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Total Beginners needing some advice

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Re: Total Beginners needing some advice

Postby pvnisher » Sat Feb 02, 2013 11:08 am

Mont Blanc is doable if you are fit and athletic. Preferably also have some backpacking and outdoors experience. That is predicated on you hiring a guide to teach you some skills before heading out, as well as sheperd you to the top. Do not go up it by yourselves without knowledge and experience. Even with a guide, you might get weathered off, altitude sickness, or lack of fitness. I climbed it with a friend last summer who was new. He can run 2 miles under 12 minutes and do 25 pullups (very fit), and he had a lot of trouble with the last few hours. I found Mont Blanc, even by the "tame" Gouter route, more challenging than I was expecting from reading some of those same websites you mention.

If there are 8 of you, even going guided on the Gouter route, I would expect that not all of you would make the summit, even under ideal weather.

The Eiger is not a place for new climbers. Even guides insist on a 1:1 ratio, so each of you would need your own guide. But don't do it. It's not a place to find out members of your party are uncomfortable with extreme exposure while on rocky terrain in crampons.

Late May and early June are also early season for many climbs in the Alps. You will likely encounter snow and ice, and many routes might not be passble.

I don't know anything about Kili or Fuji, other than they are tamer "walking" peaks, which might be more appropriate and have some name-brand appeal. I've heard that taking a safari after Kili is a great thing to do and a life-list trip in itself.
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Re: Total Beginners needing some advice

Postby Scylla » Sat Feb 02, 2013 12:13 pm

Thanks pvnisher. We are starting to realize that Mont Blanc probably won't happen without some prior training. For some of us there are small climbs nearby that they could train on, for other in very flat areas, is an indoor (rock climb) any good? We will also up our hiking with backpack skills and all that other good stuff. Are altitude training masks any good? Although I doubt anyone would want to look like Hannibal biking around town :)

Mattski, we need advice because we are apparently clueless. Mont Blanc seemed like cake walk when reading the guide sites. Thanks for thinking I know the lingo, but I'm just good at retaining information :p
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Re: Total Beginners needing some advice

Postby Scylla » Sat Feb 02, 2013 12:39 pm

I thought you were joking or being sarcastic. You seem to be right about smoking. A few in the group are smokers and I guess they don't really need to quit or cut down (for the climb). Obviously, none of the non-smokers will take up smoking just for this purpose. Wow, I never thought smokers would have an advantage.
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Re: Total Beginners needing some advice

Postby pvnisher » Sat Feb 02, 2013 2:24 pm

Scylla wrote: is an indoor (rock climb) any good? ... Are altitude training masks any good?


No and no.

Scylla wrote:I thought you were joking or being sarcastic. You seem to be right about smoking. A few in the group are smokers and I guess they don't really need to quit or cut down (for the climb). Obviously, none of the non-smokers will take up smoking just for this purpose. Wow, I never thought smokers would have an advantage.


I had given you the benefit of the doubt and guessed that you were just new and needed advice. But your last comment overcame that threshold and I now vote in the "Scylla is a troll" category.
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Re: Total Beginners needing some advice

Postby Scylla » Sat Feb 02, 2013 2:34 pm

Guys, seriously, whats with all the distrust here? I really don't know what is your problem with what I said? Google "smoking AMS" like I did. The first result is a published medical study saying that smokers have a lower risk of AMS in the short run. I am not even the one who suggested this, I was responding to someone else, and I'm obviously not promoting smoking.
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Re: Total Beginners needing some advice

Postby albanberg » Sat Feb 02, 2013 2:39 pm

OK Scylla, I'm glad to see that you are considering the advice that has been given. You see from pvnisher that even fit people can have issues with the duration of climbing. This is an endurance issue which is very different from being "fit" for running a few miles quickly. I would suggest looking at workouts/hikes in terms of hours. So if you will need to be out on the mountain for 12 hours on the longest day (summit day), then you should work up to hiking for 12 hours with a lot of hills. You don't need to do this each week. Just work up to it, or close to it, maybe a week or two before your trip. Then you will have a period of rest before you do your skills training.

