8A – The Magical Effect of Letters and Numbers

Something I wrote some time back about falling into the trap of chasing grades:

It’s amazing how the utterance of a number and a letter in association to climbing can have such an effect on climbers. Before the days of numbers and letters significance, any route goes as long as we think we can make it by looking up at the holds. As the awareness grows, we begin to fall into that encumbrance that afflicts many minds where decisions are made based on the meaning derived from a set of arbitrary numbers and letters.

A spectrum of divergent outcomes emerges. On one extreme the decision to climb a route is hinged upon a number and a letter – this limits the realization of our full potential. On the contrary, the resolution to project a route based on its grade, the importance of that level among the climbing community and the resultant puffery leads to an explosion of the id. Hopefully, most of us will fall within the middle band of moderation, but I suppose in the end, it depends on what tugs your cord in climbing.

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