Login with Facebook
 ADVANCED
Advice for starting out/mountaineering programs
View Latest Posts in This Forum or All Forums
   Page 1 of 1.  
Follow replies to this topic? Notify me at the top of web site.
1

Email me.
 
 
By Chris72
From New York, NY
Oct 16, 2012

Hey everyone - new to the forum (and climbing) and was hoping to get some advice from some of you. I live in NY and aside from a good amount of backpacking/camping experience (much in winter) I've taken a 3-day intro to mountaineering course on Mt. Washington, 2-day intro ice cimbing course, Presidential Traverse (winter), and I've done 3 14ers out in CO (summer, though). Of course, I'm reading Freedom of the Hills and everything else I can find. Basically, this winter/next year I'd like to take things up a notch with a more comprehensive program and do 1 or 2 shorter glaciated peak climbs w/guides. I'm 25, getting into this a little late obviously, so I'm really just trying to get as much bang for my buck training wise as possible and as soon as I can. I think my end goal would be competent independent alpine climbing in the Cascades and Canadian/US rockies.

Right now I'm thinking about doing an expedition skills seminar with RMI on Ranier (6 days) and then Shasta and Baker later in the season (w/guides). After that I'd spend another winter bumming around the Whites and Adirondacks indepdently working on my skills and then I'd hopefully like to be at a point to look for a more experience mentor/head back out west and do some real mountains.

How does this sound? Absurd beginner plan or not bad?


FLAG
By John D
Oct 16, 2012

Sounds like a pretty decent plan to me, and you're far from too old to get climbing. Most people I see on harder bigger routes are older than me (31). It wouldn't hurt you to do some rock climbing. Getting familiar with rope work and maybe learning how to place gear. I guess it kind of depends on the kinds of routes that you want to do, but alot of the tricks I learned rock climbing help me in the mountains.


FLAG
By AKM1878
Oct 16, 2012

Make sure to add "Extreme Alpinism" by Mark Twight to your reading list.

If you have the time and money to do all those guided trips then go for it.

At some point you will need to find a regular climbing partner to climb with, hopefully someone more experienced than you. Learning from guides is great but you won't have much of an opportunity to actually lead anything or take charge. Having a climbing partner to learn from/with can give you a lot more time to be on the sharp end which is where you will learn the most.


FLAG
By superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Oct 16, 2012
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3

Instead of dropping like 2K on a flight to rainier and a 6 day course with RMI

you can take a custom tailored 3 day intermediate mountaineering course with mark synott for about 450?

Mark is a world reknowned climber, and located in NH.

Definitely will help you get on the sharp end leading your own climbs and greatly improve your skills while saving you cost:

www.newhampshireclimbing.com/climbing-course.asp?ID=88&cat=6

Then either go out with someone experienced on a bigger peak, or join a 3-4 day climb on rainier. Id reocmmend doing soemthing like the kautz with RMI or IMG as youll learn a lot more on a moderatly technical route with guides, than just trudging up the DC.

just my two cents


FLAG
By superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Oct 16, 2012
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3

also +1 on learning how to rock climb.

Do a lot of bouldering and rock (outdoors if conditions allow..if not in gym) climbing all winter in addition to mountaineering.


FLAG
By Chris72
From New York, NY
Oct 16, 2012

Appreciate the quick responses. I've taken some rock climbing classes too and I'm in NYC so I got the Gunks pretty close by, I'll be sure to make that a priority as well.

Superkick, I actually know SMG - used them for the Intro course and Presi Traverse. Mark is great. Definitely agree with your thinking, however the RMI summit climbs are only about $250 cheaper than the 6 day course and the intermediate course with Mark would run a little higher than that (~$600). So I figured might as well knock out the training and an awesome summit in one trip.

Thanks again for the tips.


FLAG
By Dave77
From Watertown, NY
Oct 16, 2012
me in NH

Sounds like you have a decent plan in place for achieving your goals. Depending on your long term objectives, I may suggest you look into the American Alpine Institute. Specifically their Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership program ( aai.cc/ProgramDetail/mountaineering_leadership1/ ) I think this would give you a better all around instruction (not too mention a summit attempt of baker) within the discipline of rock climbing, ice climbing, and mountaineering (alpinism).

