Hands-on Gear Review

Yates Speed Wall Ladder Review

Yates Speed Wall Ladder
By: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief  ⋅  Nov 24, 2009
Price:  $50 List
Pros:  comfortable, intuitive to use, durable
Cons:  heavy, bulky
Manufacturer:   Yates

#2 of 9
  • Comfort - 35% 9
  • Ease of Walking up - 35% 9
  • Ease of free Climbing - 10% 6
  • Top stepping - 10% 9
  • Durability - 10% 9
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Top Pick Award

Our Verdict

The Yates Speedwall Ladder is a lighter and thinner version of the our Editors' Choice winner, the Yates Big Wall Ladder. The steps are 1" wide compared to the Big Wall Ladder's 1.75" steps. That means this aider is not as comfortable to stand in for hours but is lighter when clipped to the side of your harness. While the Big Wall Ladder comes in a 6-step and a 7-step length, the Speed Wall Ladder only comes in a 6-step length (67"). This is the aider Ammon McNeely uses to set El Cap speed records.

Overall we prefer the Yates Big Wall Ladder to Speed Wall Ladder because it is more comfortable and is only a little heavier. But it's personal preference. McNeely prefers the Speed Wall because he likes a lighter aider. Chris Mac prefers to take a heavy, comfortable aider for the aid-intensive walls and a light aider like the Petzl Wall Step Etrier for free-intensive walls. But if you only want one aider that is versatile, it is hard to go wrong with the Speed Wall Ladder. It's comfy, durable, and not too clunky when free climbing. Another ladder to consider is the Metolius 8-Step Ladder Aider, which is even lighter but lacks a spreader bar.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results



The Speed Wall has the same great spreader bar as the Yates Big Wall Ladder. This sturdy plastic pipe keeps all the steps more open and eases the pressure on the sides of your foot.

The steps are relatively close together which allows you to rest on two feet (one foot in a lower rung). This is a good position to search for gear and organize. Then, when its time to place the next piece, you move onto just the top foot for maximum reach.


These aiders are heavy and bulky. They also get caught in cracks. They are not ideal for a free intensive wall like The Nose. Yes, they are lighter than the Big Wall Ladder, but not by that much.

Best Application

These are ideal for more aid-intensive walls like Zodiac if you don't want the bulk of the Yates Big Wall Ladder.


This aider is a pretty good deal only a little more expensive than the Metolius Aider and Aid Ladder.

Chris McNamara

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews

Most recent review: November 27, 2009
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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Average Customer Rating:  
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100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 50%  (1)
4 star: 50%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Ian Nicholson after a long day near Washington Pass.

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   Nov 27, 2009 - 04:03pm
Ian Nicholson · Review Editor
While The Yates Speed wall aider is bulkier and heavier than a traditional Alpine aider it will save a lot of time and energy if you are going to have to do a lot of aiding. I've used this while climbing New routes in the Waddington and the Alaska Range. The spreader bar helps you easily slip your foot into the step without having to fight the straps. The Spreader bar is also a convenient thing to grab onto to help you rock up into your higher steps faster. If I am climbing a longer route with more the 1 pitch of aid with weight and bulk being a concern I always reach for these. For El Cap routes (That I am spending more than a day on) I like Yates Big Wall ladder a little better just for the plush factor.
Also a few people dis on the elastic straps under the lower steps. But I like jugging with these on my feet as long as the pitch I am cleaning doesn't traverse much.
Ian Nicholson climbing on the 7th pitch of the First Ascent of "Life in the Fast Lane"  Bicuspid Tower  Waddington Range  BC. Photo: Ryan O'Connell
Ian Nicholson climbing on the 7th pitch of the First Ascent of "Life in the Fast Lane", Bicuspid Tower, Waddington Range, BC. Photo: Ryan O'Connell

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

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