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beefcider

Guided climbs, RMI and other spew

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In order to be a good guide you need to be a good/strong/experienced climber, but you also must be good at working with people.

This is much like any school. Teachers are not usually the best in thier field. The best lawyers are not teaching law school, they are out making the big bucks. This holds true to many professions/fields. A mathmatical genious is not usually the best basic algebra teacher.

A guide like any teacher needs to be able to communicate the information effectively.

You don't need someone that can climb 5.12 trad at high altitude to teach a newbie how to clip a bolt. You don't need Jeff Lowe to teach someone how to self arrest on 35 degree snow.

This raises one of the issues with certification. Just because a guide knows the techingues and thier application, doesn't necessarliy mean he is an effective communicator. Many very competant guides in the states have not pursued any form of certification. Though it appears that is the wave of the future.

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As stated somewhere above, I think its good to make a distinction between the junior and senior guides. My experience with RMI is that the senior guides know their shit and seem to enjoy it. Junior guides, while certainly capable do tend to lack experience and training. I remember talking to one of the juniors about what it takes to get the job. I don't recall exactly, but I remember her telling me that they must come with first aid training (WFR?), but the rest of the training is provided. Most of the senior guides I spoke to seem to have gotten their training elsewhere, and certainly had the miles under their belt. So I think the earlier comment is right on - try to find out what types of guides are assigned to your climb. The two-day summit climbs for instance have a high percentage of juniors. Not sure about the other programs.

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thanks for all of the input,Lots of informations to digest. I guess I was a bit vague on my goals and why I'm going this way. I'm interested in any type of climbing. Rock, Ice, Scrambling, etc. I singed up for the class last fall and then started reading everything I could find on anchors, climbing, routes in the Casacdes and on Rainier, etc.

In the months the have followed I've ended up meeting with several friends that have invited me on various climbs of various types. Everything from Mt. Adams to 5.3 slab. Another friend of my brother offered to lead a climb on rainier in august but only if I had learded the basic skills of glacier travel & rescue. He had also suggested AAIs two week course but I just couldn't stretch mu bufget that far. To be frank, I hope but don't count on making the summit on rainier with RMI. It's not something that I'm planning on doing once but hopefully many, many times.

I've been grilling the guides at RMI on a weekly basis and so far they've all been friendly and informative. I'm not looking to have my hand held all the way up, I just don't see much point in that. As far as I can tell, we will pretty much choose our own route (within reason) and what skills we want to work on. I think the first day is the same 1 day climbing class they tech to everyone else amd then it's 4 days mving about the glaciers with a summit attempt in there somewhere. I see it less as a guided climb and more of a class. I could be very, very wrong and will certainly post my opinions after it's over.

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Eric - I agree wholeheartedly! I'm self taught, my partners are self taught, and most of the good climbers I encounter are self taught! I think being "self-taught" demonstrates a level of commitment and intensity beyond the normal! I'm sure this'll take some flak, as it does open the door to potential disaster.

The very spirit of climbing is adventure and discovery with an the ever-present potential for disaster! Guiding and schools tend to dampen and dilute that spirit.

Go ahead, counter me, but heck, if all the danger is removed from climbing, all you're left with is watching sports on television. Face it, danger and risk is at very the heart of the activity. We all try to mitigate the level of risk, but we can't eliminate it and still maintain the spirit of climbing......sorry getting a bit off the subject!

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I'm signed up with RMI in June also for the longer class. I've done Adams several times and have a group of friends who have offered to take me with them on Rainier. My main reason for choosing RMI over friends for Rainier is that I don't want to do something stupid that injures someone else. I'd also like to have some degree of confidence in myself in a situation such as a crevasse rescue. I have some book knowledge, now I'd like to actually do the basics. Then with some practice with friends, I hope to continue climbing unguided.I've read the various posts about RMI and have seen the cattle drive myself in a few trips to Muir. I'm willing to put up with it in hopes of gaining some basic skills that I can then use and improve on. Also while I do have most of the equipment I need there are a few things left to aquire which I hope to get a better understanding of which features I really want.

Rich

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Some posters have alluded to the example of European guides as some sort of guarantee. Which perhaps it is in technical knowledge, but in safety/intelligence that is rather questionable.

I see in the latest issue of Montagnes Magazine that yet another ENSA trained French guide has been convicted of negligence with a one year suspended jail sentence. He was leading two ropes up somewhere, and the second (of which he was not a part) could not follow the move he lead to pass another party (a dangerous move for which French guides seem to be well known).

