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Randomness in Paris bouldering?
  2012-09-18 00:00:00    
Here comes a short article motivated by the World Championship in Paris from the experienced Norwegian boulderer and physicist Morten Gulliksen who thinks that randomness played a role because of the unusual route setting.
OffLine Ivanesz
  2012-09-17 14:08:09    

¡ Long catches to small pockets and slippy foot holds involves random factor ?

 Absurd

 Just work your accuracy and esthesis and become a better climber

OffLine somebody
  2012-09-17 14:36:26    
So if I may sum up the article:
Just focus on pure strength, because using your head and technic has nothing to do in competitions.
OffLine Henning Wang
  2012-09-17 14:47:43    
@Niklas: You may not because you clearly do not understand what he is saying...
The correct summary is:
"If the technique is good, lots of hard training should pay off"

Morten is talking about trainable and not trainable factors in bouldering. He is suggesting what could be focused on in the route setting to make it less random and give the stronger climbers a better chance.
He never says that it can not be technical at the same time.
OnLine Johan Blomquist
  2012-09-17 15:29:22    
I get the sweat thing, that's hard to do anything about. But that standing on bad footholds and catching small pockets wouldn't be a trainable factor? Get out of here... Good climbers are wayy better att things like this.
OffLine Paco
  2012-09-17 15:39:07    
An Ode to the Creativity:

Of course randomness is a factor, but that is the spirit of climbing! You are a good climber if you can solve a random problem given by the route itself in short time, because otherwise you lose too much strength and will fall.  But of course you get the better the more different routes you climb and therefore the more different moves you know. As a result you won't be that much surprised by a tricky random move.  Of course hard training should pay off, but it seems to me that Morton is too much focusing on the factor strength. It should at least pay off to the same amount if you climb many different routes to get a bunch of knowledge how to solve a random problem given by the route because that's the creative factor and therewith the basic spirit, what distinguishes climbing from other boring sports like running, swimming, biking, etc. pp.

Who does not understand that and underestimates the basic and important factor of creativitiy has not understood a mere bit of the spirit of climbing itself!

Just my two cents...
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2012-09-17 15:40:02    
I somewhat understand Morten's points but by looking at the results we can conclude that it was more or less the same guys as always in the finals. It would be just boring if we did get the exact same guys in the final all the time.

The major reason for the sensational podium for the female has to do with the reversed starting order.

One way to reduce the sweating problem as Morten complains about would to use the high jump starting format.
OffLine John Meget
  2012-09-17 16:09:19    
Jens, the men finalists were regulars, but definitely not the women. Most of the top women did not reach finals. As I said before, I think (poor) setting throughout the comp played a real big role in this. Carried through into the final as well.

If the setters' grade suggestions are accurate, I think the problems were too tricky, too gimmicky. Only 3 of the world's top 20 men boulderers can climb a 7A+?
OffLine tomas beena
  2012-09-17 16:57:13    
i think it is a big misconception to assume, that motor skills are basically of the same level amongst even top climbers.

take problem three in the mens final. the crucial swap of hands at the beginning of the traverse. clearly NOT a power problem and at the same time not random. the ability to decipher these kind of problems IS a skill. and it's trainable. just not as straightforward as stength training.
OffLine oO00Oo
  2012-09-17 17:13:06    
I am not sure if technique in climbing really exists in a way that has a big impact on the performance of professional climber. Ok, we have a lot of coordinative processes in movement, which require a lot of training but what does technique mean? Without my muscles I am not able to do any movement. Pattern of movements I can do only within my possibilities of strength and my body relations. Adaption has the most influence and depends mostly on the finger strength and hours spend to do variations of movements. The climbing style depends mostly on the quality of muscle fibre, finger strength, body relations, muscle training and flexibility. The success is depending mostly on the route setting reflecting my body size in relation to others and the adaption of my muscles for this pattern of movement based on the quality of the muscles and training. The brain is planing a movement and the reaction is mostly based on the reserves of muscle power which the brain is evaluating constantly. The influence of planing and organizing the route and the rest positions is called tactic or strategy and can vary a lot, I am quite sure that this factor is based mostly on luck and chaotic parameters which are influenced by the grade of physical fatigue.  
OffLine Morten Gulliksen
  2012-09-17 17:35:56    
My point is that a catch can be done very random. Sticking it one out of let say 20 times even after you have succeed. Same with slippy footholds. They can be positioned so that you slip off often, even after success. The rank in competitions, with this kind of boulders, will clearly be much more random. Same reasoning be applied for very slopy slopers. Yes it's trainable to some degree but still most random. I hoped this was not difficult to understand.
As Wang points out I do not say that strength is the only important factor, but as we experience on grades outdoor, absolutely the most important since it brings you from 5 to 8C+.
OffLine tomas beena
  2012-09-17 18:15:00    
but it doesn't seem to be the case...the randomness. year after year, we see the same guys competing for the podium. this shouldn't be the case, if there was randomness involved.

of course...to win on a specific day an athlete needs skill, as well as a certain amount of luck. that is the case in any given sport. maybe luck is a little bit more important in sports that require highly refined motor skills, compared to pure athletic challenges like running, cycling, etc. i do not think however, that this is a real problem in climbing. if it were, we wouldn't see dimitri securing his 4th world championship title. no one can be that lucky.
OffLine Morten Gulliksen
  2012-09-17 18:57:52    
The problem setters normally let the short win, because it is so clear when thay exclude the short.
OffLine oO00Oo
  2012-09-17 19:15:14    
@Morten: i agree, it is a big problem. I think in lead climbing the solution is to avoid small holds, crimps. In bouldering small holds only in combination with reachy moves. The final route setting of the lead climbing in Paris was brilliant.
OffLine Franz the Stampede
  2012-09-17 19:54:34    
The female semifinal was certainly some sort of funny affair. I mean, it had fewer tops than the final, when it should be easier, go figure.

Morten, I think you have a good point about environmental conditions and non trainable aspects. But you are still underestimating the importance of technique in a flash situation like in comps, when even one attempt less (or more) could make a big difference. In that case technique, intuition and the ability to read the sequence are important and deservedly so.

Just look at how Jain Kim (the shortest of the finalists so potentially at a disadvantage for dynos) was the only one able to climb properly the 4th boulder of the female final, out of much better footwork, or how Momoka Oda found a much safer beta for a tricky move about halfway the female lead final route. And as mentioned on this topic before, look at how Sean, Kilian and Jan failed to read that crossing of hands in the 3rd problem of the male final...
Technique does matter. It may not matter as much if you are redpoint a boulder in the forest, with a potentially limitless number of attemps, beta suggestions and all. But it does in competitions, and rightly so.

The thing is, with 4 boulder problems at any stage of the competition, there should be enough to allow setters to cover all trainable aspects of climbing: finger strength, foot work, sequence reading, power etc.

I reckon the male final was good in variety, but the first and last boulders where a bit too easy for that style.

And randomness is not a completely bad thing. I thought the reason we follow sports is that every participant has got at least a theoretical chance...
OffLine User Deactivated
  2012-09-17 20:45:37    
A thought-provoking article indeed, and some good objections in this thread. Surely there is plenty of randomness involved, some of which may be reduced by the route-setter. And surely, part of the nature of climbing is learning to master this randomness. Better mental control to reduce sweating and increase precision. Better all-round training to widen the range of skills and reduce the risk of getting surprised by novel moves or missing crucial clues. More training to minimize the effects of whatever unique body composition you were born with. 
But in the end, the only way to crown the TRUE master is to provide a huge array of different problems in a great variety of style. This would apply even more in lead climbing, where the number of routes in a single comp is often very low. And even then, it would be hard to eliminate the risk of unjust bias towards some type of climber. Not to mention, such a competition format would be terribly tedious... 
OffLine thebon
  2012-09-17 20:53:10    
I for one am happy the Mr. Gulliksen is not in charge of route setting at world cup and world championship comps.  While there can always be room for improvement, I thought the setting in Paris was excellent. The critical thing is to divide the field, To do this you need problems that address various strengths as expose weaknesses.  It is a credit to the setters to see how little there was by way of bottlenecks. 

