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#1150137 - 07/11/16 09:15 PM Help getting started
HattrickSwayze Offline

Registered: 07/11/16
Posts: 2
TRs: 0 Photos: 0
Loc: WA

My girlfriend and I have recently (last 6-12 months) gotten into hiking/backpacking. In the course of doing so, we ended up doing the old trail at Mount Si and then doing Mount Defiance shortly thereafter. The challenge of both was great, and the satisfaction of getting to the summit is addicting to both of us. After watching a bunch of Everest TV shows, my girlfriend and I have set sights on doing Mount Rainier with RMI (hopefully) next summer. I just picked up Freedom of the Hills and have started reading it too.

I am looking for some help in identifying some summits that we can conquer to build up our confidence and endurance. We've recently done our first overnighter up in the North Cascades and we love that area. I've been looking through Summit Post but I'm wondering if anyone has some personal insight they can lend. We have all of our backpacking/hiking gear and lots of layers/clothing. We are still relatively new to hiking and are completely green when it comes to mountaineering and summitting. We don't have ice axes or crampons or anything yet, and neither of us know how to read avalanche or snow conditions.

With that being said, where should we go or look? Defiance was a challenge for us, but we have been training to get into better shape. We are in good shape but we are not seasoned hikers/climbers yet; we know our limits. I recently looked at White Chuck Mountain but I'm not sure we're quite to that level yet. Unless the pictures make it look more intimidating than it really is. I think we'd just love to do something that has that Alpine feel without completely destroying us on our first go. Hopefully that makes sense!

Thanks in advance for any help you can give. I'm looking forward to picking people's brains and learning more about this stuff. It's addicting.

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#1150139 - 07/12/16 07:29 AM Re: Help getting started [Re: HattrickSwayze]
obwan Offline
addicted to

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 448
TRs: 0 Photos: 14
Loc: Renton, WA
Get on and order a copy of Washington Scrambles - a good way to get started on nontechnical summits, and put the Freedom of the Hills on the bookshelf for awhile.
You could also try the popular I-90 corridor hikes if you have summit fever - such as Mail Box Peak, Granite Mtn. or McClellan Butte.
Master of Pain

#1150146 - 07/12/16 01:43 PM Re: Help getting started [Re: HattrickSwayze]
tstory Offline

Registered: 07/21/15
Posts: 34
TRs: 0 Photos: 0
Loc: Woodinville, WA
Great suggestion by Obwan on the Washington scrambles book. Tons of fun stuff in there, and it's helpful that she rates scrambles on two scales - technical difficulty and physical difficulty. To start out, pick ones that are easy in technical difficulty, that way you won't get in over your head but can still challenge yourself physically.

#1150150 - 07/12/16 04:10 PM Re: Help getting started [Re: HattrickSwayze]
Sidviscous Offline

Registered: 09/06/11
Posts: 40
TRs: 9 Photos: 76
+1 for McClellan Butte. I have never understood why Mailbox "Peak" is so popular when this is next door. Another good I-90 corridor summit is Snoqualmie Mountain.

After you purchase crampons and ice axes, here are some fun, nontechnical (no rope needed) overnighters that will give you some experience with easy scrambling and snow travel and get you on your way toward your Mt. Rainier goal:

Colchuck Peak- Colchuck Glacier route.
Dragontail Peak- Standard Route
Gilbert Peak- Meade Glacier Route (unlike others on this list this one is rarely crowded and has exceptional views of Rainer and beautiful flower filled alpine meadows).
Mt. Adams- South Spur

For getting experience in technical glacier travel and climbing, look into taking a course with or joining the Mountaineers. More info here:

#1150151 - 07/12/16 05:51 PM Re: Help getting started [Re: Sidviscous]
obwan Offline
addicted to

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 448
TRs: 0 Photos: 14
Loc: Renton, WA
You are right about Mail Box.
Let's throw in Mt. Daniel to keep them busy, has a good scramble route as well as the Glacier. tup
Master of Pain

#1150153 - 07/12/16 07:03 PM Re: Help getting started [Re: HattrickSwayze]
HattrickSwayze Offline

Registered: 07/11/16
Posts: 2
TRs: 0 Photos: 0
Loc: WA
Thanks so much for the help guys. This is exactly what I was hoping for. I purchased the Washington Scrambles book this afternoon. It looks like a really useful bit of kit for beginners like us.

I will look into the I90 corridor again. We enjoyed Mount Si and Mount Defiance. We didn't necessarily enjoy the crowded trails and views of I90 from the top though. Maybe I'm just being snobby but looking down and seeing the freeway kind of puts a damper on the sense of adventure... haha.

Sid Vicious (long live the Pistols BTW), thanks for the route suggestions. We would love to do some overnighters like that, where we get a bit of an intro to the Alpine environment without having to get in way over our heads.

I will also look into some of the Mountaineers training classes. Some of the training classes I looked into previously don't work with our schedules unfortunately. We work the night shift. Right now we are thinking about doing the 6 day seminar with RMI next year. We want the extra knowledge and skills so we can hopefully do some other summits as well. I'd like to do the Kautz route but I'm not sure if my girlfriend is as keen on that one.

