The Grit List Shakedown

Ok, here goes then. I’m going to break my own rules, and pass judgement on a load of route grades. Having mentioned that I’d do this a week or so ago, I was fairly surprised by the number of opinions expressed on whether I should do this or not! It’s really not the end of the world if an opinion is expressed and likewise it’s not the best thing since sliced bread. I do think it should be done now and again though – and the more people that did this in an open way (rather than anonymous forum posting/voting) the better. Please feel free to comment at the end of this blog on any others you’d like adding to the list.

I dare not comment on the grade on this one...

I dare not comment on the grade on this one…

I’ll apologise in advance to all my friends who read this and see that I’ve moved anything downward in grade – it’s not personal…. honest! And besides, it’s only my opinion. Also as wise man Sam Hamer pointed out to me, it’s only the lines that truly matter, not the grade.

It was a total geek posting, with a ridiculously long list of those that I’d suggest move up and those that move down. However, after a few days thought, I’ve decided to keep it to those I feel most strongly about, rather than the shady areas of “soft” or “sandbag.” I’ve formatted it so that each route is in what I think is the correct grade boundary and will have brackets afterwards to show its previous grade. I’ve only moved a grade if I think it’s a total joke at the grade – I’m quite happy with some routes out there being tough or soft.

All of these routes I have lead (bar Captain Invincible which I’ve top roped a fair bit) so I hope my opinion is as measured as possible. I’ve also kept it mostly Eastern Grit based as it’s Andi T’s duty to expose those from the dark west….


E9: Captain Invincible, Burbage South (E8 – makes most E8s feel like E6)

E6: Shape Shifter, Millstone (E5 – sorry, bad grading. My fault)

E5: Profit of Doom (E4, Too many wads flail on this)

E5: Hurricane, Curbar (E4: proper Gogarth E5)

E5: Nectar groove & roof (E4. P Widdy even flailed on it)

The downgrades

E8: The Zone (E9 – the climbing is too easy)

E7: Power of the Dark Side (E8 – who made a bloody massive patio??!)

E6: One Chromosone’s Missing, Harstons (E7 – gear is too good)

E6: Masters of the Universe (E7 – everyone knows this one)

E6: Speak The Truth (E7 – dangerous, but the climbing is too easy)

E5: Committed (E6 – no one ever does this without pads. Ulysses or Bust is harder)

E5: Nosferatu (E6 – sorry, it just is)

E5: Peas of Mind, Curbar (E6 – crap route, too easy to step off line)

E5: Winters Grip, Millstone (E6 – hard move much too low for E6)

E4: London Pride, Millstone (E5 – no hard moves)


10 thoughts on “The Grit List Shakedown

  1. Hi Tom,
    Nothing like putting your head above the parapet! I’ll join you.
    A few points;
    1. I think you should state for what style of ascent you give these grades? Is this true on-sight, no chalked up holds, no mats, no spotters, no shit-out rope and climber on top, no mobile phone, mid-week alone …or all the opposite of the above. But what about only afew of those conditions? Pehaps we need a matrix which alows us to calculate a grade based on the exact circumstances or a complex algorithim! Or perhaps simply create a baseline style which relates to the maximum likely grade……..oh, we’ve got one already, even if it doesn’t suit how people prefer to climb. Grades are made for people’s preferences are they?
    2. You should also state your own style of ascent for these which gives us the context behind your decisions.
    3. Masters of the Universe was originally led (according to the first ascentionist Andy Pollitt) without backing up the old bolts . He didn’t really know what to grade it due to the unknown state of the old bolts. He felt somewhere between E6 (bolts safe) and E9 (basically an on-sight solo), so gave it E7. Is E6 for the bolts tied off to a top-rope?
    4. I on-sight soloed both The Committed and Ulysses or Bust without any of the back-up mentioned above in 1! I’m only 5′ 7″ which has a greater bearing on The Committed than Ulysses or Bust, but even taking that into account I would say The Committed is harder. I remember thinking it to be good E6 6c (Dawes thinks E7 for him), whereas I gave Ulysses or Bust E4 6a immediately after I had done it.
    5. Is Profit E5 because the crux is being tried without the gear in? With good gear in it is definitely E4.
    6. Agree re. Hurricane.
    7. Nosferatu and Winter’s Grip. One of the problems with these E6’s is that if you see anyone do them, the grade instantly falls. They are not particularly difficult but easy to cock up on-sight and potentially serious, although two good blade pegs can be placed in Winter’s. I would say both still deserve soft E6 compared to other grit E5’s.
    8. You’ve got to remember that a lot of unprotected grit E5s and some E6’s are pretty low french grades (6 rather than 7). For someone who can climb french 8 like you I think you need to reflect on this rather than try to downgrade routes you find technicaly easy. I think all routes up to HVS are very easy and all of them should really just be regraded ‘path’ 🙂 Don’t forget the grading system is open ended.



