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By Dave Carey
From Morrison, CO
Jun 7, 2011

Hello all,

I am fairly new to Mountaineering. My goals are to climb tall technical big walls, alpine, and to climb many of the 7 summits/high altitude mountains unguided . Mainly, I look to increase the difficulty of peaks climbed in both altitude and technicality (route choice) over time.

So far, I have climbed 10 14ers up to class III, started trad climbing and have also climbed Kilimanjaro for some "real" altitude.

I suppose my approach to improve my mountaineering skills from here on are to camp/backpack a lot to improve minimalist skills, gain cold weather experience by completing Colorado winter ascents which will slowly incorporate ice axe skills as technicality increases, and to learn logistics planning for long high altitude trips, with classes probably thrown in there for rescue and safety.

I am interested in both feedback and hearing stories of more experienced mountaineers strategies for safely increasing mountain size including trip lists, classes, training and weekend trips. Could be a loaded question, but will be interesting :)

Cheers,
Dave


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By Ralph Kolva
From Evergreen, CO
Jun 8, 2011

I'm certainly no expert on big peaks but if you're planning on doing the 7 summits you're going to need experience on glaciated mountains and as much as I love CO mountains we ain't got no glaciers.

Take a mountaineering course from a reputable guide service in the Cascades for starters. You need to get experience on glacier travel, ice/snow anchors, crevasse rescue, avalanche training, etc. Most of this material is covered in "Freedom of the Hills" but you'll need practical experience and the quickest, best way to get that is through training.

After taking a class climb a bunch of routes in the Cascades or Alaska to further your skills, there is still a big difference between what you'll experience in a course and on your own climbs, particularly more challenging climbs. We did the Kautz on Rainier a few years ago and the objective hazards on that route are way different than when we did Emmons/Winthrop many years ago.

CO is good for gaining avi training and doing ice and mixed routes which you'll need as well but there is a big difference between our 14ers and Rainier or Alaska.


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By FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Jun 8, 2011

Ralph Kolva wrote:
Take a mountaineering course from a reputable guide service in the Cascades for starters.


Learning from the pros is the best way to go. Get an AMGA certified guide.


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By Alicia Sokolowski
From Brooklyn, NY
Jun 8, 2011
Hanging out waiting for Die Antwoord to come on stage

For glacier experience, I highly recommend a trip to Ecuador. It makes a good vacation. The flight isn't overly long. When I was there I saw a number of people using guide services, and from what I saw, there looked to be a good number of well-equipped and safety minded guides. I wish I could recommend a specific service, but we were there on our own. The only time we really spent with the guides was socializing before and after summits.


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By DannyUncanny
From Vancouver
Jun 8, 2011

About a year and a half ago a friend and I decided to get some equipment and go on a mountaineering trip. It ended with me breaking my ankle. I'm not sure how much more experience would have helped in that case, but I now have the experience of splinting and walking/crawling on a broken ankle.


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By Ralph Kolva
From Evergreen, CO
Jun 8, 2011

DannyUncanny wrote:
It ended with me breaking my ankle. I'm not sure how much more experience would have helped in that case


Sorry to hear you this, never a good trip getting injured. I guess it depends partly on how you break your ankle, seems like every year "Accidents in North American Mountaineering" there are reports of broken legs from glissades while wearing crampons. I think any certified guide will tell you that's a no-no, experience could save you from tying to glissade with crampons.


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By FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Jun 8, 2011

I highly recommend North Cascades Mountain Guides.

www.ncmountainguides.com/


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By DannyUncanny
From Vancouver
Jun 8, 2011

Ralph Kolva wrote:
Sorry to hear you this, never a good trip getting injured. I guess it depends partly on how you break your ankle, seems like every year "Accidents in North American Mountaineering" there are reports of broken legs from glissades while wearing crampons. I think any certified guide will tell you that's a no-no, experience could save you from tying to glissade with crampons.


Well, on the upside, my travel insurance paid through the nose for all of our expenses for the rest of the trip and booked us first class back. The downside was that most of that time I was stuck in a foreign hospital.

The break was from falling on a steep snow and rock slope scrambling up to a ridge. Got up there just as the sun came up and softened things up and I rolled a fair sized rock out of the snow and fell down with it to the next ledge. If I had missed that it would have been another 100 ft and a lot of rolling. In hindsight I could have chosen a better route, or been more cautious of the soft snow.

Is it a coincidence or what that a modern ice axe reaches from your foot to just above your knee? I managed to get it rigged up so that a bunch of my weight bypassed my ankle and went onto the adzes of the two ice axes which made it possible to hobble.
ice axe splint
ice axe splint


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By Dave Swink
From Boulder, Co
Jun 8, 2011

Ralph Kolva wrote:
CO is good for gaining avi training and doing ice and mixed routes which you'll need as well but there is a big difference between our 14ers and Rainier or Alaska.


+1 Colorado can also provide great snow climb experience (many of these are just coming into condition now), and it is a good place to practice winter/expedition camping skills, and to learn use of approach skis. Colorado is awesome for rock climbing too, of course.

The guide services at Rainier offer 5-7 day expedition training classes that are excellent. I took one in 2006 that was lots of fun, enducational, and included a trip to the summit.

DannyUncanny wrote:
I now have the experience of splinting and walking/crawling on a broken ankle.


I broke my ankle on a Mexico volcano-climbing trip in 2007. Experiencing self-rescue was not fun but it was educational about splinting/walking/crawling/hopping. In many parts of the world, getting out when hurt is up to your team.


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By Rick Carpenter
From Banner Elk, NC
Jun 9, 2011
Dey Took Yer Jeb!!!

I'm trying to get my foot into the door as well, have experience on rock but alas none on snow or ice. I'm taking a mountaineering course through fox mountain guides in NH.


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By Scott O
From California
Jun 9, 2011
Batman Pinnacle

Rick Carpenter wrote:
I'm trying to get my foot into the door as well, have experience on rock but alas none on snow or ice. I'm taking a mountaineering course through fox mountain guides in NH.


I haven't ever hired them, but several of my friends have taken self-rescue courses or received aid climbing instruction from Fox, and by all accounts it's a top-notch program. You'll have a good time on their course.


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