The last A5


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Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Jul 18, 2014 - 10:00am PT

again, I say "LOL" there Steve. Clink is good people, and the reply is clearly directed at the fact that technical questions with serious conversation seem to end up on and less so at the Taco.

Not impossible here, just bad signal to noise ratio.

To the OP, definitions are everything, and the definitions have changed over time. Today's bad ass climbers are reticent to ack that they have done A5 on new or old lines.


Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Jul 18, 2014 - 10:21am PT
Pete, but how do you really feel when you're up there? ;)

good language, tfpu!

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 18, 2014 - 10:31am PT
If this bums you out, Take Heart Laddie and YOU can be the First to do C5 in your group of friends!

Or C6, 200ft of hooking 500ft off the deck with the end of the of the rope clove hitched to opposing lieback hooks and duct taped to a portrait of Jim Beyer sorting pitons. It is required by definition on C6 that the duct tape be left at the "anchor" and not used for "security" on lead.

Seriously though, much respect to all hard aid leaders.
looks easy from here

Ben Lomond, CA
Jul 18, 2014 - 11:07am PT
Aside: If you are either getting bored of reading all of this, or your hands are not sweating now [emphasis mine], you have no business climbing hard aid

I was seriously tempted to take and post a pic of the sweat that literally pooled on my hands while reading that. Great post Pete.

Jul 18, 2014 - 11:13am PT
Nice Pete - ya pretty much nailed it. Though, it's all A1+ until…..

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Jul 18, 2014 - 11:22am PT
The only climb I did that was rated A5 at the time was the Swan Slab Traverse, in the early 1970's. I've never done anything harder than A4 on a wall, but Pete's description is spot on to what I felt. Adding to the fear was hearing someone below saying "You should only do that with a good snowbank on the ground. I saw Bridwell Crater, Robbins Crater, . . ." At the time, it was still mostly rurps, knifeblades, hooks and nests for 90 feet, on a traverse 60 feet off the ground. Instead of thinking "Well Bridwell made it, so it must go," I kept thinking "Is this the placement where Bridwell or Robbins took the big one?"


Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Jul 18, 2014 - 11:32am PT
Though, it's all A1+ until…..

always a good point to call out^^^

The truth of this speaks volumes to Deuce's point about the relative skill level of the leader. Can it be engineered in a such a way that the nest holds body weight, that the tipped out beak can hold without blowing out the placement, avoiding the chisel or chicken bolt, etc.

It's an art that could take years and years to master.

Handjam Belay

Gym climber
expat from the truth
Jul 18, 2014 - 11:55am PT
Requisite listening to fanboy discussions...

edit- with obvious and presumed respect for Mr. Gagner's adventures.
This is kind of an el cap rant above.

Jul 18, 2014 - 12:43pm PT
Snail-eye post, Pete!

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jul 18, 2014 - 12:54pm PT
Pete summed it wonder i stick to free climbing with only a wee ( make that wee with a capital W) bit of aid thrown in.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Jul 18, 2014 - 01:30pm PT
Wow! I was hoping to only get sweaty hands, but I managed to get crawling skin and snail eyes, too - thanks!

I also went back and edited the post, adding some more stuff about Crossing The Line, which I had evidently forgotten the first time through, because I am good at denying my feelings sometimes....
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Jul 18, 2014 - 03:40pm PT
You said it, Pete.

You need to deny feelings and just do it, regardless of the outcome.

It IS a game, isn't it?

And Johann E, by God, my hat's off to you on the Swannie Traverse. I just looked it up in the Roper Green and remember NOT wanting to go up there! EVER! I'm not that serious a game-player and it's just NOT FUN. The fun comes (I guess) when you get down and can talk about sweaty palms and sh!t stains.

And Ron, that's some run-out, dude, and t'hell with the rating!

Gym climber
Jul 18, 2014 - 04:39pm PT
Thanks Duecy! That was great seeing Ivo.

Isn't that her in the bikini?

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 19, 2014 - 08:22am PT
Requisite listening to fanboy discussions...

"even a fairly incompetent aid climber..."

On being armed with a drill.

That is why I prefer A1 cracks and graciously let my partner lead the rest.

Trad climber
Anchorage, AK
Feb 24, 2016 - 09:34am PT

Straight outta Squampton
Feb 24, 2016 - 03:55pm PT
I missed this one the first time around. Thanks for giving it a bump!

Pete.... wow

Thank you for that awesome piece of writing. for someone who has never passed A3, (although I was scared enough at times to feel like A5 in my brain), I felt every bit of that emotion and internal turmoil. And yes, my hands were sweating profusely.

If you ever end up in Squamish, the first beer is on me.

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