with Dick's work in the future, such as when Swain added the carriage road art/trailhead info and Dick upgraded the same in his next work.

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#39396 - 09/02/08 03:03 PM Re: new guidebook in August? [Re: Jim Lawyer]
Smike Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/01/01
Posts: 3143
Loc: in your backyard
I tend to agree with that Logic Jim, but its hard to say that the onsight of say Madam G’s would change much in that its only which 5.5 jug you grab in the sea of jugs, not if.

Of course you could use that logic to say the skill level for the climber could be low enough to justify how the grades ‘feel’ above. Not knowing author at all, I have no comment. Of course that then makes the guide somewhat of less value for anyone that does not match the height and skill level of the author.


Edited by Smike (09/02/08 03:06 PM)

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#39399 - 09/02/08 03:14 PM Re: new guidebook in August? [Re: chip]
rg@ofmc Online   content
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 12/25/99
Posts: 2472
Loc: Poughkeepsie, NY
I think Jim's point is quite important. Ideally, the grade should help the leader to estimate the level of difficulty they'll experience leading the route. This includes not only the onsight issue but also, especially on steep terrain, the effects of fatigue from placing gear on the overall sense of difficulty.

There are, of course, many problems with trying to achieve this. Logically, if there is a 5.7 sequence for a crux, then it shouldn't be graded harder just because you might do something else---the difficulty is a 5.7 difficulty and that's that. The idea that the rock has an intrinsic difficulty independent of who is climbing it is certainly an assumption of the grading system. But the system doesn't serve leaders well if, say, 90% of them miss the optimum sequence.

On the other hand, if you try to concoct an onsight grade, you somehow have to figure out just how badly most folks are likely to screw up the optimum sequence and/or how tired they'll be from placing the amount of protection they need.

Rockfax, in their online guides to European sport climbing, take the position that grades up to a certain level---I can't remember whether it is 5.10, 5.11, or 5.12, represent the difficulty of onsighting and grades above level that represent the redpoint difficulty, the assumption being that almost everyone will be in redpoint mode after a certain point.

Personally, I think bumping a grade upward if the pro is strenuous to place and/or if the optimum sequence is very obscure is a good idea. It alerts leaders to the real experience they are likely to have, rather than promising a theoretically accurate lower level of difficulty they are unlikely to enjoy.

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#39400 - 09/02/08 03:23 PM Re: new guidebook in August? [Re: rg@ofmc]
chip Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/06/01
Posts: 2679
Loc: Sittin' Pretty in Fat City
"Rockfax, in their online guides to European sport climbing, take the position that grades up to a certain level---I can't remember whether it is 5.10, 5.11, or 5.12, represent the difficulty of onsighting and grades above level that represent the redpoint difficulty, the assumption being that almost everyone will be in redpoint mode after a certain point."

Er, doesn't everyone start red-pointing at 5.8, like me?

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