Retro ratings at Mission Gorge, San Diego

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gonamok

Trad climber
Dont look at me like that
Topic Author's Original Post - May 22, 2010 - 11:26pm PT
I climbed at Mission Gorge for the first time in 20 years today, and other than the hundred or so new bolts (love it) not much has changed. The climbing is just how i remembered it - inobvious sequences and inadequate holds on greasy, polished rock. Everything slopes the wrong way, feet skate around and there arent many positive holds. 5.9 can feel like 5.11 your first time there, but after you get used to the climbing the ratings fall in place. Some of the climbs are almost 50 years old and have been climbed thousands of times without anybody complaing about the ratings. None of the top climbers who have climbed at the gorge (Robbins, Gill, Chouinard, Forrest, Donini, Long, Accomazo and lots more) had a problem with the ratings.

Nonetheless, recent guides have assigned new ratings to routes that are older than their mother, and not a few climbs either - lots have been retro rated. Written by people with no standing in the local climbing community, no apparent connection to the gorge, and a dilusional sense of self importance, these guides are have taken presumption to a new level.

No justification is offered for the changes. I guess if the author thought a route felt harder than its rating, then his exhalted status as guidebook author gave him the right to uprate it. I could go on and on about presumptuous arrogant fools, but i might not stop so i wont go there.

Im getting pretty mellow in my old age and will be content to call the guidebooks trash, and excoriate the authors in a public forum and let it go. My personal opinion of the aforementioned authors is that they are obviously failed abortions and should be poster children for the pro euthanasia movement, who had their psyche shattered because mommy f ucked up their potty training, and are making a pathetic attempt to generate some self esteem by producing a "guide" that is nothing more than a xerox copy of other peoples work with alot of the ratings changed. See? I can be nice too.

The Owl, easiest 5.6 at the gorge is now 5.8+ (watever that is). The 5.6 classic, skyline arete, is now 5.8. The stairs, a 5.3 that most people solo in tennis shoes or flip flops has the important new rating of 5.5. The chimney was 5.0, now 5.2 (theres a difference?). The trapeze, a two move 5.10D, is now 5.12A. and on and on. Thank god these men of knowledge came along and saved us from our own ineptitude.

I hope i didnt come off as bitter....

Watusi

Social climber
Newport, OR
May 23, 2010 - 12:30am PT
Jeebus Ron!! Trapeze, 5.12a??? God I guess they's a gonna have to uprate this 'un too!! Cheers brother, good we got to live it when it was real...

MP teenaging his way up to the legendary "Rectum Roof"...Modern 5.11c...
edit: photo courtesy of my brother Alan Nelson, 1975
gonamok

Trad climber
Dont look at me like that
Topic Author's Reply - May 23, 2010 - 01:25am PT
"modern 5.11c" but rectum roof was 5.10b back when we were climbing it. Ive led it 3 or 4 times and it never seemed any harder than 10b to me. These guidebook geeks need eat their wheaties or somethin.
Port

Trad climber
San Diego
May 23, 2010 - 01:41am PT
Who suggested rectum roof was "modern" 5.11c? and what guide/guide book authors are you talking about? This guide says 5.10b/c, which is close to the grade you suggest.

http://members.cox.net/stuff17/sandiego_rock.pdf

And as for trapeze, I think you are mistaken. It is a roof climb, not a 2 move 5.10D. Its a hard, hard climb (For me at least). I've fallen many, many times trying to pull that roof. Maybe not 5.12a but probably 11C/D.

I'm guessing that the names might have changed or have been switched over the years.
Cracko

Trad climber
Quartz Hill, California
May 23, 2010 - 08:21am PT
Gonamok,

I'm dying to know if "The Ramp" has been upgraded. This was my first significant lead back in the early 70's; done with goldline, Super Galibier boots, and a motorcycle helmet!! Skyline cannot be 8+ if The Ramp is 5.7 !! Then again, all that upgrading could do wonders for my status as "hardman" !!!


Cracko
JeffJ

climber
May 23, 2010 - 08:57am PT
Ron
I generally agree with your rantings, but since you admittedly haven't been there for years here is an update.

