The stupid things I did before I knew better...

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The stupid things I did before I knew better...

by HeyItsBen » Tue Feb 16, 2010 10:20 pm

In response to the "early photos from your beginning" thread, what stupid things did you do before you knew better?

I had one friend that climbed Rainier in jeans, his first climb ever - he started up with another buddy after a ranger lent them ice axes and crampons because they didn't have either! They summitted (sans rope)! That must have been in the 1970s or so.

Another friend used to carry an iron skillet, and never carried a sleeping pad - until he froze his a$$ off on San Gorgonio sleeping on snow! "Something must be wrong," he thought haha.

And then there's me, on my first hike ever, Mt. Whitney. Picked up a used suitcase at REI (it had shoulder straps, looks good to me I thought), and carried that thing into camp. Well, I wheeled it the last few hundred feet...


We summitted, but boy was I clueless. I won't even mention the gear we carried. It was early season, and there were only 2-3 other parties on the mountain. A pair of older guys came over and gave us a few pointers. At the time I thought they were just nice guys, but looking back on it I bet they thought we were gonna die. We had a great time, and learned quickly after that.

For those that grew up hiking and/or climbing, I imagine it may seem impossible to be so naive, but some of us had no outdoor mentor, picked up a pack (or suitcase) and went for it.

Somebody please come up with something more embarrassing...
Last edited by HeyItsBen on Wed Feb 17, 2010 3:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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by surgent » Tue Feb 16, 2010 10:34 pm

Mount Whitney was one of my first big hikes/peaks of any sort, back in 1992. We hiked into high camp, and on summit day, I decided I could use a little color, so I went in a cotton t-shirt, no hat, no sunscreen. The hike to the top and back down was successful, but I had a severe stage-2 burn all over my head, scalp, lips, arms, you name it. For weeks I looked like a snake shedding skin.

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surprised to be alive

by woodstrider » Tue Feb 16, 2010 11:30 pm

Weeelll...years before I got "serious" about hiking and backpacking I tried a little trip up to the summit of Pikes Peak, CO.

A college student, with just about zero experience in even day hiking, I decided to day hike to the top of one of Colorado's big peaks. I got this idea from my Uncle (I was visiting with him and my Aunt), who had this on his "to-do list"- but couldn't find the time to go. O.K.- can't go, no problem- I'll just go on my own.

I bought some pretty lame hiking boots and took off one morning on the 14-mile one way trip to the top. I had on shorts, my new boots, a tee shirt and carried a pb&j sandwiche and a quart of water in a fanny pack. My uncle loaned me his shell. I had no exit plan- I guess I just thought that I'd turn back after a couple of miles. That's what my uncle thought as he waved me on my way that morning.

Well, I did make the top but I had help from an unexpected source. I meet an old gent in his 70's on the way up- a real Trail Angel- who I credit with saving my hide. He had white hair and a long white beard and was garbed in black broadcloth pants, white button-down shirt, sturdy black shoes and had a stout wooden staff. We met on the trail and ended walking up to the top together. The temperature at the bottom was in the 8o's, but above tree line it was in the 30's and one of those daily thunderstorms came through. Mixed in with the altitude, I ended up with a case of hypothemia that left me dizzy, lethargic and hallucinating. I sat down on a boulder and urged my companion to go on without me. But he refused. After reasoning with me to get me on my feet did not work, he waved that staff at me. That got me moving. Exhausted and nearing the end of the day we walked to the summit together. This hike has an elevation gain of approx 6k feet and is 14 miles long. I had never done any thing like this before (God bless youth!), but the experience certainly led to some interesting ideas.

Luckily for us, the cog-rail was still running and we were able to buy tickets for the last run of the day. It had been quite an experience, but I never got to properly thank that old gent.
This happened in 1976. I don't know....but if this story sounds familar- email me. I'd enjoy talking to his family for I am certain that he has passed on, unless of course, he was really an angel!

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by ClimbandBike » Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:52 am

My first ever backpacking trip of any kind was an "Intro to Winter Mountaineering" up Mt Gould on the East side in January. The trip was really just a NOLS resume filler for a bunch of experienced older guys trying to get jobs for the summer. Being an insightful 18 year old I figured all the streams would be frozen and I'd have to bring all the water I'd need for the weekend.

Setting camp up the hill the trip leader said we need to get water ready. I got the blank dumb-ass stare when I enthusiastically produced the first of my gallon jugs of Shasta's finest.


I miss that naive fueled energy.

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by Dave Dinnell » Wed Feb 17, 2010 5:17 am

Stupid things you survive somehow become "experience" :lol:

My first backpacking trip in the Scouts in '74...I took a canvas pup tent and...A frikken claw hammer so I could pound them stakes in real good :lol: And the pack I used was an old BSA Haversack-a non framed large day pack with unpadded canvas shoulder straps. It was a painful learning experience.

I wrote the following on another similar old thread regarding mistakes we have survived.

