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LuckyJack

Trad climber
Novato, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - May 7, 2013 - 06:08pm PT
I have long wondered if there is a way to quantify overall difficulty of trad climbs, particularly long ones. Since route difficulty is set by the single most difficult move, it can be hard to tell how sustained a route is or "how hard it feels". Does anyone have a personal list that would go something like this?

Snake Dike
Royal Arches
East Buttress of Middle Cathedral
Northeast Buttress of Higher Cathedral
Royal Arches/Crest Jewel
Serenity Crack/Sons of Yesterday linkup
East Buttress of El Cap
Steck Salathe
DNB of Middle Cathedral
Astroman
North Face of the Rostrum

Thanks for any feedback, I'm partially trying to decide between EB of Middle and NEB of higher for this weekend, but we have to drive back to the Bay Area after climbing, so it can't be super epic!
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
May 7, 2013 - 06:13pm PT
IMHO:

Snake Dike
Royal Arches
East Buttress of Middle Cathedral
Royal Arches/Crest Jewel
East Buttress of El Cap
Northeast Buttress of Higher Cathedral
Serenity Crack/Sons of Yesterday linkup
Steck Salathe
DNB of Middle Cathedral
North Face of the Rostrum
Astroman

DNB vs. SS is a toss-up for me.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
May 7, 2013 - 07:27pm PT
DNB vs steck salathe is a toss up? Isn't DNB a long ass climb/5.11 to free/has questionable anchors/is run out on 5.10 climbing?
Peter

Trad climber
San Francisco
May 7, 2013 - 09:01pm PT
I mostly agree with Rhodo-Router but if you are reasonably quick on pitches up to 5.9 and don't mind well protected 5.10 finger and hand crack then from shortest to longest day

Royal Arches (rapping down)
East Buttress of Middle Cathedral
Serenity Crack/Sons of Yesterday linkup (technically higher rating but zero approach/descent and nothing physical/wide)
Snake Dike (short climb but 15 miles of hiking)
Royal Arches/Crest Jewel
Northeast Buttress of Higher Cathedral (physical and hard if you don't like flares or chimneys)
East Buttress of El Cap

Haven't done and seem way harder or scarier
Steck Salathe
DNB of Middle Cathedral
North Face of the Rostrum, except for flailing on the first half
Astroman



nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
May 7, 2013 - 09:41pm PT
Really hard to separate two very different variables that depend on how hard you can climb and what kind of cardio/endurance shape you are in.

For me (sucky cardio):
Royal Arches (rapping down or walk-off)
East Buttress of Middle Cathedral
Serenity Crack/Sons of Yesterday linkup
Northeast Buttress of Higher Cathedral
East Buttress of El Cap
Royal Arches/Crest Jewel
Snake Dike
North Buttress of Middle Cathedral (I've never finished it, but I suspect this is where it will fit)
Steck Salathe

No experience to comment on:
DNB of Middle Cathedral
North Face of the Rostrum
Astroman
LuckyJack

Trad climber
Novato, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 7, 2013 - 10:22pm PT
Thanks for the responses guys. This is the kind of discussion I wanted to start. Everything From SS & DNB and harder is out for us this season, though I may have a rope gun for SS, which would be fun. We found EB of El Cap way harder than Serenity/Sons, just due to length and physicality. but it's been good to hear the general consensus that NE of Higher Cath is significantly harder than EB of Middle. We'll probably stick with the easier one this weekend with the drive home. Anyone have long moderate faves that should be on the list? We did Commitment/Selaginella a few weeks ago, took us about 8 hrs car to car (Yeah, we know we're not fast), but Selaginella is sustained and physical! Much more so than, say, Nutcracker, which is what I'm trying to get at with all this. I would agree that Snake Dike probably belongs below Royal Arches on the list due to the hiking. I haven't done RA yet, because it doesn't seem worthwhile on it's own, but too intimidating with Crest Jewel attached, haha.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
May 7, 2013 - 11:43pm PT
it's been good to hear the general consensus that NE of Higher Cath is significantly harder than EB of Middle.

