Where to start - be nice to a noob


Original Post
Daniel T · · Riverside, Ca · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 35

So this past week my lady drug me to an "Intro to Mountaineering" class at our local REI. I was prepared for a joke of a class but the presenter showed a lot a really awesome pictures. This ignited my desire to be outdoors. I am wondering where should one start for easy mountaineering, Im based in Southern California half way between LA and San Diego. Im eager to get out and climb some stuff.

Based on the pictures I would like to try to climb Eichorn Pinnacles (in Towalime Meadows, Yosemite) and the Southeast Buttress on Cathedral Peak (the Sierras) next summer.

I thought now is as good of a time as any to reach out for a mentor and to start training. Ill be getting more into sport climbing over our "winter" season. Im also looking to climb in the summer time frame to reduce the need to purchase cold weather gear.

I am also planning to take the AMP (advanced mountaineering program) put on by the Sierra Club in spring of 2017, its a 4 session class for $75 so I figured its not too much money to learn some new skills.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Ed Henicle · · Santa Rosa, CA · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 1,285

Hey Daniel,

Here are some good starter books. There are many others.

https://amzn.com/0899974422

https://amzn.com/0762782072

Go climbing with an experienced trad climber. I've met some great partners on MP:

http://www.mountainproject.com/v/southern-california-partners/105083664

Check out SCMA:

https://www.rockclimbing.org/

Get the Tuolumne guide:

https://amzn.com/0976523574

Buy some cams/nuts - practice building anchors.

Stay safe out there. Thank your lady for taking you to the class! The learning zone is awesome - enjoy the ride.

AndyMac · · Center, CO · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 580

just wondering, was Courtney Purcell the presenter?

Get out there and climb! Spend time in the outdoors. Get lost a time or 2, because there will be plenty more to come. Work to assess risk all the time as you move through the mountains. Be ready to turn around without a summit. Always look to learn and grow. Find a wise mentor.
Good luck and stay safe!

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 162

FYI, "Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills" by the Mountaineers is considered by many to be the "bible" of mountaineering. It will cover everything from rock climbing rope systems to anchors to snow and glacier travel to weather. A book isn't enough to make you an expert, but it will give you a good indication of what you might be getting yourself into.

"Alpine Climbing" by Cosley and Houston is a very good, condensed reference with more of an emphasis on more intermediate techniques, speed, and simplicity. I think it makes a good companion to FOTH, which can be too conservative/complex at times (in my opinion).

FYI, "mountaineering" encompasses an extremely wide range of activities, from easy walking up a low-angle snowfield to dangling off ice tools on an overhanging mixed climb. As you learn more, it's valuable to target your goals, as the skills involved can differ widely.

mark felber · · Wheat Ridge, CO · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 28

Your profile says you've been sport climbing, TRing and gym climbing for a while. If so, moving into trad climbing over the winter might help your move into mountaineering/alpinism more than just sport climbing. A few trips to Joshua or Red Rocks Tree between now and late spring might help you practice stuff like placing pro, building anchors, climbing multi-pitch routes, navigating approaches and descents, and all that other fun stuff that goes into mountaineering and alpinism.

The Sierra East side is full of high quality mountaineering objectives that are closer to you than Eichorn Pinnacles or Cathedral Peak. The Mt. Whitney area and the Palisades could keep you busy for a couple of seasons without having to drive quite so far.

I don't recall the Sierra Club being the best source of mountaineering/climbing instruction. Have they upped their game in recent years? I would ask around before committing to spending too much time with them.

Daniel T · · Riverside, Ca · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 35

Ed,

Funny you mentioned those books, they are already on my amazon wish list. I will use the partner finder to get out and climb a bit more this season. I am still waiting for the SCMA safety course to open up then I will sign up for a mid Jan class. I already have a set of nuts and I need to work on placing the gear and hanging on it.

AndyMac,

Yes it was Courtney Purcell. I feel I might be overly too cautious when it comes to risk and its assessment. I have a very lovely lady at home and I want to keep coming back to her after every trip if that means no summit for that trip so be it. I don't have a pride issue I have an issue with mot being there for the small family I've got.

Kyle,

I have that book, ive read it once already, Im looking to get out and practice the things I have read. Ill look into "Alpine Climbing".

I understand Mountaineering is very complex and divers in its nature, thats why I stated my goal for next summer in the OP. I'm told these are two fairly easy climbs that I can likely complete with some practice this winter. With my skills now I'm looking for dry summer climbing where I can practice my anchor building and fundamentals to develop a solid base.

Mark,

Yes I am trying to get more knowledge in trad gear and trying to find people to 2nd on easier routes. I have a few friends that learned via youtube and are way too eager to climb (IMHO, but im not mentally ready to join them on climbs yet).

