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beefcider

Guided climbs, RMI and other spew

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Last year I signed up for one of the six day RMI trips (coming up this july) that is supposed to be on a less populated route and grant the pseudo-climber some limited experience without being one of the many sheep led up the two day climbs. After talking to a few people and reading alot of posts, I'm starting to have some conflicting thoughts about this. Several people I've talked to have said they got started climbing with a guided group while others say it's not worth the money. I'm curious if anyone here started out that way and how they feel about it in retrospect. I know many don't like the idea of guided climbs at all, mostly I'm looking to gain some experience and have a good time. RMI seems to get a bad rap and I can see why with the amount of people they guide on the two day climb each year. I only recently learned about climbing classes through the mountaineers or the WAC and they have already started this year so I'm not sure if I have any other options but am certainly open to ideas unless they are about Miracle Whip and then I get downright unruly.

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Go ahead and do it. Don't listen to the crap.When starting out I had no mentor or someone willing to "teach me the ropes". I took basic mountaineering and climbing courses and would do it again. Bottom line, climbing is dangerous. Take the time and learn right. Later you can sort out the good from the bad and develop your own style and methods that work best for you.

Oh... and have fun! grin.gif" border="0

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Got the cash? Go for it. Easy way to learn and top notch instruction. That is so long as you are talking about their five or six day programs. Two day summit climb is a completely different story. Just not the most economical way to learn...

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You really have to differentiate between a "summit" trip and a course/school. Most guide services offer a summit climb where the focus is on taking the Walter Mitty types to the top of something. The idea is to only teach Walter just enough to not get him or others killed. Basicaly, if you fall self arrest and stay there until your guide says different.

On the other hand the actual courses or schools tend to focus on learning the skills required to climb the peak your self. The 5/6 days courses generally focus on glacier travel and basic mountaineering.

If you want to go the next step I know that Mountain Madness (yes I have a connection with them) and AAI each offer very good 13 day course that focus on most all aspects of glacier travel and alpine rock too. These are much more comprehensive courses than the 5/6 day courses offered by RMI.

I would look closely at the cost difference. If RMI tells you that their course is more expensive because it also involves a summit attempt, I would look elsewhere. It may be that MMI and AAI 13 day courses are just a little bit more expensive but you get so much more instruction. Then again maybe not. Price them out.

RMI does hire competant guides that are good instructors. There are a lot of posters here that think they know all about guiding and could do it better. They can't, that is why they're posting here. There are a lot of posters that just bitch about guiding in general. Ignore them, everyone else does.

Whatever course you take post a review on it after you take it.

Good luck.

[big Drink]

http://www.alpineascents.com/cascades-13day.asp

http://www.mountainmadness.com/alpine/alpine.htm

See how these 13 day schools compare to RMI's 6 day. Also always look at what comes with it. Do you have to bring your own food? How about gear? Ask all the questions.

[ 03-11-2002: Message edited by: Rodchester ]

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The guided climb can be good because it can help you decide if you want to take mountaineering any further or not. I'm sure many of the people who do paid summits of Rainier never do anything like that again in their lives. If you do and you decide you want more, then seek instruction through a club or something to take your interest further.

I did a couple guided climbs which only served to peak my interest to learn what I was doing myself. Yes there are drawbacks to guided groups like RMI, but it will be a learning experience for you. Go for it!

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i am for the most part against guiding....but not completly......as it does not serve my needs or desires.......but not to say that it is not a valid way to gain some limited exeperince.....

the thing about guiding is that most often it is just a reach the summit and come home type of operation...but your six day course sounds not too bad for what you are describing on what you want.....

first things to think about in my opinion would be to ask yourself how much thinking do the guides let you do??? do they give you scenarios that allow you to practive learned skills??? especially without their interferance?? are they open to allowing you some type of (albeit limited) opinion on route finding or route choice??? do they allow you to lead in a controlled enviroment?? all these things are extremly important to safe mtn travel....i mean self reliance and a confidence in yourself....they can teach you things, but they can foster theses ideas within your head and possibly allow you to better yourself...thinking for yourself is the most important skill you can have up there....

i think most of us are against guiding as it takes away the self serving attitude that most of us carry......fair enough....as some people are quite capable and love the challege....even from the get go....but others might need the confidence boost or assitance with learning some new skills....

and the last and most important things is to make sure you have fun....if you are not having fun, then whats the point??

