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4th Class - Your Definition?

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Re: 4th Class - Your Definition?

Postby Brian C » Wed Sep 26, 2012 3:11 pm

rickinco123 wrote:...the start of Freeway does not feel 4th class to me...


Then you haven't found the easiest way. Ratings assume perfect route-finding. It's easy to make class 4 routes class 5.
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Re: 4th Class - Your Definition?

Postby crossfitter » Wed Sep 26, 2012 3:13 pm

TallGrass wrote:
rickinco123 wrote:If all hand and footholds are positive, and it is not overhanging, it is 4th.


I would strongly disagree.

"Class 4: Simple climbing, with exposure. A rope is often used. Natural protection can be easily found. Falls may well be fatal.
Class 5: Technical free climbing involving rope, belaying, and other protection hardware for safety. Un-roped falls can result in severe injury or death."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yosemite_Decimal_System

There are also many 5.9 routes on climbing walls where it's all positive holds and no overhang but they are far from simple class 4 climbing. Same place has routes where holds are smaller than one-square-inch or look little more than mashed potatoes thrown on the wall (no chives). Spacing is also a factor, like if you have to dyno to the next hold even if positive and not overhanging.


5.9 gym routes are nothing like 5.9 rock routes. The definition of "positive" in the context of climbing holds is also extremely relative. Class 4 holds are all monster jugs where you can easily support your entire body weight with a single hold.

But to take things on a slight tangent, I think fretting over the difference between class 3 or class 4 does the target audience a disservice. Class 4 climbing is not physically difficult. The movement is very intuitive and natural and any reasonably fit person possesses the requisite skills to climb it with little to no experience. The real challenge in class 3 or 4 is proper routefinding to keep the difficulty low and the mental fortitude to commit to high-consequence moves. If you were to remove those challenges by giving people a 6 foot high rubble pile in a parking lot, almost everyone would cruise to the top without blinking. Worrying about the precise difficulty of scrambling routes puts emphasis on the wrong details. Develop your routefinding skills and comfort with exposure and it wont matter.
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Re: 4th Class - Your Definition?

Postby I Man » Wed Sep 26, 2012 3:16 pm

crossfitter wrote:
TallGrass wrote:
rickinco123 wrote:If all hand and footholds are positive, and it is not overhanging, it is 4th.


I would strongly disagree.

"Class 4: Simple climbing, with exposure. A rope is often used. Natural protection can be easily found. Falls may well be fatal.
Class 5: Technical free climbing involving rope, belaying, and other protection hardware for safety. Un-roped falls can result in severe injury or death."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yosemite_Decimal_System

There are also many 5.9 routes on climbing walls where it's all positive holds and no overhang but they are far from simple class 4 climbing. Same place has routes where holds are smaller than one-square-inch or look little more than mashed potatoes thrown on the wall (no chives). Spacing is also a factor, like if you have to dyno to the next hold even if positive and not overhanging.


5.9 gym routes are nothing like 5.9 rock routes. The definition of "positive" in the context of climbing holds is also extremely relative. Class 4 holds are all monster jugs where you can easily support your entire body weight with a single hold.

But to take things on a slight tangent, I think fretting over the difference between class 3 or class 4 does the target audience a disservice. Class 4 climbing is not physically difficult. The movement is very intuitive and natural and any reasonably fit person possesses the requisite skills to climb it with little to no experience. The real challenge in class 3 or 4 is proper routefinding to keep the difficulty low and the mental fortitude to commit to high-consequence moves. If you were to remove those challenges by giving people a 6 foot high rubble pile in a parking lot, almost everyone would cruise to the top without blinking. Worrying about the precise difficulty of scrambling routes puts emphasis on the wrong details. Develop your routefinding skills and comfort with exposure and it wont matter.


Well said. I often have a hard time telling the difference between Classes and have adopted a new system.

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Re: 4th Class - Your Definition?

Postby illusion7il » Wed Sep 26, 2012 4:12 pm

[quote="Brian C"]I'm a big fan of the idea of simply going out and climbing routes that are rated class 4 to get a feel for what the rating means to you. Ratings always feel different to everybody so go do a few and see what you think. Also, it does not matter how close to the ground you are (there are a few exceptions), class 4 is always class 4.

A few examples...

