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Forum: GLOBAL / Editorial / Structured endurance training might increase downgradings! Login in to contribute
Structured endurance training might increase downgradings!
OffLine 8a.nu
  2015-03-31 00:00:00    
The climbing difficulty grading system is based on comparison. One slabby 8a on granite is supposed to be equally hard for the community as an 8a limestone roof. If the 40 meters 9a endurance challenges in Santa Linya feels much easier compared to the 10 meter Action Directe in Frankenjura, the comparison grading system has failed.

During the last three years, only Alex Megos has done Action Directe 9a although possible 250 other 9a, mainly endurance ascents, have been done. One possible explanation for this is that the structured training have increased only the endurance capacity of the climbers.

Today, the community might think that Ben Moon's Hubble 8c+ from 1990, with possible just one repeat the last years, is at least as hard as the long modern 9a's?

Possibly, the explanation for the failure of the comparison grading system has to do with greatly improved endurance training on rock and gyms and it's structured methods, at the same time as, Huber and Güllich's power training 1990 has not been improved?

Possibly, in order to do such few painful moves, the power has to be practiced on the very route as the smother indoor holds, just do not make your fingers prepared for the pain and ligament challenge?
OffLine Guido Princess
  2015-03-31 16:28:45    
So, the climbing scale is based on comparison, right?  In that case, can you specifically quote a few climbers who have stated that Action Direct is harder than some specific, other 9a?  Do you have examples of a few people who have had to give Action Direct many, many tries and then were able to very quickly do some other 9a?  I just don't understand this logic of "Noone does Action Direct, therefore its harder than other routes that a lot of people do".  Do a lot of people come, try Action Direct, and fail?  Or do they not simply come at all?  If someone doesn't try something at all, then that has no indication on whether the route is difficult or not!   Furthermore, I don't see why Action Direct is a benchmark climb at all. A benchmark climb should be one that is average, and tests all sorts of strengths, including endurance, power, crimping, slopers, etc.   Action Direct only tests a very specific skill (extreme power on small pockets and monos).   I can even imagine if someone trained for a whole year to climb Action Direct, just training all out for a 10 meter pocket climb, they would actually find a long endurance route like Era Vella impossible, since they would not have enough endurance.  
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-03-31 23:00:45    
I am just sharing some opinions and welcome a discussion on the subject. Of course, if someone spent a year projecting AD, it would take them quite some time to do Era Vella. However, my point here is that it seems that the endurance training including the gyms, have improved a lot making it less difficult to repeat Era Vella compared to AD, for which the training is mainly the same as 25 years ago, and much harder both physically and mentally. My point here is that if both Era Vella and AD would have been put up in 1990, the community would probably have thought they were equally hard, as there were almost no long steep endurance routes, no gyms for endurance training and no structured endurance training. However, as the endurance training have been improved significantly, the community of today feels it to be might easier to do compared to AD and that is also the reason why they do not challenge AD any longer. In order to make the AD challenge worthwhile, the comparative ratings need to be changed. I am not saying AD is a bench mark route but it is the first 9a so anyhow, the difficulty of the endurance 9a's should be more or less the same.  
OffLine Guido Princess
  2015-04-01 12:29:39    
I still think this statement is false: "less difficult to repeat Era Vella compared to AD, for which the training is mainly the same as 25 years ago, and much harder both physically and mentally" I just don't see why you are assuming that Action Direct is harder to do or harder to train for than Era Vella.  Is it just because people don't do Action Direct anymore?   People don't do Action Direct anymore because its no longer relevant.  There are 100s of more inspiring routes to do instead.  These other routes are not easier, but just better and more beautiful.    Also, training for routes like Action Direct has improved vastly!  In fact, there is a whole new sport dedicated to routes just like Action Direct (which is about 19 moves).   Its called bouldering.   And, the level of that sport has risen vastly over the last 20 years.  Action Direct happens to fall into this strange category of very, very short routes.  Anyone who likes this type of climbing is much more likely to simply go bouldering instead. So, my question is still, why do you assume Action Direct is harder to do, or harder to train for?  Has anyone experienced actually said that?  I think the mere fact that people don't do it anymore is not a good argument.    By your logic, if I put up some really bad, short, 7c, and no one does it, should we keep uprating it to 8a, 8a+, 8b, until it gets more attention? 
OnLine hanez
  2015-04-01 13:13:58    
"By your logic ...": I see no logic at all in the original post here.. Just a very naive view on the evolution of climbing during the last 20 years.
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-01 15:55:41    
Güllich invented the campus board in order to do AD. Comparing the improved facilities for training I think it is the endurance climbers who mostly have benefited from including also thousands of steep and long endurance test pieces. It is rather easy to train for this type of climbing but harder also mentally to train for AD and as I said, the campus board was already invented.  25 years ago it was very hard to find any good facilities to train for a route like Era Vella but as this has improved, it has become relatively easier to do such a route also depending on the structured training. However, it has just been small training improvements to do routes like AD. I think it is quite natural that the hard core climbers select which routes are most easy to repeat and then focus on such training. Some top climbers have told me that AD is so specific and they do not have so much time to do it...as it more comfortable to focus on longer routes in Spain etc.  You can not compare a bad 7c to the most classical and well known route in the world Action Directe. Do you really think I am dead wrong? Why do you think several German climbers have give priority to do 9a's in Spain and have done it rather quickly...when they do the mot classical 9a in the world, located in their backyard? Let us say that we do not see any repeat of AD the next three years at the same time as 200 9a ascents are done in the rest of the world. Would you still say that I am dead wrong? I am sure if AD was graded 9b, we would have seen some repeats but at this point I think the hard core community think it is easier to do 9a's in other places...and this has also to do with improved structured training and greater gyms. 
OnLine Mike.
  2015-04-01 17:56:11    
Or it means that focusing on short and powerful routes on small holds increases the chances of injury - and the people climbing at the 9a level are trying to be professional and injury takes them out of the game. Climbing long, endurance focused routes allows a climber to train and perform for longer periods of time without pulling a tendon campusing on pockets. I also am very skeptical of the idea that climbing power and strength training has not built up along with new facilities - bouldering specific gyms, ergonomic holds to train on, more scientific research and analysis on finger strength and hangboarding and how to apply it, to name a few. I do think there is an aspect of climbing a long, consistent pitch being more fulfilling than a short, albeit historically important route. But that's an individual choice for each climber, regardless of the grade of the routes in question.
OffLine Jesse Bruni
  2015-04-01 18:03:47    
Jens you seem to be missing a few, very key factors. Firstly, endurance is much easier to train quickly than strength and power. Many 9a's have multiple 8A cruxes but no harder. If you have the strength to climb 8A you should be able to do this 9a, but you probably have to link several of them with poor rests in between. This is where power-endurance, and endurance come into play. If you want, instead to climb Action Directe, you probably need to be able to boulder slightly harder than 8A. I don't know the exact difficulty of Action Directe but I would image it's difficulty to be in the 8B+ or low end 8C range. Not nearly as many climbers are capable of bouldering so hard, and even a smaller subset of them can do so on tweaky pockets. So for instance, if you have 500 climbers in the world that can do 8A boulders, then all of them have the current strength level to climb some 9a's as long as they improve their endurance. If you have 200 climbers in the world that can do 8B+ boulders than you only have 200 climbers that can do Action Directe. So is Action Directe harder? It depends on what your benchmark is for difficulty. If your benchmark is the hardest moves, then yes, Action Directe is harder. If your benchmark is how many hard moves you have to do then it's not. Obviously grading is all subjective, but I'd be willing to bet that Daniel Woods would think Action Directe is easier than Era Vella if he were to try them both at his current form. And on the other end of the scale you have Sasha Digulian who already did Era Vella, but probably will never be able to do Action Directe.
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-01 19:02:38    
13 years ago I said almost the same thing as an explanation for the inflated boulder grades. At that time, the top boulderers did not have steep boulder gyms meaning that when they for the first time started to do steep stuff around the globe, they thought the steep stuff were hard. Also then, many climbers said I was wrong but now everyone agrees that I was right and consequently, more than 50 % of the hardest steep boulders have been down graded due to better training facilities in steep indoor boulder gyms.  If it is easier to get injured while projecting AD it is more difficult to do it compared to Era Vella. I would say that also Daniel Woods would think Era Vella would be easier to do compared to Era Vella. Most climbers have done Era Vella rather quickly compared to the invested time for AD which none has done fast. To say that Daniel Woods would need longer time to do Era Vella compared to Sasha Digiulian is simply not true. Daniel could very easy train endurance two weeks as a preperation in a good gym and then do it within a couple of tries. I do not think that would have been the case for AD.
OffLine Jason Crank
  2015-04-01 19:15:34    
Lets assume Action Directe and Era Vella are both the same grade.  Both require a specific set of tools in the toolbox, different tools, but both 9a worth of tools.  The difference is, the tools that get you up Era Vella are the same tools you can use for a lot of other endurance routes of that style.  The tools that get you up Action Directe aren't as versatile, but they are still tools.  You might be able to use them on Demencia Senil. Era Vella:  $20 screwdriver Action Directe:  $20 ball-joint socket that only works on BMWs
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-01 21:20:17    
Yes, that is correct and also part of why it is harder to do AD compared to do Era Vella. There are maybe 20 routes 8c+ which you can train on and once you do one of them you can just raise the bar...but for AD...this is not the case as it is pretty unique.  You can train in a structured way and improve the endurance but that is very hard to copy for AD.
OffLine Guido Princess
  2015-04-01 23:19:09    
So what should Action Directe be rated in your opinion Jens?  Its certainly not 9b because its not nearly as hard as First Round First Minute, a harder route in a similar style.  So I guess this conversation is about whether Action Directe should be 9a or 9a+.   Do you think Action Directe should be rated 9a+ then?  Is it harder than Biographie, the benchmark 9a+?  My guess is no.  So 9a it is then!
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-02 08:13:42    
I do not think that AD should be upgraded to 9a+. The focus of this article is that structured training seems to have made longer endurance 9a graded routes easier to do in comparison to AD. We are talking possible a slash grade easier but as I do not think grades are so important or accurate, I do not think anything should be done...but maybe if the training improves more...
OffLine Some body
  2015-04-02 08:56:38    
Improved training should result in being able to climb harder grades, not in grading everything down that now, being stronger, seems easier then before. What is this logic?
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-02 10:28:05    
The logic is based on that the climbing grading scale is based on subjective comparison. If the community feels it is like two grades easier to do a long steep route compared with a short slabby one, the grading system must be updated. Most of the steep old school boulders have been down graded in order to better fit in the universal grading system.  Some 15 years ago, the pioneers of steep boulders felt they were really hard compared to the vertical ones, as they did have very little experience with steep terrain. Today, with improved training facilities, the new generation, with the steep climbing background, do not think the steep stuff is as hard as the pioneers thought.  The training facilities for pulling hard on one and two finger pockets have not been improved. In order to make the climbing scale correct again, based on the new circumstances, grades can go both up and down. In 10 years, maybe somebody has invented a training machine that speeds up the training for routes like AD...meaning that it might be considered as much easier than Era Vella...of course the system has to be updated again. The climbing grading scale tries to measure the subjective and relative difficulty based on comparison. This is a market system and not fixed like the fixed prices in the communist system.  
OffLine Guido Princess
  2015-04-02 11:01:28    
Happily Ever After!!
OffLine louis de cornulier
  2015-04-02 13:54:16    
I really don't get it. Yes, facilities have improved for steep climbing. But the fact that slabs feels harder now cannot be due to the lack of training facility. it is only to to the lack of training. Climbers find it more fun to climb steep routes, and do not train well for hard slabs.
OffLine Some body
  2015-04-02 14:01:27    
our generation is not as good on slabs as climbers back then were, does this mean we should upgrade old slabs?La Marie Rose - Now 7a?
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-02 15:58:58    
It takes a lifetime to be a good slab climber and it can only be practiced outdoor with no improvements when it comes to training.

