Grade testpieces - Western Cape sport routes

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Grade testpieces - Western Cape sport routes

Post by Paddy » Fri Apr 29, 2005 10:57 pm

I have always used certain routes as grade reference points - as in when grading a new route or as a fitness milestone (or lack thereof). As a reference point the testpiece route to my mind has to be very solid for its grade as if another route is harder than by implication it should be a grade harder. It should also be an indicator that you have dealt with the hardest that a grade can throw at you and that you are ready for higher vistas. These routes invariably have classic status in that they are normally sustained for their grade. The new WC guidebook has introduced some grade changes which has sort of unbalanced my sense of the moderate/intermediate grade structure. Just to get a sense of where grades are headed I would be very interested to hear other peoples thoughts as to what route they consider the testpiece for a grade (regardless of what the route is written up as). To get the ball rolling here are my thoughts: gr 17 - Gospel Express; Gr 18 - Big Sky; Gr 19 - Wow Wow Peddle; Gr 20 - Living Daylights or Latin Lessons; Gr 21 - Sterling Silver; Gr 22 - that route at the Mine to the right of Jimmy and the Big Boys (memory banks are short circuiting); gr 23 Neuromancer; gr 24 - Wild Card (very solid for the grade but to my mind easier than Swan Lake and Roger's 25 at the Palace (the name escapes me) and is therefore 24); gr 25 - Swan lake; Gr 26 - Thruster; gr 27 and + don't know as too hard for me but still interested to hear the comments on these grades


Post by grigri » Fri Apr 29, 2005 10:58 pm

Yeah the new guidebook regrades so many routes! Was this done by consensus? Now I can climb the same routes as last year and score twice the points for them on my 8aNot scorecard! I must be getting stronger in my old age!


Post by D » Fri Apr 29, 2005 10:58 pm

Gradings in the W Cape are hugely inconsistent. Compare grades at Lower Silvermine with similarly graded climbs at Peer's Cave! The grade is supposed to indicate how difficult a climb is without regard for its height. You can get a \"short 19\" and a \"long 19\" and the latter will obviously be more tiring but the moves should be equally difficult.


Post by Doug » Fri Apr 29, 2005 10:58 pm

D, I think you should read previous comments to this forum about grading - specifically I remember a long discussion between Guy and Grigri. Our grading system (along with internationally accepted ones such as the French system and the UIAA (German-Euro) system) grades the overall difficulty of a route; and NOT the grade of the hardest move. So a short 19 (such as those at Peers Cave) WILL tend to have harder moves than longer 19's elsewhere on the Peninsula. As to grading consistency: there will always and everywhere be debate. You try getting consistency at the crags in Europe - dream on, they can't even get consistency in the grades in the climbing gyms. (

party boy

Post by party boy » Fri Apr 29, 2005 10:59 pm

I think most routes in SA are soft for the grade. especially in the lower twenties and teens. generally bolters are either being macho and then sandbag the route, or they climb way harder than the route and tend to over compensate. take talking to the trees at peers cave. that route should be 17 maximum, take alpha and omega at lower silvermine, that route should be 20 maximum, it is a giveaway even for a 20. take an equivalent route in france and you'll find yourself crying at the grade and bricking over the run outs and the fact that most bolts are AFTER the crux. Take any ADK route and it's spot on, the older guys had the right idea. concensus grading is a joke 'cos you'll always get subjective answers, it's just that with time we've now got a generation of mummies boys whinging about 'scary' run outs and cragging with cooler boxes.

Smoking Joe

Post by Smoking Joe » Fri Apr 29, 2005 10:59 pm

Ah the age old topic of grading. If grades are to mean anything there should be some commanality as regards routes within the same grade, especially for routes in the same region with the same rock type. And grades should mean the same thing over time (why should a 23 today be cheaper today than it was 15 years)? How do we assign a grade other than by way of comparison to existing routes. Therefore there needs to be a bunch of routes that benchmark a grade otherwise there is a danger of a particular grade losing its original meaning. I think Paddy's strand is an important point. Check out Dave Graham's thesis on this particular matter on As a potential visitor to the Cape it would be great to hear what other climbers condsider their benchmark for a grade (routes to aim for when visisting).

Simon Vos

Post by Simon Vos » Fri Apr 29, 2005 11:00 pm

Hey All, Paddy has a great list of \"solid\" routes. The 22 at the Mine is Sickle Moon I believe. It still feels solid at the grade in my books. One thing left out of the conversation is type of climb of climber. Crimpy face is easier for a petite woman than say big overhanging jug halls. The opposite would no doubt be true if you where a burly big chap. Simon Vos expat in OZ (

David Kruger

Post by David Kruger » Fri Apr 29, 2005 11:00 pm

I agree with you Simon. Some times u will climb a route, say a twenty and think hell that was easy, then other times u will struggle on a 19. I think it depends, like u said, on what type of climber u are, and what sorta route u like the best.


Post by Q20 » Fri Apr 29, 2005 11:01 pm

Just to add my thoughts to Paddy's \"top of grade list\" from routes I've done 18 Cool Hand Luke (Silvermine) 19 Undercling Route (Lakeside) 20 Trade Winds (Mine) 21 Me or My Girl (Bosch) 22 Rapture (Skoorsteenskop) (


Post by Gareth » Fri Apr 29, 2005 11:01 pm

Paddy, I've often thought about this, and funnily enough my list matches yours almost exactly from grades 20 to 26, but opted for Red Guitar as a benchmark 25. Wasn't Swan Lake once a 26? How about Daze of Thunder for 27, and Gift of Wings for 28? I can't really say for these 2 grades, as thrashing about on a tight toprope is not a good way to estimate grade.

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