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Your first "guideless" experience

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Your first "guideless" experience

Postby Cissa » Mon Mar 11, 2013 7:44 pm

Just wondering here... I do "low" altitude mountaineering here in Brazil, independent, and even done it alone. I have orientation skills, I rock climb so I go (some of) the technical part down, backpacking experience yadda yadda, but the whole "snow and ice" world is all new to me, and obviously, coming from where I come, a completely new environment. I´ve climbed (high mountains) guided a few times, but it really bothers me for all the reasons I need not list here, but I do feel yet totally incapable of tackling a snowy peak on my own.

So this isn´t much of question, but more of an exploratory topic for people to tell how they started going independently. I know some people just go at it, and others go with more experienced people (neither is my case) so, how or when did you feel ready to dismiss a guide? How was the experience? What would you have done differently? Was it too soon or to late when you first did it? Is it really that much harder than going with a guide if you´re not an expert (given you´ll do something that´s not too much harder than you should be doing)?

Thanks guys! :)
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Re: Your first "guideless" experience

Postby Woodie Hopper » Mon Mar 11, 2013 10:51 pm

I am very comfortable climbing snow, but that's largely due to climbing with guides since I haven't found suitable partners to hook up with due to time constraints related to work and family. Basically I won't solo any snow with potential avalanche danger or crevasses (which kind of limits things a bit). If I had suitable partners I wouldn't use guides as frequently as I have, but hopefully that will change soon.

As far as going without a guide, I would climb up to what I consider "AD" with partners sans guide ideally, but due to factors such as logistics or conditions, routes, etc I might still go with a guide depending on the mountain and route.

I'm taking a few friends up Orizaba (which I soloed before, and is a simple snow slog) next January partially to test leadership, expedition planning before trying other climbs I have on my short list. I'm hoping to get some future partners out of it.

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Re: Your first "guideless" experience

Postby bscott » Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:16 pm

i am sure i will get flamed for being overly cautious, or a nancy boy, or whatever, but i never, ever hike/climb alone. i personally know too many people who have suffered freak accidents or otherwise. one guy i have hiked with had a stroke while hiking an easy trail by himself. they found him hours later, incoherent.

so i would be careful how i define "independently". without a guide is one thing, without anyone else at all is problematic for me.
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Re: Your first "guideless" experience

Postby Woodie Hopper » Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:36 pm

I hope not and your point is well taken. Although I have done a lot of solo hiking and some nontechnical solo climbing, going solo unquestionably adds another dimension of risk that is unnecessary if you have potential partners.

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Re: Your first "guideless" experience

Postby Sierra Ledge Rat » Wed Mar 13, 2013 7:11 pm

Being a poor dirt bag when I started climbing, I never had the option of a guide. I learned everything from books and trial-and-error.
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Re: Your first "guideless" experience

Postby Kiefer » Wed Mar 13, 2013 8:06 pm

Sierra Ledge Rat wrote:Being a poor dirt bag when I started climbing, I never had the option of a guide. I learned everything from books and trial-and-error.


Yah. What Rat said!
I'm in his canoe. Learned everything trial & error and via books.
I STILL have never climbed sport or in a gym. :shock:
I'd rather go solo in the mountains.
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Re: Your first "guideless" experience

Postby Wastral » Thu Mar 14, 2013 6:39 pm

brichardsson wrote:i am sure i will get flamed for being overly cautious, or a nancy boy, or whatever, but i never, ever hike/climb alone. i personally know too many people who have suffered freak accidents or otherwise. one guy i have hiked with had a stroke while hiking an easy trail by himself. they found him hours later, incoherent.

so i would be careful how i define "independently". without a guide is one thing, without anyone else at all is problematic for me.


No risk, no reward.