It is much quicker and easier to be good at steep endurance routes, thus they are much easier to do. If you had asked Gullich of the Era Vella grade 25 years ago he would have Said it was much harder compared to AD. However, with improved training facilities he would probably Said Era Vella is easier.

Further More, almost all the climbers in 1991 was male and More than 20 years old. Today we have many More girls and youngsters climbing. Clearly, smaller climbers find Era Vella easier.
OffLine Klem Fandango
  2015-04-02 16:33:45    
A few points if I may to Jens.
Firstly Hubble is 9a, and the first in the world; it
is now recognised as such and I am not sure why you keep mentioning it as 8C+
(would still have been the first of its kind in the world), that is very disingenuous
of you. It is very steep and very hard. Action Directe is not the first 9a, but
it is a fantastic and stunning route in my eyes, and a suitable testimony to a
true visionary that Gullich was. The picture of him on the route adorns my
training room, and he inspired me in a way very few have since.
The list of those who have failed on Hubble is world class
(Ondra, Megos, Graham, Bock etc the list goes on and on). Many of those who
have failed on Hubble have climbed Action Directe. The two points are not
important except to highlight that AD was not unique in its style during that
period in climbing (late 80s early 90s). Hubble also has an 8B+ boulder problem
crux, so very steep hard boulder problems existed 25 years ago.
Power was really in fashion then and a number of groups
embraced the idea of the single hardest possible move.
The facilities already existed at that time to climb the
very steepest and hardest routes. Apart from the actual rock, a steep board
plus a campus board is all you need to train for the very hardest of problems
(I am generalising here). People knew how to train for those lines back then
(steep with tiny holds) as evidenced by those lines getting climbed and
repeated, not to mention the hundreds of articles written about structured
training (including an article in OTE about time comparison grading which you
appear to have copied and claimed as your own J but I digress).
Most of those who have climbed either of these routes mainly
trained indoors and on replicas for them, not on the routes themselves (as to
why I think this is I will explain further down), so your theory that you can
only train on the route itself does not seem to hold water for these kind of
routes at all.
Now to your main points that firstly structured endurance
training and facilities have improved massively; and secondly that it is
mentally and physically harder to train for a short, steep 9a than endurance
9a. Is that what you’re suggesting?
To train for long endurance routes in facility terms is just
as simple as those for short power routes. A campus board, a steep board (same
as for the power problems) and in addition a larger circuit board will provide
everything needed for the longest routes (again I am generalising here in the
interests of the discussion).
These facilities also existed 25 years ago in equal measure,
as did the structured training and routes so I’m not sure what your point is.
Personally I find endurance routes boring, extremely
difficult and I worship instead at the altar of power. If you enjoy short
routes, it is FAR easier to train for short routes than long ones. I repeat, it
is easier mentally and physically to train for short routes than long ones if
that is your preference. None of the dirty endurance pump or working through
the different energy systems, just simple power training on a board and
campusing, Heaven (caveat, there is obviously a lot of crossover in the energy
systems required for short and long routes, and this is an extremely simplified
explanation).
It is equally difficult to train for endurance 9a’s as it is
for short 9a’s that is the point. For a short power monster, it is bloody
taxing, both mentally and physically to train for endurance routes (if not nigh
on impossible), a point which seems to have completely passed you by. At this
level, most people will have to specialise to achieve their chosen goals. It is
simply a preference or perceived chance of success which will lead them down a
particular path.
Now had your point been that the reason that the two
particular short power routes do not get repeated as frequently as the hundreds
of longer routes (which ones?) is mainly due to the conditions and current
fashion I would agree a whole lot more.
Both Hubble and Action Direct do not get reliable conditions
throughout an entire season, making a concerted attempt by a non-local pretty
tricky indeed. In contrast, in the right areas of Spain,
France and
others it is possible to get reasonable conditions all season. And more importantly,
if one of the 9a’s is out of condition, you can simply move to another
reasonably near by which will be in condition (in certain specific areas of
course).
This is one of the reasons why I think you comparing only
two specific short routes to hundreds of endurance routes is silly, not to
mention incorrect.
Take for example a specific endurance 9a that is in an area
with the same fickle conditions as the two specific routes mentioned, I
guarantee it will see far fewer ascents than it would had it being on a crag
with stable conditions. Both Hubble and Action Directe would see more ascents
if they were in an in vogue crag in Spain.

It is also far easier, both logistically and economically to
head to somewhere in Spain, Mallorca (or any number of other cheap package
places) for a holiday to try your hardest lines with pretty much guaranteed
conditions at some point of the day, than it is to head to Sheffield and hope
that Hubble comes into decent condition for an hour in total for the full
holiday (locals will know what I mean :)). German climbers also
understand the nature of conditions implicitly, hence why the bugger off to Spain
to climb :)
Your opinion is interesting enough to spark a discussion but
I don’t think there is any evidence at all to support that opinion. You are of
course entitled to hold onto your incorrect opinion :)
Roll on the Easter Weekend. Edit: Smileys wouldn't work
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-02 18:43:01    
So why do you think that the climbing community of today think Hubble should be 9a? Why have they upgraded both the first 8c+ and AD which originally was 8c+/9a.  Should not these routes be the base of how the next generation grade difficulty in comparison also for longer routes. 
OffLine Jason Crank
  2015-04-02 19:14:51    
I'm still going to hold that the amount of effort that goes into training for AD is similar to the effort that goes into training for Era Vella.  Just one training is useful for a route style the is plentiful, and the other for a route style that there aren't as many of.  If you live near Hueco tanks, it pays to be a V10 crimper.  Doesn't make you stronger than a V10 sloper master, just gives you more opportunities to apply your specific talents. If the prevalence of endurance training is going to usher in a wave of downgrades, why didn't the evolution of progressively stickier rubber, or lighter weight ropes, or the advent of the crashpad?
OffLine Klem Fandango
  2015-04-02 21:13:22    
That is an
interesting question and totally separate to the second point, because they
already are the base of comparison. A 9a is a 9a is a 9a, whether short, long, steep,
slab, regardless. What that means is that it would take roughly the same amount
of effort to climb whichever type it is. As the difficulty increases, so does
the overall effort required for the ascent, whether that is mental, technical,
physical etc.

Now if a
person were to only train for short, steep routes with hard crimp boulder
cruxes, and eventually climbed a 9a (or any other arbitrary number), said
person would be very unlikely to climb at an equal level of difficulty (keeping
in mind the effort levels required) on a friction slab, or a long endurance
route. Consequently someone who trains only for slabs will put roughly the same
amount of effort into climbing a slab 9a as the first person did for the respective
short steep 9a. And like the first person, his maximum difficulty in other
types of climbing would be reduced and so on.

The
examples above are somewhat singular practitioners in style (though such
practitioners exist) and for most people there is some compromise for the sake
of roundedness in styles. However the point remains that the effort level
required is broadly similar regardless of style. This applies just as equally
to a long endurance 9a’s as short ones and this is the basis for attempting to
apply an objective scale to a subjective measurement.

Consequently
since Hubble is considered and given 9a (not should be), it will be roughly the
same difficulty as any endurance 9a (given the above). I have already shown why
your original argument doesn’t hold water in my above post and will not revisit
that point but needless to say that is what grading is all about. It is however
accepted to be a hugely subjective thing, this grading malarkey, which brings
me to the other question regarding the grading of two very specific routes. Insofar as
Hubble is concerned, the grade originally given is interesting and in my
opinion reflects a lot of what was happening with the climbing scene in Britain at that particular time. Power was
king and ultimate difficulty for the time was sought. Hubble was the
culmination of that journey in some respects, the mantle passed on from the
previous king of power (Jerry) to his friend and protégé Ben.

Firstly
Hubble has a particularly unusual 8B+ boulder problem crux on undercuts,
excluding it straight away from those who have not trained in that particular
style and as a boulder problem, would be years ahead of its time. In that
particular style and at that particular time Ben was out there on his own
(until a young Scottish lad called Smith started the power journey again). Getting
the grade roughly correct when you are out there leading the pack is extremely
difficult. As it turns out he underestimated the difficulty a little.

The other
point in regards to the grading of Hubble is that I think the UK had wider bands of difficulty at
that time than a lot of others (less so these days) and there was a fair bit of
deliberate, shall we say stern grading, going on. The fact Ben managed to get
the grade more or less right despite all the above is actually pretty good
going.

Without
going through the whole explanation of why Action Directe is 9a I will simply
say that as far as I’m aware Ben (amongst others who have been on both) thought
AD and Hubble were roughly equal in difficulty, therefore both are 9a. I could
expand further as to why Action Directe is 9a without using the Hubble comparison
but I feel there is no need at this point.

  It is
interesting to note that Ben did not consequently manage to climb his endurance
project (which became Northern Lights 9a first climbed by Steve Mac) for a
variety of reasons, even though he climbed Hubble. Steve Mac has however
climbed both and found the level of difficulty similar, despite the different
styles.  