Thanks for the suggestions of The Sierras East Side, Palisades, and Mt Whitney area I will look into them shortly for some routes.

I'm not too sure if the sierra club has stepped up their game but I figured at 4 weeks of classes and $75 it was a low cost/risk investment and any knowledge gained would be worth it to me.

Daniel T · · Riverside, Ca · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 35

In an effort to further my skills I am thinking about buying some gear to practice with. Could you guys recommend some gear I should buy to start placing pro to build anchors? I have a set of Metolius nuts, what else should I get? Im looking for a few items NOT a whole rack.

I am thinking about building a wooden rig in the backyard so I could build vertical and horizontal anchors in a crack. is that of any value?

Brett Kitchen · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 10
Daniel T wrote:In an effort to further my skills I am thinking about buying some gear to practice with. Could you guys recommend some gear I should buy to start placing pro to build anchors? I have a set of Metolius nuts, what else should I get? Im looking for a few items NOT a whole rack. I am thinking about building a wooden rig in the backyard so I could build vertical and horizontal anchors in a crack. is that of any value?
Issue with the board idea is you'll learn the basic idea, yes. But it'll be against dead straight and perfectly parallel placements settings which you're very unlikely to find. But go for it, it'd be a fun build if nothing else; and then the width of the cracks that you build can determine what size pieces you buy if you're not looking for a whole rack to cover a range of sizes right now.
ton · · Salt Lake City · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 0
Daniel T wrote:In an effort to further my skills I am thinking about buying some gear to practice with. Could you guys recommend some gear I should buy to start placing pro to build anchors? I have a set of Metolius nuts, what else should I get? Im looking for a few items NOT a whole rack. I am thinking about building a wooden rig in the backyard so I could build vertical and horizontal anchors in a crack. is that of any value?
since you've already got nuts, the next thing is cams. i'd recommend BD camalots from sizes 0.5 through 2. and obviously you'll need biners and slings and maybe a cordelette.

as for learning to build anchors, there's nothing wrong with the wood rig, but i think you'd be best served to just head to a nearby crag and start plugging gear into the wall from the ground, and have an experienced person evaluate it. the good thing about this is that you can do it in the winter or at night or whatever, and don't have to have good climbing conditions. heck, it doesn't even need to be a climbable crag. the key is having someone to evaluate the gear. further, when you're learning, any mentor you choose should have enough gear that you can learn on theirs before you buy.
JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 95
Daniel T wrote:In an effort to further my skills I am thinking about buying some gear to practice with. Could you guys recommend some gear I should buy to start placing pro to build anchors? I have a set of Metolius nuts, what else should I get? Im looking for a few items NOT a whole rack.
A set of nuts is a good start. Learning to place passive gear early on is worthwhile, since many who get accustomed to cams early on never fully catch up on nutcraft.

The set of nuts covers you on the smaller sizes. Next you need some pieces for ~hand size cracks. Some might recommend continuing with the passive gear and getting a set of hexes. While there is an argument to be made for this approach, I would recommend against it. It seems like every new trad climber buys a set of hexes early on, and then within a year or two "outgrows" them and the hexes sit unused in the . While nuts are a useful and necessary complement to cams for all climbers, almost everyone whose climbing progresses to a certain point eventually stops using hexes. So don't bother with hexes; start by getting a couple of mid-size cams.

A good start would be to buy 3 BD Camalots: the 0.75, 1, and 2 sizes. These are good mid-range sizes that would complement your set of nuts. They will be useful in most places you want to build toprope anchors, and will also be good for early leads. Eventually you could add in a 0.5 and a 3 Camalot. Again, these are nice mid-range sizes that are useful anywhere. These 5 cams plus a set of nuts are a solid starter rack for setting up TRs and doing easy leads. Also get some "alpine draws" and a few long slings. It will be a while before you should need to think about buying microcams, large cams, or doubles of any cam sizes.

Or if you prefer, you could buy similar sizes in Wild Country, DMM, or Metolius cams. These are good too. Don't be tempted by cheap off-brands ("Buy nice or buy twice"). Don't buy the BD Ultralight Camalots (too spendy and delicate for everyday use).

Daniel T wrote: I am thinking about building a wooden rig in the backyard so I could build vertical and horizontal anchors in a crack. is that of any value?


Really not that useful, and certainly not worth the construction effort. You can practice the same basic skills in your kitchen (place cams between the fridge and the wall). Honestly, though, the amount you learn on a straight-sided artificial crack is minimal. There is no substitute for practicing fiddling in gear in an irregular granite crack.
Daniel T · · Riverside, Ca · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 35

When looking for mountaineering routes should I be looking at Alpine routes here on MP?

