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Mt. Hood?


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Hey Guys, I'm new here so let me introduce myself properly :)


My name is Dmitriy Kostenko, I am 15 and live in Vancouver, Washington. In the second grade I read a book called Peak, by Roland Smith, and after that I always wanted to climb something (I was smart enough to know that I probably wont be climbing Everest). But I am now 15 and am considering climbing. Since I am in Vancouver I have plenty of options of what mountain to climb first. But options bring lots of questions to me, would you guys mind helping me choose what I should do and answer some questions?


1. Is Mt. Hood a good option to climb for a first time with a buddy?

2. If me and my buddy have all the gear that is necessary and advised to climb Mt. Hood, can we do it without guidance?

3. What gear should I get for general climbing (Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainer, other mountains in the area)

4. What type of training should I get and how can I get it (via internet or classes?) to climb mountians in the general area?


Also is there any information that I am missing?


Thanks guys!

Edited by Dimka
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Hey Dmitriy, welcome to this site! I think a lot of your questions would be answered by taking a basic mountaineering class. Check out this website, http://mazamas.org/ I have no personal experience with them, but I have a friend who took their BCEP class and said it was a good basic class. They run a good intro program for those getting started.


Other than that start reading books and watching videos on basic topics. Good luck as you start your climbing career!


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Hi Dmitriy,

While the Mazamas have a great training program, it's based in Portland (from what I understand), and pretty time intensive, so probably not convenient for you. There are multiple ways to start climbing:

- Find someone experienced willing to teach you the ropes (aka a "mentor"), around your area. Pro's: cheap, potentially super rewarding. Con's: not easy to find someone.

- Take lessons from guide service, there is a wide variety in the Portland and Seattle areas, so I'm sure the same is true in Vancouver. Pro's: when you want, where you want, excellent technically. Con's: expensive.

- Find a climbing community group in your area (a la Mazamas) that can bridge the gap between the 2 options above. Depends on what's available in Vancouver.


To you specific questions, my 2 cents:

1- I would agree Mt Hood is a good starting ground,but just like many other summits in the region.

2- I would really advise against going up Hood as beginners, for the 1st time, without guidance. If you were experienced, sure, but it's still a technical climb, with avalanche hazard, steep sections and although it's on the easy side compared to other summits, people die every once in a while.

3- Check out the equipment list from the various guide services, those are good starting points (eg: http://timberlinemtguides.com/equip-lists/oregon-california-cascades-equipment-list/)

4- See above.


Good luck! I'm a beginner myself and looking to get some experience in the area as well.

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You're smart to ask these questions, so thats a great first step into being a competent and safe climber.


Mt. St. Helens would probably be a much better mountain to cut your teeth on. Not that it is absent risk, but, it is certainly a more mellow mountain and will allow you to dial in your fitness capacity and gear use.


Look at the community colleges, I thought PCC had a hood-prep class. Also you might consider asking your parents or your friend's parents if they know anyone who participates in climbing. Not so they can guide you up hood, but so they can go over gear with you and answer questions/educate you more on climbing. You could even ask a teacher or two--with all the mountains in our backyard there are a lot of people who climb, I'm sure someone you know knows someone who climbs or used to at the minimum.




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A group called The Cascadians, might be a good option for you and your buddy. There is a small joining fee per year. $35.00 I think. They will teach you all the basics from the 13 essentials, equipment choices, food choices, hazzard evaluation, glacier travel, etc. and eventually to summiting a mountain like Mt. Adams, which might be a better first mountain choice. Mt. Hood can be fussy with the weather. Many of us have seen Mt. Hood go from sunshine to blizzard in a very short period of time. Mt. Adams' weather is more stable. It's more beginner friendly and more forgiving to mistakes...Good Luck....

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Thank you for all of your replies guys! Though a guy like me doesn't have loads of cash, let alone cash that I will spend on a hobby. I'm planning on getting a little at a time. If I am going to be climbing Mt St Helens:


1. What gear do I need if any?

2. What is a nice time to go?

3. Could/Should this done be without any guides?


Also, the Cascadians look like a great group/club, but I have never joined anything like this, can anyone give me an overview of what would be happening if I joined the group?

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St. Helens is a great choice for a first climb. To answer your questions:


1.) For a gear list, see here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/mountsthelens/passes-permits/recreation/?cid=stelprdb5144891


You also need a permit to climb St. Helens in the summer, and those permits often sell out. Make sure you register before you get all the way out there: http://mshinstitute.org/index.php/climbing/


2.) I'd go between June/July and September. People climb it year round, but it's easy to get lost in the snow. You shouldn't do that for your first peak. :)


3.) As long as you and your buddy go in good weather, on a summer day, and bring along the appropriate gear (especially a map, compass, and light) I think you'll be ok! The part of St. Helens where I believe some people get confused is on the way down, as it is easy to lose the route. With that in mind, pay good attention on the way up and try to stay within sight of other climbers (not hard to do in the summer) - you'll have a blast!



