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Advice to a new climber

Post general questions and discuss issues related to climbing.
 

Postby Alpinisto » Mon May 24, 2010 4:17 pm

welle wrote:Third, check out all the threads about Rainier clothing - there are many on these forums. Figure out the best layering system. I see guided climbers carrying 50+ pound of huge packs as if they're going on an expedition - while they don't even have to carry a tent or cooking equipment or ropes!


The unwritten corollary to welle's comment above is that, if you post yet another "What's the best <insert piece of gear/clothing here> for Rainier?" threads in the Gear forum, you WILL be flamed by most, if not all, of the regulars and branded a n00b-tard.


Forcing you to then wear a scarlet "N" on your new Ark'terrix softshell...


Which you will have purchased from zeroforhire right here on SP...


:D


(The search function is your friend. :wink: )
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Postby AlexeyD » Mon May 24, 2010 5:55 pm

As someone who has been on Rainier several times, including while very much inexperienced (and without a guide) I will make the following brief points. First, a climb of Rainier with a guide service, by one of the non-technical routes, is totally doable and reasonable in terms of safety for a person new to mountaineering, provided he has a sufficient level of physical fitness. Without a guide I'd never recommend it to a beginner, but since that's not being discussed, it's irrelevant. Now, I have very limited experience with guided mountaineering, but I do know that they vary considerably in terms of how much instruction they do, etc. That being said, if there is any advice I can give, it's that the more you already know, the more you will be able to learn from your experience. In other words, if you go into the trip not knowing how to tie a figure-8, you will be forced to take up time and energy doing that, at the expense of other valuable skills that you might have. Also, I've already mentioned the physical preparation and I'll say it again: the more, the better. More than anything, a guided Rainier climb is a test of stamina and endurance. You are gaining 9000 vertical feet usually in a day a half, with just a few hours of sleep in between. On top of that, you are going from sea level to over 14k feet without a chance to acclimate. Now, training will NOT prepare you for the altitude issues, but it will at least make the rest of the experience more worthwhile. Of course training by hiking (preferably with a pack) is the best way, but if that's not an option due to time constraints, regular cardiovascular exercise is good, too.

Having briefly read your posts, one thing I would caution against is underestimating the mountain, even if the trip is guided. That's not to discourage you from going, but rather to have the right mindset when you're there. It's always better to prepare for the worst, and that have it turn out to not be so bad. However, that's not likely to happen...having been in your shoes, more or less, believe me that you have no idea how big and serious Rainier is until you have climbed or attempted to climb it.

Anyway, whatever happens I am sure it will be a memorable experience, if nothing else, and probably an incredible one as well. Good luck and I hope it goes well!

~Alexey
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Postby peladoboton » Mon May 24, 2010 7:15 pm

Ed Viesturs gives great advice on assessing Rainier and not underestimating it in his book "No Shortcuts To The Top".

I very much hope to go climb that peak sometime in the near future.
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Postby marcminish » Tue May 25, 2010 4:05 am

d_shorb wrote:My take is: there no reason to coddle someone in the mountains.

I agree... just don't want him to get the wrong idea. Better to cut your teeth on something more... how to say it... agreeable to a new climber.
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Postby marcminish » Tue May 25, 2010 4:06 am

welle wrote:Greenhorn, where do you live and when is your trip? Here are a couple of tips from me if you want to be successful and have fun on your climb.

Sounds like money is not an issue to you, so I'd go and buy mountaineering boots for the climb, instead of renting them from RMI. Get the new leather ones like Sportiva Nepals or Scarpa Phantoms, not the double-plastic ones. Go hike in them and break them in. Good boots make a huge difference and light-weight pair will keep you happy on the Paradise to Camp Muir hike (and you don't have to bring 2 pairs of boots like many do).

Secondly, if you can, rent crampons, if not, buy a pair online (10-point crampons are good enough), there are sales going on right now or you maybe able to get a pair of used ones. Yes, even if you don't have snow where you are, fit them to your boots and try walking in them. It's very awkward in the beginning. Make sure to wear gaitors when you do or wear a skinny pair of pants that you don't mind trashing. That's the biggest complaint and something that holds back inexperienced mountaineers on their first guided trips. Tripping and constantly catching an edge takes a lot of energy, then you also dislodge rocks on the fellows below you - not cool! RMI go at faster pace than other guided groups, so if they see you falling behind they usually turn you back.

