If you can’t lock your knees to a no hand rest some moves earlier (as Adam does), you link to almost 9a at this point another 8c+ without any rest, which should only add one grade to the whole? Sounds deflationary…

When I heard about Adam’s first repetition of Meiose some days ago, my first response clearly was joy. Finally someone did it! (Finally someone tried it!) But already there anchored a more problematic feeling: As only so few climbers master this grade in general and especially far away from home (basically Adam and Alex), and as I know how both grade and think, my eyes already then began to narrow in the expectancy of something unpleasant.

This unpleasant thing came to my hears or eyes two days later in form of the downgrading proposal to 9a+. Especially because this happened mainly due to a knee-lock-no-hand-rest (as shown in his video) that becomes possible only with the length of his legs. I am measuring 184cm and have proportionally long legs as well, but I can only clip and chalk there. I can hardly take the left hand off the wall. And I worked a lot on my knee pad engineering in there. A lot. And as the average high end climber should be about 10cm shorter, Adam’s downgrading argument seems highly personal. (Applying only for about 3% of potential aspirants.)

In addition smaller climber can’t down climb from the third bolt and thus have to clip just before the first crux. What makes a downgrading even more a luxury problem for “tall” climbers like him. We sometimes have these rather obvious advantages, but in general have a lot of rather hidden disadvantages like more weight, worse leverages, often slower muscle fibers and thus less explosiveness. And so on. (Wasn’t it like this, the average height would be 195cm as in volley ball.)

But let’s assume for a moment that this proposal made sense.

Just looking at the western part of Switzerland we than had “Adam-proof” 9a-routes like Cabane au Canada in Rawyl – a very, very, very, very soft one for central Europe, a rather normal one for other parts of the world – and “Adam-corrected” 9a+-routes like now Meiose. One half grade of difference – and the gap to never be jumped over by 95% of all climbers who will one day send routes like Cabane. The only way to progress in a measurable way will be slash grades (unusual in the French scale), predicates like “upper end”, “lower end”, “barrier” (not existing in the French scale) or, well, the name of the guy who did the FA (neither a part of the French scale).

Normally – means up to 9a and since this scale is used – (we also speak of the “golden rule”) a climber, who is well balanced between all styles and who works a project in conditions of stable steady progress, can send the b-grade in a day when he sends the a-grade on sight (and the c-grade in about five days of work). Or: by every half grade he has to invest more or less the double of energy and effort (8a in four tries, 8a+ about eight).

The way Adam grades, requires five days of work for 9b when you can on sight 9a (Alex graded in Supernova even tougher). This is exactly the double. The loss of precision is thus 100%. The gain: unknown. (Well, we need less space in guide books if we manage to avoid the number 10.)

Adam sent Meiose in four tries on two days (he already flashed the first crux – doing Chromosome Y – in 2014): the perfect logic 9b thus.

Coming from a scientific formation, it seems to me highly hazardous to change the underlying theory of a measuring scale at some totally arbitrary point on this scale (in this case in between 9a and 9a+). The sense of grading is on the one hand orientation and on the other hand the quest to achieve a certain degree of intersubjectivity (some call it objectivity). Both are seriously hampered by such a swift.

Our sport enters in a new era, prospers and grows and high level rock climbing as well profits a lot from this momentum – attracting more and more interest as well by a broader public.

Why should we exactly now seam so much confusion?

Just because we feel too humble to give higher grades?

In my opinion no very good reason.

As (at least the German speaking part of) the alpine region is still quite unaffected by this confusing movement and high end routes of the same or neighboring grades tend to be comparable, I clearly refuse a downgrading of Meiose.

Using it as a 9a+ reference for Switzerland would mean to block the way further up for almost every actual 9a climber of the country.

Nothing that can be in our interest.

For someone who flashes 9a+ and has several clear physiognomy advantages (one no hand rest instead of quick chalking and a “preclipped” crux bolt) downgrading to 9a+ in my eyes exceeds a very chilled second go ascent.

As it accounts for the 5th grade, the 6th, the 7th and the 8th

No four tries on two days.

15 thoughts on “Save our scale! – Some good reasons to refuse Adam’s downgrading proposal of my FA from 2015 “Meiose” (9b) in Charmey”

  1. Well written comment regarding the somber and sensationalist side of downgrading existing routes. People should definitely climb more and talk less about their achievements, especially when big sponsors, news outlets and the impending doom of total internet and telecommercialisation of climbing are involved. Real climbers keep under the radar and know when to shut up.

  2. Adam is probably too kind to propose a harder downgrade. What will you do when Alex comes, onsight it and propose 9a? Self harm threat if the climbing community doesn’t support your grade claim?

  3. The first realistic solid 9b in Switzerland will come from St-Tryphon. Have a go there and try Amazonie to feel how hard a real 9a is.

  4. If you can’t lock your knee as effectively as Adam did it just means you’re weaker at kneebar than him. You’re not shorter than him, just less good than him at using you calf. That doesn’t justify keeping the FA grade. In any way. No excuses.

  5. He even graded the route “low end 9a+ with kneepad”. I would have been very happy for you for a confirmed 9b but I guess Adam has by far the best references. Would be really great to see Alex and Stefano on this route and how they would grade Meiose as they are “shorter”.

  6. I think this is a very interesting discussion and would merit to be looked at from a more statistically sound perspective than “just” the “golden rule”. The Climber Performance Rating (CPR) does exactly that (background here: https://www.thecrag.com/de/artikel/cpr) and essentially proves that the difference between individual grades is based on a factor of 6. Apply it for yourself and draw your conclusions…

  7. Sounds bit like crying child to me,.. I believe it hurts, when you invest so much energy, but on the other hand, Adam only proposes what he feels.
    You are also free to propose downgrading of Cabane au Canada, if you feel it is rather 8c+. For each climber, you have moves and routes which suite you more and routes which do not fit you well. If Adam feels, that 9b has to be something very special and do not see so hard crux or problem in your route, let’s wait for Alex, Chris or whoever will try later. To oppose downgrade is to revert the very logic of grading in my eyes.

  8. We get the ‘objective’ grade from averaging many subjective opinions. At any grade there is going to be some outliers who think it’s soft, some who think it’s sandbagged, and a majority for whom it’s roughly on point.

    You cannot ‘scientifically’ argue for your grade when it’s just two guys having climbed it. Your subjective feeling is that it’s 9b, Adam’s is 9a+, they are both equally valid. The only way to sort it out is for more climbers to assess it and build a consensus.

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