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I agree with the posts on this thread except for the comment about all us posters who are not guides. I have climbed with "guides" before and they are many times less knowledgeable than many of the posters on here. I am not saying that RMI or any other group has poor guides just don't diss the posters of CC.com. There are some real bad asses in here that do more climbing than most guides.

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quote:

Originally posted by Rodchester:
You really have to differentiate between a "summit" trip and a course/school. Most guide services offer a summit climb where the focus is on taking the Walter Mitty types to the top of something. The idea is to only teach Walter just enough to not get him or others killed. Basicaly, if you fall self arrest and stay there until your guide says different.

On the other hand the actual courses or schools tend to focus on learning the skills required to climb the peak your self. The 5/6 days courses generally focus on glacier travel and basic mountaineering.

If you want to go the next step I know that Mountain Madness (yes I have a connection with them) and AAI each offer very good 13 day course that focus on most all aspects of glacier travel and alpine rock too. These are much more comprehensive courses than the 5/6 day courses offered by RMI.

I would look closely at the cost difference. If RMI tells you that their course is more expensive because it also involves a summit attempt, I would look elsewhere. It may be that MMI and AAI 13 day courses are just a little bit more expensive but you get so much more instruction. Then again maybe not. Price them out.

RMI does hire competant guides that are good instructors. There are a lot of posters here that think they know all about guiding and could do it better. They can't, that is why they're posting here. There are a lot of posters that just bitch about guiding in general. Ignore them, everyone else does.

Whatever course you take post a review on it after you take it.

Good luck.

[big Drink]

See how these 13 day schools compare to RMI's 6 day. Also always look at what comes with it. Do you have to bring your own food? How about gear? Ask all the questions.

[ 03-11-2002: Message edited by: Rodchester ]

RODCHESTER IS WRONG.....guiding is a business, the point of a business is to make money...no matter what they tell you or you read their bottom line comes first.......

now to get a good experience is comes down to you....it is what you make of it....

i once was interested in guiding myself, and investigated the only correct and real options for becoming a guide (uiamga and the amga) but after some thought considered selling my passion for a little money was not worth it.

also rmi, aai mmi or any of the other big mtn schools have a herd/cattle tendency.....with young whipper snapppers like myself with glorious guide dreams twinlking in their eye. charging forward towards elitism...these people might be good climbers, but only the seasoned guides should be repspected..as they really know what guiding is all about...it should be humbling job where the clients wishes and safty are considered before anything else...you are paying for a service demand it.....ALWAYS AND I MEAN ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ATLEAST ONE CERTIFIED GUIDE WITHIN YOUR PARTY....IF THERE ARE NONE THEN YOU ARE WASTING YOUR MONEY....DO YOU PAY SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO BE A DENTIST TO WORK ON YOUR TEETH OR DO YOU PAY A DENTIST????

like i said guiding is good in some respects, but the way rodchester makes it out...it should be banned....

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I'm not totally against guides either, but I've had their clients try to kill me on several occasions.

I could go on about incidents but I'd just be giving incidental reports. The longer multiday courses are great and from the feed back of the people I've talked to. It's the cookie cutter summit slog operations that make me want to puke.

But then again anyone going to a guided operation seems to be of a slightly different mindset.

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erik:

Hmmm. I don't recall saying it was anything other than a business. You know why? It is.

Not sure I got your post.

What do you mean by "charging forward towards elitism"? You use it right after "a herd/cattle tendency"? Are you saying guide companies are elitist with a herd mentality? Seems to me these two conflict. Maybe I am reading your post incorrectly?

Also you stated "it should be humbling job where the clients wishes and safty are considered before anything else" Are these two things one in the same?

What if a clients' wishes are not safe?

I'm not really sure what you are trying to say erik, and I am not trying to pick a bitch session. I just don't see how encouraging someone to be aware of what they are getting and what they are paying for, that they should asked questions to be informed, and get the most for thier bucks.

If that is wrong I highly encourage beefcider to be wrong. Be informed, ask questions, be wrong brother.

