Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   02/03/18

      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  
BarryAnnArbor

Guide service recommendation

Recommended Posts

Hi Folks,

 

I've lurked on this board for a long time, and would like your advice. I'd like to do a beginners climb of Rainier, Adams, or one of the other major mountains in the Pacific Northwest - and I live in the very flat, but damn cold, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

 

I've tried to train as best I can - two to three hours daily in the gym, hiking carrying a sixty pound pack up and down our moderate hills, cycling, snowshoeing - strenuous and hard for more than a year. Makes my wife happy. I've also been camping in the snow, though it's pretty much melt off now.

 

A baby's on the way in July - I'd like to do something real before then. What would you folks recommend? RMI? Alpine Ascents? I've got a free ticket to Seattle that I have to use before 4 June - sort of the limit for when I can go up and do stuff. But I wantto do something real, something challenging, and something I can use for later attempts on bigger mountains.

 

I'd appreciate your advice.

 

Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alpine ascents and american alpine inst. probably won't have rainier trips in your time frame. RMI will. My view is biased so I will not give my opinion on good and bad guide services. But ask others about their experiences with guide services when choosing one.

 

Alpine ascents, amer alpine, mountain madness and cascade alpine all have varied programs to fit your needs and time frame. Will probably be in other mountains than rainier though. I doubt that you will find trips on adams too. We don't know your alpine experience yet, so you may need to take a skills course before going on a bigger trip. Depends on the company.

 

Feel free to PM me with more questions. (I work for alpine ascents)

 

gene

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Should have said that upfront - I've got no alpine experience - so, a more specific question is, who provides the best general training? Sadly, most of the options discussed on this board don't apply to me - I can't visit for more than two weeks at a time, and my backpacking partners think I'm insane for wanting to do this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

you might learn more from a skills course in the North Cascades or maybe Mt. Baker. i would think that any of the guide services listed by genepires could present you with a totally real, challenging, and skill developing experience. Rainier might be more famous, but the North Cascades peaks are super place for a "total" alpine experience. plus they are low so you are less likely to get a headache and barf.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did Mt. Hood in May 2004 with Timberline Guides. Learned a lot in snow climbing school and loved every second of it. Standing at 9,500 ft. in whiteout conditions and not anyone else on the mountain definitely gave that "big mountain" feeling.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You could take a Glacier Training course with North Cascade Mountain Guides, see ncmountainguides.com

 

Great folks, good instruction, more personal than the bigger companies like AAI, I would think.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I started with an Alpine Ascents 6 day course on Mt. Baker. It was a great experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally, I'd just save my money and hook up with someone with experience (on this board for example) to point the way up the mountain.

Do something less technical, like the slog on hood, adams, middle/south sis, etc are straight forward enough for a newbie. And done in the winter, they can feel pretty extreme, too.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that it's not a requirement to hire a professional guide service to get you up a mountain. Hell, by your description, your workout program probably has you in better shape than many of the keyboard jockey, spray lords on this site! yellaf.gif

 

Just make a post on the partners forumn and state your intention and an honest assesment of your skills. There are plenty of decent people out there that wouldn't mind sharing their knowledge.

 

My .02.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am not to crazy about Kevin’s advice. If you are a building a house to last it is best to start with a good foundation. The folks you meet here may or may not be good teachers. If your female you can bet that there is a 99% chance they are just trying to get laid. Climbing is a sport not a game. Invest in a little instruction now and it will pay off later.

 

My suggestion is to find a small independent operator. Large companies tend to pay their guides less and a lot of the money that you are spending goes into advertising and infrastructure not into the guide’s pocket. In Canada we only have one big mountaineering company actually two if we were to include western in Vancouver. They tend to change out their more seasoned guides with assistants every few years as they are less expensive and still produce a quality product.

Of course this may not be possible, as I understand your concession system developed by the land managers. You may develop a closer relationship with a small independent. I would also suggest that he/she be members of the AMGA not that is any sure fire that you are getting the best guide available but at least there is a minimum standard.

serenity.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't completely disagree with JMckay but I certainly do in part.

 

I grew up in Ann Arbor, learned to climb on a top-rope at Grand Ledge, and came west to climb in the Tetons with no guide or experienced professional assistance. My friends and I took one day of instruction with Exum guides and we went out and practiced the stuff we'd read about in books. Then we did some backpacking and finished by climbing the Middle Teton by an obscure but not too difficult route. You don't HAVE to have professional instruction.

