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General Climbing Discussion

Ewbank Grading System
3:16:26 PM
Here it is, from the master's mouth himself; taken from his 1967(?) guide to the Blue Mountains.

STANDARDS: The English grading system has been abused in Australia since
1951. Without discussing the why’s and wherefores, I shall try to explain the revolutionary system here. There is no “mild” or “hard” subdivisions. (e.g. “mild” severe, “hard” very difficult). No inferior or superior subdivisions (Dolomites system).
e.g. 5 ‘Inf’. 6 ‘Sup’,
No letters (S. Africa) e.g. El, E2, A, G.
The 'Tarquitze Rock Decimal System' (U,S,A,)
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5.1 to 5.10, 6.1 to 6.6.
My head is spinning already.This system is the simplest used so far, to my knowledge, in the world, It also has a chance of working. None of the others are doing so too well at present. This system starts, it has no finish. There are no sub-divisions. Each grade has its own separate number.

Grading takes the following into consideration. Technical difficulty, exposure, length, quality of rock, protection and other smaller factors. As these are more or less all related to each other, I have rejected the idea of 3 or 4 grades, i.e. one for exposure, one for technical difficulty, one for protection etc. Instead the climb is given its one general grading, and if any of the other factors is outstanding, this is stated verbally in the short introduction to that climb, e.g. 'Freds Frolic’ 17. 302’-6”

A fine climb, marred by poor rock at (crux) and poor protection on 4th pitch. etc, etc.

I feel that this system will soon be accepted, and the Americans seem to be thinking of something along similar lines.

As far as protection goes, the general terms “good”, “fair”, “poor” are used. However, it should be noted that I have taken the use of modern gear into account, and therefore this point will vary according to the individual, the amount of "silent aids" he carries and his ability to use them.

MECHANICAL GRADING: The system being used for grading mechanical climbs or pitches is similar to above, without so many different grades. The top grades of mechanical climbing in England is classed A.4. As pegging (‘Artificial’ ~ ‘Mechanical’) is as variable in difficulty as free climbing., I have added more numbers on, with the prefix of the letter ‘M’. A climb with a mechanical pitch and free climbing would be graded say, 15. M.3.

If a climb uses only one pitch for physical aid, the climb is graded free and the piton mentioned. If a climb uses two or any number of pitons for physical aid, but they are separated by free moves then the climb is still regarded as free with aid. For example: Pitch 3. 60’. (crux). Straight up the groove, ‘4 pitons for aid’. However if two aids are used in succession with no free climbing in between., then that particular section is regarded as mechanical. A climb, may therefore be free, aided, and mechanica1, though only the two grades are used - i.e. 18 and M.5. while the aided portion of the climb is described verbally in the description.

The easiest mechanical grade (M.1.) therefore applies to such things as two firm bolts, close together, in any easy position on good rock.

7:21:18 PM
Thanks BA,
Is there any further elaboration on the M grades ?
I would be interested in knowing the differences between M4, M5,M6,M7 & M8

3:09:18 PM
A5---For some totally mind-numbing 'inspiration' , check-out the 'elaborations' of USA climber Jim Beyer---his A6 routes in Utah , make Copper-head Road look like a bolt-ladder !

Luv ,HEX
5:54:53 PM
BA wrote:
> If a climb uses only one pitch for physical aid, the climb is graded free and the piton mentioned.
I think this might have meant "only one piton".
In which case WHOO HOOO cos Mechanical Animals here I come, with my one reusable expansion-bolt shaped 'piton' to grade the route 16. Just 16. M-nothing.
(Apologies for the Troll-like outburst there)

10:14:46 PM
On 23/03/2004 hex-TROLL wrote:
>A5---For some totally mind-numbing 'inspiration' , check-out the 'elaborations'
>of USA climber Jim Beyer---his A6 routes in Utah , make Copper-head Road
>look like a bolt-ladder !

Thanks for the pointer Hex-Troll.

I have an insatiable appetite for all things Jim Beyer ... & would love to discover more of what I don't know!
The only negative thing I have heard about him (JB) is a John Middendorf quip to the effect that he (Beyer) has aided some stuff then freed it (portions within longer climbs while still 'working' the 1st ascent), but only gives the free grade for his 'guide', ... and they are virtually protectionless horrorfests!
This obviously sandbags repeat ascentionists !

JB's nuances in top end aid grades is something we are lucky to have, as most persons aspiring to this level do not survive to tell the tale. All the more radical because much of it was done solo, so he is truly a hardman for the mind component as well as the technical.

12:24:37 AM
Apparently, during one of his Himalayan aid-climbing trips , he melted some #1's-contaminated snow ,for his evening meal, and then over the next two days ABSOLUTELY caked the inside of his down-suit with 'cauldron-discharge' ,as he raced back to base-camp to re-hydrate !

Luv , HEX.
11:03:20 AM
after that I think he tried to climb an 8000m peak on the Baltoro without gear, permits or acclimitization, and in a blizzard when everyone else was descending. There is an article that Greg Child wrote about JB (its in Mixed Emotions).... makes him seem like a looney.....even worse than Hex....
12:46:49 PM
> If a climb uses only one pitch for physical aid, the climb is graded free and the piton mentioned.

I went back and checked Ewbanks guide because at first I thought it was an error during the OCR-ing of his text. It is a direct copy from the guide, the typo is in the guide.

As for the M grades ... there are no 'definitions', it is as above. M2 is 'harder' than M1. M3 is 'harder' than M2 etcetera and that's about it.

There are 8 messages in this topic.


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