Choosing a training objective for next winter?


Original Post
Lauren Erickson-Viereck · · Bozeman, MT · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 0

I recently did the Denali Prep course on Rainier (this February) with AAI, & tentatively have a Denali attempt penciled in for May 2019 - have a lot of learning to do before then. Looking for something to set my sights on for next winter & considering a guided trip next winter up the mountaineer's route on Whitney. I can't really fit a serious trip in this summer, so I'm planning to do a lot of peak scrambling & rock climbing around my homebase of Bozeman and train for a bigger trip in the winter. Looking for: a good, practical, hands-on intro to technical winter alpinism, practicing the mental game of feeling more comfortable with lots of exposure, the potential for nasty weather, a multi day trip that will require lots of hard work, and the opportunity to learn a lot.

I was drawn to a winter trip to Whitney because it seems like - especially with a more private guide - client ratio - I could concentrate on learning new skills in a new environment, versus a more basic skills course which would possibly rehash stuff I already have some experience in. But perhaps I'm totally off? Any thoughts on options to consider would be appreciated! Thanks much!

C Brooks · · Fresno, CA · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 461

IMHO -- Mt Shasta - Casaval Ridge is a much more enjoyable winter climb than Whitney.  Has more mountain climbing, less slogging than Whitney. Also the weather on Shasta can be crazy. 


Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 107

You're probably better off training on glaciated terrain that is more representative of what you'll see on Denali, such as what you might find in the PNW, BC, Canadian Rockies, and smaller Alaskan peaks.

Lauren Erickson-Viereck · · Bozeman, MT · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 0

That's really helpful, thanks guys! I guess I should clarify - I'd also like to train on a glaciated peak or two in the spring & summer of 2018, so this would specifically be trying to make the most of a winter objective.

amockalypsenow · · San Diego · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 330

Also curious about this generally. I enjoy playing around in the eastern sierras, and have climbed fishhook arete, winter route of lonepine, mr route in winter, the springbok and some other stuff up there. Also climbed vertical water ice. Not so much training for anything, just wanna have fun. What are some more challenging (in a technical mountaineering sense) alpine routes in the sierras?   

C Brooks · · Fresno, CA · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 461
amockalypsenow · · San Diego · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 330
C Brooks wrote:

No shortage of hard and cool stuff...These are all on the Western side

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/the-regular-route-castle-rock-spire/106501642

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/valkyrie/110785246

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/saber-ridge-traverse-south-to-north/108245066

Yesssss!!!!! Such sexy looking routes. Just goes to show you don't need to leave so cal to climb world class rock...

What's going to be sweet to do in winter though???

C Brooks · · Fresno, CA · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 461
Mitch R. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 0

I second the Casaval Ridge in winter suggestion, also second the Williamson suggestion. The Williamson climb is much more demanding climb than Casaval Ridge. 

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 9,691
Lauren Erickson-Viereck wrote:

considering a guided trip next winter up the mountaineer's route on Whitney.

Not sure how much you'd learn by going up + down the Mountaineers gully in winter. Hopefully it will be full of snow, and the face above will be well-covered with snow. Less steep if you traverse out W from the top of the gully before turning S or SE to the summit.

Need to be aware of avalanche hazard (and avoid it it's present significantly), but otherwise it's just a long slog up on snow (better with skis?). Not normally a "mixed" alpine route with ice and/or rock. In normal winter conditions, don't even have to do the rock scramble on the Escherbacher ledges for the approach up N Fork Lone Pine Creek.

Of course there's a need for acclimatization to altitude, but there are plenty of other Sierra routes which offer that.

Ken

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 107
C Brooks wrote:

No shortage of hard and cool stuff...These are all on the Western side

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/the-regular-route-castle-rock-spire/106501642

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/valkyrie/110785246

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/saber-ridge-traverse-south-to-north/108245066

Those routes all look really cool, but I am not sure how helpful they will be for somebody looking to climb Denali (presumably by the West Buttress?) with limited snow/ice/glacier experience.

Lauren Erickson-Viereck · · Bozeman, MT · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 0
Mitch R. wrote:

I second the Casaval Ridge in winter suggestion, also second the Williamson suggestion. The Williamson climb is much more demanding climb than Casaval Ridge. 

These both seem like really good directions for a butt-kicker of a winter alpine climb (which is what I'm after - gaining experience, not bagging a peak). I'm planning to make at least one & hopefully two trips to crevassed peaks (Rainier, Baker, or similar) in spring / summer 2018 when conditions are good for it - so next winter would focus on something physically demanding and somewhat technical. Has anyone done either or both of those and have thoughts on Casaval Ridge versus Williamson as an objective?

Tico · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 0

I wouldn't bother with Shasta unless finances dictate it.  I'd consider a quick trip to Ecuador, Bolivia or the c rockies.

C Brooks · · Fresno, CA · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 461

I would advise against the Canadian Rockies in winter for "training". 

PaulMagnusCalabro · · Belgrade, MT · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 0

Definitely spend some time on ice in Hyalite this winter. There's not really any "climbing" on the West Butt, but if you're comfortable moving on steep ice then moving up the fixed lines above 14k will be easy peasy (I assume you're gunning for the West Butt?). If you ski, I think ski mountaineering days (even just local stuff here around Bozeman) are great prep for moving confidently on steep snow, sometimes with exposure.

Crevassed glaciers here in the lower 48 are fine, but Alaska is so freaking big that it'll be a bit different. Example: the Carbon glacier on Rainier is the deepest glacier on the peak, at around 700' deep. The Ruth Glacier? It's 5,000' deep. If you're going to Denali on a guided team, you'll probably worry less about crevasses because the guides up there are generally really dialed into beta on the best route. But definitely hone those crevasse rescue skills. If nothing else, it'll put your mind at ease and keep extraneous gear off your harness.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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