Grading on Aid

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Grading on Aid

Postby pillick » Mon May 28, 2007 10:55 am


Can someone please explain how the grading wrt aid climbing works?

What does it mean when a route is graded A0, A1, A2 etc?

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Postby BAbycoat » Tue May 29, 2007 9:51 am

Google \"aid climbing grading\"

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Postby Grigri » Tue May 29, 2007 10:28 am

The title of this thread should be 'grading on acid'. Just ask Drifter he will be able to tell you all about it! Nothing else could explain his/her complete lack of emotional (or rational) maturity. :roll:

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Postby JonoJ » Tue May 29, 2007 10:51 am

Grigri wrote:The title of this thread should be 'Grading on Acid'....

Hmm acid grading....I've got my black wait, it's green....hang on... now there's yellow dots all over....huh, who are you? ...why? ... hahaha.... hey belt, come back......


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Postby pillick » Tue May 29, 2007 10:56 am

I would never have thought to Google it (!).

Seriously though, my question was actually meant for the South African grading system. Is our Aid grading different from other countries.

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Postby Justin » Tue May 29, 2007 11:58 am

Hi Pillick,

I'm assuming you're looking at an old SA route description? A0 stands for one point of aid (i.e. pull/stand up on a sling)
A1 would be two aid moves, however I don't know what would happen after A3 or if there were say 6 aid moves to be done on a route!?

A5 by American/world standards is the hardest aid you get and is mind blowingingly hard (think: diffusing a time bomb + if you fall, all your gear will rip and you will probably take your belayer to the ground with you)

In SA it seems that the 'A0' grading's were added to the free grade of a climb to indicate a point of aid to pull past a hard move.

Anyone else able to clarify how the old SA aid system works??
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Postby douard » Tue May 29, 2007 12:28 pm

SA aid grating is same as international. anything from A3 is scary...

A0: Also known as \"french-free\", using gear to make progress, but generally no aiders required. Examples: Half Dome regular route, sections of the Nose route on El Cap, the first two pitches of the West Face (either a quick 5.10, A0 with three points of aid, or tricky 5.11 c).
A1: Easy aid: placements straightforward and solid. No risk of any piece pulling out. Aiders generally required. Fast and simple for C1, the hammerless corresponding grade, but not necessarily fast and simple for nailing pitches. Examples: (clean) the non-5.12 version of the Salathe headwall, Prodigal Son on Angel's Landing and Touchstone Wall in Zion.

A2: Moderate aid: placements generally solid but possible awkward and strenuous to place. Maybe a tenuous placement or two above good pro with no fall-danger. Examples: the Right side of El Cap Tower (nailing), Moonlight Buttress and Space Shot in Zion (clean).

A2+: Like A2, but possibly several tenuous placements above good pro. 20 to 30 foot fall potential but with little danger of hitting anything. Route finding abilities may be required. Examples: the new wave grades of Mescalito and the Shield on El Cap, the Kor route on the Titan in the Fisher Towers area.

A3: Hard aid: testing methods required. Involves many tenuous placements in a row. Generally solid placements (which could hold a fall) found within a pitch. Long fall potential up to 50 feet (6-8 placements ripping), but generally safe from serious danger. Usually several hours required to complete a pitch, due to complexity of placements. Examples: The Pacific Ocean Wall lower crux pitches (30 feet between original bolts on manky fixed copperheads), Standing Rock in the desert (the crux being a traverse on the first pitch with very marginal gear with 30 foot swing potential into a corner).

A3+:Like A3, but with dangerous fall potential. Tenuous placements (like a marginal tied-off pin or a hook an a fractured edge) after long stretches of body-weight pieces (here body-weight placements are considered for all practical purposes any piece of gear not solid enough to hold a fall). Potential to get hurt if good judgement is not exercised. Time required generally exceeds 3 hours for experienced aid climbers. Example: Pitch 3 of \"Days of No Future\" on Angel's Landing in Zion, the crux being 50 feet of birdbeaks and tied-off blades in soft sandstone followed by a blind, marginal Friend placement in loose rock which was hard to test properly, all this above a ledge.

A4: Serious aid: lots of danger. 60 to 100 foot fall potentials common, with uncertain landings far below. Examples: pitches on the Kaliyuga on Half Dome and the Radiator on Abraham in Zion.

A4+: More serious than A4. these leads generally take many hours to complete and require the climber to endure long periods of uncertainty and fear, often requiring a ballet-like efficiency of movement in order not to upset the tenuous integrity of marginal placements. Examples: the \"Welcome to Wyoming\" pitch (formerly the\"Psycho Killer\" pitch) on the Wyoming Sheep Ranch on El Cap, requiring 50 feet of climbing through a loose, broken, and rotten Diorite roof with very marginal, scary placements like stoppers wedged in between two loose, shifting, rope-slicing slivers of rock, all this over a big jagged loose ledge which would surely break and maim bones. The pitch is then followed by 100 feet of hooking interspersed with a few rivets to the belay.

A5: Extreme aid. Nothing really trustworthy of catching a fall for the entire pitch. Rating should be reserved only for pitches with no bolts or rivets (holes) for the entire pitch. Examples: pitches on the Jolly Roger and the Wyoming Sheep Ranch on El Cap, Jim Beyer routes in Arches National Park and the Fisher Towers.

A6: (Theoretical grade) A5 climbing with marginal belays which will not hold a fall.

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Postby Tristan » Tue May 29, 2007 3:54 pm

My post won't be as hilarious as the belt one....

Pillick my feeling is that, in SA, it depends on which route you are wanting to do...
It'll be easier for you to ask how hard/scary a route is than try gauge it from the grade - particularly if you have no reference point...

