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Climbing with friends or pay for a class?

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Climbing with friends or pay for a class?

Postby Snackem » Fri Jul 23, 2010 2:52 am

I just started climbing and have done only non-technical stuff. I would like to eventually try some more technical stuff (Rainer, Jefferson, maybe one day Denali etc) though nothing too radical though (except for maybe Denali way off in the future). I'm wondering what would be better to learn the basics. Should I try and cultivate relationships with other climbers who are willing to show me the ropes, or would I be better served to go to a climbing school like RMI? I really have no desire to do any real rock walls or anything. I'm primarily interested in mountaineering with my ultimate goal being to climb all the Cascades along with Whitney and maybe one day Denali.

Secondly after Hood and Adams what OR/WA/N. CA peak would be a good beginners trip?
Thanks for the input.
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Postby mrchad9 » Fri Jul 23, 2010 3:26 am

Mount Shasta is the best mountain in the world. 8)

Consider it and it seems to fit what you are looking for. If you do Hood or Adams first there are a handful of routes on Shasta you should be comfortable with that avoid the crowds.

As for learning- both good options you laid out. I did a 6-day glacier class a few years ago on Baker that was worthwhile. Would recommend something like that versus an alternative of a guide taking you up to a summit.
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Postby Snackem » Fri Jul 23, 2010 3:46 am

mrchad9 wrote:Mount Shasta is the best mountain in the world. 8)

Consider it and it seems to fit what you are looking for. If you do Hood or Adams first there are a handful of routes on Shasta you should be comfortable with that avoid the crowds.

As for learning- both good options you laid out. I did a 6-day glacier class a few years ago on Baker that was worthwhile. Would recommend something like that versus an alternative of a guide taking you up to a summit.


I've thought about going with RMI to Rainer on their 3 or 4 day trip, but for 1,000 that seems like a ton of money when I could in theory do 2 days of their school for less than half the price. What Shasta routes would you look at? My dad lives near Redding (in Lewiston) so I'm thinking of doing Shasta and Whitney next summer (along with Lassen but that's not much of a climb).
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Postby mrchad9 » Fri Jul 23, 2010 4:05 am

Snackem wrote:I've thought about going with RMI to Rainer on their 3 or 4 day trip, but for 1,000 that seems like a ton of money when I could in theory do 2 days of their school for less than half the price. What Shasta routes would you look at? My dad lives near Redding (in Lewiston) so I'm thinking of doing Shasta and Whitney next summer (along with Lassen but that's not much of a climb).

This is what I did for a similar price, and I'd recommend it tough as you know you have other options. Though I did it in May and as you probably know that was a mistake. It rained on us every day!
http://www.aai.cc/ProgramDetail/alpinism1/

I wouldn't recommend a 3-4 day trip on Rainier as an alternative. Just me. You spend more time climbing, less learning, for a similar price. And from what I saw on Rainier, their process in terms of pace and start times was more geared towards maximizing utilization of their Camp Muir shelter than enjoying the climb. Just my opinion.

My 2nd route up Shasta was West Face Gully. An excellent and scenic route with a 4000 ft glissade. Steep if you are not comfortable on crampons, but if you are then it is no issue. Another one I enjoyed that lasts a bit into the year was Hotlum-Wintun ridge, and you can get a close view of a small icefall on Hotlum glacier as a short sidetrip. Wintun ridge is also nice, and I'd recommend it over Clear Creek, if it is melted out the rock is more solid. None of these routes require glacier skills and each would be fine with a little experience yet doesn't need a lot. Even if you were very comfortable on your Lassen trip I would think that enough (if you are talking about doing Lassen when it has snow).

Forced to pick one I'd probably say West Face Gully is a good option.

EDIT- BTW I have the same goal- to do all the Cascades- though it has not been a priority. Wondering about when I'll get to Jefferson...
Last edited by mrchad9 on Fri Jul 23, 2010 4:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Climbing with friends or pay for a class?

