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Climbing grades in different areas
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By Edward_
May 15, 2012

I hope this is the right forum (sorry if it isn't)... been thinking about wanting to explore Climbing areas outside of California. In particular, places I'd love to go include:

Utah - Indian Creek... Ancient Art (ha yes, citi)
Gunks - trad... the 3 classic 5.6s in particular
Red River Gorge - sport
New River Gorge - sport

I've only climbed trad in Yosemite/J-Tree/Lovers Leap... and Sport, a few times in Red Rocks, Goldwall/Jailhouse, and some crags around LA.

Opinions? Thanks in advance.


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By Edward_
May 15, 2012

oh and also Wyoming/Devils Tower/Titons.... one day when I get more experience.


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By Colonel Mustard
From Reno, NV
May 15, 2012
Colonel Mustard

There are only two real rules: what a man can do and what a man can't do.


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By Bucket Head
May 15, 2012

sounds like a good game plan - go for it


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By richie
From englewood, tn
May 15, 2012

the only place i have been to that you mentioned is indian creek. the grades seem stiff if you dont have your crack technique and endurance down. but if you fit the crack you are trying they seem easy.


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By Edward_
May 15, 2012

richie wrote:
the only place i have been to that you mentioned is indian creek. the grades seem stiff if you dont have your crack technique and endurance down. but if you fit the crack you are trying they seem easy.

Question 2 for you then :)

I find Yosemite isn't so much straight in jams, as there are tons of features in cracks I yank on. I do a lot of cracks in the gym, so I'd say my gym crack skills are toned to (gym) perfection! Not sure how that relates outdoors...


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By Rafael Rovirosa
From Las Cruces, NM
May 15, 2012

J-Tree has pretty stiff grades so you should be fine just about anywhere. Make sure you climb trad at the New, it is unbelievable!


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By S. Neoh
May 15, 2012

I will just comment on the sport routes at RR, NRG, and RRG.
I have done a number of sport routes at RR and thought they were a little soft. I see that you agreed that Yaak's is soft at .11d. Do not expect this softness at NRG, especially on routes FA'ed by Doug Reed. Grades at RRG is a little less consistent; some are on par with NRG but some are more similar to the sport grades at RR.
My advice is to ease into the grades at each new area and do not expect to onsght at the same grade as at RR on the 1st day at a new area. You will figure out the local grading from the 3rd or 4th day onward.
Have a great deal of fun. That is more important! :)


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By Edward_
May 16, 2012

Thanks for the replies. I don't really care too too much about numbers. I'm actually more interested in one day getting Devil's Tower, Kor-Beck, Ancient Art, and those Gunks 5.6's (High E, Madame G, Shockley Roof).


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By mitchy
From nunya gotdamn business.
May 16, 2012

High E is one of my favorites. Haven't been to the Gunks in a LONG time though.


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By chuck claude
From Flagstaff, Az
May 16, 2012
First climb after knee surgery <br />

Comparing the grades in the area is pretty much like comparing a sports car and pickups. The styles are so different, that if you think they are easy or hard is really dependent on if the styles suits you.

Indian Creek: by in large straight forward perfect splitter crack. Favors endurance or power endurance crack climbers. I find the grades easier, but that is my style.



Gunks: horizontal facet climbs of either roofs or slab by routes ( yes, slabby routes, especially down on the Slime Wall). The grades are solid, but when I was climbing there consistently before moving west, I thought the grades were fair and accurate. It is a different style, and if it's not yours, you'll think that it hard. PS: I find the best routes are in the 5.10's, even though the 5.6's are those famous one. Personally I think Hi E is WAY overrated. The last pitch ( the money pitch) is pretty good, but other climbing to the ledge, mediocre. If you do the first two pitches of directissima then it would be better.


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By Dow Williams
From Saint George, UT
May 16, 2012
Dow Williams, 2011

Chuck is right, but I don't even find grades within the same location very consistent...there are two main influencing factors to pay attention to...year route was put in and who put the route up.

