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The Climbing Club • View topic - Route ratings at "new" X38 crags

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2003 1:29 pm 
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I agree to a certain extent - some X38 grades are soft compared to some areas (Giant is actually rated .11c in the book). However, what I've seen of X38 climbs (maybe a dozen climbs in total, so I'm no expert on the area) is that they're fairly consistent between climbs, which is more useful, I think (and more than you can say about Frenchman's). Index grades, for what it's worth, have a reputation for being ridiculously sandbagged, so that's not a fair comparison (many people have told me that Index grades are significantly harder than Yosemite grades, once purported to be the standard). But this isn't news - every place has its own grading quirks, and I have yet to see a climbing area that is remotely consistent, even within its own (closely spaced) climbs and crags. The hardest areas I've ever climbed at were in South Africa, where what I was told was 5.6/7 felt to me like low to mid 5.10, and some obscure areas out East (near Ottawa, for instance), which were similar. A remarkable number of climbing areas seem to be sandbagged in single digit grades, but then more consistent and reasonable once you hit mid-10's. It's irritating, but I recommend everyone ignore grades discrepancies as much as possible. Isn't it nice that climbing has so few rules compared with (other) sports?

When it comes down to it, pure face climbing (such as X38) is a different skill from pure crack climbing (like much of Index, Leavenworth, etc), so it's not really appropriate to compare. I think you can (to some extent) compare places like X38, Frenchman Coulee (the columns, not the cracks), Skaha, Smith, and Red Rocks. Out of those, I think X38 is the easiest, by a bit, followed by a tie between Frenchman, Skaha and Red Rocks, and then Smith is a bit harder. But I don't think the difference is as big as you, Nick (although I haven't climbed the routes you list). I'd say 1-2 grades difference between X38 and Smith. So a Smith 5.7, like Dancer, might be 5.8 at X38, but I'd doubt it would be any harder. Headless Horseman, 5.10d at Smith, might be .11a (11b even? I doubt it) at X38. Similarly, I can't really see Sodflesh (5.9 at Amazonia, X38) being rated less than 5.8 at Smith, or Primus (.11a at Amazonia) going at less than .10c or .10d. And then each area has its own undergraded and overgraded climbs relative to the local norm, making any perceived difference insignificant. (In statistical terms, the variance is high enough that the means are not significantly different, eh Nick?!). Anyway, maybe I should climb the routes you list before mouthing off like this. Maybe they are much softer, I don't know. I guess I'll shut my trap right about now...
:wink:

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2003 1:10 pm 
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Who put up the routes? It seems like routes by the same person are more likely to be rated consistently across different crags, since rating is subjective. Brian Burdo did a lot of stuff at Exit 32 and 38, but is he developing the newer stuff at 38, too?


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2003 6:43 pm 
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Ralph, I'll have to check the guidebook again, but I think Burdo and Leland Wyndham put up lots of routes at the Farce Side. Whoever put them up did a wonderful job of placing massively stout hardware at short intervals, but the names don't have the obscure band drug-induced song lyric origins as the Wyndham routes on the Mt. Washington crags on the south side of the valley.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2003 4:35 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2003 11:26 am 
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Ok, after yesterday's trip to X38, I have to retract much of what I said earlier about X38. Some areas of the Far Side really are really really soft, and the grades aren't very consistent. Note that I had a good time climbing almost all of these routes. They were fun and a good place to teach/learn. But some grades were way way off.

Where we started, the Gritscone, I found the grades actually pretty good. Well, at least they were in line with what I have come to expect at Exit 38 (so maybe soft by one grade or so). They were consistent, though, which works.

At Headlight Point, though, they were way soft and all over the place. The worst of all was a 3-bolt, 20-foot piece of trash called Swerve that Ralph and I did. It was rated 5.7, but I swear it should have been 5.0 tops (3rd class wouldn't have been too far off). It had cracks for pro, it had jugs everywhere, it was slabby, trivial and uninteresting. More's the point, it was a pointless, totally overrated climb that likely shouldn't have been bolted in the first place. Take note: I am a proud and enthusiastic sport climber, yet I wouldn't bat an eye if this thing got chopped. It's the worst "developed climb" I've seen in a long time, and I've seen some crap in my day. There were a couple of other routes to its right that were almost as bad, but this one took the cake.

A few 5.8's should have been 5.6/7s, the .10b that Nick mentioned that I agree would have to be 5.9 (something about 'carnage' in the name), and a really really fun 5.11a that goes almost 30 m on some super steep juggy terrain that was really 10a/b. It's got a bunch of roofs, huge jugs, and lots of bolts (the book says 9, but actually there are about 12 I think!). It's called something like Deterrence or what. Go do it - just don't expect anything near 5.11 moves.

So sorry if I talked out of my ass without knowing shit. The Far Side really is soft. People say Skaha and Squamish are soft. Those places are incredibly hard compared with Far Side grades. Mea culpa...

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