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The rating of routes (the star system)
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By john crawley
From flagstaff, az
Jan 27, 2013
For awhile now I have been pondering the star system here on MP and its efficacy as a valid rating system. I have found the system all to vague and under informative. As a community do we base our ratings on the individual crag, state wide, country, or global comparisons?

I for one am for the star system only rating for the individual crags. How often can you compare on location to another? I find the experience of Sedona much different than Winslow Wall, yet they are both sandstone and in Arizona. By focusing the rating system to a local area, they can more accurately guide potential ascensionists to both the quality and experience of a route.

By starting this thread I was hoping to get some insight into others opinion on the system and how we might improve the system to more accurately evaluate the routes we climb.

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By Andy Laakmann
Site Landlord
From Bend, OR
Jan 27, 2013
Racked and loaded... name that splitter behind me? Hint, its on Supercrack Buttress
If I had to guess, most people put the route in a "local area context" when assigning 1-3 stars... but reserve the 4 star rating for truly exceptional routes that would be classic anywhere. At least that's what I do :)

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By Josh Janes
Jan 27, 2013
I find the word descriptions very useful when assigning stars (OK=1, Good=2, Great=3, and Classic=4).

It works best within an area.

However, sometimes even the best route at a crappy area doesn't deserve a 4 (or even a 3).

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By M Sprague
Administrator
From New England
Jan 27, 2013
Lichen head. Me, with my usual weatherbeaten, lichen covered look from scrubbing a new route.
I try to go for a little more universal rating, with some bending for regional differences. I donít base them on just the local crag though. Putting three stars on a crappy route just because it is the best at a choss heap cliff or best in Kansas isn't helpfull. I think the stars should help people decide whether it is worth driving 3 hrs or hiking in 6 miles to a crag. The 4 star ratings are probably over used a lot. They should really make you go 'Wow!' IMO, 3 is really good, 2 pretty good but not super outstanding, 1 OK.

Maybe we need a "World Class" 5 star rating for routes like Astroman.

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By Rafael Rovirosa
From Las Cruces, NM
Jan 27, 2013
I think routes on MP tend to get way over starred most of the time. First, I must define how I break places up. It goes World>Area>Crag. For example, Indian Creek is an area and 4x4 wall is a crag. The way my star system works is as follows:

4 stars - World Classic. This is one of the best routes in the world. Few climbs deserve 4 stars. This route is so good that you go to the area just to climb this line. For example, you go to Indian Creek to climb Jolly Rancher, Spaghetti Western, Optimator, and Broken Brain.

3 stars - Area Classic. This is one of the best routes in the area. This route is good enough to merit spending a day a the crag which contains this climb provided that you are already in the area. For example, you go to 2nd Meat Wall to climb Extra Lean or to Optimator Wall to climb Annunaki.

2 stars - Crag Classic. This is one of the best routes at the crag. This route is good enough that you have to do it if you are already at the crag. For example, if you are already at Way Rambo, then you have to do Blue Sun and Fuzz. This is what most great climbs are.

1 star - This is a fun route that is worth doing. Not a classic by any means but not bad. This is what most good climbs are. Wounded Knee at Way Rambo is an example of a 1 star route.

0 stars - This climb is not worth climbing. Most routes at Seneca and Mt. Lemmon fall into this category.

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By Alex McIntyre
From Tucson, AZ
Jan 28, 2013
Rafael Rovirosa wrote:
0 stars - This climb is not worth climbing. Most routes at Seneca and Mt. Lemmon fall into this category.

Nope.

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By Scott M. McNamara
From Tucson, Arizona
Jan 28, 2013
One Way Sunset
"Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them."

David Hume, Essays, Moral and Political, 1742

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By Morgan Patterson
Administrator
Jan 28, 2013
Stoked...
I really like the idea of a 5th "World Class" star

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By JMo
From Tucson, AZ
Jan 28, 2013
vertebrae roof
Rafael is right. The stars tell us what we are supposed to climb and where. This can help eliminate that uncomfortable feeling of adventure, risk, or the unknown

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By Abel Jones
From Colorado Springs, CO
Jan 28, 2013
Nice Crisp day for an FA
JMo wrote:
Rafael is right. The stars tell us what we are supposed to climb and where. This can help eliminate that uncomfortable feeling of adventure, risk, or the unknown


That's why it is fun to throw some high stars at a memorable adventure sometimes. Chasing those stars out into the middle of nowhere has been the source of some of the best times in my life. Doesn't quite fit the definitions as put forth by some of the previous posters, or probably most people, but I'm glad people let the stars fly sometimes.

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By M Sprague
Administrator
From New England
Jan 28, 2013
Lichen head. Me, with my usual weatherbeaten, lichen covered look from scrubbing a new route.
Aren't you kind of reading the MP descriptions to find out about the route though? If you are looking for more adventure by stepping into the unknown, wouldn't you skip the guide or ignore the rating and head out anyway? The ratings are for those who want to know or at least have some idea. I love exploring, but not everybody does. You are always going to get a range of opinions on a route.

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By Abel Jones
From Colorado Springs, CO
Jan 28, 2013
Nice Crisp day for an FA
True, but giving high stars to an obscure new place can help get fools like myself out there to rate it with world view in mind. Ideally the stars would settle into the role you're talking about. What really gets me is when old, trampled crags have routes with 4 stars that are nowhere near world class, just based on there popular history.

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By Jay Samuelson
From Denver CO
Jan 28, 2013
sweet boulder
My problem is I love climbing so much half the routes I do are classic to me! Sometimes I'll go back later and change my star ratings after repeating a route or something, but often it's based off my opinion the day I climbed it, and they're always classic right after you do them haha. Overall I'd say I rate on local basis more than a world basis.