For example, Layton Kor's routes have always been much more challenging and interesting to me than Beckeys in the alpine environments of the Canadian Rockies and Bugaboos.

Near St. George, UT, Ron Olevsky's routes, again, far more interesting, challenging and thought provoking, than Todd Goss's.

Zion...I know several of the FAer's, spanning many years. Everyone the most solid of individuals, not one I know trying to sandbag anyone. Routes from the 70's obviously graded lower than newer routes, lesser availability and experience with a broader grade system obviously.

The towers in Moab will be all over the place for you...so many different styles of cracks, from fingers to stem chimneys and off widths.

The most influencing third factor is the kind of rock. I have had many Gunk climbers get quite uncomfortable on sandstone.


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By Sam Stephens
May 16, 2012
Top half of Melifluous

As far as NRG vs RRG, a lot of people claim a huge grade difference. If you start at the Red and Hit the New I think you'll agree. If you start at the New and hit the Red you can see a difference, but it's not quite as dramatic. The New tends to be powerful and techy, and it prepares you well for the Red with the exception of ultra pump enduroness. The techy face climbing at both areas can be very comparable though.


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By Jake Jones
From The Eastern Flatlands
May 16, 2012
Me and the offspring walking back to the car after a day of cragging.

Old Custer wrote:
There are only two real rules: what a man can do and what a man can't do.


One time I mistook "Don't shit where you eat" for a real rule and missed out on a grand prank adventure. I wish I would have known there were only two real rules. I'm so ashamed.


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
May 16, 2012
El Chorro

All awesome places. All some of my favorite places. Very different scenes though, and that makes A BIG difference. But you didn't ask about that, you asked about the climbing, which is also important:

It seems that you are a reasonably descent 5.8 trad climber? If not, I wouldn't recommend Ancient Art. It is the kind of route that can feel easy for an experienced climber but hard and scary for many 5.8 climbers. Just depends on where you fall on that scale.

Indian Creek has no 5.8's. I was there for a month and don't think I ever came across a 5.9, but they exist. The grades can feel soft if you know how to jam and have a lot of endurance, but stiff if you can't jam or can't deal w/ a bit of pain and suffering. There will definitely not be any holds to pull on inside the cracks, or outside for that matter. Some people call this the Center of the Universe.

The Gunks is steep and exposed and sometimes when you look up a pitch it looks as if there is no gear at all. Many times you don't see the gear placements until you are at eye level with them. This makes some people call the grades stiff. They are not stiff, they are perfect. Might feel hard for you if you're not used to the style. This probably could be the Center of the Universe, but I'm glad that the westerners don't agree.

RRG - Again, another place that can feel soft or stiff depending on what you're used to. Endurance and good technique on steep stuff can get you a long way at the Red, but not being able to cop a shake out on a jug or feeling uncomfortable hanging upside down means you're gonna get shut down a bunch. That said, there is a lot of quality sport under 5.10 at the Red and some awesome trad as well. For all the people that think this is the Center of the Universe, you are correct. Please stay there.

The New usually get's called stiff, and there are definitly some sandbags. But for the most part the routes are just hard (not to be confused with stiff). To send a 12a at the New, you're going to have to do a v3/v4 boulder problem. Most routes have stopper moves, but they are graded correctly. Techy climbing, reachy, crimpy, etc. Definitely some power moves on the vertical routes though, and plenty of steep stuff as well. Can't think of a whole lot of sport under 5.10, and not really much to speak of under 5.11. Same w/ the trad. A 5.10 trad climber and/or 5.12 sport climber could climb at the New for a lifetime, but a 5.8 trad/5.10 sport climber will have to do a lot of walking and will run out of stuff to do relatively quickly. Definitely NOT the Center of the Universe. In fact, no one should bother visiting the New. It rains all the time and the routes are really short.

Hope that helped. You're gonna have a blast!


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By Darren in Vegas
From Las Vegas, NV
May 16, 2012
Skiing around.

