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KitCatherine

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Damn, I got booted off before adding that I do have decent motivation for this. Want kiddo to be able to share in this with all of us, and to know both mom & dad are capable of climbing. But I may be way on the premature side here. Thanks for even reading my dribble...

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Maybe you can explain to your fella how important it is to you to get out and start learning these skills as well. It might mean he gets a little more time with the critter (which cant be all that bad!), so you can get out and do your thing. Family and friends are also a great resource, if they are available. Though it might be at a snails pace, its never too soon to get children in the outdoors.

 

Its never to late, and there is never any reason to NOT do something you want to do. Its just sometimes it can be a bit more challenging!

 

Best of Luck!

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I have some more "newbie" questions. I have read a lot about stuff you need, but how about brand recommendations? I remember when I was at Washington State University, the mountain shop "Hyperspud" was huge into Petzel and Prana. So, if you wanted stuff, those were the brands. I know from working in retail, sometimes there are products that are made by two different companies...one is $100, and one is $65, and both are the exact same quality. I don't mind spending money, but I want to not be wasting it either. So, if there are better types of shoes, harnesses, biners, etc, that are known solidly for good reputations, etc, I would appreciate learning this before I go shopping!

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kit,

The first items you will probably acquire are shoes and a harness. When it comes to either of those items, the first thing you want to look for is the best fit for YOU. Then, look at your options and decide which one offers the features best suited to your needs. If you continue to climb you may try other things out and decide..."oh, I like 5.10 rubber the best" or, "slip on shoes are less of a pain, but I really like my ______, so I will keep what I have".

 

When it comes to shoes, no matter WHAT the salesperson or others tell you, DO NOT get them excruciatingly tight! Even some of the manufacturers put that message on their boxes. They need to be snug for sure - heel snug (no slipping), toe at the front (not curling over), etc. the width can be a little more snug depending on the material, as most of them will stretch. Basically, if you get a very tight, uncomfortable shoe, you will not want to wear them. If you dont want to wear them, you wont climb. As you get more experience and your skills develop you then MAYBE want to get a more technical shoe, which will likely be painfully tight in comparison. Remember, get what fits YOU, not what everyone thinks is 'good'.

 

Harness- Try on any and all. Make sure you have a place to hang in it before you buy it so you can see how it will feel. You need to be able to get it tight, but also have a tad of room in case you go outside on a colder day and want to climb in a few layers. Hopefully, the person in the store will be able to help you decide on the best fit. Look in the area and see if there are any harnesses made for women, as they have a different rise (length between legs and waist) more appropriate for a womans body (though not always).

 

the only bit of hardware i can think of if you are starting in the gym is a belay device. Yes, there are many different kinds and brands. I think the common ones you will see are the ATC, GRIGRI, Reverso, and whatever that new BD one is. ATC's are perfectly fine. If you want more details on the differences, you can ask here, do a search, or ask folks in the local store.

 

If you decide to go outside, I always recommend a helmet. There are certain situations that absolutely call for one and other situations where you assess your risk and use your judgement. Again, personal choice. With my luck over the years, I have decided that my helmet needs to stay glued onto my head when outside (im a magnet for falling objects).

 

You are looking at approximately 200-250 for all of that in new gear. Check around for people selling their shoes. Be hesitant about buying used harnesses and helmets.

 

Hope some of this helps.

Keep asking questions because you can never stop learning!

 

carolyn

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I'd also be a little concerened about buying used shoes. Like Carolyn said: You want shoes that will fit you! If you just get cheap ones, you'll pay for it later when you're crying over painfull tootsies. Also, I've never re-soled my shoes, but my friends that have say they don't grip the rock the same. Just a thought :grin:

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Thanks guys! I wish I had kept my shoes! But, my feet have grown so it wouldn't matter much anyway. I will go down next week and start pricing everything out. I have a small bonus coming in January, so my supply purchase has to wait until then, but I can start scoping, and I plan on watching Tim's crew climb in the gym on the 30th. Hey, its a start!

 

Oh, I ordered Freedom of the Hills from Amazon today, so thats on its way as well.

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KitCat,

 

The best way to learn how to climb is to climb. And the best way to improve is to climb with someone better than you. And the easiest (not necessarily the best) way to find fellow climbers you can join with is to join your local mountaineering club.

 

Long ago, before there were "classes" for climbing, people just went out with other climbers and the knowledge was passed on that way. That is, by far, the best way to learn.

 

Gym climbing won't really teach you much, except climbing gymnastics, which is fine for exercise. But most gym climbers never leave the cushy comfort of a warm, dry gym. I have yet to meet any serious climbers in a gym, though I am sure there are a few somewhere. Mostly you meet people with cool clothes and even cooler attitudes...but not many real climbers.