Had a stroke... Part of the geriatric club eh? I hope I die of a stroke on a trail. The extra 3-9 months of life a hospital tacs onto the end of your life isn't life at all. Just bed ridden hell sucking all of what little money you have down a rat hole. Oh yea, if someone gets a stroke out in the mountains in a group, not a damn thing the group can do anyways. Heart attack, yes. Stroke? No.
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Re: Your first "guideless" experience

Postby bscott » Thu Mar 14, 2013 6:50 pm

Wastral wrote:
brichardsson wrote:i am sure i will get flamed for being overly cautious, or a nancy boy, or whatever, but i never, ever hike/climb alone. i personally know too many people who have suffered freak accidents or otherwise. one guy i have hiked with had a stroke while hiking an easy trail by himself. they found him hours later, incoherent.

so i would be careful how i define "independently". without a guide is one thing, without anyone else at all is problematic for me.


No risk, no reward.

Had a stroke... Part of the geriatric club eh? I hope I die of a stroke on a trail. The extra 3-9 months of life a hospital tacs onto the end of your life isn't life at all. Just bed ridden hell sucking all of what little money you have down a rat hole. Oh yea, if someone gets a stroke out in the mountains in a group, not a damn thing the group can do anyways. Heart attack, yes. Stroke? No.


fallacy, false dilemma.

speaking as someone who works in the medical field, response and treatment time has a great impact on stroke outcome. having a stroke on a two mile loop and getting immediate treatment has a much better outcome than having a stroke on a two mile loop and wandering around in a muddled daze for hours before being found incoherent.

so yes, the group can do something. they can get help.

and frankly, if i did die of a stroke on a trail, i probably wouldn't care either. but if i lived, and spent ten weeks in the hospital, and had to have my wife feed me now, i'd care.
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Re: Your first "guideless" experience

Postby Kiefer » Thu Mar 14, 2013 8:52 pm

I appreciate the post Cissna.
Though having the confidence to go at it alone, shit can still happen. I don't think your philosophy of always
having partners is bad. It may be limiting to yourself in terms of having the time to go, something of a luxury now-a-days, I do applaud your
eye for safety. Some buddies of mine here in Colorado even on simple day hikes, take packs that look like mini dorm fridges. Same people that
won't head into the hills unless they can find others to go. Each to their own obviously but I've gotten myself into situations where I REALLY
could have needed someone to help. You can't always plan for everything of course and no one person has the right answer. But I think EVERYTHING
basically comes down ones accepted level of risk; something that is highly subjective. 8)
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Re: Your first "guideless" experience

Postby WyomingSummits » Thu Mar 14, 2013 11:26 pm

I've climbed solo plenty....even free soloed moderate 300ft crags. The days of free solo are over. Easy mountains I'll still solo as long as I think visitation will be heavy and I stay on route.
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Re: Your first "guideless" experience

Postby mconnell » Fri Mar 15, 2013 1:00 am

brichardsson wrote:
speaking as someone who works in the medical field, response and treatment time has a great impact on stroke outcome. having a stroke on a two mile loop and getting immediate treatment has a much better outcome than having a stroke on a two mile loop and wandering around in a muddled daze for hours before being found incoherent.

so yes, the group can do something. they can get help.

and frankly, if i did die of a stroke on a trail, i probably wouldn't care either. but if i lived, and spent ten weeks in the hospital, and had to have my wife feed me now, i'd care.


Thank you. A friend of ours would almost certainly have died if she did not get help after a stroke. She was at home and managed to get to an air horn (emergency horn off their boat) and a neighbor heard it. As for the "geriatric", she was 30 at the time.

As for the OP, I have only been on 1 "guided" trip which was really a crevasse rescue course. I had been climbing on and off for 25 years when I took that trip. Before that, I learned by trial and error, reading, and climbing with smarter people. Now, I do almost all of my hiking and easy climbing solo. I don't consider it much more dangerous than being home alone.
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Re: Your first "guideless" experience

Postby Woodie Hopper » Fri Mar 15, 2013 1:42 am

As my partners say who treat acute strokes with catheter intervention, "Time is brain". You lose 1.9 million neurons per minute during a typical large vessel acute stroke, so 120 million neurons per hour. I'd like to think that you could be helped if you get one of these when you're out enjoying the hills, but if you can't get to a center that treats stroke fast enough (and manage to get treated within three hours of onset of the symptoms), you are not going to be normal afterwards, if you survive.

Bottom line: shit happens, not just in the woods. Go out there and have fun.

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