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shaoleung

Blind leading the blind

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Thats pretty much where I am... Stuck in limbo between tough alpine scrambles and real technical climbing. A good friend of mine knew a lot more about mountaineering than I did and brought me in at first but through some research (read quite a few books and countless TR's)I caught up with him and we have been progressing together, kinda self taught (through the recorded knowledge of others of course). We would usually do a little homework on peaks and routes and just give it a go and if it got too hairy we'd turn back to return another day with more experience. Eventually I got tired of walking up the south side of everything, and he got engaged, so without some proper instruction or an equally devoted companion for support, I haven't been able to make the jump to technical climbing. I'm very glad for the experience I've gained routefinding, steep snow travel, crampon/ice axe use, what I personally need to pack for multi-days etc, physical fitness etc. which will hopefully prove invaluable by allowing me to focus more on the climbing and more technical aspects of future climbs. Lately I've been soaking up all of the information I possibly can about rock and alpine tech stuff and this thread has given me a few ideas on how to make the next step. As I have learned from skiing, mountaineering, hell even the apprenticeship I completed at work, that for me, there is no substitute for a solid mentor with a wealth of applied experience to draw off of.

 

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I appreciate the irony in your post, but I'm searching my memory banks for an example of bitching about people who don't climb...

 

The land managers don't understand climbing needs threads. The stupid tourists who ask stupid questions threads. The "why is XYZ so expensive" threads

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Search the "Partners needed" forum and find people wanting to do routes you think you can follow. If you don't ask, the answer is always "NO".

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bug, will u be my mentor?

you really know some shit about some shit...

 

Good call. Maybe a bit crusty but with this pick you show you have good judgment, that goes along way to start off with IMO. Thats the way to do it too.

 

Bam! Just like that.

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Peakpimp, at risk of opening this up to bitchers and moaners... you might want to look into the Mountaineers. The key to getting a decent experience there is to remember that they're all volunteers and you really get out of it what your attitude lets you. The dicks who go in with the I'll-sit-at-the-back-of-the-class-and-be-cool attitude tend to get more attitude. People with experience like you will have a mostly refresher experience unless you talk with the old-school folks... then you can actually get a lot out of it.

 

I have my reservations about the Mounties in general, but I really think you're in a spot where they would open a lot of doors for you.

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IT sounds to me as if peakpimp is ready to go climbing. I'd take you up some multi-pitch routes in Darrington and show you a little bit about how to use the equipment, Mr. Pimp, if you want to help with a bit of maintenance work. Others around here will partner up to go climb moderate alpine routes if you are flexible about your schedule or bring something else to the equation such as a working automobile, I'm sure.

 

Fair warning: I have arthritis currently preventing me from turning my head and my glasses look like coke bottles, so climbing with me will definitely be "the blind leading the blind" but I do know a thing or two about climbing.

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I think it is about 5.desparate presently. A guy could die there, but probably not. However, there area a few other worthy climbs in the area: "chainsaw" and "bad bolts" are both 5.suck.

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bug, will u be my mentor?

you really know some shit about some shit...

 

Good call. Maybe a bit crusty but with this pick you show you have good judgment, that goes along way to start off with IMO. Thats the way to do it too.

 

Bam! Just like that.

Crusty!? Me?

You have more opinions than a Jewish knitting club. :argue:

 

I sent him a PM.

No response. But I suspect he will find his way.

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One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that you - acting as an individual - have the responsibility to look out for your own personal safety as the first step. If you're not questioning the person that is supposed to be 'teaching' you the skills, you are not looking out for yourself. Do you remember the first time you ever leaned back on a rappel? You feel scared for a reason - because your body is looking out for itself first, instead of trusting the situation. Once you learn to trust and understand the systems, then you can start taking things into your own hands. It all starts with being an actual individual human being and trusting your instincts.

 

With that in mind, you can explain why you see sketchy events go down in the crags and the people somehow make it out alive. Yeah accidents do happen, but there are a surprising amount of near-misses that occur simply because the n00b in the situation felt uneasy about it.

 

If they were feeling uneasy, the instructor was clearly not doing their job. I wish more people who tried to teach their friends realized this.

