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Best area for Alpine inexperience?
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By jasoncm
Jul 18, 2013
Hi All,

Two Australians travelling around North America. Been in Squamish 2 1/2 weeks and looking to move on. Planning head east, do a bit of sport climbing at lake Louise before heading south to Wyoming ( Tensleep, Devil's Tower) and Idaho (city of rocks).

I would really like to climb a mountain, something that doesn't require any ice experience and more friendly to someone with no alpine experience. We have plenty of rock climbing experience, climbing up to 10c in Squamish.

Would there be any alpine areas you suggest that are not going to leave me frozen and dead?

Areas that I have noticed are in the general area of our travels:

Bugaboos
Wind river range/grand Tetons
High Sierra

Cheers

Jason

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By Dobson
From Butte, MT
Jul 18, 2013
Based on your itinerary, I would recommend heading to the Winds. The climbs in the Cirque and Deep Lake areas are more alpine rock climbs than full mountaineering adventures. The hiking isn't very steep, and there's little snow or ice. The rock is solid granite which should feel familiar coming from Squamish.

I'm guessing you will be driving through Montana on your way down. We don't have the quantity of clean climbing that some states have, but some of it is very good. I would recommend checking out the Beehive near Big Sky. It's a short and relatively low-commitment peak in a gorgeous setting. A perfect intro to alpine.

Be careful of thunderstorms this time of year. They roll in like clockwork in the afternoons, and are much more dangerous than potential snow slopes. Get EARLY starts and move fast through exposed terrain.

Phillip

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By Mark Pilate
Jul 18, 2013
Get thee to the Tetons....can't think of a better, more accessible incubator for fledgling alpine climbers. Between the AAC ranch library, Renny's guidebook, other climbers, and top notch Rangers you can get all the info you need to dial in the perfect route to suit you. Upper Exum or Owen Spalding mid week would likely be ideal options...easy but non-trivial rock routes on a majestic peak.

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By mark felber
From Wheat Ridge, CO
Jul 18, 2013
Mark and Dobson both gave excellent advice. My advice is to listen to both of them, hit the Tetons (Lower & Upper Exum on Grand, maybe East Ridge of Grand for a longer climb and a little more technical challenge) and then push on south a few miles to the Winds for a few days in Cirque of the Towers.

The Tetons have everything Mark said they have, but being in a National Park the regulations, permits and fees can feel a bit stifling at first. Once you're on the rock and climbing, though, none of that really matters.

The Winds are not nearly as regulated and are closer to a true wilderness experience, so it would help to be a little more comfortable traveling in the back country. Joe Kelsey has released an updated and expanded version of his climbing and hiking guide to the Winds. Steve Bechtel's guide to the Cirque of the Towers and Deep Lake is quite good if you can find a copy. If you want to do something more remote, Titcomb Basin has lots of peaks with technical routes.

Being further south, the Sierra Nevada range is a good bit warmer and drier. Being in a very populated state, it's also a fairly crowded range.

Truthfully, any of these 3 ranges would meet your requirements. Look through the route database on this site, find something you like in any of the ranges on your list, and you'll more than likely have a great time.

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By DannyUncanny
From Vancouver
Jul 18, 2013
You will not regret going to the Bugaboos, and you will be right around the prime climbing season. I can't compare it to the other two places, but it is the coolest place I've ever been, and I would recommend it to anyone even if it's just to stare up at the granite spires.

The climbing is very accessible and definitely alpine, but with reasonably straight forward approaches.

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By rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Jul 19, 2013
The traverse out to the Yellow Ridge on the Dogstick Ridge link-up.  Photo by Myriam Bouchard
I don't know how much snow and/or ice you are willing to tolerate, but the approaches and descents to all the main Bugaboo peaks are on a glacier, and the Bugaboo-Snowpatch col can be icy later in the season. Probably not a good option for what you are looking for. If you do go there, make sure you learn about fencing off your car with chicken wire---the local porcupines like to chew on hoses and lines underneath.




