During a trip to Bishop, CA, last month, Phil and I got on the subject of whether anyone has ever climbed V10 and surfed a 10 foot wave. Not in the same day, just within their lifetime. We both know a lot of strong climbers and a lot of good surfers, but as we talked about, we could not think of a single person who could make that claim.
As we all know, climbing grades are more or less subjective. We have benchmark problems that we ideally try to base our grades off of, as sort of a universal standard, but at the end of the day, all we’re going off of is feel. Did it feel V10? Did it feel like another problem that everyone agrees is V10?
Don't forget about all the variables that can make a really hard problem feel like a really easy one and vice versa -- flexibility, height, explosive movement, how bad the landing is (I find this one to be the biggest factor), etc.
Likewise, measuring a wave is actually not objective at all. When I say a 10 foot wave, I’m not really talking about any physical measurement of the wave. What a 10 foot wave (or any wave) is has more to do with feel than with how tall the wave is. For that reason, if you don’t surf, you probably won’t be able to asses what a 10 foot wave is -- you can’t measure it. And, if you don’t climb, there is no way you can tell what a V10 is. You just don’t know how that difficulty or that size feels.
The standard that surfers use to measure waves is really more of a grading system than one of measurement, not too far off from those grading systems climbers use.
Can you think of anyone who has surfed 10 ft and climbed V10? My buddy Brian thinks that Randy Leavitt might have, having sent many 5.14s (V10 equivalent) and surfed Todos Santos (I don’t think that wave even breaks much smaller than that). If you have someone in mind, please comment below. Would love to see a picture of the wave.
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