|Antonio on No Skill (12c) Owl Tor, Santa Maria, CA|
I guess 12c is a lot
harder than 12b.
— Antonio Labaro
I've planned on writing something about ratings and difficulty for a while, but Antonio's comment finally motivated me to do the work. Antonio has been progressing through the grades at the Owl Tor and in April he redpointed The Hell of the Upside-Down Sinners, his first 5.12b. Full of psyche and energy, he moved on to No Skill, a 5.12c variation of two other routes. He's doing well, but he did notice: yes, in fact, 12c is a lot harder than 12b.
But how much harder? And aren't ratings subjective? Most climbers talk about them as if they are. I haven't seen this done before, and I wish I had more data, but we need to start somewhere and try to have an objective discussion about ratings.