I also like the idea of a 'World Class' 5th star.

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By Red
From Arizona
Jan 28, 2013
Cobra Kai
Jay Samuelson wrote:
I also like the idea of a 'World Class' 5th star.

Me too.

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By Leo Paik
Administrator
From Westminster, Colorado
Jan 28, 2013
OK=1, Good=2, Great=3, and Classic=4 seems pretty self-explanatory.

In looking at the user patterns, there are definitely 2 groups: those to do this using a big picture (global, country-wild) or those who do this on a small picture (crag specific) method. Both seem to be acceptable to the individual user.

Personally, I find the big picture method more useful; however, I understand that it takes a while for many folks to get enough breadth of exposure to even reasonably try to do this.

There are plenty of crags where there are no three star (let alone 4 star routes). There are crags where there aren't even 2 (or even maybe 1) star routes. For example, even though I go to N. Table Mt. in Golden where lots of climbers go...honestly, there isn't really a 3 star route up there. Most routes are less than 50 feet tall, when it is really hard to get a "great" route rating. There isn't a route that I would travel more than an hour to do, unless I was desperate. Still, it is a convenient, warm in cold & sunny conditions crag.

4 star routes, IMHO, are those routes where you would recommend your buddy living a plane flight away, paying the money to fly just to do that route...and your buddy would be happy to have paid the money and done the route.

3 star routes, IMHO, are those you'd travel 2-4 hours just to do the route, and you'd be happy you did that after completing the route.

2 star routes, IMHO, are good routes that you'd probably recommend to a local climber to do.

1 star routes, IMHO, are okay routes, ones that you'd do if you were there and looking for yet another route to climb and wanted to do something you hadn't done yet.

0 star routes, IMHO, are ones you have to be desperate and in the right mind set to actually do...but you probably would recommend against it to even the desperate.

5 stars...that seems to be for folks who don't want to get constrained in a 4 star system, like those who say give it 110% effort. Uh...maybe if we had 2 people to give 55% each? Those who can't get keep their personal expenses inside their fiscal budgets.

We did have this problem from before when we jumped from the 3 star system to the 4 star system. All those previous 0-3 star ratings lost some of their meaning. I don't recommend changing it to a 5 star system with all the ratings we already have in our database.

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By JohnWesely
From Red River Gorge
Jan 28, 2013
Gunking
Do the stars let me know which climbs are considered better than others? Yes. Seems like they are working just fine as is.

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By jarthur
From Westminster, CO
Jan 28, 2013
My dogs got ups yo!
Rafael Rovirosa wrote:
The way my star system works is as follows: 4 stars - World Classic. This is one of the best routes in the world. Few climbs deserve 4 stars. This route is so good that you go to the area just to climb this line. 3 stars - Area Classic. This is one of the best routes in the area. This route is good enough to merit spending a day a the crag which contains this climb provided that you are already in the area. 2 stars - Crag Classic. This is one of the best routes at the crag. This route is good enough that you have to do it if you are already at the crag. This is what most great climbs are. 1 star - This is a fun route that is worth doing. Not a classic by any means but not bad. This is what most good climbs are. 0 stars - This climb is not worth climbing.

I'm adopting this. I used to do the local star rating. Hovever, I would go back home and climb at the New River Gorge and then come back to Clear Creek Canyon and ask myself why in the hell I gave that route 4 stars.

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By Steve Pulver
From Williston, ND
Jan 28, 2013
I look at the words (ok, good, great, classic) associated with each star rating. These are words I would use in a description a route. I, however, also frequently use the phrase 'don't bother' and so I'm a little conflicted sometimes if that translates to a bomb or one star.

I usually try to use a flat distribution of an equal number of routes to each star rating.

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By 1Eric Rhicard
Jan 30, 2013
It is a good sized roof. Photo: Jimbo
I have a problem when someone gives a route four stars because they had a great experience on the route. I had a great experience climbing a route with my girlfriend. The route sucked but the experience was four star. (no details) It really bugs me when someone gives a pile of crap 4 stars because they had a great time climbing it. If I showed up at a crag and went to do one of these things I would be pissed! Oh wait, I did that last year. I have been guilty of over starring routes.



If a crag is mediocre, like some enchanted towers in NM for example, it is okay to have the highest star rating be only two stars. I wouldn't go out of my way to climb there but if I was in the area I would climb there.

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By Doug Hemken
Administrator
Jan 30, 2013
On Everleigh Club Crack.  Photo by Burt Lindquist.
The stars are a guide to which routes have the longest lines.

Picking a route is like picking a stock: you want one that is great but undervalued by the rest of the community.

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By Brian in SLC
Jan 30, 2013
Climbing in Smuggler's Notch
john crawley wrote:
As a community do we base our ratings on the individual crag, state wide, country, or global comparisons?


Yes.

I'll pull up ratings on routes I'm curious about, and, see individually who rated the route. Some folks I'm more in line with in terms of what is classic or not.

I think a four star route at a one star area might wash out as a two star route.

Folks will under value a route if they feel someone has over valued it, to balance the rating out. Happens.

To me, especially for multi pitch routes, a 4 star route is one I'd almost buy a plane ticket for, or, if I was on a road trip, it'd be at the top of a hit list.

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By MJMobes
From The land of steady habits
Jan 30, 2013
modern man
why is it when the star system gets up into the project territory(5.12+++++) almost everything has 3-4 stars?

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