Between Rainier and Mcckinley

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Justin whitt

 
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Between Rainier and Mcckinley

by Justin whitt » Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:13 am

I joined this forum because my friend and I just found out that no guiding service does Ecuador volcanoes over the summer. My friend and I are 19 years old and over the past two years we have summited Mt.Rainier twice(he has summited three times) and we hope to one day climb Mt.Mcckinley. We feel like we definatly need to tackle something a bit bigger than Rainier before we try Mcckinley and we are having trouble finding a good mountain for this summer. My friend suggested Elberus, but I don't know if it would be a good transition mountain. Any ideas?

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norco17

 
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Re: Between Rainier and Mcckinley

by norco17 » Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:22 am

What skillset do you need for your goal climb?

Go get these skills.
Practice these skills (alot).
Think of what can go wrong.
What skills will get you out of these situations?
Go get these skills.
Practice these skills (alot).

Repeat until you are comfortable and all skills are second nature. Go climb your goal. Find new goal. Repeat.
Last edited by norco17 on Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Scott
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Re: Between Rainier and Mcckinley

by Scott » Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:22 am

I joined this forum because my friend and I just found out that no guiding service does Ecuador volcanoes over the summer.


I don't believe that. There are dozens of guiding companies that climb the Ecuador volcanoes then. In fact, there probably isn't even one day of the year when guiding companies aren't trying at least some of those mountains (especially Illiniza Norte, Coxopaxi, and Chimborazo), and summer is high season.

Where did you get the "information" that do guiding companies don't mountains then?

Random search:

http://ecuadormountainguides.com/mountains/

http://www.sierranevadatrek.com/en/climbing.html

http://www.goandestrek.com/

http://www.andeanface.com/index.php/exp ... ayout=blog

Actually there are dozens more.

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Re: Between Rainier and Mcckinley

by norco17 » Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:24 am

Although if you can't do a google search for a guide maybe you need a guide?

Just saying.

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Re: Between Rainier and Mcckinley

by Justin whitt » Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:29 am

I acctually wasn't entirely positive that companies don't go, but we looked atI MG, RMI , and alpine accents among others and none of them have dates for the summer. My friend and I searched for a while but apparently not hard enough. I decided to use a definitive statement because people on forums love to prove other people wrong with sources :D. So thank you. We still might consider other mountains though.

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Re: Between Rainier and Mcckinley

by Scott » Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:50 am

I acctually wasn't entirely positive that companies don't go, but we looked at img, rim , and alpine accents among others


There are both many really good and some bad guide companies in Ecuador. Check recommendations with books (or forums) such as Rough Guides, Lonely Planet, or Moon publications. Plenty of people on Summitpost have used guides (use the search function on this site) in Ecuador and have good recommendations.

I'd suggest using an Ecuador based company with a good reputation. This will probably cost 1/3 that it will with a western company and they use the same food, huts, vehicles, routes, etc. Plus you can more or less choose your own mountains and schedule.

Most of the Ecuador volcanoes are fairly straightforward ascents (similar to Mount Rainier, but with high altitude), but there are objective dangers such as avalanches and crevasses and bad weather is common. If you aren't experienced or are fairly new to the sport, it's definitely recommended that you go with a reputable guide. There are some good mountaineering schools there as well (sadly, Moggely is out of business, but there are some more good ones).

Outside the Ecuador volcanoes, some of the mountains in Peru or Bolivia should provide good training for Denali.

As far as Elbrus goes, it's about the same difficulty as Rainier, but with less crevasse danger as long as you stay on route. It does have a taste of high altitude and is generally colder than Rainier. In good weather, it's straight forward, but the weather can be atrocious, especially outside the July-August season.

Of course off season ascents of the Cascade volcanoes are often used as a training ground for Denali. Until you have the proper experience, it is definitely recommended that you take a guide or enroll in a mountaineering class for any of the ascents above. Taking one of the week long seminars in the US or in places like Ecuador are certainly a good way to train and learn the basics. After learning the proper techniques, and after several seasons of practice, you can set off on your own.

Mountains such as Cotopaxi, Elbrus, Blanc, etc. certainly do attract a lot of people that either underestimate the peaks or don't have the proper skills. Unless you have some kind hearted mentors who will train you for free, it's best to learn the proper way first, even if you have to pay for it, before going our on your own. There is no shame in using a guide or taking a seminar or classes to learn proper mountaineering techniques before climbing independently.

19 is a good time to start preparing.

Good luck.

