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Two aider experience

Original Post
John McNamee · · Littleton, CO · Joined Jul 2002 · Points: 1,690

Last weekend on a wall I committed to the route without my usual aider setup and found it pretty enlightening so I thought I should share. Usually I take the following:

  • 2 pr of Aiders (4 in total)
  • Set of speed slings for cleaning
  • Yes an old heavy system, but very comfortable.

The aiders are free floating. I don't connect them with daisy's until I start hooking etc.

On this wall I only took 2 Yates wall ladders and after the first couple of pitches I was really wondering why I had changed my tried and true methods but my the top of the route I knew I wasn't going to go back to the old system. I had used ladders in the past but hadn't liked them so I knew what I was getting into.

To make the transition easier try this:

1. Wear sticky shoes, such as five tennies. You want to be able to smear and be able to create a stable platform for your other foot. Try placing the heel of your free foot against the heel of the foot in the aider. It works surprisingly well. I wear stiff ski boot inserts in my wall shoes for extra support.

2. Teeing off helps a lot in keeping your body in position. If you don't know what I'm talking about buy Jeff Lowes, clean walls DVD. Toes got a little tender but not too bad.

3. The edges on the Yates aiders are sharp (new) and this caused my shins to get cut up and tender. Usually I wear knee pads but in this case having them slip down and cover my shins worked pretty well. Hopefully with use this issue will go away.

4. Jugging with the ladders were fine and as long as I keep my toes pointed slightly down my feet didn't come out. No need to carry my jugging system anymore.

5. A third ladder would be helpful in some situations such as going through roofs, etc. I'm going to buy a Yates speed ladder for this.

6. Top stepping is pretty easy in ladders since the distance between steps is less than some of my aiders. Just have a fifi set up with the right length prior to stepping up. In my garage on my climbing wall I have a series of anchors set up as a bolt ladder and over the years have practiced top stepping. With some practice you will be amazed at how big a step you can take.

For example, Prodigal Sun is a very popular route in zion and the first pitch is often a horror show for people due the distance between bolts. The first time I climbed that pitch I was cursing the person who put it up the entire way and I had to make a stick clip to reach the fixed pro. It took like 3 hours to climb the first 2 pitches.

The next time I climbed it I was able to top step easily and kept waiting for the long reaches that never came. I can't over emphasize how important this is.... It saves time (1 hour lead compared to 3 hrs) and allows you to make better placements.

7. The aiders show more wear and tear than I thought they would after one wall. I'm going to have to apply some edge protector to the edges of the aiders and all the joins. Note: The wear and tear is cosmetic only.

8. Less clutter to worry about. 2 aiders is less work than 4.

There is probably other things I can add but can't remember right now and the sun is coming out so its time to head outside...

For hard aid I'm going to stick with my 2 pr for aiders but for routes up to C2 + I'm going to be using my new system from now on.

J. Thompson · · denver, co · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,470


Skip the third aider.....just clip your "extra" aider to the piece the same way you would a third. voila! Less clutter.

Glad you had fun sorting it out.


The Hippy · · Boulder, Co · Joined Nov 2008 · Points: 5

I agree with most of your comments. The two aider system is great for routes with minimal aid, where you are going light and fast (Reg. Route on Half Dome for example). It gets tiring and anoying on full on aid walls. My general rule is if you have a haul bag it's time to bring 4 aiders. You're hauling beer, a boom box and a couple porno mags, so the weight of 2 extra aider dosent mean much. I've never gotten the 3 aider set up - seems like you can do the same thing as two. Also, get a pair of adjustable daisy chains - they make everything much easier (fifi comment led me to assume you are still using the "old School" setup).

Rick Blair · · Denver · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 266

Ok John, I am new to aid so help me out here. Why do you not connect your aiders to Daisies? Is it faster due to less tangle? Don't you worry about dropping your aiders?

I have the Etrier style aider, what is the advantage to the ladder style besides the steps being closer? or is that it?


Brig J. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 0

I'm new to aid also...well...I've aided routes I couldn't send, but I'm new to actually aid climbing for the sake of aid climbing...or because I'm lazy. Regardless, when aiding I use one easy daisy and a fifi, but I still have both aiders attached to "old fashioned daisies". It's a clust*& F*&K, I admit. But I like the one easy daisy because I'm a fat lazy dude that would rather "ratchet" my way up the aider than actually expend the energy to hold myself on the top steps. The FiFi is just for when I'm testing the next piece...hooked to the REAL DAISY. And I like the real daisies because they are FULL STRENGTH connection points. My question is...How do you feel safe using only adjustable daisies? You're connected with body weight only pieces if I understand you correctly. That goes against the way I have been brought up. Please Enlighten Me!!.

The Hippy · · Boulder, Co · Joined Nov 2008 · Points: 5

For me personally I feel very safe using only two adjustable daisey's. I use the Yates ones - they are good to something like 1500 lbs. That's a 10 to one safety margin for my skinny butt as long as I don't f-up and shock load them (in this case it might be better for them to break). Also they last a lot longer than some of the other ones out there. The biggest reason I feel safe using them ist that I'm tied in and on belay - the same reason I feel safe standing on hooks and heads (can be plenty scary, but is usually pretty safe).

gimmesome roy · · alpine, ca · Joined Oct 2006 · Points: 110

i was gona ask how hard the wall was, but you cleared it up on your last sentence, if its easy enough not to have to think about it, any system will work, but hard aid, is hard without 4 aiders

John McNamee · · Littleton, CO · Joined Jul 2002 · Points: 1,690
Rick Blair wrote:Ok John, I am new to aid so help me out here. Why do you not connect your aiders to Daisies? Is it faster due to less tangle? Don't you worry about dropping your aiders? I have the Etrier style aider, what is the advantage to the ladder style besides the steps being closer? or is that it? Thanks!
I just don't like connecting daisy's to aiders unless I"m doing something hard. I like the aiders to be able to float, this allows me to switch feet, etc. I also find it much faster. I've tried standard and adjustables and find both of them slow me down.