It's good to remember our mistakes. That way we don't repeat them and can feel free to screw up on something else.

I remember my first top-roping forays in 1980 or '81 with a few 'biners, some webbing, and a really sturdy black and yellow tow rope from the trunk of my friend's car. We tied the webbing off on some old iron poles on the backside of a short retaining wall along some Southern Pacific rail tracks.

The webbing and 'biners stretched to the top of the wall and then the rope curved over the 90 degree edge and down the front of the wall. Part way up we thought it would be cool to mimic Mike Hoover's pendulum running from his short film, Solo. It was nice to learn about what friction, and running a rope over a 90 degree edge, does to nylon without dying.

Another wonderful learning experience occurred in 1982 or '83 (memory is bad and I can't find the damn guide book where I keep notes.) We were climbing Bookmark, 5.8, at Lovers Leap. We didn't have a guidebook with us and we were going by beta solicited in the parking lot. Someone told us the first pitch was the crux.

We cruised up it thinking that it felt more like 5.7 and it seemed pretty easy. We looked at the short second pitch. Well, if we cruised the crux, how hard could this OW crack be? We laughed, racked our hexes and stoppers, and coiled our rope. My partner went first and carried the rack. I carried the rope and most of the runners. Well, a blind man could see where this is going.

My partner grunted up and through the pitch, quite shaken. I managed a little worse and was quite stuck at one point. Slowly, I see a length of webbing snake down to me. Cool! My partner says to grab if I need to. I step out of the crack and take hold of the webbing but don't put much pressure on it as I seemed to find some better holds, especially with this webbing there just in case. I feel pretty confident.

As I moved up to my partner I could see him wedged into the crack at the top of the pitch holding the other end of the webbing. I ask him what he's tied into. Uhm, I just stuck myself in the crack, he replies. The other end of the webbing, the one I decided to not hang off of but use just in case, is just being held in his hand.

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by Gafoto » Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:24 pm

I was hiking 16+ miles in tennis shoes up until last year. It wasn't really "stupid" I could just get away with it here on the east coast. An all day hike up Mount Marcy passing by all the people with waterproof boots and gaiters taught me the value of a few important pieces of gear, especially near the summit where the trail is under a freaking river. I think I've managed (so far) to avoid any mistakes that would threaten my life, much thanks to the beta I get from summitpost!

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by sushiman » Wed Feb 17, 2010 3:54 pm

How about making your own chocks out of large machine nuts and thin climbing cord. And then using them on a medium that more resembled dirt than rock. The lead rope we used was just the cheap rope they sell at army navy, and I think I used it to pull my car out of a ditch the winter before!

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by mrh » Wed Feb 17, 2010 5:15 pm

I did a 30 mile hike in the Wind Rivers in tennis shoes. I literally walked out of them as I got back to the trailhead.

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by HeyItsBen » Wed Feb 17, 2010 5:50 pm

Dave Dinnell wrote:It was nice to learn about what friction, and running a rope over a 90 degree edge, does to nylon without dying.


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by Dave Dinnell » Thu Feb 18, 2010 2:23 am

benjamingray wrote:
Dave Dinnell wrote:It was nice to learn about what friction, and running a rope over a 90 degree edge, does to nylon without dying.


Umm, yeah, it seemed like a good idea at the time...

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by tigerlilly » Thu Feb 18, 2010 3:26 am

My husband once climbed Gannett Peak with a license plate strapped to his backpack.

He also likes to carry large cans of Dinty Moore beef stew. Once, he forgot to bring the can opener.

I hiked Mt.Washington in NH, in February, wearing a tennis warm up suit. (pink).


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by MoapaPk » Thu Feb 18, 2010 3:35 am

I once wore white shoes after labor day.

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by Marmaduke » Thu Feb 18, 2010 3:43 am

I hiked Mount Hood with a backapck filled with 6 Coronas (bottles), 6 cans of Coors, 2 bottles of wine, 6 cans of soda, 4 botlles of water, one pound of salami, one pound of cheese and 7 pounds of ice to keep it all chilled. Why did I bring the water and the sodas?

The following user would like to thank Marmaduke for this post
Buz Groshong, fredzurensick, SKI

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by lasvegaswraith » Thu Feb 18, 2010 4:10 am

MoapaPk wrote:I once wore white shoes after labor day.


I've done plenty of stupid stuff, but my wife says I don't have enough time cuz she has a paper to finish tonight....

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by norco17 » Thu Feb 18, 2010 4:37 am

About two years ago me and one of my climbing partners that I had met in the backpacking class at the local community college decided to go rock climbing. He had been climbing for about a month so was slightly more experienced than I. I bought a harness and atc and we went to the crag. I tried the first lead (5.4crack)and bailed before getting off the ground because my shoes wouldn't grip the rock. He lead the pitch and I followed. A week later I had my hiking boots and decided to give it another try. Lead the 30 foot pitch on two cams. Good times.


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