    • Graham, I think the issues are arising when we try and apply the old grades to the new system where by most good climbers are going out with 1-2 pads, some internet knowledge and often chalk on the routes as they know their mates did it last week. Trying to keep the E-grade for this ultra strict onsight ethic is false in my opinion. No one does it really and why grade for a tiny minority? Surely grades should evolve with the developing sport? I know it’s less adventurous and gives less credit to the old-guard, but the current system is too easily exploited.

      • Hi Tom,
        I agree with you and therefore I’m surprised that you persisted with an E grade for Nosferatu, Ulysses or Bust and The Committed etc, where the E grade is meaningless and undefinable and would only stand for Ego when used for padded ascents! These should be receiving font grades as highballs. I’m not trying to keep the old grades, just pointing out that they can’t be used for the manner in which the routes are now being climbed and refer to a particular approach which was more common in the past. In the BMC guides now they are using two grades, one for an ‘old school’ approach and a highball font grade for pads etc. I think this is a good idea.
        Can’t agree regards Nectar, runners above your head! Man up ffs!! (OK I admit I’ve never tried the top pitch tee hee) 🙂


  2. Personally, I’d quite like to see the full geek posting! Of the three on your list I have experience of I only fully agree with one and that’s Nosferatu @ E5. I’d say Jasmine and Slackers are similar seriousness and difficulty to this so they’d be E5 as well.
    Committed I find hard (probably off-style) and the top is reachy and dangerous – worth E6 for me.
    I can see where you’re coming from with Speak the Truth but the move to get established on the arete over the little overlap early on is actually slightly hard technical arete movement and the landing isn’t invitingly jump-offable at all(even with pads). Not done many E7’s but this (headpoint with a couple of pads) felt comparable to the others I’ve done. You might consider giving yourself a little credit on this one – I think you probably climbed it better than what it felt like at the time and you were probably quite gripped for a reason. ie. not that easy!
    Nothing like a bit of grade-talk before bed.

    • Hi Graham, I see what you’re saying, but I think the E grade should take into account a normal padding amount. Doing a scary E5 with pads e.g. Artless feels a very similar achievement to doing safe E5 like Moon Crack. I felt both pushed me in equal measure. If I want an E6 tick (let’s say that’s all I’m bothered about) I don’t particularly feel like I had an easy time of it if I go about do one of these scary highballs with a couple of pads. I feels pretty full on to me! I’d rather adjust grades down to normal practice, rather than abandon the system. We need to have a coffee sometime!

      And Nectar…. Yes, you got me. But who has onsighted the whole thing? Anyone? No one I know of. Surely that means something?

  3. Hi Tom,

    I think grit grading is all over the place, where an e5 can have a crux anywhere between font 6b and 7b+, for me making ascents a more personal experience. This is particularly the case if I’m trying to climb ground up sometimes over a number of sessions, even spanning years of climbing. In some ways this goes against the tick list approach where sending many routes of higher e numbers is a strong part of the reason for climbing them.

    Saying that, there’s nothing like a good grit tick list to read at bedtime!

    Also, nectar is never e5 😉



  4. I on-sighted Nectar : ) It’s got a sit down rest half way up, loads of gear, why E5? Harvest on the other hand was given E3 when I got completely spanked on it!

    Have you done Tin Drum to the right of Committed? Waaay harder (used to be given E4). There are plenty of examples…but nowhere near as many as there used to be back in Graham’s day!

    • Whahey! Good effort…. at least there’s one from our generation. Although I’m sure you’re one of the quoted wads who didn’t do Profit first time?

      Tin Drum I haven’t tried. I have heard that rep though. Graham has probably got a list to take down all lists…

      • Well anything with overhead gear had to be particularly desperate to get a high E grade. I remember giving Goosey Goosey Gander E3 in the 1981 stanage script vecause of this. Nectar was E4 and Strappodichtomy on Froggatt was middle E4 until Geoff Milburn who had never climbed it changed it to E5 unilaterally! Profit was E4, Moon Crack E4, The Vice HVS,.I gave DIY HVS (now E3!) because it ws an ‘extended boulder problem’ being only 20′ hgh and that’s how we graded things then. Jumping off onto the deck from that height was considered reasonable (as in Northumberland). Happy Days – I’m surprised more people didn’t get hurt!

  5. I reversed Profit and then put the key runner in on abseil as I couldn’t get it in from below… then did it without any falls. I think that’s probably fair at E5.

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