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Advice: Cheap climbing schools that teach multipitch trad
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By CalStaben
From Lexington, KY
Feb 23, 2012

My parents have a deep, visceral fear of me beginning to do multipitch routes. I've primarily been a sport climber (up to 5.11) and I'm looking to get into multipitch trad. What is a cheap climbing school? If anyone has experience with this, it'd be a great help! Also, first post on here, so please don't tear me apart if this has been answered before or is the wrong place.

Thanks,
Cal


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By Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Feb 23, 2012
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Peak.

How old are you and where do you live, Cal?


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By FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Feb 23, 2012

CalStaben wrote:
My parents have a deep, visceral fear of me beginning to do multipitch routes. I've primarily been a sport climber (up to 5.11) and I'm looking to get into multipitch trad. What is a cheap climbing school? If anyone has experience with this, it'd be a great help! Also, first post on here, so please don't tear me apart if this has been answered before or is the wrong place. Thanks, Cal


Cal, since your profile doesn't identify where you are from, I'll just throw this out there:


www.ncmountainguides.com/alpinerock.asp

Great company, knowledgeable and friendly guides.

Not necessarily the cheapest, but one of the best. Sign up for two or three days of private instruction, instead of taking a group class (private instruction is even more expensive, but worth it).


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By JohnnyG
Feb 23, 2012

Cal - I think you are on the right track to spend a little money to get solid, unquestionable advice from a trained guide. I did when I started out doing multipitch, and it helped immeasurably.
-John


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By Scott Krankkala
Feb 23, 2012
Climbing Trail Creek

Cal,

FYI if you are in the west Crested Butte Mountain Guides has customizable lead climbing and multi-pitch courses. We have a great learning environment for multi-pitch traditional climbing from Taylor Canyon to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and provide students an excellent foundation in diverse climbing areas.
crestedbutteguides.com/page.cfm?pageid=8891


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By smassey
From CO
Feb 23, 2012

If you're an unemployed dirtbag, then professional instruction can seem expensive. If you're taking the long view that forming good, solid habits early, and getting safe, quality instruction is worth some coin, then taking a class (private or group) with a reputable guide service is the way to go. Again, where you are dictates who is a good local provider. In the PNW, Jtree, or Vegas areas, the American Alpine Institute provides a Learn to Trad Lead class, which covers the fundamentals of efficient multipitching. www.aai.cc/ProgramDetail/lead/ They also do custom courses of any length. Also in the Vegas area are Jackson Hole Mtn Guides and Mtn Skills, two reputable outfits who employ some friendly, talented, and knowledgeable guides.
A few things to look for while researching a guide service are: AMGA accreditation - not the end-all, but lets you know that your guide/instructor has been trained to at least a minimum standard set by the American Mountain Guides Association. Also look to see if the service is permitted to work in that area. Any commercial use of public lands in the US requires a Commercial Use permit of some form. Hope that helps.


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By agd
Feb 23, 2012
alaska

When you say "multipitch trad" what exactly are you hoping to learn? Anchor building? Rope management?

My guess if you are purely a sport climber is that you do not have much (if any) experience in building an anchor with pro. Learning to do that is much more important than any "multipitch trad" course, because it is the foundation for essentially all trad climbing.

Further, most reputable guide companies teach anchor building on the ground so that the guide can come check out and critique the anchor and give you direct feedback on how to improve the placements -- I can't imagine such a learning experience when you are halfway up a wall with limited placement opportunities.

So, in short, I would recommend an "anchor building" class, rather than a "multipitch trad" class. If you can do that, then the multipitch will naturally follow. Please don't underestimate the importance of knowing how to place gear well.


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By CalStaben
From Lexington, KY
Feb 23, 2012

I'm hoping to learn rope management and anchor building, that sort of thing. Things that I really haven't encountered with sport climbing. I'm located in Kentucky and I've done my climbing nearly entirely at Red River Gorge. That being said, I've done trad there up to 5.10, but all with bolted anchors at the top and single pitches.

I'm a college student, so I'll be unable to rent a car to get to any place after I fly in (and driving cross country for spring break is not really an option). So ideally there are things that are either reachable easily from a major city or one with air service or within driving distance of Kentucky.

Thanks for all the responses! I'll work on filling out my profile a bit more for future reference!

Cal


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By Nick Sullens
From Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Feb 23, 2012

Get a hold of a copy of Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills, read it, then go practice building anchors until you feel reasonably safe, then go do it like everyone else did. I haven't died yet....


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By Chris Clarke
From La Paz, BO
Feb 23, 2012

Seneca Rocks Mountain Guides isn't too far from where you live. They have an indoor facility for practicing gear placements if it rains.

www.senecarocks.com


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By Jake Jones
From The Eastern Flatlands
Feb 23, 2012
Me and the offspring walking back to the car after a day of cragging.

Chris Clarke wrote:
Seneca Rocks Mountain Guides isn't too far from where you live. They have an indoor facility for practicing gear placements if it rains. www.senecarocks.com


To add to what Chris said, they also have several different tiers of classes based on experience levels. The one for you would probably be an intro class. You'll get to place some gear, learn how to build anchors using different pieces, and follow some pitches cleaning. I've never taken one there, but I've heard good things about it. Something to consider.


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By Gif Zafred
From Pittsburgh, PA
Feb 23, 2012
Gif on Bimbo Shrine, Kaymoor

Cal, go see Jim Taylor with www.appalachianclimbingschool.com/index.htm I've learned a ton from him. He's at the New River Gorge (Fayetteville, WV).