Hanging slopers and standing on slippery feet can very much be a matter of technique and of strength. If you don't have good contact strength, slopers can feel impossible. If you don't have the ability to set feet well, and have the correct angle of pressure, bad feet can slip.  This is the essence of climbing.  of course environment comes into play but it is essentially the same conditions for all athletes and part of the game. 

The male finals lead route was almost perfect in how it divided the field, and it was highly entertaining also, with many surprises.  I can't imagine how hard it is to build a route of this caliber that gives such a range of ascents with climbers of this level. I would argue that Ramon was not stumped by reachy move, but by hesitation  to execute.  When he did go for it he was able to make the move but it looked like he was way too exhausted from hanging out too long to keep moving. 

It is in another post that Mr. Gulliksen made an comparison between 100 meter dash and climbing.  Something to the effect that using slopers is like greasing the 100 track.  That is the most ridiculous comparison I have ever heard.  So wrong on so many levels that it doesn't deserve a response! 


OffLine Morten Gulliksen
  2012-09-17 21:03:14    
Seems like the two last here wants to misunderstand. Please think out of the box. Randomness is less critical in lead climb because many moves average out.
OffLine thebon
  2012-09-17 21:30:23    
Re "Randomness is less less critical in lead climb because many moves average out."
huh? I would say it is more critical.  In lead one "random" mistake and you are done.  In bouldering you not only have more attempts on that specific boulder, you have other boulders in which you may be able to redeem yourself.
OffLine somebody
  2012-09-17 21:38:02    
I also liked the setting in paris, especially for the slopers!
The standard-setting also favors certain climbers: Especially Anna Stöhr is incredible strong at dynamic moves and small holds; But this time at Boulder 3 in the womens final you could see her struggeling at this sloper-game, while it looked easy when sandoz, who certainly wasn't a sure first-place-candidate, did it.
I don't want to say with this that I enjoy to see someone struggeling, but what I liked was that the setting set some different focuses and had more variation than it usually has, so that this time also other climbers then the usual ones could show their strengths!=)
I would like to see this kind of competition more often, that demands as many different aspects of climbing skills as possible; that you can see each climbers weaknesses, but with this also, and that's even more important, each climbers strengths!!
OffLine Morten Gulliksen
  2012-09-17 22:13:48    
WC was a competition, not a show and the athletes deserve better. Perhabs provoking but I think some more experience would be helpful for understanding all aspects here.
A sloper feels hard in the summer but easy in the winter. At a high temperature it can similary be hard if you have big muscles ( since you sweat) and easy if you are thin and don't. So what is athletic? Muscles are not anti athletic are they? Too slopy slopers can be a mess in a competition for many athletes. It doesn't help that it is fun to watch. - It is more fun to put grease on the 100 M track to..
OffLine Percy Bishton
  2012-09-17 22:18:07    

“Godoffe's proposed 7A+ boulder in the men’s semi was topped by just 3 of the participants. There must have been a trick they did not see. By adding randomness to the sport, the lucky get happy but the rest become demotivated. Why train hard if you must roll a dice before you start?”




Because this, Mr Gulliksen, is the nature of competition bouldering. We design world cup/world championship bouldering rounds to challenge all of the skills required to be the best. That is what a competition is supposed to do - make a selection of the climbers where the best one wins. 




The ‘power’ problems which have positive holds and test the strength of the climbers are just one aspect of the sport. So are balance problems, slabs, roof climbing, vertical walls, problems with very slopey holds, volume problems, ‘trick’ problems, etc, etc. To eliminate some styles of the sport because they rely on an element of ‘luck’ is a ridiculous idea. I think what you might be referring to is speed climbing, where all the elements of chance have been removed as much as possible, and the competitors can focus on only a few aspects of climbing - power, speed, coordination, and so on. And in speed climbing there is still an element of luck , as you might still make a mistake and slip off. Just as a hundred meters runner might fall over their shoe laces...




Each round of an IFSC boulder comp is designed by the chief setter as a tour - in order to test all of a boulderers skills means that often competitors might get lucky and find a solution to a trick problem by accident, or stick a slopey hold that somebody stronger hasn’t been able to hold just because their body is in a better position. However, it is vital that setters incorporate all aspects and styles of climbing into each tour. If a comp just consisted of power problems, it would be very dull, and the best boulderer wouldn’t be the winner - just the most powerful and this isn’t the game.




Killian is a good example. He isn’t the strongest/most powerful of the competitors, but he has a vast range of experience and very good ‘feeling’ for climbing movement. This is not something that can be quantified by a physicist as it is not measureable, but is the result of many years of climbing on all types of rocks and climbing walls. He is also psychologically ready for the pressures of competing as he has done so many competitions - this factor is one of the key ingredients for being a champion, especially in a sport as diverse and intense as climbing. Or maybe all these factors just make Killian ‘luckier’ than the rest?!




Climbing is about randomness - training and experience can go a long way to helping competitors deal with this, but it is part of the sport and in my opinion it is the part that makes comp climbing so fascinating. If climbers don’t want to ’roll the dice’ they probably need to find another sport. Being insanely strong, but not being able to climb some easy yet subtle problems is a well known problem, and whilst it must be very frustrating to be so strong and still not be able to win a competition, it highlights the problems of being too specialist in one style - what I would term “being a one trick pony.” 




A quick note on grades - Jacky’s grades are a joke, as are the comments about them. Grades make no reference to the style of a problem, which is why their use is so ridiculous. Its a shame that people always want to put a number on climbs to try and calibrate their difficulty as it only makes things more confused. To put things into context, L’Angle Parfait at Dame Joanne in Font is 7B (although it used to get 7A!). It is unlikely that many of the male competitors in the world championships would make an ascent of this boulder within five minutes of first seeing it and without any beta. Yet it is 7B. In relation to this grade as a guide, Jacky’s estimations of level for the WC blocs weren’t so bad after all !o)




Sorry for the long reply - for the record I am an IFSC chief routesetter so I think I’m probably qualified to make comment on the way comps are set. Jamie, Adam and their teams did an awesome job in Bercy - being chief for the World Championships is an insanely high pressure job to have to to.

