Mountain Project Logo

New and Experienced Climbers over 50 #7


rob bauer · · Golden, CO · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 3,390

Russ, somebody is bringing your average down: 2 of us today (8 pitches) = 137 years, 79 years climbing.

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 526
rob bauer wrote: Russ, somebody is bringing your average down: 2 of us today (8 pitches) = 137 years, 79 years climbing.

Well, there's "annuated," and then there's "SUPERannuated."     

https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/116615342/new-and-experienced-climbers-over-50-6?page=43#ForumMessage-117012456

 

(If this is a "contest" it is a really bad thing to be "winning" at...)

Carl Schneider · · Adelaide, South Australia · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0
Jeffrey Constine wrote:
Sorry Carl, get better quick!
Was a nice day doing new routes today.

Thanks Jeff :-)

dragons · · MWV, NH · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 692
Lori Milas wrote: I think I owe dragons the thanks for this, also.  I had an old tripod... bought a $19 fitting, and it's easy to set up with an iphone.  This has changed everything for me.  I could never have guessed how different a climb looks from how it feels.
You are very welcome, Lori! I don't think it's vain, although perhaps others do. I am sure that watching footage of myself and others climb, and getting feedback on that footage, has resulted in improvements in my technique. Whatever works.
Mark Orsag · · Omaha, NE · Joined May 2013 · Points: 815

Off to the Black Hills tomorrow for 10 days! Can’t wait to get on the rock. Goal this year is to send 11 not 11- like last year but full 11. They don’t do letters up there...

Lori Milas · · Rocklin, Ca · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 175
Carl Schneider wrote: Haven't been here for a while because I'm depressed because I'm broken (bursitis in both shoulders, three tendons with tendinosis on one shoulder, one with tendinosis in the other, haven't been able to climb for three weeks now...
ANYway, decided on a new quite to write on my climbing helm now I'm destined for trad climbing rather than bouldering or even maybe sports. Quote is:

“Smile, breathe and go slowly.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

Gosh darn, Carl!  Maybe you should leave your phone number with someone here.  With your propensity for hurting yourself one can only think the worst.  

Also... it's been awhile since you wrote a poem with the word 'fuck' in it.  Try that.  You'll feel better.    
Lori Milas · · Rocklin, Ca · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 175

I'm kind of baffled at how I can break through some emotional climbing barriers.  I don't like being afraid, and I don't like running from fear.  But in climbing, panic isn't a good thing--if I can't hold it together, then it's probably not a good idea to forge ahead.    

When it comes to getting too far off the ground, or where I am not able to find a walk off or an easy belay down, I get nervous.  The same with long hikes in to wherever I'm going.  Now it's getting to be a fixed fear, without a lot of rational basis.  We have some easy routes in Truckee, 3 pitches, should be a piece of cake.  So far, I've avoided these. 

Maybe this is the real downside of not making that transition to leading (much).  As long as others are building anchors, setting up ropes, and generally taking care of me when I climb, I feel kind of helpless.  I'm not entirely sure what's going on after the first pitch.  I don't know what I'd do if I, or my partner(s) got into an emergency situation.  I really don't know how to get down, if it was necessary. 

It's an odd thing, in a place like Josh, to be intentionally out of cell phone reach.  I think even I like it that way... but watching someone free climb a dangerous route, I'm always wondering "Do I remember CPR? Could I help this guy if he fell?"  

Donner and Lovers Leap are predominantly multi-pitch routes.  I feel entirely out of my element--and I don't think it's just tucking an extra sandwich into a fanny pack.  Chris has said "Lori, you're just going to have to trust me."  Who wouldn't?  But I have to learn my own psychology, I guess... and figure out what it's going to take for me to feel more confident.  I think it's going to be doing it myself, learning more, being a more skilled partner.  Time to set my own anchors, set up my own rappels, feel stronger in my own decisions... and maybe take a Wilderness CPR class.  Kinda bummed this morning....     I'm not usually a runner.  

