Jeff Ward
Submitted by Jeff Ward on

Part 1

We are excited to have Donni Reddington blog about her experience learning to aid climb with NCMG and her fiancé Corbin Massey. Donni is a Mazama local and avid skier, climber, photographer and adventurer. You can check out her photography here: Donni Reddington Photography. Enjoy the post:

I’ve been a recreational climber for about 20 years now and enjoy other outdoor activities as well as climbing. That being said, I will never be a 5.12 climber which is why aid climbing has appealed to me. I am perfectly content with the 5.10’s. But to have the power to move over rock that once seemed untouchable using a new, yet….. old skill, made me excited and ready for the challenge. Why not? Learning can be fun as a grown up, especially when NCMG guide Larry Goldie is involved. 

Why would I want to learn how to aid climb? As a photographer, aid climbing could help establish new angles to shoot from, giving a different perspective one can’t obtain from the ground. Also, my fiancé & I have had a goal to climb Liberty Crack. It is a classic beautiful line in our backyard playground that we look up at every time we drive by. We figured it would be a fun goal to accomplish together. 

Jen at NCMG was extremely helpful in organizing this class. Through great communication with Larry and Jen, Corbin and I were able to customize our clinic with our personal goals for this endeavor. What we decided to do was a two day course. First day would be learning the basics. And the second day we would be setting the ropes with Larry on the first 3 pitches of Liberty Crack. 

On Monday May 23th, we met Larry at 8:00am at the NCMG office and discussed the plan for the day. We had just the essential aid gear to use for the day….. a set of ascenders, aiders aka etriers, fifi hook, full trad rack, hooks, daisy chains, and a pair of comfortable shoes with sticky rubber.  What we forgot were our “rollies” but Larry said we only needed those for the big walls. After reviewing the outline for the day, we headed to the Matrix, a newly developed climbing crag in Mazama. Once there, Larry decided to teach us the skeleton basics of aid climbing. He first put up a top rope and then demonstrated how to place gear to hold your weight appropriately and use existing bolts. Once each piece was properly secured, we then attached our aider and performed a weight test. Some say aid climbing can be done by anybody, even overweight  people, but I tell you, I would not want to bear weight on a tiny little nut or a hook if my BMI was over 10%! As the day continued, Larry added steps every time we progressed. By the end of the day, we were safely and securely leading on top rope with our daisy’s, aiders, and jugging our way up with our ascenders & cleaning our route.  At times, I was a bit overwhelmed and as a tactile learner, I would just take photos of how Larry had the gear set up for visualization and physically repeat the process to sink it into my brain on top rope. Our day was packed with learning from 8:00am to 5:30pm. Corbin and I both walked away  with our heads full, absorbing all the newly acquired skills from Day I Aid Climbing 101. 

As with many of the guides at NCMG, I’m continuously impressed with Larry’s teaching skills. He methodically presents the information, is very knowledgeable & patient. Overall, Corbin and I would rate our day 1 Aid Climbing 101 a success. Stay tuned for Day II, Liberty Crack……coming in July.