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 20

I agree with pretty much all of this^^^^^^. Good advice. DMM Alloy Offset nuts are my favorite, followed by Wild Country rocks. They also compliment each other well in a double set.

I find the range in BD cams to be very useful in a first set of cams. Metolius Master Cams or Totem cams are a nice second set once your rack starts getting filled out and you're looking for doubles in sizes.

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 20
Daniel T wrote:When looking for mountaineering routes should I be looking at Alpine routes here on MP?
Yes. The details will usually include the type of terrain: steep snow, ice, rock, etc.
hikingdrew · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 25
Daniel T wrote:I am also planning to take the AMP (advanced mountaineering program) put on by the Sierra Club in spring of 2017, its a 4 session class for $75 so I figured its not too much money to learn some new skills.
I help instruct for AMP, the class has two overlapping parts, the first is introduction to safe roped climbing (belaying, rappelling and intro to anchors) and the second are special techniques for 4th and easy 5th class terrain for groups (fixed lines and telepheriques.) If you want to learn more about multi-pitch, SCMA's RCSC is a good way to go..
Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 310

One of my favorite Alpine Climbs in the Sierra is "Diamond Peak" look it up.

A really good weekend Mt to climb in the early to late spring... a bunch of "ICE" climbing up the snow chute of your choice... Don't worry all have been skied/boarded down... followed by some really fine class 2 - 3 arete climbing up to a wonderful summit with great views.

IMHO...climbs like Eichorn and Cathedral are really rock climbs. To be "Alpine" I think you need to get wet, not climb in rockclimbing boots and you need a Ice Ax..... and be willing to suffer some.

Good luck with it Daniel.

Daniel T · · Riverside, Ca · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 35
hikingdrew wrote: I help instruct for AMP, the class has two overlapping parts, the first is introduction to safe roped climbing (belaying, rappelling and intro to anchors) and the second are special techniques for 4th and easy 5th class terrain for groups (fixed lines and telepheriques.) If you want to learn more about multi-pitch, SCMA's RCSC is a good way to go..
Hiking Drew
I'm pretty darn comfortable belaying and rappelling, If you are willing to meet on a weekend I would be more than willing to drive out to meet you for a skills assessment to see if I still need the first class. although I don't think it would hurt to take it I don't want to waste a class space if i don't need to for someone who could use the space.
Daniel T · · Riverside, Ca · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 35
Guy Keesee wrote:One of my favorite Alpine Climbs in the Sierra is "Diamond Peak" look it up. A really good weekend Mt to climb in the early to late spring... a bunch of "ICE" climbing up the snow chute of your choice... Don't worry all have been skied/boarded down... followed by some really fine class 2 - 3 arete climbing up to a wonderful summit with great views. IMHO...climbs like Eichorn and Cathedral are really rock climbs. To be "Alpine" I think you need to get wet, not climb in rockclimbing boots and you need a Ice Ax..... and be willing to suffer some. Good luck with it Daniel.
Guy,

If you are interested in becoming a mentor for me that would really awesome. I'm always looking for a new adventure and a new skill to learn. I hope to hear from you.
Daniel T · · Riverside, Ca · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 35

Geish I take one trip to learn some trad gear placements (cams and nuts) and the class is already full. With that being said, can anyone point me to the direction of courses OTHER than the SCMA, their 2017 stuff is already full. I was hoping to take their AMP for mountaineering and RCSC for multipitch.

I spent the past few weekends out in JTree with a few friends who climb trad seconding their climbs to see how they are placing nuts and cams I almost got the stones up to try to lead it but I felt I needed a few more seconds to see the gear before I got on the sharp end.

kevin graves · · Mammoth Lakes, CA · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 10

Daniel...check our club out. www.rowcc.com. We climb rock, ice and alpine. We climb sport, trad, big wall, alpine and our members have climbed El Capitan, Denali, Whitney and K2. We have a bunch of younger members who are just getting their feet under them climbing 5.9 to 5.10a but 6 months ago were just following 5.7. We also have a facebook page Rim of the World Climbing Club. You'll have several climbing partners and we go somewhere almost every weekend. We can help you get started. The books are excellent choices and we can help you put your learning in to practice. Kevin Graves weclimb@gmail.com. www.rowcc.com.

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Daniel T wrote:So this past week my lady drug me...
Did it take drugs to get you there or did she in actuality drag you?
(The past tense of drag is dragged, not drug.)
Daniel T · · Riverside, Ca · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 35
Marc801 wrote: Did it take drugs to get you there or did she in actuality drag you? (The past tense of drag is dragged, not drug.)
Her smile is quite intoxicating.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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