23. Route Considerations

How do you start out your big wall or aid climbing career? In this video, we discuss how to ease into the sport of Aid Climbing.

When starting out aid climbing, we recommend you take it slow, unless you have a great mentor who is willing to do everything needed if things get dicey and you get scared or nervous. This is a very real possibility for even the boldest climbers, as there are a lot of new things going on when you step out onto a big wall.

Below are a few considerations for route selection when starting out:

1. Choose a wall that is perhaps C1 or C2 (or A1 or A2) in rating. C-rated climbs typically go “Clean” with just cams and stoppers. If attempting an A-rated route, make sure you’ve practiced placing pitons.

2. Choose a route that does not have a lot of logistical issues like pendulums, or slabby hauls.

3. Stay away from popular climbs, in order to get the full vertical wilderness camping experience.

4. Choose a route that goes mostly “clean”, so you don’t have to worry about advanced aid trickery (look for C1 or C2 instead of A1 or A2).

The climbing is generally the easy part. It is all the other stuff that people forget about, such as getting all your gear to the base, packing your haul bag appropriately, and figuring out how to stay organized so you don’t waste hours at a belay before being ready to lead the next pitch. Your route might be rated 5.9, C1, seemingly on the easier side, but rarely does that tell the whole story…

Grade V routes are climbs where you generally spend only one night on the wall, giving you two days of climbing on the route itself. This length of big wall is an important consideration for you introduction to wall climbing. It will help you figure out if you like this type of climbing, without too much commitment.  

If it all goes smoothly, and you are still psyched, you’ll have learned a ton and will be more prepared for even more challenging endeavors the next time. Progression is key.

Please be sure to watch all our videos on Aid Climbing & Big Walls, and seek out mentorship and/or instruction from experienced guides or climbers.

We hope you found this video helpful. Feel free to comment below with questions or thoughts!


Please remember, climbing is inherently dangerous. Climb at your own risk.