December 5: Kimbrough Moore – Sandbagged: Climbing Grades, Gender and the Myth of Consensus

Kimbrough Moore – Sandbagged: Climbing Grades, Gender and the Myth of Consensus

Location: Victory House, Club 300 Room at the Epicenter, 3125 Coffey Lane, Santa Rosa

Date & Time: Tuesday, December 5, 2023 @ 7:30 PM (Social hour at 6:30)

Most people are told that climbing grades are the result of a community consensus around difficulty, and although they aren’t perfect, grades are a decent measure of the effort or skill required by a climb. Kimbrough Moore’s presentation will explore the process that leads to climbing grades, and as we will see, consensus is never reached and seldom even attempted. Original research on the authorship of climbing guides and first ascents in California shows that men are responsible for the overwhelming majority of grading. This leads to a gender bias in climbing grades, making grades more accurate for men than women. There are no villains in this story, but there are simple things that climbers, first ascensionists, and guidebook authors can do to make climbing grades more accurate for everyone. These changes will be incorporated into the next edition of Yosemite Bouldering and Golden State Bouldering, which Kimbrough has authored.

Kimbrough Moore has been climbing for 30 years and is the author of three climbing guides, including Yosemite Bouldering and Golden State Bouldering. He has made many contributions to the climbing community, including hundreds of first ascents in California, China, and Colombia. In addition to climbing 5.14 routes and double-digit boulder problems, he is equally capable of falling on 5.9. Kimbrough has a PhD in Philosophy, and when not at the rocks, he teaches at San Francisco State University.


photo credit: Ryan Moon

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