Hanna Alexandronets together with one of the co-authors – Evgeny Dmitrienko – recently presented their book “Aid Climbing. Practical guide to the use of artificial aids” in the Sport-Marafon Travellers Club. As a result of the presentation, Hanna has written several recommendations for the lady, who are just going to make the first vertical steps in the absence of natural holds. Read more recommendations in the book. You can already buy it in “Sport-Marafon”!
By Hanna Aleksandronets
Aid climbing (artificial aids) is one of the mountaineering techniques. Somebody would call it locksmith climbing; somebody would say that Aid Climbing is a fraud. I would point out that which way to make the route to choose – is your business! The main thing is safety and pleasure of climbing.
Aid climbing is about juggling the route with hammers, various hooks, nuts, friends, and this list of “iron” is endless! But, despite its apparent complexity, artificial climbing has a clear algorithm. If you can’t climb for any reason (tired, got into bad weather, lack of ability to climb through the terrain) – study the rock and get the necessary aid equipment. The trick is to quickly estimate the terrain and find where to place your gear – it will come with experience.
After the installation of the artifficional point, you should carefully transfer your weight to this point (hang on the cliff/self-protection/daisy chain or stand on the stairs). If the gear placed well, you can remove the previous one or use it as an intermediate belaying point. The next step is to stand as high as possible above the aid point, and for this you will have to climb to the last step of the ladder. Once again, study the terrain and decide whether to set the next point or change to free climbing.
Aid climbing technique is a very interesting science, which is taught at several courses at once (for example, in “Aid Climbing School at Stolby”; in Crimea by Mikhail Sitnik, Sergey Sumberg or Evgeny Dmitrienko).
It seems, that all these swings and hammers to the hooks, the ringing of the ladder at height, an incredible variety of equipment that can be placed into the rock, not a women’s business. But me, for example, is a real adherent of Iaid climbing and I am completely delighted with all these “iron” devices! I love to knock the hammer on the anchors, sometimes representing in its place the head of my former boyfriend.
In fact, there are advantages for girls who do or want to learn artificial climbing technics. We tend to find it easier to balance and stand on the stairs. And if there’s a problem with that, you can do a slackline or walk the tram tracks at night. That will give you +100 to balance.
Probably the most popular aid gear is the hook. And you have to be able to drive it into a crack quickly. We, ladies, might have a problem here. I don’t have the strength to hammer the hook quickly. Not only that, Evgeniy Dmitrienko usually smiles, when I’m only on the tenth try to hit the spot. Although this trouble is solved! All you have to do is arm yourself with a kilo of the biggest nails and go to your grandmother’s house in the village. And there you have to drive those nails into the logs. It’ll be cool if you fix something for your Grandma. Once I helped my friend and her husband to build a hut.
Aid climber looks like a Christmas tree as soon as he puts on himself all the equipment he can use on the route. It may be difficult for some girls to carry so much stuff, but there is a solution. It is necessary to learn how to pick up the equipment, not to take extra, to use it sparingly on the route and assess the situation. This skill You can get only with experience: so go to the rocks!
A few more tips for the Aid climber girls. Hold long braids, hide your hair under a buff or hat. Sometimes the strands can get tangled up in gear and cause a lot of pain. Everybody’s heard the stories of hair stuck in a zumar or a trigger… That’s no exception. Either hold your head in the wind so that your hair flutters in the opposite direction to the wall! Too hard? I know. That’s why – the hat!
Stock up, ladies, with a fatty layer if you’re going to do it in winter. This is no joke! I’m always writing off my overweight to my plans to go to Ala-Archa in February, and I’ll need it to warm me up and feed me on winter active days!
In any case, even if you are going to climb 6Б route free climbing, I still advise you to get acquainted with the aid techniques. This helps you to develops mindthinking, helps to get out of unpleasant situations on the route; and aid climbing is just a great way to meditate on an almost bare wall.