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 526
Lori Milas wrote: I'm kind of baffled at how I can break through some emotional climbing barriers.  I don't like being afraid, and I don't like running from fear.  But in climbing, panic isn't a good thing--if I can't hold it together, then it's probably not a good idea to forge ahead.    

When it comes to getting too far off the ground, or where I am not able to find a walk off or an easy belay down, I get nervous.  The same with long hikes in to wherever I'm going.  Now it's getting to be a fixed fear, without a lot of rational basis.  We have some easy routes in Truckee, 3 pitches, should be a piece of cake.  So far, I've avoided these.

Maybe this is the real downside of not making that transition to leading (much).  As long as others are building anchors, setting up ropes, and generally taking care of me when I climb, I feel kind of helpless.  I'm not entirely sure what's going on after the first pitch.  I don't know what I'd do if I, or my partner(s) got into an emergency situation.  I really don't know how to get down, if it was necessary.
 
It's an odd thing, in a place like Josh, to be intentionally out of cell phone reach.  I think even I like it that way... but watching someone free climb a dangerous route, I'm always wondering "Do I remember CPR? Could I help this guy if he fell?"  

Donner and Lovers Leap are predominantly multi-pitch routes.  I feel entirely out of my element--and I don't think it's just tucking an extra sandwich into a fanny pack.  Chris has said "Lori, you're just going to have to trust me."  Who wouldn't?  But I have to learn my own psychology, I guess... and figure out what it's going to take for me to feel more confident.  I think it's going to be doing it myself, learning more, being a more skilled partner.  Time to set my own anchors, set up my own rappels, feel stronger in my own decisions... and maybe take a Wilderness CPR class.  Kinda bummed this morning....     I'm not usually a runner.  

Totally sensible concerns reflecting the wisdom of age.  Many of us barged into situations way over our head without a care in the world when we we young, and I've seen countless examples since.  That said, there is a certain amount of fear associated with trad climbing and the point is not to get rid of the fear but rather to perform competently in the face of it.

A problem for you is that self-rescue has exploded into a bloated topic that could take up all your time for the next several years---and with limited payoff potential for all the effort at that.  This may sound a bit cold-hearted, but the first thing you should learn is how to save your own ass.  This isn't quite as self-centered as it sounds initially, since the most productive thing you'll be able to do in many emergency situations is to go for help.  This means that you want to learn how to set up and carry out multipitch rappels all by yourself---that's job one.  

Job two is being able to descend with an injured partner by setting up and carrying out tandem rappels.  Once you're ok setting up and retrieving ordinary rappels, the tandem rappel is just an extra detail.  Talk to a guide/mentor about spending some time on these two jobs.

After these things comes a never-ending series of techniques for scenarios in which success becomes less and less likely.  I think the value in learning some of that stuff is that you acquire a bag of tricks that you can, with presence of mind, deploy in a host of ways never anticipated by the original scenarios.  Belay escape tactics and Munter Mule technology are important occupants of that bag.

By far the least effective techniques (for rock climbing) are the ones involving hauling someone up any distance.  The reality is that improvised hauling is probably not going to be practical a majority of the time.  Put it on a back burner and learn about it, maybe in a course in a gym, when the weather is bad.

One other point.  BITD when aid clmbing was on an almost equal footing with free climbing, beginners learned both together.  That has changed and many people develop a high level of free-climbing prowess but have no experience with aid climbing at all.  In the present context, I'm speaking of improvised aid, something you do to get out of a jam smoothly, efficiently, and without exhausting yourself,  using the gear you have,  without having brought all the accouterments of the big-wall climber.  This is a leading and following skill that can make a big difference when things turn gnarly.
Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 974

Lori? It all ​comes down to trust, one way or the other. That's the head game. Trust your feet, or trust that out if sight and hearing guy belaying you as a follower. Trust the crowd sourced advice for ice climbing clothes....

