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NOOB Introduction and Getting into Mountaineering Questions
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Nov 16, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Profile pic
Hey All,

So I'm a 27 year old mechanical engineer living in New Orleans, LA and wanting to get into mountaineering. I've got very limited experience with climbing...due to obvious geographic limitations, but something about getting into the mountains has always appealed to me. Basically, I get into the closest climbing gym on occasion and have been sport climbing in Northern Alabama once many years ago.

Ultimately I would like to be able to take 2-3 trips a year to climb, to get there, the best route seems to be taking a course next year.

Currently I've narrowed it down to two similar courses, I've got vacation time to use for this so I picked the long duration offerings from each company. The longer courses seem to give the best variety to set me up with a good climbing base to build from.

First, Alpine Ascents International--13 Day Cascades Mountaineering Course.
Second, American Alpine Institute--12 Day Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership 1 course.

Both of these courses seem very similar based on the itinerary, can anyone weigh in on any advantages of one over the other? Anyone with experience on one or both courses would be greatly appreciated as well! Finally, feel free to point me towards other schools, these two stood out with their long courses.

As far as dates, the Alpine ascents course is limited to August, whereas American Alpine spans the whole summer. Weather wise, which dates would be preferable for this course.

Are these courses overkill? Should I try out a summit climb to ensure I enjoy these activities? In my mind the long course seems the best bang for the buck based on information learned and amount of days you're paying for.
Chris "Jolly" Rogers
From New Orleans, LA
Joined Nov 16, 2015
5 points
Nov 16, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Hammer Block
I'm sure I will get all kinds of safety fascists to flame me for this. When I became interested in bagging peaks I just did it. I do have 20 years of climbing to fall back on though. If you are comfortable with exposure and can rock climb just get the gear you need and go. Start with some trade routes that have good beta and are easy to find. Or just go to Colorado, you can walk up most of those. Jeremy in Inyokern
From Inyokern
Joined Jul 10, 2012
80 points
Nov 16, 2015
Mountaineering involves more than rock climbing. Glacier travel, crevasse rescue, use of ice axes and crampons, assessing hazards, etc.

I think either of those courses will be what you are looking for, although there are shorter, five-day intro to mountaineering courses available.

I'd start with the course before a "summnit climb." Even if you don't like it, you will have learned some skills and had a (hopefully) great experience.

If you could afford a private course (as opposed to a group class), even just a five-day one, you might enjoy it more.
FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Joined Nov 19, 2009
284 points
Nov 16, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Bob on Cathedral Peak
Suggest you check out the courses offered by Yamnuska Mountain Adventures in Canmore, Alberta. And with the strength of the US$, quite affordable right now. Idaho Bob
From McCall, ID
Joined Apr 30, 2013
95 points
Nov 16, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Traitor Horn!
Step 1: Buy a copy of Freedom of the Hills and read the whole damn thing. Sam Fletcher
From San Diego
Joined Jun 11, 2014
51 points
Nov 16, 2015
PM'd you and +1 on Freedom of the Hills. Doug S
From W Pa
Joined Apr 14, 2012
45 points
Nov 16, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Profile pic
Sam Fletcher wrote:
Step 1: Buy a copy of Freedom of the Hills and read the whole damn thing.


It is in my amazon cart along with New Alpinism! Should be ordering soon!
Chris "Jolly" Rogers
From New Orleans, LA
Joined Nov 16, 2015
5 points
Nov 16, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: freshies
Sam Fletcher wrote:
Step 1: Buy a copy of Freedom of the Hills and read the whole damn thing.


x2
curt86iroc
From Golden, CO
Joined Dec 8, 2014
40 points
Nov 16, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Hammer Block
Step two: move out west! Jeremy in Inyokern
From Inyokern
Joined Jul 10, 2012
80 points
Nov 16, 2015
How much hiking do you do? And do you enjoy it? At least at the beginner levels, mountaineering arguably has much more in common with hiking than it does with rock climbing. Before you shell out for a course, you might want to try some hiking/ scrambling peaks and/or long multi-day hikes over rough terrain. If you don't like walking for >10 hours a day with a heavy pack on your back, you're not going to like mountaineering. David Baddeley
Joined Oct 28, 2014
27 points
Nov 16, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Hammer Block
FrankPS wrote:
Mountaineering involves more than rock climbing...

