Welcome to SP!  -
Areas & RangesMountains & RocksRoutesImagesArticlesTrip ReportsGearOtherPeoplePlans & PartnersWhat's NewForum

The Next Level

Post general questions and discuss issues related to climbing.
 

The Next Level

Postby rnevius » Tue Dec 28, 2010 5:59 am

I've been asking around lately to find out how everyone got into winter hiking/mountaineering. As an avid backpacker, skier and endurance junkie my whole life, winter after winter I find myself craving backcountry skiing and hiking. Pictures of snowy summits just gets my heart racing. Problem is...I've never done it anywhere other than small, low elevation climbs in my hometown. I've broken out the snowshoes and crampons, taught myself basic self-arrest with an ice ax, and skied chest-deep powder, but I've never had the privilege of backpacking, skiing, and experiencing the winter sierras (other than skiing mammoth I suppose). I've thru-hiked the JMT faster than most, explore as much of the Sierras that I possibly can every year, boulder often, and think about the mountains daily. I have the will and the fitness, I just can't find the group of people willing to teach a newbie. I'm young, only 21 years old, and it seems most people my age around me are not even remotely interested or experienced. How did those of you who do it get into winter trekking? Was it later on in life? Did you take mountaineering courses or did you fall into some experienced friends? Any recommendations to a newbie for a thirst for some winter excitement?
User Avatar
rnevius

 
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2009 1:00 am
Location: San Luis Obispo, California, United States
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post

Re: The Next Level

Postby ExcitableBoy » Tue Dec 28, 2010 1:47 pm

I never took any courses other than first aid and avalanche safety. I met a guy in school with similar experience (very little) and ambitions and we taught each other to climb. We both had Freedom of the Hills which we read cover to cover and started out going to the crags and mountains practicing what we read. Once I had a little experience I started climbing with other climbers who were willing to mentor me. I had a bit of an advantage, both my undergraduate and graduate schools had very active climbing communities so it was relatively easy to find partners.

Perhaps you could take and introductory climbing class at the local climbing gym, that way you will know how to belay and tie knots so you can at least offer to be a belay slave to someone in exchange for mentoring.
User Avatar
ExcitableBoy

 
Posts: 2914
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2005 9:33 am
Location: Issaquah, Washington
Thanked: 438 times in 315 posts

Re: The Next Level

Postby Clark_Griswold » Wed Dec 29, 2010 3:01 am

I just did it. I haven't done but 3 mountains (2 really ) in winter, but some are pretty easy. I started on Agassiz Peak near Flagstaff on the San Francisco Peaks and only did that because I wanted to summit it, but it is closed when not snow covered. I rented snowshoes and went out for a nice day back in December of 2007. Since then I became hooked. I started doing Humphrey in winter, a lot, and in the winter of 2009 I summited Whitney via the Mountaineer's Route. I would like to do others, and had plans to do Sneffels in 2009 but weather stopped that. In time, I'll do more. Trouble with winter peaks is access, planning for time off in the future when weather or conditions can stop plans, and finding motivation when it is cold and dark. I love winter on the San Francisco Peaks, but summer is still the best season to be on mountains in my mind. It is certainly easier.

I have had really good luck with safety so far. The San Francisco Peaks and the two peaks I have done have virtually no winter dangers and the MR on Whitney is about the same. You could try soloing stuff like Humphrey, or head to the Tahoe area to summit some easy winter peaks there. Just watch the Avy danger in those "real mountains".
...
User Avatar
Clark_Griswold

 
Posts: 1713
Joined: Sat Apr 26, 2008 1:51 am
Location: Tucson, Arizona, United States
Thanked: 306 times in 234 posts

Re: The Next Level

Postby Alasdair » Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:06 am

I see a lot of folks in your situation, and I have to say that if you really want to jump to the next level and do it quick hire a guide and learn that way. Full disclosure: Im a guide. I have seen people who match your description go from where you are to guides within a year or two because they took a bunch of mountaineering courses and then climbed a lot. There are two ways to REALLY get to the next level.

One: If you want to learn to rock climb, quit everything move to the Valley, bum food from the cafe, and bum partners from camp 4. This works and will be a hell of a lot of fun. If you want to learn to climb in the mountains climb in the north cascades. Finding partners here is a bitch though.

