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SLJ

Alpine Climbing

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Want to get out and do some alpine climbs,

Any suggestions (I'm a noob, so easier stuff preferred); Moderate snow, moderate rock?

 

Thanks

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if your new to this sport you might want to get someone to go with you that has some expierience. I started out by hiking trails that had high peaks so that I could learn what kind of shape I needed to be in to do more difficult climbs. I live on the east side of cascades so I chose the Bumping Lake Wilderness area. American Ridge is on the north side of the lake and Nelson Ridge on the other. Both offer steep hikes and very nice views. Mt. Aix is on the Nelson Ridge I believe the summit is 7500 or 8000 ft. good days hike and if you find out your not in very good shape you can spend the night along the ridge line and wake up to a spectacular sunrise. When entering this sport take your time. Find someone who sponsers an introductory climbing or alpine class. Cascadians for example. learn what you need and give yourself time to decide where you want this sport to go. I took a class years ago and thought I just wanted to hike trails. I found that was not what I wanted so took up navigation and off trail, figured that wasn't what I wanted either so the next step was climbing. I'm going to Ecuador next month to climb

antisana, Cotopaxi and Cimborazo. so take your time see were your going and take one step at a time.

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Yeah,

I guess what I meant by "noob" was a little more than "completely inexperienced"

I've done some basic scrambles and off trail travel, but not any more technical climbs. I'm kind of looking for suggestions on easier technical stuff, some introductions to a little harder climbing.

Not at all to say that you're input isn't appreciated. I totally understand what you mean, and I have been looking at some good courses. Also, Mount Aix sounds like a good trip.

 

 

 

 

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winter? in summer just get the beckey bibles and browse, endless posibilities. in winter I would say colchuck peak via the north couloir, tooth south face, chair peak n.face

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Thanks, any winter suggestions are good too. Colchuck sounds awesome. I've seen some TRs about chair peak N. face, they seem kind of tough for a more beginning level climber like me. How can you build up the skills to do a climb like that. I've done some snowshoeing around Rainier and Granite mountain (snoqualmie) area and a bit of "winter scrambling" (mount si); but thats all my winter "climbing" experience. In terms of avalanche danger should I take an avalanche course before trying any winter stuff? Whats spring like for climbing?

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Its probibly best to start doing some easier summer climbs first rather than winter. such as ingles s. ridge, tooth south face,north sister west ridge to get your belaying/anchor building technique down without spindrift pounding you and frozen fingers. then get a few harder[grd 11-111s]just go slow and youll learn your physical and mental limits as you progress. spring is fine if the weather cooperates but youll probibly need skis or snowshoes for travel.

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i'm a new guy too... plenty of trail/off trail nav experience, even some low-speed, low-elevation "mountaineering"... but zero snow/ice summit experience.

 

i figure low elevation buttes in the winter are gonna be a good place to start. that way you're not talking anything too technical or too steep, less risk of personal injury or death, but you're still getting some good pick/crampon climbing experience. i plan to do NoCal's Black Butte, if it would ever snow over (my father lives about 5 minutes from it and is gonna give me a call after the next blizzard), Oregon's Black Butte, Oregon's Olallie Butte, all winter (snow), and then start going higher/more technical as we bleed into spring.

 

right or wrong, that's another noob's take.

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Thats kind of what I figured for the winter and I recently did Granite Mountain, a steep snowshoe/a bit of a climb. I thought it was really fun. What are some other places like that in washington?

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know what i've done? just browsed Google Earth with the "terrain" option ON. then i float around the pacific northwest looking at different peaks... when i see something that looks interesting- the right pitch, right elevation, right location, i'll search for it here and at summitpost, and get some first hand opinions of the climb.. then put it on the list, or not.

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if you go to Mt. Aix for a winter climb. start at the trail head. it,s about 4 miles in from where you'll park. hike the trail until the first gully that leads off to the left. stay on the left side of the gully all the way to the ridge then hike kinda south. stay down hill from the ridge a little because of the cornices that hang off the east side. if you go up in the right place you will be about a mile or so from Aix. stay kinda on the high ground and you will see the tallest peak bearing a little south east. this is not a pick nik hike so take a tent and a warm bag. if its nut freezeing cold on the ridge like usual go back down the hill a couple hundred ft and dig out a flat spot. Weather on the ridge can be very brutal for not being so high so you need to make like your climbing Adams or some other high peak or you'll freeze your ass off. If you stay on the left side of the gully your pretty well protected from avi. as there are a number of trees and the slops aren't really steep untill you get closer to the top where most snow gets blown away by the high winds. nearly every time i've been up the the winds ends up blowing 40 miles an hour. the view on a good day is amazing. you can look to the west and see not only Mt Rainier but the storms moving in. totally awsome. Be careful take a buddy if you have one, watch out for the cornice on top of the ridge.and dont forget to take you snowshoes, the temps down lower aren't always enough to keep the snow hard.

