/ What is a testpiece?

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JuneBob 09 Oct 2019

I see testpiece used to describe climbs sometimes. What does it mean? Why would you use that word? 

bouldery bits 09 Oct 2019
In reply to JuneBob:

Cos everyone else says it and I just want to be accepted as the person I wish I was. 

1
john arran 09 Oct 2019
In reply to JuneBob:

It used to be a more popular term than it is now. Usually refers to a popular and accessible route that's still quite close to cutting edge in difficulty, so having done it is an indication of being among a fairly elite group of climbers.

Good examples over the years would include Right Wall, Strawberries, Big Issue, Hubble, etc.

2
Jon Stewart 09 Oct 2019
In reply to JuneBob:

Often used with reference to a specific technique, e.g. "jamming testpiece". In this context, it means, if you can jam you'll be alright, but if not you'll get spanked.

DaveHK 09 Oct 2019
In reply to john arran:

> having done it is an indication of being among a fairly elite group of climbers.

I don't think that's quite right because I've often seen it used to refer to a route that's definitely of the given grade and not soft. So if you do such a route you can definitely say you've climbed that grade. 

In reply to JuneBob:

I use it to mean a climb of benchmark difficulty for a particular grade or style of climb, one against which others can be compared and which often seems to be iconic or well-known. It is a bit cliché and overused, though! ;) 

john arran 09 Oct 2019
In reply to Natalie Berry - UKC:

> I use it to mean a climb of benchmark difficulty for a particular grade or style of climb, one against which others can be compared and which often seems to be iconic or well-known. It is a bit cliché and overused, though! ;) 

Yes, I expect its use has been morphing over the years, from 'a good test for a top-end climber' towards 'a good test for the grade' or 'a good test of a technique'.

2
alan moore 10 Oct 2019
In reply to DaveHK:

Agreed. Also used a lot for routes that are hard for the grade or have been under graded for a long time. 

I remember Kppier Crack at Symonds Yat was a guidebook "testpeice"; that is, nobody could ever get up it. It's upgraded now so anybody can do it: a testpeice no more...

Enty 10 Oct 2019
In reply to alan moore:

Yes I think the word Testpiece also needs to be used in a historical context.

For example - Right Wall was probably the most famous Testpiece in the late 70s early 80s. Not any more.

Having said that, some routes have stood the test of time - London Wall?

E

Robert Durran 10 Oct 2019
In reply to Enty:

> For example - Right Wall was probably the most famous Testpiece in the late 70s early 80s. Not any more.

It is still a testpiece at "entry level E5". In fact I think it was considered so in the early eighties when I did it!

1
Bulls Crack 10 Oct 2019
In reply to JuneBob:

A test-piece should also be 'finger-searing' and modern. 

1
Ollie Keynes 10 Oct 2019
In reply to JuneBob:

It is like a codpiece, but unlike a codpiece in that it is not really used for covering up but to assist with willy waiving

1
Gordon Stainforth 10 Oct 2019
In reply to JuneBob:

'Testpiece' means more or less: 'Warning: hard for the grade. A lot of contenders fail on this.'

Blue Straggler 10 Oct 2019
In reply to Natalie Berry - UKC:

I've always taken it to mean similar, i.e. "benchmark", not necessarily top-end but will require a certain "je ne sais quoi", whether technique or exposure or something else intangible, and also the route is (perhaps inherently) deemed a "classic". 


The File at Higgar Tor might be called a testpiece, but Suicide Wall at Cratcliffe less so. 

Chequer's Crack at Froggatt might be called a testpiece, but Tody's Wall less so. 

Greg Lucas 10 Oct 2019
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

That's it, in a nutshell. For me, back in the late 1970s, it was stuff like Right Eliminate and Flaky Wall; you could climb the grade but were intimidated by the route. And with good reason, because like Gordon says, you'd heard of people failing on them; in many cases, climbers better than you.   

DubyaJamesDubya 10 Oct 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> I've always taken it to mean similar, i.e. "benchmark", not necessarily top-end but will require a certain "je ne sais quoi", whether technique or exposure or something else intangible, and also the route is (perhaps inherently) deemed a "classic". 

> The File at Higgar Tor might be called a testpiece, but Suicide Wall at Cratcliffe less so. 

> Chequer's Crack at Froggatt might be called a testpiece, but Tody's Wall less so. 

Peapod Curbar

AlanLittle 10 Oct 2019
In reply to JuneBob:

It means the opposite of what Kees is looking for  

https://www.ukhillwalking.com/forums/rock_talk/easy_7as_in_leonidio-711141

PaulJepson 10 Oct 2019
In reply to JuneBob:

I've always seen it as a route that not many would argue if it were upgraded. "If you can climb this, you should be able to do just about anything else at the grade" kind of deal. Often routes with a technical grade you would expect on a higher grade route. 

