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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.

Likewise, KC, nice to "meet" you too. My avatar is Maestro because I before I joined the ranks of AARP, I was a school band director. I'm still an active composer and play my horn in a community band: you can thank CBS for that, he got me into it :grin:

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Hi KitCat --


Reading your posts inspired me to *re-register* on cc. I hang out on SummitPost, and it's been several years since I even lurked on cc -- so long that I forgot my previous sign-in info. Duh. Too much time at altitude....


Anyway, I wanted to comment that nearly without exception the guys I've met through climbing are wonderful & are true gentlemen...albeit wickedly fun. I was single when I started climbing in 1987 & discovered that climbers were so spirited, intelligent, helpful, & non-judgemental that I started dating them exclusively -- and married one.


I agree about going in groups though, especially for a woman who doesn't know someone well yet. Groups are also a good way for a novice to go: beginners may not have enough knowledge to know when things aren't safe, and the right group can help ameliorate potential issues.


YES -- read & study FREEDOM OF THE HILLS. I also agree the SpoMo Mountain School course is **the** way to go, for many reasons. I'm unashamedly biased -- but I also got off to a spectacular start through it. Knowledge, safety, life-long friends, confidence & FUN -- Mountain School has it all.


Please feel free to PM me. I'm always happy to see other women enthusiastic about climbing, and would be delighted to answer any questions that maybe the guys haven't touched upon yet.





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Thanks guys. I know it sounds horrible, but I don't really know where to even START. SO many people have PMed me, offering help, that its now how to decide. I know this Saturday is a for sure thing, and I hope it goes well, but once the weather isn't SNOWING/RAINING/FREEZING I want to get outdoors and start working there. I want to learn. I want to be in this world and experience with my hands and feet and body and mind (waay too corny I am sure). I am just at that point in my life where I want this.

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I got started when I joned a mountain rescue unit years ago (I joined because I was flunking calculus and my professor was a member of the unit... I thought joining might help my grades. I still flunked, but discovered mountaineering and thus true happiness) Most units can use volunteers and it is a very good way to not only gain necessary knowledge, but find a community of people to climb with.

Books are great, but you really should find some folks who can help you put it all together in the field.


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KitCat --


In addition to the SpoMo's full-blown Mountain School (a huge commitment, but due to popularity, it also has an enrollment cap so can be difficult to get into) --- the SpoMo's offer Rock School every June. It is simply the rock content of Mtn School (Mtn School has alpine / mountaineering content) & might be a good option for you if things don't work out for Mtn School this year.


I well recall the feeling of being frantic to get out on real rock!! Please keep posting about your progress & adventures. I'm really enjoying reading about it.

Edited by Mtn Sk8tr
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There is an old running joke (of course I have forgotten most of it).. but something along the lines of,


to train for climbing:


Quit your job

run on a treadmill setup in a sauna,

take baths in a tub filled with ice cubes

use a rasp to file your fingernails

run up stairs with 100lbs in a poorly fitted pack

fall down said stairs

try to start a fire in the shower

try to light a match while standing in front of a fan set at high

put your fingers in a vice and tighten

wear the same underwear for two months

take all your money, put it into a pile in the center of your living room and light fire to it.


Do this a couple of times and you should be ready for climbing..





your post was classic. I really did LOL.


you forgot to mention:


drop a hammer on your toes repeatedly,

put a plastic bag over your head and climb 10 flights of stairs,

start crapping in a plastic bag and carry it around with you,

go on an enforced diet of tail mix, power bars and gatoraide for 3 days staight ...


Thanks! Your list was very funny, especially the part about putting all your money in a pile and burning it; you made my morning.

Edited by jimlup
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You can burn as much money as you want on climbing equipment, that is for sure. But you can also climb most of the popular mountaineering routes with very little of the expensive gear that so many of us drool over - and this crude blanket statement applies to several of the routes in a book like Nelson and Potterfield's "Select" guidebooks and many of the recognized classics.


Technical rock and ice are a little more demanding but for standard routes in the Sawtooths, Cascades, Selkirks and Canadian Rockies, you often need little more than a pair of sturdy hiking boots, an outdated ice axe you could buy at a garage sale, somebody's reject climbing rope, a half dozen 'biners and 20 feet of sling to make a harness. And your regular in-town winter coat and a garbage bag can serve as well as the latest model goretex shell and fleece combination - just about.