The Owl- several years ago (8-10?) a 6 ft long 2000lb block fell out of the Owl's start. The start is now overhanging and a legitimate 5.8+.

Trapeeze - very height and ape index dependent. might be 5.10d for a very select few.

Skyline Arete - the bolted face is 5.6 but the overhanging gear start from the right has 2 moves of legitimate 5.8 (harder than any move on the Ramp).

Rants over 5.2 and 5.3 - I can't tell the difference between 5.0 and 5.5 so don't care.

The biggest issue in ratings creep is that its almost entirely in crack climbs. Many face climbs tend to get down rated locally. Uncertainty Principle (Woodson) used to be 5.11d now its 5.11b. Defintely a gym climber thing.
Fogarty

climber
BITD
May 23, 2010 - 10:25am PT
I remember a route called the KNOB, I was in the 8th grade my brother Joe made me leed it, it is short with a mantel of the Knob I was happy not to fall, what is this rated now?
gonamok

Trad climber
Dont look at me like that
Topic Author's Reply - May 23, 2010 - 10:33pm PT
MP was joking about "modern 11C". As for The Trapeze, it was originally rated 5.10D then uprated to 5.11A around 1980 by consensus. I called it 5.10D instead of the true rating of 5.11A to make it a better rant. Ive climbed all of the free routes at Mission Gorge so many times i quit counting. Trapeze in particular ive climbed at least a dozen times, and i dont think its any harder than 5.11A unless you botch the sequence, which is easy to do.

Trapeze is not a roof climb because it involves no horizontal climbing. You undercling out to decent feet and lieback through the overhang. If you cant figure out the best sequence it doesnt mean you get to change a rating thats been accepted for decades.

On 5.3 vs. 5.5 youre right, it makes no difference, so why change it.

These people need to get stronger and learn to climb better instead of changing ratings.
gonamok

Trad climber
Dont look at me like that
Topic Author's Reply - May 23, 2010 - 10:40pm PT
The ramp is still 5.7 on paper, and skyline arete is still 5.6 despite what is on paper. And wtf is 5.8+ ? Is there so much room between 8 and 9? That says alot about the author. Am i supposed take someone who publishes a rating of 5.8+ seriously? And the chimney is 5.0+, not 5.2.

The issue isnt the accuracy of ratings, that will always be controversial. Difficulty comes in many shapes and sizes, and so do people. Who am I to tell someone how easy or hard a climb is for them? The first ammendment guarantees freedom of rating. This does not apply to published material.

Mission Gorge has 50 years of climbing tradition. What kind of fool would publish changes to long standing and long accepted ratings, without justification or explanation? Apparently one who doesnt understand the concept of credibility, without which a "guide" becomes "trash".

And thanks for the info on the owl, jeff. I stand corrected.

mucci

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
May 23, 2010 - 11:00pm PT
This is what the taco was built for.

Direct slandering shall ensue in >7 posts.

Mucci
gonamok

Trad climber
Dont look at me like that
Topic Author's Reply - May 23, 2010 - 11:22pm PT
live by the taco, die by the taco...

I AM the tyranny of evil tacos
but Im trying...Im trying REAL hard to be the shepherd
Fredrick

Social climber
Ocean City, NJ
May 24, 2010 - 01:01am PT
Hey Ron,

I've always wanted to know more behind the cover photo of the "Scumbag Digest", ie; who the climber is on the Trapeze and the story behind it and the digest itself. Can you share that with us? My Blackberry won't let me post the classic picture of this.
Watusi

Social climber
Newport, OR
May 24, 2010 - 10:33am PT
Yeah I was just making a joke about the apparent "Grade Creep" there...:) Yeah I as well have climbed every free route there and first did Trapeze at age 15 right after Kenny Cook first put it up in like'75 or something and he was the first one to call it .10D. I wonder what they call our route, "Aqualunge?" Done in '76, it felt way harder than Trapeze...
apogee

climber
May 24, 2010 - 10:46am PT
"And wtf is 5.8+ ?"

It's a weeeee bit harder than 5.7+

i.e. the original rating of Coffin Nail, Tahquitz.

