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owenel

Good beginner solo climbs?

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Hi,

 

I'm planning to hire a guide to climb either sahale/sahale glacier or baker/easton glacer as my first real mountaineering climb in early august. I was thinking of extending my trip to do at least one additional solo climb. Can someone recommend some climbs which don't require a rope? I've seen ruth mentioned, but I've also seen reference to the occasional large crevasse, so wasn't sure. Also curious about silver star and blue peak. I'm looking for either a one or two-day climb.Thanks in advance.

Edited by owenel

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If you hire a guide, get your moneys worth on baker. (depending on wether they have a permit or not there) If they do have a permit, push really hard for the baker location if they try to nudge you to sahale. Sahale usually has more user days for guide companies, but baker would be a superior learning environment.

 

After baker, you could solo sahale via the sahale arm with a tiny bit of glacier. should be relatively safe and very beautiful too.

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thanks for the reply. i'm also wondering how each of these peaks differs in terms of physical demands. i'm doing six-mile runs on the weekends but climbing 4000 feet is still pretty difficult for me.

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what is the time frame for your trip? How many days total guiding? Private or group?

 

your baker summit day will prolly be around 3000 vertical feet over many hours if you leave from a high glacier camp. (2am to 11am usually ) The pace should be reasonable for you if your guide is any good at all.

 

I believe that the non glacier camp is at 6500ft which would give you a 4000ft vert day. I have taken lots of people from this camp with varying physical levels with success. I suspect that you will do fine especially if you can run 6 miles.

 

One note. running ability does not correlate to hiking with a pack ability. Something about the weight causing a different stride pattern that is not adapted to. Sometimes the runners did worse than the average joe or jane.

 

If you think that you are not physically prepared for baker, then sahale quien sabe glacier would be a good choice.

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thanks again for your help. i'm planning to go later this month or early august, depending on what guides are available, airfare differences, and maybe a couple other factors. yeah i've noticed that running ability and climbing ability are not totally correlated, even when i've hiked without a pack, so i'm going to try to devote more time to leg-strengthening exercises over the next few weeks. also, i've never hiked with a real pack. i was leaning toward sahale based on my impression that it's a little less strenuous than baker from what i've read.

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two days total guiding. private unless i can find a guide who's already taking a group.

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there won't be much instruction for a 2 day trip. not sure what you want to get out of the trip. 2 days is to short for a guided baker trip.

 

Also, if you are booking with a licenced and permitted guide service, you better call their office today and schedule something. It is not like fast food where you can drive through and pick up a guide. It may be too late already.

 

you got some time still to train. 4 times a week, load up your pack to 30lbs and walk stairs.

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ok, thanks. good point. i have taken a two-day mountaineering course, but it was in new hampshire, where there are no glaciers, so we did not cover crevasse rescue or glacier navigation. the course did cover cramponing, self arrest, rope work, building anchors, rappelling, and ice climbing.

Edited by owenel

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doing adams instead. lots of questions about adams, but will try to research it first.

Edited by owenel

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Adams is great. There are lots of good routes on it.

 

Do the research but go ahead and ask questions. A lot of posters around here have good information for you.

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Sez:

 

"If you think that you are not physically prepared for baker, then sahale quien sabe glacier would be a good choice."

 

I imagine he means with a guide; not as a first solo trip following Baker, as is dunno, got some cracks...

 

Am not well-qualified to advise but, you could try Cascadia Couloir on Stuart..That'd be realistic....uhh...There are some remote hiking peaks in Pasayten I've never been near. Mount Stone in SW Olympics is probably realistic....Ellinor in that area probably is same and perhaps shorter....These are relatively close to SEA-Tac airport and quite worthy.

 

There is (was) rather formidable crevasse on the normal route to Silver Star...is modestly steep....You MIGHT make it up to Cache Col and see what's there....Possible a similar crack & similar steepness..? but have never visited....

 

Interesting potential hike is from basin below Torment to Cascade Pass...cross-country via Boston Basin... No peaks but definitely some adventure....Views stunning.

 

There are a vast number of other suggestions.....St. Helens? I haven't been there since 1978....What's all those "little" peaks next to Rainier????? One or two of those could be very very good..or not.....Never been there (except half-way up somewhere there to sleep in February in 70s) like many places....Like for example, is Mt Maude a possibility??? I've never been to the gunite range.... Whatzit called again? East of Baker? Could a real beginner solo there???

 

 

The term isn't necessarily informative.

 

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I'd second Gene's recommendation to do Sahale as it has some of the best views in the state and is very moderate. You don't need a rope for the "glacier" as you can walk around any cracks it may have, but some people want one for the rock scramble to the top.

 

If you are down South, you might consider doing Pinnacle Peak next to Rainier. It also has great views and is easy. It's not a mountain on the scale of any of the others you've mentioned, but it's a fun outing. You can link it with other peaks along the ridge for extra fun.

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I thought I posted this already.

