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"Sandbagged" and relativety: Your standard?
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By The Stoned Master
Administrator
From Pennsylvania
Sep 19, 2013
Day Lily.

great question mike. I know when I was in the military the term was used when someone wasnt "pulling their own weight". Example: i was a camp mackall and I was alot shorter (and smaller) than alot of the other dudes and we were lifting logs over our head. I sandbagged everyone because I wasnt able to take my share of the load.

for climbing your definition makes sense to me.


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By Locker
From Yucca Valley, CA
Sep 19, 2013
...

"my standard is THE standard. Tahquitz/Suicide."


Ditto!


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By D.Buffum
Sep 19, 2013
Orgasm Direct, Devil's Lake, 5.11a  c. 2008

I don't know much about East Coast/West Coast ratings, but Devil's Lake is regarded locally as pretty sandbagged, especially in the 5.7-5.9 range. This is partly due to the fact that the routes are old -- from the CMC dating back to the 1940's, to John Gill in the early '60's, and the Erickson brothers and Pete Cleveland in the late '60's -- but also due to the unique nature of the Baraboo Quartzite.

What's interesting, though, is that the YDS system was only retroactively applied to these routes. The 1978 Swartling Guide was still using an older rating system (NCCS), and only included a translation key to YDS in the introduction.

SO it makes you wonder, when the "translation" of the routes was done, was there any adjustment? Did the ratings really translate accurately?

Take Birch Tree Crack. It was rated F8 in the 1978 guide, and now is rated 5.8. It's stiff for a 5.8 lead, with some off-balance moves, slick quartzite holds (made slicker over the years), and at least one pretty long reach.

First, was it comparable in difficulty to other climbs rated F8 even in 1978? How about back in the 1950's when it was undoubtedly first climbed? Then, was the grade just "translated" by book to YDS, or was it actually compared to 5.8's out in Yosemite and consensed to be roughly equivalent? If you already had regional variation prior to translating the grades, then just going off a book translation is going to introduce even more variation and inconsistency.


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By The Stoned Master
Administrator
From Pennsylvania
Sep 19, 2013
Day Lily.

Buffum dude, awesome analysis/conclusion.


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By Will S
From Joshua Tree
Sep 19, 2013

Mike McKinnon wrote:
The biggest question now one is answering is where did the term sandbagged come from?



Sandbag as a term (in the way we use it) existed long before it was applied to discussing climbing ratings. It was in use in that way at least as far back as 1860 (per Merriam-Webster etymology).


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By Wayne Crill
From an Altered State
Sep 19, 2013
pilon fracture

Heres why: The Gunks and Seneca (again just examples) are not sandbagged because alot/most of their routes were established first. Wouldnt it be that the newer established routes are "soft" (maybe because the developers wanted to be climbing harder so they applied harder ratings to make themselves feel better/cooler?) and the STANDARD would be these first/early established routes? Think: you HAVE to have a standard to compare (you cant compare route A to route A, you can compare route A to route B however). Whats your standard? wouldnt it make sense that the newer developed routes are "soft" (if these Eastern routes are sandbagged then that leaves only one direction to go) So if you state that these Eastern routes are "sandbagged" I ask you why is your standard these newer routes and not the originals? quote>


I don't have the time to read all of the responses here and someone probably already mentioned this but YES of course THERE IS A STANDARD! its called the Yosemite decimal system for a reason, Yosemite is THE standard!


