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.

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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


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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!

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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".

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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.

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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".

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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!

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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).

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Placing gear and having an experienced person visually "evaluate" it is a very distant second.
I agree.

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.