Updating the RSA grading method

General climbing discussions. Climbing, Bouldering, Mountaineering. Anything!!
**Keep the arguments to the suject, not the members!
Post Reply

Updating the RSA grading method

Post by andre » Sat Apr 30, 2005 10:53 am

I know it probably a late and/or stupid suggestion, and I am more than likely going to make a fool of myself. But I wonder if it would be possible to update our grading system of routes? It's just a thought, so before people start subscribing my e-mail address to pr0n sites, just hear me out! :D At the moment our grading system only indicates the degree of difficuly related to the most difficult move on the route. You might find that you would be climbing a 12 up until the crux move which could be a 22. The other scenario is that you could be climbing a route where every move is a 22. 20m of grade 22 moves would be a lot harder than my previous example. But what if we were to incorporate a secondary value to our current grading system as done by other overseas grading systems? Say we add a letter to current grades, where the letter would indicate the difficulty before and after the crux. eg: a - easy b - medium c - hard That way people would be able to try more difficult moves and not have to worry about getting pumped before a crux move, or work on their endurance on those sustained routes. What do you guys think? Has this already been suggested? Please let me know so that I can mail the webmaster to delete this post!! :P A


Post by OnDrUgS » Sat Apr 30, 2005 10:53 am

Sounds a bit like the English method to me.


Post by andre » Sat Apr 30, 2005 10:53 am

Well to be honest, I have no idea (I know you aren't suprised by that answer). I haven't read up on it at all. I am not saying that we should change our method to the Brit's. Meerly to just add an ammendment if you will. I also realise that this cannot happen overnight. All I am wanting to know is if people think it's something worthwhile or not. I think everyone stand to benefit from it. Us newbies will not jump too far into the deep end. And the more elite won't be bothered to often to recover our draws! :D


Post by Dave » Sat Apr 30, 2005 10:53 am

Don't worry, Andre, we won't lynch you for your suggestion. Was thinking about it myself. My hardest route so far is several grades higher than other routes I can't do, simply because it was easy except for a short crux. Just wish there was one global standard for climbing grades...


Post by climberjames » Sat Apr 30, 2005 10:54 am

greets guys, the brit system, where there is a technical difficulty (the number and letter rating first) and an exposure \"fear factor\" grade (the E grade). from what i remember of our SA grades, we grade (in theory) by taking that all into account and then give it a number. the reason for this great difference in an 18 at silvermine in cape town and an 18 at oudtshoorn or in cederberg is because people's opinions on what is an 18 (or whatever) differ. if you ever get the chance to climb some of the classics from the 70's/80's/early 90's and compare that to routes done in the last couple of years, the grading scale has changed!!!!! people these days very quickly give a route a harder grade than it should in theory get!!!! also on the other end, people's abilities increase and as they increase their feeling of what is hard and what is not changes, hard routes become easy, but they might \"undergrade\" it. at the end of the day, regardless of what system is used it always comes down to this - the first grade will be subjective and subsequent climbs will ratify the grade given to the route. if it is harder, the grade should rise and vice versa if it is easier.


Post by andre » Sat Apr 30, 2005 10:54 am

Yeah well, that's the thing with subjective grading I guess. But it's not like you can follow a formula for grading a route? Can you? But I guess that's one of the functions of updating the route guides. I have heard people mention the grade of a route, and then shortly thereafter that it's going to be revised. But I aint looking to re-invent the wheel. Just make it rounder! :P


updating the rsa grading method

Post by gareth » Thu May 12, 2005 1:01 pm

Grading will always be subjective, but I don't think that's a problem. After all, what is the function of grading? It's there so that you can make a decision before doing a route whether it will be a reasonable challenge. This decision is based on your own subjective experience of that grade. Having attempted/sent it, you can then re-evaluate your own performance (or, indeed, rant about it being under- or over-graded).
As far as a \"scare factor\" grade goes, I think the practise of adding an R for 'runout' to the technical grade is a good system for both sport and trad climbs which have an uncharacteristically dangerous runout.


