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Big Wall Aid Courses

Original Post
Liam Connelly · · Steamboat Springs, CO · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 0

Hi Guys!

Has anyone ever taken a Big Wall Aid Climbing course from AAI, YMS, SMG, or any other professional guiding company? Thoughts on the course and which is best bang for your buck? 

kevin deweese · · Oakland, Ca · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 420


Most are going to be fine but hellishly expensive. If you have time, proximity, and access to a mentor the these are generally not worth the money. 

If you don't have the time, proximity and mentor, then most people have good experiences with YMS if you're looking for something in the Valley. (YMS being the only provider that legally operates in the Valley) 

Be sure to speak with the guiding service (and guide if possible) prior to setting everything up to ensure that the experience you imagine having is something they (and their insurance) is comfortable with.

Erik Werner · · Boulder, CO · Joined Mar 2007 · Points: 305

I took the big wall course thru YMS back in the 90's during college and it was stellar. Dan McDevitt was the instructor and it was awesome learning to do things the right way from the get. Definitely good money spent and it greatly accelerated my path towards doing my first wall (and with minimal clusterfuckage).

+1 for Kevin's advice about chatting with whichever guide service first to set expectations. 

Mark Hudon · · Lives on the road · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 415

Any “big wall” course, is only going to give you a few pointers and a few ideas. You ain’t gonna learn how to climb walls. 

Take one and then take the baby steps that we all did. Your local 4 pitch aid route, the South Face of The Column, Leaning Tower, Reg route on Half Dome and then an easy El Cap route.

Mikey Schaefer · · Redmond, OR · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 246

I don’t think it matters which company you go through as long as the guide really knows what he is talking about.  I know a lot of guides and even full certified IFMGA guides that I wouldn’t hire for a class.  Big wall climbing is a very specific form of climbing that takes experience to teach.

I was a guide at YMS for 6 years and always enjoyed teaching the big Wall classes because I actually climbed walls.  I don’t think the same could of been said for all the guides while I worked there.

And Mark is right, no one can teach you how to really climb a wall but you can definitely learn all of the tools needed to do so.

Rob Dillon · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2002 · Points: 720


CMC Leadville has been known to offer the occasional 3-day intensive.   You might have to ask to get one put on the calendar.

Lisa Stengel · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 0

I did a clinic at the Red Rock Rendezvous---only an afternoon, but taught the basics to get me started and a good real time supplement to books/videos (Chris McNamara's How to Big Wall Climb). And reasonably priced. 

I felt prepared enough to then start out with small/easy objectives with an equally new-to-aid partner.

I'd recommend checking out climbing festivals for similar clinics.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Big Wall and Aid Climbing
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