Climbing out west

4:09 p.m. on July 30, 2010 (EDT)
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Hi all -


New to this forum...

In the next couple of years I'm looking to join a guided climb on a 10,000+ footer out west. I'm thinking something like Hood or similar. Rainier is a bit out of my league right now, but I'm ultimately preparing for that, and than preparing for Mt Lobuche in the Himalaya.


Any suggestions that can help me with logistics? I will probably do the climb with a guide service, but don't know much more beyond that.


Anyone who has done this type of trip that can give me info about how they planned it, what worked smoothly, and what didn't work smoothly?


I'm traveling from about as far east as possible - I'm from Maine.

5:52 p.m. on July 30, 2010 (EDT)
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europe is farther east than that :)

hospital humor

6:30 p.m. on July 30, 2010 (EDT)
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why thank you lol.

7:32 p.m. on July 30, 2010 (EDT)
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sorry just had to say that, i know nothing a bout climbing except UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!

9:43 p.m. on July 30, 2010 (EDT)
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I'd recommend going up the Grand Teton with Exum Guides. It's a bit higher then you listed, at 13,770', but it's not a particularly hard climb and well worth the effort.

9:45 p.m. on July 30, 2010 (EDT)
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Oh, and run up and down Mt. Washington an few time for practice. :-)

1:18 p.m. on July 31, 2010 (EDT)
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Thanks Jim, I'll look into that. I climb exclusively in the Whites right now, so I'm sure I'll get Washington in at least once this winter :-)

11:23 p.m. on July 31, 2010 (EDT)
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I think actually I plan on starting with Mt Baker - seems more appealing to me after some research. Any advice?

5:21 a.m. on August 1, 2010 (EDT)
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How about ant hills in the back yard? :) Could always employ the ants as sherpa's.....

9:15 p.m. on August 22, 2010 (EDT)
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Are you looking for training in glacier and snow or just getting to some higher places?

Mt Hood is an excellent destination in February. The risk of loose rock pummeling is less and you have the mountain to yourself. They have some excellent clearing weather then as well. Lots of guides available for first timers, or those looking for some mountaineering experience but still with some air to breathe.

Colorado has many 14,000' peaks that can be day trips or extended into an overnight especially in the summer. Many are straight walk ups. When you consider that Leadville Co is already at 10,000' the surrounding 14'rs are not that more to go. The winters there are a bit brisk, however.

The Sierra have a few excellent hiking up 14,000 from 10,000' trail heads in the summer and February mountaineering is terrific. There is a guided trip (through REI) up Mt Whitney in Feb via the Mountaineers Route. A bit of a long slog in deep snow for the fit and experienced. Generally better behaved avalanche and a more mellow winter allows some nice ski ascents through the Sierra and trips too.

If you are looking for snow experience, Mt Rainier could be an excellent start. Take RMI's 3 day snow course (equipment, rescue, etc) and then do the summit with them. You get the training AND the almost big mountain experience. They could then suggest other mountains for you based upon your skills.

Best you be more than just a little fit. Here is what you can expect from any guide service even if you don't want to go there yet.

http://www.alpineascents.com/denali-train.asp

12:09 p.m. on August 25, 2010 (EDT)
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speacock, finally a legit answer, thank you.

Mt Hood sounds appealing after what you've mentioned so I'll look more into that.

I wouldn't want to take another training course on basics...while it is certainly good to practice them regularly, I have already paid for that type of course and wouldn't want to use more money on the same. I'm really just looking for an advanced training course that also summits. That said, I also don't want something more demanding than what a beginner can handle in terms of my skills and experience. I'm not looking to get in over my head yet, just wet my feet a little.

This winter my training grounds will be the white mountains of NH which is testing enough for fitness levels and can have some challenging areas to climb as well. It sounds like the altitude gains can be similar in the whites as what I could expect out west due to the high trail heads out west - 2-4K feet gains at any one go.

Thanks again!

Rick

3:14 p.m. on August 25, 2010 (EDT)
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Just noticed this thread.

How are you going to do Lobuche? Are you going with a guide service, Himex perhaps, or Everest View? Lobuche is a trekking peak, but still a serious undertaking.

You say you don't really want "another climbing course". However, if you really want to learn glacier travel and alpine mountaineering, I would suggest one of the following. They all teach intermediate to advanced glacier travel skills, use of crampons and ice ax, crevasse rescue (not simulated, but everyone takes a turn dangling in a deep crevasse and getting hauled out) and ice climbing. I would put the two AAIs at the top of the recommendations, since both guide the Himalaya.

American Alpine Institute (Bellingham, WA) has a good alpine climbing course, 4 or 5 days in length, on Mt Baker, with the culmination being a summit climb of Baker. It is relatively inexpensive (none of the good courses are cheap, of course) and pretty thorough in advanced techniques (they require some previous experience before the course, including snow camping). I have used them for some training in the past, in part because I knew a number of their guides personally.

