5.12 babble

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Jeff Elison

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Feb 20, 1990, 3:12:47 PM2/20/90
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I've got a question about 5.12. How many climbers actually flash a
high percentage of 5.12? There is an amazing amount of talk (and
pictures) about 5.12 and 5.13 in the magazines. Yet I've rarely ever
seen it happen. Usually when I do see someone climb a 5.12 with no
falls, they have been on it before. Lately, I'm beginning to think
it happens alot less than I would have guessed.

One experience that makes me say this was watching the Intercontinental
Championships in Boulder. The women's semi-final was supposed to be
5.11b/c or 5.11c/d depending on who you are talking to. Yet only 3 (of 14)
women flashed this route. Their finals route was supposed to be 5.11d/12a
and 2 flashed it. The men's semi-final was 5.12a/b and 7 (of 54) flashed
it.

Then I look at the magazines, and the same climbers who were falling off
the semi-final routes are pictured on all these 5.12 and 5.13 routes.
I guess hangdogging is alot more popular than I imagined.

I started climbing 15 years ago and at that time I didn't know anyone who
took alot of falls on the same climb. I grew up with the style of doing
climbs that you could probably do. We would take a few falls every year
pushing our limits, but never hangdog.

There have been alot of changes in the sport. Most of these changes I've
picked up, but I haven't really gotten comfortable with dogging or working
on a route in prep for a redpoint. Somehow I feel like I'm wasting time.
I keep thinking of all the great 5.11s I could do in the time it takes me
to wire a 5.12 and then redpoint it. Why not just go bouldering? It
saves all that boring belay time and wear on the rope plus both partners
get to do more climbing.

I was interested to see the "Hot Flashes" column in the new Climbing
magazine. It's nice to see what the upper limits are and the style
used.

babbling over,
Mort

Peter Beckman

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Feb 21, 1990, 8:29:21 AM2/21/90
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In article <1723...@hpcndm.CND.HP.COM> j...@hpcndm.CND.HP.COM (Jeff Elison) writes:
> I've got a question about 5.12. How many climbers actually flash a
^^^^^
>[...]I guess hangdogging is alot more popular than I imagined.
^^^^^^^^^^^
>[...]on a route in prep for a redpoint.
^^^^^^^^

Wow, I thought I knew a lot of climber's vocabulary. I figured out
what 'flashing' is, but what is' hangdogging' and a 'redpoint'?

-Pete

Kenneth Cline

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Feb 21, 1990, 11:16:44 AM2/21/90
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I am by no means a solid 5.12 climber, but I have managed to drag
myself up a few twelves (mostly New River Gorge 12a's), some without
falling. I have no 5.12 flash ascents to my credit, but I don't spend
hours working on a route either - either I make it up or I don't and
then I walk away. In a few cases, I have returned to lead climbs that
I either followed or top roped, due to their high quality.

As far as hang dogging goes, I suppose I have a different perspective
than many people. There is a sense in which I feel as though I am not
pushing myself hard enough if I spend a day climbing without falling.
Thus I don't mind falling more than once onto a bolt at the crux of a
really hard climb, although I feel better if I don't. On the other
hand, I am impatient and simply am not willing to spend hours
rehersing moves when so much wonderful rock exists at saner standards.

Anyway, I mention this since you may find a picture of me climbing
Freakey Styley (5.12a) in an upcoming issue of one of the magazines.
I fell on two moves (didn't see an invisible 5.11c foothold until my
third or fourth attempt, and missed the dyno at the crux), but was
incredibly juiced when I reached the belay. By the way, the photos
are great.

There are three commments I have about making this ascent.

First of all I am proud of having lead this climb. I was clearly
pushing my limits, yet I succeeded in what I consider reasonable (but
not great) style.

More importantly, this climb was a real rush for me - definately not
an antiseptic sequence of rehearsed moves. In fact, when I reached
the belay, I was so out of breath that I think I must have been too
excited to breath for the twenty feet or so between the crux and the
top.

Finally, it is worthwhile asking if pictures such as this misrepresent
climbing to the readers of climbing magazines. Maybe so, but if
they're good photos they are worth printing. I look for keywords such
as "flash", "redpoint", or "attempting" in the captions, and preplaced
gear on the rock when interpreting these pictures.


On a related note, brought up by the original article, I assume that
the reason contest climbs seem to be rated easier than you might
expect is that they the routes are probably sustained with
progressively harder moves. Even though this may be partially
accounted for in the rating, a 5.11+ move may be harder to complete at
the top of such a route than a single 5.12 move in the middle of an
otherwise easier climb. Opinions/corrections anyone?

Enough blabbering for now.