The result, two adolescents lost footing and fell to their deaths.

My point is, of course, your guide is only as good as he is wise. I would not go out with just any guide if I were you. There are two parts to a good guide and even certification can only assure one of these.

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Rich,

From all of the info I can gather, RMI doesn't use the main routes for either the 5 or 6 day course. That was one of the main reasons I went that way, less people throwing blue bags at you for going with a guided group. I still see it more as a crash course (pun intended) in glacier travel. the summit is secondary.

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Beefcider,

You had said that you were grilling the guides weekly. Do you know who your guides are? Did you just call down there to find out?

Rich

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They haven't assigned the guides yet, at least they hadn't when I last talked to them which was about a month ago. OK, maybe I'm not calling them weekly anymore but I did pester them quite alot. Are you doing the 5 or the 6 day course?

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RMI's been advertising heavy in the big climbing mags for guides, both beginner and advanced. shocked.gif" border="0

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Payaso - not chest beating, just caught up in the moment and was surprised by your interpretation of my writting. Spray, no way, that's not why I use this website, all I want is some info regarding climbing..........

As my initial post indicated, I believe BeefCider can use what he learns in the 5 - 6 day course as a foundation for further learning. However, I still believe that the pursuit of knowledge, at one's own initiative, demonstrates a keen desire to pursue climbing. Different than those who sign up for a class and wait for instruction....difference between leading and following!

Climb safe!

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If you look at the climbers who are at the top of their game, most are self-taught.

If you look at the climbers that never seem to progress past a certain level, most are guide-taught.

Between those two extremes there is a wide range, but it is something to think about. Guiding courses teach dependence. "You have taken this course and now you are qualified to take the next course. Until you take this next course it is not safe for you to clinb xxx, yyy, zzz." If you take enough courses maybe you can sign up for courses on how to be a guide [laf] and then end up teaching !!

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I have heard of these guided raft trips where you raft for the day then get these gourmet meals and night and cush accomodations out in the middle of nowhere. Sort of like combination guides/butlers.

Is there anything like this for Mountaineering? I'd like to go to say, Boston Basin, with a couple of acquantainces and have someone carry all my gear up there. Me and my group can all go out and do our climbs during the day, with or without guide/ropegun/gear-schlepper showing us the way, and then when we get back to camp about sunset have some nice hot grub and cold beer waiting for us. So is there anything like that around here? Does Mountain Madness do this sort of thing?

I would settle for mixed drinks instead of beer if weight is an issue.

Al

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Al Pine,

I will carry your shit up to Boston Basin and for an extra $25- I will bust a cap in the NPS Boston Basin Ranger Nazi that ticketed my azz last time for not having the permit- Now there is a thread

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Some of my friends have gotten tickets. I sometimes go permitless since I prefer to climb without bivouacing. Is the trick just to ignore somebody who looks innocent and just comes up to you to make small talk when you are without a permit? Or is it guys in full on uniforms that confront you? Do plainclothes rangers just strike up conversations and then ticket you when you tell them about your climb? Could anybody help me out with this?

As for the previous topic:In my humble opinion, do the RMI 6 day course. I haven't been guided since the 80's but RMI seems to have some things going for them. They know the weather patterns that Rainier creates better than anyone, hands down. Many of us, (myself included) may spend more total days out of the year in crampons than their guides but for the months of July and August they are in them constantly. They know their turf very very well. Bear in mind their niche is pretty much only guiding glaciated snow climbs. Others may have other opinions though.

I would guess that when a young soul tries out for RMI or any guide service, Charisma comes into play (anbody have any first hand experience?) As a former professional ski instructor, the ability to speak to groups was a big part of the try out.

As for the Euro guies, to be taken into the fold and employed at Chamonix, I'd bet you'd have to be a 5.12 sport climber, 5.11 crack climber, WI5 climber, Lead new wave A 4, be an expert skier, and slog the big snow hills in a pretty fast time. I guess that eliminates almost every WA guide.Just some spray for thought.Others are more versed in what is going on.Have fun this Summer.

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Jens, there's a difference between a good climber and a good guide. One just hopes their guide will be both! I've heard about French guides which are very good and ones which lack the necessary patience to deal with clients who don't climb at their level or even the wisdom to understand what is reasonable for their clients to attempt.

