Friday, 23 January 2009

The Promise

By now I hope you all have an idea of how I climbed The Promise, and why I graded it E10 7a so there should be no need to go over old ground.  The Promise has now been repeated by 5 people and the grade seems consensus seems to be around E8 7a (KJ E8 7a, AH E8 7a, PR E7 7a, BB E8 7a, JR E8 7a).  Ignoring for now that all other ascentionists used bouldering pads to protect the route, where I did not, the gear placement has been tested and has surprisingly (to me) held many falls from the crux of the route.  I believed this runner to be only psychological and thus perceived the danger to be pretty high.  By turning out to be pretty good, the actual danger of the route is much lower and so the grade should change accordingly.

The use of pads on this route makes a huge difference.  Believe it or not, I originally thought about trying to highball the route above a mountain of foam but gave up when I couldn’t get enough people psyched.  If you have read my last post entitled “Actual Danger continued... A.K.A. ‘the effect of pads’you will know how blurred the line between route and highball can become based only on the use of pads, which is why I don’t think I can say exactly that using “x” amount of pads makes The Promise “y” grades easier, but it is obviously not as scary.  I’m sure someone will pipe up and say something along the lines of “if the gear is good, then pads don’t make a difference”, but I would have to disagree.

Now despite what has been written by others about the gear being bomber, I still struggle to believe it.  The gear must be ok, and this has been proved by it holding falls, but bomber to me means a rock 6 in a deep slot, not a shallow no.1 slider in a tiny gritty pocket.  Also according to JR, the placement is now looking a little worse for wear and a bit saggy – “I wouldn’t be surprised if the next size up fits now...”  If the placement has been enlarged through repeated falls, how many more falls will it take before it is enlarged just enough for the gear to pop?  After all, the expansion range on a no.1 slider is not that big if my memory serves me correct.

If anything is certain, it is this placement seems temperamental; on one hand it has held multiple falls from the crux of the route, but on the other hand it has both been pulled out by me from the floor whilst testing, and kicked out by JR whilst on the lead.  I think describing it as “bomber” could send out misleading messages and I would hate to see someone get hurt.


Anonymous said...

hi james,
if the expansion range is not that big then i'd guess it is easy to place less than perfectly, maybe the people who thought the gear bomber had placed it better?
and isn't bomber relative to the gear you are placing? a bomber rock six will always be better than a bomber rp3, but doesn't mean the rp3 is no good.

James Pearson said...

Hey Tom,
My understanding of "bomber" has always been regardless of the type of gear, ie, you are much more likely to have a bomber friend 4 than an rp0. Thought at the end of the day, I guess this is just semantics :)

Anonymous said...


The gear was placed by all ascentionists on the day on lead. Everyone then returned to the floor and looked at the gear from climbing up the groove to the right and having a look. There is actually quite an obvious "best" place for the ball nut to slot, anywhere else and it's not so good. I wouldn't have gone for it had I not seen it in the right place.

I looked at it, I pull tested it and trusted it as I just seen geldard wing off onto it about 4 times.

All that said, it fell out as I moved past it. I was pretty shocked when the I looked down the rope topping out as the boys were saying "you kicked the gear out you f*****g chump."

I wouldn't class it as "bomber". Semantics tell me; "not too bad, but maybe poor" is probably a better description.


Anonymous said...

If pads makes climbs safer, and therefore, lowers the E-grade of a route ... then it also follows that not knowing how to place gear correctly so that it holds a fall would raise the E-grade.

In other words, if a route's grade is going to be dependent on the person's experience and use of gear, then if someone climbs a route but doesn't know how to place gear so it holds a fall, then haven't they transformed the route to an E15 or higher?

Hence, here is the problem with E-grades. They don't work. Why not just adopt the system everyone else uses, and give a route a difficulty rating and a danger rating?

Otherwise, people around the world will increasingly see the E-grade scale as a scam to over-hype these small, mungy, relatively unimportant climbs.

Anonymous said...

to the last poster:

I'm sure that once you've done a bit more climbing you'll understand how the E-grades work; it really is not hard