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By Avery Harrison
Jun 28, 2012

I have had a spark of interest in Alpine climbing and found it most intriguing! I would love to send a mountain but as of right now I have by no means the money nor the skill-set ... yet :)!

So basically I'm curious on the fact of where to begin to obtain the proper training and know-how to go on a grand expedition at the same time wondering how to obtain the cash as well as the time to go on an expedition while holding a career? is it possible?


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By Auto-X Fil
From NEPA and Upper Jay, NY
Jun 29, 2012

Start hiking. There's a big blurry line between a walk in the woods and climbing large peaks, and the best thing to do it just get out there and figure it out as you go. By the time you've gotten your hiking and camping skills down to the point where you're ready to buy an ice axe, you'll already have learned a lot about mountains.


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By JustinJD.
From Denver
Jul 9, 2012

If you're in the Colorado area I would recommend the Colorado Mountain Club. Great organization and they offer meet ups and training classes to get you started.


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By FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Jul 9, 2012

Get the book, "Mountaineering - Freedom of the hills." Read it.

Get a job.

Take a beginning climbing course with a guide company or find an experienced climber to learn from.


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By Greg D
From Here
Jul 9, 2012
Out of the blue.  Photo by Mike W. <br />

Get a new career since the one you have gives you no free time and no free money. Then you will have time to climb, buy gear, get training.


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By Bogdan P
From Boston, MA
Oct 28, 2012
Titcomb basin, after climbing some practice cliffs

I've been trying to get there myself for several years. I don't know your situation but here's mine. Maybe you'll find my experience informative.

I'm just out of college and don't make a ton of money, but I have no student debt and a flexible job so I'm pretty much unconstrained in when or how I use my vacation time. My climbing partners that have jobs don't have the same flexibility, but I can usually accommodate whatever schedule they have thanks to my own flexibility. The accommodating job has been a critical ingredient.

As was already suggested on this forum, I started with hiking and backpacking. My first time camping was a 10 day backpacking trip in glacier national park with some buddies from high school. We did some scrambling and lots of hiking, learned to pack minimal gear and food and got a sense for what the mountains had to offer.

I live in Chicago, which is a bit problematic, but one of the guys I was backpacking with in GNP now lives in Denver so after college I started to go out there during the summer for a few years and try to scramble up some easy 14ers. He invited some friends of his along as well and this helped me meet some new people that might have similar interests and further hone my camping (or rather lightweight backpacking) skills, learn about mountain weather, seasons and how my body reacts at altitude. It also got me to buy an ice axe prematurely, and having it stare me in the face as it hung idly in my closet motivated me to push my skills further.

My experience in GNP and hiking 14ers in colorado showed me I needed to start working on building specific skills if I wanted to do more exciting things, and this process of learning what I needed to learn has been a common theme. I began spending my time in the midwest learning to sport climb, while I gathered the pro for a rack, and during the winter did some winter camping and snowshoeing in northwest Ontario where I could also practice self arrest (chicago is flat and has very little snow). I managed to recruit a college buddy to join me in these outings. He was already an outdoors enthusiast, which made him a good candidate to recruit, but had no real technical or winter camping experience to speak of, so we were basically matched in skill and got to learn side by side. There are advantages and disadvantages to this. On the one hand, I don't get to learn from someone else's experience but at the same time I don't feel indebted to anybody and can make frequent trips without feeling like I'm asking too much of a mentor. I've made up for our lack of experience in part by reading as much as I can and learning from others at the crag.

This summer I went with this college buddy to the Wind Rivers Range in Wyoming and tried to apply my technical skills in the mountains. We managed to push our climbing to some 4th and easy 5th class routes, learn what glacial ice is like, gauge our speed on technical mountainous terrain (it's slow), finally put our ice axes to use, and in general build a bit more mountain sense. The trip was premature, since we did not have the trad climbing skills we needed to fully appreciate the environment, but it was still a positive learning experience, and it seems like a good place to start technical mountaineering given the quality of rock, presence of small but crevassed glaciers, 4 season alpine ice and accessibility.

The overall trend here has been incremental progress. Every trip I've made to the mountains has taught me something new, whether it was a concrete skill or simply making me aware of a skill I needed to build before my next attempted summit. The Wind Rivers for instance taught me the importance of speed on rock and that I should start ice climbing this winter. An additional benefit of incremental progress but one that shouldn't be understated is the ability to build up my gear stash slowly. This has allowed me to improve my mountain skills without significant financial constraints on my rate of progress. When all I need for any given trip is a plane ticket, maybe a new pair of boots, or a few more pieces of pro, that's manageable.