Again an
interesting question as to why I think Hubble and Action Directe are considered
9a but the grading of those two specific routes has little to do with your
original premise, and your original premise appears to have no evidence to
support it.  Edit: Jason probably put it more succinctly :) and I can't figure why my paragraphs have all messed up :)
OffLine Franz the Stampede
  2015-04-02 23:31:17    
Klem you first assumption in this latest post of yours is interesting but it's in fact an assumption because: 1 - The grade alone does not convey sufficient information about the difficulty of a route. 2 - Grades CAN "translate" (i.e. Era Vella CAN be as hard AD) if we assume a perfectly balanced climber. This assumption, however, can only be based on grades, which creates some sort of loophole, because the only way to determine a perfectly balanced climber would be to find one to whom (for example) Era Vella, AD, Bain the Sang and The Fly are really equally hard to climb. There is basically this assumption that all thr routes that have been given 9a can be treated as some sort of, dunno, 30kg barbell at a gym. Most strong guys will be able to bicep curl and bench press that weight. Many, I reckon, will find very difficult to French press it and maybe a bit easier to military press it. But it depends what they train. Same goes with routes.Except we have a way to know that barbell really is 30 kg all the time, but there's no way to know that for a route. It's just a perception. But as long as it's the perception of the majority, that's good enough a measurement system... Because, let's face it, an climber's grades matter in comparison to other people's, especially for sponsored athletes.
OffLine Klem Fandango
  2015-04-03 00:44:16    
Hi Franz,
I agree with both your points, and used the assumption in the
interests of keeping the discussion towards Jens’s theory. I found his whole
premise a little fuzzy so I tried to keep it very simple to stay relevant.
All grading is incredibly subjective and I think it is a
miracle that there is any objective scale at all. It is however, like you say a
collective of the relevant majority of subjective opinions which place a
line along this scale. I do think some opinions matter far more than others
though, for example those who have climbed, or attempted said line up for
grading, hence why I emphasised the word relevant.
Anyway I pretty much agree with everything you wrote so I
won’t labour the point further. :)
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-03 07:37:44    
If Hubble was graded 8c+ and AD was graded 8c+/9a, all the following routes should use this standards for the upcomming routes.  To say, The fact Ben managed to get the grade more or less right despite all the above is actually pretty good going. is just dead wrong. It is the other that should base their gradings from the Moon and Gullich grading.  The reason why Hubble lately have been subject of downgradings is just because the new generation thinks that Hubble is equally hard to to as their normal test pieces 9a.  And part of the reason for this is that the skill for how to train endurance have been improved have been improved at the same time as training for Hubble is more or less the same.  It just might be that Hubble and AD in the future will be considered 9a+ by the community. I am sure if you made a test picking 1 000 climbers by random and divided them into two groups going for AD or Era Vella, we would have more ascents on Era Vella. Just imagine how hard it would be for all girls and youngsters to do AD and imagine how many would injure themselves on AD.  I am sure that if you asked everyone who are 160 cm, they would on average probably say that AD is possibly 3 grades harder compared to Era Vella...and every year the percentage of 160 cm climbers are just increasing. 
OffLine Klem Fandango
  2015-04-03 09:25:27    
“If Hubble was graded 8c+ and AD was graded 8c+/9a, all the
following routes should use this standards for the upcomming routes”
Hmmm up to a point, however these two routes are very
specific, and atypical of short and steep power routes. As already explained
before at length, Hubble has an 8B+ boulder problem crux and from what I can
remember (though could be wrong) Action Directe has two particularly tweaky
moves. Grading is not an exact science and to extrapolate an entire route
grading scale at the top end from one 8B+ crux and one particularly dynamic, tweaky
sequence is a very difficult thing. Especially given how changeable the
conditions are at those two venues (which I have already explained at length).
“To say, The fact Ben managed to get
the grade more or less right despite all the above is actually pretty good
going. is just dead wrong.”
No, its not wrong, both Ben and Wolfgang were slightly out
by a grade or so, but again, grading is not an exact science and remember that
specific methods were used to climb both of these (a replica of the crux and a
campus board). It is little wonder that to them, their respective limits were
skewed slightly; regardless one grade out is not dead wrong, that is just
silly.
“It is the other that should base their gradings from the
Moon and Gullich grading”
I have already explained above why it was not their grading
as such, but two very specific routes and feel no need to labour the point. I
will throw a spanner in the works though; three boulders climbed by John
Gaskins were given 8C over ten years ago, they still lie unrepeated. Were those
boulders to be climbed and considered 8C+, would you say Gaskins was dead wrong
and that every boulder since that point should be downgraded accordingly? Every
single one?  
Should all grades be based on Chris Sharma’s Three Degrees
of Separation and all the 9a+ and 9b lines are downgraded accordingly?
It is a fools argument to try and extrapolate large scale
data and theories based on n=1    

”The reason why Hubble lately have been subject of downgradings is just because
the new generation thinks that Hubble is equally hard to to as their normal
test pieces 9a.”
Hubble has not been the subject of downgrading lately; it
has been upgraded, and is considered and given 9a in the guide. It is the first
of its kind in the world and even more unique considering how futuristic the
crux is. It is only in recent times that it has received more attention (especially
by those not building a replica crux or having singular strengths), hence why
it has been upgraded. I have already explained why logistically and
economically it is a difficult line to prepare for and will not repeat myself
on this point. 

”And part of the reason for this is that the skill for how to train endurance
have been improved have been improved at the same time as training for Hubble
is more or less the same”
I have already shown why your theory is incorrect. You are
of course entitled to hold on to your theory, but up to this point I see no
evidence to support that theory and feel I have explained myself well enough to
not need to rehash the point.  

”It just might be that Hubble and AD in the future will be considered 9a+ by
the community.”
I doubt this very much as both lines have now established
and settled at their grade. I have no idea however to predict the future and
neither have you so this sentence is silly. 

”I am sure if you made a test picking 1 000 climbers by random and divided them
into two groups going for AD or Era Vella, we would have more ascents on Era
Vella. Just imagine how hard it would be for all girls and youngsters to do AD
and imagine how many would injure themselves on AD.” 
Again you are picking two very specific routes and trying to
extrapolate an entire theory from it, which is nonsense. If I were to select a
thousand climbers, divide them into two groups going for Hubble or Three
Degrees (or Northern Lights which gets similar conditions to Hubble and is an
endurance based 9a) the numbers would be completely different again.
I will add that I have no idea about the route Era Vella but
you appear to have a particular thing about this line?

”I am sure that if you asked everyone who are 160 cm, they would on average
probably say that AD is possibly 3 grades harder compared to Era Vella...and
every year the percentage of 160 cm climbers are just increasing.”
This is a silly statement. You are not “sure!” You actually
have no idea whether that is true at all, and you are now saying that AD is
three grades harder than another specific line to a person who is 160cm?
Steve Mac managed both Hubble (steep, short and completely
unique) and Northern Lights (endurance) amongst many other lines without
needing to become taller than his short stature, so the height thing makes no
sense at all to me. Are you saying Era Vella is 8b+?
Do you have any figures at all to suggest that the
percentage of short climbers is increasing (you actually said a specific height
160cm which is nonsense) or is this just a random thought that popped into your
head?
Population figures show that our height is continually
increasing so I have no idea where you pulled this one from.
OffLine Franz the Stampede
  2015-04-03 11:59:03    
All very good points by Klem. Once simple, practical question. What were the other 8c routes that came after Wall Street? Did Ben Moon try any of those before sending Hubble? What were the other 8c+ routes that came after Hubble? I get the feeling it was none. Did Güllich try Hubble before sending AD? Given the most likely answers to these questions, I'd say 1 - There were just too few routes at those top grades at the time to really learn to grade properly, especially considering that the whole of Frankenjura probably did not have French grades at all 2 - I wouldn't be caught dead saying that either Moon or WG were "dead wrong". They paved the way to the future and proposed some grades for stuff that was beyond anybody else's reach at the time. The heck more could you want?
OffLine Guido Princess
  2015-04-03 13:12:07    
So Jens, how about a bit of a more controlled experiment.  Consider Siurana.  2 routes: Estado Critico, a long, endurance route, and Jungle Speed, a short power route.  According to the database, since 2010, Jungle Speed has 8 ascents and Estado Critico 9, so about the same!  Also, Reina Mora, an 8c+/9a which is a 40 meter endurance fest with no single movement harder than 7B boulder (i know, i have tried it) only has 4 ascents in this same time period!  Doesn't this disprove the whole theory??  Looking forward to seeing how this argument gets disproved by you Jens. I am sure it will be something to the effect of "Yes, but none of these routes are as hard as Action Directe".  What is it about Action Directe that makes you hold it above all others in terms of difficulty without ever trying it?  Which climbers have told you that its significantly more difficult than a handful of different 9as elsewhere? Thats still the question I would like an answer to, because thats the assumption that is fueling this whole argument.
OffLine Beno Rekitanec
  2015-04-03 15:41:25    
Damn, Klem, reading your points made me realize you're technically correct.  The best kind of correct :)
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-03 16:24:27    
So why do you think in general old schools routes in general are being upgraded at the same time as many of the modern most steep and long endurance test pieces, are being downgraded.

It seems you think the old School guys did not know how to grade which is a bit strange as it were these guys who invented and set the standards for all grades up to 9a :)
OffLine Klem Fandango
  2015-04-03 19:46:40    
To Jens,
“So why do you think in general old schools routes in
general are being upgraded at the same time as many of the modern most steep
and long endurance test pieces, are being downgraded.”
I don’t think this is necessarily the case at all and would
need to see some reliable data or evidence before I would believe such an
opinion. Some old routes are upgraded, some new routes are upgraded, and I see
no trend at all in general. Old routes are generally (though not in all cases)
upgraded due to the particular line receiving attention or coming into fashion
after a long gap without any attempts (hold breakage is another reason but
is irrelevant to the discussion).
I also do not think most steep and long endurance test
pieces are being downgraded and again would require some sort of evidence to
accept that point. When you say most do you mean 60%, 70%, 80%? Do you mean
that for each block of 100 endurance 9a’s climbed at least 60 (or 70, 80, 90)
are downgraded? Is this after they have had a period to settle to their level
from repeats, new sequences, holds breaking etc?
I see nothing so far to suggest that your assertion holds
any weight and will leave it at that point without further data or evidence.
 
