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Suggestions for summer alpine trips/expeditions


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I just started working as a teacher this year so I have a chunk of time off in the summers. I've been working up to doing bigger alpine climbs and am planning a training cycle that I want to cap with a trip in June next year and then take some down time in July to peak for one or more big objectives in August. I am trying to get ideas for places in North America (I want to build experience locally before going to the Cordillera Blanca say, or other far-off ranges). I realize that because of low altitude and climate shifts many glaciers could be pretty well screwed up. I would appreciate advice of those who have been in bigger ranges more recently on what is approachable and climbable.


I am really looking to get on genuine alpine routes that are big and technical so please don't go spraying about walk-ups on Rainier or "alpine" rock climbs in the lower 48 :grin: . Ideas I have had so far include the Canadian Rockies, Alaska (multiple ranges), and Waddington Range, but I'm sure there are other areas in northern Canada that offer similar routes. Obviously higher altitude stuff like Denali should be pretty good in early to mid-summer but I'm looking to not get that high next summer and focus on quality and length of routes without throwing in altitude yet, so stuff under 16,000 ft please. Anyway, that's it, spray away!

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Reading your post made me feel really old, since my reaction was a kneejerk in the curmudgeonly direction - the oft repeated "...if you have to ask, then you're not ready..". Especially since the "...looking to get on genuine alpine routes..." implicitly suggests you think that a lot of climbing around here isn't "the real deal".


I usually only see that attitude with newer climbers - folks who thumb through the Nelson guides and think to themselves "meh, that one is only a grade III" (I know - I remember thinking that way when I was starting out and didn't know shit about shit).


OK so now that I'm done denigrating your post and reading into it way too much, here's some real suggestions.


August in North America is basically alpine rock season only. It's primetime for the Cascades, so I would just stay local and bang out a ton of routes and get honed / fit. If you have itchy feet to take a road trip, then I'd put the Bugaboos and the Wind River range near the top of the list. The eastern Sierra would be close behind.


A trip in June that is geared towards preparing you for all-around climbing in the greater ranges is probably big volcano routes (such as the oh-so-pedestrian Mt Rainier) or lower elevation stuff in AK (e.g. Ruth Gorge or near Kahiltna basecamp), though I think of that as being more of a May objective. Check out Joe Puryear's Supertopo Alaska guide for ideas. I have no advice to offer for Canadian snow / glacier routes that time of year though I'm sure there's good stuff.


Please don't die, and consider the paradigm that alpine climbing rewards humility and focus on process. Savor the stepping stones as worthy and rewarding objectives in their own right (rather than just a springboard to the next big thing), and you're more likely to have memorable experiences and stay outta trouble.

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Bugaboos were great a few weeks ago, but access was difficult / annoying and the exit routes back to the Kain hut were complicated by normal routes being out. Perhaps a bit early when we were there in early August, but is probably as expected for September. Still plenty of rock, though.


Can't say enough about the Winds. so good.

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My fiance and I have talked about volcano "walk ups" and how we'd like to get on more challenging routes but the truth of things for me is that I could use more experience on all types of terrain so I try not to turn my nose up at the walk ups.


She joined some friends in May who climbed/splitboarded 25 of the Cascade volcanoes (skipped Rainier but got Garibaldi as a bonus) and came out of the trip with a new appreciation for the volcanoes. She had already climbed Hood a half dozen times or more. Her favorite of the trip was Glacier Peak but the stories about the approach on Garibaldi make it sound like the crux was tackled in the truck.


If you don't get out to a distant location push yourself to put up solid vert several days in a row. I think the ladies on the volcano tour were regularly putting in 5000' days back to back to back.


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Thanks Jason, yeah I have the Selected Alpine Climbs guide and would like to get up there and do some of those routes working up to the 5.9 A2 grand cours. Obviously that guide is fairly out of date relative to the shifting climate, do you have any specific suggestions on where to get up to date approach beta, I was hoping this thread would catch some folks with recent experience up there.