While you're in Canada you might consider a trip up the NW Ridge of Mt. Sir Donald. It's 5.4 climbing up good quartzite,no glacier travel, and their is a bolted rappel route down. See summitpost.org/mt-sir-donald/1... and mountainproject.com/v/mount-si.... Probably as good an intro to easy alpine rock climbing as you are likely to find anywhere else, and featured as one of the continent's 50 classic climbs in the book of that name by Roper and Steck. The shot below is from the MP entry referenced above. The ridge on the left is the route.



Back in the States, your itinerary really doesn't put you close to the Sierra. I'd say your best bet is the Tetons, because they have much simpler logistics than the Winds, where you have to pack in and so plan your food, etc. Don't get me wrong, the Winds are my favorite back-country rock-climbing area in the U.S., but in the Tetons you are always in or near civilization and can plan your climbs on a day-to-day basis. As far as snow is concerned, the area is transitioning to high summer conditions, in which snow can often be avoided if present. You can check out the precise conditions on the routes that interest you at tetonclimbinggrand.blogspot.co.... Snow will not be a problem in the Southern Winds, but the mosquitoes can be fierce.

On the other hand, the quality of the rock climbs themselves is generally better in the Sierra and the Winds than it is in the Tetons.

By the way, summer at Devil's Tower is hot, mid-80's to 90's. It wouldn't be my first choice---I'd rather drive South from the Tetons and do some alpine rock routes in Rocky Mountain National Park. But if you do go to the Tower, then you might as well also drive another hour or so to the Needles in the Black Hills of South Dakota and sample some of the delectable nubbin-climbing on slender spires.

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By Dobson
From Butte, MT
Jul 19, 2013
A note about the legendary Wind River Mosquitoes:

I normally would never recommend anyone go there in July. The bugs are incredibly thick. However, my friend tells me that they're unusually low concentration this year. They'll still be there, but you won't be choking on them.

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By Scott O
From California
Jul 19, 2013
Batman Pinnacle
Tuolumne is always a good choice

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By jdberndt
From Seatte, WA
Jul 19, 2013
Local bias on my part, but Washington Pass is only 4-5 hours south of Squamish. Little snow this time of year and usually <2h approaches make for very friendly 'alpine' rock climbing in an amazing venue.

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By Garret Nuzzo-Jones
From Salt Lake City, UT
Jul 19, 2013
Cleaning up in Jenny Lake.
Dobson wrote:
A note about the legendary Wind River Mosquitoes: I normally would never recommend anyone go there in July. The bugs are incredibly thick. However, my friend tells me that they're unusually low concentration this year. They'll still be there, but you won't be choking on them.

They really weren't too bad when I was up there over the fourth. Bring your bug spray, but you won't be carried off.

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By Martin le Roux
From Superior, CO
Jul 19, 2013
Stairway to Heaven
rgold wrote:
While you're in Canada you might consider a trip up the NW Ridge of Mt. Sir Donald... Probably as good an intro to easy alpine rock climbing as you are likely to find anywhere else, and featured as one of the continent's 50 classic climbs in the book of that name by Roper and Steck.


I'll second that suggestion. If you're driving from Squamish to Lake Louise you'll be passing right by Sir Donald. The trailhead is practically on the Trans-Canada Highway.

Other moderate alpine rock routes in the Lake Louise area, no snow or ice involved:
Grassi Ledges on Wiwaxy Peak
Tower of Babel
Grand Sentinel (mountainproject.com/v/grand-se...
Brewer's Buttress on Castle Mountain

Also take a look at Kevin McLane's "Alpine Select" guidebook to Southwest BC. Lots of alpine rock routes there, but I don't have first-hand knowledge of any of them.

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By fossana
From Bishop, CA
Jul 19, 2013
downclimb off the First Flatiron <br />photo by TooTallTim
mark felber wrote:
Being in a very populated state, it's also a fairly crowded range.

