A Few Words on Ratings and Grades - Aid Climbing

The good news about aid climbing rating scales is that the whole world uses a single scale that goes from A1 to A5. The bad news is that there are many interpretations of that scale. It will all depend on where and when that first ascent was made.

For most purposes, the following - general - aid rating scale will do:

In Europe, where most aid climbs were made long ago, this scale may be adjusted downward. Put simply, A3 placements are difficult, but will hold a short fall. A4 will involve some body weight placements, but not necessarily many in a row. And A5 is just unheard of. In Europe, A0 is used to indicate that fixed (and solid) pro is in place.

In the USA, modern equipment and the unrelentless drive to climb ever bigger and more difficult Big Walls, has pushed aid climbing to limits that were unimaginable a few decades ago. This has also changed the interpretation of the rating scales. This is how John Long and John Middendorf interpret the modern aid climbing ratings it in their 'Big Wall' book:

Back to the main page