OffLine somebody
  2012-09-17 22:21:59    
of course i didn't mean the looks itself, I know the competition is not a circus.
I meant that I like the competitive comparison between all of these aspects, and not to reduce it on power.
The essence of bouldering isn't to have big muscles, so why not favour a thin climber with one of the boulders beeing slopy stuff, when you also favor more muscular climbers with crimps and dynos?
OffLine gianluca
  2012-09-17 22:22:57    
this article is a sort of manifesto against one school (good?) of setting!

i've had the privilege to watch some climbers from the french youth team train on a purposely "tricky/gimmicky" boulder circuit.
The coach asked that they had 1 flash try on boulder 1, then try boulder 2 even if they did not top, and so on...and then a second lap on the boulders they did not flash, and then a third.
This was done, the coach explained, to put emphasis on the flash attempt and to add pressure.

the coach also explained that all of this was done to train some abilities (that are just not athlethical/gymnastical):
- ""feel" , "instinct" for weird moves
- route reading
-visualization (making up a mental image of the move and reharsing it in your head before actually trying it)
- decision-making abilities
- full committment to a beta, once it is chosen. Even if the move is designed to feel unsecure, marginal and "random", the climber should not hesitate, because hesitation=slipping off, etc.
-keeping a cool, clear head even in high-pressure situations

even if the climbers had very similar technical and athletical abilities, some were very consistent in this game (flashing/2nd go-ing all problems), some were "random" as you would say, and some would do worse and worse!!!

my point with this story is:
-that being good at "random" climbing can be trained, or at least that the french believe it is possible
-that some setters (godoffe and his pupils?) probably believe that being good at what you call "random" problems is a sign of talent, and that talent should be encouraged over abilities that are more straightforward to train (gymnastic abilities and "raw" technique)
OffLine Ronnie Dickson
  2012-09-17 23:13:42    
Plain and simple, this world championships was one of the most impressive shows of climbing I have every seen. The problems were more thoughtful than at typical climbing competitions. While there is no such thing as perfect, Men and Female lead finals, as well and Male and Female Bouldering finals both went off extremely well. Some competitions favor the strong, and this particular competition seemed to favor climbers with more technique and skill, and while maybe the finals were not "stacked" with favorites, they were still very well represented by those deserving. 

OffLine Morten Gulliksen
  2012-09-18 00:14:22    


Thanks for long answer Percy. I hope you don’t read criticism in all I wrote,
but more general guidelines :-)


I agree that most of the competition went very well! Some part was not
and I’m just trying to address what for the experience of that.


Since all the top climbing and bouldering achievements in the world are
done redpoint style I cannot see why competitions focus so much on flashing.
It's maybe a bit more pleasing for the public, but the drawback is that
randomness comes in. The athletes can by random chose the wrong sequence. Just
as simple as that.


When we work boulders in a group we sometimes perform relatively similar.
But it changes who finds the best solution. It’s the dice effect and even some
might find it amusing, it doesn’t tell who’s the best. The best on a certain
problem is the one that after many tries are the only one to do it.


15 years ago I designed an excel based ranking system that continuously
accounted for all the movements done in the competition. Each of typical 40 moves
on about 7 problems got a score that depended upon how many that were able to
do that specific move. The problems got progressive harder and were running
through most of the disciplines. The summarized score collected for each participant
was projected real time on the screen, making it very interesting for the
public.


We tested this system with great success in two Norwegian boulder cups
before international rules unfortunately came and put an end to it. The benefit
was that every boulder gave it all, there was little “negative” stress and lots
of “cooperation and friendship”. After two hours they all were pleased and
completely exhausted. There was no stress with isolate; there was an
exceptional fair ranking and it was continuously thrilling as they changed
places many times.


With this in mind I probably see more weaknesses to today’s system than those
who are used it. Unnatural things like 4 minutes and zone holds have nothing to
do with bouldering as far as I can see.


An athlete focusing on doing the hardest boulders outdoor should after
my opinion, perform well on plastic as well. The problems must be set to reflect
that, but here come the outdoor styles in. Typical Font style boulders have “low
grades” since they are easy on the muscles when you know them well and the
conditions are perfect. Hence it’s the use of muscles that restrict and set the
grade. Grades set by strength used apply also for the steep power bulders.




The problems come
once the slopers are too slopy. When you exercise, the muscles get bigger. From
one individual point of view, bigger muscles (and same low fat), normally means
higher athletic performance and the ability to do higher grades, except (!) when
you are on the wrong kind of slopers. Those I mean you should be careful with
in competitions.

A wrong sloper is used if it is better if the athlete haven’t been
training that hard, since large muscles increase metabolism and sweating and
reducing the ability to cool down. In a competition, training must pay off and
it becomes a logical flaw if better ability to hang down from a slippy sloper is
taken as a sign of better athletic performance. Since outdoor the athlete would
just wait for better conditions.
OffLine oO00Oo
  2012-09-18 01:44:17    
@Morten: bigger muscles does not mean higher athletic performance, the muscle mass depends on the quality of muscle fibres, if you have more white or red muscle fibres and which type of them. If you have more red muscles you need more muscle mass to gain the same maximal strength compared to a climber who has more white fibres if they theoretically have the same performance parameters in maximal strength, at the same time the climber with red muscles has a better endurance because the red muscles contain more mitochondria. If you have genetically more red fibres and train maximal strength, the fibres can switch to white, but they will have a less quality as a climber who genetically has more white fibres. And even other parameters like hormones are involved to determine the quality of muscles. Only from watching you can not estimate the athletic performance of an individual (I don't allege you supposed this, but anyway), the athletic performance can be higher even if you loose muscles, especially if you train maximum strength and switch the red into white, which btw is harder then switching white into red. 
I agree with the randomness of decisions and slippery footholds but even sweating is something which has a big genetical component and is therefore marginal randomly affected. I admit that on slippery holds the value of skin in quality and the sweating effect is probably a bit high, but still defendable if the sloper is squeezable even with shorter fingers (might be you mean holds which can not be squeezed anymore). The biggest problem is still the favoritism of smaller climbers. However the males final route of the final lead WC seemed perfectly fair, I was impressed by the setting.   
OffLine Idar Ose
  2012-09-18 07:43:37    
"since large muscles increase metabolism and sweating and
reducing the ability to cool down. "

Hello.. they are not dinosaurs.. and the argument could be oposite: 
Bigger muscle = stronger (i know that is not the truth..) = less atempts = less sweat = more friction. 
Watching the videos it is quite clear to me that the best boulderers that day did win. Because bouldering is about movement on rock ( plastic?? ) and not strength alone.. 



OffLine somebody
  2012-09-18 07:49:46    
and as gianluca said, even if you just ignored it: Finding the right solution is not throwing a dice, but also a trainable ability! You can make whole training sessions just for reading strange movements. And I'm very sure all the top climbers do so.
OffLine thebon
  2012-09-18 08:00:25    
Awesome!
"The problems come once the slopers are too slopy." I love this statement.  An "expert" telling a IFSC chief routesetter the problems of slopy slopers!

"When you exercise, the muscles get bigger." Are you really sure that hard training means that you put on more muscle?  Do you think Sachi doesn't train very hard?

"From one individual point of view, bigger muscles (and same low fat), normally means
higher athletic performance and the ability to do higher grades, except (!) when
you are on the wrong kind of slopers."  Really?  have you actually observed climbers and their body types?  not many climbers look like body builders.  especially not the best ones.

"Those I mean you should be careful within competitions. A wrong sloper is used if it is better if the athlete haven’t been training that hard." An unbelievably ridiculous statement. 

"since large muscles increase metabolism and sweating and reducing the ability to cool down."  Are you sure of your science on this? 

"In a competition, training must pay off and it becomes a logical flaw if better ability to hang down from a slippy sloper is taken as a sign of better athletic performance." a great conclusion based on a mountain of fallacies.  And, I might say, quite insulting to the person who has trained the contact strength, body awareness and ability to hold that sloper.

"Since outdoor the athlete would just wait for better conditions."  just to drive the point home another zinger.  competitions by their nature are different from outdoor climbing, and the skill of being able to onsight and flash is an amazing discipline. All competitors face roughly the same conditions in a single comp.

My advice is to actually look at percy's post, and see his well-thought out, logical statements, as well as guanluca, who gives a great example to show that solving seemingly random problems takes huge amounts of skill and training. Hanging "slopy slopers" is just one aspect of routesetting as percy said, and in my opinion one that shouldn't be avoided.

