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Yates Big Wall Ladder Review

   
Editors' Choice Award

Aiders / Etriers

  • Currently 4.5/5
Overall avg rating 4.5 of 5 based on 4 reviews. Most recent review: November 3, 2012
Street Price:   $45 (6 step) $50 (7 step)
Pros:  Comfortable, intuitive to use, durable
Cons:  Heavy, bulky
Best Uses:  Aid climbing on multi-day big walls
User Rating:     
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 (4.0 of 5) based on 3 reviews
Recommendations:  100% of reviewers (3/3) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Yates
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ February 17, 2010  
Overview
The Yates Big Wall Ladder stands out for its ease of use and comfort when standing in it for hours at a time. This is our top choice for aid-intensive big walls. It is a beefy aider, which means you get durability and comfort at the expense of weight this is one of the heavier aiders out there. In most cases the tradeoff for the extra weight is well worth it. This is a review of the 6 Step size. There is also a 7 Step size that is recommended for people over 6 feet or who are doing harder aid.

Overall, this is our favorite aider for most big wall applications and gets the OutdoorGearLab Editors' Choice Award. It is only on mainly free routes such as The Nose or Regular Route on Half Dome where we would use a lighter aider such as the Petzl Wall Step Etrier. Another highly rated webbing ladder is the Metolius 8 Step Ladder Aider.

See How this compared to the other aiders and etriers that we tested in our complete Aider Review.

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Likes
It's all about the steps: beefy 1" webbing is covered with beefy 1.75" webbing to create the most comfortable steps out there. The beefy plastic spreader bar up top does two things: 1) It keeps the steps open so you can get your foot in and 2) keeps the aider from squeezing the sides of your foot. The steps are relatively close together so that you can rest with two feet in the aider when selecting gear. Then when you reach up to place a piece you stand just on your one top foot. This is important, especially for people who are moving from using four aiders to just two. The construction is bomber. Chris Mac says he has put more than 15 big wall ascents in his and has yet to wear a pair out.

One extra feature is the elastic strap under a few of the steps that keeps your foot from coming out of the aider. Some people, especially beginners, might appreciate this. However, we don't use this feature because it takes more time and makes it annoying when you want to quickly step out of the aiders while cleaning. Most importantly, over time you will get good enough at ascending that your feet won't come out of the aiders.

When Chris Mac teaches aid climbing, he finds that most people have a much easier time with this aider because of the intuitive ladder style design and generously sized steps. He now only teaches with ladder style aiders.

Dislikes
The downside to this aider is the weight and bulk that are the tradeoff for the aider being so comfortable and durable. For a free climbing-intensive aid wall such as The Nose, this aider is bulky and heavy when clipped to the side of your harness while making free moves. Also, it is more likely to get stuck in cracks. If you are cleaning with these aiders, you can definitely feel that they are heavier, especially when pushing up the top ascender. However, at the belay you will be happy to stand around in such comfy steps.

Best Application
Chris Mac recommends this aider when teaching people to aid climb or when he is doing more aid-intensive big walls (as opposed to walls that have a lot of free climbing such as El Capitan's Nose). He has used the 6 step length but very tall people or people doing really hard aid might consider the 7 step length. Chris has considered chopping off a step to make a 5 step aider for more free intensive routes like The Nose where normally he would use a standard Etrier style.

Personal Stories
Chris says, "I have used these a lot after Ammon McNeely showed them to me then gave me a pair (thanks Ammon!). Up until that point, I was a diehard user of the standard aider style or "etrier" style. But after using these for one wall I was a convert to the Yates Big Wall Ladder. I have used them for every aid-instensive big wall I have done in the last five years."

Value
This aider is $10-15 more than most other aiders except for the Petzl. We think the price premium is worth it, but if you are on a strict budget or are not going to do many walls, you might consider a less expensive aider Such as the Metolius 5 Step Aider or Fish Smart Aider.

Chris McNamara

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: November 3, 2012
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (4.0)

100% of 3 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
4 Total Ratings
5 star: 25%  (1)
4 star: 75%  (3)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 3 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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   Nov 3, 2012 - 09:48am
great aiders. i hate when i have to use aiders without a spreader bar, it slows you down and it's annoying on sketchy placements. the spreader bar is a great plus.
only minus: the spreader bar turns, which sucks when you pull up on it and when you stand on it when trying to get higher up on low angled aid.. why is it not fixed?

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Nov 27, 2009 - 09:45pm
White Lightning · Climber · Seattle, WA
Agreeed that the spreader bar is handy for not only keeping the steps open but also nice to pull up on. It's a feature well worth the bulk and extra weight.
I've also used the elastic strap to keep my feet in place while cleaning…but I'm not a fan because you're locked into that step and your feet can easily slip out. THE way to go for cleaning is with out a doubt the Yates Speed Stir Up. I've jugged miles in these things and love them. The non-slip adjustability and lock down foot strap equal speed and effeciency. They're also super comfy to stand in during long hanging belays.
Bring a set of Wall Ladders for the leader and the Speed Stir Ups for the second…
http://www.yatesgear.com/climbing/etriers/index.htm#4

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Nov 27, 2009 - 12:45pm
Ian Nicholson · Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab
I've used the Yates Big Wall ladders for more than a dozen wall routes and have been very happy with them. Some people say the elastic underneath the steps was useless. I on the contrary found it very nice while cleaning, keeping my feet from coming out of the steps, saving both time and energy. I once stood in them as I replaced seven 3" x 3/8" inch bolts by hand in a single day on lead on an overhanging wall. Everything hurt except my feet. They are a little heavy but well worth the weight for El cap routes or harder aid routes where you will be logging a lot of time in them.
The spreader bars that Yates uses on both there aiders are great. At first they might seem like they add unnecessary weight but once you use them you'll have a hard time ever going back to anything else. They keep the steps open so you don't have to fiddle with your feet trying to open the step to get into it as well as adding the perfect thing to grab onto to help you quickly rock up into your upper steps.
Click to enlarge
Ryan O'Connell Jugging 6 pitches up a failed attempt to climb a new route on the West face of Riesnstien Spire, Kichatnas, AK. Photo: Ian Nicholson
Credit: Ian Nicholson


Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Yates Big Wall Ladder Aider
Credit: Yatesgear.com
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