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Where do I start?


DeathByStereo
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Okay, so I wanting to get into climbing. I really want to climb mt rainer. Im in good shape so I guess endurance wise I could make it, but I have no experience in climbing any mountains at all. Where do I start? Where and how did you guys get started? I was looking at programs at http://www.rmiguides.com and came across the expedition seminar and was wondering if that was right for me. can biginners like me do that? anyone know about this expedition seminar?

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If all you want to do is climb Rainier, then RMI is a good way to go. If you want to do more, consider taking a basic climbing class through the Mountaineers or Boealps. Most of the posters around here disdain any organized class, but it's a good way to go if you don't know any other climbers to help you out. The class will also help you meet other climbers.

 

If you have some friends that climb they might be able to teach you what you need to know.

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Mr. Death -

 

Yes, beginners like you can do it. I don't know anything at all about that seminar, but the fact is that just about any "seminar" is going to be set up to accomodate beginners. Climbers with amu significant amount of experience generally don't attend seminars unless, perhaps, a clinic offering specialized training such as advanced first aid training, or aid climbing technique or crevasse rescue or something.

 

You can do more than attend a clinic, though. With absolutely no prior experience I bet you can safely find your way up and down most mountains in this state. You'll blunder around and get lost in the bush, perhaps, and you may find yourself a little scared when your "scramble" leads you onto some exposed cliff with nothing to grab but clumps of moss, but I bet you'll survive.

 

Sign up for a class ... or don't. Either way, get some books (Mountaineering, Freedom of the Hills would be a good choice), and head for the hills. If you can, find a way to tag along with somebody who knows what they are doing. You'll be safer that way, and you'll learn a lot. But if you are reasonably cautious and exercise just a modicum of common sense, the mountains are probably not going to kill or even maim you.

 

If you go out and try to recreate what you've seen on the extreme sports channel, you're going to kill yourself real quick, but as long as you take it easy you should do OK. Yes, inexperienced climbers get into trouble all the time -- but in fact I think it is perfectly reasonable for a "newbie" to go out and climb mountains. Start with mountains that have trails up them, like Mount Si or Mount Persis (a little more adventurous). I'm not kidding. The guidebooks are full of descriptions of peaks that are specifically noted to be non-technical, where you can get a feel for being in the mountains and start to learn about how to keep yourself warm and dry in the face of mountain weather, how to take care of your feet so you don't get blisters, and you can scratch your head while you look at all the squiggly lines on a topo map. These are basic skills that you need to get up Mount Rainier.

 

You're going to need some instruction in specific tecniques like how to use an ice axe, and more advance things like how to use ropes and stuff before you can climb most of the mountains people talk about on this bulleting board, but that doesn't have to stop you from getting out there.

 

If all you want to do is climb Mount Rainier, and if you can afford it, skip all of this and simply hire a guide. With absolutely no prior experience, you still probably have a 50% chance of succeeding on Mt. Rainier with a qualified guide.

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MattP, as usual, gives wise advise. thumbs_up.gif

 

There are many ways to learn, and most learn from a combination of things.

 

1) Clubs classes like the Mounties and BoeAlps

 

2) Schools like Outward Bound and NOLS

 

3) Guide Services/Schools like AAI, RMI and Mountain Madness

 

4) Informally with friends, or friends of friends

 

5) Self Taught

 

Each of these has real benefits and real draw backs. Your goals, your time, your resources ($), your abilities, your confidence, and your personality will each lend themselves to one or a couple of these approaches.

 

Schools are a good way to lay a solid base of knowledge and meet others that have the same interests and are at the same or similar levels of experience. They do tend to be ditatorial in the methods taught. mad.gif This occurs in most any large scale teaching environment.

 

Schhols like NOLS are usually pretty good in that they offer a pretty good immersion in a somewaht intense environment. thumbs_up.gif The NOLS mountaineering course in the Winds is something like a 30 day intensive non-stop go go go school. You will learn a lot in a mid-length period of time. thumbs_up.gif It takes a time commitment and cost some cash.

 

Guide Services/Schools like AAI, RMI and Mountain Madness offer guided trips, which while fun for the average Joe are not meant to be instructional....so you don't really learn anything. Fine, if that's all you want. But they also offer really good intensive climbing classes. I know that AAI and M2 offer 13 day alpine climbing classes in which a lot is taught. This approach offers good instruction in a pretty short time frame. It ain't cheap, but if you have the cash this is a great way to learn quickly. cool.gif

 

Informally with friends, or friends of friends is a great way to learn, but you need to choose who you are learning from well. This can be hard to do, great climbers are not always great teachers. Also, you may not know any climbers. This also tends to be a slow process, unless you have the luxury of having a great guy or gal to work with that is willing to really dedicate the time and effort.

 

On your own? You'd be just that. Usually self-taughts also learn from other climbers too. Not a bad way to learn, cheap. But it takes a very long time. A

 

Any way you learn, Mattp is correct that you need to start reading reading reading and learning basics like knots and the like sitting in your own home.

 

Good luck and enjoy, but be safe. bigdrink.gif

Edited by Rodchester
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Hey, I can give you my .02 since I'm a noob to mountaineering as well. I grew up in a place called Big Bear here in the mountains of Southern California, did a lot of hiking and outdoors stuff, climbed all the small peaks around the valley(8,000ft) and then took a trip when I was 16 or 17 to Mt San Gorgonio @ 11,500ft during the summer for a couple nights. Since then, '97, I hadn't climbed anything until this winter.

 

I went back to San Gorgonio in March with a rented REI pack, a pair of Grivel 12point crampons, a super basic ice axe and a pair of REI rented snow-shoes. I had to go by myself because I couldnt find anyone who was willing to go. Some 8 people had died in the mountains down here at that point this year and I was surely apprehensive and scared, but it made it all much more fun! I managed to summit that day in 12.5 hrs. That was really cool considering the previous time it had taken nearly 3 days round trip.