Postby workmanflock » Fri Jul 23, 2010 5:15 am

Snackem wrote:I just started climbing and have done only non-technical stuff. I would like to eventually try some more technical stuff (Rainer, Jefferson, maybe one day Denali etc) though nothing too radical though (except for maybe Denali way off in the future). I'm wondering what would be better to learn the basics. Should I try and cultivate relationships with other climbers who are willing to show me the ropes, or would I be better served to go to a climbing school like RMI? I really have no desire to do any real rock walls or anything. I'm primarily interested in mountaineering with my ultimate goal being to climb all the Cascades along with Whitney and maybe one day Denali.

Secondly after Hood and Adams what OR/WA/N. CA peak would be a good beginners trip?
Thanks for the input.


Climbing with guides is great if you are going to go out and practice immediately and is almost useless if you take a course, do a peak, then let the skills languish.

Climbing with friends is slower, less focused (generally), but lets you have a support group to grow with.

The two approaches can be complimentary but the relationships you make with friends and the real ingrained skills you develop with repeated practice makes friends versus guides the way to go overall.

Granted, if you want WFR, Avy, etc guides/courses are great but in the long term climbing is about the experience and you'll never have friends like those you make as a climber.
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Postby Snackem » Fri Jul 23, 2010 11:19 am

mrchad9 wrote:
Snackem wrote:I've thought about going with RMI to Rainer on their 3 or 4 day trip, but for 1,000 that seems like a ton of money when I could in theory do 2 days of their school for less than half the price. What Shasta routes would you look at? My dad lives near Redding (in Lewiston) so I'm thinking of doing Shasta and Whitney next summer (along with Lassen but that's not much of a climb).

This is what I did for a similar price, and I'd recommend it tough as you know you have other options. Though I did it in May and as you probably know that was a mistake. It rained on us every day!
http://www.aai.cc/ProgramDetail/alpinism1/

I wouldn't recommend a 3-4 day trip on Rainier as an alternative. Just me. You spend more time climbing, less learning, for a similar price. And from what I saw on Rainier, their process in terms of pace and start times was more geared towards maximizing utilization of their Camp Muir shelter than enjoying the climb. Just my opinion.

My 2nd route up Shasta was West Face Gully. An excellent and scenic route with a 4000 ft glissade. Steep if you are not comfortable on crampons, but if you are then it is no issue. Another one I enjoyed that lasts a bit into the year was Hotlum-Wintun ridge, and you can get a close view of a small icefall on Hotlum glacier as a short sidetrip. Wintun ridge is also nice, and I'd recommend it over Clear Creek, if it is melted out the rock is more solid. None of these routes require glacier skills and each would be fine with a little experience yet doesn't need a lot. Even if you were very comfortable on your Lassen trip I would think that enough (if you are talking about doing Lassen when it has snow).

Forced to pick one I'd probably say West Face Gully is a good option.

EDIT- BTW I have the same goal- to do all the Cascades- though it has not been a priority. Wondering about when I'll get to Jefferson...


Thanks for the information and the links. I love the 3 day glacier skills class idea. It is much cheaper than the RMI guided trip. On a side note I grew up hiking and hunting around Jefferson and I've ALWAYS wanted to climb it. I plan on saving it for my last cascade to climb, but we'll see if that works out or not.
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Postby peladoboton » Fri Jul 23, 2010 1:49 pm

thats awesome that you are taking advantage of your proximity to awesome climbing living on the Palouse.

i grew up in Moscow, and never realized the awesome stuff that was right around me.

an alternative to all of the above is to go with Mike Baizer of the U of I outdoors group. he is an incredibly experienced guide and offers climbing/mountaineering classes there that are WAY cheaper than any of the pro guided stuff. i'd check out when their next trip is, and he could at least give you some local folks to keep doing stuff with beyond your classes etc.
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Re: Climbing with friends or pay for a class?

