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Juan

Concern for the Group

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I'm sitting here at work, reading TRs, worrying about climbers I have never met. This is because two reports I have read today involved people doing hard routes in the Colchuck Lake area, in a long day, dropping gloves, and expressing to us the very serious concerns they had as they were climbing.

 

It worries me.

 

I'm all for pushing it, and I've had my share of moments when fear made me want to barf. But it concerns me that so many people seem to be jumping on the hard snow and ice routes and leaving so little margin for safety. This will sound like the tall guy in the t.v. show "Hill Street Blues," but I do hope people are more careful out there.

 

Anyway, that's my thought for the day.

 

John Sharp

Edited by Juan

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Interesting yet understandable concern. I would take a fair guess most any TR leaves out details that could either concern people further or the opposite, cause people to feel good that safety was upheld. It's difficult to judge unless all the questions are answered, but even then many people will either always be concerned, or again the opposite feel that the someone didn't push themselves enough.

 

I may have inadvertintly expressed or caused some concern in my TR post? In the case of our climb up TC on Sunday, I was very comfortable with our skill, personal conditioning, and my longtime climbing partner that reads my mind. If there was any time for concern on our route it was the lack of protection in the single pitch of ice that we belayed (one screw and one cam). With a bomber cam placed at the crux we both were confident that any fall would have been safe. My partner was also aware that the anchor above him was quite possibly not placed in the rock, but rather in the snow or ice so he knew that extra care was required in seconding the pitch.

 

After discussing the pitch once we reached the summit, we both felt that simulclimbing the crux pitch was potentially an option since the pitch went much easier than expected. However, given the same situation we still would have belayed it. Other than that, I can't find any point that we should have done anything different. Do it in 2 days, not necessary, it goes in 1 for athletic climbers. Belay more pitches? Our skill didn't require it and likely would have caused a safety concern given the extra time it would have taken.

 

I'm glad you brought it up and it has some good thoughts to think about. I'm curious what others think?

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The overhanging cornices on the NEB Couloir were getting hit with direct Sunshine from 6:OO AM on. That, along with the new snow and dozens of avalanches that ripped down sunlit aspects the day before made the route look a bit sketchy in this gaper's eyes. Climbing under those suckers might be the cost of doing business on that route, but as things stand now camping high and starting at 0-dark-thirty wouldn't be a bad idea. It's all a calculated risk though, so my notions of what constitutes acceptable risk are far from being applicable to anyone else.

 

Sounds to me like Stephen and his partner were more than capable of sizing the risks up for themselves and made the right choice for them - and had a nice climb to boot.

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Hey:

 

Juan here, from a different computer.

 

I completely understand your responses and don't mean to put anyone down. As Tod and Jay point out, it is all relative to our abilities and comfort levels. I guess what I am trying to say is that when I read Paco's earlier report (which I didn't read until today), and Stephen's from today, the serious concerns they expressed in light of thin snow and ice conditions, being off route, losing feeling in one hand, etc. make me think they felt overexposed and possibly like they had gotten in deeper than they wanted to be. I won't say over their heads, because they battled through and came out fine, and I'm sure they are good climbers. I've certainly been in those situations where you want badly to be down. They make an impression on you.

 

I guess I just get concerned about what could happen if a single foothold gives way, or a cornice breaks off, or the thin ice peters out altogether, or you are so tired from getting that 12:30 a.m. start that you lose concentration at a key moment.

 

But, that's climbing. I guess I'm old enough now to get paranoid more easily. And I've got two going on three little boys! Should be interesting down the road.

 

Cheers,

 

John

 

 

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John,

 

Thanks for your post. You make some good points. I guess there can be

a fine line between a route that is challenging enough to push one's limits,

and a route that is too challenging to be led safely. This is especially true for beginners like me. With the benefit of

hindsight I think this route was in the former category for us, but that said,

it did turn out to be slightly more challenging than we expected. Perhaps

others, thinking back to when they were beginners, can relate to this?

 

Anyhow, thanks for the sobering post. Definitely something to think about.

 

-Steve

Edited by Stephen_Ramsey

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Juan-

 

I have a similar concern about the effect of the current fad for car-to-car and light-is-right speed ascents. I believe folks are talking each other into running up and down some fairly serious mountain routes without taking adequate gear to even survive a night out should they suffer something as benign as a sprained ankle. And I think all the chatter on cc.com may be causing folks to take even bigger risks by doing this alone or when pushing their ability levels. I'm not commenting specifically on Stefan or Paco's climbs, but on a general trend.

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I wouldn't say it's a new trend. Climbers, scramblers and hikers have been doing car-to-car and light-is-right speed trips for a long time. With the advent of forums like cc.com it's now much easier for others to hear about it and make it sound like it's happening more than usual. But like you say, I can see it talking more people into doing "speed ascents" than should be out there.

 

Many of the people who you hear about doing 2-3 day trips in 1 day are people who have years of experience doing just that and they know there capabilities and plan for mishaps. The concern on my part however are for those who do not have the experience or knowledge of their own skills, but this is the case on any type of 1 day or a multi-day climb.

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mattp said:

Juan-

 

I have a similar concern about the effect of the current fad for car-to-car and light-is-right speed ascents. I believe folks are talking each other into running up and down some fairly serious mountain routes without taking adequate gear to even survive a night out should they suffer something as benign as a sprained ankle. And I think all the chatter on cc.com may be causing folks to take even bigger risks by doing this alone or when pushing their ability levels. I'm not commenting specifically on Stefan or Paco's climbs, but on a general trend.

 

 

only paternalistic moderrators should downclimb lib ridge in other words.