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Re: Between Rainier and Mcckinley

by ExcitableBoy » Wed Sep 25, 2013 3:48 am

IMNSHO, assuming you have ice axe/crampon/glacier travel/crevasse rescue skills down, for Denali you need to do a lot of winter backpacking/mountaineering/over night snow shoeing. Anywhere cold and snowy will work, the Presidential Range, Colorado, the Tetons in winter. Certainly some higher altitude climbs like Elbrus, the Andes, Mexican volcanoes, etc. would give you some idea about how you deal with skinny air but the winter camping skills are perhaps more important.

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Re: Between Rainier and Mcckinley

by Damien Gildea » Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:39 pm

Scott wrote:... some of the mountains in Peru or Bolivia should provide good training for Denali.


Yeh. I remember back when I did it the idea was that Denali was easy and 6000m Andean peaks were hard (obviously some of them are!). In 1999 I climbed several 6000m peaks in Bolivia, including Illampu, and a solo of Sajama, but when I went to Denali the next year I was glad that I had climbed those other peaks first and did not use Denali as a training peak to try altitude. The West Butt is an easy climb but the whole thing is a decent challenge and can be extremely serious in bad weather. It's more remote and climatically much more extreme than almost all the regular Andean climbs.

I haven't been to Elbrus but if you're in the US I see Elbrus as a complete waste of time, even more so given the new permitting problems. It looks dirty, crowded and is really only a day or two of anything like climbing. Why the hell would you go all the way over there for that when you have the Andes so relatively close? Nowadays people seem to limit their choices to the packaged and sold Seven Summits or the regularly guided commercial peaks. There are so many other peaks out there, and many of them better than the brand name products.

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Vitaliy M.

 
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Re: Between Rainier and Mcckinley

by Vitaliy M. » Wed Sep 25, 2013 3:56 pm

In my opinion you do not need anything higher than Rainier. Get your winter camping skills dialed as EB said above, feel comfortable on 45 degree snow slopes, know your crevasse rescue, and get online to learn how to rig sleds. Also, know how to use a jumar – there is a fixed rope in one section that most people jumar. Learning to ice climb is great too, will make you much comfortable on steep slopes.

I did Denali just over a year after I started hiking/mountaineering, unguided. It is not a big deal if you are prepared and not psyched out by learning about other people dieing on the mountain. I think that has a negative effect on many groups. Just be prepared for it. There are a ton of people on the peak, some will die.


IMHO, Elbrus would be a waste of time. It is far, it is dirty, it is not more difficult than Rainier. And I do not think it will help you understand how you do at altitude – most people rush up that peak in 3 days. Go to any guiding site and look at their Denali schedule. Try to follow that schedule for your climb.

Advice: move to 14K camp even if weather is shit on the lower mountain. As long as there is some visibility, you can follow tracks. Only spot that can stop you is windy corner if it is booming out there.

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Re: Between Rainier and Mcckinley

by ExcitableBoy » Wed Sep 25, 2013 4:17 pm

Vitaliy M. wrote:It is not a big deal if you are prepared and not psyched out by learning about other people dieing on the mountain. I think that has a negative effect on many groups. Just be prepared for it. There are a ton of people on the peak, some will die.


I did Denali after several prior trips to the AK range including technical routes on Mt Hunter, Barille, Dickey, and Mooses Tooth and still felt the weight of the mountain's 'aura', for lack of a better word. It is easy to let the mountain pysch you out, so as Vitaliy said, try not to buy into the gloom and doom but realize it is a very serious endeavor so be very well prepared both in terms of gear and cold weather training. I would not go so far as to say it is not a big deal - for most people, myself included, it is a big, cold and potentially very dangerous mountain but still very achievable.

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Vitaliy M.

 
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Re: Between Rainier and Mcckinley

by Vitaliy M. » Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:19 pm

“Not a big deal” was not the best way to describe it. LOL It takes a ton of prep work. You will need to organize logistics, which take time, but nothing unattainable for a regular human.
I guess what I really wanted to get out of my post, is that it is a mental challenge as well as physical. The mountain is BIG and impressive, but do not let it scare you. Take it a day at a time and progress per your schedule. Listen to forecast on the radio, take updates from other climbers with a grain of salt, and listen to your gut. Do not move up from 14K if a storm dumped a ton of new snow till avalanche conditions get better.
I wanted to write an entry with advice for others who want to climb Denali. Will probably do that soon and post it.

