If you’re at all curious about a data scientist’s take on some climbing specific questions using a LARGE dataset that’s easily digestible to non-data scientists, you’ve come to the right place. Note: skip to the link in the fourth paragraph to get past my intro and direct to the good stuff.

Today I’d like to showcase the work of Charlie Andrews and theCrag.com. Charlie Andrews is a brilliant young data scientist who works hard and loves climbing. I started teaching him when he was around 12 years old. Ever since, Charlie and I have been close: I was honored to have been invited to his university graduation from MIT.

Data scientists need data, and climbing is a little starved for data. theCrag.com database is an incredibly large database of ascents with a leadership team that includes Ulf Fuchslueger. Ulf struck me as a passionate climber with an interest in seeing his team’s data used to support science within the climbing community. I connected Charlie and Ulf with the goal of diving into the data, and a match was born.

Charlie recently posted his first write-up of his look into the data. Specifically, Charlie was interested in what types of climbs climbers prefer. To start with, Charlie kept his question fairly specific: he wondered whether data from theCrag supported a popular conception that older climbers like longer, rather than shorter, routes. Asking this specific question is a step toward helping us pick routes, or helping a group like theCrag recommend routes. Broadly speaking, understanding relationships can help us understand our own preferences, so that we can enjoy our lives more by either listening to those preferences, or challenging them.

He’s not only interested in this question, but many others. I encourage you to read Charlie’s work here. And in honor of Charlie, who is a fan of tl;dr ….

This popular conception is supported by the data.

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