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Definitions of Technical?

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Postby revhobo » Thu Oct 05, 2006 1:13 pm

Thanks for the clarification. I was refering to YDS as described here, but was careless to use the Roman numerals.



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Postby pcase » Thu Oct 05, 2006 4:40 pm

Hi Revhobo,
Just a quick clarification re: your 1st post this morning...

- My non-climbing friends have trouble on class 2, because there is a certain steepness and exposure to Class 2 routes that makes your average flatlander/non-climber very nervous and uncomfortable. The routes may or may not be "real climbing routes" ...that's all semantics......the one thing I'm sure of is that average class 2 steepness and exposure causes non-climbers a good deal of anxiety.

- As for the photos...It's hard to evaluate steepness and exposure from a pictur....but on first glance the terrain didn't look class 4. Then again if I had a nickle for every time I mis-evaluated terrain...I'd have a lot of beer money.

- As for Chains lowering the route rating, yes I'd have to say that chains as placed probably reduce the rating from a Class 4 or 3 to a class 2. Why? Well an example would be half-dome. The standard route has hand rails and foot plank placements for 200 yards up extremely steep and holdless granite. The real rating is a class 4 - 5 without cables....the rating with cables is class 1. If you fall in either circumstance you are probably dead. So death potential is not the primary factor in Class rating...It's more about physical difficulty, objective dangers, exposure and certainly injury potential is a piece of the puzzle...but just a piece. I would venture to say that there are many class 3 - 4 routes in the Sierras where a chain like the one in your photos would bring the rating instantly downwards to a class 2.....routes where only a few dozen meters of chain would eliminate virtually all risk in the ascent....routes like the standard routes on Mt Abbott, Clarence King, Mt Gould, The Hermit or Cathedral peak where the only real dangers are limited to a very compact section of rock where a chain would definitely be of immense benefit. I hope that helps clarify what I was trying to convey about the effects of chains on Class3 - 4 routes.
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Postby revhobo » Thu Oct 05, 2006 5:22 pm

But I still cannot see how a vertical chain can possibly bring any route automatically to Class 2 per definition of Class 2. It is not a railing, and it is not a foot plank. It is an assist like a rope would be an assist, but not beyond that. Would you consider approaches with vertical ropes Class 2 just based on the presence of the ropes? Perhaps I am misreading the YDS, but it doesn't compute to me. Am I the only one with doubts here? Let me quote Class 2 and 3 again here:

source: http://www.climber.org/data/decimal.html

class 2

* cross country, requiring route finding skills
* cross-country, using hands for balance
* hiking trail (goes with class 1 is a bike path)
* difficult cross-country travel (thick brush, climbing over and around fallen trees, and big talus - hands are used for balance)
* the trail is either non-existant or very uneven or intermittent and you may need to put your hand down once in a while for balance

class 3

* scrambling on rocks using hands as well as feet
* requires use of hands for climbing, rope may be used
* I need my hands but might survive a fall
* hands? Maybe. (goes with class 1 is a bike path)
* rope is necessary only to provide comfort
* MUST use your hands for progress but don't need to search for holds nor do you need Real Rock Climbing(TM) techniques

RJ Secor quips:

* Class 1: you fall, you're stupid.
* Class 2: you fall, you break your arm.
* Class 3: you fall, you break your leg.
* Class 4: you fall, you are almost dead (i.e., you can't breath and move your arms, legs, and head).
* Class 5: you fall, you are dead.

According to the above definitions, it would be a serious stretch to place them even in Class 3, let alone 2. Are there "more official" definitions anywhere?
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Postby pcase » Thu Oct 05, 2006 7:05 pm

Hi Revhobo,

It's really just semantics...and you can't go by some rigid classification system, there's really no replacement for judgement and scouting and preparation. Does it really make sense to classify every mountain on earth in all weather and temperatures as a class 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5???

There are certainly scenarios where the addition of of a chain will not reduce a class 5 to a class 4 or lower...there are infinite possibilities in that regard....so you've really taken that point to an illogical extreme....the point is....if someone bothered to lug chains to a specific spot on a specific route, it's fair to assume that the purpose was to alleviate travellers of the need to carry 20 pounds of ropes and gear just to get through a brief class 4 or class 5 section....so if the route can be done safely by the average climber without ropes....it's not a class 4 or 5...and also based on what I saw in your pics...the addition of chains could easily reduce the most difficult move, the basis on which climbs are traditionally judged, from a 3 or 4 to a 2.

