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My dream is to be a mountaineer. Here is my basic roadmap to become one.


Original Post
North Col · · Toronto · Joined Jan 2018 · Points: 0

Guys, I live in Toronto Canada, where there isn't a mountain in sight for many many miles. But I love climbing and it is my dream to become an alpine mountaineer. And this is how I am planning to do it.

Quick backstory - I have about a year's indoor rock climbing experience in toprope climbing 5.11, ready to take the lead course at the gym. Plan to go ice climbing this next month for the first time. Yes I am green when it comes to experience in the field.  1000% serious about safety and respect the mountains for both their beauty but also there danger.

I think with a lot of preparation and research before taking any of the courses will help in understanding them and getting the most benefit out of the training. Things I am currently researching, and plan to take courses on/hire personal instruction for:

Toprope Anchor setups

Rappel

Building Climbing Anchors

Lead climbing

Multipitch Climbing

Ice Climbing each winter

Introduction to mountaineering Course

Few under 4000M summits for experience

Advanced Mountaineering Course

Take glacier travel and crevasse recue course

Take avalanche awareness course and receive certification

What else should I add to this long, expensive list? Do you do alpine climbing/glacier travel? How did you get into the field? Any tips for a beginner?

Lastly, what’s one piece of advice you have from your climbing career that you can pass on to a beginner that you think would be beneficial?

And guys I know this isn’t something that happens overnight, or even in a year or two. It has been my dream my whole life and I know that it takes a lot of training, experience and common sense to survive in the mountains. I am aware I am a beginner and hope you understand too, but I highly value your opinions, advice, and experiences that you guys share with me to make my journey a safer and more enjoyable one!

 

Thanks guys! 


North Col

Eric L · · Roseville, CA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 115

For some reason, Monty Python's "Lumberjack Song" just got stuck in my head.

Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 135

Start with anchors and leading.  Don't worry about the 5 year plan.

mediocre · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0

What are you going to do when you actually get into the mountains and realize you dont like being cold, wet, tired and hungry all the time?

Paul Hutton · · Kansas City, MO · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 740

Go out, climb, discover what NOT to do. 

Turner · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 267

Don't forget to go through the process of denial and error.

grog m · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 70

What is your definition of a mountaineer?

cragmantoo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 175
mediocre wrote:

What are you going to do when you actually get into the mountains and realize you dont like being cold, wet, tired and hungry all the time?

And dirty, smelly and sore. Wind and sun burned. Tired and sore from sleeping on the ground. 

I love mountaineering...

Nathan Doyle · · Sierra Foothills · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 26

Go out and buy as much gear as possible. Once you realize you don't actually want to be a mountaineer you can list all the brand new gear here in the for sale forum and this for a fraction of the price.

ETA

To be transparent, I'm kind guilty of this; buying gear I did not need. For example,  I have a ton of lockers King Tut says I need not. I'm pretty sure that was talked about in your other thread. 

Robert Rowsam · · Grand Junction, CO · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 90

I've noticed you Canadians love to take your classes. Met a gal who was convinced she couldn't venture into the mountains without taking a scrambling course. It doesn't require a degree to go climbing. Everything you need to know to get started is in freedom of the hills. 

Just go hike up some peaks that don't involve glacier travel. Pick a popular one and you don't need to worry about a partner. This will help you realize what kind of work goes into just the physical demands of gaining lots of elevation. Standard route of Temple would be good

Once you have a few easy peaks under your belt you'll meet more climbers and as long as your psyched and don't complain to much someone with more experience will take you under their wing.

polloloco · · Boston · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 255

You should have a strong backpacking/hiking background. That's something you can/should do before you take the mountaineering courses. Learn to love the alpine starts, the long days, being exhausted, and being hungry. You can do that without any training, and you should already be seeking those types of weekends because that's what you like. If that isn't enjoyable, then you're not going to enjoy mountaineering or alpine climbing. 

brianszero · · southampton, new jersey · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 5

start with just going out your door.

mediocre · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0
Robert Rowsam wrote

Just go hike up some peaks that don't involve glacier travel. Pick a popular one and you don't need to worry about a partner. 


Relying on total strangers that may or may not be there when shit hits the fan is the worst advice you can give. 

Robert Rowsam · · Grand Junction, CO · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 90
mediocre wrote:

Relying on total strangers that may or may not be there when shit hits the fan is the worst advice you can give. 

If you can't go for a hike by yourself than your pretty far from calling yourself a mountain climber. I'm not saying go solo lose ridges. What kind of shit is realistically going to hit the fan on a class 2 walk in the mountains with minimal bear risk? So long as you don't willfully put yourself in harm's way (weather), it's not much different than going to the park alone. If you roll your ankle and need help, someone will help, or carry a Spot.