Ken Cline

Ray Snead

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Feb 22, 1990, 12:04:55 PM2/22/90
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Interesting thread, this. Particularly since 5.12 is hardly at the cutting
edge of difficulty these days... More interesting still is that many "top"
climbers cannot consistantly flash at this level.

[ Time out here for some jargon-- some of the posted explanations of terms
like "a vue", flash, redpoint and pinkpoint have been a bit muddled. These
are listed above in order of desirability, with "a vue" ("on sight") the
most sought after. A flash has come to mean the ascent of a route with
no weighting of the rope (falls, hangs, etc.) It also generally connotes
no significant pre-inspection, beta, etc. An "a vue" ascent is a flash
with *absolutely* no beta or inspection; it is simply the purest form of
flash. Redpointing means an ascent without weighting the rope. A redpoint
implies that attempts involving weighting the rope were required for the
ultimate success. Pinkpoint is a now-unfashonable term which means that
a redpoint was achieved with fixed gear in place; that the climber did
not place all the gear on the ascent. With easy-clip bolt routes, this
is less of a distinction than it once was. ]

Anyway, there are a lot of very good climbers in Boulder. Many of them have
flashed 5.12 (or even 5.13), but almost no one can do it consistently. Even
at the top level, a 5.12 will take "a few trys" for most. Even with a current
top-end of 5.14b or c, most excellent climbers can't consistently flash 5.12.

Another aspect of this thread is the developing "debate" between Ken Cline
and Bruce Hildenbrand. It is about ethics, and the argument is rooted in the
fact that there are really two aspects of rockclimbing. There is traditional
climbing, a la '70s California ground-up ethics. And there is sport climbing,
as practiced at Buoux and Smith Rocks. They are different animals, and most
explosive arguments about ethics occur when the two branches of the sport
are considered as one. Sport climbers tend to focus on maximum difficulty,
and trads value mind control over danger.

Most of our modern ethical problems stem from this dichotomy. It is the root
of the bolt controversy. It is the source of disagreements of the sort that
Ken and Bruce will no doubt debate-- what constitutes a lead?

Me, I straddle the fence. I don't feel much like a sport climber when I'm 30
ft. out doing 5.10 moves on low-angle granite in the South Platte. On the other
hand, it doesn't ruin my day if I fall once or twice leading a 50 ft. 5.11 bolt
route in the Flatirons.

Which provides the biggest rush? I don't know-- that is part of what makes
climbing in the '90s so interesting!


Ray Snead
Boulder, Colorado

Peter Beckman

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Feb 22, 1990, 2:36:16 PM2/22/90
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In article <8...@unix386.Convergent.COM> bhi...@unix386.Convergent.COM (Bruce Hildenbrand) writes:
>The fact that you consider falling 4 or 5 times "reasonable" style is why
>the ethics of modern day climbers have eroded to the point where they are
>nonexistent.
[...]
>Sure, it is admirable to push your limits but, if you fail then you should
>realize that at this particular time and on this particular route, you
>were not up to the task. Why should you feel proud?
[...]
>I am not going to talk about top rope ethics, there are none, and anyways
>leading is where it is at! So....

I have never lead a route, don't own a pair of climbing shoes, and do
not consider myself a 'climber', but I have had A LOT of fun
climbing and top roping.

The notion that "my definition of climbing is the pure, ethical,
historical, and correct way to enjoy, and be proud of one's
achievements in a sport", shows a God-like ego, quite contrary to the
very nature of most individuals that enjoy the backcountry.

It is exactly YOUR attitude, that gives us 'outsiders' the stereotype
(I think false) that climbers are a bunch of stuck-up, competitive,
whinny elitists.

I hope your elitist views will not have any affect on most people's
sense of accomplishment, no matter what it is. Personal achievement,
without harming the environment, or others, is something to be proud
of. Why should you seek to make others feel like failures, because
they do not hold up to your definition of a performance to be "proud"
of?

The fact that you feel like a failure when you can't complete a route
without falls is fine; you can set your goals as you like. But
calling me 'unethical' if I don't hold YOUR beliefs makes me snicker.
If I wish to further challenge myself by backpacking without a tent,
that's fine, but when I start calling people who use tents unethical
and say they should not be proud of their particular accomplishments,
I am being foolish.


Maybe the net can just vote to make you backcountry
God-dictator-maximum-leader. Then you can define those
accomplishments we can be proud of, and how exactly to enjoy the
backcountry. Then maybe the rest of us will stop snickering.

Sheeesh........