Popular routes in the Tetons and Rocky Mt Nat'l Park are far more crowded than those in the Sierra. The Sierra is a 400 mile range (the 150 miles between Bridgeport and Lone Pine alone host a ton of climbs), so it's not hard to escape crowds. Sierra weather is also far more stable that the other areas mentioned.

A few alpine areas with a high ratio of steep rock to approach:

Black Wall (Mt Evans, CO)
mountainproject.com/v/the-blac...

Hulk (Bridgeport, CA) - this can be a bit crowded on weekends
mountainproject.com/v/incredib...

Tuolumne is also a good place to explore without any major alpine commitment. If you don't mind the hike there's the Harding Route on Conness.

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By CameronS
From Lander, WY
Jul 19, 2013
Ive been in the cirque already this month once and bugs were fine, going back in for a few days this week.

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By Bill Kirby
From Baltimore Maryland
Jul 20, 2013
Me eating a cliff bar walking back from Frankenstein Amphitheater
Just a suggestion.. Mt Robson? Highest peak in Canadian Rockies, Fred Beckley top 100 climbs. Easiest way up is easy 5th class or 5.6.

Only negative.. It takes a few days.

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By rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Jul 20, 2013
The traverse out to the Yellow Ridge on the Dogstick Ridge link-up.  Photo by Myriam Bouchard
Robson, summitpost.org/mount-robson/15..., is a magnificent objective, but not the sort of thing you want to do for your first alpine experience, since it is relatively remote, very big, and requires significant glacier travel with steep snow climbing and substantial objective dangers.

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By suuntout
Jul 25, 2013
I climbed in the winds this past weekend, Tetons the week before that and the sierras the week before that. All were great, I would say hit the grand, climb a couple routes on it and middle and such, once you are done there I would go to the sierras. Both areas offer tons of opportunities and close amenities. The winds are pretty remote and rugged...

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By ferniebiker
Jul 25, 2013
I climbed the Kain route in bugaboo spire 2 weeks ago and it was by far the coolest place I have ever been climbing, maybe coolest outdoor place I have been! It was also my first alpine climb. As long as you start with an easier route, you should have no problems. If we had tried something harder we would have been spending the night. Do an easier route first to understand what speed you can move at in the alpine

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By Greg G
From SLC, UT
Jul 25, 2013
The route in it's entirety.
I 2nd Fossanna's suggestion of Toulumne Meadows. No where else in the country can you drive to 9k+, hike for 30min-1hr, and be in solitude with the high country feel. If you are inexperienced take the opportunity to go to T Meadows, and not the bugs. Would you rather be in a forgiving environment or one where you can epic and be fucked? Take it slow, and don't jump into something just because your ego or romantic fantasies override logic.

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By mr. mango
Jul 30, 2013
north wash
Try a 14ner in Colorado. Pretty mellow. If you are looking for something more technical try a Teton.

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By Crotch Robbins
Jul 30, 2013
I will third rgold's suggestion of Sir Donald. Start early and have fun.

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By JacobD
From Flagstaff, AZ
Jul 30, 2013
Me on Half Dome Boulder, Middle Finger of Fury <br /> <br />Awesome problem!
Nobodies mentioned the enchantments in central Washington. And a second on Washington pass!

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By jasoncm
Aug 4, 2013
Thanks for all the input guys. I didn't get around to going up Sir Donald. Did a scramble up Mt Wilcox in Jasper which was a good intro of being up on a mountain. I'll keep all your comments in mind.

Thanks

Jason

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By Tronald Dump
Aug 7, 2013
Ummm, yeah, bugs, valhalla, hell. if you drive a bit south into washington hit up the washington pass area, its like alpine cragging, awesome rock, awesome routes, awesome scenery. Otherwise I can make you a list a mile long for washington.

Oh shit, climb Gimli!

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