The new standard in climbing rankings and benchmarking
Let’s be honest with ourselves: most climbers are geeks. We love our guidebooks, logbooks, hair-splitting the grades and the history of our sport. Many of us are also fanatically into training: tracing progress, measuring outcomes, wondering how hours spent dangling off small pieces of wood in a cellar might translate to real rock.
It was only a matter of time that within this environment somebody got the idea to develop a more scientific, statistics based approach to measuring performance. The Climber Performance Rating (CPR) is a new tool created to help every climber - from absolute beginners to professional athletes - quantify their progress and rank against other climbers.
A logbook with a difference
The CPR was developed basing on over 18 years worth of data by the team behind theCrag.com: a website which allows climbers not only to log their accents but also attempts. An additional feature of theCrag logbook allows climbers to create local rankings for particular countries or even crags.
Imagine you’re worried about a perceived plateau. Two years ago you were consistently red pointing 7a, as you were last year and this year. At first glance it might indeed seem that you’re stuck but if you log all your attempts, you might then notice that two years ago a 7a tick required six to eight red point attempts. Last year it was on average four, and this year you usually clip the anchors on your second, or third try.
Being able to clearly see such data is not only a great confidence boost but might in fact push you to achieve more. You should now be scouting for your first 7a onsight and are more than capable of attempting harder routes!
The future of climbing is data powered
The CPR was built basing on an algorithm which crunches nearly all grading systems and allows for a unified output, regardless what grading system is used by users. Having analysed over a million ascents already logged on theCrag.com, the team revealed that climbers typically do four to seven ascents at a lower grade before breaking through to the next grade level.
Two other issues analysed are “tick shift” (the gap between RP and OS grades) and decay (how time off climbing translates to ability loss). The latter requires further research but the enquiry into “grade shift” has already provided some interesting results.
The CPR uses a unified grading system which was designed to accommodate various local grading conventions with non-linear grade progression taken into account. On average, the “tick shift” equals 2.8 grade.
The CPR’s importance reaches beyond being a fun tool for all climbers who want to log their ascents and trace their progress. As climbing becomes a mainstream sport, more and more resources will be poured into developing training and development strategies for young athletes.
Facilities such as ABC Climbing in the US, or the famous Cafe Kraft in Germany specialise in creating more and more advanced training regimens akin to those used in elite gymnastics. And we already know this approach works: at only 20 years of age Margo Hayes is the living proof, and she’s not the only athlete excelling in climbing thanks to meticulous training protocols prepared by professional coaches.
Statistical analysis of performance is an important part of evaluating training in any athletic discipline. As climbing is a relatively young sport, training for climbing is in its early stage of development. However, having vast and accurate datasets at their fingertips, scientists and coaches will be able to further develop their methodology, allowing the next generation of climbers to break through barriers.
You can start analysing your progression and ranking against other climbers by creating a profile at theCrag.com