If you want to reduce randomness, try gymnastics.  The apparatus always is the same.  There are tons of sports where the apparatus is static.  The beauty of competition climbing is the randomness.  Holds always change, terrain is completely variable, and you have to adapt to what is in front of you.  that's why we love it.
OffLine somebody
  2012-09-18 08:08:51    
well said =)
OffLine Morten Gulliksen
  2012-09-18 08:29:23    
If you want to misunderstand, you will succeed :-)
You will probably contribute to grade inflation as well. I'm waching the score card to some of you and it doesn't look like lots of experience on power problems. Off course my statements then becomes provikative. - Too slopy means that the one with most sweat can't hang, first or third time. On a professional level (not for a 6A or 7A boulderer)hanginging there has little to do with being athletic.
To understand you must see/understand the sequence I'm talking about and not a completely different. If you will try to understand I will comment further.
OffLine somebody
  2012-09-18 08:58:05    
So you try to say we are all just ignorant?^^ And that also Percy can not understand your pro-class problems?
Of course I just did one boulder trip on rock, where I also could climb only one day because I got sick and just got up to 7B, so I don't play in your 8B-level. But nevertheless I think I do have an understanding of climbing up to a certain point, maybe not so much on rock, but indoors, and there's where the competitions are playing.
Maybe you could start giving real arguments instead of just calling us ignorant and telling we don't understand your world-class level.

I already mentioned womens final boulder 3 with the slopers; You could see how some were able to work themselves under the sloper to be able to hold them, and how some other just weren't able to move their body and stuck with there feet, trying to jump and stuff; I think that's a sign for the ones getting the top just finding the right body position while the others had to learn that you can't crimp everything and just jump, as it is often a kind of joker-beta for the powerfull.

Of course you are in favour if you sweat less, but I think more important is to find the right body position and how to work with your feet, to stick such slopers. You're right that this has nothing to do with being athletic if you define athletic with strong and dynamic, but it has much to do with being a good boulderer!

I know what you want to say, I just can't share your view of which abilities would not be trainable, and which define the best boulderer...
OffLine Idar Ose
  2012-09-18 09:14:56    
Morten: Don't throw accusations here..  we (that don't agree with you) probably contribute to grade inflation aswell ?? And don't start dragging scorecards into this discussion - nothing good comes from that.. 

On a professional level: If you can't hang slopers  (that others can hang on) your body is probably in the wrong position.  
OffLine Jody Wren
  2012-09-18 10:00:50    
Is everyone reading a different article?!
All I see is a common sense list of ideas on how to control for factors outside of the climbers ability (athletic, route reading or otherwise) that can have an impact on their performance. 
I don't think Mr. Gulliksen is suggesting to avoid certain types of problems (e.g. sloping holds or technical moves), just that there are issues to consider (or 'be careful with') when setting any type of problem. 
I think that the problems in the WC finals were great, but maybe because they mostly avoided the issues on the list (?)
Height is an interesting issues. I think most sports suit a particular body type (e.g. gymnastics suits shorter gymnasts) and I think it is implicitly accepted that bouldering competitions suit shorter/lighter climbers. I am a taller climber, but would not wish to see reacher problems set in competition that suit taller climbers.
OffLine Pelican
  2012-09-18 11:04:47    
I'm surprised that nobody, specially Mr.Gulliksen, sees the elephant in the room about sweating:
Sweating not only comes from muscular body condition (if this statement is true at any point, which i seriously doubt) but from your awareness level and how nervous you are.
People who get nervous under pressure (pressure in comps, anyone?) are therefore more prone to increase their sweating levels and be worse at the now infamous "sloppy slopers".
And before you say it: Yes, i consider that pressure management is a skill that i want to be important in competition results. I want the climber that withstands pressure the better to win over his competitors.
OffLine Morten Gulliksen
  2012-09-18 11:55:59    
Indoor is like summer bouldering. There is a reason why we don't boulder on slopers summertime. Its not just to change the body position as some here suggest. Off course sweating increases with stress, nevertheless sweating is very individual and has nothing to do with athletic performance. Just lower the temperature and they can do it, with the same level of strength.
OffLine somebody
  2012-09-18 13:41:42    
But you're missing the point that in a competition the temperature is the same for everyone, so the settings are the same for everyone. Not like outdoors, where the one doing it in the winter has the easier job, of course I agree with you on this one.

I think you also cannot take the individual "sweat-rate" as a reason against slopers.
The ability to build up strength is very individual too, so strength-problems also favour certain climbers up to a point.
If you don't build up strength as fast as others do, you have to spend more time on training it. And if you sweat more than the average, you have to spend more time on getting the positions even more perfectly and to set your mind right.
Besides that I think the differences in sweating get nearly neutralized by the usage of liquid-chalk...
OffLine bteswa ayre
  2012-09-18 14:13:30    
randomness? ... if you respect yourself you don't talk like that... it's never random.. the winner is the strongest. and the other 2 are training like hell too.. if it was random.. you will not see a 3 times world champion...

bouldering is a combination of mental power, reading moves, strength, focus, experience, reflex, everything... so it's not just about holds and moves. the stronger overall, wins. luck becomes better with practice

but when a person very far from the level of the finalists are playing at... will never understand..
OffLine oO00Oo
  2012-09-18 15:49:58    
By watching the mens boulder final, it seemed to be a fair setting and it is becoming better and better. I agree to reduce randomness by avoiding bad footholds, chaotic decision possibilities and setting, where small climbers have an advantage. With big and complex volumes you can reduce this factor. 
Of course you can train your onsight level but even if you are very talented in analyzing complex boulder pattern based on training and experience, you can set problems where you are not able to estimate the right decision for your body because of hypercomplexity of the problem in relation to different parameters of your body. 
Complex problems are nice and big volumes force it, but hypercomplexity should be avoided. In Paris hypercomplexity was not the case, it seemed. 
To stay on bad footholds is only trainable at a certain point, everything else is luck or is depending on random factors, like temperature of the rubber, temperature of your foot and in consequence flexibility of the shoe, some chaotic muscle parameters which can not be controlled or trained by the brain and unknown context specific, chaotic parameters. 
Regarding slopers I don't see any problem if the sloper is squeezable in some way and you are able to mirror the pressure point over the sloper even by sweating you might be able to squeeze, some sloper, if they are squeezable and have a very smooth surface at the same time, feel even easier if you sweat or the humidity is very high.
OffLine Tim O
  2012-09-18 17:54:20    
Surely Jacky's grades are a joke?  I mean I can (and have) flash 7A / 7A+ in the forest yet I only did 8A+ / V12.  These guys eat 8A+/ V12s for breakfast and can (and many have) flashed that hard.  So to even suggest they cant flash 7A's is simply insulting to them and all their hard work!  Right @Chris :)
OffLine gianluca
  2012-09-18 18:08:26    
To stay on bad footholds is only trainable at a certain point, everything else is luck or is depending on random factors

so you are saying that slab climbing specialists like this guy  have nothing really special compared to the average elite climber...(you seem to suggest that the "trainable limit" for footwork is easily attainable and that every competitor at a certain level has reached it).
They simply put more tries than average on those hard slabs they are known for, sacrificing more pairs of shoes, and then they one day do the problems just by lucky chance?

(notice that the linked FA scorecard is full of slabby, footwork intensive problems, several of which are also very highball or dangerous, sometimes opened before crashpads existed - not really the kind of situation where letting "randomness" decide for you is a good idea...)