 

You CAN come out here and hook up with somebody you meet on cc.com and you will probably live and very likely even enjoy yourself. Lots of us are more than capable of showing someone a good time on Mount Adams, Baker, Rainier or perhaps Mt. Shuksan and plenty of people have hooked up that way on this site -- not just females. JMcKay is right to suggest you ask yourself why they might want to take their vacation time to take a stranger out climbing, though, and that may be because they hope to get laid or because they don't have enough social skills to get a local partner. Ask questions.

 

If you are inclined to want to maximize what you do and want more of a sure bet, a professional will very likely be able to teach you more, get you up a big climb faster, and perhaps more safely than some yahoo with a big mouth (or a busy keyboard, as the case may be). A professional guide is certainly a good idea, but don't assume you must and don't immediately discount the idea if somebody says Hey BarryAnnArbor: we're climbing Mt. Shuksan May 15 or so if you want to join us.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey - Thanks for all the advice, I'm listening, and expanding the general search parameters. I'm now looking for the best training possible, not necessarily making it up Rainier. I've got quite a long time to do that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For some more unsolicited advice, let me say that in my opinion Mount Rainier is not the god of NW peaks.

 

Mount Baker, for example, offers all of the alpine ambience in the form of a fully glacial-clad volcano and all but without the altitude problems. Coming from Michigan, you will not be acclimated.

 

Other Cascade peaks will offer more varied alpine climbing, and you'd have a great vacation if you were able to climb two or three smaller peaks such as Eldorado, Shuksan, and Liberty Bell, all of which are likely to be in good climbing shape in May or early June.

 

Don't get me wrong: Mt. Rainier IS cool. Stand on top on a clear day and you can see Canada and Oregon; inland plains and the Pacific Ocean.

 

By the way, my brother was on El Capitan when his second son was born (early). Allow extra time to get home before the big day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Barry, I also grew up in Michigan (UM class of '98) and found it hard to learn to climb in that area. I ended up going to France to learn alpine climbing since the Michigan Alps didn't quite have the flavor I was looking for. I agree with the other posts that suggest you would have a more enjoyable alpine experience by spending your time venturing into the North Cascades. And that's not just because I also guide for Alpine Ascents. Given the choice between climbing Rainier and going into the N Cascades I would choose the latter because of the wilderness, the beauty, the quality of routes, and the variety of terrain. Rainier is a lot of fun and I have climbed it a few times, but the type of experience you will have up there in June is very different from the type of experience you will have in a more secluded part of the range. If reaching the summit is an important objective for you, then signing up for a trip with RMI might be the way to go. If, however, you spend your time and money on a six-day mountaineering course you will learn some valuable skills that will put you well on your way to becoming self-sufficient in the mountains. You would then be much better prepared to climb Rainier as part of a small, private group, or even a small guided group. As for training recommendations, for Rainier in particular and Cascade approaches in general, having legs and lungs that can work hard will take you far. I run stairs and ride my bike a lot. Head down to Michigan Stadium or Dennison Hall and start doing laps. Alternate running sessions with carrying a pack and hiking the stairs. Or take your mountain bike to Pinckney, Brighton, or Yankee Springs. The Circle of Pain is a decent, 1-hour in-town ride. Feel free to send a personal messages if you have any other questions. Cheers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Barry, I also am from Michigan, the state not the college and my advice would be to get the hell out of that state. If you own a house, sell it now. If you are worried about finding a job, dont worry there are way more out here than there are in the dying auto capital of the world. Michigan after a couple of the states in the south east is quite simply the worst possible place for a climber to live. There is NO climbing within at least 8 hours so you cant even do a weekend trip from there. Michigan could have been a great state with natural beauty, but it sold it off for the Internal combustion engine. As far as a guide service goes I would just recomend you go with one that guides in the North Cascades. It looks like you have the right idea going with an instructional class rather than a summit climb. Definatly avoid one of those 3 day summit a mountain things, because you wont learn nearly as much.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I signed up for a course with Alpine Ascents, since they came highly recommended from a former colleague. They have been nothing but excellent, they answer emails inside of an hour and are very patient answering questions. I have no experience dealing with AAI, but I hear they are good. My $.02 is sign up for a six-day course, IL version of climbing is waiting at the climbing gym wall staring up at a soccer mom falling out of her 2 sizes to small prana top and Mich. can't be much better. Better to learn right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

which guide companies will be allowed to take climbers on rainier under the new park service rules?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the time frame you describe you could easily do Baker, then Shuksan, then tootle over and maybe do Eldorado or something like that. These are all technically easy but very pretty mountains. You would need to know self arrest and crevasse rescue stuff if you don't already.

 

The tricky part is that some Junes are beautiful and other Junes are horrible. You might never see the sky on the west side at all.

 

Oops. If I had read your post more carefully I might have noticed that you asked about a guide service. My bad

Edited by MisterMo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×