”It seems you think the old School guys did not know how to grade which is a
bit strange as it were these guys who invented and set the standards for all
grades up to 9a :)”
Neither I nor anyone else has suggested anything of the sort
and I think that is pretty obvious. I have only mentioned the grading of two
very unusual and very specific routes (actually you brought up both of these
routes and attempted to extrapolate a whole theory based on n=1) and not
anything else they have graded.
Grading is extremely subjective and nobody is infallible, or
do you think grading is an objective assessment and therefore a person should
be correct 100% of the time? If they are not correct 100% of the time does that
mean they do not know how to grade?
I won’t even bother to explain why two individuals does not
equal “the old school guys”  
The current best authority on high level grading in my
opinion is Adam Ondra for obvious reasons. Do you think he gets the grade
correct 100% of the time?  Think about
that for a minute.
I think Franz explained well the difficulty of operating at
the very top level during that time and I think they did a bloody good job
considering how far out of the box they explored.
I also think he and others have shown the gaping holes in
your theory but it was an interesting conversation starter nonetheless.
On a completely different note I just have to say that I
still get the shivers when I see Action Directe climbed. Forget the grade for a
minute and simply marvel at one person’s vision, motivation, ability and pure stubbornness.
R.I.P Wolfgang.
To Franz
I think, though I could be wrong, that Ben came very close
to climbing AD shortly after Hubble but from what I can remember an injury or
his allotted timescale prevented the tick. I think he felt they were roughly
the same in difficulty. Beyond that I am not sure who tried what before, but I
would be very interested to find out. I know Wolfgang did some trad climbing in
the peak when he was over, but I’m not sure if he tried Hubble or not (or if it
was even climbed at that point).
A different topic entirely perhaps but one which I would be
happy to learn more about if anyone has the information. 
OffLine El Scorpion
  2015-04-03 20:11:59    
So back in the day 1980/90s bouldering as a sport wasnt really only equal fototing as route climbing. So you had powerful climbers climbing routes who today would probably be boulderers. I would agree with jenz that is was easier to train power than long power enduro back in the day. Small, crappy "gyms" with 20' walls. Also two of the strongest climbers lived in cold northern climates, so that where their lifetime projects are located. So it makes since that the two hardest routes of that generation were powerful test pieces that don't get repeated much. Today's power climbers tend to gravitate towards boulders because that is what they like. I've seen grades migrate during my climbing lifetime based on popular opinion/style. It's natural and no big deal. Grades are community based so as the community's preferences change so will grades. Vertical and slab routes are being upgraded because the community isn't as good at that style as previous generations were. Enduro line will get downgraded because people like that style and are specialising in it. To say that AD will always be the benchmark 9a is silly. Hubble and AdD were the testpieces of their generation but not necessarily benchmark or representative. For example la dura dura and change are this generations testpieces but in 20 years they will be two of many 9b+ climbs and may be out of favour. Some new bench mark 9b+ might take their place.
So jenz to make your life better. Suggest a new benchmark 9a in Spain or France at an international crag. Problem solved
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-03 22:14:59    
El Scorpion: Thanks Klem: So the facts are that the first 8c+ and the first 8c+/9a both have been upgraded and actually seem very hard for 9a. Further more, the first 9a+ in the world, might be the upgraded Open Air from Alex Huber in 1996. Talking about stats, none of the 9a's during the 90'ies have been down graded and in fact they are very seldom or never repeated and that goes also for the first 8c in the world, Wallstreet.  Adam Ondra and others have upgraded old school climbs in order to make them fit into the new generation often very long and steep endurance 9a's.  When the old school guys sets the standard for the grades, the new generation should take these climbs as the benchmark of climbing grades...but for some reason, we have "old school grades" meaning very hard gradings meanwhile the modern endurance routes often get down graded. As I said from the very beginning, "Structured endurance training might increase downgradings!
OffLine Klem Fandango
  2015-04-04 10:02:42    
To El Scorpion (cool name)
“So back in the day 1980/90s bouldering as a sport wasnt
really only equal fototing as route climbing. So you had powerful climbers
climbing routes who today would probably be boulderers.”
I agree with this Scorpion and it is interesting to note
that the first three repeats of Hubble were by people who essentially were (or
became) boulderers. AD also gets mainly repeated by the fan of the boulder and
this is how it should be i.e short intense routes will be mainly climbed by
short power monsters (when operating at a respective limit).
“I would agree with jenz that is was easier to train power
than long power enduro back in the day. Small, crappy "gyms" with 20'
walls.”
I don’t necessarily agree with this as enough hard 9a
endurance routes were climbed during that time to disprove this idea I think
(e.g. Open Air, Northern Lights, Mutation etc). I think it is more convenient
than it used to be in facility terms to train for endurance routes than it used
to be, I would agree with that. However I also think it is more convenient now
than it used to be to train for short power routes. It is still as difficult in
effort terms to climb a 9a endurance route as it always was (hence both being
9a) but convenient, sure.
“Also two of the strongest climbers lived in cold northern
climates, so that where their lifetime projects are located. So it makes since
that the two hardest routes of that generation were powerful test pieces that
don't get repeated much. Today's power climbers tend to gravitate towards
boulders because that is what they like.”
Agreed
“I've seen grades migrate during my climbing lifetime based
on popular opinion/style. It's natural and no big deal. Grades are community
based so as the community's preferences change so will grades. Vertical and
slab routes are being upgraded because the community isn't as good at that
style as previous generations were. Enduro line will get downgraded because people
like that style and are specialising in it.”  
Hmmn perhaps globally this is happening, but not so much in Britain.
That is likely due to our rock containing many vertical and slab routes, so
once a consensus has been reached, it generally (though not always) will stick.
The routes don’t get harder; it still requires a roughly equal amount of effort
to climb a 9a slab as a 9a roof. Just because a type of climbing falls out of
fashion for a period does not change the essential difficulty of the rock (caveat,
this is hugely simplistic I know but I have no wish to rehash what I’ve already
written).  
“To say that AD will always be the benchmark 9a is silly.
Hubble and AdD were the testpieces of their generation but not necessarily
benchmark or representative. For example la dura dura and change are this generations
testpieces but in 20 years they will be two of many 9b+ climbs and may be out
of favour. Some new bench mark 9b+ might take their place.”
Agreed and one of the essential points I was trying to make
“So jenz to make your life better. Suggest a new benchmark
9a in Spain or France
at an international crag. Problem solved”
I would agree. Or pick two routes from the same crag as a comparison;
say for example Hubble and Mutation (Spain
or France would
be better though). Except that if you were to use those two comparisons it
would show that Mutation is actually unrepeated, rather than Hubble suggesting
actually that all other endurance test pieces around the world could be under-graded
after all :)
To Jens
“So the facts are that the first 8c+ and the first 8c+/9a
both have been upgraded and actually seem very hard for 9a.”
Again you have no idea whether they seem hard for 9a and
earlier you were disputing that Hubble was even 9a, yet one day later you think
Hubble is now a hard 9a?  Also this has
nothing to do with your point on endurance training.
“Further more, the first 9a+ in the world, might be the
upgraded Open Air from Alex Huber in 1996.
Which is an endurance test piece is it not? You appear to be
blowing holes in your own theory now and mixing up two completely different
issues; one is endurance versus strength and one is soft versus hard grading.

”Talking about stats, none of the 9a's during the 90'ies have been down graded
and in fact they are very seldom or never repeated and that goes also for the
first 8c in the world, Wallstreet.” 
Again see above, you appear to be mixing up your arguments.

”Adam Ondra and others have upgraded old school climbs in order to make them
fit into the new generation often very long and steep endurance 9a's.”
Again you are mixing two totally different subjects up to
create a theory based on virtually nothing. Adam Ondra did help settle a lot of
grades by climbing a variety of test pieces around the world, short and long.
Do you think he only used long endurance routes from 2010 as his guide to base
all other grades on? That would be silly wouldn’t it? Do you not think instead
that he used long and short routes (in fact all the lines he had
climbed) to balance out the grading a little. Bear in mind the grading argument
is totally separate to strength versus endurance.
 

”When the old school guys sets the standard for the grades, the new generation
should take these climbs as the benchmark of climbing grades...but for some
reason, we have "old school grades" meaning very hard gradings
meanwhile the modern endurance routes often get down graded.”
Again you are mixing up strength versus endurance and soft
versus hard grading. I have already covered this and feel no need to go over it
again without you clearing up what you are actually saying.

