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By Turner Anderson
From Berkeley.Ca
Aug 9, 2014
Looking down from the top of Jam Crack
I'm currently in my third year of an engineering program at UC Berkeley, and I'm just starting to think about graduate school. I've heard good things about the Colorado School of Mines as an engineering school, but I was wondering what its proximity is to climbing (preferably trad) and skiing, as these are two things I love to do but just haven't been able to get around to as much as I would like to here in the bay area (partly because of far drives and partly because of a really busy schedule). So I'm hoping you guys can help me out: I know the School of Mines is a good choice for my academic interests, but would it also be an ideal place for getting into the mountains as much as possible? Thanks in advance, any input is appreciated.

FLAG
By Jeff Young
From Palmer, AK
Aug 9, 2014
A simple search of this website would tell you that climbing access in Golden is in fact pretty awesome. I think you would be hard pressed to find a school on par with the CSM that affords such accessible climbing. Whether you can find the time to enjoy it with a full schedule at the Mines may be a different story.

The skiing and boarding, while also of high quality, is not as accessible. You will know what I mean the first time you attempt to head west on i-70 on a weekend.

FLAG
By T.L. Kushner
Aug 9, 2014
close climbing on so-so quality rock is 5 minutes away at table mountain

much better climbing, sport and trad, is about 15-30 minutes away in clear creek canyon.

you're also within a sub 2 hour drive to RMNP, south platte, garden of the gods, eldo, boulder canyon, and the flatirons. many of those are even less than 1 hour

as far as skiing eldora is a small place but is reletively close and you could avoid I-70 traffic.

areas like winter park, A basin, loveland, keystone, ETC are more like a 60-90 minutes with no traffic but can be as much as 3 hours during busy traffic

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By goingUp
Aug 9, 2014
the skiing is great, if your into hiking and back country riding. little bit of a drive affords all sorts of wonder in the indian and james peak wilderness areas (Berthoud pass), along with rmnp, Loveland, frontrange peaks.
eldo is less than 30 mins away for climbing, and ccc has tons of great sport routes. realistically the drive to boulder for even half day climbs is a quick ride up hwy 93. and as stated before, with less than 2 hrs you have Staunton, south platte, rmnp. The best part is ccc, eldo, boulder and N table mtn there is year round climbing!

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By teece303
From Highlands Ranch, CO
Aug 9, 2014
Aiding. Photo by Locker.
If CCC is 30 minutes from Mines, you are on foot. I live 30 miles from CCC in Highhlands Ranch and I can get there in 35 minutes. ;-)

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By ErikaNW
Aug 9, 2014
Rapping off the Matron October, 2010
Mines is a great school - I did my undergrad and my husband did undergrad and grad there. Don't be frightened off by the ski traffic horror stories. True, it can suck sitting in your car on I-70, but having lived other places where it's a 5-6 hour drive from mediocre (at best) skiing, it's not so bad. I guess it's all relative. If you go up super early, or have weekday flexibility, you can reduce the drive time by half anyway. If you do any backcountry, options open up even more and you can avoid I-70 altogether. As everyone else has mentioned climbing access is great. Good luck with your studies!

FLAG
By Marc801
From Sandy, Utah
Aug 9, 2014
Turner Anderson wrote:
..these are two things I love to do but just haven't been able to get around to as much as I would like to here in the bay area (partly because of far drives and partly because of a really busy schedule).

Your grad school schedule will make your undergrad days seem like a vacation. And pick a grad school that is best for your career and education as the first consideration - proximity to climbing etc should be second. If that happens to be the CSM, then great! It's a tough school, both to get in to and to graduate. Climbing and skiing last a life time - grad school is only 2-3 years.

FLAG
By jason.cre
Aug 9, 2014
Good luck skiing while living in Golden. 5-6 hour drives were the norm with traffic last season. There is a lot of climbing aorund Golden but it is either incredibly overcrowded (Clear Creek, Eldo) or incredibly crappy (N Table).

If climbing and skiing are a priority, stay away from the front range.

FLAG
 
By JCM
From Seattle, WA
Aug 9, 2014
Marc801 wrote:
And pick a grad school that is best for your career and education as the first consideration - proximity to climbing etc should be second. If that happens to be the CSM, then great! It's a tough school, both to get in to and to graduate. Climbing and skiing last a life time - grad school is only 2-3 years.


