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  • TNB: Falling from the Top
  • TNB: Weekend Whipper
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  • Video Spotlight
    The Red Helmet
    The Red Helmet

    TNB: 8a.nu: The Best Climber in the World is the One with the Most Points


    This is Alex Megos making the first ascent of Australia&#39;s hardest sport route. Megos would definitely be a contender for the best climber in the world ... but he unfortunately forgot to start an 8a.nu scorecard! Photo by <a target="_blank" href="http://www.nickfletcherphotography.com/">Nick Fletcher</a>So, you’ve decided to throw yourself whole-heartedly into climbing’s most popular, sexy, safe-but-still-rad faction—sport climbing. Sure, you’ve dabbled and even redpointed a few clip-ups, but you’ve never totally immersed yourself in the athletic, numbers-driven, weight-watching, elbow-winching pursuit of climbing bolted routes. But now, like Sméagol (or Adam Ondra) pursuing his “precious,” you commit … and start yourself an 8a.nu scorecard.


    Despite vehemently swearing off the Swedish website as a total ego-driven numbers game that is contrary to a “soulful” sport like climbing, you jump in, or login rather, and start snooping around. However, you are immediately thwarted by the website’s tricky, 5.13b design.

    I just want to see Adam Ondra’s scorecard you mutter under your breath as you continually scan the homepage for a way to search for specific climbers. You resort to typing in Adam’s name in the Search & Add Ascents field, hit return, and hope for the best. But now you arrive at a new page that is clearly confusing “Adam Ondra” with a crag. Finally, you give up, and “lower off” sans send, but you vow to return with some better beta.

    Lucky for you, after a cruxy “Sendtember” spent delving into the chain-clipping tactics of kneebars, rose-moves and thumberclings, and trying to log any and all ascents on 8a.nu in an effort to fully embrace the life and times of a modern sport climber, I’ve gleaned some beta that I’m willing to share.

    But before we jump on the big rig, we need to warm up with a little background info.

    The Beginning of a Monster:

    8a.nu was created in 1999 by the coach of Sweden's Junior National team, Jens Larssen. As a training innovator and route developer, Larssen’s initial concept was to share his advice and new climbs via a “blog.” But in 2000, Larssen says he, along with Leif Jägerbrand, came up with the true genius behind the site … the scorecard.


    Currently, 50,000 people around the globe log in to 8a.nu, and according to Larssen, two-thirds of those users keep and maintain a scorecard. These scorecards are tallies of every route or boulder problem you’ve ever climbed—and logged—on 8a.nu.

    “Keeping track of climbs is our core,” Larssen explained to me in a recent e-mail.

    But the 8a.nu scorecard is not just sport climbing or bouldering specific and can actually accommodate a plethora of ascents, from a 35-foot, four-bolt 5.13a on a chossy limestone road-cut, to a 5.10 multi-pitch desert tower in the American Southwest. I’ll admit, however, that the true experience of a “bigger” traditional climb seems to be lost in translation during the whole scorecard logging process, no matter how many details you try to cram in the little comment box. For instance, you log: Black Canyon, Scenic Cruise, 5.10c, Hard, Onsight, but then you wonder, wait … if I was swinging leads, does it still count as an onsight? Oh, screw it, I’ll take it. Then you finish by commenting Such a ballin’ classic!

    You log your ascent and then notice that compared to the four-bolt 13a link-up you redpointed last month, you collected a good 300 points less for your adventurous 5.10. Why? Because the 8a.nu scorecard doesn’t care about the run-out you did above that wobbly C3! Well, maybe a little, but 5.10 is 5.10. Period.

    The 8a.nu scorecard is fraught with more intricacies than the crux of your latest project. Just logging an ascent is a tedious process that requires careful consideration of the stylistically influenced, unspoken “rules” of honed, in-the-know 8a.nu masters.So why should you care about how many points you receive per climb?

    Because on top of just providing you with a personal record, the point value of each climb you log affects your global ranking, which directly correlates to how good you are, of course. That’s why I’d suggest sticking to the disciplines of bouldering and sport climbing when playing the 8a.nu ranking game. And when logging your ascents, don’t forget to include the style in which you climbed the route/boulder problem. This style may award you more points, such as an onsight for example (just don’t confuse this with a flash!)