Right.
Here's a simple metric - number of pitches 5.9 or harder (for routes in the 5.9/5.10 range):
 1 - EB of Middle
 4 - Serenity/Sons (I consider the upper pitches of Sons less than 5.9)
 4 - EB of El Cap + long approach / descent
 5-6 - NEB of Higher
 5-6 - Steck-Salathe' + physical chimneys / longer approach/more difficult descent
 8 - Lost Arrow Chimney + physical chimneys / longer approach/descent
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
May 8, 2013 - 12:06am PT
There's too many old school threads already, but what's wrong with the grade (developed by Mark Powell in the 1950's specifically for Yosemite)?

Royal Arches is a III, as is Snake Dike. NEB of Higher Cathedral Rock is a IV, as is the East Buttress of El Cap and the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral. DNB and Lost Arrow Chimney are V's. That, combined with the decimal rating, still gives, in my opinion, a pretty good measure of the overall difficulty.

John
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
May 8, 2013 - 12:35am PT
> what's wrong with the grade

Too many ties. Otherwise fairly handy.
LuckyJack

Trad climber
Novato, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 8, 2013 - 01:18am PT
Also, The ST guidebook doesn't list the grade most of the time, and grade isn't listed for obvious linkups, like Serenity/Sons, or Braille Book/Higher Spire. Grade, like the original rating system is a little crude.
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
May 8, 2013 - 04:51am PT
I think the roman numeral grades are pretty consistent, and the best simple measure of what you're looking for, especially when also looking at route rating. Only thing missing is effective grade for link-ups, where a simple numerical addition is not appropriate.
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
May 8, 2013 - 11:13am PT
Moratorium goes in between DNB and Astroman. RNWF route of half dome in a day is supposedly easier than astroman too. That was the sequence I was following 20 years ago until I ran out of youth and free time.
Climber Joe

Trad climber
May 8, 2013 - 11:37am PT
slightly off topic: does anyone link RA with the South Face of North Dome instead of CJ?
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
May 8, 2013 - 04:52pm PT
does anyone link RA with the South Face of North Dome instead of CJ?

Yes. That is the standard way to approach SF of North Dome, and the linkup is still done often.
I did it several friends a few years back (other friends linked with CJ);
Brutus and Em were also up well ahead of us on the South Face.
cultureshock

Trad climber
Mountain View
May 8, 2013 - 05:09pm PT
Here is a chart I put together a while ago.



It doesn't have the routes sorted, but I gave my opinion on various factors that make a a route difficult. Hopefully the columns make sense. A higher value in "style" means the route might require specific techniques like O/W or slab climbing. A high score in "linkability" would mean that the pitches are often short and you can link them pretty easily.

Here is a sorted list of the harder routes that I've tried or done.

Free-rider 5.13-, El Capitan Yosemite, CA
Regular NW Face 5.12, Half Dome Yosemite, CA
Sheer Lunacy 5.12+ Zion, UT
Original Route 5.12-, Rainbow Wall Red Rock, NV
Astroman 5.11+, Washington Column Yosemite, CA
Chouinard-Herbert 5.11+, Sentinel Rock- Yosemite, CA
Hotline 5.12, Elephant Rock Yosemite, CA
Tradewinds 5.12-, Incredible Hulk High Sierra, CA
Free Blast 5.11, El Capitan Yosemite, CA
Astro-Hulk 5.11, Incredible Hulk High Sierra, CA
North Face- 5.11+, Rostrum Yosemite, CA
Positive Vibrations 5.11-, Incredible Hulk- High Sierra, CA
Cloud Tower 5.12- Red Rock, NV
Levitation 29 5.11+ Red Rock, NV

Perhaps I'm just slow but NW face of Half Dome was a much longer and more involved day than doing Astroman. As well Astroman is a big step up from the Rostrum.

More thoughts on long routes:
http://www.dreaminvertical.com/2013/02/magnificent-multi-pitches/

-Luke
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