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Mentor? Or no mentor??
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By SauceBoss
Apr 18, 2012
I've been climbing for several years, bouldering mainly. In the past year or year and a half I've been climbing a lot of cracks and have lead a few gear routes. Im at a spot where I feel like I could crush way harder than I have been, im just a bit apprehensive about fully giving myself to it. I've set shitloads of gear and aided on shitloads of gear I've set as practice and have always felt confident about that.

So here's my question: Should I keep trying to find a mentor to take me under their wing, hire a guide for a few days to critique my gear setting and anchors, or just say "fuck it" and find someone at my ability level and go out and learn by trial and error?

Essentially, I don't know enough to know if I know enough... if that makes sense. Its always seemed helpful to have some one around who can say "Why are you doing that shit, dude??" But I guess anyone with a brain could fill that spot, not just an OG.

If anyone else is having, or has had, this epic internal debate, hit me up with some feedback, please.

Mark

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By d.c.
From the front range to rossland
Apr 18, 2012
I think we've all been there. I would go out and climb with a bunch of different people. Keep in mind that everyone will do things slightly different (or not), this will greatly broaden your knowledge on how to do things (or not) as well as help you choose the style/method that best suits you. There will be some climbers that you will "get" and will want to continue to climb with them.

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By Jeff Chrisler
From Boulder, CO
Apr 18, 2012
A mentor might be harder to find. I don't really know if you need one per se, and more of someone to affirm or critique your placements. Perhaps a very solid guide would be best for you at this point.

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By Geir
From Tucson, AZ
Apr 18, 2012
Toofast
You can also combine all of the things you have mentioned. I am a big fan of hiring a guide to learn, and have also found that I have learned a lot from more experienced climbers and friends.

Initially I think it is helpful to learn from a professional as you will learn a wide range of modern techniques.

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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Apr 18, 2012
El Chorro
The more people you climb with, and the more you climb, the more you learn. It doesn't matter if they are a wise "mentor" or a bumbly moron.

Climb as much as you can, never pass up on a partner or a day out, and just use your common sense. So much of climbing is just being humble enough to ask questions and learn from others.

There is no hard and fast set of rules to tell you when you should start getting at it. You just go out and climb. These days, people think they have to sport climb first or climb easy trad forever, but back in the day people just went out and did it.

If you have been aiding and hanging on your gear, you know a lot more than I did when I started climbing.

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By SauceBoss
Apr 18, 2012
This is all rad advice, and I appreciate it a bunch.

I think this may ultimately be a problem that only I can fix. Having a mentor would show me how to put it all together in a consistent way. "All" being considerations about rock quality, the level of climbing, and the availability of gear and how alarming it may be, while still making progress. So that would be good.

On the other hand, I could gain that same experience by just doing it, being ready to back off or lower, and seeing what happens.

Maybe if I know that much, I do know enough. Just never lower through slings and never get complacent about rock quality or level of commitment.

A combo of guide, mentor, and climbing with peeps at my level will probably do the trick.

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By Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Apr 18, 2012
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Pea...
Definitely, just do a mix of all of those things. In order to get to it without waiting for the perfect mentor to come along, a good guide day would be perfect. Self instruction through reading how-to books is essential anyway, since no guide or mentor can possibly impart that information to you in a short time.

Just take your time and enjoy it. Don't force yourself into doing any multipitch routes ending with storms and benighting before you know, you are "ready" for that. Ha ha ha. Do we ever get used to those epics?

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By SauceBoss
Apr 18, 2012
All I can do is read books on climbing. It's ruined my social life. But I really do not care. Climbing meets my threshold of interest, so it seems to get priority.

As far as guides go, what's the word on companies or dudes/dudettes in GJ or along the Front Range? I know a company from Jackson, Wyo runs something in Boulder, but if Im going to Colorado to learn and eventually reside, Id honestly rather give my loot to a local person or company. Sorry if that's a dick move...

And again, thanks for the intel, every one. It's helped quite a bit already.

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By Jeff Chrisler
From Boulder, CO
Apr 18, 2012
Everyone I've learned from at the Colorado Mountain School has been awesome. I'd specifically suggest Mike Soucy - totalclimbing.com/page.php?pna...

He's a very nice, intelligent, and funny guide. He's always one to point out several different ways of doing things, and then his 'opinion' of what is best, and why. I haven't climbed with him, but was thoroughly impressed with him in an Avy class. He's apparently a better climber than skiier, so you will be in good hands as he is solid there.

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By Kent Pease
From Littleton, Colorado
Apr 18, 2012
Invitation: Joint me for the weekend mountainproject.com/v/escalant..., (Thrusday and Friday too if you want) and I'll give you a good crack climbing base.

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By reboot
From Westminster, CO
Apr 18, 2012
^^^^^^^^^ Free crack lesson from The Sender? People oughta jump on this opportunity in droves. Too bad I'm already committed to flailing on permadraws in rifle, true sporto style.

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By dirtbag
From Bellingham, WA
Apr 18, 2012
i really enjoyed this drive to the tetons... can't...
The most clearly defined questions are the easiest to answer. So if you're looking for answers, I suggest you come up with simple questions.

I find that coming up with the question or goal is the hardest part, and once I do, it's usually pretty clear what I need to do.

For instance, if you are having a hard time utilizing your technical ability while leading trad, as k yourself "why?" - is it because you keep placing gear while cruxing? Is it because your are sketched the fuck out? is it because you don't know how to jam off-fingers size cracks? etc.