@Tim O
i think that there is quite a gap between what we can flash when everything clicks in and what we can consistently flash, unless we are talking of campus boards.
Of course just as for onsight in sport climbing, for some climbers this gap is a little smaller
OffLine thebon
  2012-09-18 18:38:14    
The lines of reasoning, and the infuriating agrument style used by Morten seem almost too familiar...  are we sure that he is who we think he is? ;)
OffLine Henning Wang
  2012-09-18 19:42:15    
@Tom O: On Adam Ondra´s first trip to Font he failed to flash a 6A (where the footholds are super polished) but managed to flash a 8B+, go figure...

Most of Mortens points are valid and after having read through all the comments I can see that most of you misunderstand him in one way or another.

First off, there is such a thing as a critical angel on slopers.

Try to imagine a glass window with no friction. Can you hang on it? Of course not. If you tilt it down so it is flat like a table how ever, hanging it should be no problem.
If you then try to slowly tilt it back up towards vertical again you will at first be hanging on, but eventually come to a point where it is no longer possible, no matter how strong you are.
Now you can argue that this makes no sense and that climbing holds have friction, but friction only changes where the critical angle is found, not the theoretical principle itself.

This principle will apply to any sloping hold. If as, mention before, there is no possibility of squeezing it.

What Morten is saying is that once you have reached this angle, some will not be able to hang on in the "summer" conditions of competitions no matter how strong or skilled they are.
This is not trainable and whatever body position you choose will not get you past this hold.

@Gianluca: The footwork on friction slabs outdoors has very little to do with no friction slippy footholds.
One of the most slippy footholds I have encountered outdoors was flat like a table and as big as a small book. My feet where like on ice and I could not make my foot stay on the same spot no matter how much pressure I used.
The same I find in over used indoor footholds. The hold has no friction and no amount of body tension and skilled footwork will help you stay on.
You basically lose control, and if your foot comes of or not becomes a question of luck not skill.

Most of you will probably not agree with Morten when he roughly says you do not understand because you have not attained a high enough level to encounter the problems he describes to their full extent.
Unfortunately I would have to agree with him on this based on many of you´s lack of understanding for what was written in the original text.  

My recommendation is that you read the text again (and try to understand it...), before filling this tread up with more little thought through comments...


OffLine somebody
  2012-09-18 21:03:25    
Okay Henning then I ask you for help to understand what he means.
I understand your definition of the critical angle, it's well written, but of course I also knew about this angle before. I perfectly understand that you can set slopers in a way it is impossible to hold them.
But know the point I don't get, I will discribe it how I see it:

First: all the talk about summer conditions doesn't make real sense: We compete indoors, where everyone has the same conditions, including the route setters, which will because of that set the slopers in an angle you CAN actually hold them. Otherwise  they would be very stupid, and I'm really sure this is not the case.
So now again my question, what's the problem about slopers in the competition?

Second: The footholds used in the competition wont be overused, but fresh ones, or washed before used for the comp.
Well, I have to admit that I'm with you when it comes to wooden walls/elements that are often in use and have much rubber on it, but I'm not sure if these are often used in the comps? Often I can't really see it in the coverages if it's blank wood or has friction, because of the resolution of the coverage...
But back to my point, the usual used footholds wont be overused or full of rubber, so you won't have the problems you have sometimes outdoors or in overcrowded climbing gyms!

Maybe you are so kind to help my finding the failure in my logic?

Edit: If I just misunderstand him I'm happy, because then we share the same view, so please don't misunderstand my comment as sarcastic or so, I really just want to get your point^^
OffLine Morten Gulliksen
  2012-09-18 21:18:32    
Tanks for taking your time Wang. I have too much to do and realise that my little article has too high information density for some.
Any way I think its important to discuss the topic. It is very different to turn competitions into slab on one extreme and a one arm pullup on the other.

After bouldering some months as a beginner I could, due to extreme flexibility, do sick things on slab. Probably at a level beyond some of the WC competitors today. I quit develop in that direction because It had nothing to do with athletic performance.

I look forward to see a smart debate on discipline weighting for future boulder competitions. And:
- will fans at the boulder podium be standard?
- will the boulders be steeper?
- will the importance of flash disappear?
- will the competitors be collaboring?
- will it be more hard red pointing, 8B/+?
Hopefully to all of them :-)
OffLine Morten Gulliksen
  2012-09-18 21:32:38    
Some sweat other don't at ex 18 degrees. Even if the one that sweat cannot hang, he might be very much better than the one that doesn't sweat and can hang. They might be at 8C and 7A level respectively. Ok?
OffLine somebody
  2012-09-18 21:40:19    
Okay I get it we just believe in different values, that's where our opinions split.
I really see being able to do some magic on slabs as a great boulder-quality (even if, or maybe also just because I'm not very good at it), you obviously don't. And even if you're a pro now, you can't tell me that you could do better on slopers just a few months after starting climbing, then the WC competitors. That just can't be true, your muscles have to learn to adjust to the positions, you have to gain the feeling for the movements and be much more precise then for crimp-boulders of the same difficulty, a skill that needs more time then just building up muscles that you can also get from other sports. Your statement is just an insult to the world-class competitors.

Of course I don't want to see only slabs, but I really like that the best climber is determined by various competitions over the year, where each of the competitions sets a different focus (like athletic crimp boulders in vail, slopers in paris, dynos in munich and so on). Everyone gets a chance to show his strengths, and the best climber is the one who can do well in every of these styles.
You should also not forget that every region has a kind of its own style, and I also think it's a great point that climbers have to experience these different climbing-cultures and proof themselves within them *to call themself the best of all. I would be a kind of ignorant to put the french style out of the contest, just to make an example*.
*edited*
OffLine somebody
  2012-09-18 21:42:51    
to your last point: Some of us already said something about the sweating and that there are many factors that reduce the randomness of the sweating to a minimum.
OffLine thebon
  2012-09-18 21:43:42    
@ hennig, most people do understand this, what you are saying is quite elementary to climbers independant of grade. I think you may be surprised to learn what some of  the commentors climb, what their friends climb, and how knowledgeable they are when it comes to friction holds, and how condition effects them.  It is amazing that you and Morten are so amazing climbers that we bumblies can't even understand what you are talking about but here are a few points.

1) slopers are only one aspect of a comp, and are rarely are required to be used without some interaction with some other hold (either in opposition or by pressing or by changing angles of pressure.  Trying to determine a slip factor on a specific hold/body position/problem, is extremely complex.  Saying to avoid "Slipy slopers" in a comp is an oversimplification of the issue.

2) Some people are better than others in dealing with slopers, even slippy slopy ones.  It could be a number of factors that effect this, better contact strength, better body awareness, better skin, more determination, and a few subtle skills that may not even be quantifiable.  To say at a point that it is a matter of luck and how much you sweat is definitely an oversimplification in my opinion, show me a world cup problem that has this factor, I am sure that if you analyzed the successes, you could determine that the people who succeeded were not just lucky, they showed some combination of skill, strength, agility, and knowledge that was not present in those that failed.  Morten states that there are some instances on comp problems where it is "better if you haven't trained that hard" I would love to see an example of this.

3) all athletes deal with roughly the same conditions. Sure some sweat more than others and perhaps there can be changes from first to last time a hold is used.  Some need to use liquid chalk, some don't.  I would say the only thing to avoid is moves that are impossible if you  are too short or too tall, as this is definitely more easy to determine.  Who will decide which sloper is just too slippy?  Why don't we get rid of them all and just climb ladders?