As for Secor's definition....I have serious issues. There is death potential on lots of class 3's. And it's not unusual for routes in commercial climbing guides to be "sandbagged", meaning the route's rating is somewhat understated. Anyone who thinks the worst that could happen on a Class 3 is a broken leg is a complete fool....people can and do die every year in the Sierra Nevada on moderate class 3 terrain. Wierd sh*t happens in the mountains, and small mistakes often have large consequences. A broken leg???? Class 3??? That's just plain stupid.

Lastly I wouldn't get too caught up in grading scales, they are really the product of a bygone era. In today's world you can get detailed information on almost any route on any peak on the internet, and that information is 10 times more valuable than some book that blithely proclaims a given route to be class 2, 3 or 4.
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Postby revhobo » Thu Oct 05, 2006 10:39 pm

In principle I agree that we need to be flexible, yet I still see value in grading routes. Of course we cannot cover all kinds of weather and conditions, but grading is always done based on dry conditions anyway. It stands to reason that wet rock will raise the level of difficulty and danger significantly. I was a witness of that this year, when a relatively straightforward passage on chains became a tricky steep ice rink. :\

One of the reasons behind grading is to warn people to the minimum level of difficulty they should expect. That was also a reason why I struggled with what I perceived as a too-easy dismissal of difficulty based on the presence of rudimentary assists (that in themselved require some training before they can be employed successfully). I've seen otherwise seasoned hikers "hit the wall" in such areas, and I would never dismiss them as Class 2. I am sure some of them expected an easy fare because of the presence of the assists. It was anything but. Therefore, consistent grading might warn such people and prevent possible tragedies (up to a dozen people annually pay with their lives on the routes you saw in those photos).
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Postby revhobo » Thu Oct 05, 2006 10:48 pm

I should possibly add that when I was hiking this year, another hiker died the same day on a genuine Class 2 route after overestimating his strength and not taking proper rests with adequate nutrition. He was found less than 400 ft from the saddle. He sat down and died.

Tragic, but I suppose it shows that there are dangers much simpler than a slippery rock.
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Postby AfterSeven » Fri Oct 06, 2006 12:20 am

What route had the chains? Where is that? What Mountain Range? I don't see that too often...actually not at all.

As for injury's and death in the Sierras, seems like every few months a new story leaks out of a serious mishap here or there

I clerked for a year for the Federal Judge in Yosemite, I roomed next to the SAR leader John Dill. One night they went looking for a guy reported missing . They found him.....at a stream near Mt. Clark trying to drown himself. He went to solo Mt. Clark....fell and broke 1 ankle and lacerated the other. He slept outdoors with no food or shelter for three or four days. The wounds got infected and gangrenous....he realized he would lose both legs...so he decided to drown himself...that's when they found him. He survived...but he lost both legs.

I guess you can't over emphasize all the fundamentals you read about, but all too frequently ignore....when things go pear shaped in the mountains......things can get exponentially worse in a very short period of time.
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Postby revhobo » Fri Oct 06, 2006 3:55 pm

AfterSeven wrote:What route had the chains? Where is that? What Mountain Range? I don't see that too often...actually not at all.

AfterSeven, here are the photos I included in an earlier post:



The mountains are Tatry on the Polish side of the Tatrzanski Park Narodowy (Tatra National Park).

AfterSeven wrote:I guess you can't over emphasize all the fundamentals you read about, but all too frequently ignore....when things go pear shaped in the mountains......things can get exponentially worse in a very short period of time.

Agreed. That's one of the reasons I resist going on more challenging hikes on my own. I once busted my knee on a simple hike (Class 1), slipped after fresh rain. I managed to get myself back to the car using my hiking poles. I can't imagine being far out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by challenging terrain.
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Postby AfterSeven » Fri Oct 06, 2006 4:03 pm

Poland? WoW! Well the Poles and Slovenians are two nationalities that really take a different approach to climbing than Americans....from a personal safety standpoint, they take risks that others might not, loss of digits in the Himalaya is no big deal....or that used to be the case when I was last there. SO it would not surprise me if the route was still a Class 3 or maybe easy Class 4 with the use of chains.

Sorry to hear about the knee....sounds like quite an ordeal.
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Postby revhobo » Fri Oct 06, 2006 4:25 pm

There are proposals now to replace some of the chains in the Polish part of the Tatra National Park with Italian-style ferrite protections. They do not provide you with climbing assists, but they allow you to lock your carabiner onto the line giving you increased safety if you fall. There is both support and resistance to those proposals, and no one knows how it is going to end.

And yes, when you look at the crowds climbing some of those routes with no protections, you do begin to think that risk-taking may be a genetic thing with Poles. ;)

BTW, it took a while, but my knee is fine now. It's the other one that's beginning to act up, but that's just age and normal wear and tear, I suppose.
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