Also, worth reading if you want a mentor:
pindancing.blogspot.com/2010/1...

onward

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By SauceBoss
Apr 18, 2012
@ Dirtbag: Those are good points, thanks dude. I'm not in AI, but I understand the correlation. I think just giving it a go will provide the answer to what specifically is causing the problem.

@ "The Sender": Im trapped in Wyoming for the coming weekend due to some school obligations, but if youre available some other time let me know and I will roll down there.

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By Dave Cummings
From Grand Junction, CO
Apr 18, 2012
me on my redpoint
I agree that climbing with a bunch of different people is a good thing. Everyone has their own tricks and ways of doing things and you will benefit from the experience and come up with your way and what you like. I have been climbing 15 years and am still learning. Can never know enough I suppose.

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By Elena Sera Jose
From colorado
Apr 18, 2012
bacon
Mentor

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By Lyont72
From Foco, CO
Apr 18, 2012
Me
Hi Mark

A little insight on how I got in to trad climbing; Started out with a partner with considerabley more experience in climbing over me and who was patient, understanding and willing to teach. He soon became a mentor of mine and not just a partner. Following such a climber was the best way to lear/ see what a good placement looked like. He would encouraged me to take the sharp end on moderate cracks and give positive feed back if gear was good or bad . . . If it was bad he would tell me what was wrong and how to fix it!

A little insight on my climbing partner as of today; We both agree were at the same level of climbing in ability and proficiency. This helps us when picking climbs one or the other wants to do and neither of us are afraid to put the other in check. Also when were out climbing we frequently ask the other what they think of the gear. Most of the time he or I already know what gear was questionable but it helps to talk about it with one another and discuss what we could have done better. All part of the learning process which is never ending!!! We have a solid group of friends who all climb and frequently climb with them because of scheduling etc. etc. This is good because everyone has different strengths and weaknesses and something new to teach. . .

Everyone tells me that the first year of your trad climbing career is the most dangerous . . . Make it through that and you should be good . . . Just don't get complacent!!! (Note to self)

So in my opinion a good partner is a mentor.

Hope this helps and happy sending.

P.S. A good book that helped me brak into the trad world was: More Climbing Anchors by John Long and Bob Gaines. I think theres a 2nd addition out now . . . But building proficient anchors is key to safe and fun climbing.

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By Bill M
From Fort Collins, CO
Apr 18, 2012
I'd try to build up a group of friends that climb, these people will know people and then you have a list to choose from. Some days I climb with a rope gun, other days I climb with a peer, and others I'm the more experienced. You learn something new in each of these settings.






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By SauceBoss
Apr 18, 2012
Thanks for the insights, dudes. It makes more sense to me now. I should be looking at ALL climbing as a learning experience, and not just times I happen to be with some one more experienced.

I think I just need to climb as much as possible with anyone who's down, and all the rest will fall into place.

Climbing with people I don't know could be dangerous, I realize that, but, in my opinion, is something to be determined and dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

I had this mental roadblock that a mentor is the only way to learn and grow as a climber, and all of this has really forced me to realize that outside of the fundamentals of movement and pro, it's all a personal trip, and who I climb with wont change that.

Many thanks!

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By Bill M
From Fort Collins, CO
Apr 19, 2012
If you are a strong boulderer you should have raw material to be some older trad climbers rope gun for sure. Typically, these guys have the money for nice gear, have the local knowledge, and have great BITD stories. As you build up a reputation - good I assume - you will get emails asking to come along as long you lead pitch such and such with that 2 move crux they can't do anymore.

When climbing with a stranger try to do at least one climb that you would consider moderate, but not trivial. You will be probably be surprised how good your "radar" is for true incompetence.

I think the most important attribute is personality. I have climbed with several very competent climbers that I just did not click with, we respect each others skills and would have no problems roping up together, but would not make the effort to go on a trip together. On the other hand there are some people that are just plain fun to be around and I don't mind their lack of experience.






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By SauceBoss
Apr 19, 2012
@Bill: Thanks for the advice about older trad dudes and on climbing with strangers. Im just going to try to stay open to climbing with anybody and learning anything I can, and I feel somewhat comfortable with my incompetence radar. Enough that I know if some one is setting cams with the stem perpendicular to the direction of load "'cause it works good," I should probably say something. Haha!


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By matt davies
Apr 19, 2012
Hire an AMGA guide to show you the conventional wisdom, and get you properly scared about
what you should never do

Find a mentor, to show you how to properly do what you should never do

Climb with all partners who do not set your spidey sense tingling, and welcome to trad climbing!

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By SauceBoss
Apr 20, 2012
Hahahahhaha! Badass... Thanks a bunch, Matt!

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By Frances Fierst
Administrator
From Munchweiler, Germany
Apr 20, 2012
Indian Creek
Mark,

When I moved to Boulder from MN, I was a strong climber but I had limited outdoor climbing experience. I simply posted for partners, with a description something like this:

I said that I can climb and follow up to XX grade, I have gear, a rope, and a reliable car. I will show up on time, I'll drive, and I will follow you on what ever climbs you want to lead. I'll take you out for a beer after a day of climbing.

I found a ton of people to climb with and I gathered a lot of information along the way. Some people became more regular partners. Once they knew me and my climbing abilities, they would often turn over pitches to me and say, "Lead this, it protects well", etc.

I never hired a guide or had a single mentor. I also never got in way over my head or did anything too stupid. Just be patient, get outside as much as possible, and focus on learning rather than working the grades right now and you should be fine.

It may be useful for you to fill out your profile information here on Mountain Project. If you got skills, then let potential partners know what they are!

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