 

This is why the big clubs can mitigate accidents and dangerous behavior. They have a high collective experience level and people are constantly critiquing and talking about climbing systems, techniques, and safety.

 

I'm instructing for one of those major local clubs right now, and to tell you the truth, it was a wonderful way to learn what I wanted to get out of the mountains. If you are a newbie, I strongly suggest taking this approach if you have the humility and foresight to realize these are the only current formal training options on the subject.

 

Surprisingly, after only a small bit of instruction from a local club (or just reading FoTH), you can get the skills used to turn an otherwise life-threatening situation into a controllable one.

 

Just because some guy boulders V7 at the gym doesn't mean he can tie a load release hitch. I -totally- agree with you guys.

 

How are n00bs supposed to know it's probably a bad idea to climb with someone that can't escape a belay? That's the question right there.

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I'm sorry to be contrarian, but I have been repeatedly amazed to hear all this talk about SRENE anchors and "escaping the belay" over the last few years. Back in the old days when we were real men nobody ever heard of such things and it seems to me that a lot of climbers made it up and down big scary hard routes without anywhere near this degree of specific training and that, if anything, climbers used to be BETTER at self rescue when the sh#t hit the proverbial fan.

 

Learning to "escape the belay" is a good idea, but it is not the litmus test for a safe climber, in my opinion. Being strong and learning to climb in a variety of settings and styles will take you a lot further than a weekend workshop.

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I'm sorry to be contrarian, but I have been repeatedly amazed to hear all this talk about SRENE anchors...Back in the old days when we were real men nobody ever heard of such things and it seems to me that a lot of climbers made it up and down big scary hard routes ...

 

There's something to be said for stout anchors that don't blow. A lot of things were not heard of in the old days. I started climbing on Goldline, for example. Remember when we used manual typewriters and slide rules? All sorts of things change and progress. A little redundancy in an anchor someday may contribute to you living to be even older than you are already. If you can do it and it's easy and it makes things even safer than they already are, why not? When I started there were no climbing harnesses. The concept was unbirthed, unheard of. But you wear a harness. At what historical period do you drop into the scene and say, this is legitimate but that is silly or overkill?

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I think you may misunderstand my point, Mr. Builder. I did not mean to suggest one should not try to maintain good anchors or to learn technical skills. I was suggesting that I encounter a lot of climbers who are obsessed with a few specific ways to do something such as set up SRENE anchors because they learned this in a class or read about it in John Long's book, while they would benefit more from doing some aid climbing, developing better climbing technique, or whatever else would round out their skills more generally.

 

In my opinion, Mr. Pimp here will likely learn as much from getting out and climbing a variety of types of climbs with a variety of partners (hopefully most of whom know what they are doing) than he might in taking a weekend workshop or even, perhaps, an entire program from one of the local clubs. (With that same time investment, he could go to Darrington with me, climb something really good with Bug, and move on to climb with guys who actually know what they are doing.)

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That's a very good point Matt, and I've observed the exact same thing - that people have been climbing for years without all these advanced techniques.

 

A few things are certain though:

 

- There are more climbers now, which statistically increases the number of accidents happening. (and successes)

 

- Climbing systems have become infinitely complex compared to how they used to be. Do they have to be? Probably not. But we can use these new systems to mitigate common problems.

 

There's a very thick book on the subject that we all know about. There's no reason that in this day and age, a non-life threatening situation (like a leader breaking a leg, needing to be tied off) should be turned into a life-threatening situation simply because the belayer didn't know how to tie a munter hitch.

 

To me, that is simply not acceptable -today-

 

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I agree, Mr. Moron, that where there are materials on such topics as "how to escape the belay" readily available, one would be an idiot not to read them. But I'm one of those idiots.

 

I just think that we often mistake some kind of checklist of the "basics" for a fundamental knowledge of what it takes to be a competent climber.

 

For example: I've had an instructor for a local climbing club freak out on me when I took the belay rope I was tied to and wrapped it around a large horn four times and treated it like a belay anchor even though it wasn't actually tied with a knot and wasn't "redundant." A focus on specific "basics" seemed (to me) to override common sense and the location was such that to build a proper anchor would have taken a lot of gardening and wasted a bunch of time on what was a fairly large climb even if I was in fact able to dig out cracks for a couple pieces of gear.