”As I said from the very beginning, "Structured endurance training might
increase downgradings!”
Ok this is just a sound bite with no real meaning behind it.
Structured endurance training will result in increased endurance, nothing more.
I could write “better weather for a season will increase downgradings” and it
would hold just as much water as your theory (likely more) but it wouldn’t
change the fact that it is just a simplistic sound bite with little actual
meaning behind it.
I think I have repeatedly addressed your points and refuted
your theory. I would like it if you addressed some of the points I have put to
you. Thanks.  
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-05 10:49:55    
Alex Barrows just did a great ascent of Era Vella, " 5 months specific training, a shit load of replica problems." This goes in line with what I have said. Ten years ago, the climbing community did not have the same skill and circumstances in the gym for doing routes like Era Vella. At the same time, I do not think the training skill and the circumstances have improved equally much for doing AD. Further more, professional climbers that have climbed 8c+ are of course normally searching and selecting their first 9a, based on what they think they can do quickest. As, AD has only been repeated once (1) during the last three years meanwhile Era Vella has been done probably 15 times, it seems these guys agree with me, it is easier to do Era Vella compared to AD, meaning that AD might have to go to 9a+ to fit into the modern grading system.
OnLine Mike.
  2015-04-05 14:10:23    
Hmmm - how about interviewing the climbers that are currently choosing to project in Spain instead of Frankenjura, and ask them about the motivation? I think the idea that 8c+ climbers that try 9a are choosing routes based on "softness" alone - but that seems to be your argument. Do you make the assumption that all climbers at all grades always seek the softest routes to break through to the next grade? While I'm sure some climbers always seek soft routes, I think it is also a fair argument that there are climbers who choose routes based on other qualities - aesthetics, personal recommendations, enjoyment of style . . . Again, I think it comes back to long term climbing goals and chances of injury - which tends to be what I think about when I choose routes to attempt. Since you have the resources, why don't you just try a poll of your 8a.nu public and see what motivates people to choose one route of a given grade over another, and look at what criteria people claim. Or ask some of these climbers to comment on your concept as well - can't you just ask Alex Barrows why he chose Era Vella over AD? And a final, semi-unrelated question - do you think all sends of all these hard routes are documented? Or do you think that everyone who ever sends 9a wants the public attention and congratulations?
OnLine Mike.
  2015-04-05 14:13:48    
2nd question I forgot to add . . . Let's say you choose to award 9a+ points on an 8a.nu scorecard for anyone who does AD. Based on your argument, do you think that climbers seeking their first 9a+ will then re-focus on AD to be able to claim a 5.15? Doesn't that make it "soft" for the grade if people seek it out because it would be the fastest repeat of the grade?
OffLine Franz the Stampede
  2015-04-05 17:09:15    
Jens, too many assumptions on your part, sorry. When Klem is asking for the percentage of routes being upgraded and downgraded he is right. The fact that Hubble has been basically upgraded and AD is considered a somewhat hard 9a is not enough. It's just two routes in a universe of routes. Considering that Ben Moon invented the Moon Board and Wolfgang the Campus Board, it's not surprising that they went for lines that suited their strengths or that needed an increase of a type of strength they knew how to train rather well. Chances are they would have sucked on long Spanish routes unless they had trained specifically for them. We must simply surrender to the idea that a fingery, bouldery 15 metre 9a is a completely different beast from a 50 metre pumpy 9a. In fact, many AD ascents came from top boulderers. Just because one route feels easy compared to another of the same grade but with a very different style, there shouldn't be a downgrading unless one can demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that he is equally strong in all styles. I still think the perceived difference is just a matter of people training endurance over pure finger strength over a number of reasons: more fun maybe, safer for injuries, will naturally lend itself to climb more (in the sense of spending more time climbing, which is the thing we all like, right?). Quite simply, the community should mature and understand that grades can be compared seriously if and only if the two routes are quite similar in style. I can't really see why endurance training should allow for more downgrades. People should use the grade of an established route to judge their fitness and performance, not use their presumed fitness to downgrade or upgrade an established route... See how Ondra goes to his local crags at weekends while preparing for WCs exactly to gauge at what point his preparation is. If he was to downgrade or upgrade all those 8b and 8c routes I imagine he uses to test his fitness every time they feel different because of how tired or fresh he is, it'd be mayhem...
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-05 21:39:08    
I would say that at least 95 % of the guys who do 9a report it in some way on the internet. I am sure if AD did get upgraded, more people would go for it in the same way as less climbers would go for Era Vella if that turned out as a hard 8c+.

Alex will share some know how about how he did Era Vella... and of course this info could make it easier to do it.

@ Franz: So what about Open Air and also La Rambla to the first anchor is based on Alex Huber, today more likely 9a instead of the 8c+ he suggested.

In the history of climbing, very few routes have been upgraded but on the other hand, the first 9a are very seldom repeated. However, the modern hard endurance routes are often subject of being down graded.

Of course it is much easier to compare the grades for routes of the same style but nevertheless, the grading system of climbing tries to make comparison of routes like AD and Era Vella.

I have the exact same discussion when I was the first to say that the steep Boulders should be down graded once many steep indorr gyms were open. many guys told me that I was wrong...but now everyone agrees that I was right.
OffLine Guido Princess
  2015-04-05 22:13:36    
One more thing: Jens, which "new, modern training tool" do you think is helping to push things to a new level for endurance climbing. Look at this wall Adam Ondra trains on:  http://www.epictv.com/media/podcast/training-with-adam-ondra-part-1-%7C-epictv-choice-cuts-/601648 . It is completely old school and was probably around when Action Directe was put up!  In fact, when you quote " 5 months specific training, a shit load of replica problems."  I also think that he is talking about setting replica problems on a small circuit wall, not actually setting a replica of a whole Era Vella on some super steep, modern gym wall. For me, its much more effective to train endurance on a small overhanging bouldering wall where I can just make up a 50 move circuit and not have to worry about a belayer or annoying other gym members by doing hardcore training on the lead wall.   Also, Jens, you never gave us an explanation of why in Siurana, a short bouldery 9a is being done more frequently than some steep, long ones.  
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-05 22:38:13    
The new modern tool is structured training know how which how Axel Barrows could do Era Vella. He is preparing an article which goes hand in hand which I have said = https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-40C59n2E_4aVRyYjY5U1Rtc2c/edit?pli=1

I guess one possible explenation for the high number of repeats for the short route Jungle Speed is that it might be 8c+ :)

When AD was put up...there were very few steep Boulder gyms were you could prepare for long endurance routes.
OffLine Franz the Stampede
  2015-04-05 23:56:15    
Jens I'm not sure what you mean with the two routes you mentioned. That difference is most likely due to the fact that AD went from a UIAA grade to a French one. You can't assume that few repeats equals a hard grade. There could be a number of reasons for climbers not going for Schleier Wasserfall or Triangel as much as Siurana or Margalef. Ease of access, approach, accommodation, language spoken, selection of routes, afterparty vibe, chances of getting a photographer to take a few shots of your send, chances of getting laid to a fellow climber... You name it. To me the grading system should mostly try to be consistent within a crag, simply to avoid people ending up on route way above their skills. Secondly, it should allow comparison between similar routes in any part of the world. Only last should it try to propose a grade that can be consistent even across wildly different route styles, rock type and geographies. Not so much because it's not important, but simply because it a virtually unattainable goal, it'll never be an exact science. You can't expect that crag developers travelled extensively to check grades everywhere else in the world. It's already good we have a few pro climbers doing that. But they are the first to admit that hard onsights are more easily achieved on long Spanish routes than in Frankenjura or on technical granite, so they are basically the first to admit that comparison is doable up to a certain point.
OffLine Guido Princess
  2015-04-06 11:41:31    
So then my two current questions to Jens would be: 1. Why do you believe that Action Directe is harder than other 9a's when you have no first hand evidence that this is the case, and noone has ever actually said this. 2. Why do you say that endurance training is advancing faster than power training when bouldering, focused entirely on power, is the fastest growing part of our sport (and with top boulderers stronger than ever).
OffLine Franz the Stampede
  2015-04-06 15:48:43    
1 - He believes that because AD has fewer repeats than freaking Era Vella. The reason for this, to me, is that route climbers these days prefer the endurance marathons of Spain to the burly short routes of Frankenjura. In turn, the reason for this preference is WHATEVER. Old school top routes are probably a more suitable challenge for boulderers these days. But guess what, boulderers prefer to boulder! 2 - I think that's an assumption that stems from the fact that there is a preference toward endurance for route climbers. But more and more boulderers seem to get closer to what looks like some sort of physical limit (8C/8C+) so I trust things are improving in that area too. The truth is, you can't ascribe better performance exclusively to better training. It could be a matter of more people trying harder stuff for longer (definitely the case of the recent Era Vella ascent), video beta etc etc. Because, surprise surprise, we are talking about the magical mystery redpoint. Look at onsight/flashes. Ondra is at the very top, alone. True Megos was the first one to OS 9a, but hasn't repeated that performance, in fact I'm not even sure he has onsighted 8c+. Ramonet was never able to repeat his 8c+ OS although he's had a few 9a second go. I think we have actually seen a better progression in flashing hard boulders, so maybe power training is actually ahead of endurance training? :D
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-06 17:50:52    
1. Several climbers have told me that AD is very hard and that it would take them to much effort and time to do it. I Think it is quite logical that the 8c+ climber who goes for a 9a Project, choose something that they can do quite easy.

2. It seems you misunderstand. What I have said is that we have seen great progress in know how and facilities for improving your endurance. At the same time, we have not seen the same progress of know how and facilities to do routes like AD.