On footholds:  I have seen WC problems where the difference between first and second comes down to who can hold a precarious position on a bad foot. The athletes were fairly matched in other problems and at this stage the victor showed he was superior in foot placement, there was never a doubt that his foot would stay.  I can't remember the exact comp, I think it was last year, a pressing problem between volumes.  Rustam and Sean got to the last move but coudn't match the finish hold.  Sean was close but at the last instant his foot slipped and he was down.  Killian did the last move and won.  While I was cheering for Sean, I did have to concede that Killian was superior there and I really don't think it was only a matter of luck. I actually thought the bad foothold was great setting, as it did divide the field.  Does anyone know what comp that was?

The one point I will concede is this:  Some problems fit specific climbers better than others. It seems like it is a matter of luck if they a specific person better or not, but if the setters do have a very good knowledge of specific strengths of the competitors, it could be argued that they could have significant input in determining the outcome of the comp.  Setting does need to be impartial, to involve a wide variety of skills, and to be of the right difficulty to divide the field.
OffLine Morten Gulliksen
  2012-09-18 22:12:29    
@thebon
Do you agree that setters must be careful not to make slopers to slopy? Like when Alex started to sweat on second attempt in the semi and was no longer able to hold the second slopy hold? She sweated off the hold in first try to but got a bit higher then.
Do you regard low sweating as athletic?
OffLine tomas beena
  2012-09-18 22:36:12    
i still don't see the point. would anyone please explain to me, why we see guys like kilian, dimitri, rustam, sean (4 of the six finalists) competing for the podium event after event, year after year, if there was an undue amount of randomness involved?

surely one example of alex puccio, supposedly sliping off a sloping hold because of increased sweating, is not the evidence you use to make your point?
OffLine tomas beena
  2012-09-18 22:36:14    
i still don't see the point. would anyone please explain to me, why we see guys like kilian, dimitri, rustam, sean (4 of the six finalists) competing for the podium event after event, year after year, if there was an undue amount of randomness involved?

surely one example of alex puccio, supposedly sliping off a sloping hold because of increased sweating, is not the evidence you use to make your point?
OffLine Morten Gulliksen
  2012-09-18 22:47:58    
I will go so far as to state that low sweating has become the most important factor in competitions. There are a lot of slopy holds and pinches used and if you calculate how much less force is needed to hold on at low sweating you would be surprised. I once calculated that a 6C sloper squeezing boulder at low sweating became a 8A with sweating (from friction experiments). Given that the competitors in the final maybe are seperated with a +, fore instance 8B+ to 8C, this gives a perspective.
Even if it's possible to design boulders entirely depending on skin quality and low sweating, I think we shall move away from these kind of boulders simply because it has nothing to do with athletic performance.
OffLine somebody
  2012-09-18 22:54:09    
Again I state that your argument only counts outdoors: Indoors you don't have such differences in conditions that you sweat so much more then expected. Even if you are someone that sweats much, you reduce this factor by using liquid chalk, so it comes down to a minimum, and cannot make a difference of 6C to 8A.

Also you should not always focus on athletic performance, but on boulder-performance. There is a difference in my point of view.
OffLine somebody
  2012-09-18 23:03:49    
Maybe I should also add: If sweating has become the most important factor according to your statement, how comes that puccio, who sweats more then the other competitors according to your statement, does so well in the competitions?

Now, to make a provocative statement too, I should maybe say: In my opinion, competitions should focus even more on more technical problems, where you have to use your head and difficult body positions. I think  there is a muuuch bigger difference in the abilities to build up strength, then in the amounts of sweat of each climber. While Alex Puccio is able to build up tons of muscles relative easily, the most of the other girls look quite skinny and have not nearly as much strengh as her.
In conclusion, her genetically advantage to build up muscles puts her in a better place in the mainly athletic competitions and all the training of the other athlets doesn't pay of as well as hers, even if they would train more.

Therefore we should bann all strength-based movements to make the chances more even and not randomly determined by the genetical abilities.

Get my point?
OffLine Morten Gulliksen
  2012-09-18 23:10:32    
Niklas, since we set the boulders in competitions we have to decide wether this is a game or a sport. If its a sport, it has to be athletic and can maybe qualify for Olympics. Much time standing on ground twisting head and slipping off first slopers can perhabs result in no bouldering in the Olympics?
OffLine somebody
  2012-09-18 23:17:24    
This consequence will be okay for me if that's the price for our sport remaining our sport. It's not worth transforming it into something pure athletic like running or gymnastics.
OffLine thebon
  2012-09-18 23:33:31    
@ morten, are you talking problem 3? are you sure that it was because she was sweating that she couldn't complete the problem?  Judging by angles, the feet, and also direction of pressure, it could be just as much body tension, angle of pressure, use of her other foot, placement of her other hand, and a huge number of other variables that made it difficult for her.  Still, she was able to stick it and hit bonus.  After that it could be a matter of fatigue that limited success.  Not that I can say for sure, but neither can you.  In fact we don't even know if those who did succeed on that one were heavier or lighter sweaters. 

Even beyond this, there were 4 problems, Alex had a mistake on the final hold of the last problem that costed her getting into finals.  Problem three stumped lots of people, and that is not necessarily a bad thing in a comp. As well, she was unable to find a good body position to make the last move on problem 2, and her targeting skills were not able to hit the pocket. 

So what I am saying is, if all you had in the entire comp was slopey holds, that would be bad.  If you have a variety of problems, angles and styles, throwing in some very challenging slopers is in my opinion great.  

Yes of course make sure the slopers aren't too slopey.  There comes a point when it is physically impossible to hold on no matter how strong or dry your skin is. But that is setting 101 of course. ;)


OffLine oO00Oo
  2012-09-18 23:45:26    
I agree that sweating has an significant impact on the performance of a climber. On rock it is extremely important to have a good skin quality and I know some pharmaceutical products to reduce sweating. You can not measure if somebody is sweating genetically more than another even if it is genetically determined mostly. Stress and psychical problems can force sweating which is not a constant like height and can be compared with the differences in muscle quality between individuals for example. The big impact of the sweating effect on plastic is not as significant as on rock. On plastic, especially on slopers, long fingers are mostly favored, and on the other hand on some crimps, short fingers are favored. This factors have a bigger influence on the performance than sweating even if it is present constantly. The best athletes in a sport are those who have the best genetical parameters for a sport in all aspects and train the trainable parameters near his individual limit. Since it is part of the individual development, it is defendable to set problems where the sweating effect has more influence than the length of the fingers for example, anyway should be avoided because bouldering should not be focused on specific genetically aspects. At the other hand I have not seen many problems on competitions where sweating was the limiting factor, we are talking about problems in the Fb 7C range on plastic for male and Fb 7B range for female and holds on plastic are generally not so bad. The difference to the footholds is, that standing on footholds can not be genetically determined. Setting slippery footholds makes not a lot of sense. 
@Niklas: more muscles does not mean automatically more strength. Read one of my upper posts where I explain why.
OffLine tomas beena
  2012-09-18 23:54:46    
@niklas: excellent point about genetical factors vs training discipline. leads directly to the introduction of weight classes. how can we speak of a disadvantage because of sweating if we do nothing in favour of naturally big and heavy climbers. the poor guys can train their asses off and will still never be able do compete against the likes of dimitri and kilian...
OffLine oO00Oo
  2012-09-18 23:59:50    
@tomas beena: in climbing weight classes make not a lot of sense but if we talk about height classes, I agree even if I think it destroys the sport. The route setting is becoming better, in Paris it looked quite brilliant.
OffLine somebody
  2012-09-19 00:40:58    
oO00Oo: of course you're absolutly right. But more muscles mean more strength if they have also the right muscle fibres. Actually I cannot say how it is for Alex Puccio, and also don't want too make assumptions, I just needed a quick excample for my statement that only should show how impossible it is to get rid of every genetical aspect ;-)

I think the routesetters, and also the rest of the crew organizing the competitions, are already on the right track, the last competitions went very well as far as I can judge, concerning the setting and the show around the climbing itself. It's getting better every time, and if it goes on like this I can't wait for the next bwc-saison 2013! =)
OffLine John Meget
  2012-09-19 06:15:03    
Morten, forgive me if I missed it, but I haven't seen you answer a key question tomas brought up: if the results are random, why do so many of the same climbers end up in finals and on the podium?