I also prefer to train in cycles of increasing duration and intensity. 4 to 6 weeks per cycle works well with a rest week in between. This gives the body time to recover in between cycles. Many people ignore resting properly. Getting the right amount of rest will actually make you stronger/faster. If some people are training via cycling, this is fine although they may not want to do 12 hours on the bike. I would suggest that they do the longest days hiking instead.

If you train well you will have a more enjoyable trip.

I'm also surprised by the marketing put out by the guide companies. But that's why sites like this are cool. I don't think you're a troll, lol.
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Re: Total Beginners needing some advice

Postby Scylla » Sat Feb 02, 2013 3:07 pm

Thank you very much AB for your vote of confidence, and I agree that sites like this are a lot more informative and valuable than the crap in the guide companies websites. I didn't even quote the other claims they are making about the fitness level. It makes it seem so easy. How does this not bite them in the ass when middle aged people with no experience and not too fit have to be rescued or worse?

Although to be totally fair pvnisher's friend did do it as a first timer, but he was obviously quite fit, and it wasn't easy.
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Re: Total Beginners needing some advice

Postby Andes6000 » Sat Feb 02, 2013 5:19 pm

If guys are all fit and can hire a top guiding company Mont Blanc should be ok and there are excellent guides and rescue services in the area. Because of climbing history alone i wouldn't miss the chance to climb this mountain. Unless you are all well travelled in third world countries i wouldn't add that uncertainty and stress not to mention possible illness to your new endeavour. You should keep in mind that a large group presents many variables and you want to keep things very simple as you begin. Saludos.
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Re: Total Beginners needing some advice

Postby Scylla » Sat Feb 02, 2013 5:33 pm

You're rekindling the hope again Andes6000 :)
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Re: Total Beginners needing some advice

Postby pvnisher » Sat Feb 02, 2013 5:36 pm

Scylla wrote: How does this not bite them in the ass when middle aged people with no experience and not too fit have to be rescued or worse?


They get paid upfront. And rescues are private enterprises. Many clients get turned around, not rescued, and the guides are pretty good at reading if people will be able to make it up and, more importantly, back down.
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Re: Total Beginners needing some advice

Postby Scylla » Sat Feb 02, 2013 8:11 pm

Thanks pvnisher. That makes some sense now. I have a question with regards to being turned around. Does the entire group have to be turned around? Or can one of the guides go down with the just one or perhaps two from the group? As I have seen the guide ratio needs to be around 1:2 or 1:3 at the most.
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Re: Total Beginners needing some advice

Postby Scylla » Sat Feb 02, 2013 8:41 pm

Just worried about one or two ruining it for the whole group.
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Re: Total Beginners needing some advice

Postby Bill Kerr » Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:58 am

Read this over

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/07/why-is-mont-blanc-one-of-the-worlds-deadliest-mountains/260143/

Good quote: "Americans hire us to keep them safe, not just to get them to the summit," he says. "So it's just a different dynamic. In Europe, the guides are more likely to teach just enough for you to follow them, not enough for you to really develop a skill or understanding of the risks and how to manage them." And that difference, both Loehr and Crothers argue, affects the risk level for the whole group.

Another quote from a rescue guide: "You have no business on this mountain unless you have at least six alpine peaks under your belt," he said. That's why we have so many people killed here." He gestured to the rock face I'd decided not to climb. "We lost three people off that face a couple of weeks ago," he said. "Two novices and a guide. One novice lost his footing and fell, pulling the second guy off, and the guide couldn't hold both of them. So all three fell to their deaths."
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Re: Total Beginners needing some advice

Postby Scylla » Sun Feb 03, 2013 7:46 am

Thanks Bill. That article was eye opening and that quote from the rescue guide was terrifying. A bit too terrifying actually!!! Can you guys recommend tamer Alpine peaks?
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