 

Learning to climb is kind of like learning to ride a bicycle...a million people can tell you technically how to do it, but ultimately, you have to get on the thing and peddle...same with climbing. One suggestion I have is to do a lot of hiking and to hike things that get progressively steeper as you go along, until you eventually are on class IV terrain. If you are unfamiliar with class IV it is basically hiking where you occasionally use your hands for balance. Next you get to class V, rock climbing.

 

I would NOT recommend doing any traditional lead climbs until you are completely comfortable leading sport climbs (with bolts already in place) and following another climber's lead pitch. I have known of a number of people who tried to lead traditional climbs when they were beginners and some of them hit the ground - from up high. That usually ends their climbing career one way or another.

 

As for gear, buy it where you feel comfortable. There is nothing wrong with REI, they're just big and many people don't like the big guy, no matter what. But they have enough gear to get you started. If you prefer to shop with the local shop, plan on spending more for the same thing, but keeping food on someone's table in the process. Sometimes only one place will have what you need, so the decision is made for you.

 

For training, we used to lift hand weights, do lots of pullups (especially 4, 3 and eventually 2 fingers pullups when we got strong.) A Bachar ladder is a great training tool. It is essentially a rope ladder with rungs of large dowels that you stretch between 2 points at a 45 degree angle or so and climb the underside, with just your arms. Go up and down that thing a few times and you'll be gettin' ripped! But the training is perfect for climbing. And lastly, gym climbing is a good way to keep your fingers and forearms in shape. Real rock is the best, because you will also be developing a "head for climbing," which most gym climbers lack these days. They can pull superhard climbs inside, but when they get on real rock, they have little idea of what to do. This is why no one had any idea of how to "train for climbing" at your local gym - because they aren't real climbers, just gym rats..which is perfectly fine for exercise!

 

Traditional lead climbing is the most risky, and requires the highest level of skill and focus to accomplish safely. And that focus is what drives many climbers to climb. It offers a moment of purity and clarity not often found in life.

 

As for trying to learn everything "properly;" there really is no such thing. There are a million different opinions on how to tie a knot, but if you find one system that works for you, then that is fine, no matter what the windbag at the gym tells you...just take his suggestion as "one more option." Ultimately, it is what YOU think that matters.

 

Good luck!

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Pindude is a big shot with the Spokane Mountaineers. Send him a PM.

 

Thanks for the ref's, CBS, Alasdair, Mr. Phil.

 

Welcome, Kit, to the board and Spokane.

 

Lots of good advice given so far. I'm not really a "big shot," but am glad to help. While I'm a Spokane Mountie, I'm really an independent sort, and would be glad to give you honest info on how to learn in general, and how to take advantage of the programs in the area including what the Spo Mounties and others offer.

 

Only the Spo Mounties Mountain School is limited to folks that have to register as members by Jan. 1. While I think this rule is BS, it would be worthwhile to join by then if you are thinking about climbing in the mountains and are even remotely interested in Mountain School this spring for you or your husband. However, there's lots of other options and classes available. I can tell you much more.

 

If you don't already know, the Mountaineers in general are royally sprayed on in this board, sometimes deservedly so. Interestingly, the disfunction in the Mountaineers is much less compared to that exhibited by the range of posters on cc.com. :/ But while there's lots of chaff, there's also some incredible wisdom. I'm sure you're already figuring out who is who here.

 

Point of clarification: The Spo Mounties are autonomous from the westside Mountaineers organization. While the Spo Mounties look up to the Mountaineers as a big brother in many respects, a good number of Spo Mounties take pride in being independent and somewhat non-bureaucratic. Regardless, bureacracy is inherent in any organization, and the Spo Mounties still provide some great cc.com opportunities for photo-caption contests. :grin:

 

Re. shops, don't overlook Mountain Goat Outfitters, an independent store at Sprague and Division, at the very heart and crossroads of Spokane. Interestingly the same exact location where Mountain Gear first started and I used to work. Both Mountain Goat and Mountain Gear have great selection and help. Even though I worked at MGear for 4+ years and since have done various contract work for them, I like to champion the little guy, and in this case it's deserved. It's important to spread the wealth around the community: Mountain Goat, Mountain Gear, and REI all have their place.

 

Kit, I was in very much the same situation as you when I really got into climbing (like doing it almost every day as opposed to only a few times a year) more than 20 years ago: back in school, not much money, and had to figure out how to do it as efficiently as possible. I can help you out re. equipment and sources/resouces in the overall community.