Freeway on the 2nd Flatiron

Brian, Please Tell me how to keep the first pitch of Freeway down to class 4. I have climbed this route roped, and this is the approx route we took. Felt kinda like 5.2ish, but thats just me. The consenus on mountain project says 5.1 I plan to solo this route soon but its the first pitch that bothers me
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Re: 4th Class - Your Definition?

Postby Brian C » Wed Sep 26, 2012 5:15 pm

illusion7il wrote:Brian, Please Tell me how to keep the first pitch of Freeway down to class 4. I have climbed this route roped, and this is the approx route we took. Felt kinda like 5.2ish, but that's just me. The consensus on mountain project says 5.1. I plan to solo this route soon but its the first pitch that bothers me.


The first pitch is definitely the hardest part of Freeway. The path that makes the most sense is to head straight up the face (left of your line) but moving over the small bulge is about 2 moves of 5.2. The class 4 path leads up even further right of your line, and follows big holds up and then back left to join the other lines. It's a great solo and I highly recommend it. I'd be more than happy to try and connect to come and solo it with you.
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Re: 4th Class - Your Definition?

Postby tenpins » Wed Sep 26, 2012 5:27 pm

dswink wrote:Exposure, hazard, etc are not considerations in the Class rating.
.



that is absolutely not correct. The key point in 5th class terrain is the consequences of an unroped/unprotected fall. There are 5.0 moves _everywhere_. Super easy to do, just dont fall because you will be seriously injured or dead. You may be confusing ratings with class here. 5.9 is 5.9 whether you land on jagged nails and glass or a mound of feathers.

To the OP, NOLS alum to another, stick with your def.

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Re: 4th Class - Your Definition?

Postby Brian C » Wed Sep 26, 2012 5:45 pm

tenpins wrote:that is absolutely not correct. The key point in 5th class terrain is the consequences of an unroped/unprotected fall. There are 5.0 moves _everywhere_. Super easy to do, just dont fall because you will be seriously injured or dead. You may be confusing ratings with class here. 5.9 is 5.9 whether you land on jagged nails and glass or a mound of feathers.

To the OP, NOLS alum to another, stick with your def.


Not sure I understand this post. Could you clarify what you mean when you say that if you fall unroped on 5th class you're going to be severly injured or die, but then you say there could be 5.9 landing on nails or feathers?
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Re: 4th Class - Your Definition?

Postby DaveSwink » Wed Sep 26, 2012 7:14 pm

tenpins wrote:
dswink wrote:Exposure, hazard, etc are not considerations in the Class rating.
.



that is absolutely not correct. The key point in 5th class terrain is the consequences of an unroped/unprotected fall. There are 5.0 moves _everywhere_. Super easy to do, just dont fall because you will be seriously injured or dead. You may be confusing ratings with class here. 5.9 is 5.9 whether you land on jagged nails and glass or a mound of feathers.

To the OP, NOLS alum to another, stick with your def.


Not sure if I am edified, but I am dazzled. :shock:

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Re: 4th Class - Your Definition?

Postby smoove » Wed Sep 26, 2012 7:30 pm

dswink wrote:
tenpins wrote:
dswink wrote:Exposure, hazard, etc are not considerations in the Class rating.
.



that is absolutely not correct. The key point in 5th class terrain is the consequences of an unroped/unprotected fall. There are 5.0 moves _everywhere_. Super easy to do, just dont fall because you will be seriously injured or dead. You may be confusing ratings with class here. 5.9 is 5.9 whether you land on jagged nails and glass or a mound of feathers.

To the OP, NOLS alum to another, stick with your def.


Not sure if I am edified, but I am dazzled. :shock:


I think what he's saying is that the very definition of 5th class climbing includes the high likelihood of serious injury or death if you take an unprotected fall. Thus, exposure and hazard are considerations in classifying terrain as 5th class (or 4th class for that matter http://climber.org/data/decimal.html#basic). The subdivisions of 5th class indicate the actual difficulty of the route.

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Re: 4th Class - Your Definition?