I would simply add, don't second guess and worry, at the time. Do your fussing ahead. Think through the scenarios, toss out the really unlikely ones. Then decide if the remaining risks are acceptable.

Part two, be with people you entirely trust, for that multi pitch, ice climb, whatever. Some of the people on our little thread are on my list of those I would obey without understanding, if it came to it. That said, even a climber with the astonishing level of experience such as rgold, should not object to you speaking up if you truly don't "get it" and it's a YGD thing. You should always say something, if it seems off. Maybe that's the day Lynn Hill gets distracted....

I may never climb the grades you are climbing, or learn some of the things you've already learned. You, may never ice climb. But we all have in common the pursuit of this thing we love, and I think it is safe to say that all of us on this thread still have passion.....and wonderment.

Off to work! It's so strange. Each time I go out to my stops now? It's the last time. Surreal!

Best, Helen

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 974

And what rgold said. As always. Plus? I will personally testify that my extremely limited self rescue knowledge, my beloved prussik ascenders, changed my thinking. I know ​I can get up (or down) a rope, in the worst case.  Now, adding a bit of gear in, to aid the way Rich means, clearly needs to be next.

I haven't learned a tandem rap, but, I saw a client and guide working that at City last year. It was surprisingly easy.

Plus? Some of this stuff is just fun. It's also fun knowing that you gave skills, as a beginner, that some never even try.

Lori, in your case? The burden you have, is ​that extra sandwich and hydration, whatever else you need. It's a critical safety issue for you to be prepared to manage your diabetes, and something the partner needs to understand also. That understanding isn't a burden, it is the respect for your partner that you should be looking for, on anything more than just swapping belays at a gym or easy single pitch cragging.

Best, H. Really truly off to work this time, lol!

cassondra l · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2008 · Points: 310
Lori Milas wrote: I'm kind of baffled at how I can break through some emotional climbing barriers.  I don't like being afraid, and I don't like running from fear.  But in climbing, panic isn't a good thing--if I can't hold it together, then it's probably not a good idea to forge ahead.    

When it comes to getting too far off the ground, or where I am not able to find a walk off or an easy belay down, I get nervous.  The same with long hikes in to wherever I'm going.  Now it's getting to be a fixed fear, without a lot of rational basis.  We have some easy routes in Truckee, 3 pitches, should be a piece of cake.  So far, I've avoided these.

Maybe this is the real downside of not making that transition to leading (much).  As long as others are building anchors, setting up ropes, and generally taking care of me when I climb, I feel kind of helpless.  I'm not entirely sure what's going on after the first pitch.  I don't know what I'd do if I, or my partner(s) got into an emergency situation.  I really don't know how to get down, if it was necessary.

It's an odd thing, in a place like Josh, to be intentionally out of cell phone reach.  I think even I like it that way... but watching someone free climb a dangerous route, I'm always wondering "Do I remember CPR? Could I help this guy if he fell?"  

Donner and Lovers Leap are predominantly multi-pitch routes.  I feel entirely out of my element--and I don't think it's just tucking an extra sandwich into a fanny pack.  Chris has said "Lori, you're just going to have to trust me."  Who wouldn't?  But I have to learn my own psychology, I guess... and figure out what it's going to take for me to feel more confident.  I think it's going to be doing it myself, learning more, being a more skilled partner.  Time to set my own anchors, set up my own rappels, feel stronger in my own decisions... and maybe take a Wilderness CPR class.  Kinda bummed this morning....     I'm not usually a runner.  

