The other day I discovered that neural networks can learn to name rock climbing routes, when I trained one to generate new names for routes in Boulder and Joshua Tree. This week, I learned that they can name rock climbing routes in several languages at once.

UK Climbing saw these results and, to help train an even more capable neural network, sent me their entire database - all 427,000 names. These were the names of climbing routes from all around the world, in dozens of languages, names from the traditional (Muscle Crack, The Gizzard, Problem 21) to the more fanciful (Gandalf’s Groove Direct, Owl and Primroses).

First, for the cleanest dataset possible, I extracted the countries that have mostly english-language route names (about 155k names once I removed duplicates and numbered routes), and the neural net quickly learned to produce one plausible route after another. You might be able to slip this into a casual account of your last climbing trip, and have others nod in vague recognition. “Ah, yes, the Folly Cloud. Climbed that one last week before breakfast.”

The Stuff
Rocket Sheep
Ramp of Lies
Candy Storm
The Dog Sand
Holy Mess
Left Hand Monster
The Scratching One
The Angel’s Crack
Suckstone Gully
The Folly Cloud
Burning Doll
Silver Milk
The Cat Bear
Block of Fred
The Limber
Element’s Chimney
The Space Special
Bear Box
The Peacher
The Sun Mouse
The Bobble Block
The Rib (Stinkley)
Cry Problem 15
Scary Boulder Start
Solo Gallow Wall (STEXXY
The Sole and Elephant
Crag and Be Bloody
Midge Face
Seven Belly
Wine for the Great Free Man

However, I’m happy to report that some of the names were indeed even weirder than your typical route name.

You’re Not Andrew
Master In Your Tea
Bean on the Pocket
Seven Dry Have Ship
Mantlet Butt’s Locket
No Rocks Egg
In Arms if the Lords
Parking Store Substance
Over a Wall No Mover
The Very Seven Steps
Robin Time and The Sheep
Captain Purple and Darkness
The Sun Tin’s Not Your Winds

Next, I trained the neural net on the entire database, just to see what it would make of the non-English names. It definitely struggled more this time - it reported much lower confidence in its results. But it did manage to become multilingual, generating names that were identifiably French, Spanish, or German (these were the most common languages other than English in the dataset, so these were mostly what it learned). Even if many of them didn’t make much sense.

La Grimper - French: The climb
Cascade de l'ange - French: Cascade of the angels
De l'angle de la surplomb - French: From the angle of the overhang
Steines Schwein - German: Stone’s pig
Sin Homble - Spanish: Without Homble
El Pollute - Spanish: The Pollute
Rapute de la vine - Romanian: Rapping of the coming
Danse ton de Barre - French: Dance tone of bar

Sometimes it did end up mixing up the languages, although not as often as I had expected. Maybe it was doing it much more with languages I was less familiar with, and I couldn’t tell.

El Pantes du Petit
La Desire del pierra
Le Chins de Constant (Standing Pub)
El Lope du Pante
Sans Inside Droit
Via de la finger
Les l'Appolena
Placa de Carpet
The Schlang

Its brainpower was spread a bit thin, trying to remember rules for generating multiple languages at once. Unlike human brains, it definitely wasn’t built for compartmentalizing multiple languages. This struggle had an effect on the quality of its English names, which actually I rather like.

Boulder 1, Problem the Gorge
Very Up
Fred birthday
Red 1
Blue Boulders Problem 1
No we and Cheese
The Spooning
Cat of the Shallow
Serpent Mars
End Cow
Escapes of the Beach Brother
The Corner Stand of The Little Heart

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