I think randomness may have been true in this year's World Championship women's bouldering contest. Most top climbers did not make finals, and top two places went to climbers who rarely make it, much less podium. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I attribute that to the route setting.

Niklas: Alex, despite her great strength, often does not make World Cup or World Championship finals, and almost never podiums any more. I've always thought it was due to troubles reading sequences and with slabs.
OffLine Morten Gulliksen
  2012-09-19 08:20:22    
John, it's because many of the same disiplines are addressed. The route setter choose who to win and look at the previous comps to see how the problems should be made. 20 years ago comps where very different. More power less tricks and slopers. Propably it developed that way not to exclude the shorter. Because it was so obvious when they did?

The assymmetry of length dependent problems is a puzzle to solve. And I fully agree to the chief of route setting in WC that they have a very requiring job. Still we and they must discuss what's important to include and what can be dropped - on a generally level and in advance.

Unfortuneately I saw just the women semi and final but It seems like the men's competitions went smoother.

I saw Alex in the battle and she performed very good on slopy pinches. The temperature was very low though outdoor in the evening. She had worked it in advance, reducing contact time significantly. When onsight, they use a lot of contact time to secure the move and low sweating threshold is a killer. I think the whole competition setup should be reconsidered
OffLine Morten Gulliksen
  2012-09-19 08:30:33    
My suggestion is a competition like I described early in a comment here with let's say 20 in the final. Qualifications should be done first with standard boulder related strength tests that were specially designed to be length independent
OffLine Morten Gulliksen
  2012-09-19 08:37:35    
Today's comps favor those who are used to them too strongly
OffLine gianluca
  2012-09-19 08:46:05    
we have to decide wether this is a game or a sport

wow, finally a premise on which we can understand each other. :)

Jens could make a poll about it!
i am in the family of those who think climbing (as a whole) is a game rather than a sport, and that competitions should reflect this.
Btw i like to watch bouldering comps more than lead because bouldering comps have the strongest "game" element...
OffLine somebody
  2012-09-19 08:46:10    
I think this discussion doesn't and won't get any further...
I just hope that your vision doesn't come true and competitions stay more then just a test of power.
The evolution the comps made in the last 20 years according to you, in my eyes it's a brilliant one, and has good reason.
Why should for example france accept a world champion that has only proved himself within this power-style, but is a mess at their style, at slopers? They would make fun of him being considered the worlds best, and they would do it justifiably.
The competitions have to test as many different aspects as possible, that's why we also have so many competitions over the year.
OffLine Idar Ose
  2012-09-19 09:42:49    
@Morten: Boulder related strengthtest?  Like: 
  • OAP > 3
  • 8mm edge  deadhang > 10 seconds
  • Bicepscurl > 30 kg
(For the mens qualifier) 

OffLine Alex G
  2012-09-19 10:00:39    
Everybody talks about how we bent the sport to appeal to the IOC and you come up with strenght-tests for a competition?

wtf
OffLine Paco
  2012-09-19 10:50:17    
@Morton: You wrote: "If its a sport, it has to be athletic and can maybe qualify for Olympics....".

Bouldering is already athletic, but again and again:

If you underestimate the factor of random and creativity as a basic rule of bouldering you have not understodd a tiny mere bit of the spirit of Bouldering itself.  These two factors are of course trainable, but in no ways measurable.  As a trainer this may annoy you, but if you where a real boulderer it would make you happy and generate a smile on your face...

OnLine fabbie
  2012-09-19 11:08:46    
"Qualifications should be done first with standard boulder related strength tests that were specially designed to be length independent"
Are you serious? As stated by many others, climbing is about so much more then strength. You want to take away something what makes this sport unique. Maybe you should go weightlifting, where there is no randomness, and where the strongest one always wins.
I would really like to see climbing in the olympics, but only in the current format. Mr Godoffe did an amazing job with the routesetting, not turning bouldering in some fitness-power-show as appearently you want it to be...
OffLine DamijanD
  2012-09-19 12:01:21    
Why don't we ask climbers for their opinion?
Sean says: "Bouldering competitions is not only about power, but also about problem solving, being precise, being smart, and executing. If we wanted to know who THE STRONGEST person is, we would create some sort of machine that takes a blood sample (or muscle, or something ridiculous), and VOILA, we have a winner… This is not the point of a competition; the point, in my opinion, of a competition is to find the best competitor…"
Tim O: did you did your flash without knowing beta and in 5 minutes?
OffLine Peter Klaun
  2012-09-19 12:36:36    
guess what - sean mccoll also wrote: 

"I
would have to say that it is the worst set of 5 boulders at any competition
I’ve ever competed at (not the paris world championships). Usually in a competition, especially in world cups,
there’s 1 or 2 boulders that are tricky. You don’t really know the sequence
from the ground, and you just have to kind of feel your way through the
boulder. I felt like after climbing these 5 boulders, there wasn’t any real
climbing on any of them. When I say real climbing, I mean like just hard moves
where you have to contract your arms and pull up
. Every boulder problem was
just bumping around with your hands and trying to figure your way around
volumes."

judging from what i see of world cup climbers (one bizillion pullups per day from sharafutdinov, usobiagas training regime in progression, sean mccolls training vid and blogs on training days) competition climbing is far from being a "game" in terms of commitment and seriousness. Climbing is not only about strength, but it should definately be about trainable factors. 

Remember the Vail Worldcup where Jan Hojer crushed the Final up to a Handjam where his Hands were to big to fit in? here's again what sean mccoll and apparently Kilian Fischhuber think about overly tricky Boulders in Worldcups, even when benefiting from it (by the way - That is really a humble statement): 

"To
watch someone absolutely crush the first 3 boulders and to get shut down by
what boulderers would call a “party trick” is hard to watch. After 3-4 tries, I
realized he was probably not going to do the problem. Kilian who was beside me
felt the same. He said to me 'I don’t want to win like this'… and it’s true."








OffLine glorio esteban
  2012-09-19 13:34:26    
this article is just absurd... 
OffLine Tim O
  2012-09-19 13:54:53    
This must be a WORLD RECORD number of comments on an article :)
OffLine Tim O
  2012-09-19 14:02:22    
@DamijanD - Yes and yes.  Walk up to a problem that I've never seen before, give it a crack from the ground up and done first go.  Not even needing 5 minutes.  And that's Font.  At other areas I flashed up to 7C / V9.

Sure, there is some fatigue to be expected to have to try 4-5 problems within a 25-30 minute time slot as per the WC comps but no way are they 'just' 7A+.

In my experience boulders can usually flash within 2-3 grades of what they can do with work.  And given confirmed V15 with work and confirmed V12 as a flash is pretty much the cutting edge now that seems about right to me.