Beefcider:

Remember that these courses are generally basic courses. Erik asked:

1) how much thinking do the guides let you do??? 2) do they give you scenarios that allow you to practive learned skills??? especially without their interferance?? 3) are they open to allowing you some type of (albeit limited) opinion on route finding or route choice??? do they allow you to lead in a controlled enviroment??

These are good points...but these courses are basic courses. You are goinbg to learn basic lkevel techigues and information. Sure most good courses will allow the students to take a much more hands on approach than the "summit" climbs. That was my point in the first post. No good guide is going to let you just start doing your own thing without his/her interference. Saftey dictates a certain amount of control and guidance in these courses. Thats why they call them guides.

Good luck and have fun. Be wrong brother, be wrong.

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rod,

not bitch session or spray fest intended....

elitest- most of the guides i have ever met in the b/c tend to think that they are generally right or have the right of way...maybe i am off base in thinking so, but i am going off of what i know....this is how then tend their herd....impressing newbies....granted many amga or uiamga guides are excellent climbers, but it is not their job to force that on any one else....cause i suck and i have little interest in how good anyone climbs unless they are my partner, ya know....

granted beefcider is a beginner but he is/and should be able to have an opinion on what he goes through......granted there is and should be common mtneering sense displayed by the guide....that is why i made a safety statement.....

i would think that all clients should have atleast some rudimentary abilites before joining up on a climb....if not then it should be the complanies job to intrusct that before getting into the field(just an opinion)...that way most important issues, wether it be glacier travling, crevasse work, anchors....etc.....can be addressed instead of wastng time on knot tying and belay skilzz. that way a client can focus on skills that need a specific enviroment to learn in.....and obviously the guide oversees it all.....

rod as usual we both agree with each other, but have different styles and different ways to express what we know and believe and that is one great thing about climbing, it gives us that ability......

have fun and be safe....

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beefcider:

I went on the RMI standard 3 day sumit climb about 2 years ago and leaned how to self arrest from 4 different positions, rest step, rope work, pressure breathing, how to put on and walk around with crampons, roped glacier travel, and that I don't like climbing with a bunch of whiners I don't know. I have no idea what else they are offering in the 6 day class but, you will probably learn alot more than I did and have a great time as well. All of the guides on my climb were awesome and very cool. It was a very positive experience all around and really encouraged me to pursue the sport.

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One important thing nobody emphasizes is that in good weather Mt. Rainier is an awesome place to be! That is true without regard to whether you are standing at Paradise, walking the Wonderland, turning back on an unsuccessful climb or enjoying the view from the summit. As a climbing objective Rainier means nothing too me, but as a cool place to hike around and see it is amazing! A course with lots of time on the mountain and a summit attempt, the class could be the trip of a lifetime whether or not you ever climb again. If you feel a guided situation works for you I say go for it!

One note: As others have noted the RMI courses are oriented towards glacier travel and not other climbing related skills. (ie rock climbing) I note that you have been somewhat vague as to your goals.

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I think the 6 day course that BeefCinder is planning to attend is probably (!) a better route than an introductory course offered by a local climbing club. Certainly, he has a far better chance of getting a talented and experienced instructor through RMI than say the Mountaineers or Mazamas. The local clubs tend to favor the "buddy system" rather than one's skills and depth of experience.

Still, though, until guides in the USA are required to pass a certification program, it's still a crap shoot as to the quality of your guide (that's a can of worms, too!).

Bottom line, it's tough getting started in climbing and it's equally as tough finding competant partners willing to take on beginners. I say take the course and use the beginning skills they'll teach you as a seed for further growth.

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nelly

i will slighly disagree with you....me friends and i are all self taught.....we found in interesting after a friend came back from boyscout camp and then we were off.....

granted i am sketchy wink.gif" border="0 but the guys that i satarted with fucking own this sport......and are onmly getting better everyday......then again i am getting better too....

but we took what we thought we knew, bought jon longs book we all read it and went out and applied it......it just takes careful thought and determination to to become safe successful climber.....

and i think the best climbers i know are self taught....maybe it is that the are highly motivated and have the drive to become successful....and that is why they are able to learn the sport???? i dunno just a thought

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quote:

Originally posted by Nelly:
Certainly, he has a far better chance of getting a talented and experienced instructor through RMI than say the Mountaineers or Mazamas.

i've heard when RMI hires guides they have fairly little interest in how much climbing experience applicants have; that they are more interested in finding charismatic, out-going individuals who are in good shape and then spending a few days teaching them what they need to know to drag clients up the mountain. i'm sure guides who come back and do it for more than one season learn a fair bit from their experiences, but i wouldn't assume your RMI guide knows that much more than your well versed weekend warrior. they are not professional guides like in europe...

