What makes for a good rock climbing route? When I first started climbing, I just assumed that all routes were created equal, separated only by difficulty. I ignored star ratings in the guidebooks, and just climbed everything at my level. But as my climbing palette has become refined, I’ve realized that there are stark differences in just how enjoyable a particular route is.
So back to my original question, what makes one route “better” than another? For me, it mostly comes down to flow. I like a climb to have really good, fun, flow, intuitive movements, with challenging moves. On the other end of the spectrum is a climb that doesn’t make sense, has awkward moves, and feels like it was “forced” up the rock. Last week I found my new favorite route here at the New.
That route is Kinesthetica, a three star (out of four) route rated at 5.10c, only my second climb here at the grade. To me the climb had great flow, all of the movements made sense, as you went from one hold to the next. It starts up some large jugs, and moves into a flake system. It also had some great rests, which allowed me to be fresh for each sequence of difficult moves, or what are referred to as the “cruxes.” The first crux is a tricky section up smallish holds, with a right handed side-pull up a rightward leaning diagonal flake. The second crux is a pull over a huge roof (not visible in the picture below) at the near top of the climb. I almost onsighted it, perplexed only by the roof. I opted to heel-hook off to the left, when in fact I should have been off to the right. And with the rope drag, I almost wasn’t able to mantle up over the edge on that same attempt. I lengthened a couple of the quick-draws to reduce the drag, and on my second attempt red-pointed it easily.
So far this has been my favorite route here at the New. But maybe by the end of this week I will have found something even more inspiring.