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In my opinion, Mr. Pimp here will likely learn as much from getting out and climbing a variety of types of climbs with a variety of partners (hopefully most of whom know what they are doing) than he might in taking a weekend workshop or even, perhaps, an entire program from one of the local clubs. (With that same time investment, he could go to Darrington with me, climb something really good with Bug, and move on to climb with guys who actually know what they are doing.)

 

This is assuming that Mr.Pimp here gets along with others and prefers individual 1-on-1 instruction. Who knows? Perhaps he needs some hands-on experience with some other variety of partners. Or maybe he's lived his life only getting formal instruction. He could do that too. It's always an option, but it's up to him.

 

I think the point you are most definitely right about is the variety point - when learning, make sure to mix it up and learn from a variety of sources in a variety of contexts. That should get you on your way.

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I wouldn't exactly call yourself an idiot, Matt. I mean, you're practically the mayor of the entire Darrington climbing scene. You're pretty far from an idiot! =)

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To be sure, some people will be more comfortable or for whatever reason better served by a "program." I indicated that I bet he can learn "as much" by pursuing something more along thelines of what Bug was a suggesting but he'd certainly learn a lot from the Mountaineers or AAI.

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I feel the best way to learn something new is to use all available resources; books, websites, *cough* forums, whatever classes/lessons are offered, friends with similar interests, and folks who just plain love _____ (insert subject here). I had already registered for a group beginner climbing event at the end of August before even posting here. Its just that the end of august is still a ways off and classes start for me again last week of september and I just want to climb so badly I figured if I could find someone with the patience/resources willing to show me the ropes I could learn a some of the subtle nuances that only come with years of experience and heaven forbid maybe make a few friends in the process haha.

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So... skinning cats... yes there are many ways and everyone is different in their approach. It isn't so much an issue of how you do it, but what you end up with. Ivan Drago's approach would be fine by me were it not for the access issues that would come up if people started dropping off climbs every weekend at x38.

 

So assuming the climbing community is cool with the many different ways to get where we're going... where are we going?

 

One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that you - acting as an individual - have the responsibility to look out for your own personal safety as the first step.

 

This sounds like the foundational responsibility, no? Having said that, different people are happy with different levels of safety. When you have a regular crew of partners, you tend to fall into a pretty well defined range of expectations. The community as a whole is not so well defined.

 

Is there any way to come to consensus about where climbers should strive to be? Should a pair of climbers doing R&D be fully versed in a small party vertical rescue or just know how to escape the belay?

 

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MattP,

 

What I hear you saying is that a rote, mechanistic (or even "scripted") approach to climbing is fundamentally less resourceful than an experience-based approach that relies on skills and techniques accrued through trial and error over time (versus a series of structured workshops).

 

For example, insisting on a SRENE anchor regardless of the context of the situation (vs. recognizing the value of the monolithic horn which you tied off).

 

Or relying on specific steps to a belay escape vs. having a deeper bag of tricks which came from a depth of experience.

 

Is this a fair restatement of your point, or am I misinterpreting?

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For example, insisting on a SRENE anchor regardless of the context of the situation

 

Hijacking your post here: the problem with the M group is the "regardless of context" issue. The ratio of common sense (or situational awareness) vs. rote rule-following is very one-sided. In my experience it often crossed the line into silliness. More than once I got the feeling that the hectoring being dished out came more from an inept inability to see the facts of a condition rather than the stated commitment to Safety.

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MattP,

 

What I hear you saying is that a rote, mechanistic (or even "scripted") approach to climbing is fundamentally less resourceful than an experience-based approach that relies on skills and techniques accrued through trial and error over time (versus a series of structured workshops).

 

For example, insisting on a SRENE anchor regardless of the context of the situation (vs. recognizing the value of the monolithic horn which you tied off).

 

Or relying on specific steps to a belay escape vs. having a deeper bag of tricks which came from a depth of experience.

 

Is this a fair restatement of your point, or am I misinterpreting?

I don't see MattP as a trial and error kind of guy.

But experience through careful mentoring and self study might fit.

Wrote rule following will get you killed in this sport eventually.

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