-Pete

Kenneth Cline

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Feb 22, 1990, 3:06:08 PM2/22/90
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bhi...@unix386.Convergent.COM (Bruce Hildenbrand) writes:

> Here goes, I will probably get flamed to death but, we are looking
> for opinions and here are mine:

Whoa!!! Calm down Bruce, I didn't mean to get anyone's blood pressure
up with my post. The point I was trying to make was that some people
(including myself) sometimes have fun while climbing with less than
impeccable style, and that since this is the case publicizing such
ascents isn't necessarily evil.

> To put it succintly, this means not waiting protection, either by falling
> or resting. By these standards, the ascent described above was a failure,
> I am sure Kenneth Cline's intentions were for the best, it just didn't happen
> on this particular climb on this particular day.

Calling my ascent a failure is a bit strong. I consider my lead a
successful aid ascent (5.12- A0), nothing more and nothing less. More
importantly, though, I had a seriously good time, and that is what
counts to me.

> I am really going to get in trouble here but, why do you feel proud of
> your ascent? You fell about 4 or 5 times by your own admission. The climb
> most likely was not dangerous(i.e. no hair factor) as you survived 4 or 5
> falls and lived to tell about. Why were you jazzed? As I stated before,
> in my opinion, you did not "lead" this climb.


>
> Sure, it is admirable to push your limits but, if you fail then you should
> realize that at this particular time and on this particular route, you
> were not up to the task. Why should you feel proud?

All true. The risk of harm was minimal. I don't really understand
the source of my pride, but I am sure that it stems from the
difficulty and quality of the moves I made. But I also believe that
if I try the climb again, I will not fall. The reason for my falls
was not figuring out the correct use of hand and footholds. Part of
my pride comes from figuring them out without any beta.

To be fair, I enjoy playing devil's advocate and challenging peoples
beliefs and ideals. I must admit to, at least subconsciously, trying
to spark a debate such as this.

> The fact that you consider falling 4 or 5 times "reasonable" style is why
> the ethics of modern day climbers have eroded to the point where they are
> nonexistent.

[Note to non-climbers: Ethics in climbing refers to practices which
affect subsequent parties, such as placement of bolts, cleaning a
route with a wire brush, and even misleading claims about the style of
ascent.]

This is, I think the crux of our disagreement. My style of ascent
hurt no one. I left no trace of my presence other than these words
and a few photographs. I suppose that by climbing this route, I
implicitly condone the tactics used to create the route, but aside
from this I see no ethical implications.

If I recall correctly, Royal Robbins, that paragon of ethical
behavior, recommends that as far as style is concerned the decision
rests with the climbers directly involved. And that action is only
appropriate when ethics come into play.

> leading is where it is at! So....
>

> I push my limits when I feel I am ready.
> ...
> There are other routes that I regard as training climbs or just attempted
> because we were in the area. If I fail(i.e. fall or hang on protection)
> then I still feel bad but, I am less likely to get down on myself....

Great! You know, I think our views of climbing are much more similar
than you would like to admit. The main difference I see is that I am
willing to attempt routes which are harder than you are (relative, of
course, to our respective climbing abilities), and that I am willing
to consider less pure tactics as successful on those climbs.

I, too, wait until I am ready (i.e. high probability of flashing) for
most climbs. However, "eurostyle" climbing (as well as top rope
climbing, for that matter) has its rewards. Certain routes, which
lend themselves to this sort of climbing can be worthwhile for many
climbers.

You might be surprised to hear that the great majority of ascents I
make are on-sight flashes. I feel really great when I flash a 5.11,
and disappointed when I fall on a 5.10. I follow more 5.12s than I
lead because I climb with people who are better than I am, but I still
enjoy those ascents.

I think the most fun I had on a rock pitch last summer, though, was a
5.9 or so offwidth crack on Prussik Peak (in the Cascades) that I lead
(flashed) on-sight (it wasn't in the guidebook) during a snowstorm.
It was late in the day and we had to hurry down in order to make it
down Aasgard pass before nightfall, but belaying my partners up that
crack was probably my happiest moment that summer.

> This will most likely come across as a personal attack on Kenneth Cline
> and in many ways it is. The attitude he purports about what is considered
> a "reasonable lead", goes against a great number of the values that I was
> taught not only for climbing but, for living in general. Why can't we admit
> that we fail sometimes, learn from the experience and be better people for it!

Bruce, this response is in no way meant as an attack on you, but
rather as an attempt to convince you that my motives are not as bad as
you might surmise. I was taught to live and let live, provided that
doing so does not interfere with the enjoyment of others. I did not
alter Freakey Styley for you or anyone else. I did not make false
claims about the style of ascent. In fact, I didn't even expect to
have my picture taken while climbing it. Really, I am a loss to
explain why I inspired an attack.

> By golly, I will take this opportunity to admit that I was unable to lead in
> good style a number of routes last year and I am damned "unproud" of it.

