You’ve been wrong about Sendtember

Sendtember – according to climbing folklore – is blessed with perfect cool, dry, stable spring conditions in which climbers can harvest the gains made in a long winter of hard training. September, they say, is the most sendingest month of the year.

It might have a catchy name but it’s wrong.

Okay, it’s not exactly wrong it is just less right than Ticktober.

At VL we often deal in myths. We also want to know where is the most efficient place to put our energies for maximum climbing benefit. So naturally we wanted to find out if there was any meat on the Sendtember myth that it is the month for attacking projects and dream routes.
To do that we enlisted the Brains Trust at The Crag (the collaborative climbing database), who took our whimsical wondering and nailed it to the ground with cold, hard data – the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong.

Articulating the hypothesis was easy – September is the best month for climbing performance.
To test it all we had to do was figure out if the data showed a correlative increase in propensity for hard sends. After some back and forth around interrogative logic, we settled on a query that searched for a personal best climbing outdoors for specified tick types by Australians in Australia who had already logged five ticks of that tick type. Which is a short way of saying, when do climbers tick their hardest routes.

Difficulty is not the be all and end all of performance but it’s the obvious metric and we feel it provides a foundation for understanding performance.

We refined the data three ways; for all tick types combined (Tick, Onsight, Red Point & Pink Point), for Onsight only and for Red Point only. The data was normalised for site growth across the query period (2011-2014) but was not normalised for the number of holidays in the month.
The trend is clear. Whilst there is an upswing in tickage in September the phenomenon peaks in October, making it the most sendingest month.

Tickage_stacked

There are spikes also in December/January and April but it doesn’t take a Cardinal to recognise the effects of Christmas and Easter. Still, even though heaps of people climb over the Christmas holidays and Easter is a declared National Climbing Holy-day, the peaks in October are greater.

Simon from The Crag has a poetic reason for drilling down to tick type, “Red Point is about working a route, so my hypothesis is the ideal conditions are less a factor then just getting there as many times as you could. Onsight is about being at one with the rock, so my hypothesis is that the conditions would be more significant.”

Tickage_bar

Onsights are very high in October and significantly higher in September suggesting conditions play a big part in keeping cool in the face of the shock of the new.

Noteworthy is the parlous state of redpointing in September – the second lowest result for any month of the year. Perhaps it is the working month though, with climbers putting time into working routes, which pays off with an October – the best month for redpoints – send.

And the very good news in all this – it is only the start of October so you have the whole glorious month in which to send.

Sendtember might be okay but the stats tell us that Ticktober is where it’s at. Go forth and achieve.
Simon Madden

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