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As for the rest of the replies...


Jason4: Yes I have put in lots of vertical in the mountains in back-back days... 5k' per day is pretty chill ski touring for me, as is doing it on 14ers.


G-spotter: Yes SoCan is plenty on the radar and there are lots of routes in the Bugs (thanks Alpine et), Slesse and several other areas on the radar. And yes the Winds are definitely on my list of places to climb too. These just rarely have ice in summer, and I would really like to try the combined challenge of ice/mixed/rock/aid on a big face that I just can't send in a single push.


Sportnoob: Thanks for the perspective, for the record I have nothing against local climbs, including grade IIIs or shorter. I realize there are lots of great local climbs and I really want to do a lot of those. I have no problem staying local and realize that climbing is a process. I am not trying to poo-poo the Cascades or quality routes/classics/testpieces simply because they are not grade Vs. In fact I am stoked on climbing these routes most of the year. I'm just trying to get some ideas on bigger objectives that fit into this time window I have and can serve as big goals for me. Maybe I'll try a bigger route and decide as you did that it's no better than staying local. Either way I have the time and the motivation so I would like to see what a grade V+ alpine ice/mixed/rock/aid route in a "greater range" looks like in person.

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I went to the Canadian Rockies this summer and found beta quite challenging, even for the easy trade routes that we had targeted. There is http://www.acmg.ca/mcr/

A starting point for decision making.


I think unless you know a guide personally, you won't get much value from them. Maybe if you have very specific questions; but I think listening to their responses are pretty amusing as they are always a combination of stoke: "yeah it'll go, you guys should get after it" and hedging: " Weelll, this year that 'shrund will be huge...lots of rockfall...moat...grizzlies...etc"


If you find good beta for the C Rockies, please share.


My advice is to get on one of the bigger Rainier routes and try to get some real time in Canada with a srong partner and poke around and see what is climbable. Maybe not an ideal maximization of your time, but what can you do? Does anybody on this board know for example know:


How often is Kitchener Grand Central Couloir climbed a year?

What time of year these days?


Best bet, go on your Xmas break to ice climb and make a few aquaintances and come back for 1-2 mounths in the summer.


Good luck, and make TRs.

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For an "expeditionary feel", consider Mt. Robson, either North Face, Kain Face, or Fuhrer Ridge. North Face and Kain Face are about the same difficulty (I3?); North Face is twice as big as Kain Face. Approach to Berg Lake is long, and may be extended for Kain Face by continuing up Robson River to Robson Glacier. I took about a week for the North Face back in the 'eighties - in early September. Also consider the Leaning Towers - a little-visited group of "Bugaboo-like" peaks in the Purcells south of the Bugs. - A long approach from either St Mary's River (east) or Kootenai Lake (west), some elect to approach via helicopter. Mt. Assiniboine offers a number of surprisingly challenging "moderate" routes that might give you a feel for whether you really want to jump on something like Kitchener's north wall (which I would avoid in August and try in colder temps). Mt. Temple at Lake Louise offers an accessible variety of "big" alpine climbs that may provide a reasonable progression to greater routes in greater ranges.

Less "expeditionary" but closer to home, the north side routes on Mt Hood are easily accessible "full-on-alpine" climbs that are "relatively forgiving", but not in August - I've had my most pleasant experiences there in October/November.

Also close to home - don't discount the Picketts because of their moderate altitude - if you can get around in that part of the North Cascades you can probly get around anywhere in North America. Mt Goode from the north requires a "long" approach, plus a glacier challenge guarding the rock routes.

In the Sierras - consider the Evolutions - N. Face Mt Mendel; or Palisades - for a real adventure, approach the Palisades group from the west - very rarely done, so very few routes on those long faces & buttresses.

And right in my backyard - seasonal mixed routes April-June in the Stuart Range; they vary from year to year, yielding high quality "adventure climbs".

hope this helps -- study some maps of these areas



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