Trip Start Oct 14, 2006
12Trip End Oct 28, 2006
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I've already got my bags packed and am now just killing time til I go.
In the meantime I realize that not everyone reading this are Climbers so I thought I'd edumacate ya'all a little (climbers reading this can just skip the rest). I'm also posting up some photos of me climbing here in the states because my sister Amy has already complained that I need to post more photos even though I haven't left on my trip yet and therefore don't have a reason to take pictures of anything yet.
In mountaineering and related climbing sports, climbers give a climbing grade to a route that attempts to assess the difficulty and danger of climbing the route. Different styles of climbing and different nationalities have different grading systems
There are a number of factors that contribute to the difficulty of a climb including the technical difficulty of the moves, the strength and stamina required, and the difficulty of protecting the climber. Different grading systems consider these factors in different ways, so two grading systems may not be commensurate.
Yosemite Decimal System
The system consists of five classes. Class 1 is walking with a very low chance of injury and a fall is not fatal. Classes 2 and 3 are steeper scrambling with increased exposure and a greater chance of severe injury but falls are not always fatal. Class 4 can involve short steep sections where the use of a rope is recommended and un-roped falls could be fatal. Class 5 is considered true rock climbing and is predominantly on vertical or near vertical rock and requires skill and a rope to proceed safely. Un-roped falls will result in severe injuries or fatalities.
In theory grade 6 exists and would be used to grade aid climbing where progress is made by climbing directly on equipment placed in or on the rock and not the rock itself. However, the A (aid) rating system is used instead.
The original intention was that the classes would be further subdivided decimally, so that a route graded 4.5 would be a scramble halfway between 4 and 5, and 5.9 would be the hardest rock climbs. However, increasing standards and improved equipment have meant that climbs graded 5.9 in the 1960s are now only of medium difficulty, so rather than regrade all climbs each time standards improve, Letters were introduced for climbs above 5.10. Grades at 5.10 and above would be further subdivided by adding a letter "a" (easiest), "b", "c" or "d" (hardest) the difference between letter grades is the same as the difference between number grades that are below 5.10
Initially, the consensus was that a climb's difficulty should not progress beyond 5.10. Once 5.10d was reached, however, 5.11 was added because continuation of letter grades seemed impractical. A formula was established that each subsequent number grade would also use the letter grade; for example, 5.11a, 5.11b. 5.11c, 5.11d, 5.12a, 5.12b...
As of 2004, it is generally accepted that the hardest currently climbable routes are at grade 5.15. There are no letters used until a grade higher than the whole (meaning 5.10, 5.11, 5.15 being a whole before letters are added) is climbed, and verified.
The system originally considered only the technical difficulty of the hardest or most difficult move on the route. For example a route that consisted mainly of 5.7 moves but had one 5.12a move would be graded 5.12a. A climb that consisted of 5.11b moves all along its route, would in the true sense of the system be 5.11b. As well a 5.10a slab route, 5.10a face climbing route and 5.10a overhanging route should all have the same degree of technical difficulty. However the grading system quickly evolved to incorporate how sustained or strenuous a climb is, and it is now widely expected to incorporate the demands placed on the climber's endurance.