By Russ Walling
Here's how I understand it......present day ratings for routes done in the last 10 years.
A0 - Full on bomber and easy to find. Fall potential no more than 20-30 feet. Ex: Nose, Salathe, Leaning Tower, South Face of the Column. etc.
A1 - Easy to find and easy to place. A basic no brainer, but if you do many dumb things in a row, you will go up to 40 feet. Ex: Lurking Fear (A1+), Prow, Muir (A1+)
A2 - Here is where it starts. Placements could be hard to find and or awkward to place. Fall potential of up to 60 feet or more. Ex: Shield, Mescalito (A2+), Aquarian, Tangerine Trip, Horse Chute (A2+)
A3 - Big whippers hiding out here. Many tricks are used and everything is suspect. Rock is usually loose and bad landings may appear. Fall potential of up to 100 feet, and possible dismemberment, but not death due to hitting things. Ex: NA Wall (A3-) Iron Hawk (A3+), P.O. Wall, Zenyatta (A3+)
A4 - Bombs away. All known tricks are used including exhaling to make yourself lighter. This is where lids pop off and sane humans never venture. Fall potential: 150-200 feet with a bad landing almost assured. Wear a helmet for the open casket hoe-down. Ex: Native Son. GulfStream (A4+), Born Under a Bad Sign, Surgeon General, South Seas (A4-), Space.
A5 - Lights out. Count on multi-hour leads with about 6-10 being the norm. Nobody falls here because you only get one. No rookies allowed. Every piece is shitty, all the rock is bad, and you always hit things. Fall potential: Pull the pitch. Ex: Scorched Earth?, Sheep Ranch (A5-), Get Whacked, Plastic Surgery Disaster.
Of course all of the above are subjective blah blah...... Most of the
examples are either confirmed by someone here at FP or by the FA party.
This is real and scary. Enjoy!
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