I haven't dropped an aider yet but I'm sure it will happen one day.

With daises I find that you spend time getting into position, adjusting them, pulling straps. I'd rather just stand up in balance and place the next piece. If you eliminate all these moves, you save a few seconds which adds up to minutes and then hours... Obviously if it is overhanging or very strenuous I'll click into the the piece, but most the time I don't. See Ron O. aid climbing on the clean walls dvd if you get what I'm saying about standing in balance, etc.

Sometimes you just have to take the blinkers off and try new things.

Aid climbing is more about sorting out a system that works for you and is safe.
Kevin Stricker · · Evergreen, CO · Joined Oct 2002 · Points: 575

If you have your aiders on your daisy's you can skip the step of clipping your aider to your harness when you clean your lower aider and top step on the upper one. I usually drop the aider(with daisy) then when I get to the top step and fifi I slide my free hand down and swing the free aider around to the side and usually it slips down so the biner is in your hand and you are ready to place your next piece. This move will save about 20 seconds per placement, which if you are rope soloing a wall in a day equates to about an hour you will save over the course of the day. Allowing your free aider to hang let's it untangle on it's own, which saves time usually spent untangling.

I find it is the jumaring with the wall ladders that shreads the calves. Putting some tape on your calf over the rub point helps, but I find I cannot jumar as efficiently with the wall ladders.

Glad to hear you enjoyed the 2 aider method!

Shawn Mitchell · · Broomfield · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 250

Help! My aid experience is about 28 years back in the rearview mirror. But at a youthful, vibrant 46, :) I'm itching to hang and dangle again.

The hardest stuff I did was old school A4 (Mescalito in 1981, when it was still pretty hard) and the only set up I've ever used was 2 aiders, hand tied with 4 or 5 loops and a 2 loop sub-aider tied to each.

I'm sure these questions are discussed at length elsewhere, so if anyone has any links or references, I'd be grateful. Basically, what does the tenuousness of the placements have to do with preferring 2 or 4 aiders? How did 4 become common? What's wrong with 2, including subs, which still allows me to stand two-footed high in one aider, while placing the other?

Any reference to books, MP or Taco threads, DVD's, or patiently typed and posted answers would be most appreciated.

J. Thompson · · denver, co · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,470

Shawn....stick with what you know.
Alot of folks want to make it more difficult than it needs to be by adding gear and extra movement. The Uber good and fast guys still do it your way.
I'd be happy to drink a beer and discuss it with you.....


Shawn Mitchell · · Broomfield · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 250

Thanks Josh. That gives me comfort to stick with the old ways.

Bump for any other friendly tips.

....Don't do it Horsey.

Bob Dobalina · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 140

I tried the two aider system on my most recent trip to Zion. I am used to the standard two (I use etriers) on each daisy connected to the harness. After doing three walls the new way, I am now a convert.
I had a third etrier on me just in case but never used it once. After getting used to it, I noticed that the clusterfuck factor was greatly reduced. Using one aider per piece is a bit more balancy but not bad when you "T" your feet. Granted, the climbing was no harder than C2+.

Marc-Andre · · Squamish, B.C · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 805

I use the two etrier method with no daisies fixed to my etriers.... unless Im hooking an stuff. It lets me switch my etriers from sided to side no problem and has no clusterf**k to is whatsoever. I find it is the aid equvalent of leashless Ice Climbing.....

Jesse Zacher · · Grand Junction, Co · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 4,205

I made the switch a year ago to the free two aiders, but I always have a special extra one for hard sections. This special one consists of the bottom two rungs cut off of a wall ladder. This makes a shorty that is compact, doesn't get caught on stuff and still pushes you to move faster as you have to walk the first few steps just on one ladder. Makes over hanging and top stepping issues easier.

Additionally I think that not having your aiders clipped into daises is good in the case of falling. If you are clipped in below with your rope and your daisy which has your ladders which you are standing on, and you testing the piece above you and it fails you will fall onto the daisy rather than the rope.

Aaron S · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 150

For those that don't have their aiders attached to a daisy, what happens if a piece blows when you first clip in and stand on it? Won't the piece and the aider both fall?

Matthew Seymour · · 1996 Dodge Van, USA · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 915

"For those that don't have their aiders attached to a daisy, what happens if a piece blows when you first clip in and stand on it? Won't the piece and the aider both fall?"

Hold on! Seriously though bounce test with a sort of grip on the upper biner or on the grab loop, and if the piece pops your holding the whole deal. If I really think a piece might pop i sometimes still clip the end of a daisy into it while bouncing. But for each piece you dont do this you save 15-20 seconds (15 seconds X 20 pieces = 5 minutes per pitch at least saved).

Aaron S · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 150

Hmmm, I get gripped and panicky enough on walls I don't think I want any important extras like that to worry about. Also, when taking the aider off of my previous piece I like being able to just drop it or toss it over my shoulder. Seems like doing so saves any seconds I might lose untwisting my daisies from time to time.

Kevin Stricker · · Evergreen, CO · Joined Oct 2002 · Points: 575

With the two aider system having tethers is pretty key, as the one aider system kinda sucks( if you fumble). Tethers (daisy's or slings) and a fifi is much faster than adjustable daisy's, although a single adjustable completely extended makes a good tether and comes in handy for jumaring.

I'm surprised your Yates ladders don't have elastic loops under the steps on your lower rungs, maybe that is a recent addition.

Light is Right!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Big Wall and Aid Climbing
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