Saturday, July 30, 2011

Review Ratting System

Honeymoon Leg 3 Lost Horse and Blodget-75
Testing Approach Gear in Blodget Creek

My wonderful wife Jen (a strong and well rounded mountain person in her own right) and I have decided to revive this blog. One of the new goals on this blog will be to provide recommendations of gear that actually works. Too many gear reviews in industry sponsored publications amount "these shoes don't perform well but are great for easy routes." We hold our own selection of gear to a higher standard...I don't want another pair of shoes that makes it impossible to do the "11a" slab move on thin fingers.

To this end, reviews on this blog will use a closed but relative rating system inspired by John Gill's  B system for rating boulder problems in terms of what is currently possible. The B system is elegantly simple, a B1 represents a problem as hard as anything done on a rope, a B2 problem is harder and a B3 problem is a problem so hard it has only been done once.

Inspired by this we assign the following ratings:

G0: Gear that is to be avoided. Gear in this category either fails to perform at a reasonable level or has a serious design flaw. It will actively hinder your performance or endanger your life.

G1: Gear that performs at an average or mediocre level. Gear in this category can be used to good effect and it may have redeeming qualities such as comfort, availability or price but buying it will not help your performance and is probably nor worth stuffing in your pack for a day cragging at Index. La Sportiva Mythos fit in this category until someone shows me how to stand on tiny edges in them.

G2: Gear that performs as well as any currently available gear. This is the gear you should be using if you wish to push your level of performance. La Sportiva Miura's and Five Ten Anasazi fit in this category...the shoes you see on the hardest routes in the world and on local hardpeople.

Honeymoon Leg 2 100 Degrees in Blodget Canyon-17
Thin slab climbing requires good, if not great, shoes.

G3: Gear that sets a new level of performance. This rating is reserved for those rare pieces of gear that redefine what is possible instead of refining existing designs. Don't expect to see this rating too often but Wild Country Friends (the original spring loaded caming devices) would have received this rating when released as would the original release of sticky rubber climbing shoes.

Ratings may also include a + or - indicating that the piece of gear has a unique feature that adds or subtracts from its value. For example the original forged friend design, though R3 at release, would now rate as R2- since the forged stem requires extra care when, black diamond Camelot C4's would rate at  R2+ since their double stem design provides extended range. OP Link Cam's rate R0+ indicating I won't climb on them and feel they shouldn't be sold due to a failure mode that has caused several accidents but they do provided a large level of expansion range if you are willing to accept those risks.

This system is of course subjective and uninformative as all such systems must be. The individual reviews will seek to hold an analytical eye to the fit, strengths and weaknesses of each piece of gear.

Honeymoon Leg 3 Lost Horse and Blodget-70
Good approach shoes are needed to avoid the buschwack getting down from Blackfoot Dome, MT.