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in terms of learning some skills for bigger trips/mountaineering do you think some of the courses offered by guiding/teaching services are a good way to go? I've looked at some online and some of them look really good, but they're all really expensive. Is going out with some more experienced people (i know a few) and learning and getting experience (basically how i started to like climbing) on harder climbs just as good or are they worth it?

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That depends heavily on the more experienced people you know - experience isn't enough by itself. They also need to know how to teach.

 

I've never taken a class or hired a guide. I'm too poor and too stubborn. I started young and learned mostly by being a headstrong idiot. The invincibility of youth is a magical thing. I'm still amazed I lived through my first 3-4 years leading in the mountains.

 

That said, if you have the coin, taking a 3 day class from one of the established, long-time guide companies would be a great way to get up to speed. It's pretty easy to "learn" how to climb, routefind, place gear, etc. A good guide can teach you how to pull it all together and turn it into a polished system that will have you moving quickly and confidently over technical terrain. Above all, speed is safety.

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Also depends if your more of a "group person" or more of a individualist. some are just not cut out for learning that way

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What jon h said about "having the coin", well, i guess that could be the hardest part. I could, if i REALLY wanted drop some money on a good service, which would help i'm pretty sure, but im not sure. I really started to get out because i just liked the whole idea of climbing and some of the challenges, and i guess i want to get some more out of it.

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having some expensive hobbies, and being sick of it being expensive, i've sort of come to the conclusion that it's pretty much bullshit that this stuff has to cost a lot of money.

 

im done spending an assload of money just to enjoy what God gave us for free. might be a little riskier- but we've got way better technology and knowledge than the forefathers of climbing had, and most of them made it.

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bkb,

You can go a long way on the cheap. For example, you do not need goretex or goosedown to climb any of the alpine climbs in Washington and, as you hint, virtually all the classic climbs and damn near all the popular mountain routes were climbed long before modern racks of camming devices and ice screws. You can buy a used pack on line or at the 2nd hand shop, and for the most part you don't need a $400.00 tent. Don't skimp on ropes and boots, though, and good luck on your quest.

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Jim Nelson's first guide really has some of the most tried and true recommendations. So the stuff below is mostly a re-tread....

 

Moderate Snow

 

Hood in winter, South Side route. Like, weather this week is perfect for this one! Number one recommendation! Ski off.

Rainier to Muir hut is great training any time of year.

Colchuck in winter is good because the trail to Colchuck Lake is usually beaten in, so you wont get lost. Once above the lake if there is any visibility at all, it's ok.

Mt Adams in Spring, South side, ski off

Mt St Helens in Spring, ski off

Shuksan Sulphide in Spring

Mt Baker in Summer once you have your glacier travel down.

Tons of other smaller stuff once you look around.

 

Moderate Rock (define moderate!):

The Tooth. Seriously. Best bang for the buck.

North Face of Vesper.

S face of Ingalls day trip. Go early or be prepared to wait.

Beckey Route on Liberty Bell

S Arete of South Early Winters Spire

N Face Kangaroo Temple (did this in Oct, was fun with 2 inch of snow on it!)

If someone can take you, West Ridge of Forbidden - full on alpine

If you can get someone to take you, West Ridge of Stuart.

If you can get someone to take you, upper N Ridge of Stuart, with no Gendarme is easier, w Gendarm is more aesthetic.

Once you do all this, you'll get other ideas.

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As for hood:

is there glacier travel?

how are conditions in winter (aka "extremely cold" to "mild") and should I wear plastic boots?

just ice axe and crampons, right? (and glacier stuff if needed0

North face of Vesper: never heard about that (not to say that i know a whole lot!), how difficult is the rock? (yds)

 

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Hood: glacier travel on South Side == bergschrund. Is it cold? Sure, its at 11,000. Will you get frostbite without plastics? Not in the lower 48 but plastics are fine and what I used for many years until I built my arsenal. Do your homework: its in Nelson 1 and Oregon Alpine by Jeff Thomas as well as Smoot and other books.

 

Vesper: probably get away with runout 5.4. Its in Nelson 2? and Beckey

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