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cgass177

New to Climbing; Best Ways to Start?

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Hello all,

My name's Chris and I'm looking to take up mountaineering. I've been hiking and backpacking since I was a kid and I've done a fair share of rock climbing, but in my home state of New York there isn't much "big" mountain climbing to be found. Now that I've been in Washington for about 2 years I've found the allure of the mountains irresistible and I'm hoping to start climbing some of the larger mountains. I've been slowly acquiring gear for the past few months and doing some smaller, non-technical, climbs. I'm also currently working my way through The Freedom of the Hills. Any suggestions on how to start out, classes to take, or any helpful advice would be greatly appreciated. Hope to see you out on trail.

-Chris

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The Mountaineers offer an comprehensive climbing course. It's fairly inexpensive, but taught by volunteers, so the quality of instruction can vary. Good way to meet folks and break the ice. I believe it starts in Jan, however. There are various local chapters, so you may be able to sign on to Everett's course rather than the more crowded Seattle chapter. Google and give em a ring.

 

You can find partners here, too, of course. Pretty good spot for that.

 

Somebody around here will weigh in with some shorter courses taught by guides. Instruction quality there is good, and the scheduling more convenient, usually.

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+1 for a mountaineers course. another (more expensive but more comprehensive) would be to do a course with a guide service (plenty of awesome companies to choose from in WA). Despite formal education being a wonderful avenue into climbing, I would encourage you to get out on some glacier or snow climbs with willing people from this board. Not only will you meet people in the community, you will get advice and experience from them that might not get across in a formal setting.

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...I would encourage you to get out on some glacier or snow climbs with willing people from this board.
While I agree with this assessment as a great vehicle to learning, I think at his current level of (in)experience, the more seasoned folks here might not want to take him along on volcano climbs in the dead of winter. I expect, though, that come spring/early summer, after the weather starts to moderate a bit more, he'll have his hands full with willing partners.

Keep the stoke alive, Chris. Your time's comin'... :tup:

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I would not recommend the Mountaineers. They will make you wear your helmet and gaiters while eating lunch in the parking lot. There are other local climbing clubs of which I know little, but I would try them first, personally. They may be turn out being the same, but that's the risk you run.

 

Or, just make friends here.

 

If you do take a course like the mounties, I would recommend getting out and doing non-club climbs AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

 

If you're smart, you can figure this stuff out by yourself. By smart, I mean that you're rigging lines in the trees at home and practicing ascending a line, and practicing setting up z-pulleys in your living room while memorizing knots in the dark with gloves on. The mounties can't teach you anything you can't learn yourself if you have a half-way decent mind, and local advice here on cc.com can supplement your home-study nicely by giving you actual answers to WHY, rather than the "that's just how we do it" that most mountie volunteers will give you.

 

Learn and practice self-arrest, memorize your knots, know how to rig a z-pulley and climb a line and I bet come spring there are lots of people who would be willing to take you out. In the meantime, do a lot of non-technical snow climbs/hikes to get stronger and practice travelling on snow slopes.

 

Good luck!

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Probably best to listen to folks who've actually taken Mounties courses re the quality of said courses Have u rob? I kinda doubt u could pull somebody out of a crevasse if required.

 

Yes the Mounties are super safe nerdy and don't always teach the absolute latest speed ascent techniques but they are still a great place to start. Climbing w experienced folks is still a necessay supplement but it's nice to have some basic skills under your belt taught in a course so those partners who generally will not have the spare time don't have to teach u. I don't recommend actually going on many Mounties climbs though. Find a few good partners n let er rip.

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Probably best to listen to folks who've actually taken Mounties courses re the quality of said courses Have u rob?

 

 

Yes, I did the BCC at Everett, although I never did enough post-course club climbs because I hated the club. Of course I did the MOFA and nav classes, too. I also spent a bit volunteering with a local Mountain Rescue chapter, became field-certified and did several rigging exercises and missions with them. I also took a self-rescue class with a local guide service. I stand by my assertion that a motivated individual with a good mind could do the equivalent of the "theory" aspect of the BCC by himself, and supplement field experience with people he meets here.

