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jrzacher


Jul 25, 2006, 9:17 AM
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A6 What?
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I was browsing over the desert rock III for the billionth time and read over Jim Beyer's Intifada route which goes at a mere VI, 5.10 S X A6. I have heard the dispute that A6 wasn't possible. It seemed that the context in which it wasn't possible seemed to stem from those who climb in the valley, on granite. So what is the verdict on the potential of A6 in the fisher towers? Is the grade possible here because of the circumstances created by the rock quality? To give credit to Jim, 38 hook moves in 12 pitches in the fishers. On top of that, there are bolts. Jim states that, " A6 is two or more pitches with potential death falls and no bolts". Aside from Beyer's routes, are there any other runner ups for the A6 mark? I am not trying to destroy or question the credibility of Beyer's route. I am more interested in what the community has to say about the Grade A6.
Keep climbing,
Jesse


krusher4


Jul 25, 2006, 9:50 AM
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TROLL, no just kidding. a few years back when stuff started to get harder "mentally" then A5 this rating was getting thrown around. I would say with A6 not a single piece during a whole pitch would hold more then body wieght and the belay would likey fail. I bet there are some old schools on this site that can put in more info, I'm exicted to hear from these folks.


caughtinside


Jul 25, 2006, 9:57 AM
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Yeah, I heard A6 was bodyweight only gear for the whole pitch, and questionable belays. Which rules out bolts.

I think there was some funny story on one of Beyer's supposed A6 routes... where he went all the way to the end of his line, and then kept going on his tag line or something like that? for like a 300' pitch?

Also adding fuel to the fire, I was reading on ST a while ago that the guys who put up Wings of Steel on El Cap, also repeated Sea of Dreams and some Beyer desert route (maybe Intifada?) and said it wasn't as hard as he claimed...


grayhghost


Jul 25, 2006, 10:20 AM
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Intifada was repeated by a team of three and downrated to A4+. Beyer chipped long sections of the route. I think part of the A6 rating should take into account the difficulty of convincing a partner to climb it with you, Beyer did it solo.


caughtinside


Jul 25, 2006, 10:28 AM
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In reply to:
Beyer chipped long sections of the route.

Isn't that a bit misleading? Many aid routes are 'chipped' in one form or another. Nailing, 'enhanced' hooks, and in this case, trenched heads in soft stone. Every route on El Cap is chipped.


jrzacher


Jul 25, 2006, 12:30 PM
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Can Anyone make a comparison? Anyone done hard aid in granite and done some of the hard routes in the fishers. How does it stack up? Someone who


skiclimb


Jul 25, 2006, 11:23 PM
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Im up for A7

No rope body weight only


pindrvr75


Jul 26, 2006, 3:08 AM
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If you're climbing an A5 route on A5 anchors and bat hooking in sandstone, you can call it A6 or whatever you like. There's not too many folks out there that are gonna try it just to prove a point. Beyer's awesome, no one should downgrade his solo routes.


Partner gunksgoer


Jul 26, 2006, 4:41 AM
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Theoretically A5 pitches shouldnt have bolts on them. Since A6 is multiple A5 pitches in a row with A5 gear for the belay, I dont see how anyone could claim that their route is A6 if it has bolts.


microbarn


Jul 26, 2006, 4:59 AM
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In reply to:
Theoretically A5 pitches shouldnt have bolts on them. Since A6 is multiple A5 pitches in a row with A5 gear for the belay, I dont see how anyone could claim that their route is A6 if it has bolts.

This might be hard to follow....please bear with me.

Let's pretend there is a route with 50 pitches of 5.9, and one pitch of 5.12c. What is the grade of that entire climb?

5.12c Correct! Good Job!!

Prior to starting the next question I need to prep you. Please note the part that YOU state, and I made bold.

Let's pretend there is a route with 50 pitches. Let's say that everything is an A1 bolt ladder except 6 pitches in a row continuously A5 with A5 belays. What is the grade of this climb?