It is also a fact that most of the hardest Boulders in the World, if not all, are pretty long which supports my thoughts.
OffLine tomas beena
  2015-04-06 19:18:24    
give it up guys. you can't win an argument against jens. by definition.
OffLine Franz the Stampede
  2015-04-06 22:34:39    
Jens we know you are in touch with loads of climbers through facebook, but unless you provide more evidence we might as well think you made it up. Likewise, can you list these amazing endurance increasing facilities? It's all "I've been told", "we have seen", "I know". How about some hard evidence?
OffLine Klem Fandango
  2015-04-06 22:45:16    
It appears a broad consensus and agreement has been reached
by all but Jens. That is telling in itself, especially considering no evidence whatsoever
has been shown to support the assertion. It is also telling that there is
little attempt to actually address the points others have raised to support
their position, instead there has been a series of strawmen, continual goalpost moving and a glut of meaningless sound bites.
It’s no problem really; I just prefer it when someone can
back up their theory, or at least be willing to explore that they may be
incorrect when presented with solid contradictory evidence.
I do understand a little better what to expect now at least,
and I enjoyed exploring the topic with the others, so thanks.
To Jens
I’m not going to continue with this discussion as I feel it
has become more about you “winning” on the internet, regardless of whether
there is actually sense to the argument. Fair enough I understand your position
now (as I have explained above). A couple of things I would like to highlight
as examples, so you understand what I am saying and you understand it is
neither a personal attack on my part, nor is it a misunderstanding on my part
(just to be clear). It may be of course that you are miscommunicating, however
that is for you to rectify, not for others to make sense of or a
misunderstanding on their part.
“In the history of climbing, very few routes have been
upgraded but on the other hand, the first 9a are very seldom repeated. However,
the modern hard endurance routes are often subject of being down graded. “
In the history of climbing absolutely stacks of routes have
been upgraded. You have nothing to support what you are saying, but you are
stating it as a fact.
You then say that the first 9a (Hubble or AD?) is seldom
repeated, which has nothing to do with the first part of the sentence and it
has already been explained at length by others that is has pretty much zero to
do with modern endurance routes often been subject to been downgraded.
I have asked you to show some evidence that a significant
percentage of modern endurance test pieces have been downgraded, once initial
repeats and settling have taken place. Instead you name one route.
“I have the exact same discussion when I was the first
to say that the steep Boulders should be down graded once many steep indorr
gyms were open. many guys told me that I was wrong...but now everyone agrees
that I was right.”
Again this does not make any sense whatsoever. You were the
first person in the world to state that all the steep boulders in the world
should be downgraded once many steep indoor gyms were open? Really? Where is
there any evidence to show this magnificent statement of grandeur is true?
If you are talking about the Swiss effect, which had a lot
to do with grade bandings from different countries, you were about five years
behind the magazines on that one. Holiday grades in
Swiss were talked about for years before the web.  
Also wouldn’t that mean by definition that Hubble, having an
8B+ crux boulder would be downgraded due to your magnificent statement? As
would all short powerful routes? And yet you are stating the exact opposite and
more than that, you were the first in the world to discover this gem of a
statement, without anyone climbing a single problem.
“1. Several climbers have told me that AD is very hard
and that it would take them to much effort and time to do it. I Think it is
quite logical that the 8c+ climber who goes for a 9a Project, choose something
that they can do quite easy. “
Who exactly are these several people? Are you making this
up? I would be inclined to not believe what you are saying (given all the above
discussion) without some evidence. So again who are they?
I can happily produce boulderers and short power monsters
who would be far more likely to succeed on AD than on say Open Air (which is a
long endurance test piece) and more likely to climb Hubble than Mutation. In
fact just have a look at the list of repeats to see.
In regards to the 8c+ climber wanting something easy, well
that doesn’t mean he would go for endurance over power does it? You have no
idea which one he would choose. Instead you make the assumption that it would
be endurance.
“2. It seems you misunderstand. What I have said is that
we have seen great progress in know how and facilities for improving your
endurance. At the same time, we have not seen the same progress of know how and
facilities to do routes like AD.”
Nobody misunderstands, you miscommunicate. Yes the
understanding of the different energy systems has improved (I have already read
Alex Barrow’s study on the subject amongst others), aiding endurance training.
That same understanding has also equally helped short power and single move
actions. The facility thing is convenience, little more.
It renders your theory to be pointless beyond sparking a
discussion, which is what I thought, was your intention. Not to win a
non-argument by using all known means of subverting conversation, misdirection
and what I would call troll craft.
Again this is not personal to you, simply your poorly
crafted arguments, but thanks again for sparking the discussion. Always love a
bit of chat where AD and Hubble are concerned
“It is also a fact that most of the hardest Boulders in
the World, if not all, are pretty long which supports my thoughts.”
This is not a fact in any way. Gaskins big three blows that
theory out of the water before I even bother to look at any others. Again
though you are stating opinions as facts without realising how often you
contradict your very argument. All these boulderers completing long boulder
problems would be training the perfect energy systems for short powerful routes
if they chose to try, rather than long endurance routes. Highlights exactly
what the others have repeatedly tried to explain to you.
I have no wish to criticise you personally and hope you do
not take offence, I am merely stating my view of the discussion in hand. Of
course my view could be completely incorrect and I am more than open to that
idea should any evidence or data be put forward. Edit: Franz just covered it all in three sentences :)
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-07 10:14:56    
Some 15 years ago, almost none did any structured training. In fact, the structured training in endurance climbing is something that has become popular just the last few years. If we all can agree that structured training has helped the community to improve the endurance performance more quickly, my thoughts are valid. Before the structured training, it took longer time for the climbers to do a route like Era Vella, i.e. it felt harder and more difficult.  For me this logic is very simple. 
OffLine Guido Princess
  2015-04-07 10:37:31    
Jens, that logic is totally correct.  Structured training has helped improve endurance training, and more people do long endurance routes quickly. However, power performance (and therefore training) is also improving. Probably just as quickly.  Boulderers are getting stronger and stronger faster than ever! As Klem pointed out, the fact that high end boulders are putting up long, hard boulder problems every day just confirms that the population of people who are capable of repeating Action Direct is rising quickly as well!  Because Action Directe is just a 20 move boulder problem with a rope.  All these people would do Action Directe more easily than Era Vella because they have specialized in doing 10 - 20 move power challenges, which is exactly what Action Directe is.   These people chose not to do Action Directe not because they think its too hard (it would be relatively easy for them), but for the many, many other reasons mentioned in this thread.
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-07 11:04:52    
Can you please explain how the power training of routes like AD and Hubble have improved, making it possibly to do them more quickly the last years. To do AD, you need specific one and two finger strength... I do not know any boulders challenging these skill.  
OffLine Beno Rekitanec
  2015-04-07 11:23:59    
Jens>For me this logic is very simple.  And also simply wrong, as shown by numerous others. But that doesn't stop you, does it? You have no stats to confirm your "logic" whatsoever , and when presented by this fact (and others) that your opinion is invalid, you just shamelessly ignore it and further promote your (wrong) assumptions. It is getting boring, really. Go out, do both Era Vella and Action Directe and then you'll have some credibility to suggest the change of established grades. Or, at least, be a journalist&interview someone who did both routes and ask him what he thinks about it. Until then, please abstain from promoting your silly ideas as "facts". 
OffLine Guido Princess
  2015-04-07 11:32:37    
Jens, you seriously think that people like this would have a hard time with Action Directe?