Thanks again everyone.

#1150154 - 07/12/16 07:38 PM Re: Help getting started [Re: HattrickSwayze]
matt_warfield Offline

Registered: 07/17/02
Posts: 1633
TRs: 8 Photos: 2
Loc: seattle
Think of the corridor hikes as conditioning and don't worry so much about aesthetics. Conditioning is the cornerstone of many high peak aspirations. Many a training regimen includes Mt. Si or the like with a pack on- its close and has sufficient mileage and vertical to get the legs and cardio in shape. Branching out north and east adds a little more car time but expands horizons a lot. Hiking books have lots of ideas and go on the shelf right next to the scramble one.

I think you will learn a lot and save time from a course about general mountaineering and you can also find out about a whole bunch of suitable goals from instructors and participants.

Have fun!

Edited by matt_warfield (07/12/16 10:32 PM)
I do what I want and take what I get

#1150162 - 07/13/16 10:36 AM Re: Help getting started [Re: HattrickSwayze]
Rad Offline

Registered: 08/11/03
Posts: 2404
TRs: 28 Photos: 760
Loc: The Emerald City
Sid's right. There seem to be high density of folks in a few places. Mailbox on I90 and Lake 22 on Mtn Loop come to mind. In both areas there are plenty of other nice, strenuous outings you can do that won't be nearly as crowded.

Scrambling is a great way to get some experience. Don't be fooled though, sometimes the unroped 3rd and 4th class can be just as dangerous as any roped climbing. Pay attention and be careful and you'll be fine. Learning to move quickly and safely over this terrain is key to being successful on bigger outings.
Earth and stone echo my bone.

#1150183 - 07/13/16 03:06 PM Re: Help getting started [Re: Rad]
JasonG Offline

Registered: 10/12/00
Posts: 2615
TRs: 99 Photos: 1575
Loc: Mount Vernon
I've lost several friends on 4th class terrain. It's not to be taken lightly.

I'd stick with 3rd class and snow travel until you've gained a good deal of experience (a least a season or two). A long apprenticeship will serve you well in the hills.

Some good scrambles: Cashmere, Black, Sperry, Vesper, Crater, Tomyhoi, Cadet, Del Campo, Gothic, Snoqualmie, HiBox, Gunn, Baring, etc.

Lots to keep you busy as you work up to technical climbing in the Alpine.

#1151101 - 08/17/16 09:25 PM Re: Help getting started [Re: HattrickSwayze]
ilias Offline

Registered: 06/14/15
Posts: 102
TRs: 20 Photos: 328
Definitely get on some snow as well and practice traveling efficiently and confidently on snow. Practice using an ice axe in all the ways its meant to be used.

Most of the below may be a bit difficult yet but all should be doable before you are ready to hop on Rainier.

In addition to the suggestions above, to get some more snow / glacier travel experience, consider the below. Most of these require competence in glacier travel techniques (i.e. on a rope team) so if going on a glacier make sure you know what you're doing! A 2-3 day glacier course with any guiding company would possibly be sufficient if you go and practice the skills they teach you independently after the course.
- Sahale (Glacier)
- Eldorado (East Ridge)
- Hood (Old Chute)
- Shuksan (Sulphide Glacier)
- Baker (Coleman Deming route)

Also, other hikes/scrambles to consider as you progress:
- Three Fingers (off mountain loop highway)
- Cashmere Mountain
- Silver Star
- Maude, Seven Fingered Jack, and Fernow
- Fortress and Chiwawa
- Tower and Golden Horn (skip the last few feet of Golden Horn for now, the summit block is class 5)
- Stuart (Cascadian Couloir)

Edited by ilias (08/17/16 09:28 PM)

#1151317 - 08/26/16 02:47 PM Re: Help getting started [Re: HattrickSwayze]
aikidjoe Offline

Registered: 05/30/09
Posts: 29
TRs: 3 Photos: 30
Loc: Seattle, WA
I recommend American Alpine Institute if you're looking for a 5+ day course to cover the basics of climbing.

Edited by aikidjoe (08/26/16 02:47 PM)

#1151488 - 09/04/16 09:36 AM Re: Help getting started [Re: HattrickSwayze]
Jason4 Offline

Registered: 09/28/10
Posts: 268
TRs: 6 Photos: 0
Loc: Bellingham, WA
Some of the lookouts can make for really fun outings and a lot of them are more exposed than you might expect. I really enjoy the hike up to Hidden Lake Peaks Lookout, Park Butte is another fun one with good mileage and a great perspective to get you excited about the range of peaks you can see from there. I haven't been up to Lookout Mountain (near HLP) but I hear that trail is a grind as well.

As for places to learn more professional guides will offer the most focused education experience, volunteer organizations offer various levels of education but typically their courses are spread out on weekends that stretch on for several month, a climbing mentor can be the most rewarding but that's very dependent on who you end up matched up with.

Good luck and stay safe in the mountains.

BTW, I agree with JasonG, 4th class scares me more than moderate 5th with good protection.


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