 

What I really got from the trip was experience. I met a guy at the trailhead at 5am who I ended up spending the day with. He had climbed on at least 3 continents and mountains that I had only read about in books...I was really lucky to have met him. He was training for Mt Cook in New Zealand.

Anyway, I learned how to use crampons, snow-shoes, an ice axe, how to layer clothes(sooooo important), how much water to bring, what kind of food to bring, different techniques for climbing like rest-step and different ways to use crampons, some breathing technique(I was getting a bit winded near the summit). All in one day, it was great. I had picked up "Mountaineering:Freedom of the Hills" and read it cover to cover before this trip so getting out there and doing the stuff I read solidified it and made it real. I fell on my head once when decending with the snow-shoes. I learned that leaning back when slipping in snow-shoes, while natural, only contributes to the slide. If you want to stop, lean forward and stay on your toes(where the points are). Who knew? wink.gif

 

The next weekend I went back up, hiked in 6 miles in the dark to base camp on Fri night. Got up ass crack o dawn on Saturday, climbed some super bitchin ridge on the north side of the mountain which was probably class 3 I guess. I got to try out front pointing up steep(relative) hard snow, and some mixed climbing up and over protruding rock outcroppings on the ridge. I saw some small cornices and remembered to stay the fuck away from them even though they look cool. I also learned that climbing steep dangerous(also relative) mountain terrain is infinitely more fun for me than backpacking on dry ground during the summer. cool.gif

 

So dude, just get some basic education, some of the basic gear and go do some wimpy mountaineering. "Wimpy" could be translated as; insanely dangerous to most lay people, while at the same time being dull and boring to hardened mountaineers. Dont get in over your head, but dont be afraid to push yourself. At least thats how it is working for me.

 

Oh yeah, I almost forgot, I glissaded on my ass down the side of the mountain! haha, I dont think I've had so much fun since I was 10! rockband.gif

 

I'm now planning a trip for next month up into the sierra, a mountain called the Black Kaweah(sp?). Should be a LOT of fun and I expect to learn as much on this trip as the previous two.

 

Have fun, get out there, and have fun!

Cheers,

Brad bigdrink.gif

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I did the RMI Expedition climb July 00. I shouldn't really complain, because the guides surely did a good job. It's just that I didn't summit and it was probably due to my own obsessing over surprise changes in the climb plan that I felt decreased my chance of summiting. Maybe the changes had to be, but I don't like surprises. I can't really blame them anymore than myself, and I guess changes in plan may be unavoidable, but I still hold them equally responsible. One thing that they deserve great kudos for was coaching, and pushing you to do better than you think you can. On the mountain I didn't like it, but I later came to greatly appreciate RMI guide Jason Tanguay as I went a lot higher and had a better experience than I would have if he hadn't pushed me to do my better than I was doing otherwise. If you can afford it, do it at least once with RMI or similar firm.

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Heres a couple more suggestions that are relatively cheaper or a little less formal in some cases if thats what you go for like me. For one option check your local college. Olympic college in Bremerton offers what I have been told is a first class course that covers all the basics of mountaineering over the course of a quarter and is significatly cheeper than one of the traditional alpine schools. Another is a membership at your local climbing gym. Get in there and climb. Be polite and bum belays or meet other climbers without a partner to team up with. I have met several very experienced climbers at my local gym who are more than willing to offer advice and pass their experience on. check at your local mountain shop for local outdoor groups and attend their meetings. Without a doubt you will meet climbers and most of them hold regular trips for you to join in on and begin devoloping your skills. lastly post your prospective trips on the partners board there are lots of other beginners out there for you to go out with and share your different level and areas of experience. Or pm me if your interested in climbing in the olympics and more than likely if I'm off I'll be game to do some light scrambling.

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Blakej has a really good suggestion. If you have a local climbing club online or otherwise make it known that you're eager to learn and be someone's climbing partner.

 

I posted a request for a climbing(rock climbing) partner and met a couple of really cool guys, one of whom went with me on my last trip. Just pay attention when they are doing stuff and you can pick up a lot relatively quickly and for cheap...well, except for now I'm learning rock climbing too which has cost me two bills!

 

Post your "to do" trips too, you'll always have someone who wants to go. Qualifying them is a whole different problem, but you shouldnt have any difficulties finding decent partners.

Best,

Brad

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If you don't mind spending the money, RMI is a good place to start. If you are looking for a cheeper option, Read some books, like Freedom of the hills, and PM me. I go out to play in crevasses occaisionally and you could tag along.

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OK. Here's the deal, I aint no superstar climber and there are a lot of people on this site who know a lot more than I do. I was trained well by people who just wanted to climb and were willing to pass along what they knew. They always made it clear, and I make it clear now, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOURSELF. All I can do is tell you what I think is best. Wether or not you are willing to follow my advice or are capable of following my advice is your choice and problem. That said, I would be happy to go up to camp Schurman sometime this summer (late July?) and practice some glacier skills. I would suggest that we keep the group small. No more than five. Let me know if you are interested.

Cheers

Bug

bigdrink.gif

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No problem. I guess I came across stronger than intended. Email & posts can distort things that way. I enjoy being out and I enjoy passing on what I know and then hearing about the adventures that follow. To anyone interested, I reccommend reading a book or two on glacier travel and work and practice a few of the skills (z-pulley system, prussicking etc)in your back yard. I can also meet you at the Marymoor rock. I take my girls to gymnastics and/or soccer near there 4 days a week. That goes for anyone. PM me.

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