Also, Black Lung in Joes Valley comes to mind:
OffLine User Deactivated
  2015-04-07 11:35:17    
Jens...to do AD, one might train like BJ Tilden. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ti5jbu-Pz2M https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8Pzl_TmMgM
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-07 11:57:11    
Structured endurance training might increase downgradings! This is what I have been trying to discuss and it seems strange that almost everyone says I am wrong even without pointing out how my headline is wrong?  We have not seen so much progress for how you train for doing AD compared to the improvement of endurance training due to structured endurance training. I guess, how Gullich trained for AD some 25 years ago is still the best way how to train for AD. Meanwhile, how you should train for Era Vella has improved a lot during the last years. This means that it is easier to do Era Vella today as compared to 15 years ago.
OffLine User Deactivated
  2015-04-07 12:12:01    
OffLine Guido Princess
  2015-04-07 12:20:35    
Jens: I would like to see you provide evidence for this statement: We have not seen so much progress for  how  you train for doing AD compared to the improvement of endurance training due to structured endurance training. To me it seems like this arena has improved greatly as well.  There is a huge variety of hangboards, each with detailed, structured regiments to help you reach a higher level of power and fingerstrength.  The Beastmaker, the Transgression hangboard and the Moonboard each have dedicated training programs to help you climb Action Directe if that is your wish.   I would consider all this a huge improvment to 25 years ago, where Gullich had to build his own facility.
OffLine Beno Rekitanec
  2015-04-07 12:55:18    
Jens:   This is what I have been trying to discuss... You put forward the following proposition: Jens>  If the 40 meters 9a endurance challenges in Santa Linya feels much easier compared to the 10 meter Action Directe in Frankenjura, the comparison grading system has failed.  And this is where most of people do not agree with you. Should we go through it again? 1. You first suggest that some "endurance" routes feel much easier than other, "bouldery" ones. But you did neither, nor do you cite anyone who did both and suggested they should be graded differently. 2. Then you suggest a failure of a grading system based on comparing two completely different ascents and ignoring all other facts such as small sample (2 routes!), location, seasonal weather and popularity of a crag.  3. Further, suggesting a failure of grading system also means you apparently think either Era Vella or Action Directe should be upgraded/downgraded without doing either and without citing someone who did both. You also ignore fact that repeaters did not change the grade of either ascent.  Also, please, do not take this (or other posts) as a personal attack - a debate is always welcome. But please, acknowledge that you really do not have hard data necessarry for such conclusions. Jens:  This means that it is easier to do Era Vella today as compared to 15 years ago. Why? Did a hold broke off? Did the crux become easier due to new beta?
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-07 12:58:19    
Clearly, we have seen some improvements on how to train for routes like AD but, I personally, think the improvements are much greater for endurance routes like Era Vella. I have been climbing since 1991 and at least until 2000, power was the only focus and the know how of the best climbers were very high on power training already 2000. At that time, the know how of endurance training was very low and it is just the last few years, the best climbers have taken full advantage of this type of training. Even Adam Ondra, did not do any structured training until 2011.  The best way to do AD is to do campus boarding in combination with practice on the route, meaning the know how and the facilities have not improved so much here. The best way to do Era Vella is to to replicas in the gym in combination with structured indoor training. I guess at least, 95 % of the training can be done indoors but for AD, the best way is to train at least half at the route itself. 
OnLine hanez
  2015-04-07 13:00:30    
"... that almost everyone says I am wrong ..." Shouldn't that make you think about what you say and how you lay out your arguments? Instead you repeat your mostly wrong and unbiased opinions on climbing forever. The discussion here is just a perfect example. Look at what Klem wrote above. He deconstructed or at least questioned each of your sentence by logical reasoning. It can't be more obvious than that, he couldn't be more clear. Don't you see it? I really admire him (and the others too) for his patience with you. I appreciate 8a.nu as a source of information of news from the climbing community, but each time you start a topic about grading, training etc., it gets terrible. low.
OffLine Guido Princess
  2015-04-07 13:15:58    
"The best way to do AD is to do campus boarding in combination with practice on the route, meaning the know how and the facilities have not improved so much here. The best way to do Era Vella is to to replicas in the gym in combination with structured indoor training. I guess at least, 95 % of the training can be done indoors but for AD, the best way is to train at least half at the route itself. " This seems totally backwards to me.  I would say that if I wanted to do Era Vella, I would just go and climb on the route, and other easier routes next to it until I was fit enough to do it.   If I wanted to do Action Directe, and it was above my limit, the last thing I would want to do is just go climb on it! I mean the first move is a dyno from a mono to a mono!   I don't think I would reccomend anyone to climb on Action Directe until they were ready and physically capable of doing it. That would involve a huge risk of finger injury! I think I would want to follow a structured training plan to gradually build up finger and tendon strength in a safe, controlled environment, using the new, better, modern training tools available!
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-07 13:30:13    
@ Hanez: Nobody has pointed out how and why my conclusion is wrong.  Structured endurance training might increase downgradings! @ Guido: Could you please explain how the modern training tools have been improved in order to do the 1- and 2 finger pockets move standing on nothing, so the best climbers more quickly can do AD? Clearly you can do Era Vella just as you explain as in the old school fashion...but my point is that it is quicker, i.e. less difficult, to do it in a structured way on replicas. 
OffLine Guido Princess
  2015-04-07 13:51:48    
You have already said it yourself:  "The new modern tool is structured training" Here are some: http://www.jmclimbing.com/index.php/en/products/boards/transgression http://www.beastmaker.co.uk/pages/training These hangboards, and specific workouts are better than Gullich's crude campus board and are are much more accessible than ever!  Its much easier today to get a specific tool to train monos as well as a specific training plan for that tool.   Just like its easy to get a specific tool for endurance training and a training plan for that tool.   Training is just easier and more effective in general, equally so for power and endurance. And basically, this is why your premise is wrong " Structured endurance training might increase downgradings!" All training is getting better (not just endurance) and therefore, everyone is getting stronger both in endurance and power.  The more natural thing to do is to leave already rated things as is, and instead, rate new, harder things a higher grade!   It makes no sense to downrate Era Vella because it feels easier to people who have endurance.  It makes more sense to have those people do Era Vella, and then go out and climb 9a+, 9b, etc...  In short, this is why, structured endurance training will not increase downratings.
OffLine Franz the Stampede
  2015-04-07 14:22:14    
@ Hanez: Nobody has pointed out how and why my conclusion is wrong.  Structured endurance training might increase downgradings! Jens, your conclusion is wrong not so much in techncial terms but rather in "ethical" terms. Guido is right. If you train a lot a certain style and crush a route of that style, then you should try something harder. Before you propose a downgrade of that established route that suits your strength just because a route of the same nominal grade feels a lot hrader or even impossible to you, you should think long and hard and ask yourself "Am I really a universal climber? Are my training, my strengths and my progression such that I can say really say these two routes should feel equally hard to me? Is the gap I feel between the endurance 9a and the fingery 9a the same I'd feel on an endurance 8a and a fingery 8a?" The thing is, there's no answer to this question other than the empirical results. If you cruised Era Vella and sucked on AD, chances are you haven't trained the AD skills well enough. So it is actually possible that we'll see the downgradings you are talking about, but they'll be a case of miopic grade revisioning by those who climb those ESTABLISHED routes, who clearly don't understand that an established grade measures your performance and it shouldn't be your performance and "feelings about the route" to measure the grade downward or upward. And all things considered, this should be the place and you should be the person to prevent this sort of "endurance downgrading frenzy" from happening... Also, your definition of "structured training" is so generic. How do those terms only apply to endurance training? Why is structured training exclusively endurance training? I am willing to believe you but give us mroe details. As far as I can see, endurance is still mostly trained by endurance training. Boulder walls are actually preferred to high walls, which basically means you don't need the new, tall facilities as much...
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-07 14:29:05    
"Training is just easier and more effective in general, equally so for power and endurance."  Surely, if you are right, nothing should be done with the gradings but I do not think so and this is the reason why we do not agree.  I think the training for doing routes like Era Vella has improved much more compared to how to train for AD. I think we also can see this for all the old guys that are still improving gradewise on endurance climbs even if they started to climb like 30 years ago. I thought everyone agreed that it is harder to get some improvements on your power compared to get improvement on your endurance. I am 49 years old and I am sure that if I have the time, I could make personal best's on endurance routes if I started with a structured program. At the same time, I am sure I could never be as strong as I was like 10- 15 years ago. Personally, I do not see any progress for how I should train power, compared to how I already did...but for endurance, I see a lot of progress. 
OffLine Franz the Stampede
  2015-04-07 14:44:59    
Ok, you start to make a bit more sense. I am still of the opinion that those downgradings you talk about would be incorrect and based on the fact that people unjustly use their feelings to judge the grade rather than the grade to jusge their current fitness. However, I think it's reasonable to say that the first proposed 8c+ and 9a plus grades were clearly milestones in the progress of climbing based on finger power which at the time was rather popular. You might have a point in saying that even a very endurancey 8c might have felt as hard as 9a to WG or Ben Moon if they had projected one at the time. But it's hard to say whether there should really be downgradings on the endurance stuff. Again, the grade alone is not enough to describe a difficulty and therefore an achievement...
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-07 14:57:12    
Please read the head line again. Structured endurance training might increase downgradings! I have just said "might". So it finally seems you agree on what I said in the headline :)  but I do not understand this,  the grade alone is not enough to describe a difficulty and therefore an achievement... Clearly, the object of our grading system is to categorize and achievement. 
OnLine hanez
  2015-04-07 16:06:04    
"I think the training for doing routes like Era Vella has improved much more compared to how to train for AD." You think that, but is it the truth? Can you please give us some data, that backup this statement? References to sport science publications, (youtube) videos, references to statements of trainers or climbers, whatever you have in your pocket? A more general question: How do you measure improvement of training for a specific skill (f.e. power vs. endurance)? New exercises per year, new publications per year?? Do you have the knowledge how the training methods in the different countries have evolved during the last 20 years, that you can make the statement given above? I would really like to know, how you come to this conclusion, because for me the opposite seams to be true: When i look at the training videos of Udo Neumann, Jan Hojer, Sean McColl etc., or at the "Gimme Power" book - i see a lot of new approaches/exercises to power training, many of them i would apply, if i were to climb AD or the like. But that is just my view, maybe i missed all the endurance training videos with the new improved methods. (I saw the Adam Ondra training video, where he spoke about the 50 moves/2 Min rests  laps for endurance training, but this is old stuff, we already did extensively in the end of the 80ies (i started climbing in 81)) Just repeating your opinion again and again does not make it more true. Just saying something without backing it up with relevant data is nothing more than meaningless soundbites, as Klem already pointed out. "I
think we also can see this for all the old guys that are still
improving gradewise on endurance climbs even if they started to climb
like 30 years ago. I thought everyone agreed that it is harder to get
some improvements on your power compared to get improvement on your
endurance. I am 49 years old and I am sure that if I have the time, I
could make personal best's on endurance routes if I started with a
structured program. At
the same time, I am sure I could never be as strong as I was like 10-
15 years ago. Personally, I do not see any progress for how I should
train power, compared to how I already did...but for endurance, I see a
lot of progress. " And now you switch to a completely different topic: the-old-guy problem or in other words: (loss-of-)skills versus age. as far as i know it is a well known fact, that with age you lose power more than endurance, so your statement just verifies this fact. But this has absolutley nothing to do with the original topic, and it is hard to see, why you wrote that section here. "@ Hanez: Nobody has pointed out how and why my conclusion is wrong.  Structured endurance training might increase downgradings!" Really? Didn't you read the posts of Klem/Guido/Franz? Sometimes i think you are in a league of your own, when it comes to how do discuss a topic.
OffLine Klem Fandango
  2015-04-07 16:24:55    
Your soundbite without any evidence is just that, a sounbite
with no real value whatsoever beyond sparking a conversation. This is your
reasoning and evidence to back up your soundbite:
“The climbing difficulty grading system is based on
comparison. One slabby 8a on granite is supposed to be equally hard for the
community as an 8a limestone roof. If the 40 meters 9a endurance challenges in
Santa Linya feels much easier compared to the 10 meter Action Directe in
Frankenjura, the comparison grading system has failed.”
This is your opening statement. It states that if a 40 metre
9a in Santa Linya feels easier than AD the whole comparison grading system has
failed. It has been explained to you at length that AD is a unique line and a
poor choice for a comparison. Nonetheless a short powerful 9a Will feel
like it takes roughly the same amount of effort as an endurance 9a. The whole
grading system does not fall down like a house of cards due to the presence one
outlier route or boulder problem. This is a silly statement that appears to
show little understanding of how we grade routes and problems. I thought it was
deliberately provocative to spark discussion, not because you actually believed
it. 

”During the last three years, only Alex Megos has
done Action Directe 9a although possible 250 other 9a, mainly endurance
ascents, have been done. One possible explanation for this is that the
structured training have increased only the endurance capacity of the climbers.”
Ok, you fail to say how many short (not specifically AD)
power based 9a’s and above have been done in the same period. No honest data is
presented here and means that people either have to take your word for it or go
through the 9a and above routes to ascertain an exact percentage to see whether
there is a trend in the first place.
The second part of your statement (structured training has
only increased the endurance capacity of climbers) has been completely and
utterly rebutted. Training knowledge (I won’t use the term structured training
as training structurally has been around for donkeys years) surrounding how to
target our various energy systems and more importantly recovery has improved
since the 90’s (which is your targeted time-frame, not mine), however it has
improved for Both endurance and power.
To make this clearer I will cite specific examples yet again
(again this is simplistic and based on a series of assumptions in the spirit of
the topic in hand);
In 1991 Hubble was climbed, which as it turns out was two
grades harder in route terms than anything that had ever been done and is 9a.
The current short power test pieces are considered 9b (First round, Ali hulk
etc), two grades harder than Hubble, but four grades harder than anything
else in the world. Again Hubble has a boulder problem crux that was years ahead
of its time, even in pure bouldering terms. Nevertheless the current highpoint
for bouldering is 8C+, again two grades harder than Hubble but at least three
grades harder than anything else at the time.
Short power climbs have gone through the roof (literally) in
grade terms, a massive advance.
Now lets look at the endurance equivalent Open Air (a route
which you used as an example) which is given 9a+ now after being repeated
(might settle 9a, 9a+ irrelevant though). The current endurance route test
pieces are considered 9b+ (only one route?) which is an equivalent two grades
harder. No difference in purely grade terms between the two differing kinds at
all. In fact, without Hubble the advancement is massively skewed towards short
power advancement, not endurance.

“Today,
the community might think that Ben Moon's Hubble 8c+ from 1990, with possible
just one repeat the last years, is at least as hard as the long modern 9a's?”
Already addressed, it should be as hard as a modern
endurance 9a, because it is. 

”Possibly, the explanation for the failure of the
comparison grading system has to do with greatly improved endurance training on
rock and gyms and it's structured methods, at the same time as, Huber and
Güllich's power training 1990 has not been improved?”
This is your explanation for something which has not failed
at all, failing. You say that grading comparison has failed (silly) and that
power training from 1990 has not improved. The facts suggest at a minimum there
is no correlation between your soundbite and your explanation. More likely the
facts appear to suggest the exact opposite (that is short power climbing grades
have advanced more than endurance due to modern training and recovery
knowledge), which I found quite surprising myself. So thank you again for your
opinion, even if it lacks any evidence
“Possibly, in order to do such few painful moves, the power
has to be practiced on the very route as the smother indoor holds, just do not
make your fingers prepared for the pain and ligament challenge?”
Already completely rebutted with the evidence suggesting
exactly the opposite i.e both Hubble and AD were trained for and practised
mainly away from the route.
As you can see from the above, your explanation and
reasoning for the stated sounbite is shown to be without evidence and
consequently, meaningless, do you see that?
An opinion without evidence is just an opinion, has no more
value than any other opinion, and certainly carries less value to me than an
opinion backed with evidence, data and reasoning. Do you not agree with that
premise?
It leads me on to a couple of off topic questions for which
I apologise in advance to you and all the other participants. However I would
like to know where I stand in discussions with you.