So, again, to say the problems are 7A+ is laughable.  The WC problems are circa V10 IMO.
OffLine Mike Kimmel
  2012-09-19 16:10:42    
I guess I've always thought that coordination and the ability to catch lower-percentage moves is also a skill that can be measured in a competition - the ability to make a throw to a small or bad hold required coordination and contact strength. If one climber is able to catch a small pocket first go, I think that speaks to their ability to understand their body position and range, not just random luck.

I'd also question the idea that sweat is the absolute limiting factor in competition climbing. It is literally what chalk is for - I can't imagine changing competition setting to factor in how much each competitor may or may not sweat during the competition.

Ironically, I was judging at the Vail World Cup, and remember many people complaining about the cold weather . . . which would be the obvious ideal way to manage the sweat factor.
OffLine oO00Oo
  2012-09-19 17:30:13    

I think the important things to avoid, are: 


-slippery footholds (it is a difference between bad and slippery footholds)


-hypercomplexity of the problems


-too much focus on one specifical aspect


-favoritism of shorter climbers (the biggest challenge with the highest impact on the exit of a competition)




From watching the clips of the competition in Paris, it seemed quite fair. The line between complex problems and hypercomplex problems is very hard to draw but better a hypercomlex problem than a simple one. By analyzing the creation of a complex system like climbing problems, you destroy the cognition if you focus on specifically aspects. 

As a climber you have to focus a lot on intuition, based on experience and talent. If we have hypercomplex problems, the system becomes random because the intuition based on the experience and talent is not more able to select the right decision, the system is not stable and the right solution can not be found intentionally. 

On complicated systems you can focus on specifically aspects and they become easier, but on complex problems it is not possible. It is very hard to plot the variety of different individuals on a chaotic combination of movements and expecting that it is fair for everybody. But it has not be fair for everybody, we want to select the best adapted for the sport in all aspects, the one who have the best genetical parameters for the sport and who trained the trainable elements near his limit. 


The biggest problem in climbing is the body height, which has an enormous impact on the performance. Climbing is not like gymnastics where we know that for a defined combination of movements it is genetically better to be short. In climbing we have a variety of movements and the system borders regarding holds and movements are not defined. In climbing we can not say that the short ones are best adapted for the sport because the high variety of elements who can be part of a climbing problem, can eliminate this factor. We don't have a linear development of muscle fibre between short and tall climbers which has additionally to the weight an quite high impact on the exit of a competition, especially regarding very small holds, which should be avoided in competitions because the focus becomes too specific and short climbers are favored indirectly. 

OffLine Gudmund Grønhaug
  2012-09-26 10:07:42    
Sad to see much hassel about so litle. Maybe it all comes down to one thing; the ability to train what seems to be untrainable. First of all, claiming that the usage of slippery footholds are giving randomised results is of course not true, and in their heart everybody knows this, it´s just, as always easier to blame something "untrainable" than being honest with oneself and saying that my abilities are not up to this. It will always, and this is what makes climbing fun, be incidents like Ondra failing on a slab. second about sweating... come on, give us a break. There are so many things to be done about how you sweat that trying to say this is an issue to take in on routesetting is just fun. I´ll give some examples; for skin to be penetrated with sweat it is an issue when you last climbed before the comp. Plastic holds have another texture than rock so it also might be an issue what the skin is used to. How well you are mentally prepared is a big issue, and then comes the pressure of failing in front of a crowd, some don´t bother other, really strong folks never manage to keep calm. Which kind of chalk you use, how you are warmed up, what you wear etc etc. All of theese things are possible to do something about, it is all adjustable, and so is the body composition of the atletes.And third sticking that unpredictable catch.... it is also of course trainable, how in the world do you think blind guys are able to do what they do? They train their mental abilities just as much as their physical abilities.
All in all it´s about being able to master the circumstances and ALL the aspects of the sport. Not just the hard steep thuggy shit. But also the unpredictable, the scary, the slopy, the slippery and being able to train the mental abilities as well as the muscels so you can stay calm uring the pressure and not sweat it out. 
OffLine User Deactivated
  2014-02-28 18:13:57    
Long time since anyone commented. Just wanted to say that I think Mr. Gulliksen is right. 
After reading some of the answers, many does not understand what random means, everything is to some degree random, the difficult part is to identify what is more random and what are less random.  
I also think many does not understand the difference between climbing entertainment and a climbing competition. Is the discussion on what makes a entertaining competition or how to measure athletic performance? And what is athletic performance? 
The reason (I think) for why bouldering (and climbing) does not qualify for Olympics, is because it is too random. In most other competitive sport, the goal is to limit randomness. I think in bouldering (and to some degree sport climbing) it is almost the exact opposite. Laurent Lapport (WC route setter) said to a friend of mine on a route setting course, that they made boulder problems in the WC more random than necessary, so that it would be easier to seperate competitors. He didn't use does exact words, but said that elite boulderers are so evenly strong, that they did not want to emphasize strenght too much in problemsetting. Because then they risked that too many would qualify for finals, and it could be hard to seperate competitors. So they (unintentionally) introduced randomness and called it "technical problems", to filter out competitors.   
Sticking a catch or climbing on very bad slopers is of course trainable, nevertheless it is most likely prone to more randomness than doing controlled moves on positive holds. That is just the way it is. That's why I think Morten Gulliksen has a very good point. But it does not mean that the winner of the WC is totally random, it means that it is more random than necessary, and we don't know how much randomness it is. One should think hard about what this mean, and to what degree it is true, and what to do about it. 
OffLine thebon
  2014-02-28 23:27:46    
Wow this is going back a while.  The whole "slopers are more random" issue has been beaten to death I would say, so I won't go there, if you read the comments you will see well reasoned arguments on both sides of the debate, and I would say the stronger arguments support using all holds, including slopers, but that is my opinion.

But I do have issue with this: you assert that climbing didn't get into the Olympics because it is too random. I would say that climbing competitions are much less random than many olympic sports especially new additions.  Look at these sports:
  • Short track speed skating, boarder cross, ski cross, bmx racing: Crashes often determine outcomes, often favorites are taken out early.  Huge random factor.  but very entertaining to watch because anyone can win, or at least podium.
  • With the snow conditions especially in Sochi, ski events had a huge random factor depending on when you raced.
  • Often in cross country waxing can have a huge effect on outcome.  If your countries was applier doesn't get it right it doesn't matter how much better you are physically, you have a huge disadvantage. You could say this is a major random factor.  In fact I remember the commentator stating that this was a major factor on the norwegian team, they didn't get it right on a few races, making them place much lower than expected.
  • Judged sports: random!  For example in Ski jumping if you jump the furthest but don't land perfectly (according to the judges) you won't necessarly win. 

I would say that the major factor why climbing isn't in the olympics is due to politics, demographics, and major media coverage, and has nothing to do with how random it is. Although I think climbing is great and would do very well in the Olympics, it isn't yet in the mainstream, and if you look at the numbers, it had fewer participants than some other shortlisted sports.  Of which I believe that none got in since wrestling was re-added.

OffLine User Deactivated
  2014-03-04 16:41:37    
I totally agree on the sports you mention, and you are probably right and I was wrong about that (randomness = entertainment). Let' say that climbing is not a olympic sport because it is hard to understand for most non-climbers.  
But I still would say that some style of problems are more prone to randomness. As I said, some here really misunderstand what randomness is. They are trying to explain randomness by causual reasoning. Like you can train to control sweating or standing on slippery footholds becaus some have done it, maybe they can, they don't know if that is a fact (to know this, one has to do a study). Until one actually know these things, I agree that one should be carefull making "random" problems. 
OffLine User Deactivated
  2014-03-04 16:41:50    
hey!