Mountain Project Logo

What do you consider a "big wall?"


Original Post
Adam Hammershoi · · Hartford, CT · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 185

What do you guys think makes a big wall a big wall?

certain height, # of pitches, difficulty, having to bivy etc? 

Tomko · · SANTA CLARA CA · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 10

Not saying I'm an expert on big walling, but my definition would be that the average party would take more than one day to complete the ascent.

TAGG C · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 151

Maybe some aid, a bivouac, over a thousand foot, and it was not original climb in a modern fast a light single push style.

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Taggart Cole wrote:

...and it was not original climb in a modern fast a light single push style.

Except there have been many modern big wall FA's done in that style, so that defining condition doesn't really exist.

Adam Hammershoi · · Hartford, CT · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 185
Marc801 C wrote:

Except there have been many modern big wall FA's done in that style, so that defining condition doesn't really exist.

Exactly my point. So maybe at least 1000 feet of climbing? Usually people associate big walls with hard grades and over 10 pitches. Would a 1000 ft 5.8 free climb be considered "big wall?"

Eli · · GMC3500 · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 2,878

Primarily aid routes over 8 pitches.

jon bernhard · · grand junction, co · Joined Apr 2008 · Points: 286

One that is big...

Eli · · GMC3500 · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 2,878
jon bernhard wrote:

One that is big...

and wall like in nature. 

Max Rausch · · Monterey, CA · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 125

Seeing as Wikipedia is always 100% correct   "Big wall climbing is a type of rock climbing where a climber ascends a long multi-pitch route, normally requiring more than a single day to complete the climb. Big wall routes require the climbing team to live on the route often using portaledges and hauling equipment. It is practiced on tall or more vertical faces with few ledges and small cracks."

There are many routes in Yosemite that are >1000ft, and easily go free. East Buttress' of both Middle Cathedral and El Cap are certainly not 'Big Walls.' The South Face of Washington Column is considered a big wall and is around same amount of pitches of those routes. The difference is that it requires primarily aid, and an optional ledge bivy. 

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Adam Hammershoi wrote:

Exactly my point. So maybe at least 1000 feet of climbing? Usually people associate big walls with hard grades and over 10 pitches. Would a 1000 ft 5.8 free climb be considered "big wall?"

No, just a long free climb. It's not difficulty - The Nose is a big wall but can be done at 5.9 C1 -  it's length, usually aid, and taking more than a day (for most parties) that defines a big wall.

cragmantoo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 175

One that goes border to border...

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 480

The lead only wall at the gym 

Josh Lipko · · Charlotte · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 10

On a recent trip out west, we climbed two formations - Moonlight Buttress in Zion and Mt. Wilson in Red Rock, via the Inti Watana/Resolution Arete linkup.  The two climbs are very different, similar only in that they are "big" and "wall-like" features.

While Mt. Wilson provides more vertical gain than Moonlight Buttress, MB is more continuously vertical.  Mt. Wilson involved lots of simul-climbing and unroped scrambling in addition to vertical/overhanging climbing.  MB demanded aid climbing (for us, anyway), hauling systems and bivying; while Mt. Wilson went all free.  We did Mt. Wilson in a day and MB in two.

My point is that none of those parameters make or do not make a "big wall."  The Inti/Res linkup is a long free route and MB is a wall route.  To me, "big wall" describes a style of climbing more so than a definable formation.

Jake wander · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 180

Must have equation to define everything. X+y+z= big wall 

Tapawingo Markey · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 75

Disclaimer: not a big wall climber.  But I think the question should be is big wall a type of route or more so a style of climbing. 

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

BITD, a “big wall” climb was defined as multi day and aid climbing. Once “wall routes” started to get climbed in a day and then free climbed, the definition became less clear cut.

Two teams talking about doing the Nose might say, “We did it in a day”, the other might say “we did it wall style”. The wall style team would mean they hauled and had bivied. 

I’ve climbed El Cap a couple dozen times. I’ve climbed it in a day and in multiple days. I count all of them as a climb of a big wall. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply to "What do you consider a "big wall?""
in the Big Wall and Aid Climbing

Log In to Reply