Since you appear to able to hire a guide, perhaps you could hire one of the guide services that are permitted to operate in Joshua Tree, or wherever it is most convenient for you. A full day of instruction would likely cover many of these skills you have mentioned. I know for sure that if you went with American Alpine Institute, (since I acquired many of those skills from those nice people,)you could get those skills covered. Not to just give AAI a plug, I’m sure most guide services would help you with those skills, just pick the one that seems most likely to give you what you are paying them for. After learning the basics, it will be easier to supplement and add to what you know by reading and internet and climbing with different partners, because you will have a foundation to build on. Practicing building anchors on the ground, cleaning anchors and rappelling off the side of my bunk bed helped me a lot, but I had to know how to do it first. 

Dallas R · · Traveling the USA · Joined May 2013 · Points: 181
rgold wrote:

A problem for you is that self-rescue has exploded into a bloated topic that could take up all your time for the next several years---and with limited payoff potential for all the effort at that.  This may sound a bit cold-hearted, but the first thing you should learn is how to save your own ass. 

I tend to forget that there are people in the world who have never been in the wilderness, hours away from help or support of other human beings and the society that provides essentials like food and health care.  It kind of changes your perspective on a lot of levels.  My grandfather, a dry dirt farmer in Kansas, used to play "What would you do if" game with me.  I was around 5 when he started that. But he was a roving hand before he settled down to farming so had spent a lot of time in the saddle sleeping outdoors on other peoples ranches and farms.  I think those were my first lessons in self rescue, about 56 years ago.  Lori, that's a lot of catching up to do. 

Rgold's comment about saving yourself is, of course, right on the money.  During my Rescue Diver training the instructor pointed out that there is a very thin line between rescuer and victim, that the first rule of any rescue is to keep yourself safe first, then rescue. 

I love my little kitten, she just loves to climb. It didn't take her long after we first started climbing to climb herself into a pickle.  She couldn't go up, she couldn't go down, and she was afraid. Not a single fireman around when I needed one. Ok, there was nobody around, we were by ourselves about an hour from the nearest other humans.  I finally got up to her and figured out we could jam a rock in and wrap some cordelette around it and set up a really sketch rap/down climb. The next day I got my first self rescue book.  Don't get me wrong "Freedom of the Hills" had a lot of good stuff in it, I spent a lot of time with that book.  It took a positive look at things, "this is how we go do", the self rescue book had lots of the same stuff, but from a negative point of view, "this has happened and this is how we fix it", perspective. 

Reading back through this I probably scared the crap out of you, not my intention.  Awareness of a potential problem is the first step in self rescue, which is kind of overstating things, it's not so much self rescue as it is just keeping yourself comfortable. Second step is don't panic.  That feeling when you really have to run away or fight, big adrenaline push.  Just stop, do nothing for a minute or so. Wait for your brain to start working again.

Rgold mentioned bloating the subject, I spent many years learning what I know, but I didn't rush into it, I kind of chipped at it.  Some courses when time and money allowed, some thinking on the subject sitting by the fire, some playing "What would you do if" games.  Lots of listening to other folks. So do continue to think on the subject some, study it some. Look at things with an eye for potential problems, think about the solutions. You have defensive driving, you can also have defensive living, defensive climbing, Awareness maintained....
Lori Milas · · Rocklin, Ca · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 175
rgold wrote:


  This may sound a bit cold-hearted, but the first thing you should learn is how to save your own ass.  This isn't quite as self-centered as it sounds initially, since the most productive thing you'll be able to do in many emergency situations is to go for help.  This means that you want to learn how to set up and carry out multipitch rappels all by yourself---that's job one.  

Job two is being able to descend with an injured partner by setting up and carrying out tandem rappels.  Once you're ok setting up and retrieving ordinary rappels, the tandem rappel is just an extra detail.  Talk to a guide/mentor about spending some time on these two jobs.

