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Explain Aid
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Nov 22, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: Flakes of Wrath
I am a relatively new climber, I have never aid climbed, only free climbed. I am a little confused on why people aid climb,or what an "aid pitch" is, I was hoping somebody could explain this to me. For example, I have been wanting to do the finger of fate on the titan, it seems most the climbing is 5.9, but there are some aid pitches.

Why are these aid pitches? Are these deemed not free climbable? Or at least not free climbable at the grade? If there is enough features to put in gear for aid, isn't there placement for trad?
Joined Mar 26, 2011
127 points
Nov 22, 2012
I'm not familiar with that route, but from my limited aiding/big wall experience, it depends. I've aided some routes that have been free climbed, but in the hard .13 to easy .14 range, which is a bit harder than I climb. Yes there were places for gear/bolts, but there was just no way I was going to free it. Some other pitches I've aided had good cracks but they were the only feature and usually the crack is smaller than finger tips.

There's also bolt ladders, which usually are not free climbable. Usually it's not a problem with getting placements for protection, it's getting places to put your hands and feet. My advice is go climb a route with some aid on it, it becomes pretty clear why it's not free climbed.
John D
Joined Nov 24, 2010
21 points
Nov 22, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: Belaying
Aid climbing can be done for the sake of aid climbing or to get around a section that is too hard to free climb.

As for the Titan climb, if you didn't do aid climbing on a few pitches, the rating would be higher and possibly impossible to free climb the entire thing. I have no idea about that specific climb but without the aid it could be a 5.13 climb, or as I said pretty close to impossible to free.

Having placements for aid doesn't mean you have placements good enough to free climb on. Many aid placements have to hold only body weight.

There is a video on youtube entitled "the aid climbing rant" I think which is basically some guy (I am not sure who but I think he is rather well known) talking about how aid climbing isn't really climbing. There are also some good aid climbing videos on youtube including 2 that you can find by searching "pass the pitons pete." They give you a good look at something that can't be free climbed but can be aided.
From San Diego, CA
Joined Apr 1, 2010
10 points
Nov 23, 2012
That route is for experts only. I've never done it but I can assure you will be disappointed if you show up expecting mostly 5.9 climbing with some aid.
A good way to research routes you might want to do:
Daniel Winder
Joined Jul 13, 2009
112 points
Nov 23, 2012
Onsight spoiler alert!

Joined Sep 30, 2008
499 points
Nov 23, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: Andrew Gram
The Finger of Fate goes free, but most pitches are in the 5.12 and 5.13 range and the gear is not straightforward. It is nearly all aid for mortals - the 5.9 free climbing is just a small bit of the climbing. It certainly isn't for experts only, but don't expect to get up it if you aren't dialed in on aid climbing before you go. It is not a new climber friendly route. Andrew Gram
From Salt Lake City, UT
Joined Jan 1, 2001
3,828 points
Nov 23, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: Flakes of Wrath
Thanks for all the input. To be clear, I wasn't considering hopping on the Finger of Fate tomorrow,I had just been looking at this route (and others) which sparked my question about aid. I was mainly just trying to figure out why some routes have interspersed aid sections, and I think my question was answered. Paul-B
Joined Mar 26, 2011
127 points
Nov 23, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: The Shield
Paul, I think you have good answers here, but I'll add a bit more. I think your question more stems from the way it is rated here and in a book. It gets 5.9 C2 or something. That combination, if correctly rated, represents the easiest way you could get up it. You might be able to climb it via 5.13a pitches and have zero aid, but that is a much harder rating. Sometimes you will see OBL in a rating... very common in Europe and should be more here. This means "Obligatory", or what you must be able to do. On the Finger of Fate an OBL 5.8 would be appropriate, meaning you cannot climb it without doing some 5.8 free climbing. Sam Lightner, Jr.
From Lander, WY
Joined Apr 9, 2006
2,465 points
Nov 26, 2012
anything you ever wanted to know about Aid is here ian watson
From Albuquerque, NM
Joined Apr 27, 2010
275 points
Nov 27, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: How I Send
Tits McGee
From Boulder, CO
Joined Apr 23, 2008
300 points

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