I was in the same boat as you 2 years ago when I started climbing. I was also 25 and my short term goal was a safe ascent of Mt. Rainier. I signed up for an Expedition Skills Seminar with RMI, started training a year out by doing some rock climbing instruction (mostly gym at first), hiking in the winter in the Olympics, and doing as much reading as possible. By the time the seminar came I felt I was prepared. The RMI guides were great and I learned from them, however a lot of the stuff I had already read and practiced during the winter on smaller peaks.

A month or so later I started taking 1:1 private lessons with AMGA guides and felt like I got a lot more out of those courses (some with aai guides, some with other services) with the technical skills I was looking to add to my 'toolbox'. Leading sport and trad, ice climbing and leading ice/ steep snow couloirs, and just all around alpinist skills. In retrospect I wish I would have taken the AAI course. Rainier isn't easy, but by the time your done with these programs, it won't be difficult for you to plan your own trip to Rainier, Shasta, or whatever peak.

Don't get me wrong, my RMI course went well and I am glad I did it.

Cheers!


FLAG
By Scott O
From California
Oct 16, 2012
Batman Pinnacle

Rather than dropping big bucks on expensive but not that technical destinations like Rainier, stay local and focus on technical skills like rock climbing. The basic skills you'll learn from multipitch trad leading will take you a lot farther than some intermediate mountaineering course. When I started out in climbing, I made the mistake (and it is absolutely a mistake) of signing up for mountaineering classes, thinking that would make me a climber.

Read Climbing Anchors by John Long and find someone (a local guide, or someone willing to teach for beer and gas) to teach you the ins and outs of trad. Once you have that down, the rest sort of works itself out.


FLAG
 
By Scott O
From California
Oct 16, 2012
Batman Pinnacle

Dave77 wrote:
Sounds like you have a decent plan in place for achieving your goals. Depending on your long term objectives, I may suggest you look into the American Alpine Institute. Specifically their Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership program ( aai.cc/ProgramDetail/mountaineering_leadership1/ )



This program would definitely be an exception to my statements above about mountaineering classes being a mistake. I climb with a guy who took this, and it sounded like an awesome experience.


FLAG
By Dave77
From Watertown, NY
Oct 16, 2012
me in NH

I would tend to agree with Scott O. Once you learn it on rock you can apply a lot of the same stuff to ice/snow (it is a completely different medium) but the general idea is the same.


FLAG
By BGardner
From Colorado
Oct 17, 2012

Staying locally and supporting your local guides/climbing schools is great. If learning to climb in glaciated terrain is the goal, and you have the means, then there is no substitute for actually getting on a glacier.
Yes, many of the skills you learn rock climbing will transfer over, but many of them don't. Rock, snow, ice are all different mediums and each require a different bag of tricks. If your going to learn to move safely and efficiently in those environments, you've got to invest the time learning in those environments.
RMI runs excellent programs and I know and respect several guides that are currently working there. I think there are multiple companies in Washington that can offer you excellent service if you're willing to make the investment, so make sure you shop around.
That said, I work specifically for the American Alpine Institute because teaching is the main thing we do. Most guides at RMI spend most of their time getting people to the top of mountains like Rainier (and they're good at it) they also get to do some teaching. With the Institute we spend most of our time teaching, so I our guides tend to be pretty good at that.
Regardless of which way you go I would also suggest you look into working with an AMGA Certified guide, or an AMGA Accredited service. The AMGA does not hand these things out lightly so you know whoever has them has been run through the ringer.
One last note, while I really like, and own, Mark Twight's book 'Extreme Alpinism', I think that it is not the best recommendation for someone who is newer. It is getting pretty dated and it will be really hard for a newer person to pick out the good stuff from the old stuff. Plus it was never intended to be a beginners book in the first place. 'Alpine Climbing: Techniques to take you higher' is the best modern book I know of.


FLAG
By superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Oct 17, 2012
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3

you could/will learn more climbing in huntington ravine on mt washington this winter, then you ever will on a guided summit climb on rainier. They arent going to teach you much you wouldnt have already learned ina basic intro course.

Find some experienced people around your area willing to take you out and climb. youre in Ny..the ADKs are a great place to start.


FLAG
By Martin le Roux
From Superior, CO
Oct 17, 2012
Stairway to Heaven

superkick wrote:
you could/will learn more climbing in huntington ravine on mt washington this winter, then you ever will on a guided summit climb on rainier.