As for peaks you might want to climb before to see how you do at altitude: Cordillera Blanca range in Peru has some great non-technical and technical peaks at high elevation. Good food, not expensive, good rock climbing, good ice/mountaineering, and awesome views. There are very popular not too technical routes on Pisco, Chopicalqui, Huascaran (6768 M). Last one is the highest in that range. Plenty other peaks with easy routes. Brad Johnson’s book is a great guide to that range.

Check out some of the scenery I posted on my blog:
http://vividrea1ity.blogspot.com/2013/0 ... o-and.html
http://vividrea1ity.blogspot.com/2013/0 ... -home.html
http://vividrea1ity.blogspot.com/2013/0 ... e-ed1.html

there is more there too..

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Re: Between Rainier and Mcckinley

by pvnisher » Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:55 pm

You can still have a lot of good training on rainier. Do different routes. Do a full load carryover. Do a trip with multiple summits and a longer term camp.Try it with a sled. Set up ropes and jumar. Go up to Muir, carry over. Set up new camp. Reverse and repeat.
Or, go to the Alps. Maybe not Denali-sprcific as much, just awesome.

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Re: Between Rainier and Mcckinley

by kcurchin » Thu Sep 26, 2013 2:33 pm

What you need is multiple day winter camping......would suggest Mt. Whitney in California next April (4 days)...there are a few companies that take you. I was on Denali in 2012....spent 3 weeks trying to summit but the -60 windchill and avalanche danger above 14K' prevented anyone from summiting for about 2 weeks while we were there. Read Colby Coombs book on climbing the West Buttress....he owns Alaskan Mountaineering School also....they do about 10 expeditions each year on Denali. His comment is "you winter camp your way up Denali." It is the daily winter camping physical and mental experience you need. If you want to compliment winter camping with the high altitude, Ecuador is fine as well as Orizaba in Mexico but those mountains only take 3-4 days to climb and don't have the conditions Denali does.

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Re: Between Rainier and Mcckinley

by Fletch » Fri Sep 27, 2013 4:59 pm

I agree with EB and Vittles...

The West Buttress is more of a mind game than anything. 2-3 weeks without a shower will get to a man (well, most men). It's an endurance mountain thats big and cold. It's not technically challenging for most people, but your asshole will perk up real quick if you find yourself falling into a 300 ft deep crevasse. It's a mountain that is enjoyable and scenic for 90% of the visitors. The other 10% of folks usually have an epic of some sorts...

And yes, people die for all sorts of reasons up there --- incompetence, fitness, weather, logistics, decision making, or just bad luck... but again, for the VAST majority, its a wonderful experience --- even if you don't get to the top.

And a little side note --- one thing my partner and I did each morning was to talk through what we were going to do that day --- and that day only. We weren't allowed to talk about tomorrow (or summit day). At the end of each day, we talked about what we did well and what needed improvement (even if it was a rest day or a day that largely entailed shoveling, building walls, etc). That way we (mentally) bit a little of the trip off each day instead of trying to get our heads around 3 weeks of climbing and logisitics in one bite. I thought it really helped us on that trip...

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Re: Between Rainier and Mcckinley

by clmbr » Fri Sep 27, 2013 6:48 pm

If you have a lot of money you might go climbing w/o guides whenever you wish. However, if money and/or time are limited look around you --Cascades, Sierras, and Rockies provide all kind of weather and route conditions with various degrees of technical, physical and mental challenges, including life/death situations all year around. What they don’t provide is the altitude much above 14,000 feet which is a challenge by itself, of course.

To train for and to cope with high altitude you have to go that high and frequently enough; otherwise, it may always be a lottery. Unlike your technical skills and overall experiences which usually contribute to your mountaineering improvement, the high altitude factor is only as good as the frequency of the exposure to it. In other words, you body forgets it much quicker than anything else.

As an example, 1) climb a nearby 14er 3 times once per year and 2) climb the same 14er 3 times in a few weeks or even months. In the first case every climb will be quite similar; in the second case the last climb may be much easier then the first attempt; assuming all other factors are constant.

It is a common mistake many inexperienced climbers do to wait till the next year for another attempt to increase the chance of summiting due to the fatigue or high altitude symptoms failure.

Beside the high altitude, the rest is mainly technicality and learning about yourself and surrounding environment (mind, skills, know-how and know-what, physical and other various experiences) which you can practice at any altitude, terrain, and conditions and those may not only take you high in to the mountains but also safe your life if in trouble.

“It’s not the mountain; it’s the route. It’s not the route; it’s the conditions.” Therefore, people die on almost every mountain regardless of the elevation, so as others advised train for such conditions and situations, not just for the altitude.

There are those who climb mountains and those who are mountaineers. Which one you want to be?


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