After these things comes a never-ending series of techniques for scenarios in which success becomes less and less likely.  I think the value in learning some of that stuff is that you acquire a bag of tricks that you can, with presence of mind, deploy in a host of ways never anticipated by the original scenarios.  Belay escape tactics and Munter Mule technology are important occupants of that bag.

rgold... I was secretly hoping you would step forward as you do and offer some wisdom.  Thank you so much.  (and also, Helen and Cassandra)  

Taking a class on the ground is one thing.  Using it is another.  I have built anchors, tied knots etc... placed gear, and certainly had guides teach me whatever I ask.  Three months later, I haven't actually used it, and it's all Greek again.  Stephen and I scrambled to a spot on a rock formation Atlantis, I built a great anchor, rappelled off, and climbed it. That was in February... that one experience is pretty much forgotten.    

 I am so glad I wrote about this this morning because rgold... perhaps you've given me a path... letting go of some of the fun top roping stuff for awhile, and doing the work of learning to take care of myself.  I've been an adolescent out there on the rock so far... romping around, playing on harder and harder routes, just digging the experiences of learning technique in footwork.  I got so immersed in slab and chimney climbing last trip to Josh, I couldn't take the time to get serious with anchors and rappels.  There was always one more thing to climb.  (And how would I ever have set up Loose Lady on my own???)

So, new rule... I'll get busy with anchors and rappels this summer.  Will likely be back at Donner this Sunday, and will bring my ropes and gear with me.  Also, our local quarry is purrrfect for all of this... every kind of boulder, tree, crack for establishing anchors and doing short rappels.  I'd like to do this until it just becomes second nature.  Maybe by Fall... when I'm back at Josh, i can sling a rope and rack over my shoulder and start to feel competent, just like the big kids.

My talks with Pat, Paul Ross, rgold-you... Jeffrey, I'm sure, make me jealous.  How cool would it be to have learned trad by just immersing, daily, climbing along with friends, letting it all unfold.  This isn't a weekend warrior kind of sport.  
Lori Milas · · Rocklin, Ca · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 175
Dallas R wrote:

 Lori, that's a lot of catching up to do. 

Rgold's comment about saving yourself is, of course, right on the money.  


Dallas... THANK YOU.  I keep joking about having just a couple of years to learn what has taken everyone else a lifetime.  Is this (lack of trad skills) also a chic thing?  Is it an age thing, too?  You brought your skills to this, Dallas... does Barb climb and you rescue?  I know there are women who trad climb... but they seem also to be a select and special breed.   

This is a genuinely wonderful community (the climbing community in general).  Everyone wants to help.  Maybe I will have to assert myself more, to make sure I am learning the important skills... because protectors like Gaines and the rest would handle all of this forever.  Meanwhile, I am feeling anxious and reluctant because I realize more and more what I don't know and can't do to help myself.  

How will I ever hang off a portaledge with Jeffrey if I can't set up my own rappel?     Or dangle upside down in a bat hang, if I don't have an exit plan? 

Remember all last summer the talks on navigation and compass reading--which you were so helpful with, Dallas?  Same principle... I haven't used it yet.  Most of you guys have been doing some form of outdoor navigation, rescue, self-sufficiency from childhood.  

I just want to live through these experiences... have all the fun possible.   
SeƱor Arroz · · LA, CA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10
Lori Milas wrote:


Taking a class on the ground is one thing.  Using it is another.  I have built anchors, tied knots etc... placed gear, and certainly had guides teach me whatever I ask.  Three months later, I haven't actually used it, and it's all Greek again.  Stephen and I scrambled to a spot on a rock formation Atlantis, I built a great anchor, rappelled off, and climbed it. That was in February... that one experience is pretty much forgotten.    

Here's the thing, Lori, it's NOT forgotten. I'm going to go out on a limb here because I know there's a lot of mutual respect and affection between us: What is going on is you are growing extremely fast as a person and there's an unconscious side of you that is shouting out a bunch of "can'ts" and "dont's" and "other people are better at this..." at you. First, other people don't know NEARLY as much as you give them credit for. Second, you know WAY more than you give yourself credit for. Third, ultimately, dealing with emergencies in the field comes down to smart critical thinking and improvisation. Like Rich said above, you don't need a bunch of complicated techniques and a hundred different knots and pully systems. You need to know basic first aid like how to stop someone's bleeding. How to build anchors and rappel off of a route, leaving gear behind. How to call for help. You don't need to be a one-woman search and rescue team or a high-altitude Alpine doctor.

