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Those who can't... AID!

PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 1:27 pm
by SKI
So, I have this perspective about aid climbing...

Until I can competently climb 5.10, I don't think that I should dabble, just yet, in all of that "6th Class" business.

I have several friends who complain time and time again about people on the Nose or WC who slow down several parties because they can't free some of the easier (i'm told 5.8ish) sections. Not just that, but their overall aid technique is slow as molasses due to the fact that they more than likely haven't been climbing long enough to be absolutely fluid and/or trustfull of their gear placements and security.

So I wanna know...

What are your opinions about getting into aid climbing? Is there a certain threshold of freeclimbing one must attain before setting off on the big walls? What are your experiences? What have you seen on the walls?

Re: Those who can't... AID!

PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 2:11 pm
by CClaude
There is really no threshhold. Being a better climber especially if you are well rounded in slabs, cracks, offwidths, but you still have to have you system dialed in since being efficient free climbing and efficient aid climbing don't correlate. Being efficient in aiders, jumaring, hauling, and keeping the clusterf#ck down at the anchors will make you faster, and make everyone else on the wall happier.

Now there are ton's of people that have done routes like the Nose or Salathe that can only climb 5.9ish, but on a lot of the route, they will probably be pretty slow, not always (since there are competent AID climbers who just can't free climb) but by in large. But a lot of walls have sections of offwidths and slabs which you are better off freeing if you know what you are doing.

Also its an attitude. The eagerness to keep moving will make you faster also. Free or aid, I've seen people who want to dwaddle and fiddle around when they can be moving (drives me nuts). Now, if you can free a section competently, you'll almost always be faster then if you would aid something.

Re: Those who can't... AID!

PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 2:21 pm
by ExcitableBoy
I found that aid climbing made me a better, more efficient and confident free climber. Aid climbing forces you to make many, many placements and then you test each one. This makes one much faster at free climbing because you have a much better idea of what piece will work for a given placement.

Re: Those who can't... AID!

PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 7:51 pm
by Bob Sihler
I can't wait until Chief sees this one...

Re: Those who can't... AID!

PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:09 pm
by SKI
Why thank you, drtbg for the advice and the reference to supertaco, but I have the fortune of having close friends who aid big walls and guide climbers to teach me- all I need is but to ask. I'm looking into aid climbing just yet as I cannot say I'm solid at 5.10.

What I am asking, without bruising too many egos, is would you say that by the time one reaches 5.10 (I feel as though it's a fairly attainable level), important aspects of climbing such as systematic knowledge, rope management, gear placement, anchors and just general we-gotta-problem-maybe-this-will-work gumption has become fluid to the climber. This type of knowledge and experience will undeniably make an individual faster on vertical surface as well as render him or her more efficient at learning and mastering aiding.

I am not "poo-pooing" aiding but rather respecting it as something that someone need not jump into without first being very competent at traditional climbing. In this way, I won't hear stories about climbing noobs taking an hour to C1 up a crack that free's at a strenuous 5.9 or hear about parties dropping a haul pulley or look up at the Cap to see 4 groups wait while a party of three tries to figure out what the shiny hooks do now that they've burnt their last green alien 6 placements ago.

As far as learning trust in placements, I again have had the fortune of having knowledgeable friends severely critique my placements, both on ice and on rock, time and time again. I've climbed in places where a botched placement under duress means air time and at places where protection (tricky at best) is few and far between. I am confident in my placements now because of this type of classic feedback- and I have yet to step in aiders.

This isn't a call out to the aid climbing community of SP, but a request for opinions free of emotional (read: vaginal) discharge.

Re: Those who can't... AID!

PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2010 12:22 am
by Sierra Ledge Rat
On the other hand...

No one "owns" The Nose. Everyone is a novice big wall climber at some point. There are thousands of big walls around the world and hundreds of big wall routes in Yosemite alone.

So if you don't want to get "stuck" behind some novice big wall climbers struggling up The Nose... then go climb somewhere else, or go climb The Nose during the off season when there are fewer novice big wall climbers.

For the novice big wall climber: do your best to get prepared, and then get out there and do it. There's no other way to learn to climb big walls. You have as much right to your route as anyone else, and don't let anyone else tell you otherwise.

That being said, there are "traditional" big walls where novice climbers are expected to climb, and big walls that you should be able to climb before venturing onto the big stone.

Re: Those who can't... AID!

PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2010 1:32 am
by The Chief
Anyone that gets on the Nose to "learn" how to aid and the process of Big Wall techniques, is a total idiot and deserves to have their asses handed to them. Period.

Besides, The Nose has evolved into a modern day French Free/Hard Trad Route and is not the "Aid" line that it was back in the 70's through the late 90's.

You want to do an aid line on the Stone for your first Wall Experience, want to avoid the masses wanting the same experience, I say get on the Dihedral, Muir, Cosmos, The NA Wall or TT.

But, before even considering that, I say go the to Column and get on Skull Queen, Re-Animator or Ten Days After.

And before you even consider doing that, look for some local quiet, hard not too noticed nor done "Trad Clean" lines and learn the process there, CLEAN! Do this for a couple months and get the system and process dialed in, before even thinking about getting on any major Grade V "Wall" route, anywhere.

Re: Those who can't... AID!

PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 11:28 am
by Sierra Ledge Rat
What, no one is going to challenge the Chief!?

I'm not either.

Re: Those who can't... AID!

PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 7:49 pm
by fatdad
Sierra Ledge Rat wrote:What, no one is going to challenge the Chief!?

I'm not either.

He's right. You don't learn aid on a heavily traveled trade route. You learn on more obscure routes, hone your craft and then approach a crowded classic like the Nose. I can't think of a worse scenario than hopping on that route and trying to clusterf$%k your way up. Let's put it this way. If you lack the skill to climb the South Face of the Column, what makes you think you will have any chance of climbing the Nose?

For the record, if you're climbing solid 5.9/10a trad, you'll be fine with most of the long trade routes. If you climb harder, great. You can start french freeing stuff, etc., but being a solid 5.10 doesn't necessarily help you be more efficient at aid. You learn that by doing it: practice, get your system down, your changeovers, etc.

Re: Those who can't... AID!

PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2010 2:09 am
by ksolem
I really enjoy hooking. I first got into it as a way to place bolts on ground up FA's if stance drilling was not an option. I started making my own hooks and came up with some pretty specialized tools. Of course in that situation I would not use the hooks to climb up, just to stay put while drilling.

Hooking on an aid climb can require really refined movement and balance much like free climbing. As you step up in the aiders the hook will want to rock side to side unles you move with perfect control. If a dicey hook rocks you're outta there... I recall hooking the eye of a wireless overdriven rurp on Mescalito. Now that was bomber.

Aid work is a great way to get really good with gear. Learning how to aid climb fast, smoothly and efficiently like a machine will really improve any traditional climber's skillset.

And yes Chief is right. Practice up somewhere off the beaten track.