Big Wall &
Aid Climbing Techniques


In the time when most peaks were unexplored, climbers relied heavily on aid climbing, a series of techniques using specialized gear to ascend rock faces too difficult to free climb using hands and feet alone. Many of the world's most famous routes, including 15 of Steck and Roper's 50 Classic Climbs, require the use of these techiques. While the process of aid climbing is simple, moving with the efficiency required to ascend a big wall requires mastery of multiple simple skills. In this course, we'll cover these techniques and provide students with guidance on continuing their education to accomplish their goals.

Knowledge of aid climbing provides another tool in the climber's toolkit. It can help you pull through the hardest moves on your climbing project, and it can take you to the top of America's most sheer cliffs. With competence in the skills covered in this course, combined with moderate free climbing ability, you can set your sights on routes rated up to C2, including Yosemite's Half Dome and El Capitan or Zion's Moonlight Buttress.


Course curriculum will focus around the following macro topics:

  • Moving quickly in aid ladders
  • Selecting and placing gear to move quickly
  • Managing risks while on lead
  • Use of hooks and cam hooks
  • Multiple techniques for ascending a rope
  • Big wall anchors and hauling techniques

All skills involving ascending will be practiced on top-rope.



WHEN: March through November. Aid climbing can occur in mildly inclement weather.

COURSE LENGTH: The course can be run as 1 or 2 days, or better yet, 2 non-sequential days with self-directed practice in between.

PREREQUISITES: Strong command of traditional anchors and traditional lead climbing skills. Students should be able to efficiently and comfortably lead Devil's Lake routes rated 5.5.

BRING YOUR OWN: Food, water, clothing and footwear appropriate for weather, camera, sunscreen. Climbers with their own equipment may bring as much as they would like to use. We can supply all climbing equipment if you do not have your own.

GROUP SIZE: 1 to 2. Larger groups possible by custom request.