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Advice to a new climber

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Advice to a new climber

Postby marcminish » Thu May 06, 2010 4:38 am

Hello All!

It has been some time since I posted, but I have an honest question to ask...

I spoke to a guy today, he was referred to me by a mutual friend that shared with him my previous climbing stories. He has never climbed before but thinks he might like to give Mt. Rainier a try as his first outing. I recommended that he start with something else, perhaps Mt. Washington in the winter or, maybe something in Rocky Mtns. He has no interest in rock climbing, just mountaineering. He has no climbing experience but is eager to learn... LIKE WE ALL WERE AT SOME POINT. As fellow mountaineers, I humbly ask advice for someone who now stands where all of us once stood.

Guys... all of us were once greenhorns. I recommended something besides Rainier as a first start. Maybe you disagree. Please chime in here. I will call him tomorrow and recommend he read this thread.

PS. I told him the climbing community is always eager to accept a new guy willing to learn. Am I wrong?
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Postby goldenhopper » Thu May 06, 2010 4:48 am

Sorry Marc, I'm not qualified to answer your question, but it's good to see you posting again! - ghoppa :D
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Postby marcminish » Thu May 06, 2010 4:58 am

FortMental wrote:
I told him the climbing community is always eager to accept a new guy willing to learn. Am I wrong?


Eager is not the right word....

I've usually suspicious of the motives of some people, particularly adults, who decide, out of the blue, to take up something like mountaineering. It's one thing if you're a kid who's done the reading, slung the clothesline over the roof, and at least gone through some of the basic motions. It's different if you just want to participate in an "extreme sport" because you think it "might be cool"..... Know what I mean?

Once, an eager young person very close to me wanted me to take them climbing. I refused, saying that if they REALLY wanted to do it, they'd have to take a few of those baby steps for themselves, by themselves, to prove to themselves that they wanted it badly enough.


No, he doesn't seem like some headstrong guy on the phone. He's married. A bit older than most newbies. He seems eager to learn.

The guide service he enlisted is charging him $1,200 to take him up with no promises of reaching the top... naturally. I just thought he should start with fewer variables... no crevasses... no volcanic rock... no AMS...

Something to start off on rather than jump into the deep end of the pool.
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Postby mrchad9 » Thu May 06, 2010 5:17 am

$1200 seems excessive, if it is just to climb. Perhaps they provide fresh fruit and vegetables, and a massage at the end?

If he's determined and wants to keep doing this, for that he can get a 6-day mountaineering course that will teach him a lot, and climb something during the course. I did that a few years ago and would recommend it. Perhaps he's found the equivalent on Rainier, in which case maybe he's on the right path...
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Re: Advice to a new climber

Postby Dan Shorb » Thu May 06, 2010 5:18 am

marcminish wrote:I recommended something besides Rainier as a first start. Maybe you disagree. Please chime in here.


Perhaps he may want to just stay home. Why try something he might have to turn around on. Indeed, he'll inevitably have to turn around on something, so you should recommend that he give up the "sport" of mountaineering now. Rainier...yeah right.... how about a good safe sand dune on the Oregon coast, that way, if he doesn't make it up, he can at least Baptize himself in the sea afterward. If the goal is to insure he has "Success" his first time out by gaining the highest point on something --and get a sense of accomplishment so he sicks with it-- that's what I'd suggest. How could he possibly be prepared for the shlog, possible storms, crevasses, and general potential risk of a mountain on which something "could actually happen" in lieu of a "safer" mountain. He might come away with an awe of the mountains, or worse, a bruised ego. I say the Safer the Better. Have him start by highpointing the Southeast first, and Kan sas.

God forbid he gets to a point on any route and says,"you know what? I'm actually feeling anxious about this, I think I want to turn around now."

1. he could ruin everyone's day
2. he could hold on to that negative experience and not try mountaineering again (in which case we can all laugh and say he probably wasn't made out for mountaineering anyway)
3. his judgement could be soooooooo bad that he doesn't know he should turn around, in which case his rope team would have to help him (UGH, don't we all hate helping our Partners, F@ck)
4. he could hurt himself
5. he could hurt someone else, no really, he could.