 

Re. books, FOTH is a good start. There's many others depending on what exactly you get into. And once you join the Spo Mounties, you can get 20% off Mountaineers Books. I've got other resources there for you as well.

 

You'll meet, literally, some of the best people in the world as climbers. A good start are our own Spotly and High on Rock from Spokane, and select others on this board.

 

Cheers,

Steve Reynolds

 

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I feel a little overwhelmed, but I am excited! I have climbed outdoors YEARS ago, and I totally preferred that to indoors. So, I can completely agree with you on that point! But, I feel that starting in a gym will help me get reaquainted, so when these guys allow me to join them in Vantage and I haven't been out there before, at least I will have a FEEL for what I am doing.

 

Tim, if you end up at Wild Walls this Saturday, let me know. I get off work at 2pm and can come and watch. The husband is working overnights, so he is asleep until 4, so I have extra time!

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Hello KitCat,

 

Thanks for being bold enough for asking the questions that many lurkers here are secretly wondering about. =)

 

One important thing to clarify here before you get any more advice: what kind of climbing interest you the most? I'm seeing a lot of advice here that looks rockclimbing related, but in your opening post you refer generally to losing weight (way to go!) becoming more fit, and getting ready for your "first climb." To me, this sounds like you're more interested in alpine mountaineering (Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams) as opposed to rockclimbing at say, Vantage or Smith Rock. If your goal is to climb the Cascade volcanoes, doing pullups at the gym will not be very helpful.

 

You may have an interest in both, which is terrific as well, but most people start off having some preference for one flavor of climbing or the other.

 

Can you please tell us which style of climbing interests you the most, so the advice you get will be more appropriate?

 

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Thanks Steve, for all of that advice! I am more than willing to take up all of you for any tips, and the like.

 

John-

I honestly don't know which I would want more. I have this dream of "before I die" to climb a few mountains. But, I remember really enjoying rock climbing. Sadly though, I have this HUGE fear of heights. I can climb UP just fine....its the going down part that bothers me. Actually, its stepping over the edge to go down, that bothers me. What I HOPE to learn from rock climbing is how to get over the "going down" and just feel more in tune with my body, and with how I work. I would like to have this accomplished before I go off a mountain, if that makes sense.

 

Something I have been debating sharing, was a reason why I have always had the intersest, but haven't done anything with it in years, was due to having a minor stroke at 22. Granted, I went maybe once a month, but I had an interst. I lost a part of my sense of balance and its taken years to get it back. I gained my weight during this time. Now, although I am still called "miss clumsy," I am in more control of my abilites to fall. So, the idea of starting in a gym, learning my own balance and responses, sounds like a smart thing for me. I am in no ways limited, and my doctors thought this was a great idea, so I got their oks back in October. Since then, I have just been a lurker.

 

In the long run, I want to learn alpine. I want to go up Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier. But I feel its smart for me to have a good understanding of climbing places like Vantage, and feeling more comfortable with that, before scaling a mountain. It could help me get over the "fear aspect" and the "equipment fears" aspect. This may be foolish, I don't know. Thats what I have you all here for! It is giving me a place to 1) get more physically fit and 2) get familiar with the climbing world. I don't know if its the right thing to do, but a climbing gym apparently is a good way to meet others (on top of here) and at least when join some of you in the future, I would be QUITE so ignorant (I hope!)

 

So, I hope learning about both will help me. From my understanding, the book FOTH is more mountaineering related, so I can start reading that. Getting first aid rescue training will also help in this area. But having a basic understanding of some climbing I would hope, will help! I am here to learn, and here to find what interests me most.

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Sadly though, I have this HUGE fear of heights. I can climb UP just fine....its the going down part that bothers me. Actually, its stepping over the edge to go down, that bothers me. What I HOPE to learn from rock climbing is how to get over the "going down" and just feel more in tune with my body, and with how I work.

 

Hell, Im still terrified of down (ask anyone who has climbed with me what a yodelling chicken-shit I am! :eek:).

Fear is good because:

1. If you can not let it overcome you, then it serves as a good safety measure.

 

2. You can still do things, despite being afraid. Fear doesnt have to be seen as something to limit you. Its something to work WITH and use to help you gain confidence in your abilities.

 

Now, although I am still called "miss clumsy," I am in more control of my abilites to fall.

 

Damn, Im glad Im not the only one with that name! :blush: You should see some of the stunts I've pulled off - and I dont even have an excuse! ;) That said, it adds humor both to myself and others during the day.

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Kit, Steve is in fact a big shot in the Spokane Mountianeers, and has been a mentor to most in spokane in the last 15 years. The local club is different from the westside counterpart in many respects, beginning with price; a mere $30 per year or so.