Two: Take a comprehensive mountaineering course from any of the AMGA certified guiding companies. This is a lot of fun also, and you can have faith that you will learn from people who know what they are doing. American Alpine institute has a month long course that I have taught that takes people from your level to leading technical rock routes in the Bugaboos, North Cascades or climbing Mt. Waddington. Its not cheap, but you will get all the experience you need.

Three: Find an experienced partner willing to take you out. This is how I learned, and it was slow and painful. It defiantly works. I did need to relearn a few things that were clearly wrong that I picked up along the way, but thats life.

There are plenty of other companies that teach great courses also. There are also individual private AMGA guides who have the same thing. I also believe NOLES has a semester course that is good. Also expensive.
www.alasdairturner.com
@alasdairturner
Alasdair

 
Posts: 78
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2001 12:20 pm
Location: Seattle, Washington, United States
Thanked: 15 times in 12 posts

Re: The Next Level

Postby Joe White » Wed Dec 29, 2010 5:46 am

Good thoughts here from Alasdair. For me....it was option three.
User Avatar
Joe White

 
Posts: 314
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2007 11:51 pm
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Thanked: 24 times in 17 posts

Re: The Next Level

Postby rnevius » Wed Dec 29, 2010 7:08 am

Hiring a guide has always really sounded like the best idea, but for an already money hungry college student, that's a bit of an issue. Hell, the gear is hard enough to come by! But great, helpful, sound advice. thank you all! Keep it coming!
User Avatar
rnevius

 
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2009 1:00 am
Location: San Luis Obispo, California, United States
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post

Re: The Next Level

Postby Alasdair » Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:56 pm

Not going to be in Red Rocks this spring. Got a little one due the end of march. Heading to Bolivia in June for a month, and then back to the cascades for the late summer.
www.alasdairturner.com
@alasdairturner
Alasdair

 
Posts: 78
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2001 12:20 pm
Location: Seattle, Washington, United States
Thanked: 15 times in 12 posts

Re: The Next Level

Postby Kiefer » Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:58 pm

I did things by simply going out and doing it. Plain & simple.

Made some mistakes along the way, nothing life-threatening but on every trip, I usually learned something or
took notice how something worked or didn't work. I made and continue to make many adjustments when
'winterneering' and now, I always stick to a routine that works for me depending on the seriousness and
particulars of the trip.

Most of the time early on, I ventured out solo and learned on my own. I didn't pick up regular partners until only a few years ago.
However, I will say, books are a valuable resource. And I'm NOT just talking about 'how to' books or guidebooks. Non-fictional books about
others' mountainous exploits are filled with useful and great beta...plus they're usually a great read in and of themselves!
I have a virtual library here at the house.

I'm JUST NOW taking mountaineering courses to fill in the little gaps and to hammer out the things I do know. And maybe next year, decide to get
certified. We'll see.

Important thing though, I believe 'winterneering' should be taken in steps. Use progression. Mistakes and accidents come winter time
are no where as near forgiving as in summer
.

There's just somethng about being outside in the winter, on the blanket of snow with cold temps threatening you and every detail that's normally benign in the summer,
scheming against you in winter. It just feels more pure, more real...distilling the knowledge you've acquired up to that point and relying on the foundations of that knowledge.
Maybe it's witnessing sights that most people won't.
Perhaps, it's taking a certain amount of pride (quiet certitude) in yourself that you have 'what it takes' to venture forth
and endure the hardships for those few moments of white beauty.
Maybe it's just a satisfaction of trying to equalize the advantages of your clothing & gear with that of Mother Nature and walking away successful.

Shit, maybe I've been drinking too much...
But the views are certainly worth it! :D

Image

Hey, Fletch...Welcome to Colorado, my man! 8)
Just noticed you over at 14ers.com
User Avatar
Kiefer

 
Posts: 538
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2006 1:30 pm
Location: Estes Park, Colorado, United States
Thanked: 116 times in 65 posts

The following user would like to thank Kiefer for this post
rnevius


Return to General

 


  • Related topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests

© 2006-2013 SummitPost.org. All Rights Reserved.