5.7+ (or 5.8+, or 5.10+, etc.) means it is 5.7 plus a move harder than that which could be of almost any difficulty. Think of it as a 'bonus-pack': for the price of a 5.8, you get something more!
nutjob

Trad climber
Berkeley, CA
May 24, 2010 - 11:00am PT
My first lead ever was on Galwas Crack with a set of hexes. Cams and nuts were plenty available in 1993, but I couldn't afford them. The mud caked onto the face and cracks made it hard for me, but I didn't fall. Got locked inside the park gates a few times when I couldn't get down fast enough after the ranger's last call.

What is the rating of Galwas Crack today? My SoCal Select guidebook called it 5.9.
Fredrick

Social climber
Ocean City, NJ
May 24, 2010 - 02:42pm PT
Hey nutjob,...the "mud splattered on the face" leads me to picture the left of those two cracks (facing the wall), the right being Nutcracker. Is this what you recall as well? For I'm being told that its the other way around. "Hexes" also confirms my assumption for the other accepts nuts.
kev

climber
A pile of dirt.
May 24, 2010 - 02:58pm PT
Um 5.8+ is what someone with a small sac calls old school 5.6.

Demos is 5.8 according to the Roper guide!

kev
Fredrick

Social climber
Ocean City, NJ
May 24, 2010 - 03:04pm PT
Speaking of rating "creep"...I always called General Dynamics 5.10c and have ben back on it twice since 2007 and can't seem to repeat it! Am I that fat now or was I that much better twenty five years ago? Then again, it is now rated 5.11 which seems to explain why I'm having a difficult time on it now. I'm going to lean more on the former than the latter.
gonamok

Trad climber
Dont look at me like that
Topic Author's Reply - May 24, 2010 - 04:46pm PT
apogee, thank you for you excellent answer! Your powers of deduction are formidable, and your mathematics are right on the money. And had that been a literal question i would have awarded you a gold star.

It was however, a rhetorical question, which means that i didnt really want the answer (which I secretly already knew), i wanted to trick people into thinking about in their own head. If they think hard enough they should eventually realize that 5.8+ worked better back when 5.8 was the highest rating and dinosaurs roamed the earth, and since this was their own idea they will believe it better than if I yell it at em.

Nowadays we call climbs harder than 5.8 "5.9", and climb that are easier than 5.8 are: (circle the correct answer)
a) 5.8-
b) 5.7+
c) 5.7
d) all of the above
e) none of the above
f) some of the above

If you guessed "c" you are correct! Go out and write yourself a guidebook, the world is waitin

gonamok

Trad climber
Dont look at me like that
Topic Author's Reply - May 24, 2010 - 05:03pm PT
Fredrick, watusi (michael paul) was a member of that scumbag posse and could tell you better than I. Watusi was in on the FA of general dynamics, along with galen kirkwood and bob van belle. Me and watusi did the second ascent the next day and a week later I placed two bolts and did the first lead. The original rating was 5.10D i think, but 5.11A is fair. Ive never heard it called 5.10c.

Watusi: If we support the 5.12 rating for trapeze it means we were 5.12 climbers back in the 70's, which means we were some of the best climbers of that era! Seriously, did we have every route there ruthlessly wired or what. I remember we ran 3 or 4 laps on trapeze at the end of one day.

The wasp, obverse from the gap, mission impossible and unnatural act were the hard ones. I dont think we put trapeze on that list.

on 5.8+, 5.9+ etc... Those ratings were at the top of the scale when they were assigned. Plus ratings were never intended to be part of the scale. Lets say you climbed back when 5.8 was the top rating. If you have climbed lots of 5.8's and your new route is harder than all of them you are going to rate it 5.8+. Regular Joes didnt bust out the ratings back then, only people like royal robbins did. Once 5.9 had been established, your 5.8+ would eventually become either 8 or 9. A few routes kept their plus after ratings passed them by and stand as an anomaly for awhile, but all eventually get standardized. The advent of letter grades pretty much killed plus ratings.

Summary. The plus rating was used for climbs at the top of the scale. Somebody who rates a climb 5.8+ when 5.15 is the top grade is clueless and has no business writing a guidebook.
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