Northern Sardinia Bouldering and the Issues of Grading
As I write this, I have been back from Sardinia for a full week and have had time to reflect on what a week it was. Whilst my time in Sardinia was specifically a non-climbing holiday, I knew that there was a plethora of rocks and as such a huge opportunity for climbing. It was this that pushed me to pack my clothes in my pad and try and grab a few hours bouldering (in between the beaches and fine dining).
For anyone interested in untouched rock the north of Sardinia seems to have plenty. I could find very little record of bouldering in and around Capo Testa or the town of Santa Teresa Gallura. I managed to sneak two afternoons and one evening session into my holiday and that resulted in some 20 unrecorded lines (which are now all recorded on 27crags for anyone to use). I was very happy with my little addition to the island and thought it would be an easy process to update people on my return.
The true problem I found was with grading my new climbs. It was 30-36 degrees when I was climbing. A temperature range which is blatantly not conducive to good friction, which made everything feel hard on a rock type I really wasn't used to climbing on. This lead to many questions:
- Do I grade for how hard the climb felt then, in that moment?
- Do I grade for how hard the climb would feel in optimal conditions?
- Do I grade for how hard I found the climb?
- Do I grade for how hard a granite expert would find the climb?
Not to mention the unanswered question of:
- Do you grade for how hard a problem is to flash?
- Do you Grade for how hard a problem is to Red point?
All of these questions are hard to answer, and I understand grading is subjective and there are no hard or fast rules, but I actually thought it raised some interesting points.
My opinion is this, grade for optimal conditions and, if you can, for how a local expert would grade a problem. It is always better to fight for a grade than to have one handed to you, and this is how I proceeded.
However the Redpoint/Flash grading is very difficult. How much of a grade comes down to figuring out the right beta? (Especially in a time where you can load a video at the crag and watch how others have climbed it).
It makes sense that a problem will be harder if you do not know how to do it. But also it is different for every climber how long a problem takes to figure out, the you add in fatigue from attempting a problem and is it fair to grade a problem based on solving a problem.
The same goes for the physicality of a problem, we are all built differently and as such all find different problems suit our strengths. We all know a burly roof climber who struggles on slabs, and a delicate slab climber who struggles on roof's. So how can one grade suit all?
The answer I feel lies somewhere in between and how we grade problems will be a discussion that continues as long as climbing does.
What a long winded way to tell you all i did some climbs and made some topo's.