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By csproul
From Rancho Cordova, CA
Sep 19, 2013
Summit of Wolf's Head with Pingora in the background

Wayne Crill wrote:
Heres why: The Gunks and Seneca (again just examples) are not sandbagged because alot/most of their routes were established first. Wouldnt it be that the newer established routes are "soft" (maybe because the developers wanted to be climbing harder so they applied harder ratings to make themselves feel better/cooler?) and the STANDARD would be these first/early established routes? Think: you HAVE to have a standard to compare (you cant compare route A to route A, you can compare route A to route B however). Whats your standard? wouldnt it make sense that the newer developed routes are "soft" (if these Eastern routes are sandbagged then that leaves only one direction to go) So if you state that these Eastern routes are "sandbagged" I ask you why is your standard these newer routes and not the originals? quote> I don't have the time to read all of the responses here and someone probably already mentioned this but YES of course THERE IS A STANDARD! its called the Yosemite decimal system for a reason, Yosemite is THE standard!

Except that the YDS was not established in Yosemite, it was created in Tahquitz.


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By gtluke
Sep 19, 2013

I thought sandbagging was a term used to describe a weight (that slows you down) that you can take out when you want. You would throw a sandbag in your car to race, and take it out on some unsuspecting opponent.

As a Gunks climber, I was even laughing at how sandbagged Seneca was. I got on some 5.3 there and it's comical to call it a 5.3
I mean it wasn't hard, but when I think of 5.3 I just assume there will be no "advanced" moves like backsteps, mantle, etc. I think of 5.3 as a grade that my non climbing wife would be able to climb up. But no way could she have done the 5.3's at Seneca.

I find my local gym (NJRG) and Gunks to be pretty similar at the end of my limit. At the gym I can climb all 5.10's and most 5.11's, at the gunks I can toprope most 5.10's and hangdog a few 5.11's on toprope. I expect that from the variables of outside climbing vs color coded gym climbing. but in the 5.3 to 5.7 range where I lead climb, I find the grading to be WAY off the gym, and it's more apparent on the "classic" or older climbs. The generic 2nd pitch 5.5's all over the gunks feel about right, but there are a bunch of classic 5.3's-5.6's that feel way harder. I just think the older climbs got rated more stiff. And Gunks and Seneca being old climbing spots, that's just the way it is. I do like the MP has the "consensus" ratings so I don't get in over my head.


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By Mike McKinnon
From Golden, CO
Sep 19, 2013
Bunny pancake

The Stoned Master wrote:
great question mike. I know when I was in the military the term was used when someone wasnt "pulling their own weight". Example: i was a camp mackall and I was alot shorter (and smaller) than alot of the other dudes and we were lifting logs over our head. I sandbagged everyone because I wasnt able to take my share of the load. for climbing your definition makes sense to me.



www.ehow.com/about_5097732_origin-sandbagging.html

pretty good explanation here.


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By Sumbit
From My house
Sep 19, 2013

I never understood why people take so much pride in their area being sandbagged. Nobody ever brags their area is soft. Too me sandbagged means not accurate. Why would you brag about your area ratings not being accurate.

"Dude our area is so sandbagged nobody can figure anything out. We are so cool"

Go climbing in the Red and at least once a trip you'll hear someone say "In_____________(usually Eldo or Gunks) this would be a 5.8" Before they even get on the route. Next thing you know they borrow your stick clip, then an hour later you have to go up and get their draws for them.

The next statement out of their mouths usually goes something like this "obviously we do more technical climbing than this mindless jug haul stuff"

Whatever


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By Edward_
Sep 19, 2013

So is there any area that isn't sandbagged, then?

Besides obviously Red Rocks.

I haven't climbed everywhere, but mostly California... Tahquitz, JTree, Yosemite, Needles... and Red Rocks and Squamish. I've heard each area is "sandbagged" but honestly I thought they were all the same, with the odd route that kicked my ass more then I expected.


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By Mark Pilate
Sep 19, 2013

The short answer (to the OP) is because "people" are doing the grading.

Obviously there are gray areas between regions and types of climbing (slab, crack, face, then rock type, etc) but mostly its due to natural evolution over time.

In general, earlier developed routes/regions will seem "sandbagged" compared to newer developed routes/regions because human nature is to keep giving the bump on the high side when in doubt (everyone's desire to climb harder than they actually do).

