After meeting up wtih a fellow boulderer Dave Struthers (who during socal’s late 90’s was a principal developer at Black Mountain) at another friend’s home near the L’Aveyron Gorge, France, I asked him about Bang On, a Ben Moon testpiece he repeated, and his understanding of the grade; this he enlightened me along with his experiences.
Previously, a conversation with a well-known boulderer about Bang On dealt partially with a grade difference. I don’t consider it a big deal, but problems, regardless of grade, should be open to a quorum of understanding about its particulars. This includes its grade, its start, variants, the quality of the line, the experience of the moves, and the moves themselves. That said, I’m only going to mention something about the grade. I know, pretty lame focus. Agreed, but I’m still going to mention it. The boulderer understood the line to have jostled between 12 and 13, and my understanding when the line was established was that a line proposed to be v13 would definitely have been big news because that was close to the upper grade of hard bouldering worldwide. In other words, 13 was of world importance.
Black Mountain never really had problems that challenged the world standard, or at least was running close to the A team level. It did have quality lines of world standard, and it had legit ratings that weren’t going to reward anyone easily. It had history back to the 70’s with some of the most renown climbers of their generation. It was the bastard child of the Yosemite granite craze that Moon, Moffet, Bachar, Kauk and locals popularized beginning with the Big Ditch’s Midnight Lightning era.
Moon’s FA of Bang On was a healthy shot in the arm for the locals who really wanted to prove themselves on lines, hard lines. When two expat brits, Wills Young and Tim Clifford, added the 2nd and 3rd ascents, followed by socal’s own Dave Struthers, the line was downgraded to v11. Ben had proposed v12, maybe with justification because his beta was different. Wills and Dave both told me they thought the cross over was the technically best way to go, and it took out the sting of the first move match: Big right, match while holding any swing, then shuffle fingers, if necessary to bump to a thin and precise crimper out right. This bump looses the pedestal… assuming you’re tall enough to have used it. A left hop setup leads to the dyno for the jug sloper dish just below the lip. Check out the 3 very small pictures at the link above.
The crossover used by Tim Clifford, Wills and Dave takes a full extension left hand over the right. The left foot presses very high and next to the hand. It’s a sweet move given you have good shoulder mobility. The roll out isn’t easy, and requires a healthy dose of tension to get the feet down and under on small and precise micro incuts on a steep overhang (45 degrees according to Struthers). He said on one of his attempts to send, he ended up breaking the lip off the start hold, and knocking the wind out of him as his right hand smacked his chest resulting in a hard landing. The start was very good, and now it’s flat. He sent it shortly after. He still felt it was an 11.
I guess the point is the difficulty range seemed more to be 11 or 12 than 12 or 13. With the gB most likely giving it, um, I guess a red or purple (red is v7-13, purple is v10 to v14+), it won’t matter. See, wasn’t that a fun exercise in wasted reading time?