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Tips on making mountaineering affordable?

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Re: Tips on making mountaineering affordable?

Postby WillP » Mon Nov 11, 2013 3:09 am

I'm a bit reluctant, as an Australian, to offer alpine climbing tips to a Kiwi, as I fear this may upset the time / space continuum. However, this game is all about risk management, so here goes.

drManhattan wrote:What I don't understand though is transitioning from guided to unguided. How is this done while still remaining safe?quote]

I think, with respect, that the answer for you is 'through instruction'. You've been guided up some peaks, and while this has (I assume) involved roping up, walking in crampons, using an ice a few different ways, etc., the priority has been the summit, rather than skills acquisition. A good instruction course will give you the skills you need (and some of the confidence required) to head out there safely with climbing partners (who, ideally, have as much or more experience). It sounds like you could bypass the 'introductory' courses, assuming you remember all the above things taught on your guided trips. For example, Adventure Consultants run an 'Alpine Expedition Course' - 12 days focussed on making you an independent climber. I won't go into the details, check out their website. There are other, similar courses around, I name this one 'cause I did it. Only once you have the skills (and equipment) to do these things independently (don't confuse that with soloing, I mean without paid guides) do they become affordable. Or, affordable in comparison to guided climbing.

Happy to contribute to tips on planning climbing trips, with the disclaimer that my style of 'dirtbagging' nowadays isn't the same as it was when I was a student.
Last edited by WillP on Mon Nov 25, 2013 4:14 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Tips on making mountaineering affordable?

Postby drManhattan » Mon Nov 11, 2013 5:47 am

Thanks Will that was very helpful :D
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Re: Tips on making mountaineering affordable?

Postby mtvalley » Tue Nov 12, 2013 4:45 am

You mentioned Ecuador- I've been there twice. Very affordable and beautiful place, but keep in mind that guides are mandatory on all glaciated peaks.

My advice is avoid the cheap group tours and hire a top private guide. Just because you're guided doesn't necessarily mean it's safer. There was a Canadian girl killed on Cotopaxi the morning I went out there, she was in a guided group of eight.

There are a handful of UIAGM guides there who work for top western outfits like Adventure Consultants, RMI, Alpine Ascents, etc. and have guided all over the world. I can give you names if you PM me.

Climbing with a UIAGM guide this year, he treated me like an equal partner. No babying whatsoever. Really an awesome guy. We climbed some tough stuff in bad conditions and I'm a far better climber for going with him.

Mexico is also cheap and most people go unguided. Sr. Reyes and Sr. Canchola offer lodging and transport to the huts.

Also second the rec for the Pacific NW. Five gigantic volcanoes, technical stuff in the North Cascades, you could spend an entire summer there. After three overseas trips it's still my favorite place in the world.
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Re: Tips on making mountaineering affordable?

Postby Matt Lemke » Tue Nov 12, 2013 8:53 am

mtvalley wrote:Also second the rec for the Pacific NW. Five gigantic volcanoes, technical stuff in the North Cascades, you could spend an entire summer there. After three overseas trips it's still my favorite place in the world.


Hmmm...so Josh and I seem to be correct. The North Cascades ARE the best place in the country :wink:

Guides are really required on all glaciated peaks in Ecuador?????
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Re: Tips on making mountaineering affordable?

Postby Scott » Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:10 pm

Guides are really required on all glaciated peaks in Ecuador?????


By law, but I'm not sure if it is enforced on all peaks.
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Re: Tips on making mountaineering affordable?

Postby drManhattan » Tue Nov 12, 2013 9:22 pm

mtvalley wrote:You mentioned Ecuador- I've been there twice. Very affordable and beautiful place, but keep in mind that guides are mandatory on all glaciated peaks.

My advice is avoid the cheap group tours and hire a top private guide. Just because you're guided doesn't necessarily mean it's safer. There was a Canadian girl killed on Cotopaxi the morning I went out there, she was in a guided group of eight.

There are a handful of UIAGM guides there who work for top western outfits like Adventure Consultants, RMI, Alpine Ascents, etc. and have guided all over the world. I can give you names if you PM me.

Climbing with a UIAGM guide this year, he treated me like an equal partner. No babying whatsoever. Really an awesome guy. We climbed some tough stuff in bad conditions and I'm a far better climber for going with him.