Am I to conclude that our differences are primarily a matter of
self-image?

"Just climb it."

Ken Cline

P.S. My spelling checker suggests Brace, Brute, and Truce as
replacements for your name, I wonder if it is trying to tyell me
something...

:=)

Steve LaSala

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Feb 22, 1990, 4:44:43 PM2/22/90
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In article <8...@unix386.Convergent.COM> bhi...@unix386.Convergent.COM (Bruce Hildenbrand) writes:
>
> "Today, the only way you can fail on a climb is if you fall and the rope
>breaks and you die."...
> "If you could not have succeeded on the climb if you were soloing, then
>you failed."
>
>the ethics of modern day climbers have eroded to the point where they are...

>
>you were not up to the task. Why should you feel proud?

I climb for my own reasons. If they are fulfilled, I will continue to
climb. If not, I will stop. And I really *DO NOT APPRECIATE* someone else
trying to tell me what I should be doing and why!

>I am not going to talk about top rope ethics, there are none, and anyways

>leading is where it is at! So....

Oh, I see. anything except doing what you're doing just the way
you do it is WRONG, BAD, and WORTHLESS. Pardon me!

>If I fall, I usually sit around sulking and talk about giving up climbing,
>go on long bike rides, whatever. If I succeed, then yes, I am proud, but
>not if I fail(i.e. fall or hang on protection).
>
>probably better understand where my limits are by hangdogging and falling
>on routes but, I will never take pride in doing such.

Strange as it may seem, there *are* other world-views out there.
Not everybody gets their sense of self-worth from the goal-oriented,
judgemental, binary-success-or-failure model.

Finally, let me once again distinguish between "ethics" and "style".
Ethics is anything that interferes with other climbers or changes the climb
for future parties, and is therefore a matter for public debate. Everything
else is style, and is a private affair.

Let's stop telling each other what should be going on inside our
heads while climbing, and focus instead on the degradation of backcountry areas
when they become arenas for competition rather than natural places to be
cared for and preserved. That, IMHO, is the PROBLEM.

Ted Dunning

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Feb 22, 1990, 5:06:32 PM2/22/90
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In article <8...@unix386.Convergent.COM> bhi...@unix386.Convergent.COM (Bruce Hildenbrand) writes:


Here goes, I will probably get flamed to death but, we are looking
for opinions and here are mine:

... pompous neo-ericsksonisms deleted ...

...
About now, I am sure all the new generation of climbers has stopped reading
this and are in the process of firing off incredibly acidic flames, well
you asked for my opinions, you got 'em!!


have you ever considered that ethics are a personal thing? and that
there is a continuum of success, but that climbing is not about
failure?

other sports (bike racing come quickly to mind) put a premium on
failure by over-emphasizing the winner, but normally climbing is a
personal success-oriented sport. you get to push yourself as hard as
you like, and you can succeed on a number of different levels. if you
play it right, then failing is an impermanent thing; always subject to
coming back and doing better.

a major key to this positive aspect is not being a public bozo about
your private standards. go ahead and apply any standards you like to
yourself, go ahead and provide a good example of undefiled man-hood.

but please don't piss in somebody else's pie.

--
Offer void except where prohibited by law.

Bob Pasker

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Feb 22, 1990, 8:29:35 PM2/22/90
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While I dont climb nearly at this level, I'd like to comment on
Cline's post about where on the pitch the "crux" move is. Last
week-end I top roped a small but counter-intuiative roof rated at 5.8.
The crux move on this climb was second to last. By the time I'd
gotten up the first 9/10ths of the route, my arms were so pumped that
although I had found all the bits and pieces nescessary to get my 4
limbs off the horizontal and onto the vertical (and last move) part of
the climb, I did not have the strength to pull myself out of it. Had
the move been lower down, I believe I would have made it. As it was,
I was completely pumped for the day and couldn't do any more climbs at
the edge of my skill level.
--
- bob
;-----------------------------------------------------------------
; Bob Pasker, San Francisco, CA | r...@well.sf.ca.us
; +1 415-695-8741 | {apple|pacbell}!well!rbp

Jeff Elison

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Feb 23, 1990, 10:34:33 AM2/23/90
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>> I've got a question about 5.12. How many climbers actually flash a
^^^^^
>>[...]I guess hangdogging is alot more popular than I imagined.
^^^^^^^^^^^
>>[...]on a route in prep for a redpoint.
^^^^^^^^

>Wow, I thought I knew a lot of climber's vocabulary. I figured out
>what 'flashing' is, but what is' hangdogging' and a 'redpoint'?

hangdogging (or dogging) is hanging from the rope or protection while you
rest and figure out the moves. This is sometimes done in preparation for
a redpoint ascent - which means to climb from bottom to top without falling
or weighting the rope or protection. Using the term redpoint implies that
the climb has been worked (fallen) on. As you probably figured out a flash
is an ascent where the leader makes it without falling on his first try.
But just to split hares (poor Bugs), a flash can be on-sight or with beta.
An on-sight flash means that you knew nothing about moves on the climb except
the rating. Beta (from betamax) is when someone who is familiar with the
climb gives you a move by move description of the hard parts - or when you
watch someone else do the climb first. On a tricky route (possibly hidden
holds) this can make a big difference.

