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.