divnamite wrote:Quick question: is it money and time, as well as logistical problems that make folks from Australia and New Zealand to select high altitude mountains as their default introduction to mountaineering and alpine climbing trip?
Traditionally Australian climbers started either walking or rockclimbing in Australia then progressed to climbing in New Zealand (sometimes Europe), usually starting with a course, before going further and higher. The bulk of them still do this, rather than what you've said above.
Trekking in Nepal/India has always been popular with Australians, since the 1970s at least, and so there were always people who did a slightly different transition from easier to harder treks and adding on some peak on the side, then increasing the height and difficulty of those peaks. Given the low technical difficulty of many popular peaks - Island, Mera etc - it's not unreasonable for some
people to start this way, if it's accompanied with some basic technical skills as well. You can practice crevasse rescue and self-arrest just as easily on a glacier in Nepal as outside Seattle, and the former will be more realistic. Plenty of 6000m peaks are safer and technically easier than Mt Rainier or Mt Blanc, despite traditional 'wisdom' and no NZ, Rainier or Banff tech course can prepare you for the grind and reality of altitude.
In the last 10 years or so there has been an increase in Australians signing on to commercially guided trips to popular high peaks, for all sorts of reasons. Maybe because they don't know what else to do, and they can afford it, maybe they're time poor, maybe they have no partners because few people here are mountaineers, maybe because we have no lower mountains to get our fix on here so we have to go overseas and trips such as those are easy to organise, requiring little imagination, knowledge or experience, maybe they're corporate suits wanting a big impressive tick and want to shortcut the traditional path. That last one might be a popular modern conception, but it's still not the majority.