Another NRG vs RRG story:
I remember in the early days of my climbing life, I was hiking down to Butcher's Branch at NRG, and there was this guy from the Red hiking in front of me. He was talking about how he had climbed 13's at the Red and that he was intent on onsighting Bicycle Club (11d/12a depending on the source). I had never seen anyone climb something that hard onsight, so I kind of lingered around to watch the show. After watching him flail at the first bolt for a while I got bored and moved on. Moral of the story....the Gunks ratings are the stiffest, just read any thread on this site and someone from there will offer that unsolicited information.


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By Princess Mia
From Vail
May 16, 2012
Chillin' at City of Rocks

I agree that if you are a 5.6-5.8 trad leader there is really nothing at the Creek, and in general desert rock can be very intimidating if your background is mainly granite and that is your level of climbing.
Of course Red Rock Canyon has a lot of moderates and it is a great place to improve the desert crack skills.
As for Ancient Arts.....take a number..... the commercial did nothing but increase the popularity of a a pretty sketchy climb......more accidents are likely as most noobs are not quite ready for the muddy Fisher Towers...... just saying......


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By doligo
May 16, 2012
Jose Cuervo Fruitcups dirtbag style

I agree with Dow - grades don't matter as much as who put up the routes and when. I personally like most routes put up by Fritz Wiessner. In the Gunks, they're more interesting than the ones put up by his contemporary and partner Hans, IMO. Fritz was the master of off-widths and cracks and Hans was the master of aid. Having said that, I still think that High E is amazing even by the 5.4 slog, thank you, Hans!

IMHO, if you are a well-rounded climber with good technique, solid footwork and some mileage under your belt, grades at new areas don't spank you as hard.


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By Sam Stephens
May 16, 2012
Top half of Melifluous

Darren in Vegas wrote:
Another NRG vs RRG story: I remember in the early days of my climbing life, I was hiking down to Butcher's Branch at NRG, and there was this guy from the Red hiking in front of me. He was talking about how he had climbed 13's at the Red and that he was intent on onsighting Bicycle Club (11d/12a depending on the source). I had never seen anyone climb something that hard onsight, so I kind of lingered around to watch the show. After watching him flail at the first bolt for a while I got bored and moved on. Moral of the story....the Gunks ratings are the stiffest, just read any thread on this site and someone from there will offer that unsolicited information.


I've had to finish routes for RRG rats a few times at the New.

Also, I agree with Ryan, that place is a pile and should be avoided.


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By S. Neoh
May 16, 2012

If you want to do the (in)famous 'classics' in the 5.3 to 5.9 range at The Gunks, go on a weekday. These are most likely mobbed on Fri, Sat, and Sun.
My first lead at The Gunks in '92 or '93 was the money pitch of HighE. My partner led the climb to the GT Ledge; it was rather unmemorable. P3 is pretty good and a little scary, onsight. It started to rain just as I finished the overhang ....
Anyways, I have done many better Gunks routes in the 5 years after that 1st day. Just as an exmaple, I think Strictly is better than its more famous neighbor, Shockley's.


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By MaraC
May 16, 2012
taking a break from climbing shoes before rapping off Arrow

Just an aside - if you're coming to the Gunks to do High E, Shockley's and Madame G's, make sure you wait til the peregrine falcon closure is lifted, generally by late June. Madame G's is in the middle of the closure (and, IMO, the best of those three 5.6's).


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By Daniel Wade
From Chicago, IL.
May 19, 2012
w/ Katie Heineman

Agree with Dow, as a granite climber (Jtree, Tahquitz) I was weirded out with my first sandstone trad experience at RR.


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By richie
From englewood, tn
May 22, 2012

Edward_ wrote:
Question 2 for you then :) I find Yosemite isn't so much straight in jams, as there are tons of features in cracks I yank on. I do a lot of cracks in the gym, so I'd say my gym crack skills are toned to (gym) perfection! Not sure how that relates outdoors...

i couldnt really say i have never climbed indoors. sorry


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By bearbreeder
May 22, 2012

squamish is the best place to get up to speed on moderate trad IMO ... bomber gear for the most part, plenty of cragging and easy multi trad, and right off the highway


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