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Where do I start?

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Where do I start?

Postby brochill » Fri May 07, 2010 3:23 am

Hey guys,
I'm looking to get into some mountaineering, but I really don't know where to start. I have plenty of backpacking experience, but I'd like to get into some more technical stuff. The last thing I wanna do is start with the whole guided deal, however. I like to be as self-sufficient as possible, and I don't have the money for thousand dollar 'drag my ass up' ascents. But, I don't wanna be the yahoo who does something solo with zero experience and makes CNN. I also don't know anybody who has any climbing experience. Hell, it's hard enough to get people to go hiking.

Are there any particularly good courses or mountains to cut my teeth on? I was looking at a winter ascent of Mt. Washington next year with a buddy. Is that out of reach for people with no experience?

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Where do I start?

Postby Dan Shorb » Fri May 07, 2010 5:48 am

brochill wrote:Hey guys,
I'm looking to get into some mountaineering, but I really don't know where to start. I have plenty of backpacking experience, but I'd like to get into some more technical stuff.


I'll chime in here.

I'd like to preface my tidbit with one key concept, and that is that mountaineering (or climbing for that matter) is just hiking. 'Hiking' is actually used as a slang term by climbers meaning 'climbing extremely quickly over harder terrain.' (e.g. Dude, he totally just hiked that 5.10) This points to the idea that one of the most important things to do to learn is to get more and more comfortable with 'hiking' harder and harder and harder terrain.



Another thing to keep in mind is that climbing has two main sets of skills:
1. the movements and body knowledge, and
2. the 'protection' skills.

Clubs, universities, guides, etc. (and reading books) typically can teach you the protection skills if you can't find someone to help you. And climbing gyms are one of the best ways to learn the movements

I mention this especially since the east does have a whole lot of choices of 'mountaineering.' Really what I hear you asking is "how do I learn to protect myself on terrain I don't feel comfortable on with merely holding on with my hands and feet."

Mountaineering has a few main things to learn:
1. snow science
2. rock travel
3. snow travel
4. travelling light (doing without)


So with that said, I'd suggest you keep your goals in mind, but also be patient with Mount Washington in winter, or Rainier, or whatever. Know Snow before you Go. Spending money to travel somewhere and then getting spanked and having to turn around is part of the hobby.

A few other things I keep in mind:
1. Showing up makes it more likely to succeed: do what it takes to get to the mountain, cause that's one of the hardest parts.
2. I don't do anything I can't reverse or down climb.
3. Although its tempting to buy new gear, you don't need the latest and greatest. Most of the routes you'll start on were done back when the gear was basic, and they relied on body knowledge and Balls more than gear.
4. getting a backcountry ski setup (and snow knowledge) really helps with bigger mountains (snowy approaches and getting back to the car more easily)

Good luck
Last edited by Dan Shorb on Fri May 07, 2010 5:56 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Where do I start?

Postby Hotoven » Fri May 07, 2010 7:06 pm

FortMental wrote:
brochill wrote:Hey guys,
I'm looking to get into some mountaineering, but I really don't know where to start.


You should try books. Lots of them. I hear there's still useful information in them things.


+1

Mountaineering, the freedom of the hills. Read it!


Image
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Re: Where do I start?

Postby John Duffield » Fri May 07, 2010 7:13 pm

Hotoven wrote:
FortMental wrote:
brochill wrote:Hey guys,
I'm looking to get into some mountaineering, but I really don't know where to start.


You should try books. Lots of them. I hear there's still useful information in them things.


+1

Mountaineering, the freedom of the hills. Read it!


Image


+ 2

In fact, I often still take this book with me on climbing trips. Maybe leave it with the stuff in the bag I leave at the last hotel or something. Reviewing one of the chapters relevant to what I'll be doing helps me not to forget little things and focuses my mind.
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Postby Arthur Digbee » Fri May 07, 2010 7:59 pm

-1

I agree FOTH is a great reference. But isn't it overkill for a newbie?
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Postby Patrick B » Fri May 07, 2010 9:05 pm

Arthur Digbee wrote:-1

I agree FOTH is a great reference. But isn't it overkill for a newbie?