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By MegaGaper2000
From Indianola, Wa
Feb 23, 2012
the dragon's tail, or dragon's tooth, or whatever. And me.

Just to get this out of the way: YER GUNNA DIE!!!!!

Now then,

Ellenor actually speaks a little truth for once. Every climbing book in the world mentions finding 'an experienced mentor' for a reason. A mountain school is a great idea, but classes are short, and safety/skill takes long-term repetition (even a gaper knows that), so even if you take a class, you'll still then need to find someone older and wiser.

Also, two facts your parents might take some comfort in: most rock climbing deaths are due to belay errors in toprope/cragging situations (I could be wrong on this, but I'm pretty sure it's right); and you can die falling 50 feet off a single-pitch just as easily as you can die falling 1000 feet off El Cap. Really, you've already been in the danger zone this whole time.


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By MegaGaper2000
From Indianola, Wa
Feb 23, 2012
the dragon's tail, or dragon's tooth, or whatever. And me.

Sweet jesus christ.

I should have mentioned the litmus test for crag mentors: they never have MP profiles.

jesus.


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By CMaloney
Feb 23, 2012

Hey I am in a similar area (Virginia) and am interested in taking a course in traditional climbing as well. I've been looking at a number of guide services and would be very interested in hearing reviews from the MP community.

I've checked out Fox Mountain Guides , Seneca Rocks Guides , and Appalachian Climbing School but don't want to judge a rock climbing company by its website. Would like to hear about people's personal experiences with the courses and guides that they employ (especially for this area).

TL;DR Bump


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By MegaGaper2000
From Indianola, Wa
Feb 23, 2012
the dragon's tail, or dragon's tooth, or whatever. And me.

Ellenor Stone wrote:
I know the good ones and some people I know recommend mentors as well.



It's a good thing you know the good ones. Don't bother telling us or anything.


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By Will S
From Joshua Tree
Feb 23, 2012

Skip the "school" and "class" approach.

Find an individual certified guide, tell them exactly what you're after and your experience level. You'll not end up paying much (or any) more for a one-on-one since the "school" won't be taking a cut from the guide and you'll get much better and more personalized instruction instead of some boilerplate one-size-fits-all class.

Screw the east coast, go somewhere with dependable weather. Vegas is probably ideal, cheap flights, climbing is close to town, plenty of guides there in winter, endless multipitch moderates.

Shouldn't be an issue to get picked up and dropped at the airport either. You could probably just post up here and find someone relatively quickly with all the same certs and experience that any school would tout.


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By Princess Mia
From Vail
Mar 23, 2012
Chillin' at City of Rocks

Guide services are great but can be expensive. There are several colleges around the nation who offer rock clumbing as part of their outdoor education program. So for college credit you can learn the ropes. I live in central Colorado so I'm familiar with Colorado Mountain College..


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By randy88fj62
Mar 23, 2012
Thunderbolt Peak in the Palisades

Three ways to learn in my opinion:
1 Fellow non-certified climbers
2 Certified Classes through clubs or guides
3 Books

Find your local mountaineering club. In SoCal for example we have the Southern California Mountaineering Association (SCMA) and Cal Tech Alpine Club to name two in the LA Basin. The SCMA offers a beginner course in mountaineering which by default covers many trad climbing basics like building your own anchors, ascending with prusiks over an overhang, escaping the belay, etc. Nothing is better than hands on experience and asking a lot of questions. I also feel that reading should be done to bolster your background as well. For example, in the climbing anchors book I have, having a prerigged quad to setup on a two bolt sport climb is way better than two draws since it has room to equalize. Of course no one uses a quad because that would require carrying an extra piece of cord. I could go on for hours but the point is; you donít need to spend tons of money to get safe training. Go climb and supplement with books.


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By CMaloney
Mar 23, 2012

In regards to colleges that teach climbing - I have a scholarship from Americorp I'd like to use towards furthering my climbing education. I know NOLS has a set up where you can use scholarship money via there partnership with some university - is there anything else like that? I'd like to just hire a guide for a weekend and use my scholarship money that is about to expire, but I don't think most climbing schools satisfy their "academic" requirements...


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By Optimistic
From New Paltz
Mar 23, 2012

CalStaben wrote:
My parents have a deep, visceral fear of me beginning to do multipitch routes. I've primarily been a sport climber (up to 5.11) and I'm looking to get into multipitch trad. What is a cheap climbing school? If anyone has experience with this, it'd be a great help! Also, first post on here, so please don't tear me apart if this has been answered before or is the wrong place. Thanks, Cal


Not exactly what you asked, but...I think that while the guide service won't do any harm, you'd get a lot more mileage out of getting established with some regular trad partners, and specifically partners who have a ton of experience, maybe folks who've been climbing for ten or twenty or thirty years. They may not even climb as hard as you, grade-wise. But hopefully if they've been climbing for a long time and have placed thousands of pieces in a bunch of different rock types, they've seen what works and what doesn't, and can offer meaningful feedback on your gear over time.

A key part of that is going to come from leading a pitch (which a guide is probably not going to let you do) and then asking your partner how the gear looked to him/her after they clean it. If you don't establish yourself as a person who's eager for feedback, you won't get much feedback.

I'd agree with folks who suggest reading a lot as well. Reading obviously is no substitute for reality, but I think most of us have seen posts on here with climbers describing techniques that they learned from their supposedly experienced partners that turned out to be potentially lethal (e.g. cams should always be placed with the stems oriented horizontally), and the books can be a good double-check to avoid these practices.

Again, guides are totally great and I bet you could learn a ton from a guide, but developing a good network of experienced trad partners would be a smart complement to that.


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