Overall, this is pretty good advice. However, with places like CSM, you really don't have to choose. I recently (May 2014) finished a Masters at CSM, and found that the access to climbing was crucial to my ability to get through grad school. Grad school can be pretty stressful, and having an escape like climbing goes a long way for maintaining focus and sanity and the long haul. Proximity is key, though, especially with a busy schedule. Having Clear Creek 10 minutes away, Eldo 25 minutes away, a good gym 5 minutes away, and so on, allows you to get your fix without having to be away from the lab for too long. Working 6 hours in morning/early afternoon and then getting in an afternoon/evening session in Clear Creek is pretty standard protocol; there is no way you could do that in the Bay Area.

Skiing, as others have mentioned, can involve traffic if you are trying to go on the weekends. It can be bad, but nowhere near as bad as people are saying above (5-6 hours? No way). People in the Denver area love to whine about the traffic, but it isn't anywhere near as bad as the Bay Area or LA. You can work around traffic with a bit of planning, and a grad school schedule can often be arranged such that you have a few weekdays free to ski and avoid traffic (but you'll probably have to work all weekend to make up for it..).. That said, I rarely went skiing while at CSM, since I like climbing more and you can generally climb all winter within the local area.

A few other notes about CSM: It is a great school, but quite rigorous. Be ready to bring your A-game to get in and to graduate. That said, you'll get a good, and very pragmatic, engineering education, and will have great job options when you finish. It is well known and well respected within Colorado and outside, and large numbers of Denver/Boulder/etc area companies recruit there. Going to CSM will set you up well to get a good job in Colorado when you graduate; this is quite conducive to long-term prospects for both climbing and career.

The culture at CSM is super weird. It is exclusively an engineering school, and with that comes...a lot of engineers. That said, Golden is a great town, and you can have a great lifestyle there by being primarily a member of the town and climbing community for your social life, and going to campus primarily to work/study. This worked out just fine for me.

One final caveat to think about, though, is whether you can handle the potential distraction of climbing and still focus on school most of the time. In Golden, there is a ton of climbing, and the weather is usually good. It takes a lot of self-control to remain focused. This worked out well for me; I was able to manage my time, keep school as the top priority, and fit in climbing when I could. As I said above, I needed the climbing to stay sane and focused. There are other people I know who have chosen the opposite track: dedicated climbers who have deliberately done grad school far from climbing (i.e. Texas) because they knew that the only way they could focus on school would be to not have the temptation of climbing. I can't tell you which approach is best for you; you'll need to assess yourself and decide.

Anyway, CSM is a great option if you want to go to grad school and not give up on climbing. In 2 years there, I got a Masters while still climbing a lot, and getting better at climbing. Check it out, talk with the department you would be in, apply visit the campus, and so on. Other good schools for balancing climbing and school might include University of Arizona (Tucson), CU (Boulder), CSU (Fort Collins), University of Utah (SLC), and others. It all depends on what sort of degree you are doing, and where you'd prefer to live/climb.

FLAG
By Turner Anderson
From Berkeley.Ca
Aug 9, 2014
Looking down from the top of Jam Crack
Thanks for the replies everybody. I had tried searching about this on the website, but didn't find anything that informative, so you guys have been really helpful. My mom went to school in Colorado and was a ski instructor, so she had told me that skiing wasn't that close to Golden, but I wasn't sure about the climbing. I understand that the academics should come first, and I plan on applying for the 4+1 BS/MS in engineering here at Berkeley, but I'm still trying to keep my options open, and it sounds like Mines could be a place I could really enjoy. Even if I don't have much free time, it would be awesome to have close climbing available for weekends.

FLAG
By Xam
From Boulder, Co
Aug 9, 2014
Marc801 wrote:
grad school is only 2-3 years.


Not everyone is smart enough to finish with a MS...if you going for the big PhD, you are really going to want to be in an area you like with things you like to do, trust me.

Traveling to skiing from golden WITH bad traffic is about the same as from Berkeley without traffic and the traffic can be avoided with decent planning...and the skiing is generally better than Tahoe. No, the climbing and skiing in the Front Range is not without its imperfections but the live/work balance with a wide range of activities available is very good.

FLAG
By Turner Anderson
From Berkeley.Ca
Aug 9, 2014
Looking down from the top of Jam Crack
JCM, thanks a ton for that long response, you pretty much told me exactly what I wanted to know. I think I would go into it with the same strategy as you, in the sense that I can stay focused when I need to, but close climbing will provide a much needed escape. You're right about the Bay Area, there really isn't much to do besides go to the gym if I'm not willing to take the whole weekend off, which often isn't possible.