 

Gene's suggestion is for Boston Basin side of Sahale. This is steep snow and/or ice (moderate adjective being subjective) and is what? 2.000 feet gain? Not a "big" glacier, but with significant number of slots which may or may not be visible. A poor suggestion for average person seeking solo climb and whose experience is limited to getting dragged up easiest route of Baker by guide and large group.

 

"Normal" Sahale Arm route to Sahale is good for somebody who can lead and manage rope on very low 5th class..which can be tad freaky... especially if they have a partner, or at minimum can rig rope. Typically, such a person's experience would not be limited to a single guided climb on Easton Glacier or whatever.

 

This guy needs some good answers and so far some of what is offered here is very dubious.

 

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You've done your homework....

Ruth and Sahale are fun solos for a visitor to our lovely range.

 

+1 for Ruth. The best views-to-effort ratio in the range, IMO.

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I thought I posted this already.

 

Gene's suggestion is for Boston Basin side of Sahale. This is steep snow and/or ice (moderate adjective being subjective) and is what? 2.000 feet gain? Not a "big" glacier, but with significant number of slots which may or may not be visible. A poor suggestion for average person seeking solo climb and whose experience is limited to getting dragged up easiest route of Baker by guide and large group.

 

"Normal" Sahale Arm route to Sahale is good for somebody who can lead and manage rope on very low 5th class..which can be tad freaky... especially if they have a partner, or at minimum can rig rope. Typically, such a person's experience would not be limited to a single guided climb on Easton Glacier or whatever.

 

This guy needs some good answers and so far some of what is offered here is very dubious.

 

Hey numbnuts needs to learn to read before talking smack. I said for his solo to go up sahale via sahale arm. Who said anything about quien sabe glacier? The quien sabe glacier suggestion was for his guided portion.

 

"dubious" is suggesting we all go into the mountains with walmart tents.

Edited by genepires

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A lot of good moderate stuff on mountain loop highway, half hike,

half climb sort of stuff.

 

The two I done recently that are good are Mt Dikerman and

Pilchuck mountain. These are a lot of fun and good for a beginner to solo, a lot of people on the route with you on the weekend most likely. No Glacier. But half of those day climbs are on snow. Dickerman is a little harder and more fun.

 

As for skills, I use a two hiking poles and one ice axe. On

hiking the trail and easy ground. I use two hiking poles. On snow and steeper snow, I use one hiking pole and one ice axe. I use the ice axe in the uphill hand and the ski pole on downhill hand. This is the proper way to travel with mixed ground, semi steep. First know how to self arrest with ice axe and know how to self arrest with ski pole alone. When going downhill use the same ice axe and single ski pole combo, if it gets really steep, use only the ice axe alone uphill or downhill. When glasading put the ice axe in your hands in self arrest position. Always be ready to self arrest while glisadding, if get going too fast just start digging in the ice axe pick like you would when going to self arrest, if needed roll over on belly and go full bore self arrest. If you go on a safe glassade spot this trip, get your speed up fast and then roll over in full bore self arrest FOR PRACTICE of self arrest, the key here is to do this in a safe glassade run. I try to practice my ice axe and ski pole self arrest skills every year, this is important for some people.

 

Not many know how to self arrest with a ski pole, look it up on the internet or it goes like this, Stick the pole in your armpit. With your arms above it, hands on pole and then on your back and side you roll all your weight on the tip of the pole to get it to dig in. It is more easy to do than describe. Your guide should know how to do this. This self arrest with ski pole is not as good as ice axe but close to it.

 

Get the Snohomish hiking guide book and look in the north

cascades section of the book and anything with 4 stars of

difficulty and has a mountain to climb most likely would

be a good trip and good for a beginner. Snow is melting out

now but should be really good until mid July.

 

Safe from avalanche danger but watch out the ridge

lines as there are cornices that you can fall through.

 

Dan

Edited by DanO

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Main thing for a beginner to the Cascades to know is that this year the normal summer trails are still covered in snow. Even seasoned Cascadians get lost in the woods trying to find even a trail they've been on before. Your biggest dangers are not always high on the mountain as the two recent fatalities have shown.

 

One of my favorite solo climbs is Needle Peak in BC right off the Coquihalla Hwy across from Yak Peak. Super fun 3rd class scramble with cool views. About 2.5 hour drive from Bellingham.

 

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I "cheat" with a handheld GPS unit. I way point my truck at the parking lot and other way points ever so often as I go to be sure I can back track.

 

I also always have a map and compass with me and pay attention to where I am going. GPS may fail.

 

A raw beginner mistake is to plow ahead while hiking once they lose the trail. NEVER do this. instead stop and start back tracking and circling around searching for last known good point on trail and trying to pick up the trail ahead. Never start plowing ahead downhill or uphill lost etc, keep looking for the trail or a known landmark etc, until you find it unless you know what your doing.

 

Dan

Edited by DanO

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I will give a few examples from my experience.