Agreed. You need have to have a least some experience before you get into the climbing and mountaineering sections of the book. I was a tad bit overwhelmed when I got it. PLus I get bored reading the hiking section, I tend to jump into lead belaying and climbing, knots, and MI climbing. It is a little too much to start. However if you read just read some personal books on people's personal experiences on different mountains or rocks that will give you a good start.

patb
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Postby Jakester » Fri May 07, 2010 9:09 pm

Arthur Digbee wrote:-1

I agree FOTH is a great reference. But isn't it overkill for a newbie?


I disagree. He wants to learn. Freedom of the Hills is the class textbook. I say get it and read it. It's a great start.
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Postby billisfree » Fri May 07, 2010 9:35 pm

I noticed the cover was different.

I got the 6th edition. Great book - they're up to their 7th edition now.

It seems to cover a broad range of technics... very informative.
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Postby welle » Fri May 07, 2010 9:35 pm

You need three things: car and/or gas+beer money, plus nekid pictures of your gf (scratch the last part - wrong forum).

Seriously though, find a local climbing club so you can have a good roster of potential partners, especially of similar age and about the same skill level. Taking all these fancy far away courses by yourself usually doesn't mean much if you can't find a good steady local partner. This looks like a good place to start: http://www.pittecp.org/
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Postby Sierra Ledge Rat » Sat May 08, 2010 12:53 am

I say that you should get some formal instruction.

I learned back in the 1970s from a climbing book and barely survived my experiences. If I had only 9 Lives, I would have died three decades ago.

Get some formal instruction and do some guided climbs. It's a fast-track to getting better and staying alive in the process.
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Postby rasgoat » Sat May 08, 2010 1:14 am

Freedom of the hills, check.


I would say get out there and do some winter hiking and camping, I found it to be very rewarding. You don't need to bag Washington right off the bat. Play in the snow for a while and get some adirondack high peak winter summits in or some other 4000 footers in the winter. Damn, even the Catskills would be fun. As you get more experience, chose the harder, steeper routes that require an axe and some crampons and go get it.

Local climbing club too.
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Postby Hotoven » Sat May 08, 2010 1:43 am

You know what dude, next weekend I'm doing some rock climbing in Pine Grove Furnace. Your more than welcome to come. Will be top-roping so its a great place to learn and just have fun. Shoot me a PM if your interested. Its only 3 hours from yea!
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Postby Grampahawk » Wed May 12, 2010 10:58 pm

All good info above. You should find some places close to home to start practicing. I go into the Whites in NH a few times every winter to practice rope travel, belaying, cravasse rescue, etc. If you really want to do Mt Washington, or one of the other Presidentials, shoot me a message next fall and I'll let you know when I'll be up there and you can tag along and I'll help with some basics. I usually can provide the axe, crampons, ropes, etc since I have an extra set for my son and he seldom goes with me. But you should work on assempling your own basic equipment- harness, helmet, crampons, snow shoes, headlamp, axe, winter clothing. Getting a few 'biners is probably worth it also- 2 large locking, 2 small locking, and 2 non locking. Then there are your Prussics, slings, blah, blah... The list goes on. But you'll need it if you want to be in the sport.
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Postby peladoboton » Wed May 12, 2010 11:54 pm

I know it seems like a huge money sink, but you will not regret getting onto an introductory course with the American Alpine Institute. This will set you in the right direction where technique, safety, and equipement is concerned. My first alpine trip in Denali NP was in 2001 with a guy who had been the president of the AAI and he was patient and instructive, even with all of my preconceived notions of mountaineering.

While the courses are expensive, the experience is worth it as a lot of the trial and error of the sport will be skipped just because you will see first-hand how things are supposed to be done. I came away from a week up there with a whole new outlook and focus, which focus and outlook have made me much more than I ever would have been on my own or just using the small amount of time I have had in the past few years with school etc.

Freedom Of The Hills most certainly needs to become your text and mantra.
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