|most poems rhyme, but this one doesn't|
Well, I had to, didn't I? It is Valentine's Day, after all.
Does everyone else's mind make unexpected connections and then leap off in odd directions, or is that just me?
For some reason, the capitals in Valentine's Day jump out at me and shout, "VD!" in my head.
In my youth, this was short for Venereal Disease, a vague, mysterious ailment that made your bits fall off, or some such unspeakable horror. Who knew? All we had were whispers and rumours and bravado and bullshit. We didn't know our arses from our elbows. I'm still a bit confused on that one, if I'm honest...
Nowadays, in my mind, it stands for Very Difficult, or VDiff, which is, of course, a climbing reference.
VDiff is a Trad Climbing grade, and a quirky one at that.
Trad Climbing uses a double graded system to rate the difficulty of a climb.
One of these is the Technical Grade, which indicates how hard the hardest move of the route is, on a numbered scale.
Somewhat more interestingly (fortunately for you) the overall difficulty of the climb is given an Adjectival Grade. This takes into account factors such as how scary the route is (or how much bravery is required), how dangerous it is (or how much injury is likely in a fall), how long the route is, and so on.
Adjectival Grades follow a range from Easy, through Moderate, Difficult, Severe and Extreme. Each of these are subdivided several times, and Extreme climbs are numbered on an open ended scale.
In reality, anything easier than Difficult can barely be considered a climb...which leads to an apparent contradiction whereby a Difficult climb is in fact about as easy as it gets.
Consequently, Very Difficult is a fairly lowly grade, and is considered entry level. Many climbers will subconsciously translate Very Difficult into Pretty Easy in their heads.
However, it turns out that many of these climbs were first climbed over the first half of last century, when such climbs were indeed Very Difficult. The climbs are often fairly safe, but physically hard. They don't demand much technique (and hence are considered easy), but brute brawn, with a hefty dollop of strenuous grit and determination will often be mandatory.
Which leads us, yet more confusingly, to an apparent double contradiction, whereby a Very Difficult climb, considered to be Pretty Easy, often turns out to be Very Difficult after all!
Anna really dislikes VDiffs, and finds climbs in the Severe range to be more consistent, more predictable, and thus, ultimately, easier.
Apropos of nothing, our aim this year is to break into the Extreme grades!
Anyway that's more than you ever wanted to know about British Trad Climbing Grades...
So, where was I? Oh yes, Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! (in the voice of Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth)
As to who bought the red rose for whom...well, that would be telling...