 

Once my partner and I lost the trail. I knew from the map that how to pick the trail up, so I let my partner , my wife for practice try to find the way. We go way off trail on a steep hillside, going wrong way for awhile. I then took over and angled downhill in the right direction to pick up the trail again, in this case I used the map and knowledge of where the trail had to be from our last known position while on the trail. If there was any question I would have not done this and would have back tracked to last known spot where I had the trail and from this known point, do searches until I picked up the trail beyond the snow. We lost the trail because buried in snow.

 

Another example, a jumbled up area, where there are many tracks going all over the place. I marked the snow with a few sticks and also way pointed the spot with my GPS as the known trail was close to that point. I then move forward on the trail knowing if

I had to I can back track to that point again.

 

Another example is using wands on snowfields to mark crevasses and to find your way in a white out. Also you can use a GPS unit

in back tracking mode or way point good points along the way.

 

Always way point a dropped pack if you drop it to climb a summit. Always way point your tent and camp and I usually way point the truck. You also can way point the summit to use as a indicator above and below you as you are going down.

 

I way point at any uncertain spot, as if I go forward and it does not work I can get back to that point. Also you can use cairns, These are piles of rock at least three high to mark the way back, a good practice, if at a junction you mark the correct way back with sticks with a arrow the right direction.

 

Every member of the party should be paying attention while hiking and look back every now and then as it looks different coming back than going forward, mostly important to do in terrain that is open with possible wrong ways to go. Usually only the leader is paying attention to where they are going and this is a mistake, all brains should be active on navigation at all times.

 

A common situation is going downhill in a whiteout, lost, in a fierce wind, letting gravity and wind push you in the wrong direction. Map and compass and GPS and brain need to be in play.

 

Dan

Edited by DanO

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I am of the opinion that all mountains up to Class 4 are readily doable by the solo beginning climber. As you gain climbing experience higher rating is doable.

 

As for route finding, this comes with experience by simply DOING. Being afraid of getting "lost" just makes the problem worse. Personally, mountains are the perfect place to learn with Obvious big valley you walked in on everywhere due to glaciers scouring them deeper and larger. Only way to truly get "lost" is to not bring a map and not pay attention. Typical city slickers who never grew up in the woods have problems getting "lost" as they haven't trained their mind to "remember" "waypoints". I have found nearly everyone who grew up in the woods doesn't have any problems at all getting lost. Exceptions of course.

 

Nearly everything I do is off-trail from dense forest to glacier. Big Glaciers, I suppose wands could be nice, but I have never used them because you would need an unGodly number of them. GPS, haven't used but I can easily see how it would be VERY nice with the backtrack ability especially in say E.USA or on Glaciers during a whiteout.

 

Honestly if you manage to get lost in the Cascades with its DEEP OBVIOUS valleys and very precise ridges/mountains, one would have to be truly oblivious to the world from the moment you stepped from the car in order to get lost.

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DanO:

You have truly mastered the use of a GPS, they don't solve all the "lost" problems - but your examples illustrate how valuable they are, backed up by map&compass of course. Just make sure that you carry extra fresh batteries (I've been burned on that aspect), the best are the Lithium for cold weather use. The best advice I have given folks is, don't buy one on the way to your climb/hike - it's best to learn it's capabilities and build some confidence in what it's telling you in a learning environment. You basically need to have good navigation skills to not only understand it, but to know when it's sending you off in a bad direction.

Good job! :yoda:

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Wastral, are you for real?

 

There are a lot of very serious "class 4" climbs out there where I, for one, would think a beginner would have no businesss climbing. With that kind of attitude, even if you are not a "beginner," you're going to get spanked - as I have when I blithely thought "class 4 means easy." I'm not kidding: I hope you or somebody reading your post and encouraged to do something crazy doesn't get killed.

 

I know I sound like rain on your parade, and I'm sorry. I admire anybody who is enthusiastic and I think confidence to think beyond the sometimes-promoted baby steps is a good thing. But be careful. Study up on your objectives and don't assume that Class 4 is not dangerous or doesn't need a partner.

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I'd have to agree with Matt. I've been much more scared on "Class 4" terrain than mid fifth. Think the middle section of the NE buttress of JBerg. As a matter of fact, I almost always bring a rope when it calls for class 4, as I have been burned (scared) one too many times. What the old timers called class 4 is often modern day class 5. Maybe most of us are wimps these days, or maybe they were sandbagging, but that has been my experience.

 

In the Cascades (where I am the most familiar), I think it is dangerous to recommend class 4 as beginner climb rating. That sort of terrain has killed two of my very experienced friends- Dallas and TJ. Their accidents have really caused me to rethink my attitudes towards chossy "scramble" terrain. Be careful out there.

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I would be cautious with class four and even on class three, often there are few class four moves on a class three route.

 

I have decided in the future to always carry a 120ft rope for

my wife for such ratings for just in case for my wife. No

harnesses or gear, just the rope, you can loop the rope around the legs and waist and use a quick mountaineers belay if needed.

 

I would not want to be on loose class four ground for very long

without protection.

 

It is all personal choice, don't pressure someone to solo above what they are comfortable with. Bad Karma.

 

Dan

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