Then of course there is pinkpoint - that's like redpoint, but all the pro
was left in so all you have to do is clip it. On some routes this doesn't
make much difference. On others with difficult to place protection it can
change the rating.

It's amazing how fine the hairs get split when climbers need to determine
just who is the better person.

>-Pete

Mort

Jeff Elison

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Feb 23, 1990, 10:52:42 AM2/23/90
to

Ken Cline writes:

>but I don't spend
>hours working on a route either - either I make it up or I don't and
>then I walk away. In a few cases, I have returned to lead climbs that
>I either followed or top roped, due to their high quality.

Same here.

>As far as hang dogging goes, I suppose I have a different perspective
>than many people. There is a sense in which I feel as though I am not
>pushing myself hard enough if I spend a day climbing without falling.
>Thus I don't mind falling more than once onto a bolt at the crux of a
>really hard climb, although I feel better if I don't. On the other
>hand, I am impatient and simply am not willing to spend hours
>rehersing moves when so much wonderful rock exists at saner standards.

Sounds almost exactly like myself, although I don't need to fall EVERY time
I go out.

>Anyway, I mention this since you may find a picture of me climbing
>Freakey Styley (5.12a) in an upcoming issue of one of the magazines.
>I fell on two moves (didn't see an invisible 5.11c foothold until my
>third or fourth attempt, and missed the dyno at the crux), but was
>incredibly juiced when I reached the belay. By the way, the photos
>are great.

Great, I'll be looking for them!

>There are three commments I have about making this ascent.

>First of all I am proud of having lead this climb. I was clearly
>pushing my limits, yet I succeeded in what I consider reasonable (but
>not great) style.

Sounds just like my hardest routes. I'd say that was reasonable style.

>More importantly, this climb was a real rush for me - definately not
>an antiseptic sequence of rehearsed moves. In fact, when I reached
>the belay, I was so out of breath that I think I must have been too
>excited to breath for the twenty feet or so between the crux and the
>top.

Agreed, I've had the same experience after taking falls - it certainly
doesn't become antiseptic just cause it took some work.

>Finally, it is worthwhile asking if pictures such as this misrepresent
>climbing to the readers of climbing magazines. Maybe so, but if
>they're good photos they are worth printing. I look for keywords such
>as "flash", "redpoint", or "attempting" in the captions, and preplaced
>gear on the rock when interpreting these pictures.

Once again I agree. I'd rather see great photos than exclusively "flash"
photos. Misrepresentation? A little probably. I was more curious about
the fact that there are fewer "solid" 5.12 climbers than I thought. And
of more interest the fact that there are so many people who choose to work
on climbs that are so far over their heads. Like you said - I get bored or
impatient. Part of this may be the weekend warrior scene. I don't feel like
I get enough climbing time to spend even a day on a single pitch. If I was
climbing 15 days a month that might change.

>Ken Cline
>----------

Mort

Ray Snead

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Feb 23, 1990, 12:05:22 PM2/23/90
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Steve LaSala writes:

<about Bruce expressing, rather forcefully, his *opinions* about style/ethics>

> ... And I really *DO NOT APPRECIATE* someone else trying to tell me what I

> should be doing and why!
>

> Strange as it may seem, there *are* other world-views out there.
> Not everybody gets their sense of self-worth from the goal-oriented,
> judgemental, binary-success-or-failure model.

Bruce has been labled "elitist" and "neo-erickson" for expressing his
actually rather traditional opinions. But they are just opinions, and
I'm a bit surprised at the level of outrage. Bruce's position was the
common one in the '70s and early '80s.

> Let's stop telling each other what should be going on inside our
> heads while climbing, and focus instead on the degradation of backcountry
> areas when they become arenas for competition rather than natural places
> to be cared for and preserved. That, IMHO, is the PROBLEM.

"What is going on inside our heads while climbing" seems to me to be a
appropriate topic for discussion. Some of us *MIGHT NOT APPRECIATE* someone
else telling us exactly what we should be focussing on... And you didn't
bother with the "why".