You don't have to wait to get that high dollar job and pay off your student loans before taking a second mortgage on your home just to climb mountains.

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Alas, no KitCat was seen at the gym. It appears her boss had other ideas for her.


When I started out, I assured my spousal unit that an investment of only $500 would be more than enough to satisfy my needs. I suppose with some self control a person could get by....I have no such control however :) We do manage to squirrel away just enough to pay for groceries.

Edited by spotly
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In accordance with much advice above, I would suggest:


1. general fitness activities, biking, hiking, etc.

2. indoor rock climbing, learn the skills, get some technique.

3. go summit some easy 'mountains' just walk-ups are fine.

4. start cragging outdoors, top-rope, bouldering, maybe lead some day.

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Alas, no KitCat was seen at the gym. It appears her boss had other ideas for her.


Yeah, and my husband was more than willing to go! he even asked me if I would be able to go and he would make sure to be up and showered by then (when he works overnights, thats a lot to ask at 3pm).


But, I had absolutely no decision to make, other than what I did. I got to work on Friday and our asst manager was no longer an employee with our company. Our manager thus had to work a 16 hour shift that day and two of us have tried to help her the best we can by not bringing attention to our asst being gone, and to help cover the shifts over the weekend.


Now, if Tim's group is there after 4 this Saturday, or on Weds or Friday this week, I will more than be glad to join! And a very kind woman from this forum has invited me for some training hikes. :)

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I just rolled in the door after a very fun hike to the top of Beacon Hill with KitCat! We also hiked up the back of Minne to see the city lights as the sun set. It was lightly snowing & we had so much fun! wOOt!


KitCat is going to be a very fine climber: I can tell already.

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If you are definitely serious about learning to climb, DO NOT purchase a used harness...you life literally depends on the quality of your equipment. If you borrow one, have an expert check it out for weak spots. A harness that is comfortable and fits well should be your first purchase, the second being a good locking 'biner and an ATC (or equivalent). Again, accept used equip with care.


When I first started climbing in the late '80s I bought one or two items each paycheck until I had all the basics. I have replaced it all at least 2x or more. Lots of folks here have good advice. Take your time and don't buy impulsively. Just get the basics you need for climb school. Rent the ice axe, plastic boots (you will learn soon enough that plastic boots are hell on your feet), helmet and crampons for now...choose what works best later.


I will be leading a small group up Mt. Adams in August...you are welcome to join us. By then, ice axe and crampons are all the climbing equip you will need, other than backpacking gear. Speaking of that...


I can't emphasize enough that you get out and do some backpacking with a load (if you are not already a backpacker). I had a newbie on her fist climb ever (Adams as well)who was a marathon runner and in incredible shape, but she had NEVER carried a heavy pack before. It was a big snow pack year ('99 I think) and we had to park all the way down at Morrison Creek to start the climb (from about 3000')up to the lunch counter to base camp...long climb with full packs. She only made it as far as the first 3 miles in before dropping out and heading back (I walked her out and then caught up with the others later). Responsible leaders/assistants should never let others go back alone...at least that is my philosophy. Buying a pack is a whole 'nother ball game, where comfort rules the day...I will gladly help you with that too, if you wish. A good pack should be your most expensive single piece of gear (other than a good tent).


Remember, it is OK if you don't summit when you don't feel you can physically do it. It is better to tell your fellow climbers you can't make it as early as you feel you can't make it. They will get over it. A team is only as strong as the weakest member. I tell folks to work hard at developing strong legs. If they give out on you, you don't have a choice but to retreat...if you get tired, you can rest...but good quads/hams are a must. But (I can't emphisize this one enough) the one essential piece of gear is your brain. Climb smart, always.


Have fun, set a goal, and work hard to achieve it...you can do it grrrl!!



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Hi Jo,

Must ask...whats an ATC?


