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New Wave Aid Climbing
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Nov 5, 2002, 5:10 AM
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Registered: Sep 13, 2000
Posts: 1248

New Wave Aid Climbing
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Ok, I have read a few of Dr. Piton's articles about aid climbing and New Wave Aid Climbing, but I still dont really understand why people started grading this way, and how this way is different then the old way of grading. The only thing I really do understand is that New Wave has a higher death factor. Could someone enlighten me on this subject?


Nov 5, 2002, 3:06 PM
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Registered: Dec 29, 2001
Posts: 728

New Wave Aid Climbing [In reply to]
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No one understands it. It is open to alot of opinion. You could get hurt on A1 though. My A1 NW has a 15 foot groundfall if you goof up. Read the Disorderly Conduct trip report(on tuans site)it is a good story and that route sounds pretty dang hard. None of those pitches have ratings but the route is A3+.


Nov 5, 2002, 4:57 PM
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Registered: Oct 10, 2001
Posts: 2183

New Wave Aid Climbing [In reply to]
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First of all, if anyone understands this New Wave stuff, please explain it to me, cuz *I* don't "get it"!

I believe the rating system may have its origins in the sandbag.

For instance, back in the days when I used to free climb ..... {Dr. Piton hitches up his pants and assumes Dr. Piton voice} ..... and when I made lots of First Ascents here in Ontario, I would always undergrade my climb. The first edition of the the guidebook would have the route at say 5.9+, the next edition would have it at a 10a, and after a few years it would settle out at 10b, which is where it probably belonged in the first place.

Be careful if you are climbing some of my routes - they require balls, and plastic warriors need not apply.

My reasoning for my undergrading is simple:

Were I to overgrade the climb, then future ascensionists would think, "what a pussy that Zabrok was! This is never 5.10!" If you go to Lion's Head, you will find all sorts of overgraded sport climbs. Draw your own conclusions. [P.S. When at Lion's Head, try the trad routes that say Zabrok under the f.a.....heh heh]

But since we always consistently tried to undergrade climbs, we hoped people would think, "holy frig! If Zabrok thought this was only 5.8+, he must be pretty bad ass! This is a 10 for sure!"

None of my climbs are intentional sandbags - you know what to expect when you get on them. Nobody is going to "get hurt" because they're a bit undergraded, and besides, after this many years, the guide book editors have changed them to a more reasonable consensus.

It is my belief that New Wave Aid Ratings evolved as a way for aid climbers to make themselves appear to be bad ass, or at least to be badder-assed than they already were.

Extending the logic in the paragraphs above to Disorderly Conduct, future ascensionists might think, "Man, that Warren Hollinger must be bad ass if he said this is only A2+!"

[The trip report linked in the paragraph above is highly recommended by Dr. Piton.]

This new wave grading was carried to the extreme when Rick Lovelace soloed the first ascent of The Shortest Straw, a route I soloed this spring, and which I found to still NTB+/PDH-, with definite DFU sections. When Rick graded the climb, he called it A1+ because "it's all A1 til you fall!"

There is some merit in that logic.

So in the Reid guidebook, which is still "current", Trade Routes like Mescalito have an A4 rating [it used to be old A4, but so many ascents have brought it down to perhaps A2] while the Straw carried the comparatively modest grade of A3+! Yet those in the know knew that the Straw was hard!

You can click here to read Dr. Piton's best attempt to explain aid ratings, but expect more questions than answers!

I maintain that Jim Bridwell's Casual Rating System, which you can read in the link above, is the Better Way to grade aid climbs, and these are the annotations you will find on MY topos.

I am Dr. Piton,

and I don't get it

[at least when it comes to aid ratings...]

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