Ray Snead
Boulder, Colorado

Scott Moody

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Feb 23, 1990, 3:53:03 PM2/23/90
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In article <1723...@hpcndm.CND.HP.COM>, j...@hpcndm.CND.HP.COM (Jeff Elison) writes:
>
>
> I've got a question about 5.12. How many climbers actually flash a
> high percentage of 5.12? There is an amazing amount of talk (and
> pictures) about 5.12 and 5.13 in the magazines. Yet I've rarely ever
> seen it happen. Usually when I do see someone climb a 5.12 with no

I think this is a good question. I would categorize myself as
the nofalls type of guy unless pushing the envelope on something you
think you have a good/fair chance of making.

I have only seen a couple real good 5.12+ climbers in action and the
biggest was watching Todd Skinner free climbing City Park (5.13+). Actually
he didn't make it the day we watched, but made it a couple days later.
Turns out he was climbing and falling on the 5.13 stuff for a few days
trying to wire it - actually visualizing the moves. We asked what the
upper part was like, and he said "oh, easy 5.11+ or 5.12-". He wasn't
even working on that because it was easy for him.

So I would think that these super climbers can probably flash the 'easy'
5.12 stuff, and struggle a bit on 5.13, then really work on the 5.14.

For me it usually works like the Saturday Night Live, Gloria Jackson's
movie review (**** = bad-too artsy, *** = great, ** = ok, * = great).
Mine is :
(5.11 - toprope about 1 in 10
5.10 - clean/elegant/do-able sometimes; (unless fists or offwidth).
5.9 - hard;
5.8 - grunts;
5.7 - easy
5.6 - hard grunts)

Don't know if this helps.

P.S. Actually Skinner made an effort to put different shoes (his sponsors)
and get into some wrong position a little above his last protection
-- all to take photos for adds. (Photos by Beth Weld)
--
--Scott Moody UUCP:
-- uw-beaver!ssc-vax!shuksan!scott
-- uunet!bcstec!tahoma!shuksan!scott
-- The Boeing Mountain Network ^^^

Bruce Hildenbrand

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Feb 26, 1990, 7:10:16 AM2/26/90
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Here goes, I will probably get flamed to death but, we are looking
for opinions and here are mine:

cl...@PROOF.ERGO.CS.CMU.EDU (Kenneth Cline) writes:

>Anyway, I mention this since you may find a picture of me climbing
>Freakey Styley (5.12a) in an upcoming issue of one of the magazines.
>I fell on two moves (didn't see an invisible 5.11c foothold until my
>third or fourth attempt, and missed the dyno at the crux), but was
>incredibly juiced when I reached the belay.

I use the saying quite often lately, "Today, the only way you can fail


on a climb is if you fall and the rope breaks and you die."

Kenneth Cline's comments obviously echo this sentiment. Personally,
I use Jim Erickson's comments for qualifying an "ascent"(or lead or
whatever).


"If you could not have succeeded on the climb if you were
soloing, then you failed."

To put it succintly, this means not waiting protection, either by falling
or resting. By these standards, the ascent described above was a failure,
I am sure Kenneth Cline's intentions were for the best, it just didn't happen
on this particular climb on this particular day.

>There are three commments I have about making this ascent.

>First of all I am proud of having lead this climb. I was clearly
>pushing my limits, yet I succeeded in what I consider reasonable (but
>not great) style.

I am really going to get in trouble here but, why do you feel proud of


your ascent? You fell about 4 or 5 times by your own admission. The climb
most likely was not dangerous(i.e. no hair factor) as you survived 4 or 5
falls and lived to tell about. Why were you jazzed? As I stated before,
in my opinion, you did not "lead" this climb.

The fact that you consider falling 4 or 5 times "reasonable" style is why


the ethics of modern day climbers have eroded to the point where they are

nonexistent. What constitutes a "reasonable" ascent? Less than 6 falls?
Wait, hold on, how about less than 10 falls(good decimal number)?

How about, no falls!!!!!!!!!!

Sure, it is admirable to push your limits but, if you fail then you should

realize that at this particular time and on this particular route, you


were not up to the task. Why should you feel proud?

I am not going to talk about top rope ethics, there are none, and anyways


leading is where it is at! So....

I push my limits when I feel I am ready. There are certain, usually
deemed "classic" routes(Naked Edge, Vertigo, etc.), that I would like
to be able to do first try, no falls. On these routes, I wait until
I am about 80% certain that I can do them in good(Erickson) style, before
I attempt them. If I fall, I usually sit around sulking and talk about
giving up climbing, go on long bike rides, whatever. One thing I do not
do, is take pride in pushing my limits on these climbs if I fail. If I
succeed, then yes, I am proud, but, not if I fail(i.e. fall or hang on
protection).