The biggest problems have been finding climbing partners. I can't afford to pay for guided trips, my friend in Denver and his buddies don't do technical climbing, and my climbing partner in Chicago doesn't have a job so he can't afford to make trips west with any frequency, but I've managed so far and I expect if I'm persistent finding people to climb with and encouraging those I go out with now to push their skills further this may be sustainable. I'm also trying to network with people at the local mountaineering club, but I'm not sure yet how well that will work out. It does seem promising though so I encourage you to do the same.

If anybody else has stories like this to share, please do.


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By NickinCO
From colorado
Oct 28, 2012
after the hard stuff, into cruiser hands.

Bogdan P wrote:
I've been trying to get there myself for several years. I don't know your situation but here's mine. Maybe you'll find my experience informative. I'm just out of college and don't make a ton of money, but I have no student debt and a flexible job so I'm pretty much unconstrained in when or how I use my vacation time. My climbing partners that have jobs don't have the same flexibility, but I can usually accommodate whatever schedule they have thanks to my own flexibility. As was already suggested on this forum, I started with hiking and backpacking. My first time camping was a 10 day backpacking trip in glacier national park with some buddies from high school. We did some scrambling and lots of hiking, learned to pack minimal gear and food and got a sense for what the mountains had to offer. I live in Chicago, which is a bit problematic, but one of the guys I was backpacking with in GNP now lives in Denver so after college I started to go out there during the summer for a few years and try to scramble up some easy 14ers. This was already something he was interested in, but not something he had pursued very far. He had friends that were more experienced and came along with us. This helped me meet some new people that might have similar interests and further hone my camping (or rather lightweight backpacking) skills, learn about mountain weather, seasons and how my body reacts at altitude. It also got me to buy an ice axe prematurely, and having it stare me in the face as it hung idly in my closet motivated me to push my skills further. My experience in GNP and hiking 14ers in colorado showed me I needed to start working on building technical skills if I wanted to do more exciting things, so I spent my time in the midwest learning to rock climb, and during the winter did some winter camping and snowshoeing in northwest Ontario where I could also practice self arrest (chicago is flat and has very little snow). I managed to recruit a college buddy to join me in these outings. He was already an outdoors enthusiast, which made him a good candidate to recruit, but had no real technical or winter camping experience to speak of, so we were basically matched in skill and got to learn side by side. This summer I went with this college buddy to the Wind Rivers Range in Wyoming and tried to apply my technical skills in the mountains. We managed to push our climbing to some 4th and easy 5th class routes, learn what glacial ice is like, gauge our speed on technical mountainous terrain (it's slow), finally put our ice axes to use, and in general build a bit more mountain sense. The trip was premature, since we did not have the trad climbing skills we needed to fully appreciate the environment, but it was still a positive learning experience. The overall trend here has been incremental progress. I've read every relevant book and made sure to build up my skills at every opportunity I've had. Whether this meant multiweek trips to the mountains or learning to prusik after hours at the gym from diagrams in the Mountaineering Handbook. Every trip I've made to the mountains has taught me something new, whether it was a concrete skill or simply make me aware of a skill I needed to build before my next attempted summit. An additional benefit but one that shouldn't be understated is the ability to build up your gear stash slowly. This has allowed me to improve my mountain skills without significant financial constraints on my rate of progress. When all I need for any given trip is a plane ticket, maybe a new pair of boots, or a few more pieces of pro, that's manageable. Now I'm going to be building on what I've learned in the Wind Rivers. This winter I plan on doing some ice climbing in Michigan or Canada, maybe get in a 3rd class 14er attempt this spring, while continuing to work on my trad climbing skills further south when it's not too cold. The biggest problems have been finding climbing partners. I can't afford to pay for guided trips, my friend in Denver and his buddies don't do technical climbing, and my climbing partner in Chicago doesn't have a job so he can't afford to make trips west with any frequency, but I've managed so far and I expect if I'm persistent finding people to climb with and encouraging those I go out with now to push their skills further this may be sustainable. I'm also trying to network with people at the local mountaineering club, but I'm not sure yet how well that will work out. It does seem promising though so I encourage you to do the same. If anybody else has stories like this to share, please do.


As someone who is from Chicago, one word.. move.


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By Bogdan P
From Boston, MA
Oct 28, 2012
Titcomb basin, after climbing some practice cliffs

I'm trying. There are career constraints.


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By Taylor-B.
From CO & AK
Oct 28, 2012
Mt. Churchill, University Range

And then....just survive the learning curve period in the mountains!!!


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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
Oct 28, 2012
Stabby

Bogdan P wrote:
I'm trying. There are career constraints.