 

"its all fun and games till someone loses an eye" or as i have heard more than once "don't come up the way i just did, it's too hard" tongue.gif

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I've felt that way a bit since Twight's book came out in REI sitting on the shelf right next to freedom of the hills.

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Light is right and in a day car to car is just a certain STYLE. It works well for some routes and not well for others. Usually its a style best used by dudes that are good-ass climbers or ones that are really high, or both. And its good to also know alot about the route and descent you are doing. If anything goes wrong you must bail, cause you don't have bivy gear, except for the type that is of the Rasta pursuasion. Nevertheless you can get fucked if you get injured but that goes with out saying.

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That is basically my point, Ed. Light-and-fast is only one style - it is not the only commendable style. While it has its pleasures and may be a good choice some times, it may be a poor choice other times and nobody should be embarassed to admit that they camped at Colchuck Lake the night before and after their climb, for example, or that they actually carried a pack on Outer Space.

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Juan:

 

The concerns you outlined are just the reason I don't advocate newbies finding partners with similar experience and "going for it" while learning together. I don't know either of the guys who wrote the aforementioned trip reports and am not calling them "newbies" but, there are probably some new climbers looking at your post and thinking "well, how the hell do I learn to climb if I don't push my limits? " In response, I offer the following thoughts for you to read, print and paste on your cube wall or more likely, just ignore all together:

 

Mentoring is the best method to learn climbing, but you've got to be willing to put your ego away which is seemingly harder for some than others. There's a lot of cool guys out there that took the time to show me the ropes (once I demonstrated a willingness to listen and learn) and continue to offer advice and make themselves available for me to climb with. I am a much safer and less serious climber than I originally envisioned (and have more fun too) mainly becasue I was able to hang out and climb with experienced guys who were able to cut through the bullshit (numbers, times and grades) and get right to the climbing/fun.

 

The happy medium might be organized classes or supervised group outings if you aren't able to do the mentoring deal for whatever reason. But the downside is the group usually is limited to whatever the weakest/slowest member is able to do thus, progress may be slower than you're expecting.

 

So I challenge you hardmen and women to put your money where your mouth is and take a willing newbie climbing from time to time. Make them buy you lunch and carry your shit if that's what it takes, but at least offer up some help if someone asks once in a while.

 

My rant for the day.

 

"Life ain't nothing but a funny funny riddle, thank God I'm a country boy!" fruit.gif

Edited by Bronco

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W.W.P.B.D.? (What Would Polich Bob Do?)

 

I think that most american climbers, myself included, are pussies. THE style, the purest form of this whole adventure, is light and fast, as far as I'm concerned. If you want to shoot for less, good for you.

 

John Bouchard, as a newbie, soloed the Black Dyke on Canon Cliff, pretty rad for the time. What are today's newbies going to do?

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I share your concern, but for a different reason. As we enter the 2003 climbing (and falling season), the little rescue unit that covers the Colchuck area is undergoing some serious rebuilding. We have lost our mountain helicopter pilot of the last 25 years and are now in the process of "training" a couple of new pilots. We have lost the ability to fly high (above about 8K), to do one skid landings, long line and winch work, and to fly an injured person inside our helicopter. Altho we have lost some of the experienced members, we are bringing some new guys on board and they show a lot of promise.

 

In short, we are stepping back about 15 years to when we flew a Bell 47 and did most of our missions on the ground. Please understand that we are committed to doing the best possible job with the tools given to us, but also remember that help may not be just a cell phone call away.

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at least you have air support within the unit. Bush took away all our air assets and they're only starting to make it back here.

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I agree, it would be helpful if it were more commonplace for

experienced climbers to take less experienced climbers or

beginners under their wing. I have learned far more in an informal

one-on-one outing than in organized group instruction settings. Unfortunately, it seems to be generally difficult to find more experienced climbers who are willing to do this. Just my $0.02.

 

-Steve

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Good topic Juan,

 

I blame it all on Colin. madgo_ron.gifHe makes it all look so effortless (soloing both the NE Couloir on Colchuck and Triple Couloirs in a day!) and the punk ass is not even out of high school yet!

 

Much like supermodels effect on teenage girls he is setting an impossibly high standard for the rest of us. I vote we ban him from CC.com. He'll be the end of us all. cry.gif

 

(BTW Colin, I'm headed to Alaska and there is a free plane ticket in it for you if you do all the leading. ) grin.gif

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heres the deal jonny boy, i aint gonna be the one dying. see. its an attitude thing.

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Part of the light and fast style is just time. If you want to climb a route bad enough, that would be easier doing as a two day outing but only have a day. Your probably going to do it in a day. i know thats the case with myself a lot of the time.

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Me too. Just ask Erik about our day trip up the N. Face of Maude two summers ago when my Bellevue house wife kicked his fat ass. =;-)

 

But I also think DPS is right. It's all Colin's fault.

 

As for taking novices out, I wholeheartedly agree, and try to do it at least once a year. Hell, I took Miles Smart up Mt. Daniel when he was 14, so I should get some credit around here.

 

Cheers to all,

 

Mr. Conservative

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What I'm wondering is how did Colin get so damn good? Once he starts college he'll have to spend more time studying. wink.gif And let some of us catch up. hellno3d.gif

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Juan said:

Me too. Just ask Erik about our day trip up the N. Face of Maude two summers ago when my Bellevue house wife kicked his fat ass. =;-)

 

But I also think DPS is right. It's all Colin's fault.

 

As for taking novices out, I wholeheartedly agree, and try to do it at least once a year. Hell, I took Miles Smart up Mt. Daniel when he was 14, so I should get some credit around here.

 

Cheers to all,

 

Mr. Conservative

 

i thought that was to be kept silent old man! hey by the way, have you seen your climbing gear lately?

 

hmmm??????????????????????????????????????

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