A6

Care to rethink that statement about no A6 could have any bolts?


krusher4


Jul 26, 2006, 6:20 AM
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I am going to say that an A6 pitch; if this grade is going to exist would have no bolts.


microbarn


Jul 26, 2006, 6:32 AM
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I agree with that, but the details given here don't describe what pitches contain the bolts.

The statement that an A6 route can contain no bolts is false.


Partner euroford


Jul 26, 2006, 6:36 AM
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A6 exists only where ego and the desire for extreme risk exceed rational limits.

A4 and A5 make perfect sense, pitchs with little or no protection, serious fall potential and perhaps objective hazards, but of course with a good belay.

Becouse why would a climb (other than a free solo) exist without a solid belay? becouse your jim beyer, and you have an ego, and if A5 is the top of the scale your good enough to fabricate some way to give your route A6.

A6 is what his ego invented, a non ego driven climber would have bolted or found some way to construct a solid belay and given the pitches A5 ratings. In such a case i actually believe the 2nd ascent party is fully justified to retro bolt the belays and downgrade.

i have a huge amount of respect and admiration of beyer and many of the routes he's done, but not in this case.


chitlinsconcarne


Jul 27, 2006, 8:02 PM
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In reply to:

A6 is what his ego invented, a non ego driven climber would have bolted or found some way to construct a solid belay and given the pitches A5 ratings. In such a case i actually believe the 2nd ascent party is fully justified to retro bolt the belays and downgrade.

Neato.

I'm going to go ahead and give that an award for being the second stupidest thing I've ever read in this particular forum.

But do keep spraying away, I'm sure that with a bit more effort you can claw your way into first place.


the_searcher


Jul 27, 2006, 9:16 PM
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a5 a6? who cares! its gnar...fxxx everyone and their ratings and spray...stop talkin and go climb some shat...


madbolter1


Jul 28, 2006, 8:27 AM
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In case my screen name isn't a tip-off, this is Richard Jensen of WoS infamy. My partner, Mark Smith, and I did the SA of Intifada, and I think some points from that route are applicable to the entire discussion in general.

First, Intifada. As another team has also found, the route is no more than A4+ (we didn't think it was even that hard). For one thing, there are drilled angle holes in various places. The anchors are ALL bombproof, not just the bolt anchors on the ridge. The route's supposed A6 rating is, by Beyer's own definition, not justifiable because the supposed horror last pitch simply traverses back out onto the face from a bolt anchor, and that bolt anchor is preceded by another bolt anchor. The 38 hook moves include many bat hooks (some of which we were able to bypass using slung horns). In short, Intifada is not hard, is not "natural" (whatever that can mean on sandstone), is NOT multiple death pitches with death anchors as advertised, and IS a function of contrived "difficulty."

This last point leads to the more general point. A6 might exist in principle, but in practice it is a contrived rating. For example Beyer has bent over belay bolt hangers on El Cap where his route crossed existing belays, which is supposed to FORCE others into using a "death belay" (even those who were doing the original route, not his). So, I ask: what is the point to "death belays" anyway? If they REALLY are death belays, then why bother? The way to REALLY do A6 (and this can be accomplished on ANY hard route) is to simply aid solo A4 and A5 pitches without clipping any other gear than your current placement. No rope, and no back-clipping. Then, EACH placement REALLY is the death-time-bomb that A6 supposedly offers. Furthermore, THIS version of A6 is not claiming something for a "route," it is claiming something about YOU, which is what such a rating is properly about anyway.

A6 is advertised as, "If you fall, not only do you rip the pitch, but you rip the anchor and the one below it." (from Climbing mag, #132 and #133.) The idea as stated is that if the leader pulls a SINGLE placement, everybody dies. Wow! REALLY? I say, CONTRIVED! The bottom line is that A6 is an ego-rating, and there's no point to actually DOING A6 if the odds are really that high that you won't be around to enjoy the ego-pump that goes with CLAIMING your route was that hard!