Again, with the guestion being where/how he should start his mountain career: Let him know that he just shouldn't take any risks...ever. Or think that he can do something, when , really, he can't. That'd be suuch a waste of money.
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Postby billisfree » Thu May 06, 2010 5:41 am

Why do the big one first?

Most of us started small and worked our way higher.
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Re: Advice to a new climber

Postby marcminish » Thu May 06, 2010 5:41 am

d_shorb wrote:
marcminish wrote:I recommended something besides Rainier as a first start. Maybe you disagree. Please chime in here.


Perhaps he may want to just stay home. Why try something he might have to turn around on. Indeed, he'll inevitably have to turn around on something, so you should recommend that he give up the "sport" of mountaineering now. Rainier...yeah right.... how about a good safe sand dune on the Oregon coast, that way, if he doesn't make it up, he can at least Baptize himself in the sea afterward. If the goal is to insure he has "Success" his first time out by gaining the highest point on something --and get a sense of accomplishment so he sicks with it-- that's what I'd suggest. How could he possibly be prepared for the shlog, possible storms, crevasses, and general potential risk of a mountain on which something "could actually happen" in lieu of a "safer" mountain. He might come away with an awe of the mountains, or worse, a bruised ego. I say the Safer the Better. Have him start by highpointing the Southeast first, and Kan sas.

God forbid he gets to a point on any route and says,"you know what? I'm actually feeling anxious about this, I think I want to turn around now."

1. he could ruin everyone's day
2. he could hold on to that negative experience and not try mountaineering again (in which case we can all laugh and say he probably wasn't made out for mountaineering anyway)
3. his judgement could be soooooooo bad that he doesn't know he should turn around, in which case his rope team would have to help him (UGH, don't we all hate helping our Partners, F@ck)
4. he could hurt himself
5. he could hurt someone else, no really, he could.

Again, with the guestion being where/how he should start his mountain career: Let him know that he just shouldn't take any risks...ever. Or think that he can do something, when , really, he can't. That'd be suuch a waste of money.


Guys... c'mon. Mountaineering is a brotherhood of sorts. We were ALL NEW at some point. Think of the first time your nuts shrunk up into your body because you were scard. We've ALL been there. Come one... we have all felt it... or at least those of you who are honest enough to say it.

This guy took the trouble to call me today. We share a mutual friend (Chris), and we all started somewhere. He doesn't seem like the "check off the list" kind of adrenaline junkie dim-wit on the phone. We chatted for perhaps 45 minutes today on the phone. As I said, we share a friend. Our mutual friend is someone he and I both trust so please cut him some slack. Many of you know me here. Would I send a fellow SPer a jackass on purpose?

Really... I just think Mt. Rainier is not the best starting point, maybe something you work up to, but not a starting point. I told him the climbing community is among the best folks he will ever meet. The real climbers, not the wannabees. I told him if he posted on THIS website he could find good brothers and sisters who would be happy to help him and instruct him. Patiently because we were ALL newbies at some point.

I warned him not to go it alone or read too much about what it was like... I expressed to him my own experiences. I have witnessed some serious unpleasantness on the mountains. If any of you have climbed for long than you have too. Shall we not try to spare our fellow climber the same if we can? The learning curve is steep, and so are the consequences of bad decsions. Learning from your brothers who have gone before you is a smart thing, no?

Good brothers and sisters, please accept my new friend into the community. Teach him well. Be patient. Let us not create another chapter in the moutaineering accidents annual book.

Anyone among you feel the same?
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Postby marcminish » Thu May 06, 2010 5:43 am

Gary Schenk wrote:Hi, Marc!

Where you been, you misguided lackey of the capitalist system? (Oops! We're not allowed to banter here anymore, I forgot! My bad.)

A guided trip on Rainier will be a load of fun for your buddy. Even if it doesn't work out that mountaineering is for him, it'll be an experience he'll never forget. He'll learn a lot, too.

Pay no attention to the nattering nabobs of negativism. Tell him to go for it.