    Pretty simple, right? Wrong! The 8a.nu scorecard is fraught with more intricacies than the crux of your latest project. Just logging an ascent is a tedious process that requires careful consideration of the stylistically influenced, unspoken “rules” of honed, in-the-know 8a.nu masters. So, to save you some time getting up to speed I’ve listed a few of my own, hard-earned 8a.nu revelations below.

    The Infamous Re-log

    You’ve just established your 8a.nu account, and now you need some points. But beware—the ranking game is to be taken seriously! You can’t just login and start racking up the points from every climb you’ve ever ticked. Well, actually you can, but this would be considered an 8a.nu faux pas, which I discovered after making the blunder myself. If you want to log climbs from over a year ago, please, for the sake of the Global Rankings of all Good Climbers (GRGC), modify the date! You see, unbeknownst to me, the rankings of 8a.nu are based on the climbs/problems you have completed in the last 12 months. So logging all your ascents amassed from years of climbing is, in a way, cheating. That’s right, you can cheat! In fact, some users that take their rankings extra-seriously will re-log ascents of rock climbs they repeat, just to get the points. Note: The common courtesy for this re-log-for-points tactic is to write in the comment field, repeat or so good … even the 30 thousandth time ;) .

    ==

    Jimmy Webb making it look easy on the first ascent of <em>The Wheel of Wolvo</em> (V15). Photo courtesy of Dave Graham. The Humble Pie

    Re-logging ascents is one way to gain points in your relentless rise to the top of the GRGC. What you won’t gain from this tactic, however, is the respect of all the other users. Respect is hard earned in the points game, but some climbers (that are obviously way too strong for their own good and have points to burn) gain the admiration of others by showing how humble and honest they are. Take Jimmy “First Try” Webb, for example. He recently sent his first “true” V15 (not counting the slew of others he felt were soft and logged as V14) with a first ascent in Rocky Mountain National Park. The Wheel of Wolvo (V15) is a 25-move tour de force and was a “step up” according to Jimmy. So he finally claimed a V15 on his 8a.nu scorecard. Five days later, Jimmy returned to RMNP, and managed an even harder finish to The Wheel of Wolvo.

    “Definitely a small step above the original wheel,” wrote Webb on his scorecard. Yet Webb took no points for his new send that would of course count as a V15 first ascent. Instead, he added the ascent under the Log-Book categorization, which awards no points. Why? To serve you a slice of some tasty, Southern humble pie!

    The Strongman Sidebar

    You’ve put in your time, eaten only 1,000 calories a day for the last three weeks and finally clipped the chains on your first 8a (that’s 5.13b here in ‘Murica). You revel in the accolades given to you by your friends—even though you know they secretly wish you had fallen after the crux—and bask in the glory of your send. But truthfully, the most exciting part of your day hasn’t even happened yet. All GRGC members know that the best part of any big send is to log it on your scorecard. And now, since you’ve finally managed the magical grade of 8a, you go home, log the ascent, and hit refresh about fifteen times waiting for your name to appear on the homepage’s coveted Strongman Sidebar. But wait a minute something’s wrong as Jimi Hendrix once belted. Your name isn’t appearing on that sidebar! What the hell, you say to yourself. Shouldn’t I get on the sidebar when I send an 8a? The answer is no, you don’t get on the sidebar for an 8a. In fact, the secret algorithms that decide who gets displayed on the sidebar are as mysterious as the formula for the Philosopher’s Stone. You can onsight a 5.12 and get on the sidebar. Or redpoint a 5.13 and get on the sidebar. But there is never any guarantee of sidebar glory.

    But you certainly won’t get on the sidebar for not sending, and obviously the harder the better. So start climbing, because after all, you need the points!

    Reader's Commentary:

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    Add Your Comments to this article:
    Joshua Rian Heath commented on 05-Nov-2013 11:19 AM5 out of 5 stars
    Chris, I really appreciate you writing this. Here I had almost forgotten that I started climbing for the prestige -- I need to start getting those big sends instead of just 'enjoying' the great outdoors -- otherwise known as 'wasting energy.' It's important for us modern climbers to take to heart that we need 8a.nu to validate us climbing just like we need Facebook to prove how many friends we have.
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