True but a beginner can find plenty of adventure without having to expose himself to most of those other dangers. Though my first peak did have a nasty 'shrund at the bottom and without my axe I would probably have fallen to the bottom...but I asked around and read a book that said I would need to have an axe so I brought an axe and took a few minutes to learn how to hold it and self-arrest. I got ahold of several different topos and route descriptions, asked folks that had been at altitude recently if water was flowing. Hiked with two other more experienced guys that were climbing a neighboring peak. Essentially I thought about it, made up my mind, read some, learned a bit, asked questions and then went for it. Three months and six peaks later I'm still alive. I'm in the minority in my opinion that if you want to do something do it. Don’t spend money on guides and classes. Learn the way people used to read books and do things. If I paid for expert instruction for all the things I do I'd never have enough money to do the things I do. I know my local mountain rescue guys (course instructors) and not to take anything away from them, I'm sure they could retrieve my corpse from any peak out there, but they are just regular guys with regular jobs. I would not expect a short course to make you proficient. A bit of study and experience will take you far. Flame on!
Jeremy in Inyokern
From Inyokern
Joined Jul 10, 2012
80 points
Nov 16, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Millennium Traverse, 5.10: Reimers' Ranch
Chris,

You have the right idea--take a class or hire a guide, and read a few books. It's very hard to find a partner from here who can travel at the same time as you and has adequate skills for the mountains. Also, coming from Louisiana, the altitude is probably going to knock you down a bit, so brace for that..

Good luck,


Nathan
Nathan Self
From Louisiana
Joined Mar 5, 2012
100 points
Nov 18, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Profile pic
David Baddeley wrote:
How much hiking do you do? And do you enjoy it? At least at the beginner levels, mountaineering arguably has much more in common with hiking than it does with rock climbing. Before you shell out for a course, you might want to try some hiking/ scrambling peaks and/or long multi-day hikes over rough terrain. If you don't like walking for >10 hours a day with a heavy pack on your back, you're not going to like mountaineering.



Hey oh! Just got allowed to post again due to my noob status.

I definitely enjoy hiking/backpacking which is why I think mountaineering is a great fit. Unfortunately the available hiking in the area isn't very representative of what I would expect to encounter in a "mountaineering" environment. Lots of flat trails through the woods essentially.

The other obvious issue living in Louisiana is the complete lack of altitude. This is a big unknown which I'll just have to wait and see on.

Keep the information coming everyone, I'm definitely trying to gather as much information as possible about these courses!
Chris "Jolly" Rogers
From New Orleans, LA
Joined Nov 16, 2015
5 points
Nov 18, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Summit of Liberty Bell
If you have the vacation and $$, some guided ice climbing this winter could also be a cool intro. Multi-pitch alpine/ice routes are also pretty cool and some of the skills overlap with mountaineering. SpencerB
Joined Dec 6, 2013
49 points
Nov 18, 2015
You'll get more done by hiring a guide for several days (even better if you can find aa partner), then doing some things on your own. These long courses tend to be a lot of "classroom" time, when you could be learning the same skills while sending something. Tico
Joined Feb 24, 2006
9 points
Nov 18, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Mt. Colden Summit
I took the amg/iwls 12 day mountaineering course in Alaska and it was great, the guides were awesome and we got after som pretty cool objectives. Didn't feel classroomy in the least. Ryan M Moore
Joined Oct 14, 2014
40 points
Nov 18, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Jefferson
Two cents:

Don't spend the money on a course until you have taken a trip or two. There are some spectacular mountains out there that don't require much skill but have huge rewards. If you like it, then you can drop the money and learn more.

Your biggest problem is finding a partner. It doesn't really mater how much education you get, you are still as strong a climber as your weakest partner. Unless of course you plan on starting as a great soloist.

My suggestion would be to grab a buddy, do some research, and fly out to Mount Shasta. You can't get into too much trouble there and will have an awesome experience. Another option is to fly out to Bend Oregon. Spend a week and climb Broken Top and the Three Sisters. They progressively get get more difficult and technical, starting with a trail hike up to some pretty sketchy stuff on the North Sis. Not to mention they are spectacular. Top it off with fun day at Smith Rock. All within an hour of Bend. Ahh Oregon.

Be safe
Tchau
Nick Turtura
Joined Feb 25, 2015
25 points


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