Postby rpc » Fri Jul 23, 2010 4:26 pm

Snackem wrote:I just started climbing and have done only non-technical stuff. I would like to eventually try some more technical stuff (Rainer, Jefferson, maybe one day Denali etc) though nothing too radical though (except for maybe Denali way off in the future). I'm wondering what would be better to learn the basics. Should I try and cultivate relationships with other climbers who are willing to show me the ropes, or would I be better served to go to a climbing school like RMI? I really have no desire to do any real rock walls or anything. I'm primarily interested in mountaineering with my ultimate goal being to climb all the Cascades along with Whitney and maybe one day Denali.

Secondly after Hood and Adams what OR/WA/N. CA peak would be a good beginners trip?
Thanks for the input.


for a fraction of the $1000, you can find an intro. to mountaineering course with a club like The Mountaineers (there's gotta be a branch in Spokane), Mazamas (PDX), etc... From what you describe of your goals, seems like it would be a good match & might open up your horizons to more AND you're likely to find some people to climb with outside the club.

edit in example:
http://www.mazamas.org/your/adventure/starts-here/C55/
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Postby mrchad9 » Fri Jul 23, 2010 6:01 pm

Vitaliy M wrote:
peladoboton wrote:thats awesome that you are taking advantage of your proximity to awesome climbing living on the Palouse.

i grew up in Moscow, and never realized the awesome stuff that was right around me.

an alternative to all of the above is to go with Mike Baizer of the U of I outdoors group. he is an incredibly experienced guide and offers climbing/mountaineering classes there that are WAY cheaper than any of the pro guided stuff. i'd check out when their next trip is, and he could at least give you some local folks to keep doing stuff with beyond your classes etc.


You grew up in Moscow Russia?

There's one in Idaho. Either that or maybe you've found your long-lost grade school buddy that sat in front of you in homeroom!
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Postby John Duffield » Fri Jul 23, 2010 6:44 pm

I personally prefer to take lessons at the beginning or when stuck on a plateau of any sport I try. Whitewater Kayaking, Snowboarding, Rock and Ice climbing, Mountain Biking, SCUBA, BC skiing etc etc. Lessons get you to a more enjoyable intermediate or thereabout level so much quicker. Case in point - snowboarding. I ski at expert but when I started snowboarding, I was doing beginner runs. All I was doing, was learning how to fall. Boring. My friends bagged it as tedious. Dumped the boards and grabbed their skis. A few hours lessons and I was doing Intermediate.

Of course, it's the journey, not the destination. If you want to be an Alpine Climber, it can be enjoyable to work up mountain by mountain over years. No lessons. But a recurring theme on this site, is people wanting to get up on big mountains with very few smaller mountains under their belt. For those people, lessons are mandatory. Simply no other way to quickly acquire the skillset they need. The lessons should be fun as well as instructive.

There are a lot of dedicated professional climbing instructors out there. People who can quickly find the edge of your inherent ability and start from there.

You can look at it from your job perspective. Who moves up faster? The guys that stayed in school or the dropouts? That said, there are a precious few that are natural born superstars and don't need anything.
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Postby mrchad9 » Fri Jul 23, 2010 6:54 pm

John Duffield wrote:You can look at it from your job perspective. Who moves up faster? The guys that stayed in school or the dropouts?

At my job the people who stayed in school, although that doesn't appear to have made them any smarter.
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Postby peladoboton » Fri Jul 23, 2010 11:57 pm

moscow, idaho, comrads....
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Postby bird » Sat Jul 24, 2010 12:21 am

The alpinism course is a good 1st step. A few benefits...
1) learn from skilled instructors
2) pretty intense in that you'll pack a lot of learning in
3) meet new people, possible future partners
4) learn the fundamentals and make it more likely other partners will be comfortable climbing with you in the future.
5) maybe learn enough so that if you climb with someone who's "teaching", you may be able to realize they have no clue (always a possibility).
Drawback...$$.
The Rainier courses tend to teach the minimum to get you up Rainier. Though when I did a course with AAI.cc, our summit attempt was snowed out, so we spent the day practicing glacier skills which was great.
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