Even on A5 pitches, people simply don't take the big whippers that are advertised. The reason is because at least some placements end up being better than the leader expected. Even small hooks can hold falls. And, with the advent of good aid screamers as shock absorbers (which are deployed all over supposed "A5" pitches), it's hard to see how the really big A6 falls will ever happen. So, to get genuine A6, some further contrived tactics will have to be employed.

For example, tie-off slings (for tying off tipped-out pitons) will have to be AT LEAST half-way cut through. Using NO scream-aids is, of course, a given. All hooks will have to have their tempering destroyed, which will make them genuinely barely able to hold body weight and NO falls. All cabled gear will have to have the cables sawed mostly through, so that the cables can hold only body weight. And so on. You get the idea.

And even then, there is the CHANCE that something might stop you, so, as noted above, A6 really should properly signify ONLY un-roped solo, where your only point of contact with the rock is the single placement you are on (and where that placement has been doctored as suggested in the previous paragraph). Better yet, A6 should mean ONLY un-roped micro-flake hooking with no back-clipping. The goal here is GENUINE "if you fall you die," so, since A5 just isn't getting the job done, A6 should be reserved for: "If you fall you really, really, really die! I mean, no, REALLY!"

My point is that aid ratings are already extremely contrived (as the Bird noted with his simple, three-rating system), and people (who are skilled enough to be doing such pitches) simply don't take the sort of falls that the rating would indicate are possible. "A6" is just more of the same--hype. It's just taking an already contrived system and pushing the contrived elements a little further.

ANY "hard" route can be upped to A6, as I've just described. So, "get TO it!"


microbarn


Jul 28, 2006, 8:51 AM
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Thanks for the great post!


grayhghost


Jul 28, 2006, 9:03 AM
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One of the baddest of the bad-ass aid masters calls hard aid climbing a contrived ego trip.







cool!


jrzacher


Jul 28, 2006, 9:07 AM
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I think that you brought up several excellent points. The fact that you have first hand experience with the supposed A6 route helps tremendously. Thank you for posting! What you say makes sense, but just like the blurry properties of the Aid scale, all climbing scales seem to have their blurry areas especially when supposed ego, or a drive to prove something comes into play. But Alas we are only human and such things of objectivity cannot exist.
Based on what you said about the seeming copious amounts of bolts (for it being A6), the description on Desert Rock is misleading at best. The fishers are a mysterious and great place with many routes to scare the piss out of you at any level. A quick question, would you deem that Intifada is the hardest route in the fishers since it was downgraded to A4+? Or is there some other, more obscure route that I haven't seen. Also, Did you do any retro bolt or anything of the sort on your second ascent?
Once again thanks for the first hand post.
Jesse.


pindrvr75


Jul 28, 2006, 9:35 AM
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Is it not correct to say that an A5 rating would be appropriate for a route that has no drilling or chipping etc. other than the belay anchors and all the placements are body weight only and are not likely to hold a fall?
The A6 rating is presuming that the belay anchors are now similar to the path. Cannot this rating be legitimate if the FA adheres to the above ethic and uses a bit of creativity in constructing his/her anchors of multiple questionable pieces. The whole discussion over this rating does not have to be preoccupied with death. It should be concerned with proposing adjusting ratings to reflect skill levels.


madbolter1


Jul 28, 2006, 9:39 AM
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Interesting discussion indeed.

To grayhghost: No, I didn't say that hard aid CLIMBING is a contrived ego-trip. What I said is that hard aid RATINGS are a contrived ego-trip. I can understand the conflation here, but I really intend to keep them separate. I have looked deep inside myself on hard aid CLIMBING, which is its value for me. But I have found almost NO correlation between ratings and difficulty (as I have perceived it). What I have found is that as the hype of a route goes up (along with it's supposed way-hard rating), it is more and more likely that I will have doubts about its actual difficulty.

