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.
A solo Aussie, Simon, is rumored to be starting out tomorrow on this classic, long and physically demanding route. Good luck!
Lower down yet, I did see young Simon who is going it alone. He was on the third when I spotted him. Ollie and Chris are starting tomorrow and will most likely pass him the day after.
Ollie and Chris passed the solo and are around pitch 8 by now. They seem to be having a good time.
Lower down yet: The solo, Simon, did the Seagull pitch this morning and was starting up the next section as I left. He seems confident.
The Aussie solo, Simon is moving up the right leaning corner to the start of the Molar with steady climbing. He is busy all day and is not one to take a rest on the portaledge between pitches.
Lower down the solo, Simon, did the pitch to the Molar traverse and was leading toward the pendulum when I left this afternoon. Man that guy hauls the bags really fast!
Ollie and Chris did the
Lower down Simon was racking up the pitches and was heading within two pitches of the
Ollie and Chris were seen this morning hauling to the top of the
But! As suggested, the Aussie solo, Simon, did in fact catch the lads at the
I saw Ollie and Chris doing the last pitch around when I left. Nice job lads!
Lower down I saw Simon clean and haul the
Simon was seen hauling to the sloping ledge three pitches from the top when I left. He could get off tonight if he wanted to. We will see what happens.
Simon topped out around on this long and strenuous route. Way to go lad!!
Ill put my own trip report up soon! it was great to get some repsect from someone who has seen it all. the best, the worst, those who talk and those who do. if your ever in yosemite make it high priority to take some cobras down to the bridge for a chin-wag!
I recently retuned from a three and a half month trip to
I thumbed a lift back to Camp 4. Not always and easy task when your unwashed for three days! Lucky some ‘tourons’ gave me a sympathy vote! I returned triumphant to an empty camp! Soon the boys returned and before I knew it Tony had convinced me to come do the Direct on Lost Arrow Spire in a few days. This is an amazing feature, visible from anywhere in the eastern end of the valley. It was 1500 feet long and rated 5.8 C2+. The approach was killer!! We managed it in one trip, the effort nearly killed us but we were eager beaver! We started up and from the word go we were cruising. The first day was trench warfare in a loose 5.10 offwidth, one of my hardest leads… ever! Once that was dispensed we cruised to the spacious First Error Ledge. We had time so we fixed the next few pitches. This saw me take my first proper aid fall! I had to do this crazy mantle onto a slopey gravely ledge, it took me a few goes! All the while we got to watch one of the biggest waterfalls in
After a few days Garry and I set of to climb the Prow on Washington Column. We walked up one evening and the next morning saw us on the route. All day I watched grey clouds growing behind Half Dome. Garry had just done a great job leading pitch 5 but unfortunately a blown fixed head stopped us dead. It started to rain lightly and without any rain-gear I wasn’t keen to hang around! On our way down we passed a soloist, Chris. He was bailing too. We waited for him to get down and took his ropes so he didn’t have to do two trips with the gear. He returned the favor by driving us back to camp. The next few days were a bit miserable. I was psyched. It was time to step up and climb the captain.
I chose the classic, Zodiac as my first El Cap route. I would be doing it solo. After a few days packing Jake gave me a hand carrying all the junk required up to the base. I fixed a few pitches that evening then blasted the next day. On day 2 on the wall I had caught up to another soloist, Aaron. He was a top bloke and good fun to have around! I took a rest day so that he could continue and put some distance between us. So I sat back in the portaledge and chilled. This was almost the crux though! Being able to retreat easily made it a real mental battle. The allure of the mountain bar room, only a few hours below was hard to ignore. But luckily for me I had a special haulbag, not like any other. My pig is a one-way pig. The good folks at metolius installed a gravitron deflector that only allows it to travel up! So retreat was out of the question! I had watched both a Korean party and my mate Aaron hammer through the crux pitch on the
Before I had even recoverd properly from Zodiac I was packing for Freerider (35 pitches grade 27). With food for six days packed we headed up, jake with the goal of freeclimbing and me in support, just sniffing the roses. Hot weather on the valley floor led to some quasi-alpine starts to climb the slabby pitches without the hinderance of the sun. All went to plan for the first few days, with all pitches going free. After reaching the alcove late one night an easy day was in order. Taking it easy that day jake climbed the monster offwidth (40 meters of size 6 camolot goodness, which took 2 hours to climb) and fixed a few pitches above. The alcove provided a much welcomed respite from the baking sun. The next day, day 3 on the wall led to disaster...
The Huber boulder pitch, the technical crux of the route. It features small holds and smaller feet with a sideways dyno to a jug. After a few tries jake was looking strong. try number three, desperate gaston, get those feet up, jugs... sooo.... close... double dyno!!! jake launched, all points off, i watched, stoked!! He had the jug!! but whys he falling now?? And whats that in his hands!?!?! As we watch the victory jug fly off into the abyss the rope comes tight. Thirty seconds pass before i ask if jakes ok. We both just stare, dumbfounded by what just happened. Jake tried to work out a new sequence without using the now-missing jug but to no avail. Freerider is forever changed. We continued up to the block and set up our bivy. Later that arvo we rapped back down to try the pitch on top-rope but with skin failing jake had to leave it till next time. He also tried the other variation, the teflon pitch which was done by todd skinner. Jake did all the moves but was tuckered from the previous days intense events.
the next few days saw us continuing to the top. jake tried to free as much as possible but the dissapointment of not doing the boulder combined with being baked in the sun led to just getting up the route!! after a night at the scenic long ledge, positioned above the salathe headwall we topped out, jake already making plans to return.
What happened next was almost the end of me…
Well my time in