There are other routes that I regard as training climbs or just attempted


because we were in the area. If I fail(i.e. fall or hang on protection)
then I still feel bad but, I am less likely to get down on myself.

Conversly, the positive feelings from succeeding on these types of climbs
is less than from succeeding on a classic. But, in either case, I do not
take pride in failing on a climb because I was pushing my limits. I will
undoubtedly get stronger by hangdogging and pushing my limits, I will


probably better understand where my limits are by hangdogging and falling

on routes but, I will never take pride in doing such. I look on this type
of climbing as training for the "classics".

This will most likely come across as a personal attack on Kenneth Cline
and in many ways it is. The attitude he purports about what is considered
a "reasonable lead", goes against a great number of the values that I was
taught not only for climbing but, for living in general. Why can't we admit
that we fail sometimes, learn from the experience and be better people for it!

By golly, I will take this opportunity to admit that I was unable to lead in


good style a number of routes last year and I am damned "unproud" of it.

Does that make me a failure? Well, in the eyes of the modern climbers who
are reading my reply, they probably wish it made me dead. However, it just
goes to show that I am human, and there is nothing wrong with that!

About now, I am sure all the new generation of climbers has stopped reading
this and are in the process of firing off incredibly acidic flames, well
you asked for my opinions, you got 'em!!

Bruce Hildenbrand

ps - As Larry Coats, Equipment editor for Rock and Ice, says,
"Nowadays, it's[climbing] a whole different sport!"

v291...@ubvms.cc.buffalo.edu

unread,
Feb 26, 1990, 12:47:55 PM2/26/90
to
In article <8...@unix386.Convergent.COM>, bhi...@unix386.Convergent.COM (Bruce Hildenbrand) writes:
> Here goes, I will probably get flamed to death but, we are looking
> for opinions and here are mine:
>
> "If you could not have succeeded on the climb if you were
> soloing, then you failed."
> To put it succintly, this means not waiting protection, either by falling
> or resting. By these standards, the ascent described above was a failure,
> I am sure Kenneth Cline's intentions were for the best, it just didn't happen
> on this particular climb on this particular day.
I sort of agree with this. :) My question is, do you use protection? If
so, why? You can save a lot of money, and there is no real argument about who
failed! ;^)
-Pat Salsbury
U. of Buffalo, NY

Lowell Skoog

unread,
Feb 26, 1990, 1:06:32 PM2/26/90
to
Hoo boy, what a snake pit! I'll stick my toe in anyway...

Several posters have pointed out that as long as you don't harm
anybody else's experience, climbing ethics are a personal business.
I agree.

However, climbers have always liked to make comparisons, both between
routes and between people. That's why we have rating systems and
concepts of style. That was the original context of this thread. I
think that the respondents who've complained about ethical elitism
have jumped out of context.

Given that climbers have always (and will always) like to make
comparisons, we need a standard for doing so. That's where the
conflict lies. In the Old Days, a 5.10 climber was somebody who
could consistently lead 5.10 on-sight with no falls. Nowadays, it
seems that climbers compare only their hardest leads, and the methods
employed don't matter as much as they used to. As long as you can
get your picture published on a 5.13, as far as the world knows,
you're a 5.13 climber. This upsets the traditionalists, because it
seems that the rules have been changed, but nobody has admitted it.

The new wave of climbers seeks acceptance of their accomplishments,
and acknowledgement that the new game is a valid one. The old guard
wants the young turks to admit what they're doing, and to appreciate
the challenge imposed by the old rules.

----------------------------------------------------------------------
Lowell Skoog low...@tc.fluke.COM
John Fluke Mfg. Co. Inc. {uw-beaver,microsoft,sun}!fluke!lowell
P.O. Box 9090
Everett, WA 98206-9090 (206) 356-5283
----------------------------------------------------------------------

John Morton

unread,
Feb 27, 1990, 1:44:41 PM2/27/90
to
In article <15...@fluke.COM> low...@tc.fluke.COM (Lowell Skoog) writes:
>Hoo boy, what a snake pit! I'll stick my toe in anyway...
>
>Several posters have pointed out that as long as you don't harm
>anybody else's experience, climbing ethics are a personal business.
>I agree.

Me too, though when they extend beyond personal ethics (e.g. bolting)
they are no longer just personal business.

> In the Old Days, a 5.10 climber was somebody who
>could consistently lead 5.10 on-sight with no falls. Nowadays, it
>seems that climbers compare only their hardest leads, and the methods
>employed don't matter as much as they used to. As long as you can
>get your picture published on a 5.13, as far as the world knows,
>you're a 5.13 climber. This upsets the traditionalists, because it
>seems that the rules have been changed, but nobody has admitted it.

