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Why Grades Don't Matter

Anoushe Husain

We've all been there, comparing self worth or ability against a climbing grade. Anoushé Husain explores these thoughts and motivations in her latest article. 

What do you feel when you look at the grade of a wall? How much do you assess yourself against that number?
I’ll admit it, I do a lot more than I’d like. I tend to berate myself for falling on a very easy grade (unless I’m learning a new technique or planning a fall) and tend to feel incredibly proud when I get to a new grade. The high from that often lasts a few weeks. That’s how much importance I place on these numbers.
If I find myself struggling on a route I should be completing, the excuses will come out. Oh it has a lot of pocket holds, there’s too much to reach for, I’m a short climber etc. 
Look at the wording above, I’ve told myself I should complete a route because a number has been allocated to it based on how someone else completely unlike me has assessed it. Sounds a bit ridiculous doesn’t it? 
Climbers who experience this problem tend to climb safe. Fearing failing at a certain grade or on a certain type of route, they tend to stick to what they know so that they don’t lose motivation. They also tend to focus on the outcome of their climb rather than the journey within it and miss valuable learning opportunities. 
If a climb is too easy, you’re probably not learning very much and if you avoid areas, routes or inclines that feel uncomfortable, you won’t ever learn the skills you need to climb them. 
Sometimes Climbing should be easy though. If you’ve been unwell, injured or are coming in for a social or have too much on in life, your comfort zone is already stretched. But if you’re finding your climbs boring, you’re starting to plateau or actively avoiding certain areas then start looking at stretching your comfort zone very gently. 
There’s nothing wrong with adding a lot of holds while you’re learning to climb an overhang or picking different holds. Leaving your comfort zone will be scary so go as far as you feel safe to. The rewards are worth it though, they really are! 
Thanks to Ken for the title of this piece.

If you want to follow more of Anoushé's story, you can find her on FacebookInstagram and Twitter

Photo: Ben Grubb