There are a few routes that would give u a good work out tho if you got on them sans prep :wink: ...

Of course a while back there was a bunch of electronic promises of folk going off to do Children (as an intro to aid) and then opening big, new routes...i believe that they can't find the time between bouldering tho :D

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Postby nosmo » Wed May 30, 2007 8:47 am

Hi Tristan,

I read your piece on Wall of Silence - respect dude! A question: Did Andy rate it A4, or is that grade consensus?

To the kids who haven't read, go check out
for an account of the first hammerless ascent of Wall of Silence.

If you read nothing else, scroll down to the bottom and read the bit about 'Opening party'.

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Postby Tristan » Wed May 30, 2007 9:22 am

Yo nosmo
Thanks - it really was a great trip!!!
Yeah Andy graded it A4! (two pitches A4 and two pitches A3 if memory serves). Remember that that is 'old-school' grading, as was 'Children's' A3 grading. BUT, while I tried to grade W.O.S in line with the current Yos grading, I have not climbed Yos. A4 or A3, so my grading of C3+ is a little subjective. Personally I thought Children was scarier, but that may be 'cos it was a big step from Oceans of Fun, and W.O.S was not as big a step from Children.

<as an aside, if i re-read Douard's post, there is no pitch on W.O.S that warrants C3+ as dictated by the reference. The memory is a little blurred :D but if i look at some of the pic's, there is a lot of space between kit...but as i choose to remember it, a lot of the hooking was by choice 'cos it's faster... >

I really dunno...W.O.S had great Aid (as ambiguous as that may sound :? ), just really fun..

I guess that's why I said it depends on the route, and also why i added an 'engagement' prefix...if you get, say, part way thru the aid on W.O.S, you can't 'just' rapp...

Great route tho!

So yeah, depends on experience and specific route. To give u an idea of why i said '..depends on the route' tho, \"Elevator\" (on TM) is A1...but so is \"Oceans\"...yet Oceans is way more Committing and Elevator is probably technically harder (aid wise)...

Pillick and co should just go \"have a look...\" it's the best way to 'understand' :shock:

A good friend of mine once said there are only three grades
- Can do
- Can't do
- ....Maybe can do


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Postby Stu » Wed May 30, 2007 10:38 am

Hey Tristan, so what you are saying is there is probably potential for some lengthy falls but no potential for hitting rocks, ledges, etc., hence the A3 grading and not A3+ grading?

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Postby Tristan » Wed May 30, 2007 11:00 am

No what i'm saying is that it's as subjective as any grading system - open for wild interpretation!!!
Oh, and i guess the only right way to answer the ledge-hitting question is to test it!
Mmm, the potential was always there, i guess, particularly on the 1st aid pitch. I think the longest screamer (i'd scream lank) would be the 3rd pitch 'bolt ladder'...but it [i]looked[/i] to be a clean one...???

Indecently, its the two free pitches after the aid that are the dangerous ones!! Which leads to my interpretation of grading:

A0 ; <18 = go have fun
A1 - A2 ; <21 = go have fun, take cool partner
A2 ; <=>21 = take strong partner, go have fun
A2> ; =>21 = Take very strong partner, go have a look
A3=> ; >21 = Point very, very strong partner upwards...jumar!


(W.O.S = take very, very strong partner...jumar)

I think one should head up there, and if things get 'ard apply JonoJ's acid'll make for a fhooking good trip
Last edited by Tristan on Wed May 30, 2007 12:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Tristan » Wed May 30, 2007 11:02 am

my spell check changed incidentally to indecently...wasn't intended but its apt :)

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Postby pillick » Wed May 30, 2007 3:11 pm

Thanks Tristan

I read the W.O.S. account when it was published, and that article basically got me interested in Aid.

How did you get into aid climbing? I haven't heard of a specific meet, from a MCSA perspective, to check it out......

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Postby Tristan » Wed May 30, 2007 3:45 pm

Mmm, i can just imagine an 'aid' meet...chaos... :shock:

If i remember correctly a friend wanted to do Oceans again. He'd done it b4 over a few days and wanted to try it in a day. He and his partner knew i wanted to do Oceans, so invited me along. As it turned out it was just the 2 of us, swapping leads until i 'hit the wall' at the top of the Honey pitch...we bivvied at the Jumbo ledge (top of Oceans, but 2p frm the summit) that night...that was my intro.

There a few locals who've had the same intro, so it seems to work :) There are probably easier ways, like the top pitch of Dynamite, the bottom pitch of Cuckoo’s nest, Elevator, Dancing on the Ceiling, some stuff at Elsie’s...I'm not too familiar with other area's in the north tho...depends where u based...hooking's a little more difficult to 'try-out', cos guys at the mine will beat u up if u hook your way to the chains on Mono :)

There are a few activists around who'd prob share a bit of beta if u keen/serious.

Mail me

if you want beta better left out of a forum...

To some degree it’s a lost art, and certainly allows mere mortals not as strong as Clinton, access to bigger stuff :D

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Postby douard » Wed May 30, 2007 3:57 pm

read a book - how to climb big walls by jim bridwell is pretty good, john long and john middeldorf also wrote a book called big wall climbing (i could have titles mixed up).

I read those on the way to yosemite, stopped and did some warm ups in Zion and Fischer towers and had a blast but the hardest aid i have climbed is in SA.

I am pretty keen to lead an aid meet if people are interested so send me a private post and i'll gauge the interest.

The best quote i ever heard about aiding is \"it's 90% hard work and 10% fun\". Another one went something like \"hours of boredom and inactivety followed by hours of terror\"

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Postby Tristan » Wed May 30, 2007 4:14 pm

What a fine idea D
volenteer pack horses :) ... if we plan it right the 'meet' could be in, say, the Karakorum...???

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