You said you are fresh out of school. How can you be so locked in so early?


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By Bogdan P
From Boston, MA
Oct 28, 2012
Titcomb basin, after climbing some practice cliffs

El Tigre wrote:
You said you are fresh out of school. How can you be so locked in so early?


Have you looked at the job market for my generation? Short answer: I have a job and I'm trying to get a better one.


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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
Oct 28, 2012
Stabby

And the better job won't be out West because...............?


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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
Oct 28, 2012
Stabby

We talked Nick into coming out here; and he was vested in with the FD and had a good pension.


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By superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Oct 29, 2012
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3

Just move to washintgon or colorado.


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By Bogdan P
From Boston, MA
Oct 29, 2012
Titcomb basin, after climbing some practice cliffs

superkick wrote:
Just move to washintgon or colorado.


I specialized in llama care and right now I've got a thing at the Lincoln Park zoo. Seatle might work, but do they even have a zoo in Denver? Anyway, I'm trying to work something out in south western Argentina. It's a small market though and I'm still working on building up the right contacts.


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By Scott McMahon
From Boulder, CO
Oct 29, 2012
Bocan

Bogdan P wrote:
do they even have a zoo in Denver?.


The internet says yes.

www.denverzoo.org/


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By superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Oct 29, 2012
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3

llamas are kinda like yaks right?

Just move to nepal and take over the yak market with your new llama farm.


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By Darren in Vegas
From Las Vegas, NV
Oct 29, 2012
Skiing around.

What kind of objectives do you have in mind? This can narrow down the skill set you need. In other words, do you need to be an ice wizard, aid sorcerer or rock monkey? Some objectives only require moderate ability across all disciplines, some require high level skill in certain areas. For me, I have the skill set to go free climbing in alpine settings, as soon as real aid and ice skills are necessary, I'm done for.

Two things that seem to be necessary no matter what you are trying to climb:

1. All remote objectives require you to be able to handle logistics particular to the area (getting your gear there, food, what to do when things go wrong etc.) 2. Be prepared for glacier travel.

In answer to your question about career and cash, you need to find a job that allows you time off. For me teaching has fit the bill well.
However, it only allows me Jun-Aug to accomplish alpine goals narrowing the list of locations somewhat. You should also be able to live frugally on what you earn so that you can build up a reserve of $$$ so that you can get out there. Trips always end up a bit more expensive in the end than I initially think (always need more new gear than I realize).

Sorry for the rambling post, hope some of this helps.


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By NickinCO
From colorado
Oct 29, 2012
after the hard stuff, into cruiser hands.

El Tigre wrote:
We talked Nick into coming out here; and he was vested in with the FD and had a good pension.


yep, well worth it. Had to do a name change here for a background check actually... Should find out today if I'm getting hired. If not, no biggie. I make enough money to survive and living out here is amazing compared to Chicago.

Avery have you looked at home prices and taxes out here? It's WAYYYY cheaper to live than Chicago.


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By Finn the Human
From The Land of Ooo
Oct 29, 2012
Mathematical!

Bogdan P wrote:
I specialized in llama care


Wait, what? That's a thing?


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By Ray Pinpillage
From West Egg
Oct 29, 2012
Cleo's Needle

There are a ton of llama farms in the northwest. Maybe consider applying at farms instead of zoos.


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By Ray Pinpillage
From West Egg
Oct 29, 2012
Cleo's Needle

superkick wrote:
llamas are kinda like yaks right? Just move to nepal and take over the yak market with your new llama farm.


Llamas are camelid, Yaks are bovine.


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By superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Oct 29, 2012
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3

well excuse me mr llama know it all.


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By David Hertel
From Sitka
Nov 18, 2012
Climbing a coulior of steep snow on the First Ascent of: The Ship's Prow, near Skagway, Ak

FrankPS wrote:
Get the book, "Mountaineering - Freedom of the hills." Read it. Get a job. Take a beginning climbing course with a guide company or find an experienced climber to learn from.



Diddo!
Start training your ass off, trail running, speed scrambling, get a hangboard and spend 1 hour on it every day, go to the rock gym in winter, try some backcountry skiing (skinning up or snowshoeing), take an Avalanche 1 course, get your WFR, do a bunch of research on gear and start collecting piece by piece (mountainproject is great for putting together a rack for a relatively low cost), be prepared to spend every waking moment obsessing over some line you spotted, and learn about the weather.
It takes a lot to get all your own gear, so I would suggest finding some good partners, or just ask around on MP for people to climb with and use your partners gear until you have your own stuff.


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