 

I kinda doubt u could pull somebody out of a crevasse if required.

 

Fuck you too, shithead. I doubt your fat ass could even prussic up the line.

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Probably best to listen to folks who've actually taken Mounties courses re the quality of said courses Have u rob?

 

 

Yes, I did the BCC at Everett, although I never did enough post-course club climbs because I hated the club. Of course I did the MOFA and nav classes, too. I also spent a bit volunteering with a local Mountain Rescue chapter, became field-certified and did several rigging exercises and missions with them. I also took a self-rescue class with a local guide service. I stand by my assertion that a motivated individual with a good mind could do the equivalent of the "theory" aspect of the BCC by himself, and supplement field experience with people he meets here.

 

I kinda doubt u could pull somebody out of a crevasse if required.

 

Fuck you too, shithead. I doubt your fat ass could even prussic up the line.

 

Prussik? What is that?

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Probably best to listen to folks who've actually taken Mounties courses re the quality of said courses Have u rob?

 

 

Yes, I did the BCC at Everett, although I never did enough post-course club climbs because I hated the club. Of course I did the MOFA and nav classes, too. I also spent a bit volunteering with a local Mountain Rescue chapter, became field-certified and did several rigging exercises and missions with them. I also took a self-rescue class with a local guide service. I stand by my assertion that a motivated individual with a good mind could do the equivalent of the "theory" aspect of the BCC by himself, and supplement field experience with people he meets here.

 

I kinda doubt u could pull somebody out of a crevasse if required.

 

Fuck you too, shithead. I doubt your fat ass could even prussic up the line.

 

Prussik? What is that?

It's an iconic granite peak in the Stuart Range, duh.

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Pretty inappropriate for the noob forum Rob, especially from someone whose climbing resume isn't much longer than the OPs. Weird comin from a bud too. I don't use prusiks anymore, BTW...got Tiblocs.

 

Take comprehensive course. Mounties (cheap, volunteer instruction, more fuddy duddy) or guides (more expensive (per day at least) experienced professional instructors, more up to date info). Your partners will appreciate u coming to the table with some basic skills in hand, like crevasse rescue, etc. That way you can just show up and climb. You won't learn things like crevasse rescue just climbing with folks, even experienced ones.

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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Thanks for the advice. I had looked into the Mountaineers course but my work schedule (and a planned trip to AK) won't allow me to attend all the field trips this year. Does anyone have experience with the RMI Crevasse Rescue course? That's probably the skill set I'm most concerned with having formal instruction on.

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Chris-

If you've been backpacking since childhood, and have done "a fair share of rock-climbing" your skillset is already quite good. Forty-four years ago, I made winter ascents of the South and Middle Tetons with no more experience than what you describe. (I grew up in that area, so "winter" was not a big deal). For climbing in the Cascades, you lack glacier and avalanche experience, and club climbs can be a good way to fill those gaps. College and University Outdoor Programs can also be excellent resources, and many of their offerings are open to non-students. Their trips are often not so tightly structured as the ones offered by clubs such as the Mountaineers, and they're a helluva lot cheaper than a professional guide service.

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Crevasse rescue is the one thing you won't learn on climbs so a course is a good idea. RMIs course has a good rep and promises a spectacular setting. Have fun.

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College and University Outdoor Programs can also be excellent resources, and many of their offerings are open to non-students. Their trips are often not so tightly structured as the ones offered by clubs such as the Mountaineers, and they're a helluva lot cheaper than a professional guide service.

Thanks. I didn't even know these existed. I'll look into it.

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Feel free to check out the Bushwhacker Climbing Club's basic Glacier Climbing course. We'll be opening up registration in Feb. The course runs 9 weeks long with 4 outings and a graduation climb up Baker with an option for Rainier Emmons after that. We teach crevasse rescue and many basic glacier climbing skills. The course usually runs around $350 - although I'm not sure of the cost this year. Great course - will go over gear, navigation, mitigating hazards, snow camping, proper footwork and axe work, etc.

 

Our website is: http://www.bushwhackerclimbingclub.org

 

Feel free to email me at caledh@gmail.com for more info.