Keep it simple

Post by AndyDavies » Tue May 17, 2005 7:43 am

Our current grading system is great. A route with 30m of grade 22 moves won't be graded 22! - more like 25!!! Whats more important is the quality of the climbing.

Posts: 268
Joined: Tue May 03, 2005 12:48 pm
Real Name: Guy Holwill
Location: Cape Town


Post by Guy » Tue May 17, 2005 12:51 pm

Where on earth did people get the idea that SA grades (old eg F1 or new eg 19) are based on the hardest move?

Here's my definition of the grade:

\"The consensus assessment of the overall difficulty for someone of average height to climb the route onsight in good conditions\".

As you can see there are many variables in this equation - which is why some routes feel harder than others.

There are ONLY 2 grading systems in the world - the UK and the rest. SA, USA, French, UIAA and Australian grades are all the same. The poms have a bizarre system that actually gets more complicated the more you understand it.

Posts: 80
Joined: Tue May 03, 2005 10:18 am
Location: Johannesburg

Post by Stijn » Wed May 18, 2005 7:27 am

I thought grades were based on redpoint difficulty. ie. Having a knowledge of all the moves?

Case in point: Pink Harmonica in Ashes (19) at The Mine. There is a MASSIVE top out jug just to the left of the chains but when you're on the rail below it, it just looks like a featureless bulge and you end up trying this (harder than 19) move to a crack just below and to the right of the chains. If you had knowledge of the massive jug, it would be graded 19. If not (on onsight), it's a little more difficult...


Post by Stu » Wed May 18, 2005 8:03 am

I agree, some of our climbs are definitely not graded according to an onsight grade, but rather a redpoint/flash attempt.

Posts: 57
Joined: Wed May 04, 2005 7:39 am

Post by stuboy » Wed May 18, 2005 8:53 am

A route should be graded on the overall dificulty. A route with a 22 move after 20m of grade 20 climing will be more difficult to do than a 22 move off the deck followed by 20m of grade 20. Paws, or previously known as Tears For Fears, another subject sorry, is a good example graded 26 and none of the moves are harder than say 20. I also believe the grade should be for redpoint now that guy mentions it. All of us know that some routes have a reputation for being hard onsights, espesialy if every hold in a 3m radius of the crux has chalk on it. It is imposible to put all this info into a number or two letters and a number like the Brits. What I like is the french way of giving most of the routes in the guide a little bit of character by writing a short splurb on what it is all about. As for the actual grade, well that will always be a topic to discuss between short and tall climbers, slab and overhang climbers, boulderers and enduro machines, a route could get up to 10 diferent grades depending on your ability, size, gender, shoe brand, chalk brand, how many bolts you actualy clip, weather, spectaters, menstrual cycle and so on. What else would we talk about if the grade said it all. A three bolt 25 will have diferent demands than a 12 bolt 25. Just have fun :-)

User avatar
Posts: 246
Joined: Tue May 17, 2005 9:06 am
Location: Cape Town


Post by Rastaman » Thu May 19, 2005 9:16 am

I think that all routes in SA should be graded by the same person. After all someone who climbs 30's will have difficulty grading in the 16 to 19 range because it all feels rather easy to that climber. I nominate myself to go on an extended road trip to all the crags in SA and climb all the routes re-grading where necessary. I will need a fast car, brand new gear, a sexy belayer and a fat salary. It's going to be hard work after all? :D

User avatar
Posts: 234
Joined: Fri May 27, 2005 7:34 am
Real Name: Brenda Marx
Location: Stellenbosch

Post by tygereye » Tue Jun 07, 2005 8:03 am

The way I see it is that the grading system is just an indication of how hard a route is. For example, if you normally climb grades 20/21, you'll know not to go out and try a 30, but that you can give 22/23's a go. The point is not how high the grade of the route is, but to complete it - onsight, flash/redpoint, etc... whatever. Depending on fitness level, how phisically active you were the last few days, your energy levels, mental position, encouraging bystanders, weather, bla bla bla, the same route can be easy or almost impossible on two different occasions.

Post Reply