Another (Ramonet) grade roller coaster 8c to 9a back to 8c+

EDITORIAL

20 January 2022

In 2012, Ramon Julian put up La Bongada in Margalef as an 8c. Then in 2014, Alex Megos repeated it and thought it was 9a. "When it was a project they thought it might be around 8c+/9a. Then Ramon did the first ascent of it calling it 8c. I repeated it and would definitely suggest 9a. It was nothing to do with 8c! Ramon might be just too strong ;-). When you compare it to some of the 8c+ in the same sector, it is a hard 9a. But for me it felt like a normal 9a."
Then Dani Fuertes thought 8c+/9a and later Laura Rogora confirmed Megos 9a proposal and it was considered 9a by all other media reporting her ascent. Then Adam Ondra, Alex Garriga and today also Dani Moreno have recorded it as 8c+ in their logbook. Interestingly, 8a has always presented it as 9a (8c+) since Megos ascent but now it seems this route should be called 8c+ (9a). I have mentioned it several times before but part of the grade inflation we have seen over the years is due to some media cherry-picking the grade in order to make the ascent more impressive.

It should be mentioned that there exist several examples of Ramon FA grades that others have considered as being sand-bagged. I do like that Megos is honest suggesting both personal up- and downgrades. La Bongada was possibly not his style and back in 2014 he was probably not using kneepads which according to Adam Ondra makes it "a little easier". Furthermore, the routes Megos was comparing La Bongada with was also Ramon FAs, which are all considered hard for their grade.

In any case, grades are subjective and possibly now La Bongada has become easier due to a break. It is natural that most climbers do not give personal grades and instead just report what is given to them in the topo or by friends at the crag. What is important is that the media not just take the highest given grade in order to make more impressive news. Although 8a, often present lower grades in comparison to other media, over the 20 years I have reported the news, my wild guess is that history shows that in at least 10 % of the cases, exaggerated grades have been presented. And one more time, the two-times world champion, the 159 cm tall Ramon Julian Puigblanque deserves more credit than his FA grades indicates.

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