To jrzacher: We didn't "retro-bolt" or add any holes or modifications to Intifada. In fact, we were able to (easily) bypass existing holes and modifications on the route. It just wasn't a very hard route. That said, Cottontail Tower is a vertical beach, with the whole thing slowly melting before your very eyes. So, I would say that on such "rock" there is lots to be scared of besides the actual placements (as you rightly seem to suggest)! The only Fisher route we have done is Intifada, so I'm not qualified to speak to how hard other routes in the area are. But that discussion seems to be an aside anyway. The point I was trying to make is that hard ratings are often more distorted than simply "blurred lines."

Consider, as a first-hand example, recent developments on El Cap. PTPP has done 30 El Cap routes, including all the standard-fare "hard" routes, like Jolly Roger, Reticent Wall, and so forth. Yet (and I post this at his encouragement, not to bash on him), he "failed miserably" trying the SA of WoS, unable to even BEGIN to lead the first pitch. Ammon has already taken "multiple" 50+ foot falls on the Bogus (easier) second pitch. Yet, WoS was DOWNGRADED sight-unseen (unprecedented) in the original Meyer's guide, and that downgraded A4 rating has stuck with WoS ever since. Hmmm... so let me get this straight. After Reticent Wall, etc., these hard men (and I say that in all seriousness) are finding the "A4" WoS to be actually "hard"??? And I have repeatedly found the corrolary to be the case also: things rated "hard" were not that hard.

I am really NOT trying to turn this thread into a WoS thread. My point is that perceived difficulty and ratings come so wildly apart in aid climbing that ratings are virtually useless. I MEAN that, even though it sounds hyperbolic. I have found A5 rated pitches to feel A3 to me, and I have been damned scared on A3 pitches. If you are risking breaking both legs from a funky 30-foot fall on A3, what's the difference from A4+ just because you're not breaking them from a 50-foot fall? Contrived, I tell you, contrived.

I will grant that after long consensus a route can begin to "settle in" to a particular difficulty range. But how fine-grained can that range be? Also, aid climbs are by their nature always in flux (much more so than most free climbs), and so, again, the ratings are wide open spaces.

Bottom line is that I just don't see the practical application of A6. The Bird's rating system seems about right to me: No Big Deal, Real Heads Up, and Pretty Darn Hard. Beyond that, I highly suspect that some serious (and unwarranted) ego-games are in play.


Partner euroford


Jul 28, 2006, 11:47 AM
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wow, this thread actually turned out to be awsome.


Partner pt


Jul 28, 2006, 12:18 PM
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In reply to:
In reply to:

A6 is what his ego invented, a non ego driven climber would have bolted or found some way to construct a solid belay and given the pitches A5 ratings. In such a case i actually believe the 2nd ascent party is fully justified to retro bolt the belays and downgrade.

Neato.

I'm going to go ahead and give that an award for being the second stupidest thing I've ever read in this particular forum.

But do keep spraying away, I'm sure that with a bit more effort you can claw your way into first place.

Euroford is exactly right; I'm not sure why you think this is such a stupid statement? The posts by Madbolter would seem to support Eurofords point of view.


madbolter1


Jul 28, 2006, 1:00 PM
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Well... I think I agree (assuming I understand him correctly), except for the retro-bolt part. I do think that in general drilled placements (or the lack thereof) should be left like the FA as much as possible. For example, it has been a sad thing to see the RURP belay on the Sea get "retro-bolted" by parties who couldn't construct a decent anchor out of what marginal placements were there to be had.

There are a million exceptions (like flakes pulling off, blown rivets, etc.), but in general I'm somewhat of a purist regarding the state of the FA.


Partner euroford


Jul 28, 2006, 1:58 PM
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I know that's a touchy subject, and generally speaking I'm a purist as well (i have, for the record, never touched a drill to an established route). But i think, theoretical speaking, if an ego drivin FAist purposefully didn't properly equip belays for the sole reason of creating an excessively dangerous route i would hold no ill will towards the 2nd ascent party for adding a well thought out bolt.

i firmly believe in the big wall environment the FA party should consider it part of their responsibility to equip belays as necessary to handle the rigors of big wall use.

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