The British rating scale, its complexity and, above all, its further development have been the subject of lively debate for years. Tom Randall, Neil Gresham, Steve McClure and James Pearson recently developed a tool called eGrader to make it easier to grade routes. It solves the complex problem.
James Pearson's first ascent of Bon Voyage is a recent example of an older problem: the grading of difficult climbing routes using the British grading scale. Tom randall and other climbers also find that stagnation or compression has taken place in the high-end area.
British grades at your fingertips: eGrader
Since the founder of Lattice Training considers an unbalanced assessment spectrum without a linear and logical progression to be problematic, he has engaged in an intensive exchange with Neil Gresham, Steve mcclure and James Pearson issued.
The result of months of discussions: eGrader, a website designed to facilitate the grading of climbing routes using the British scale. Fed with a few parameters, the tool programmed by Reyt spits out an E number within seconds.
With eGrader to more objectivity?
The creators want eGrader to be understood as a supporting tool that supports a more objective evaluation. With so many existing high-end routes, the tool suggests an upgrade. "In many cases this is not unreasonable," Randall believes.
The danger potential of a route and the possibility of securing it with pads is still subjective. Accordingly, every scenario – and every degree – can be influenced.
The reactions to eGrader are basically positive. Trad specialist Jacopo Larcher, for example, praises: "It definitely helps the rest of the world to understand the magic behind the E grades." Franco Cookson welcomes the idea but feels the available variables are too broad. Basically, pads make every route safer. His conclusion: "It doesn't work at all."
How eGrader affects the UK grading scale remains to be seen. What is already becoming apparent is that the tool will contribute to a lively discussion about the development of grades and the evaluation of routes.
The two biggest fallacies of the British rating scale
- The danger increases with E grades
The E grade is a combination of difficulty and danger, and just as the level of difficulty can go up or down, any E grade, be it E1 or E11, can include all levels of danger, from almost safe sport route to all the way to safe Death. There are E1 routes where a fall would likely be fatal, and E11 routes where one can fall without consequences.
- Grade progression increases with difficulty
The distance between E degrees is linear (the difference between E1 and E2 is the same as between E11 and E12). This may not feel that way in practice, because the closer you get to your personal limit, the harder and harder it is to improve.
That might interest you
- Nerves of Steel: Dave MacLeod repeats the trad route Lexicon (E11, 7a)
- Climbing as an opportunity to constantly surpass yourself
- After almost falling: Hazel Findlay returns and climbs Impact Day (E8, 6c)
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Credits: Cover picture REYT