/ Aid climbing question - difference between A and C?
A - use a hammer
C - use clean aid, nuts, cams, hooks etc.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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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