Hmm. Yes you can learn ice-climbing technique in Huntington Ravine, but it doesn't have any glaciers or crevasses. Or 10,000' of altitude gain.

To echo BGardner's point, if you want to learn how to climb in the Cascades or the Canadian Rockies you really have to be there. Most of the routes in these areas aren't all that difficult in technical terms. But they're big, steep, exposed and precarious mountains. What you'll need to develop is the ability to move rapidly with sparse protection on that sort of terrain.


FLAG
By Avi Katz
Oct 17, 2012

check out www.bigcitymountaineers.org/summit-for-someone


FLAG
By Gokul
Oct 17, 2012
At the "summit"

The Appalachian Mtn Club (Boston Chapter, and maybe the NH Chapter too) usually does an Alpine Skills workshop in early Spring that you could check out if you haven't found the time to do a full glacier travel course by then. For about $100 or so (cost of food and lodging for the weekend), you will get to learn and practise some basic skills including self-arrest, rope-line travel, ice and snow anchors, high altitude medicine, and crevasse rescue techniques (including some self-rescue). It's nowhere near (and should not be considered a substitute for) a full, week-long course like AAI offers, nor do they have any glaciers/crevasses in NH (at least not strictly speaking), but you can use it as a starting point or an inexpensive way to get a quick refresher of commonly used skills.


FLAG
By Stephan Doyle
Oct 17, 2012

Martin le Roux wrote:
Hmm. Yes you can learn ice-climbing technique in Huntington Ravine, but it doesn't have any glaciers or crevasses. Or 10,000' of altitude gain. To echo BGardner's point, if you want to learn how to climb in the Cascades or the Canadian Rockies you really have to be there. Most of the routes in these areas aren't all that difficult in technical terms. But they're big, steep, exposed and precarious mountains. What you'll need to develop is the ability to move rapidly with sparse protection on that sort of terrain.


Lots of good posts on this thread, but I especially like this one.

You'll most definitely learn more by staying local and working one-on-one with guides, but there's something to be said for getting on the terrain you're aiming for. By all means, get on Rainier this year, get a sense of what those mountains are like and what it takes over there. That might fuel your inspiration and imagination, so you can push your boundaries closer to your own back yard with motivation and ideas about what you want to tackle.

Local NE mountains offer some great challenges, but getting over to the NW can whet your appetite for those sort of peaks.


FLAG
 
By Andrew Gram
Administrator
From Salt Lake City, UT
Oct 17, 2012
Andrew Gram

None of these classes are necessary. I got into mountaineering when I was living in NYC, so it can be done on your own. I had a solid base of rock climbing and a motivated partner, but you need these things anyway to ever do more than go hiking in the mountains.

The following plan works well:

1. Get the basics down in the NE. Get solid at moving quickly all day long - knocking out 30 pitches of Gunks 5.4 in a day is more useful than 1 pitch of 5.10. Go hiking up in New Hampshire, and ice climbing too. Build fitness and basic skills.

2. Go climb mountains in some non-glaciated high range out west. Colorado 14ers/13ers work well. Do a lot of routes with scrambling and steep snow couloirs - don't worry about doing technical routes yet. Get really comfortable moving efficiently and unroped on 3rd and 4th class terrain, learn how your body deals with altitude and fatigue at higher altitudes, get used to poor rock and exposure, start to understand mountain weather, etc. You'll move way faster on technical routes if you log time doing this stype of thing first.

3. Go to Mexico, climb the volcanoes. Pico de Orizaba and the Ayoloco Glacier on Ixtaccihuatl are easy glacier climbs with essentially no crevasse danger at over 17K feet - technically easier and less physical than Rainier, as well as higher. You'll also start to learn some real trip planning skills - dealing with unfamiliar food and language(if you don't speak spanish), learning how long logistical details like finding stove fuel, getting local food, navigating buses, getting park permits, etc. take. A great mini-expedition to start on.

4. Go to the Cascades. Grab a copy of Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue and just work on skills for a few days. Once you feel solid with the creavasse rescue stuff, head up Rainier, Hood, etc.

5. Go to Ecuador and climb some more volcanoes.

After this, you'll have enough of a base to go pretty much anywhere and be ok.


FLAG


Follow replies to this topic? Notify me at the top of web site.
1

Email me.
Page 1 of 1.