I got started hiking the CO 14ers solo. Never felt unsafe, never got in serious trouble, got me psyched and enough cred to find people that wanted to do bigger shit with me

mediocre · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0
Robert Rowsam wrote:

If you can't go for a hike by yourself than your pretty far from calling yourself a mountain climber. I'm not saying go solo lose ridges. What kind of shit is realistically going to hit the fan on a class 2 walk in the mountains with minimal bear risk? So long as you don't willfully put yourself in harm's way (weather), it's not much different than going to the park alone. If you roll your ankle and need help, someone will help, or carry a Spot.

I got started hiking the CO 14ers solo. Never felt unsafe, never got in serious trouble, got me psyched and enough cred to find people that wanted to do bigger shit with me

I admit that I misread your original statement, but I still think that’s a slippery slope to go down for giving advice, especially with someone who sounds like he hasn’t been outdoors too much. I think more sound advice is to tell him to meet people. 

sourisse · · Toronto, CA · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 175
What else should I add to this long, expensive list? Do you do alpine climbing/glacier travel? How did you get into the field? Any tips for a beginner?

Lastly, what’s one piece of advice you have from your climbing career that you can pass on to a beginner that you think would be beneficial?

Hey buddy, fellow Canadian here. If you're like me and can't move to Canmore for another few years because of school, my advice is to find the silver lining of living in the GTA and work on what you can while you're here. Some ideas:

• Learn to lead at any old gym ASAP, and practice, practice, practice before the outdoor season begins around April. If you're always at the gym, you'll notice who else is always at the gym and get a sense of who's serious and not just in it for the selfies. If you're not a total hoser, you'll make friends and find someone willing to take you outside. In fact, if you learn how to lead, PM me and I'll climb with you at the gym. If things go well and you're up for a bit of suffering, I might be able to take you outside this summer and show you the ropes.

• The climbing in Ontario is mostly polished limestone, which is good for learning how to use your feet precisely. Start with sport stuff at a beginner-friendly place like Mt. Nemo. Make sure that when you start going to other crags, you're aware of the sensitive access issues at many of them and are more Canadian than usual. You're also pretty close to some world-class sport in Kentucky, West Virginia, and New Hampshire.

• If you eventually get into leading on gear here, take your time and don't rush. It's all aboot patience. The pro is tricky to read and the rock is slippery, but if you don't hurt yourself, you'll be ready for placements pretty much anywhere else.

• There's big stuff in Quebec, if that eventually becomes your thing. There's sport multipitch in Mexico, too, which might be a nice way to learn the techniques associated with that separately from serious anchorbuilding.

As for actual mountains, bad weather, serious ice, and the other stuff for alpinism, by all means read about how to deal with it now, but focus on what you can train at the moment.

Martin le Roux · · Superior, CO · Joined Jul 2003 · Points: 279

As others have said, get out as much as you can. Toronto's a long way from the "real" mountains, but ice-climbing in central Ontario and the Adirondacks can be good training for mountaineering, especially if you pick routes with longer approaches.

For climbing glaciated mountains in the Canadian Rockies, look into trips organized by the Alpine Club of Canada (both the national club and regional sections). Their trips are led by professional guides and they often offer instruction for beginners.

One of the challenges of living in a place like Toronto is that most of the climbing instruction available locally is geared to one-pitch climbs, with a heavy focus on safety and not so much on moving efficiently on long routes. I lived there for a few years and many of the climbers that I met there were surprised by how much they had to un-learn about ropes and protection when mountaineering in the Rockies. Safety in the mountains often comes from moving rapidly, not from placing bomb-proof protection every foot of the way.

TBlom · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2004 · Points: 360

When I found out that winter camping basically meant being damp, cold, and hungry, it kind of lost its appeal!  Also... ice climbing is like doing demo work, be prepared to take lots of ice to the face.  Take a basic backpacking course, it is the one thing missing from your list. i.e. it doesn't matter how good you are at climbing if you don't know how to build a good/safe camp, deal with living outdoors, and wipe with a snowball.

frank minunni · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined May 2011 · Points: 92
mediocre wrote:

I admit that I misread your original statement, but I still think that’s a slippery slope to go down for giving advice, especially with someone who sounds like he hasn’t been outdoors too much. I think more sound advice is to tell him to meet people. 

Aw fuck it.  Just roll the dice and see what happens.  We'll all be dead soon enough.

cdawg lion · · BeaUTAHfull · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 71

buy food and beer for someone who is a better climber/mountaineer/alpinist than you and follow them for a long time.

FosterK · · Edmonton, AB · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 43
Martin le Roux wrote:

For climbing glaciated mountains in the Canadian Rockies, look into trips organized by the Alpine Club of Canada (both the national club and regional sections). Their trips are led by professional guides and they often offer instruction for beginners.

This is incorrect at the regional section level, and is also not entirely true at the National level either. Most often ACC trips are lead by a competent volunteer coordinator or trip leader, and even National organized activities like the GMC can have one or more amateur leaders to support the guides. If a guide is employed at a regional level they are most often teach a course (for a fee), or less likely, trying to gain hours to support passing their exams (most often occurs in the Jasper/Hinton and Rocky Sections).

That said, organized instruction through clubs can be a safe, and inexpensive way to gain skills and meet new partners.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Beginning Climbers
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