 

Stay in touch with Pinhead, feel free to contact me if you need anything, and we will get you started. If you have time and want to get out and adventure during the christmas break, I can get you started with some basics in the Spokane area and we will continue to jack up your life from there.

 

If you are willing, we will jack up your life. We have all the gear to loan you from the beginning, and we can advise on purchases. Don't spend much until you talk to us. I recommend MtGear for everything, but have a stake in that recommendation and will freely admit I am bias.

 

If you need anything contact me. I will PM you my contact info.

Eric

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I just have to say this, THANK YOU to all of you. You all have NO idea just how appreciative I am. I have Tim offering to let me climb indoors with him, one of you offering to let me join you at vantage, John asking me my thoughts on Alpine, Eric offering to help me learn outdoors, and SEVERAL of you offering to help me with finding ways to learn. I honestly don't know where to even start, and where to go!

 

All I can say is, THANK YOU. SO much information is flying at me, that its very overwhelming because I don't really know WHERE to start. I am that damn little duckling trying to learn to fly, with all these big ducks going "just do it" and me going "duhhhhhhhhhhh". LOL

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Cat,

 

"Fear of heights" is an oft cited reason about avoiding climbing. However, there are many, many rewarding "climbs" where there is not significant exposure at all. For starters, most all the cascade volcanoes. The "going down" part of rapelling is a technical requirement typically found on more intermediate-advanced routes. Rapping is in no way a mandatory part of the alpine "climbing" experience. (But it is an essential skill for rock climbing.)

 

Suggestions for mitigating the fear of heights:

Get a competent instructor, head out to a local cliff you can walk to the top of, have her set up a confidence inspiring anchor and toprope, and rappell down it about 10 times. Be sure buy her a few cold ones afterwards.

 

When toproping in the gym, take a few falls with an solid and attentive belayer. This will do wonders to boost your confidence in the components of the belay system.

 

(Besides, kats always land on their feet, do they not? =^)

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You know why I took up climbing in general and rock climbing in particular? To get rid of my fear of heights! :D

 

But you don't want to get rid of it entirely. In his autobiography, Lou Whittaker says that whenever someone tells him they are afraid of heights he replies "so am I, that's why I'm still alive."

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Thats an excellent quote.

 

Maestro, I have an affinity towards music, that whenever I see your avatar, I am reminded. I was a classically trained contralto for several years and sang in various choirs. I always appreciate another musician.

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Something I wanted to ask....

 

Several of you guys have offered to help me one on one, and I am more than willing to take you up on that, but do any of you ever go out in groups? I know its goofy, but since i know none of you outside the forum world, its hard to be a female going out with a guy alone, who knows where, to learn. Call me paranoid, but I do much better with 2-3 people, than 1 on 1. Plus, there don't seem to be as many women into this sport as guys!

 

So, just needing some assurance that I am not going to get whacked off I think! So far, every one of you has shown me more kindness and hospitality than I ever see in the Chinchilla world, and in the real world. I am soooo appreciative, but do have some apprehensions about going to a place alone with ANY man I have never met before. So many of you have PMed me offering to take me out, and I would love to. But, I am hoping that I can meet a few of you at once, because that would really help. I am sure all of you can understand that! :) Its much easier to explain that to the husband as well.

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To those of you who either emailed or PMed me, thank you! Its nice knowing you guys all go out on groups, especially for a newbie. Someone thought it was a romance fear....nope, just a safety thing when first meeting a stranger on the side of a rock, or in a snow park who is of a different gender. What can I say? My mom taught me to beware of strangers! :)

 

I can't wait to see some of you in the next few weeks. Maybe by the time I get to Vantage in the spring, I won't be asking QUITE so many stupid questions.

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Sure Kat we go out in groups too. Carefull though, look for the small groups. As the groups get larger they turn into a PubClub or our annual patries of Rope Up, Tuft love, and there's even a Ski Fest plus a couple large picnics each year. Check out the events forum for reports of how these outings end up.

 

All kidding aside you have a valid concern and I'm sure you can come up with small groups to join.

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I wouldn't worry though, climbers are known for being extremely well-mannered.

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Thats always a good thing! :) The manners, I mean.

 

Yep, I prefer smaller groups. I am not big into large groups. I get very quiet in those situations. Its a fear mechanism I am sure!

 

Mid January eh? BRRRRRR LOL

 

I thought about going out this afternoon to go check out the shops, but baking cookies for the work potluck tomorrow, and then one of my female chins giving birth to triplets squashed that thought. I am excited to see Tim and his group climb this next Saturday. I hear Eric may even show up! :)

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