I don't know if you ever bought that Garmin satellite communicator but if you're worried about rescue out of cell range I think the minimum $12 per month plan for the Inreach is a screaming bargain. Just to let you relax and know that it's there. Pre-program a message that says "Type 1 Diabetic in medical distress." Then all you have to do is literally hit one button and medical help will start rolling your direction pretty fast. 

cassondra l · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2008 · Points: 310

You are right ,Lori. If you don’t go and use the info, it disappears. That’s why I practiced rappelling and anchor cleaning at home, after building a station on the side of the bunk bed. I repeatedly stood on the side rail after climbing up to my simulated anchor (slings and biners on the upper rail,) cleaned the anchor, set up my rappel, then rapped off the rail, out the bedroom door and down the hallway. I kept doing this until I could complete all the process without mistakes each time. You can seriously do things to build skills even at home, if you want those skills badly enough. 

Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 311

Lori.... what you are thinking- your concerns- are completely valid and shows that you are smart.

In 47 action packed seasons of climbing I have never come close to needing to ditch a partner and go for help. Most common will be the need to “Take over the leadership role” mostly leading the retreat. It’s not that difficult and once you grasp what procedures and skills are required I think you will do just fine.
Rich’s wonderful writing conveys my thoughts exactly-( I have regrets at not working those English writing classes to their maximum )...
the only thing I will add is this- you can scare the crap out of yourself, being scared it’s a natural thing for humans when looking at the ground- a ways down below- we are outside our natural element. Humans are tool users, the tools we use allow us to manage the risks. A friend once commented on climbing like this- “we are rock astronauts we go to another world and then return home- a tremendous journey...”

Keep up the hands on classes- you are making big improvements- when you are ready to lead you will know it.

phylp · · Upland · Joined May 2015 · Points: 612
Lori Milas wrote: I've been having a little conversation with Pat Ament...  saw this meme... I've appreciated his words of safety to me.  However, if this is the definition of skill-level... then I don't have one.   

Well, LOL, that's a cute meme, but what's more important is being self-aware of your strengths and your limitations so that you can communicate about that with new partners.  My on-sight ability is different between sport and gear routes.  It is different between low-angle/vertical/techical and overhanging jugs.  It's different between off-width and thin hands or fingers.  I have limitations with very long steep approaches and the time it takes me to do them and the time it takes a fit young partner to do them.  I can't climb more than 2-3 days in a row, so I'm not a good road trip partner for a fitter person who wants to climb 5-7 days in a row.  All this makes me a great partner for some people and some trips and not a great partner for other people and other trips.

That is the advice I'd give to beginners trying to get out with new partners - be honest about what you think you can and cannot do.
cassondra l · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2008 · Points: 310
Lori Milas wrote:

“ I have built anchors, tied knots etc... placed gear, and certainly had guides teach me whatever I ask.  Three months later, I haven't actually used it, and it's all Greek again.  Stephen and I scrambled to a spot on a rock formation Atlantis, I built a great anchor, rappelled off, and climbed it. That was in February... that one experience is pretty much forgotten.”  


 When learning something new, it helps to ask questions, take your own notes and draw diagrams so you have a reference.  Helps to reinforce what you learned, and provide reminders to practice at home when possible. Practicing as soon as possible after the event helps it stick. 

dragons · · MWV, NH · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 692
Lori Milas wrote:

I know there are women who trad climb... but they seem also to be a select and special breed.

  Yup, we sure are lol! Rock on, ladies in the house!
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Southern California
Post a Reply to "New and Experienced Climbers over 50 #7"

Log In to Reply