Wow - sixty posts on aid ratings? Don't you guys have anything more interesting to talk about?
Aid ratings just aren't one of these things you can quantify very well. One man's A4 is another man's A2. If you have the skill and experience and equipment, you can turn a hard A4 pitch into a reasonable exercise. If not, it can become a living nightmare. Examples on how to mitigate risk would include knowing how to replace crappy fixed or dead heads with your own new good ones, and knowing how to use hooks for pro that will actually stop you if you blow it. A huge rack of Screamers and Scream Aids will make a big difference, too.
I'm not trying to be a smart ass here, but you guys oughta go out and give some of these aid pitches a try. It's actually a lot of fun, and not too scary once you get the hang of it. Plus it's the only way you can reach the bitchin'est campsites.
As for Mr. Beyer, although I have never met him, I am more than a little pissed at his destruction of Wall of Early Morning Light on El Cap. When he climbed Martyr's Brigade, he destroyed a bunch of anchors and bolts on WOEML, which have yet to be fixed. The line is currently unclimbable.
You guys ought to read Richard Jensen's account of his and Mark Smith's second ascent of Beyer's Intifada, touted as "the hardest aid route on the planet". Here are some exerpts:
"I realized that, on the first pitch at least, Beyer had bypassed natural hook placements, and had used the drill instead to trench heads which weren't needed. We rated the pitch A4. Had he hooked everything that was available, instead of trenching, Beyer would have had an A5 ground-fall pitch. Instead, Beyer appeared to have 'brought the pitch down to his level'."
They found no A6 Death Anchors, and in fact the climbing wasn't even that hard. Have a read - good stuff!
I just got off a new route in Zion. We did stacks of hard aid. Aid is dead. Not cool. Mostly a sport for dorks like me who can't free climb moonlight. We talked about this topic up there as we are tasked with rating a bunch of difficult sandstone nailing. Ryan AKA "YO" said: " The aid scale is kind of lame because it's overkill. It's either A1, A2+, or A4 because the scale is topped out at A5 and you are a blowhard if you use the 5." In our little world, the 4 means you will likely get hurt, or hurt bad if you blow it.
A6 or A6+ = BLOWHARD.
Unlike the open-ended free scales, the aid scale should not be opened up. You don't have to be Sharma or Yuji to do an A5, just a little nuts and very lucky, or unlucky to have actually found an A5 pitch. I've fallen on beaks, heads, and shitty old sticking out Bridwell rivets and had them all hold.
Show me an A5 pitch. I'll wager that none have yet been found in Zion. That is saying a lot for the hundreds of aid routes that have been done there. I'll bet only 1 or 2 have actually claimed A5 pitches. Flying Bryan, Burt and Ammon have done some crazy aid climbing there (stigmata, the arch on red arch...) I've not seen any A5 on their topos...
A6 (no anchor)--WHY? BLOWHARDS. These folks should be embarrased for thier blatant hot air.
Pete, Thank you for that link. I have been fascinated with hard Fisher Tower aid lines (not that I will ever actually try one,) and have always found Beyer intriguing. I think that his original "no holes deeper than 1/4 inch on the FA" is officially bunk. Two things to Beyer's credit though: 1. Beyer had his own aid rating scale (see Desert Rock 4)so if he wants to call it A6, than it was Beyer A6. 2. Having spent a bit of time in the desert alone I can attest that your perceptions tend to get a bit warped.
My definition of A6- If you fall you and your partner die, along with everyone else who happens to be on the route. Your life insurance will also be revoked, and your bereaved will be audited by the IRS.
It's a shame that all of this A6, chopped bolts on WOEML, lying about drilling on routes shit happened.
Beyer is/was a FULL ON BADASS....as I said above... A TOTAL VISIONARY. Go try some of his hard stuff in the Fishers and get back to me. When you are pounding in a beak with your belayer down below sending you up beers...remember he was all alone up there pounding in blades n heads and shit back in the day. WAY BURLY. SUPER IMPRESSIVE.
Sometimes people do/say stupid shit...I know I have.
Dude is a frigging legend...it's a shame that his rep was tarnished by his stupid actions.
Go figure huh?
Anyhoo, if I ever run into him out and about...I am going to buy him a beer and tell him he did a great job.
I was under the impression that A6 was really just A5 where you failed, got resurrected ( after making your saving throw vs -1 Constitution....) and on your second attempt bit it again. Unfortunately at this point you have either run out of gold or the local cleric is pissed when he learns you are Chaotic Neutral and there is no third chance for you....
Perhaps this is the most difficult aid climb ever, but it is not A6+. Why? There is no A6+. The system is capped because it is based on the the number of continuous body weight placements. Since most believe that there has never been an actual A6 climb, it doesnt make any sense to skip a grade. Props to these guys for putting up what looks to be a very hard route in the fishers, but IMO their claim takes away slightly from what should be a celebrated accomplishment.