 

Also, if you don't want a commitment with a club, International Mountain Guides are an excellent guide service in Washington - and for more skills TEACHING, look into the American Alpine Institute.

 

 

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Bushwhackers Club??? Say "hi" to DoxManDude from sobo, will ya? OKTHXBAI!

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I second most of the advice given here. I took the BCC with the mountaineers last year and for me, it was a good way to learn. My experience level was about the same as the OP and I felt the BCC was a good way to gain some skills. I have only lived here about year and the biggest advantage for me was meeting up with some fellow climbers, making friends and then doing non-club climbs. I have several friends who took both the mountaineers BCC and the RMI course. Their opinion was that the RMI course is pretty much the same thing (same skills are taught), but in a super condensed version and much more expensive. The RMI option would work well if, like you said, the scheduling of the mountaineers BCC doesn't work with your schedule, but you'll need some extra cash. I will say that if you decide on the mountaineers BCC and you miss even one lecture....you're screwed.

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I would not recommend the Mountaineers. They will make you wear your helmet and gaiters while eating lunch in the parking lot. There are other local climbing clubs of which I know little, but I would try them first, personally. They may be turn out being the same, but that's the risk you run.

 

Or, just make friends here.

 

If you do take a course like the mounties, I would recommend getting out and doing non-club climbs AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

 

If you're smart, you can figure this stuff out by yourself. By smart, I mean that you're rigging lines in the trees at home and practicing ascending a line, and practicing setting up z-pulleys in your living room while memorizing knots in the dark with gloves on. The mounties can't teach you anything you can't learn yourself if you have a half-way decent mind, and local advice here on cc.com can supplement your home-study nicely by giving you actual answers to WHY, rather than the "that's just how we do it" that most mountie volunteers will give you.

 

Learn and practice self-arrest, memorize your knots, know how to rig a z-pulley and climb a line and I bet come spring there are lots of people who would be willing to take you out. In the meantime, do a lot of non-technical snow climbs/hikes to get stronger and practice travelling on snow slopes.

 

Good luck!

I second what Rob said.

 

And if you have a friend with a similar drive you can learn together. Just be smart about things.

 

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my serious stoke suggestions get the axe, but the other monkies still get their turds left behind? :grin:

 

okay, read the freedom of the hills first, THEN watch "vertical limit" and see if you can point out anything retarded - if you can't, might want to go back to the Big Book

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okay, read the freedom of the hills first, THEN watch "vertical limit" and see if you can point out anything retarded - if you can't, might want to go back to the Big Book

 

Thats some pretty good advice.

 

Nothing beats getting out though

 

 

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Probably best to listen to folks who've actually taken Mounties courses re the quality of said courses Have u rob?

 

 

Yes, I did the BCC at Everett, although I never did enough post-course club climbs because I hated the club. Of course I did the MOFA and nav classes, too. I also spent a bit volunteering with a local Mountain Rescue chapter, became field-certified and did several rigging exercises and missions with them. I also took a self-rescue class with a local guide service. I stand by my assertion that a motivated individual with a good mind could do the equivalent of the "theory" aspect of the BCC by himself, and supplement field experience with people he meets here.

 

I kinda doubt u could pull somebody out of a crevasse if required.

 

Fuck you too, shithead. I doubt your fat ass could even prussic up the line.

 

pink likes this :tup:

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only thing I've done with the mountaineers is a MOFA course, learned some decent stuff but at the same time it's pretty basic. like something that you'd probably do anyway if yer buddy went down. coulda just bought a book and read that and saved myself the hundred bucks.

 

I need to do some more crevasse rescue training though. I climbed rainier when I was 13 and spent some time beforehand on the emmons getting dropped into crevasses and having to prussik my way out, figure out how to set a anchor from a self arrest position, stuff like that. I think you could practice setting these things up in a mock scenario in your living room and then in late june or july go up to the nisqually and find a nice big crack to actually practice in. just make sure you have a super solid T anchor above it and giv' er.

 

I'm thinking about taking some non climber friends up the emmons in july so I'll probably be up there a couple weekends giving myself a refresher and teaching them the skills. just be sure you try them in a completely hazard less environment before you go for the real thing.

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