Postby DaveSwink » Wed Sep 26, 2012 7:48 pm



I wouldn't use that site as a definition of the Yosemite Decimal System. I did get a kick out of his defintion of class 4, "use a rope, but don't place protection." :-D

You will notice he defines class 4 as requiring roped belay, and class 5 as requiring ropes and protection. Those considerations are not a part of the YDS definition. Neither is exposure or consequences. Sorry. The class rating of a climb will be the same whether you are soloing, leading while belayed or top-roped. :oops:

Here is a thread that defines class 5 pretty well: http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?post=2408470;search_string=yds;#2408470

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Re: 4th Class - Your Definition?

Postby smoove » Wed Sep 26, 2012 8:14 pm

dswink wrote:


I wouldn't use that site as a definition of the Yosemite Decimal System. I did get a kick out this defintion of class 4, "use a rope, but don't place protection." :-D

You will notice he defines class 4 as requiring roped belay, and class 5 as requiring ropes and protection. Those considerations are not a part of the YDS definition. Neither is exposure or consequences. Sorry. The class rating of a climb will be the same whether you are soloing, leading while belayed or top-roped. :oops:


That site definitely has a number of flaws! But what do you mean the YDS definition doesn't consider ropes and protection as part of 5th class climbing? Even FOTH (is that a credible enough source for you?) says: "Class 5 . . . involves the use of a rope, belaying, and protection (natural or artificial) . . . ." That's the reason some people refer to free soloing Class 5 as "Class 3ing" it.

I will concede that the FOTH definition does not mention exposure or hazard, but the definition of Class 4 includes, "A fall could be fatal", which is not included in the definition of Class 3. By logical extension, the definition of Class 5 includes, "A fall could be fatal," which clearly encompasses the concepts of exposure and hazard.

Edit: Like Roach says, exposure is generally more dramatic the higher the class, but there are exceptions. The Knife Edge on Capitol is arguably no harder than Class 2 but has a great a deal of exposure. So I will agree that exposure, technically speaking, has nothing to do with classifying a pitch as 4th or 5th class. But hazard/consequences are considerations.

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Re: 4th Class - Your Definition?

Postby DaveSwink » Wed Sep 26, 2012 8:42 pm

smoove wrote:That site definitely has a number of flaws! But what do you mean the YDS definition doesn't consider ropes and protection as part of 5th class climbing? Even FOTH (is that a credible enough source for you?) says: "Class 5 . . . involves the use of a rope, belaying, and protection (natural or artificial) . . . ." That's the reason some people refer to free soloing Class 5 as "Class 3ing" it.

I will concede that the FOTH definition does not mention exposure or hazard, but the definition of Class 4 includes, "A fall could be fatal", which is not included in the definition of Class 3. By logical extension, the definition of Class 5 includes, "A fall could be fatal," which clearly encompasses the concepts of exposure and hazard.


So, first consider the challenge of rating the difficulty of climbs:

*if you include exposure then easy but very exposed climbs (see Cathedral Peak pic posted by Barry Raven) will end up rated as very difficult

*if you include exposure then weird discrepancies will occur (see crossfitter's pics, the boulder move would translate to about 5.11, but the exposure is four feet, the walkway is class 1, but the exposure is hundreds of feet)

*exposure is somewhat relative in that some people have move difficulty with heights, plus most of us grow more comfortable with exposure over time

*if you include gear/rope requirements in your difficulty rating then someone like Peter Croft or John Bachar (RIP) would come along and solo it, turning your 5.9 rating into class 3

*if you include consequences in difficulty rating, what would the Narrows on Longs Peak be rated? or the knife edge on Kelso Ridge? or the little tilted slab on Wetterhorn? A fall on any of those class 3 climbs could easily be fatal.

*if you include consequences in difficulty rating, does the rating change if you are top-roping, or have a belay from above? Does class 5 difficulty drop to class 3 if you have a rope above you, since the consequences are minimal?

You see how complicated it gets, no?

Now, ponder how to explain class rating to newbies. You could give dry, succienct definitions in a few words, but most climbing newbies would still have questions. Most writers, including the excellent and much updated FoTH writers, get a bit chatty while trying to give a fuller explanation, and include examples in the definition. They know that the examples are not exactly correct, but they figure including the example details (roped belay, fatal falls, etc) gets the newbie climber a lot closer to understanding, and the new climber will fill in the right definitions in due time.

This is all just my two cents, but I am pretty confident on it. :-D

Edit: Did this sound pretentious? Damn, sorry. Sounded good in my head. :oops:

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