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Thanks for the advice! I already saw that website and knew about the permits, I was wondering if you guys had nay tips on the gear and sutff :)


One question though, all of the tickets are sold out for summer, would October still work or am I risking it?

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One question though, all of the tickets are sold out for summer, would October still work or am I risking it?


All the permits for the summer are already sold out?! I think they do a certain number of walk-up permits too. Someone else on here can confirm though, I've only climbed it once in permit season a while back, so I'm not well versed in that department.


As far as gear for St. Helens? Skis ;)


But in all honesty, a good pair of waterproof boots, trekking poles, and appropriate clothing will see you through just fine, probably wouldn't hurt to take an axe either. Crampons if things get firm (make sure they fit your shoes before going on the mountain). Also the basic little things like food, water, map+compass, headlamp, first aid etc etc.


For your pack, that will work fine, but for an alpine pack I would want some loops for an ice axe/tools. The problem I have with "backpacking" backpacks is all of the superfluous stuff tacked on to them. Straps, lids, pockets, doodads; all add weight and complexity with little to no practical benefits. I prefer mine to be simple.


If you plan on continuing mountaineering and alpine climbing, I would return that one if you can (if not, it will work totally fine) and look for a pack more suited towards your objectives. Check out the Cold Cold World valdez pack. Great design, very durable, and the price is totally right CCW Pack. You could have one of these guys for the same price as that one.


Good luck, stay safe, and have fun out there!

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I agree with the above comments regarding you pack. Good pack for long backpacking trips, but you'll want something more streamlined for climbing. Never used those cold cold world packs, but they definitely look nice for the price. Also, unless you plan on doing huge multi day or winter climbs, id keep your day pack volume to 30-40L, and 50-60L range for 1-3 nights should work. The more space you have, the more tempted you'll be to fill it with non essential items.


Browse the yard sale here for some deals on used gear. Check out sites like geartrade.com for some other used gear. Some guide companies, like alpine ascents, occasionally sell of rental gear.



Good luck, and have fun.




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Thanks for all the responses guys! I'm planning ahead for backpacks though, I don't want to use this backpack just for Helens. I want to use it for camping, but also trips to other mountains. Plus, I don't think it'll be too bad for me to go heavier, I wont mind the extra weight. The only thing that I don't like about this backpack is that it is too fancy, too many un-needed straps and things....


I do have a 30 day return warrnty, I will check out some local climbing stores in Portland to see what backpacks they have.


I'm planning on climbing Helens in the middle of October. By then I should have some crampons and an axe.

Edited by Dimka
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  • 3 weeks later...

To save money, I would use a alpine pack for backpacking trips and alpine climbing instead of a backpacking pack for both.


I just started mountaineering last year, pretty much self-taught. To start, I READ a tons of forums/articles/trip reports and WATCHED a tons of youtube videos. I would say I'm fairly informed now, although probably spent 80 hours on what you can learn in a 8 hour class.


For gear, realize mountaineering gear is expensive and be prepared to spend at least 1000, esp for overnight trips, where you have to get a 4 season tent, 20f bag, and warm pad. For gear, I would look at the RMI, IMG, or AAI websites and see what they bring or search other people's "gear lists" on backpackinglight or other forums. I'm going to do Hood in a couple weeks and plan to bring:


Sun hat

Glacier glasses



Liner gloves

Waterproof gloves

Midweight baselayer top, long sleeve

Soft shell jacket

Hardshell jacket

Midweight insulation jacket (in pack)

Baselayer pants (in pack)

Softshell pants

Midweight socks

Mountaineering boots








Safety kit (whistle, first aid kit)




Water (500 ml nalgene in pocket, 2L platybottle in pack)


Other tips are:

1) Research the route obsessively, can you navigate it through a semi-whiteout?

2) I personally NEVER climb under any questionable weather, sometimes even 10% chance of precipitation, as clouds=whiteout=getting lost. Always check forecast the night before and even AT the trailhead, as things can change fast and updated. Always be skeptical of mountain forecasts.

3) Practice self-arrest obsessively. Learn different crampon techniques.

4) Alpine start is 2AM. This is to avoid rock fall and the hot sun, and returning a good margin of time (6 hours) before dark.

5) Beware of bulletproof ice because you cannot self-arrest on it. Many people have died sliding down hard ice.

6) Pace yourself on the mountain. Never let your hear-rate rise too much and take breaks only every hour. You'll be much faster pacing yourself slowly and not stopping, as opposed to climbing too fast and taking many small rest breaks. Speed=safety.


Info above is not comprehensive, so be sure to read up on other things. Good luck!

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