FLAG
By Phillip Morris
From Flavor Country
Aug 9, 2014
1234
Xam wrote:
...and the skiing is generally better than Tahoe.


Even though vail is "like no place else" there really isn't anything along I-70 or in Colorado for that matter that compares to Squaw Valley.



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By Sagar Gondalia
From Golden
Aug 9, 2014
Right before stepping onto the Emmons Glacier, below Camp Schurman.
I live in Golden. I skied 50 days my first year here, and 40 the year after. There is a LOT of backcountry and resort skiing which is all accessible, albeit not out your back door.

The climbing access is phenomenal. Eldorado Canyon (25 min) and the surrounding flatirons formations could keep you busy for a lifetime if you wanted. Clear creek (5+ min, depending how far up the canyon you go) offers a plethora of sport climbing. North table (<5 min) is a great place to get out during the colder months. The climbing isn't great, but the south facing sun makes for nice, fun days out in January / February. Boulder Canyon is about 45+ min, and also offers a huge array of sport and trad climbing.

If you're concerned about access as a limiting factor to going to Mines, I'd suggest thinking the polar opposite. Golden as a town is also awesome.

FLAG
By DavidCollins
From Grand Junction, CO
Aug 10, 2014
Texas is not that bad! In fact I got into climbing during my six years in grad school in Austin.

In relation to studies, your ability to do this type of recreation can vary a lot. I was not too swamped and was able to climb regularly one or two days on the weekend and occasionally later in the day during the week. I didn't do any long distance climbing trips but managed some backpacking trips. But there are also grad students who spend 10 hrs a day in the lab and this can include weekends too. They would have been hard pressed to routinely take one day off each weekend.

If you can strike a balance, great. But it is probably wisest to place the greatest emphasis on the academic aspects of the graduate program. They will have great effect on your choices after you graduate. Such as getting to choose between three job offers in different cities to your liking, or getting one offer in a city that you dont't care for. And the period after will be much longer than during your graduate studies. Six years can seem like a long time going into a graduate program but, for me, it was a less than even the time spent on various temporary academic jobs afterwards.

FLAG
By fossana
From Bishop, CA
Aug 10, 2014
downclimb off the First Flatiron <br />photo by TooTallTim
Turner Anderson wrote:
I plan on applying for the 4+1 BS/MS in engineering here at Berkeley...


Another thing to consider is that you'll be considered a non-resident for Mines, so that will bump tuition way up for at least a year, which according to US News at the time of report was just under what you'd pay for 4 years at Berkeley. Having gone through the UC system for undergrad & grad I still think Berkeley is a pretty good deal for where it sits in the rankings. If you believe US News UCB's engineering grad program is #3, while Mines is #55.

FLAG
 
By Xam
From Boulder, Co
Aug 10, 2014
Phillip Morris wrote:
Even though vail is "like no place else" there really isn't anything along I-70 or in Colorado for that matter that compares to Squaw Valley. -jmM


That maybe so. However, in my opinion, after being an instructor in Tahoe for 3 years during college and having spent the last 4 seasons in colorado, I found the skiing to be generally better in colorado. The snow quality is better and more consistent and the lift served terrain is comparable. But then again, I am also of the option that lift served terrain everywhere is what it is...limited.

Of course, this thread is about the accessibility of skiing and climbing to Golden for a kid in graduate school and a pissing contest on ski regions does not really serve the OP. I went to Berkeley for engineering ugrad...I know how far Tahoe is from Berkeley and how the traffic is typically. I did a PhD in engineering in the UC system...I know what the time and travel constraints were for me while I was in graduate school. I recently finished a post-doc research appointment in the front range and did what was for me a significant amount of skiing and climbing, albeit weekend warrior levels. I can firmly state that if getting to ski and climb regularly during graduate school is important to you, than going to school at one of the universities in the front range is a good choice. You will likely do far more skiing and climbing going to school in Golden than if you go to Berkeley. However, Berkeley is clearly the choice, if academic name recognition and career opportunities are your main goals. But it remains 3+ hours from decent skiing and climbing, on a good day.

FLAG
By JCM
From Seattle, WA
Aug 10, 2014
fossana wrote:
Another thing to consider is that you'll be considered a non-resident for Mines, so that will bump tuition way up for at least a year .