An interesting juxtaposition of styles occured when Don Whillans first
came to Yosemite (~1964) when transatlantic cross-fertilization was
just beginning. Yosemite climbers were all trained in the Sierra Club
rock-engineering tradition of empirically practicing and improving the
dynamic belay. It was common to practice belaying rather astounding
falls at the Berkeley rocks, with deliberately out-of-line anchors, etc.

Whillans was amazed at how little one worried about falling in the
Valley. To him it was simply not an option, the same as falling without
a rope is not an option.

On the other hand the Californians were very serious about observing
the line between Class 5 and Class 6. No problem there: either you
stepped on that pin or you didn't. To me this is the root of modern
style distinctions, at one time unique to the U.S. In Britain it was
not an issue (nobody did anything Class 6), and on the Continent it
was not an issue (a peg once inserted became as part of the rock, you
could do whatever you wanted with it).

I like to leave people to their own devices, but I must admit to being
a bit burned when I see the pictures of "first ascents" with bolts and
quickdraws _ahead_ of the leader!

John Morton University of California
jmo...@euler.berkeley.edu Mechanical Engineering
{decvax,cbosgd}!ucbvax!euler!jmorton Machine Shop

Ted Dunning

unread,
Feb 28, 1990, 11:15:48 AM2/28/90
to

In article <1723...@hpcndm.CND.HP.COM> j...@hpcndm.CND.HP.COM (Jeff Elison) writes:


I was more curious about the fact that there are fewer "solid" 5.12
climbers than I thought.

and even solid 5.12 climbers blow it. this weekend at the hueco tanks
rock rodeo, _none_ of the super experts were able to flash one of the
crack problems; one that was rated 5.12a. only one contestant even
got up it on a subsequent try. this is in a group that was able to
handle several other 5.13 problems.

this isn't terribly surprising since contest climbers generally hate
crack climbing and tend to specialize on difficult overhung faces.

ele...@elroy.uh.edu

unread,
Mar 1, 1990, 10:47:24 AM3/1/90
to
In article <TED.90Fe...@kythera.nmsu.edu>, t...@nmsu.edu (Ted Dunning) writes:
>
> and even solid 5.12 climbers blow it. this weekend at the hueco tanks
> rock rodeo, _none_ of the super experts were able to flash one of the

Just out of curiosity, what did happen at the Hueco Tanks bouldering contest?


RMS

Ted Dunning

unread,
Mar 1, 1990, 4:24:54 PM3/1/90
to

Just out of curiosity, what did happen at the Hueco Tanks
bouldering contest?


i was hoping somebody would ask. the weather was great, the climbing
was virtually the same as last year except for the super advanced
class and everybody had a good time.

the special characteristics of the hueco rock rodeo were well
preserved; everybody got chums; they drew an incredible number of
prizes at random, and everybody cheers and helps everybody else out.
pete and co. put on a wonderful feed with free beer and the dancing
next to the bonfire went late into the night.

i was surprised and pleased to see even in the super advanced class
that competitors helped each other by talking about the problems on
the ground.

a summary of the top results:

Super advanced (5.12+) (points in parens)

Dale Goddard (134)
Hans Florine (97)
Wally Stasick (93)
Alan Lester (75)
Will Gass (71)

Apparently Wally only decided to enter this category at the very last
moment. He certainly was good enough. Todd Skinner was there, but he
didn't compete.

Advanced (5.11-5.12)

P. Cornforth (385)
M. Samet (358)
J. Anderson (354)

The choice between Advanced (5.11-5.12) and Intermediate (5.7-5.10)
was obviously a difficult one for many competitors; the first place
intermediate finisher would have finished in the top ten in Advanced
and the last place Advaned competitor would have finished in the last
5 Intermediate.

Women's

N. Prichard (257)
L. Medina (245)
Mary G. (194)

so there you are.

Jeff Elison

unread,
Mar 1, 1990, 6:09:42 PM3/1/90
to

(Bruce Hildenbrand) writes:

> "If you could not have succeeded on the climb if you were
> soloing, then you failed."

Oh sure - soloing! Anyone can solo almost anything! It's dragging that rope
and gear and stopping to put in pro that makes it hard!

Just meet me at Shelf Road and try to climb in my style - double 13mm ropes and
a full big wall rack:-)

Mort (and belay gloves, camera, ghetto blaster, lunch, 6-pack of beer,....)

Tom Harper

unread,
Mar 6, 1990, 5:03:47 PM3/6/90
to
For some reason I never got Bruce's comments regarding style. Could someone
repost or send them to me? I'd like to read them in full.

Tom Harper t...@hpda.hp.com

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