Do
you accept the possibility that when you think of an idea or provocative statement,
that your opinion may not be the only valid opinion in a discussion about
said provocative statement?
Do
you accept the possibility that your opinions are not always correct and
could in fact be incorrect?
Do
you accept that when others present sound evidence which refutes your
opinion, that the opinion may not be as correct as initially thought?
Do
you accept that if you present no or little evidence to back up your
opinion, but those others who have differing opinions present evidence,
that their opinion will hold far more value than yours?

Again I apologise for the off topic (move or edit if need
be) but I would like to know where I stand in the future, because I am
currently pretty bemused.
Thanks in advance Edit: I just wanted to add that I have enjoyed reading all the other contributions. There have been some really good points, with nuanced arguments and reasoning to back up their opinion. Thank you, very much appreciated.
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-07 16:37:31    
I use words like "think" and "might" but you say I should back up my "statement" with "evidence" and "facts" etc... Of course I do not know if I am right but I believe so and I have tried for the best of my knowledge to present examples supporting what I said. I have actually explained it to five friends and they do agree and find it easy to understand.  Ten years ago, I had the exact same debate with climbers saying I was dead wrong as I said the we had a boulder grade inflation around the world with a possible explanation with the new steep indoor gyms. It seems everyone agrees on this now.  My thoughts regarding, Structured endurance training might increase downgradings!, is a direct copy of my first thoughts presented in 2005. 
OffLine Guido Princess
  2015-04-07 16:54:38    
"Ten years ago, I had the exact same debate with climbers saying I was dead wrong as I said the we had a boulder grade inflation around the world with a possible explanation with the new steep indoor gyms. It seems everyone agrees on this now. " Jens, firstly, just because you were presumably right in the past about something different, you cannot use that as an argument about being right about something else.  Under that premise, I could say "10 years ago, I thought the sky was blue, and therefore, Sweden is in Africa". But, secondly and more importantly, for some reason I doubt that whatever it is that "everyone agrees on now" also makes any sense.  Why not post it in a new thread and see what people have to say :)? Looking forward to the next 70 comment thread, Guido
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-07 17:04:48    
During the 90'ies, the climbing community did not train so much on steep stuff and thus when the started doing steep boulders they felt hard. Later with more steep indoor gyms as well as more steep boulders, the climbing community did not think the boulders were so hard compared with the vertical stuff. The training had improved! I hope everyone can agree on this.
OnLine hanez
  2015-04-07 17:57:17    
"I use words like "think" and "might" but you say I should back up my "statement" with "evidence" and "facts" etc..." Of course i say that. Because that's the way, how people discuss a topic and, maybe, gets new insights. And by writing to this forum, you open a discussion - don't you? " Of course I do not know if I am right but I believe so ..." If this is your guidance to discuss a topic, then a better place to present your opinions would be a church, not a public forum. To be a bit more constructive: Klem, i and the others did ask you some precise questions. Why don't you try to anwer them, instead of repeating the same sentences? That would give this discussion significantly more sense.
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-07 19:44:38    
The important question is if you think that the steep boulder grades have been down graded partly by all the new great steep indoor walls? If you answer Yes to this, you can at least understand my logic.  If you do not understand that steep indoor walls have had impact on the steep boulder grades, I do not see any point of continue to discuss, even if I can not present any fact or evidence for my theory.
OffLine Guido Princess
  2015-04-08 09:11:22    
"The important question is if you think that the steep boulder grades have been down graded partly by all the new great steep indoor walls" Jens, honestly, I have no idea if that is true or not, because you also fail to provide fact or evidence for this conclusion.   For example, can you give examples of 2 steep boulder problems that have been significantly downrated during this time frame, compared to 2 vertical boulder problems of a similar grade that have kept their grade?
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-08 11:17:37    
Most of The first steep hard core boulders have been down graded included Entlinge which Nicole thought was 8C/+ which Woods flashed and now considered as a soft 8B+. At the same time most old School Vertical hardcore ones in Font are considered hard.
OffLine Sylvester
  2015-04-08 13:15:53    
People's preferences change. Now many train for endurance test pieces, not because it is easier than training for other styles, but because it's fashionable. It all boils down to the question what do we do with the gradings of routes requiring "forgotten" skills ? I disagree with you, Jens, that the gradings should be adjusted with the changing average skills of the community. I for one would like to preserve old gradings as they were settled during the period when the style was "in". This gives a nice historical dimension to our hobby.
OnLine hanez
  2015-04-08 14:52:55    
"The important question is if you think that the steep boulder grades have been down graded partly by all the new great steep indoor walls?" I don't think this is the important question here. You made this statement: "I think the training for doing routes like Era Vella has improved much more compared to how to train for AD." And therefore, for me the important question is, how you come to this conclusion. I'm a coach myself since 93/94 (although i didn't coach all the time) and, as i have written above, for  me the opposite seems to be true. Therefore i'm really interested in this topic and it would be nice if you give some references, where you get your knowledge from. Maybe i missed the big improvements in endurance training, that you mention, so please can you give some info, where this information can be found. Concerning steep boulder grades: To answer this question, i would have to know the following things: How many steep boulder have been downgraded? 1%, 10%, 50%? Did the downgrading concern only highend boulders or all difficulties? I know some Zangerl and Nicole Boulders have been downgraded, but at that time they were at the cutting edge and i think it is just normal, that you don't get everything right, when you do something for the first time. It was always normal that some boulder/routes changed their grading after some repeats. Did this happen all over the world or just in a few areas? I have heard, that swiss grades once were soft, but i have never heard the same for UK, France, USA, Germany, Austria. So maybe it was just a small local effect.     The only place, where i read about large-scale downgradings (and, as you call it, grade inflation), are your comments at 8a.nu. But i never saw data that support your theory. Just to mention some singular examples, as you mostly do, is no indication for the correctness a general statement. Maybe this example was just an outlier of all the available data. A good basis to support your thesis would be, if you said: I looked into the database. From 20001 to 2005 their were 400 first ascents of steep boulders in the grade 8b and harder. 156 of those were later downgraded. Here is the list of those boulders. I never saw sentences like this. Honestly, i doubt, that this grade inflation existed. Maybe a few areas (swiss, kalymnos) had/have to be adjusted, as climbing became more international (lots of world travelling climbers). Maybe the gradings of some (highend) routes (especially routes that opened new grades) had to be corrected. This was the case since the beginning of sportclimbing. If you make general statements (as you do many times) you simply have to provide relevent data to support your thesis. Especially if your thesis gets critisized. Otherwise everything becomes a meaningless discussion. As it is the case so many times here.
OffLine Klem Fandango
  2015-04-08 15:36:03    
To Hanez, Exactly, thank you.  Edit: I too find the general topic pretty fascinating, and would be happy to discuss it further, increase my learning and possibly provide a UK perspective on the subject. I have no interest to "win" on the internet though and find such intentions stifle meaningful discussion and promote needlessly entrenched positions (I actually began to feel myself falling into the same trap). Rarely can contentious or complex subjects be covered or summed up by meaningless sound bites, and that is exactly the point of discussing such topics; to explore and learn, not to "win". 
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-08 15:58:28    
I am afraid this is a misunderstanding Sylvester. I do not think grades should change based On training preferences but in stead based On given circumstances included know how and facilities etc.
OffLine Sylvester
  2015-04-09 10:18:35    
Thanks, Jens, finally. Then I think you should qualify your statements in the post. For example, you write "One slabby 8a on granite is supposed to be equally hard for the community as an 8a limestone roof"; you could replace the word  community with "a balanced allround climber". As for the headline, you could replace it with "More climbers are doing better endurance training, leading to more sends of routes like Era Vella" or something more catchy. Leave the "downgrading" part out, because it is a separate (ethical) discussion. The question of whether there has been any significant increase of know-how and facilities for endurance training compared to power training, is indeed interesting. It could make for a good PhD. Anyone?
OnLine hanez
  2015-04-09 14:30:32    
"I
do not think grades should change based On training preferences but in
stead based On given circumstances included know how and facilities etc." So what about all the routes, that were put up 100 years ago, f.e. the mega classic Dülfer way at Fleischbank Ostwand in the Wilder Kaiser (5c)? I would say, circumstances, know how and facilities have changed a lot since that times. Every slightly talented 8 year old kid can now climb within two or three months (when coached) a 5c route (only considering the technical difficulties here, not the alpine environment of course). So should we grade those climbs with 0b+ now? hmm. Improved circumstances, know how and facilities should result in the follwing facts (and in reality this is, what happened/happens): 1) More people climbing hard routes. 2) New grades (like 9a -> 9b+ during the last 20 years)
OffLine louis de cornulier
  2015-04-10 18:16:37    
I don't see why available facilities should change anything in the grading. People climb all over the world, while training on a wide range of tools and regimes, from none to cutting-edge.If some lad has no training facility and focuses on the FA of a project near his home, and grades it 8a, it should be 8a also for Alex Megos who has access to the best facilities worldwide and the advice and collected knowledge of many great coaches and fellow climbers. That is the whole point of a grading scale. Greater facilities make for easier access to a given level, but that doesn't make these routes intrinsically easier. We are just better prepared. More globally, climbing training is far better than it used to be 20 years ago, both in terms of facilities and programmes, and the consequence is simply that there are more climbers doing hard routes, and pushing limits further than they used to be. On a sidenote, that is why we have an open scale in difficulty, not a closed one as in the beginning and the top climbers had to fight for the seventh grade, after the 6th grade had been labelled "the extreme limit of human possibilities". To answer your initial specific point Jens, I think some climbers might be tempted to downgrade some routes, yes. I also think that in some cases they will just be wrong. If it feels easy, maybe it's because you are well prepared, not because it is a soft grade. I'd be curious to know if we could identify the profile of downgraders? Have they got a solid base upon which to make their comparisons, or are they young climbers on a quick learning curve?
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2015-04-11 09:32:57    
15 years ago, there were almost no steep bouldering indoor or outdoor. When the pioneers of steep bouldering started to open steep boulders in Rocklands, Hueco Tank, Grampians and Switzerland they thought they were super hard. Some few years later when the community could train on many steep boulder gyms, of course they found theses steep boulders easier.  If, in the future, every gym will include a wall with a exact replica to Action Directe, the community will be better prepared to do it.