Incorrect. CA and CO have in-state reciprocity, at least for graduate students. As a CA resident, you'd be in-state at Mines.


fossana wrote:
If you believe US News engineering grad program is #3, while Mines is #55.


General rankings are completely meaningless, especially for a graduate program. What is much more important is the specific reputation of your individual department/program/advisor. Local connections and repuation are also very important. If you want to live/work in the Bay area after you graduate, go to Berkeley. If you want to live/work in the Front Range, it might help to go to Mines.

That said, a 4-1 program would be a great deal for getting through school quickly and at the least cost, so that is still probably the best option.

FLAG
By Dave Bn
From Fort Collins, CO
Aug 10, 2014
Dreamweaver
JCM wrote:
Incorrect. CA and CO have in-state reciprocity, at least for graduate students.


Reciprocity programs may only be specific to CSM. When I started my PhD at CSU I was strongly encouraged to get a CO drivers license and car registration asap in order to establish residency quickly.

My department covered the difference in tuition cost between in-state and out of state for the first year, but it was my responsibility to apply for and obtain residency by the beginning of the second year or I had to cover the difference myself from then on.

This thread is the first I've ever heard of in-state reciprocity so I'm no expert. However, I dealt with a lot of people at CSU in obtaining CO residency that first year - many of which were vocal about the absurdity of the process. Never once did any of these people mention anything about in-state reciprocity. I also doubt that my department would foot the $$$ for the tuition difference if there were reciprocity programs available - they would have encouraged me to go that route.

Anyways, I know this is beside the point given the OPs interest in CSM, just my meager addition.

FLAG
By slim
Administrator
Aug 11, 2014
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.
who actually pays tuition to go to grad school in engineering? kind of a moot point on the in state vs out of state issue. it's pretty hard to go wrong with mines, it usually ranks pretty high in the most important stat - ROI.

FLAG
By freezeus
From Pittsfield, VT
Aug 11, 2014
I think the drive from golden to skiing is completely dependent on when you choose to drive. I have routinely driven from Golden to Copper in around an hour. This of course means that I'm not trying to drive there on a Friday night or a Saturday morning. Weekdays the traffic doesn't seem to be bad.

FLAG
By Abram Herman
From Golden, CO
Aug 11, 2014
Viking helmet cover, yep.
jason.cre wrote:
Good luck skiing while living in Golden. 5-6 hour drives were the norm with traffic last season. There is a lot of climbing aorund Golden but it is either incredibly overcrowded (Clear Creek, Eldo) or incredibly crappy (N Table). If climbing and skiing are a priority, stay away from the front range.


Not true at all. All but one day last ski season, I made it in barely over an hour each way to Keystone, A-Basin, Breck and Loveland. And there are certainly overcrowded climbing areas, but there are also plenty that aren't. Golden is a pretty sweet place to live, overall.

FLAG
By slim
Administrator
Aug 11, 2014
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.
helps a lot to get up a bit early. the drive home is usually the rough part. all in all though, golden is a great place to live. lots of stuff to do and lots of cool folks to do it with.

FLAG
By brenta
From Boulder, CO
Aug 11, 2014
Cima Margherita and Cima Tosa in the Dolomiti di Brenta.  October 1977.
slim wrote:
who actually pays tuition to go to grad school in engineering?

Nowadays, many MS students.

FLAG
 
By fossana
From Bishop, CA
Aug 11, 2014
downclimb off the First Flatiron <br />photo by TooTallTim
brenta wrote:
Nowadays, many MS students.

That's been the case since for a while. The PhD students are more likely to get GSR/GSI positions and grants.

FLAG
By brenta
From Boulder, CO
Aug 11, 2014
Cima Margherita and Cima Tosa in the Dolomiti di Brenta.  October 1977.
fossana wrote:
That's been the case since for a while. The PhD students are more likely to get GSR/GSI positions and grants.

Yes, for obvious reasons.

fossana wrote:
Almost no one cares who your advisor was unless you go into academia.

True of many MS students, who mostly see their advisors to get some advice on what courses to take and to get graduation paperwork signed. Not so true of those who actually get to do research with their advisors. Especially PhD students--most engineering PhD students end up in industry--but not only.

But to get back to the starting point, while US News ranking may not be the most reliable indicator for graduate studies, when talking about Berkeley, it's good to keep in mind that in most branches of engineering they have strong, well-funded programs and top-notch faculty. Turning down an admission to Berkeley because one plans to seek employment in the Front Range would be a very questionable decision.

FLAG


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