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Beware these "Self-Taught" posters in here. While I am truly in awe that they and their friends were apparently able to teach themselves all of the complex skills involved in climbing, I don't think that anyone can truly recommend this method to a beginner. If you happen to be lucky enough to have a very patient, close friend who can tutor you then great. Not everyone is that lucky. If I hadn't had some kind of formal training, I simply never would have been climbing, end of story. Your friend is right to insist that you get some crevasse rescue experience before a Rainier attempt, because if he falls, it will be you that has to save him.

quote:

The very spirit of climbing is adventure and discovery with an the ever-present potential for disaster!

So what is this supposed to mean? That he learn Glacier travel by heading up the Nisqually with an Ice axe, and some Clif Bars and see what happens? It's not an adventure unless you come home to tell about it.

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quote:

I am truly in awe that they and their friends were apparently able to teach themselves all of the complex skills involved in climbing....

...especially considering the intellect displayed in some posts!

[ 03-11-2002: Message edited by: max ]

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I'm sure you could learn a few things about mountaineering via RMI, and the one individual I know who guides for them is a quality mountaineer. My concern are quotes such as the following from Lou Whittaker, in response to the avalanche incident back in '98:

"There has been that question, 'aren't they coming down late?' You're not coming down late on the mountain when you climb every day on the mountain; you do go up and down it at any time of the day. So, that is something I can clear up as well."

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quote:

Originally posted by max:

...especially considering the intellect displayed in some posts!

[ 03-11-2002: Message edited by: max ]

some day my dear you and i will meet and you will buy me beers so i am soo damn cool!!!!

[ 03-11-2002: Message edited by: erik ]

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Payaso - what's a "Self-Taught Poster" mean anyway. Jeez, some of us learned to climb before climbing was main-stream. We didn't have gyms everywhere with schools and guide services scrambling for clients; our options were limited.

So, you don't think I'm a real climber, with anything to offer. Oh well, I knew my comments would bring out the simpletons. However, I can distinquish between those who line up to join schools, climb in large groups and wait to be told how and what to do, and those who go looking for the information and then apply it themselves. They possess a certain spirit that you can't relate to.

No, I don't recommend walking onto a glacier with nothing but an ice axe and cliff bar. Get real and quite reading between the lines.

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nelly......shhhhhh!!!! dont start with em....they'll never stop cryin...

[ 03-11-2002: Message edited by: erik ]

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quote:

Originally posted by Nelly:

So, you don't think I'm a real climber, with anything to offer. Oh well, I knew my comments would bring out the simpletons. However, I can distinquish between those who line up to join schools, climb in large groups and wait to be told how and what to do, and those who go looking for the information and then apply it themselves. They possess a certain spirit that you can't relate to.

Hmmmm, who's reading between the lines? I certainly do not doubt that you are a really good climber or that you have become one without taking a class. I just don't think it's sound advice to give someone starting out. Are your comments chest-beating or are they useful advice for a newbie. Spray away!

grin.gif" border="0

[ 03-11-2002: Message edited by: payaso ]

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Beefeater,A little late to the thread but my opinion

Bad Judgment yields experienceExperience yields good judgmentGood judgment yields a good experience.

My personal story was that I took a $55 RMI crevasse rescue course from RMI in 1989. Biggest rip off ever. (a one day course). The RMI guides showed us how to set a z-pulley system and then left us up on the Muir Snowfield so that they could make their drinking appointment at 2PM at the Paradise lodge that day. The Fuckers did not even invite us to drink. Best day I ever had in the mountains learning: A newby climbing partner and I took the Mountineers book and practiced snow anchors, pulleys, hip belays,ice axe belays,etc,etc on a snow slope with a safe runout.Go out and learn on your own and do not glissade while wearing your crampons.

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