I’d heard other climbers use the term ‘sand bag’ without really knowing what it meant. So a sandbag route can be any style of climbing where the climb is a lot harder than the grade it is given. There’s generally one of three reasons for this:
- The route is a ‘classic’. This generally means that it was graded in 1963 when climbers were hard or in Yorkshire ‘kin ard and only 3 grades existed: mod vdiff and severe. Since this time noone has relooked at the grade and it’s now way out of sync. Be careful of any route that has the word classic in the description like Verandah Buttress
- The person putting the route up downgraded it for a joke.
- The person putting up the route, generally in a new area, is such a good climber that everything below E1/6b is just a weird easy mush. The Devils Steps at Honley Quarry is a good example of this
Sandbags can be a bit of a laugh but they can also be sscar when you’re halfway up and realise it’s all going wrong.