RG and GO -- Thanks for the thoughtful comments.
There was one clear advantage or aspect of aiding over "ground school", I hadn't really thought about and was most struck by , that you both touched upon.
Well, to start with, aiding makes you use what's left on the rack. It forces you to hone your eye and see what you might have overlooked. GO
But aiding a crack is more concentrated and may force you to adapt to situations you'd just walk past on the ground. RG
I suppose one could discipline one's self and be very methodical in your "ground school" approach but it certainly would be hard to simulate being 2/3rds of the way up a pitch, low on gear, and faced with placement opportunities that may not be the most straightforward. Good points guys!
Second, it makes you think about the forces on your gear from different angles. When you top-step, will that nut get pulled out? (RG knows what I'm talking about!) Can that tricam take a force from the side? GO
I believe you can achieve similar results in sling testing in "ground school".
A trad climber ought to be able to aid their way up or down out of trouble without taking all day or using up all their energy; RG
This is the main reason I perserve with my aiding.
So ground school might be as productive as aid climbing from the placement perspective, but it certainly isn't more productive and might be less. RG
I was thinking primarily from the point of view of the opportunity for greater "pieces placed & tested per hour" when I was referring to "productive".
Sixth, the motivation to get it right, with all that air blowing up your ass, and nothing but the piece holding you up! GO
Motivation is right. Having a small cam in a flare pop during sling testing in "ground school" makes much less of an impression than having it pop on lead aiding. Definitely sharpens the focus!
No way. On muddy, icy, snowy, or wet rock, you're waaaay safer aiding than free climbing. GO
GO what I meant was to compare clean, dry, warm free climbing with cold, wet, dirty aid climbing (which is usually the conditions I aid in, otherwise I am free climbing).
Placing gear and having an experienced person visually "evaluate" it is a very distant second.
Once again a bit off the original thread, and with the disclaimer that I am a self-taught and not terribly skillful aider, do you guys place gear differently aiding then free climbing? I find myself often reaching high and making placements that are difficult to adequately, or impossible to, visually inspect. Sometimes doing it by entirely by feel. I rely on bounce testing to ensure the "goodness" of the placement before fully committing to the aider attached to the piece. My motivation is, I guess in hind sight, is to maximize my progress up the pitch. This is very different from when I free climb. Then I very consciously attempt to place gear at chest or waist level to ensure a very good look at the placement. For point of reference, since both of you lead at significantly higher level than me, I am currently leading 5.8's at the Gunks and looking to start rountinely doing 5.9's this season.