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Doability vs. difficulty

There’s a distinction between doability and difficulty that is often missed in climbing.

Just because a route is doable, doesn’t mean it’s easy.

When the holds are straightforward and movements basic, it is simply easier to apply your strength and ability to the rock. External factors (e.g. conditions, skin, footwear) don’t really matter that much, and if you are strong enough to do the route, you will likely do it quickly.

On the flip side, a route with more nuance will have a lower margin of error and more opportunities for redpoint-ending mistakes. But this doesn’t automatically make it “hard”.

Technical problems take more time to solve. That’s the way it’s always been.

In a culture that puts ever more emphasis on training and getting physically stronger, we often confound doability and difficulty: the basic climbs get downgraded, the technical ones hold their grade.

To a well balanced climber, they feel equally difficult.

Before we sandbag our peers by offering a downgrade, we should consider whether the route was truly easy, or merely more doable than the ones we’re comparing it to.