"Low percentage" routes should be graded harder


Thursday, 13 January

"Low percentage moves" are something athletes use to describe moves that often challenge your coordination. They are tricky and sometimes feel slippery or involve a dynamic move to a shallow one or two-finger pocket. In competition climbing, the route setter often set low percentage coordination moves in order to split the field. Often, a certain body position is needed both in the start of the move and in the finish. However, the exact body position could differ for climbers of the same length. Alternatively, it is about standing on a micro and you cannot explain why the foot sometimes pops. In the end, you can even say that low percentage moves are somewhat connected with being lucky like in a lottery.

Obviously, a pumpy 40 meter route that finishes with some low percentage moves is very hard to do also mentally. Even boulders that finish with just one low percentage move could create frustration. It does not matter how much stronger you get working the problem - instead, it might feel like a lottery. Although Action Directe is known to be about pure finger strength, it is also about low percentage moves. You need to have the exact body position starting the dynamic moves and to exactly squeeze in the fingers exactly as you land the moves, in combination with precise footwork. Some climbers have said that they felt really close but anyhow just kept falling.

Action Directe was the first climb that was graded 9a and in total there exist almost 1 000 9a to 9c now. Although AD being an ultra classic that everyone wants to do, it has only been repeated three times during the last three years. This means that we basically can call it a very hard 9a and, in fact, there are probably some 9a+' out there which most climbers would consider an easier task to do as they do not include any low percentage moves.

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