The other AAI (Alpine Ascents International) in Seattle also has good alpine training courses. They use Baker and Rainier, and other peaks. Again, I know several of their guides and have climbed with some as partners.

You might do Rainier with RMI in one of their 3 or 4 day courses, where they do some basic training, then summit. However, these are pretty rushed, according to friends who have done those, and RMI has a reputation for "triage" - "sorry, but you are too slow/clumsy, so you have to turn back now". The pace, I am told (and have observed while on Rainier and a couple of their groups on Denali) is pretty fast, enough so that they get lots of "spinners" (people who have to get turned back before summiting). They do have longer courses that might allow more acclimatization (Rainier is MUCH higher than Washington, and significantly higher than Hood).

Hood, with the local guide service at Timberline Lodge, is a possibility, though I have no familiarity with their training courses. I do know people who have used their guides and reported a good pace, adjusted to the clients.

In your back yard, IME (North Conway) has good courses and really good instructors. But you don't have glaciers, which you will encounter on Lobuche. So you only get simulated crevasse rescue. You do get more brutal weather than most places (though the Cascades does get brutal storms, a good preparation for the Himalaya).

7:42 p.m. on August 25, 2010 (EDT)
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Bill -

Yes I agree that I would like ADVANCED training. I already know how to use crampons and an ice axe. I own all of this equipment as well, I'm self sufficient enough to go on trips myself (not alone, just with no guide), I just want more knowledge first before tackling bigger mountains. I have some rope and belay experience and knowledge, and some mixed terrain ice/snow slope climbing from the whites. I've done angles close to vertical in some areas, and about 30 degrees in others, all in the same push. I have a small amount of rock climbing skills and experience as well, mostly 5.6-5.9 pitches.

I agree that I will need glacial training and crevasse training - those are two areas I have no experience in. Alpine Ascents looks nice to me, and their Baker program seems pretty great. Timberline Lodge seemed okay for Hood too, but I like that you back the other companies with experience and knowing the guides.

Yes I plan on going through a well known guide company for Lobuche...which by the way is years in the distance, maybe 3-5, both for financial reasons and experience reasons. I would love to go with Himex - I know their reputation for safety is stellar, and the company is a legend that I'd love to be associated with on the trip.

Bill, since you have big mountain experience, I was curious what you thought of my current training circuit. I do some strength training, focusing on practical movements and doing exercises for legs, upper body, and core. I also have conditioning that consists of wearing a 40-60lb pack while doing stairs or a 15 degree angle treadmill. While wearing the pack I'll do about 70-100 flights of stairs with no rest, and on the treadmill I'll walk a fast pace, about 3-3.5 mph for around an hour. What else do you think I should do/leave out.

9:33 p.m. on August 25, 2010 (EDT)
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Take a look at this thread in the Climbing Forum.

The best training is to do the activity itself. I find climbing stairs, stair machines, and treadmills really boring. I guess it's ok if you live in downtown Manhattan or Chicago and have no access to real hills. I have lots of parks and open space preserves with literally hundreds of miles of hilly trails within a half hour of my house. So I have a circuit of about a dozen or so parks with loops (and some out and back) 5-20 mile hikes, 1000-3000 feet cumulative climbs. To avoid the downhill knee impact, I carry the weight by filling gallon jugs with water and emptying them at the top of the trail (sometimes on hot days like the past week, into the waiting tiny bottles of people who thought those bottles of "spring water" would suffice - if I charged for the refill at the price they paid, I suspect I could get rich quickly!). I mix in bike rides on the local rural roads, loops of 10-40 miles, climb of 800 ft or so cumulative, with the occasional day going up one of the roads used in the Amgen Tour of California bike race to add 2500-3000 ft of climb.

I don't know where you live, but my suggestion is to get outside to do the training. You will be outside when you climb any of the hills you mentioned. And do it through the winter - you will be in snow and on ice on the hills. In winter, do it on snowshoes or XC skis.

3:16 p.m. on August 26, 2010 (EDT)
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yes the gym can get boring real fast, but i live in the city 1/2 mile from the ocean and it is literally as flat and sea level as it can get. So i do the stairs and treadmill as a way to gain elevation during the normal week. I live about 2 hours from the white mountains of NH and go there as frequently as I can to do hiking and climbing. Just tomorrow I am going to do an overnight, and then on saturday doing 2 mountains, 1 at 4300 and the other at 4800.


I have no bike, but could certainly add on the boring stationary bike at the gym as well. Do you find that the bike is good for leg strength and conditioning? I've read that it's okay conditioning, but that spinal loading exercises are best the simulate the conditions as much as possible.

3:41 p.m. on August 28, 2010 (EDT)
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just got back from doing a 9 mile hike with a 50lb pack with close to 6,000 ft elevation change in the whites. summited mt pierce.

October 31, 2014
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