Al Randall 10 Oct 2019
In reply to JuneBob:

A route to aspire to at the grade.

Al

jon 10 Oct 2019
In reply to Bulls Crack:

> A test-piece should also be 'finger-searing' and modern. 

'... a route for the married hardman... ' Extra points if you know where that's from!

Ratfeeder 10 Oct 2019
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> 'Testpiece' means more or less: 'Warning: hard for the grade. A lot of contenders fail on this.'


Yes, that's my understanding of the term. Finale at Shepherd's being a good example for HVS.

Gordon Stainforth 10 Oct 2019
In reply to Ratfeeder:

Yes. I think the term also implies that there's something unusual/tricky about it (not just hard) at the grade.

Bulls Crack 10 Oct 2019
In reply to jon:

I've read it but, no, can't remember where! 

Blue Straggler 10 Oct 2019
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> Yes. I think the term also implies that there's something unusual/tricky about it (not just hard) at the grade.

Would you say that The File and Chequer's Crack (my examples) don't qualify, then?

Gordon Stainforth 10 Oct 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

I think they both qualify perfectly. I'd say that The File is unusually sustained for the grade, plus slightly awkward because of the way it leans to the left. While Chequer's Crack is unusually badly polished, and the gear placements (just where you want jams) make it unusually hard for the grade. Better climbers than me assure me that it's easier if you solo that first crack ...

John2 10 Oct 2019
In reply to jon:

It sounds like something Paul Williams would have said.

Wide_Mouth_Frog 10 Oct 2019
In reply to Ollie Keynes:

> It is like a codpiece, but unlike a codpiece in that it is not really used for covering up but to assist with willy waiving

I have no interest in waiving my willy. I quite like it

john arran 10 Oct 2019
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

I think it just needs to provide a reasonably well-defined test of ability. This could either be overall difficulty, such as the near cutting edge routes the term used to be applied to, or could be a test of a specific technique. Hence 'jamming testpiece', 'smearing testpiece', etc. that don't necessarily imply unusual difficulty but do imply that relative mastery of that technique is needed for success at the grade.

jon 10 Oct 2019
In reply to John2 and Bull's Crack:

The 'finger searing' was Paul, I'm sure. The 'married hardman' reference was Ron James in his selected guide Rock Climbing in North Wales (I'm almost certain but no longer have mine as it fell apart, so can't check). Can't remember which route though, maybe The Mostest...?

Gordon Stainforth 10 Oct 2019
In reply to jon:

It was The Mostest, yes. p.140, for those who've got the book.

Misha 10 Oct 2019
In reply to Ollie Keynes:

> It is like a codpiece, but unlike a codpiece in that it is not really used for covering up but to assist with willy waiving


Yeah but what has Geoffrey Cox ever done on the grit?

In reply to jon:

Central Sadness, Paul Williams? 
 

Maybe not, actually - similar. And ironically now regarded as not that hard for its grade.

jcm

Blue Straggler 11 Oct 2019
In reply to john arran:

> don't necessarily imply unusual difficulty but do imply that relative mastery of that technique is needed for success at the grade.

Thanks, this is part of what I was trying to get at - not necessarily top-end. Thinking about it, I see this sort of thing quite often at my local bouldering wall but of course such transient problems never get called test pieces as they are gone in 6 weeks. You see stuff set at such and such grade, which is correct at the grade IF you know how to (for example) keep low, flag, lead with the feet, slowly transfer centre of gravity, turn a hand from a side pull into a palm-down etc. And someone who doesn't know that stuff, despite being able to climb higher graded stuff in a different style, will flounder. 

jon 11 Oct 2019
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

No. Try this:

'This brilliant, finger-searing modern test piece threads its technically intricate and devious way on tiny holds ('tinies') up the face to the right of Stromboli.'

For what it's worth, and from what I remember, Central Sadness was so called because of the bolt belay at half height... or at least, that's what I've always understood. Interestingly, in his 1987 Llanberis guide, Paul describes the top pitch as 'a pitch for the married man with a large rack of wires'.

Post edited at 09:55
John2 11 Oct 2019
In reply to jon:

Ah, that's where I remembered the 'married man' phrase from.

In reply to jon:

Yes, I knew it wasn’t quite right.

I can’t quite place the other one - is it Psyche ‘n’ Burn?

Edit - dammit, cheated now. I thought it was Hitler’s Buttock, but Stromboli confused me - I did one of those the same day as Olympic Slab, but they must have been different buttresses, or possibly all the same buttress but bigger than I think.

jcm

Post edited at 11:42

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