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Prep for Aconcauga. Any Oct/Nov mountaineering in the USA?

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Prep for Aconcauga. Any Oct/Nov mountaineering in the USA?

Postby brokesomeribs » Thu Aug 19, 2010 6:39 am

Short question, followed by a longer backstory.

Are there any high(er) altitude and preferably glaciated mountaineering objectives that are still in the realm of near-sanity during October/November? Only caveat is that it needs to be in the lower 48. I'm pretty sure Rainier is out of the question. Hood? Baker? Something else?

Backstory for anyone who cares: I just got myself invited on a non-guided Aconcagua expedition this coming January. I'd be the 4th guy on a team of strong and fairly experienced climbers. The leader has done Vinson, Elbrus, Everest (but turned around by weather), some S. American volcanoes, etc.

Meanwhile I have done nothing at altitude, ever. Highest I've climbed is probably Mt Baldy at about 12.5K at Philmont Scout Ranch when I was a kid. On the flip side, I know a hell of a lot more than the average first time mountaineering newbie. 10+ years climbing, 5+ years leading trad up to 5.10, going on my 2nd year leading ice up to WI4, and many years of winter camping. Also an EMT, WFR, blah blah blah, not trying to spray. I'll shut up.

So here's the rub - I don't want to be a liability to my team. I want to have at least 1 or 2 peaks and some glacier practice under my belt before flying south. Due to a 7 hour flight delay earlier this year, Airtran gifted me with a single use round trip ticket to anywhere they fly in the US.

What can I do? I don't mind the cold, I don't mind postholing, I just don't want to get nailed by rockfall or swept off by an avy.

Alternatively, is it worth wasting my free ticket to fly out to just get on a glacier and practice crevasse rescue (and not even making a summit attempt)? Phrased differently, can I just go out to my local crag and practice z pulleys etc, or do I need to be on a glacier? I'm a poor 26 year old so flights are at a premium for me. Don't want to blow my one chance to make it out to the PNW for the next year just to play around for 2-3 days.
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Postby mrchad9 » Thu Aug 19, 2010 7:14 am

East side of the Sierra should have lots of reasonable options for you. All over the place.
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Postby markv » Thu Aug 19, 2010 7:22 am

If you're looking to get high up without weather being as much of an issue, there's always Pikes Peak (CO) and White Mt. (CA). They each have roads, so bailing is easier, and they're near great places to bail to.
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Postby Day Hiker » Thu Aug 19, 2010 7:25 am

brokesomeribs wrote:Due to a 7 hour flight delay earlier this year, Airtran gifted me with a single use round trip ticket to anywhere they fly in the US.


I didn't even know they were still in business. I got screwed by Air Tranny back in 2000. They made us miss our connection in ATL, and I got to New York 4 hours late and at the wrong airport (LGA instead of EWR), which cost me a night's sleep and my company a nice $130 in cab fare.

To aid the discussion, their western destinations are Denver, Phoenix, Vegas, Seattle, San Fran, L.A., and San Diego.
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Postby James_W » Thu Aug 19, 2010 7:32 am

mrchad9 wrote:East side of the Sierra should have lots of reasonable options for you. All over the place.


What he said
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Postby brokesomeribs » Thu Aug 19, 2010 7:37 am

markv wrote:If you're looking to get high up without weather being as much of an issue, there's always Pikes Peak (CO) and White Mt. (CA). They each have roads, so bailing is easier, and they're near great places to bail to.


Thanks for the suggestions. Pike's Peak was one of my thoughts - I drove to the top once. I was thinking if the first snows have hit, I could carry my approach skis up for some weight training and then ski the road all the way back down. On the flip side, it's not so much the altitude I'm specifically concerned about, so PP (and similar objectives) would just be a fun training trip, but I could get similar training in without getting on a plane.

It's the glacier/crevasse skills and multi-day mountaineering logistical kinks I want to work out. That's what I can't do here on the East Coast, and certainly not by November.
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Postby HeyItsBen » Thu Aug 19, 2010 7:48 am

You don't need to be on a glacier to practice crevasse rescue, but snow would be helpful. Build proper anchors, build proper pulley systems, and haul your friend up a snow slope. We dug a huge pit (>10 feet deep) on a short 30 degree slope and pulled people out of it, enough to know whether you're doing something right or wrong. To practice self rescue, well you can do that anywhere. Use rafters in your garage, or a guardrail on a 2nd story patio, anything. You don't have to climb very high, have your friend lower the rope as you ascend it...
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Postby brokesomeribs » Thu Aug 19, 2010 7:49 am

James_W wrote:
mrchad9 wrote:East side of the Sierra should have lots of reasonable options for you. All over the place.


What he said


Did some reading - looks like Shasta might be the ticket. I figure I can get out for about 9-10 days. Got any other recommended routes in the area? Good alpine rock route suggestions (Up to Grade IV, 5.8, A0) are also welcome.
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Postby mrchad9 » Thu Aug 19, 2010 8:25 am

Uhh... if you take a course, I wouldn't do it on Rainier. There are cheaper and better ones elsewhere in the Cascades.

And if you've got an international plane ticket, and want to meet some girls, much better destinations than Vegas out there. C'mon Pete!!!
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Postby James_W » Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:05 am

mrchad9 wrote:Uhh... if you take a course, I wouldn't do it on Rainier. There are cheaper and better ones elsewhere in the Cascades.

And if you've got an international plane ticket, and want to meet some girls, much better destinations than Vegas out there. C'mon Pete!!!


Yeah go to Montreal
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Postby bird » Thu Aug 19, 2010 12:37 pm

1000Pks wrote:I thought Aconcagua by the standard route was a scree climb.

Me too.
If you want to get some crevasse rescue training, you can do that on Mt Washington (to get some early season snow for anchor practice) or any crag. If you want some altitude experience, then go to Orizaba in Mexico. 18,500 feet will let you experience the joys of AMS.
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Postby Day Hiker » Thu Aug 19, 2010 2:46 pm

bird wrote:
1000Pks wrote:I thought Aconcagua by the standard route was a scree climb.

Me too.


Yes, steep, rocky trail, kind-of crappy in places. But with the OP's discussion of glacier training, my thoughts are to safely assume there is no way his party is planning to go via the Normal Route. In January, depending on the year, you might summit without getting your boots wet. That's how it was for us in 2007; in fact, I wore running shoes for all but the last couple thousand feet.
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