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tips for alpine newbies


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Be safe as you gain experience. Epics are surely more memorable than uneventful outings, but don't let them kill you.


These two simple things could save your life:


Pay attention to the weather. You can die of hypothermia at any time of year.

Froze to death on Rainier in June storm and

Died on Hood in giant winter storm


It's OK to turn around or back off a climb. You can always come back to it later.

Turned around when rockfall cut the rope and

From this thread, "...We hiked in to do N Ridge Sherpa but were met by wet, icy, snowy rock. We managed a couple of pitches but we were moving very slowly. I smelled an epic in the making so we bailed before we got too committed. It was a great day in the hills none the less."

Now go have fun out there! :wave:



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I fell into fairly serious hypothermia once in the middle of the Bob on a ski trip.

The scariest thing about it was the total lack of awareness that I was wandering without purpose or direction and in serious trouble.

It was very comfortable.

Until I started warming up by a bonfire my friends built.

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The hills are NOT alive with the sound of music. However, if you must sing, please limit your musical stylings to bad 70's funk, poorly renditioned 80's pop songs, or lounge classics.


Whistling the theme song from Indiana Jones, however, is perfectly acceptable, but only while on rappel.







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If I might add one more tip; keep your group together, don't split up. I have encountered this situation more than once and it is very uncomfortable. When others chose to lead the way even though I knew it was the wrong direction I followed rather than split up. Eventually they realized we were headed the wrong way and I was able to re-direct and hike out. Obviously, don't follow into danger.

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Been there. We came off Adams a few ridges too far west a few years ago and eventually hit the loop trail, which was amazing since it was mostly covered in snow. Anyhoo, the correct direction was obviously left on the trail but I was outvoted 2 to 1. Flabergasted that we'd be adding several more miles to an already grueling car-to-car trip, my first inclination was to sit and wait for them to come back. But I trudged onward with "the team" anyway. About the time we hit the North Cascades highway (joking) they realized the error of their way and turned around (6 extra RT miles total!). Then, as if that sufferage wasn't enough - when we finally cut the correct trail, we met up with another team and one of my partners says "Oh thank GOD, we've been lost for 3 hours." I pulled the brim of my hat down as far as I could.

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Wear tennis shoes as far as possible.


Don't converse with rangers (you'll rarely get the beta you need, and more times then not you'll be notified of a regulation you've accidently broken even if you've tried everything in your power to be good).


Always throw a light pair of rock slippers in your backpack in summer.


When seconding a pitch, go so fast that you risk falling off nearly every move.


Carry a charged phone


Don't join any branch of the Mountaineers (they are all lame)


Learn to ski, you'll feel much more comfortable on steep snow slopes.


Cache unneeded gear as you ascend and get it on the way down.


Sport climb a lot. You'll get sick strong and build a safety reserve of arresting crimp strength that will make soloing that wet 5.7 section in your boots with a pack on more sane.


Don't strap shit to the outside of your pack. Don't use hydration bladders.


Have fun and be safe.


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Move quickly.


* Help the leader pull rope up to the next belay by ensuring there are no snags and it feeds free.


* While he's pulling the rope, you should also be getting ready to go: put yr pack on, shoes on, etc. so that when you're on belay you have nothing left to do but break the anchor and start climbing. Sometimes, depending on the situation, I will start to break the anchor down before I am even on belay, or partially break it down.


* Do what you can to make gear-transfers between pitches go quickly and efficiently. Rack gear well while cleaning, and help organize while handing stuff to the new leader.


* When following, CLIMB FAST! You're on a top rope.


* Corollary: Be sure to tell your second when he must not fall (i.e. marginal belay, etc.)


* Learn how to simul-climb easier portions of the route. Practice simul-climbing so that you can do it efficiently.


* When rappelling, get off rappel as quickly as possible. I pull a long arm-lengths of rope through my device and yell "off rappel" and THEN actually remove my device from the rope. Often, you can start setting up the next rap while your buddy comes down.


Communicate and plan effectively:


* When you can't hear each other, there are obvious ways to devine what's happening. Example: You're feeding rope out. The rope stops moving for a bit. Suddenly the leader is pulling lots of rope through (make sure you feed it through the belay device!). The rope pulls tight. You wait a bit and climb up a little bit -- does the leader pull in the slack? You're probably on belay.


* If using rope tugs to communicate, really TUG -- a tug is not a short little jerk. It's a looooong, deliberate pull. You've got to really yank on it to get the energy to communicate through all that rope and friction.


* Use some of your "alone time" to work through escape scenarios. If something goes wrong on this pitch or the ones following immediately, how will you bail? What will you do if the leader gets hurt?


* When reaching spots on the route from which escape is easy, consider your options. How are you on time? How's the weather? Constantly reevaluate conditions when opportunities present themselves -- don't just blindly press on.


* Learn and practice self-rescue techniques

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Bring a fresh pair of earplugs for your partner in the likely event that your deviated septum bursts into the Flight of the Valkyries at 1:00 a.m., or in case you just can't shut the fuck up during waking hours.

is there an equivalent to keeping you off the keyboard? Just wonderin'...that's all...

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Really liked your points.


A couple of points to add to the beginning of that list though...


* Learn all the knots and rope handling you'll need when climbing.


* Learn how to belay correctly.


* All rope is not created equally. Make sure you are using the correct rope for the situation, and carry enough.

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