Mexico is also cheap and most people go unguided. Sr. Reyes and Sr. Canchola offer lodging and transport to the huts.

Also second the rec for the Pacific NW. Five gigantic volcanoes, technical stuff in the North Cascades, you could spend an entire summer there. After three overseas trips it's still my favorite place in the world.


Great thanks I will send you a PM, I would love a list of those guides.

I am thinking of doing the 19 day Ecuador Mountaineering school through Mountain Madness or the 12 day Alpine Expedition course through Adventure consultants that was mentioned earlier. I just really want to build up my skills to a level where I am prety self sufficient.

Sam - Keep in mind I might be a New Zealander but I live in Australia!
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Re: Tips on making mountaineering affordable?

Postby drManhattan » Sun Nov 17, 2013 8:41 pm

I think that is the plan now Sam. Looking to do a 12 day course over there in February.
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Re: Tips on making mountaineering affordable?

Postby Chris Simpson » Mon Nov 18, 2013 10:33 pm

I can get you a 6 day guided climb for $1500. Machame route
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Re: Tips on making mountaineering affordable?

Postby drManhattan » Tue Nov 19, 2013 2:40 am

I think I will do adventure consultants 12 day alpine expedition course.

Chris im going to NZ not doing Kili
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Re: Tips on making mountaineering affordable?

Postby Josh Lewis » Tue Nov 19, 2013 4:31 am

If you do end up going to the PNW of the United States, don't just settle for the highest peaks. Some of the lesser known stuff is actually the best. :D Pickets, Ptarmigan Traverse, and Stephan Matter Wilderness are to this day the best I've ever seen. :D I suppose I'll have to head to Canada to change that. :wink: I have a lower budget than most mountaineers. Right now I can't even afford a used pair of shoes that cost 10$ which is why I run with shoes that have a hole in it and get my feet soaked. My point is that even with how I'm doing financially, I can dirt bag a ton of awesome stuff. If you stop by in my area, I could help you in the PNW arena. 8)

Regarding going cheap, buy gear used (except ropes and such). Buy food in bulk. Make sure you strategize how you cycle through your food so that non of it gets wasted. Dine out less. Go for the free camping (trust me, there is plenty of it). Car pool with partners to save some more dough. And finally if your a super dirt bag climber like me, eat top romen when your budget is really hurting. I once ran out of top romen and had to go on Rainier with almost purely bread, jelly, and peanut butter. As you could imagine I quit PB and J for the next week.

Now when your a little more than super poor, you can eat pretty well in the alpine without spending lots of moola.
My Websites: Alpine Josh · Alpine Ascent · AceMaps
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Re: Tips on making mountaineering affordable?

Postby SeanReedy » Tue Nov 19, 2013 5:40 am

Josh Lewis wrote:And finally if your a super dirt bag climber like me, eat top romen when your budget is really hurting. I once ran out of top romen and had to go on Rainier with almost purely bread, jelly, and peanut butter. As you could imagine I quit PB and J for the next week.


Wouldn't PBJ/PBH be more nutritious than ramen, especially if you use some cheap whole grain bread and a decent amount of peanut butter? You could even add sliced banana. On the other hand, I guess bread doesn't store as long and ramen is a little easier to not make a mess with if you want something warm. You were talking variety, so I guess you need the ramen, too. It seems like you've been managing well, so I guess expensive food can be overrated. :D Black beans, rice, and a little spice would also be cheap and very nutritious in bulk, but they take slightly more planning/time/effort. Add tortillas, a little cheese, and some avocado for a gourmet meal. :wink:
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Re: Tips on making mountaineering affordable?

Postby WillP » Wed Nov 20, 2013 12:48 am

Josh Lewis wrote: I once ran out of top romen and had to go on Rainier with almost purely bread, jelly, and peanut butter. As you could imagine I quit PB and J for the next week.


Ha! That's living large! I once ran out of everything but butter and polenta, and had to live off that for a week in a mountain hut. Although that was more poor management than frugality.

Doc - PM me if you want any more details of the course from a participant POV. But, even though you're on a budget, I think you'll find it worth the money (so long as the weather cooperates)
Last edited by WillP on Mon Nov 25, 2013 4:13 am, edited 2 times in total.
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