Sharen and I were talking about this today, and I told her I want my first two items to purchase are a harness and a pair of rock climbing shoes. Also, since I have given up finding my hiking boots, thats #3 on the list. :) For me, things as personal as shoes and harnesses need to be new, and be what fits me best, for outdoors. For wild walls, I don't object to renting, but for me personally, I would rather spend the money and get what REALLY fits, then ever buy used. Its my ass, literally, in that sling, and I want to feel safe.


I am going to have to drag a few of you to one of the gear shops with me though, in order to make sure I am buying the right stuff. Next week is pay week, so it will be a small shopping trip. Maybe I can get a few to come with me! :)

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ATC is an 'Air Traffic Controller' belay device...not the kind that works in airports...YOU are the air traffic. Here's a link to some good descriptions.




click on the 'how to choose a belay device' and they give you all the info you need.


I know a lot of folks on here don't like REI, but our store here in Eugene, OR is staffed with some great folks with a lot of experience. I also like to shop online for good deals.


If you go to a rock gym, they will likely have lots of different ones for you to try out and see what works best. A climbing gym is great if you plan on rock climbing, but it is unrealistic climbing, especially for a newbie...but anything is better than nothing. I had a very positive experience with climbing clubs (small ones) and I highly recommend them. I now lead a very small club at my workplace for my pals. Clubs are certified to teach you climbing safety...the right way. Once you learn the 'ropes' and have climbed with some experienced climbers and learned a few routes, you can venture out with just a few pals and have some real fun. Everyone starts somewhere, but there is safety in numbers. I used to work as a volunteer in search and rescue (not in Oregon)and I taught an outdoor survival class for years, so you are going to get a lot of saftey-minded advice from me...sorry 'bout that.


You don't need rock climbing shoes for climb school...but you will eventually if you choose to do rock climbing. I go over to Smith Rock a few times each summer, and I enjoy it, but nothing beats actual alpine rock climbing to the summit of a great mtn. with a great view...climbing gyms can't give you that. Go to climb school and then get out and really enjoy what the NW has to offer. Feel free to keep in touch via email and PM's here.




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Ahhhh, I knew what those were, just not that thats what they were called. Thanks for the link Jo! I will do more reading up on that later tonight.


Are a type of boot used for alpine rock climbing? And, is alpine rock climbing the same as ice climbing? I hear of apline mountaineering, ice climbing, apline climbing, etc, and am trying to sort out the lingo, so I can better understand what I am hearing.

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Well, that’s a loaded question. Technically, alpine means above the tree line, so alpine rock climbing is climbing a rocky mountain above the tree line. If you are climbing just rock, the kind of boot/shoe depends on the rock type. Most NW rock climbs can be done in a good flexible pair of cross trainers, though places like a gym, Smith Rock and some granite climbs require bona fide rock climbing shoes (small tight shoes with sticky soles for rock climbing only). I have soloed Mt. Washington here in Oregon (a volcanic rhyolite mtn that is all rock climbing, except for the approach) many times in just my Saucony runners, but I have seen climbers on the routes with rock shoes, too. If you are carrying a heavy pack, though, you need more support than a pair of trail runners. Rock shoes should NEVER be used for anything but rock climbing or you will ruin them.


To me, mountaineering is climbing with technical equipment like crampons/harness/ropes, etc. whether it is rock/snow/ice or a mixture of two or three of those. Some climbers do the approach in a pair of good hiking boots, then don the mountaineering boots (very stiff boots that can be used with crampons) for glacier/ice/snow, though some don’t like lugging the extra wt. of a heavy boot in their pack, so they just wear the mountaineering boots for the hike too (which are very expensive, and very stiff with no flexibility but are warm and great for snow, but hella hard on your feet on dry ground). Ice climbing is just that, climbing ice, whether it be a frozen waterfall, a glacier headwall/crevasse or an icy snowfield, all of which require crampons (the metal spikes that fit on the soles of your boots). You can use a good stiff hiking boot with some crampons for hard snowfields but it is never recommended if you will be on ice or any steep slope (the flexibility of the boot won’t allow you to dig into the ‘good ice’ and will slip off the hold too easily). You may not get to use crampons in your climb school until you are actually on a climb that requires them, but walking in them is easy to master, with practice.


I hope that answered your question. I tried to post this once and lost the connection before I sent it and had to retype…augh!


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