/ Aid climbing question - difference between A and C?

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Somerset swede basher - on 26 Feb 2013
What is the difference between A and C as a prefix to an aid grade? I have a vuage appreciation for the A bit having aided a couple of routes at A1 but I have no idea what a C means.
Thanks
Petarghh - on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to Somerset swede basher:

A - use a hammer

C - use clean aid, nuts, cams, hooks etc.
Somerset swede basher - on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to Petarghh:

Does that mean strictly speaking things like Kyrie Elison and The Bat (both in The Peak and on insitu gear e.g. old threads, bolts with/without a hanger etc) should be given a C grade rather than A as you dont need a hammer?
The Ex-Engineer - on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to Somerset swede basher: An 'A' Aid grade indicates the difficulty including the use of all types of hammered protection (i.e. pitons and copperheads/mashies), which obviously damage the rock.

A 'C' Clean grade indicates the difficulty without using hammered protection.

It is only really an issue in harder grades where a route might be A2 or C3.
Petarghh - on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to Somerset swede basher: I think it mainly applies in America as i've only seen the A and C grades in american big wall guides etc. Some of the routes get both A and C grades depending on the style used.
beardy mike - on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to Somerset swede basher: basically yes. As would kilnsey main and malham main. But then strictly speaking as the aid rating system is a closed system and 5 is the max, all these routes would need to be down graded if you were to compare to us aid. Dunno about ke as I've not done it. But the bat is c1+ as is kilnsey, whereas I'd give malham c2+ as some of the gear on the main roof is seriously bad and not backed up by shines bolts... I'd go so far as to say if none of its been replaced since I did it, then its a serious pitch, despite being technically easy as many of the old hangers were bending under body weight and the sides of the eyes were only joined by a sliver of steel. If you want a more realistic version of clean aid, you'd need a rainy day at millstone...
Somerset swede basher - on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to mike kann:

That makes sense. So the closed system of numnbers means the same thing in both but strictly speaking should be A for stuff you hammered in and C for 'clean' gear or clipping insitu.
Ian Parsons - on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to Somerset swede basher:

In fact there's the occasional addition of an "F" to the C grade - C2F, etc - to cover an ascent that is hammerless but relies to some extent on fixed ("F") gear - rivets, copperheads, etc; the implication is that if such gear failed or was missing you'd probably have to get the hammer out to replace it, or retreat.
steveej - on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to Somerset swede basher: C = clean, which means no hammering just nuts and cams.

so many el cap pitches would be say A2 / C3, or A3 / C4 etc, shorter fall potential if you hammer a pin, longer fall potential if your just using cams/nuts.

Routes that go clean should continue to go clean as the ethics say its bad to hammer and damage the rock by opening up the seams. That said, certain routes undergo fixed gear clean ups which make them harder again, so you may need to hammer, even if the routes have previously gone clean

In terms of difficulty A3 is harder than C3! even though the fall potential is the same, hammering takes longer and is much more strenuous, and slows everything down, meaning more water and food to haul
steveej - on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to steveej:

Now C3F means that the pitch will go at C3, provided the fixed gear that was there at the time the guidebook was written is still there - it relies on the fixed gear to go at that c3 grade.

I have climbed C3F pitch with absolutely no fixed gear in the entire pitch! so if you hammer a pin is that C3? or if you don't hammer anything is it C4 or C5?

dutybooty - on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to Somerset swede basher: I'd say the routes at dovestones should really all be A0 or C0 as they're entirely on bolts and this is what the aid system relies on, how good the gear is.
beardy mike - on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to Somerset swede basher: yeah, pretty much. 0 means French free, 1 means solid placements which are easy to make, 2 means solid placements interspersed with the odd dodgy one, 3 means quite a number of dodgy placements between solid ones. After that the placements don't get that much harder to make, there will just be more moves between solid ones until you get to 5 where a fall may mean 120 foot whippers as you will mainly have been making body weight placements and you will zipper your placements. Generally if you can climb on clean aid, that is better style. Clean aiding a pitch may be considerably harder to achieve than pegging the pitch. Yes pegging is physical strenuous. But clean aiding a pitch may require more doggy placements... You may get a solid knifeblade for example where you may have to place a shallow micro or a hook instead. For example you can aid North America wall at a2+ (I think) but clean aid is c3+ or c4?...
beardy mike - on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to dutybooty: if there is more than a few moves of aid, then they aren't a0. A0 indicates French free, I.e. clip an extender and pull through the difficulty.
beardy mike - on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to steveej: if the fixed gear is missing and you clean aid it, then it will most likely be a harder grade than the c3f. If you re fix the pin then strictly speaking you revert to the a grade, but that's kind of semantics....
steveej - on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to mike kann:

no its not.

if the pitch is completely devoid of fixed gear but the topo says C3F, how do you know whether there is one, two, three, four or more fixed pieces missing? just cos you hammer once doesn't mean it reverts to the C grade equivalent.

C3F could be cleaned up and become A4 again.

Experience tells you when the fall potential keeps going up and up and up that it passes the threshold of your own acceptability and then you deicide to place a pin.
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beardy mike - on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to steveej: I suppose what was saying is that if you replace the fixed gear, then for you, it wasn't c3f, it was a3. The f indicates that the gear is there. If you climb it without, it's most likely harder than with the fixed gear so it becomes c3+ or c4... I think we agree...

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