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quote:

Originally posted by Al Pine:
I have heard of these guided raft trips where you raft for the day then get these gourmet meals and night and cush accomodations out in the middle of nowhere. Sort of like combination guides/butlers.

Is there anything like this for Mountaineering? I'd like to go to say, Boston Basin, with a couple of acquantainces and have someone carry all my gear up there. Me and my group can all go out and do our climbs during the day, with or without guide/ropegun/gear-schlepper showing us the way, and then when we get back to camp about sunset have some nice hot grub and cold beer waiting for us. So is there anything like that around here? Does Mountain Madness do this sort of thing?

I would settle for mixed drinks instead of beer if weight is an issue.

Al

Send an email to brokeandwillsherpaforfood@alpinelite.com

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I appreciate the concept of self-taught anything, it is usually the approach I take to learning just about everything. I'd always rather learn on my own than take a class but I was advised not to do so with mountaineering due to some of the risks involved. I suppose my follow-up question would be:

what do you consider self-taught?

A book or a guide can only take you so far, this goes without saying but I imgine the difference from one opinion of self-taught to the next would vary widely.

Thanks to everyone for the useful info!

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W

It's never been my intention to use RMI as anything more than a place to learn the foundation for more skills. I don't forsee ever using a guide service again and would even prefer that it was only a course in mountaineering and not a summit climb. Who knows, maybe the weather will work out that way and I can come back and climb it without a guide. I only know a few people into mountaineering and am lucky to know a couple of dudes who have climbed all over the world for the past 25 years, they aren't willing to teach me all of the basics and would prefer that I knew some glacier travel skills, even if just the rudimentary ones, before going on any climbs and I can certainly understand that. I am concerned that RMI may not be living up to what they are promising. Like many before me, I got interested, signed up and started doing research on climbing in general only to find that the place I'm planning on starting may not be the best for me. thanks for the reply.

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Beefcider, My two cents:"Self taught" in my view is something of a fallacy. No one is purely self taught in the sense of the word. The use of books is learning from the research and experience of another. If your friends show you ice axe arrest, you learned it from them and not "yourself". Etc. etc. While that is overstating the obvious, my point is that as with anything, one can not improve one's self in isolation. I have never taken a guided course; I was fortunate in that I had several friends who already knew the basics and were patient enough to teach me the skills to get started. Along the way, I was equally fortunate to meet others with similar abilities and ambitions for climbing routes, and with whom I connected personality-wise, and with those partners, together we set out to learn- from having "experiences" and from each other- what works, and more importantly- what does not work. The latter is where I feel too much dependence on guide services will fail the aspiring alpinist. The things they tell you to do and not do are not "wrong", but in some areas, like judgment and style, they are simply the school's particular way of doing things. One is never taught to learn from mistakes, because you don't really get to make one. I do feel that there is nothing negative about taking a series of instructory courses to teach one essential skills. But beyond that- if one aspires one day to be able to climb just with friends and without reliance on a guide service (this is the important point to stress)- repeatedly hiring a guide to make the judgment calls and decisions for you will never allow you to develop your own version of "mountain sense" and intuition that is essential to succeed independently at a high level. Further, people get into the pattern of deferring to an authority in climbing of which they are not even aware- and usually never break out of it. True, many guided clients go on to summit many big mountains and have fun doing it. If they are having fun then go for it, nothing wrong with that. But if you truly wish to have all the skills so as to be able to do climbing trips independently, just be aware of the dependence that tends to get fostered by repeated deferrance to guides and instructors. At some point, if you want it enough you will allow yourself the freedom to make your own decisions, read the weather and the conditions yourself, plot the logistics of the climb yourself- and, most importantly, allow yourself the possibility of making a mistake. I've made more than a few, and every time, I don't dwell on what could have been, I just realize that at the moment I made the mistake I was simply not paying attention to my surroundings and not following instincts. I can tell you that nearly 100% of the times this was the case.Good luck and happy learning!

[ 03-16-2002: Message edited by: W ]

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beefcider:

At some point in the future, after your tour with RMI, if you intend to continue with climbing and mountaineering, you should consider taking the 2-day avalanche safety/awareness course offered by the National Ski Patrol. Also the 2-day wilderness medicine course offered by NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute. If I had the time and money, i'd take the longer (1 week?) WFR course. There's no substitute for safety and awareness training, and it can be supplemented by a lot of good reading, titles of which are provided by your course instructors.

As always, climb well, be safe, and have fun.

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