Third, check out all the threads about Rainier clothing - there are many on these forums. Figure out the best layering system. I see guided climbers carrying 50+ pound of huge packs as if they're going on an expedition - while they don't even have to carry a tent or cooking equipment or ropes!

Fourth, on your climb, bring foods you like - you have a luxury of guided services, so you're not constrained by weight you can carry ;) If you haven't already, go backpacking (at least 2 nights) and figure out what works and what doesn't food-wise.

Good luck and have fun! If you decide you like it and want to stick with it, you'll already have most of the gear. If not, sell them here - more bargains for us :lol:

Good advice. Thank you.
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Re: Advice to a new climber

Postby marcminish » Tue May 25, 2010 4:09 am

Buckaroo wrote:
marcminish wrote:He has no interest in rock climbing, just mountaineering.


hope he's not planning on climbing any mountains with rock on them then

I said the same thing when first starting out, until I climbed a 6 pitch wall then I was hooked on exposure.

agree though, Rainier is not a good first mountain

That was my thought too. You can't just say I want to climb big mountains but not be a rock climber.

What mountain/route would you recommend?

I thought Mt. Washington in winter (guided) or RMNP parred with some fellow SPers.
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Postby marcminish » Tue May 25, 2010 4:16 am

The Chief wrote:Just go climb something, anything!

Do the right preps, physically and mentally, find someone that knows what the fk they are doing to get you up there and back down safely and enjoyably.

That is all that matters.

PS: Please remember this... Just because you have a guide/s, doesn't guarantee jack!

You better get physically and mentally prepared for the entire evolution. You'd best have started yesterday.


Wassup, Chief? Been a long time... you're still one of my favorite libs (you and Arthur/Gary and... (ksolem)). :) Definitely you're right about being physically/mentally prepared. My thought was that experiences build on themselves. Imagine being dropped off into the deep end of the pool without having swam in the shallow end first.

For my part, being a lifetime backpacker and then snow cave sleeper prepared me for being tent-bound for three days once. Having my nuts shrink up a few times prepared me for the "OMG- I almost died just now" feeling that we've all had on big nasty climbs. I just think an escorted way to the top is not the way to go. Better to learn some gutter basics. Learn from the brotherhood. Learn what to expect and how to cope with those things before jumping in with both feet. Not to mention the $1,200 bucks.
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Re: Advice to a new climber

Postby Buckaroo » Tue May 25, 2010 6:44 am

marcminish wrote:That was my thought too. You can't just say I want to climb big mountains but not be a rock climber.

What mountain/route would you recommend?

I thought Mt. Washington in winter (guided) or RMNP parred with some fellow SPers.


Yeah, the DC cleaver part of the regular route on Rainier is 500ft(?) of bare rock after mid summer.

Mt. Wash in winter is probably more technical than Rainier but probably not colder.

I would rec Mt Hood, Mt Baker, Mt Adams, Mt Shasta as prep for Rainier

The main difficulty with Rainier is going from sea level to 14,5 in 2 days, it's a lot of acclimatization, you can have the best aerobics and still have bad acclimatization.

there was a thread a while back about the different problems Rainier poses, it's totally different from other 14ers in the lower 48.

there's 2 types of climbers on Rainier, those that are not climbers and are just doing it to summit the highest peak in the state, and those that are climbers and are doing it for climbing's sake.

the non-climbers are better off guided, the climbers should work up to it with friends. SP is perfect for that
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Re: Advice to a new climber

Postby NY-Iceman » Fri Dec 13, 2013 2:55 am

Hi Everyone- I think I can offer some unique perspective. I am 36, I've always had a small fire to get into climbing. I love to ski and absolutely love the mountains. I survived cancer and decided (with my wife's support) that I'm going to jump in. My personality is to take things to the zenith power. I love golf, i buy new culbs and join a private club, I realized quickly that this is the most dangerous approach to mountaineering. At first, I had my sights set on Rainier, that's until I started doing my research. I've decided that my first climb will be an EMS class on MT Washington in March after joining the local climbing gym to learn the absolute basics. My fitness level is not very good, I will use mountaineering as a reward for my fitness goals. So far, so good I'm shedding the weight and getting more fit. I like the EMS classes because you can rent the equipment and it's close home (I live on Long Island, NY). I'm super excited to get going but I realize that slow and steady may yield the highest returns (pun intended).
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