Same principle applies to traffic jams. Each guy down the line applies slightly more braking (grade inflation) than the first guy and after about 6 cars down, everyone is stopped (or cranking 5.12)

The difference between old school grades and new school grades is even more glaring if you factor in the shoes and equipment used to put up those old 5.8's. You wanna true rude awakening, climb it with the same equipment as the FA.

Otherwise, as many have pointed out, it really doesn't matter in the long run and it all fades together as you climb more and in more regions and more climbing styles.


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By Peter Franzen
Administrator
From Phoenix, AZ
Sep 19, 2013
Belay

Smith isn't sandbagged. Many of the routes there are what I use for benchmark 5.10s, 11s, and 12s.


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By The Stoned Master
Administrator
From Pennsylvania
Sep 19, 2013
Day Lily.

Mark Pilate Said: The difference between old school grades and new school grades is even more glaring if you factor in the shoes and equipment used to put up those old 5.8's. You wanna true rude awakening, climb it with the same equipment as the FA.

excellent point, definitly supports relativety. I have envisioned/thought of climbing (for my "local" classic areas) Lower Skyline Direct to Skyline Traverse (first known established route in 1939) at Seneca with the original gear HOWEVER the few Ive asked to do it with me never are interested. Also the original route 5.5 at the Gunks.

I think even just climbing the routes with passive gear only, boots + rope wrapped around your waist (no harness) would be thrilling. Imagine climbing say...High Exposure (well known example) with only passive gear, no harness, boots BUT still a dynamic rope!

anyone ever done this?


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By Ryan Palo
From Bend, oregon
Sep 19, 2013
Me

Here's how I operate: I dont really care what goes down at other crags(especially the Gunks), I use the places I climb the most as a benchmark. When I travel, routes are either easier or harder than what Im used to. I assume everyone I meet is going to sandbag me. Also I assume every granite slab is going to feel 5.11, because they always feel that way to me.

So I just take whatever grade I can say out loud while keeping a straight face. I use the same approach for grading FAs. When it comes to adding things on 8a, I take the highest grade ever mentioned or suggested for the route, even if someone was mistaken and talking about the wrong route. Why? Because that's what makes me happy. I could care less about some unified grading scale.


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By The Stoned Master
Administrator
From Pennsylvania
Sep 19, 2013
Day Lily.

I appreciate that you have your own way Ryan.


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By David Sahalie
From on the road again
Sep 19, 2013

and we appreciate you oh Stoned Master.

Interesting that you are driving the MP forum discussions in the last week or so from Central PA.


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By bearbreeder
Sep 19, 2013

i actually tend to take the lowest grade ... in squamish theres 2 main guidebooks, i take whatever grade is lower

and then if i find an old historical source ... i take that grade instead ...

;)


the REAL grades when dinos roamed the chief ....
the REAL grades when dinos roamed the chief ....


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By Patrick Mulligan
Sep 19, 2013
The top of the tufa on Magma

The Stoned Master wrote:
I think even just climbing the routes with passive gear only, boots + rope wrapped around your waist (no harness) would be thrilling.


Was it even passive gear at the time? Imagine leading with nothing but Pitons.


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By David Gibbs
From Ottawa, ON
Sep 21, 2013

The Stoned Master wrote:
Mark Pilate Said: The difference between old school grades and new school grades is even more glaring if you factor in the shoes and equipment used to put up those old 5.8's. You wanna true rude awakening, climb it with the same equipment as the FA.


This goes both ways, though. If you're going to climb it with the shoes and equipment of the old times, you should also get to climb it on the rock of the old times. That is, still rough, sharp and frictiony -- not polished smooth. Before a "key hold broke off short" (or few), and so on.

Some climbs have actually just gotten harder -- but often haven't been regraded when they have. A crux hold breaking -- might cause a re-grading, because it is a single clear event. But the accumulation of polish over the years and decades -- doesn't tend to.


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