Gary


Gary... you old dog... you're not help me here. God love you. [grin]
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Postby marcminish » Thu May 06, 2010 5:46 am

billisfree wrote:Why do the big one first?

Most of us started small and worked our way higher.


My sentiments exactly. I damn near died on Mt. Rainer. I can't send another man up there without warning him. Better get some experience. It saved me at least two or three times that I can think of. Been in some dicey situations on a moutain, had I not have the good sense to dig a snow cave or the mental fortitude to suck it up I might well have been a statistic myself. Experience counts. That's what I hope my new friend will learn.

Billisfree.... thank you.
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Postby billisfree » Thu May 06, 2010 5:51 am

True... it's hard to find a friend to take you out and show you the ropes...

hmmmm....
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Postby The Chief » Thu May 06, 2010 6:33 am

Give me a PM Marc.

Would love to show him the ropes.

Got lots of high stuff around my neck of the Granite & Ice to take him on where he will learn something, be challenged and more importantly, he will have some safe fun and return home with some awesome memories.

Will probably get him motivated and assuredly ready for Rainier as well.

Offer stands...
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Postby mountainzguy » Thu May 06, 2010 6:35 am

marcminish wrote: Experience counts. That's what I hope my new friend will learn.


That's what the guide services provide, though. They'll have the "good sense to build a snow cave". In fact, depending on who he goes with, the company will usually have several guides on a trip that know the route extremely well and just have loads of climbing experience.

I hope that he doesn't take the experience as a "gateway" to further mountaineering opportunities. They really don't teach you all that much: basically the minimum to be guided up Mt. Rainier. No crevasse rescue, no knots, etc (again dependant on who/what program he goes with). Perhaps snow travel, roped travel, and ice axe arrest.

That said, I started on a guided climb of Mt. Rainier with Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. I was interested in trying mountaineering before dedicating myself to purchasing gear and taking courses. Throughout the trip, at no time did I feel I wasn't in good hands. Due to our somewhat large group, we had 6 guides. Our lead guide is a guide on Everest. According to his bio (http://www.rmiguides.com/about/guides.php) he has climbed Mt. Rainier 50 times. Our assistant leader was a lead guide (multiple times) on Denali, and has been guiding Rainier for 4 seasons. Our other assistant lead is a lead guide on Aconcagua and has 45 summits of Mt. Rainier. The other 3 had less experience, as with RMI, you have to have guided with them for 5 years (or hold IFMGA certification) to be a lead guide. These guys and girls know their stuff, and the primary goal is safety. Some things, however, are mostly out of the control of guides, such as rockfall and icefall. In fact, according to some, going guided with little experience is safer than going out without guides, even with experience. They will keep a reality check on things, and keep it safe, again, their very top priority. I really don't think that you have to worry about safety under these guides.

For me, it was an extremely fun, amazing day. I'm not saying it was the right choice, necessarily, as I still think taking a 6-day mountaineering course or the like would have been much more beneficial for my money. One great thing about signing up for a trip (it sounds like he hasn't yet?) is it'll force you to get out, if you really want to find success. Preparing for the trip, I hiked about 1-2 times a week for about 4 months prior to the outing, and did a bit of scrambling as well. It isn't like this trip is coming up soon, he'll have time to get some experience between now and then, on things like clothing systems, mountain travel, perhaps snow travel, etc.

So, to sum it up: On my trip it was very fun. However, we didn't learn a whole lot, and it was expensive. It was a very well-ran and safe trip, and forced me to hike a LOT (the highlight of my year).

I'm just trying to give some input from another viewpoint. Sorry if this is too long :)

Edited to add that the guide services also have shorter courses on Mt. Rainier. I emailed RMI recently to see about taking this up, and according to them, their one-day mountaineering course ($180), crevasse rescue course ($180), and a navigation (RMI doesn't provide), as well as avalanche course (RMI doesn't provide), will effectively prepare you for an unguided trip up glaciated peaks. Especially something relatively straight forward like the Dissapointment Cleaver midsummer. Maybe your friend can look into this?
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