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Chockstone Forum - General Discussion

General Climbing Discussion

Poll Option Votes Graph
M - Australian Mechanical 25
A - Worldwide 'Yosemite' 15

Topic Date User
Aid grades 18-Mar-2005 At 12:20:12 PM BA
As an old timer who has done a bit of aid climbing (a long, long time ago) I can remember that we used an 'A' grading system. Here is the text from Ewbanks guide.


The system being used for grading mechanical climbs or pitches is similar to above (the free-climbing grades. BA), without so many different grades. The top grades of mechanical climbing in England is classed A.4. As pegging (‘Artificial’ – ‘Mechanical’) is as variable in difficulty as free climbing, I have added more numbers on, with the prefix of the letter 'M'. A climb with a mechanical pitch and free climbing would be graded say, 15. M.3.

If a climb uses only one pitch (typo here, I think it meant to say “piton” instead of “pitch”.) for physical aid, the climb is graded free and the piton mentioned. If a climb uses two or any number of pitons for physical aid, but they are separated by free moves then the climb is still regarded as free - with aid. For example: Pitch 3. 60’. (crux). Straight up the groove, ‘4 pitons for aid’. However, if two aids are used in succession with no free climbing in between, then that particular section is regarded as mechanical. A climb may therefore be free, aided, and mechanical though only the two grades are used - i.e. 18 and M.5. while the aided portion of the climb is described verbally in the description,

The easiest mechanical grade (M.1.) therefore applies to such things as two firm bolts, close together, in any easy position on good rock.

End of quote.

To stop the surreptitious pulling up on gear or silver jugging there was general agreement that M0 should be introduced for rests/silver jugging/dogging etc.

Can anybody who takes the "definitions" of American aid grades literally answer the following; "If the grade given to a piece of aid climbing is dependent on the size of a fall, say 50 feet, can any climbing up to 49 feet 11 inches from the ground be given that grade?"

There are lots of people around who feel that if getting off the ground is the crux of a climb then the grade is not based on those hardest moves but easier moves higher up the climb. For free climbing it is normally only a couple of moves but aiding for 35/40/45 feet is a long way and according to the definitions it can never be given the grade that most closely reflects the quality of gear that you can expect. What a silly concept.

No person has ever convinced me that sub-grades are at all, in anyway, sensible - see a previous post I put up about 'F' grades, if you can have A4+, why not A1+ or A1-? If the 'A' grades are to be consistent then sub-divions of the grades apply equally across the board. A1- could be a rest or a single point, A1 could be a couple of bolts as mentioned above by Ewbank, A1+ could be 2 nuts in a reasonable crack. If we follow on with this line of reasoning (if applied to 'F' grades there are 81 sub-divisions up to F9a+) that means we would have to go from M0 to M11 to get a 'correlation' with 'A' grades, which is what you would get if the 'A' grades had no sub-divisions. Get the Seppos to sort out their grading system before we even consider adopting any of it in Oz (and what about 5.13? I was taught at school that 5.13 came between 5.1 and 5.2 'cause it was DECIMAL).

I'm starting to get stroppy now, so I'll stop. And no, I haven't voted.

There are 67 replies to this topic.


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