Monday, March 15, 2010


Should a star system be included in the guide? Currently there isn't one. The idea behind one would be to direct people to the best problems quickly and easily. The disadvantage for me is that its another - after grading - attempt to absoultely quantify the unquantifiable. As in grading democracy doesn't tend to work, unless you have a hugely popular area like Font and a website like with a system to capture votes on grades or quality, the sample size is always going to be too small and easily distorted. So the reality is that a star system would largely represent the opinion of the author which is fine but I think it would missell so manyproblems in some peoples eyes that it might do more hard than good. The approach I favour is that of mentioning in an introduction to an area some of the standout classics and also saying in the description of a problem if it is of particularly high or low quality.
I also have plans for a list of the top 100 or 200 problems.
Assuming one would use a system like this:

*** very very nice problem one of the best in the country
** very nice problem, one of the best in the area
* worth climbing
0 probably not worth climbing

What would people think should be the spread between the ratings? Say in Glendo - or choose elsewhere - what percentage of problems should be in each category


  1. i think for simplicity your star system should be just one star, reserved for the nicest problems in an area. Problems of "national" quality could be further noted in your area preamble. let the punters decide for themselves beyond that.

  2. From steve rhodes, bouldering on york gritstone
    If a bouldering area is really, really good, in fact it is so good that it is worth getting out of bed for, its awarded one bed ...

    If a bouldering area is so good, incredibly good, that it would tempt you out of somebody else's bed it is awarded "a double bed"

    Grading boulders rather than indidual problems
    I really like the bar chart he created for each boulder , the chart shows at a glance the number of problems of easy-4c,5a-b,5bc-5c+, etc

    the two pieces of info (beds and chart) allow you to find quality problems at the grade you are interested in ?

    put me down for two guides

  3. Diarmuid. Suggest some * problems in Glendo, what % of problems in Glendo would merit a *?

    Jon. I have never heard of that bed system. I plan to have information about the grade spread for each area. Not so sure about grading boulders (for quality) rather than problems, would it be an average of the quality of the individual problems, what if a boulder had one great problem and one shit one?

  4. I would say its an average for the boulder, but its probably easier for you in a pub atmosphere with other climbers to decide on what are the best boulders rather than individual climbs.

    If a boulder has only two problems on it , it probably wouldn’t classify for a single bed .

    If a problem is a classic (great problem) in Yorkshire it tends to have a name associated with it(MORREL’S WALL) so its obvious. I would agree with your approach “The approach I favour is that of mentioning in an introduction to an area some of the standout classics and also saying in the description of a problem if it is of particularly high or low quality.”

    But the bed system (grade a boulder) is just a suggestion, there a lot better climbers than me who will have a suggestion.
    I think it works to steer you to the best climbing (Caley had 55 boulders in this old guide).
    I will bring down the Yorkshire Bouldering Guide to Glendo on Saturday so you can have a look at the format if you want?

    I think the system would work in other guides. Im hoping to get down to Gap of Dunloe, but the (online :-( ) guide doesn’t make it obvious which of the many crags I should be spending my time on my first visit.

    Many thanks,Jon

  5. Thanks for the comments Jon. Bring the guide along I look forward to seeing it.
    Re the Gap best spot is around Turnpike Rock after that I would check out the Black Valley.

  6. I agree with the fluffy bottom laydy, 1 star is un oeuf.

    + What's the point of including problems that are not worth climbing (those which have no stars)?

  7. Pierre I suppose the idea is a way of acknowledging the fallability of the selection process. Currently on my topos I mark problems with a black circle, I was thinking that it might be worth showing 'other' or 'minor' problems with a circle with a black perimeter and white center these problems wouldn't have a corresponding number and wouldn't be mentioned anywhere else, it would just to show that a problem has been climbed there and they it isn't particularly interesting.

  8. It is probably a good idea that they are indicated as being climbed or else there will be loads of new first assents of the same problem

  9. Many thanks for the Turnpike Rock, will visit
    I agree all problems should be represented, no matter of the quality,and for the reason simon mentioned.
    Also its nice to climb a boulder and find it in a guide with a grade , particularly if you found it hard

    For instance I was looking for my two favourite problems (fow wkend), to see what grade they were, but I don't see them in the guide
    Big jim arete to the left of smear test (which Im assuming is the mainface)

    Dalkey traverse wall traverse (1) continues past the bulge using the foothold finishing into the corner

    I think there is probably room for more dots?

  10. Jon. I don't plan to show every problem. Just mark the existence of a problem but say no more than that and I wouldn't do that in every case.
    The prob left of Smear Test, the left or right side of the arete - I think the right is in the guide, the left is very good though, it should be mentioned.

  11. If you are planing on doing the guide in colour and using the suggestion from before of colour coding the grades it may solve both problems, you will not need to give any details on the problem but an indication of the difficulty will be given.

  12. Good idea Simon. The only problem I can think of with this is that the minor problems - marked by a hollow color circle - might be more prominent that the major one - marked with a full black circle. I think its definitevly worth doing a sample of this to see what it looks like. I will post it up.

  13. Example of * probs on "other" side of river
    smear test, barrys prob, the corner to the left of barrys, big jane arete.( andys? i don't rate it particularly but i think many do). rhythm n stealth is a fine lookin line.

    maybe 10 - 20 % starred problems generally.

  14. I'm not sure that you do need to give problems stars, beyond as you say mentioning classic problems at the beginning of a section...