To all who have posted thus far: first of all, thank you. Every single post has been very helpful. I wanted to address several points:
nyker wrote:Hey MT,
The Gunks in New Paltz can be a nice daytrip for you from Philly to get into some solid rock climbing and learn rope use and get used to some techniques, exposure, etc.
There are a few guides that work in the area, a Google search will get you a few.
-The gunks sound like a good idea. The drive is 190 miles, google tells me that's 3.5 hours...but, as I see I'd need to drive directly past Manhattan, that seems rather optimistic. Still, worth a shot. The PRG (Philadelphia Rock Gym) recommended a place near Landsdale which is much closer to Philadelphia, but I have yet to investigate. Unfortunately it sounds a lot more like a place to learn top ropes (etc) than anything else. This brings me to my next point:
Garrett wrote:Dragging a rope up class 3/4 terrain does not necessarily make it safer and in some situations will make it more dangerous, for example rock fall and significantly slower speed. I don't think people typically rope up for any of the routes you are talking about doing and it may be better to focus more on physical training and conditioning rather than technical work. Good luck
This is basically my sentiment. First of all, I don't WANT to use a ROPE on Pyramid or the traverse. I've climbed in the Elks before (to the ridge on Maroon before turning around due to Wx, and Castle peak). The rock is absolutely terrible, and I wouldn't particularly trust my life to any sort of anchor I placed in that rock. Perhaps if I had ten years of technical climbing experience I'd know enough to effectively place protection in a dangerous situation like this, however, at this point, I feel it would be more dangerous than helpful. Plus, it's added weight if I'm not using it. The counter argument to this is, if I don't know how to use it, and it turns out I need it when I'm up on the peak...I would be in trouble rather quickly.
I have heard people roping up for pyramid before, or at least carrying it, so I don't know if its something I should be able to do. By no means is this something like the bells traverse, where I'm fairly sure lack of rope would mean death, however, it sure is a long way down if I were to mis-step! Next:
Dancesatmoonrise wrote:The biggest gains to be had from learning technical rock climbing come from the skills, and resulting confidence, to handle 4th class routes.
Do keep in mind that many 4th class routes are loose. Outdoor climbing education, in my personal opinion, is far more helpful, if you can get it. In addition to gaining technique, you'll learn to recognize rock. The more you climb, the better you'll get at spotting good vs. bad rock. This skill alone could be life-saving.
Several posters mentioned the Gunks, near your area. I'm ignorant of the local geography, but if the Gunks are close enough to you, find a partner on Mountain Project and get started. You'll find you're much more comfortable on class 3 and 4 terrain after some outdoor class 5 experience.
Good luck, and enjoy!
Ah. Probably the single most used quote I've heard, "the best training for climbing, is climbing". Also probably the most true. The first peak I climb every year tends to be very difficult, even though its the easiest by technicality. The third peak I do is easiest, even though it's always the most difficult peak I attempt. Outdoor climbing education is difficult when I'm at school, although I will look into it for this upcoming year. The gunk's are relatively far away, but I will continue to investigate it as it sounds like a good idea. Okay, finally:
You can learn climbing quickly, cheaply, and safely but generally only two adjectives at a time. If you are not mechanically inept and are able to teach yourself new things without intense supervision, it need not be expensive to learn. You can get essentially everything you need for around $1K, or a fraction of that if you have equipment you can borrow. If you're willing to shell out a few hundred dollars for a weekend semi-private lesson with a AMGA guide you can learn enough to safely continue learning on your own at whatever pace you want.
That being said, technical climbing may not accomplish what you have in mind. Ropes will not save you from loose class 4 peaks where the greatest danger is rockfall, and in fact can make it substantially worse. Falling is generally a bad idea on anything under 5.7-5.8 due to the high chance to hit something on the way down, so it also won't help you unless you have a stronger climber to belay you from above. There might be a handful of extremely short sections where you could rope up on a standard route, but by the time you have all of the requisite skills to do it safely you won't need to rope anymore.
So, the short answer is that learning to climb isn't really worthwhile for the 14ers, but it's totally worthwhile if you have greater ambitions in mind.
This addresses several points.
(1) That sounds reasonable on cost, and what I was looking for. I called the PRG about a day of private instruction with their lead guide ($125/person). I hoped that 12 hours would sufficiently teach me what I wanted to know and I could learn the rest on my own. But, he responded with quotes on "several classes", with a course on top ropes, various certifications, different belay courses, many weekends of instruction (etc). Okay, so, that's great and all, but I'm not trying to climb Denali, right now. I'm trying to climb Pyramid and do the traverse on El diente. What the guy suggested was (A) REALLY expensive (several grand), (B) VERY time consuming, (C) Overkill. I was willing to buy rope & the gear I needed, but the offer wasn't reasonable.
(2) My main reason for learning to rope climb is as a safety measure. Falling is always a bad idea. In later years I'd like to attempt more technical climbing, but for the purposes of climbing over the next couple years, it's to prevent injury. I'm not sure what you mean by the "requisite skills to do it safely" comment. Do you mean by the time I have enough experience to use rope on that sort of section, I wouldn't need to do so? Or do you mean the sections are so short that you'd eliminate enough distance in setting everything up correctly that by the time you were ready to use it, it wouldn't be necessary?
(3) For the purposes of this discussion, rope is being brought up in relation to its usage for ascent of 14ers standard routes. In the future, I do have high ambitions. However, they will wait until I am at a better state of financial solvency & more experienced. At this point, my goal is the 14ers.
Brian C wrote:
Dave B wrote:...I would recommend learning a bit more about simul-climbing. This is an effective and efficient method for two experienced climbers to cover substantial technical terrain quickly...
Sorry Dave, but I disagree with this. Even in the hands of experienced climbers, simul-climbing puts you at the mercy of the other climber, when if soloing you'd be only at the mercy of yourself. I do agree that it allows you to move between sections of terrain that a belay is needed for the climbers ability level (alot of climbers simul-climb up to 5.6-7) without having to coil the rope, but it does not add safety. If you're using a rope, do not do so without being able to recognize and use SOLID anchors.
Garrett wrote:Dragging a rope up class 3/4 terrain does not necessarily make it safer and in some situations will make it more dangerous, for example rock fall and significantly slower speed...
I completely agree. Several years ago I saw some climbers being "guided" up Pyramid. The amount of rope-caused rock fall was absurd, and the amount of extra danger it put all of the other climbers on the mountain in was ridiculous.
You have been alot of good advise and I think if you work toward a goal in a methodical way, you'll be able to achieve it! I'd say the biggest thing is to not get in a rush and to not push the comfort levels of people you're with. Climb with experienced people (mountainproject
is filled with people who will help beginners), take classes, and get out in the hills. The more stuff you do (especially if you work up gradually in difficulty) the more comfy you will be.
Have fun and be safe!
Okay so the reason I wanted to address BC is his specific mention of rope on Pyramid, as that's what I'm trying to figure out. Rope sounds like a bad choice. I will check out mountainproject, in addition to adding a new post to climbing connection sometime in the next couple weeks. My current climbing partner (mom) is adamant that she won't do a class four without rope. I can handle exposure, and I was fine on Crestone Needle & Wetterhorn, they were a lot of fun. However, Pyramid doesn't have a reputation for being easy.
BC--I will be out August 3rd-18th. I climb 14ers every summer & visit my grandmother, who relives her experiences climbing them when we visit. I'll send you a PM. Thanks!
Forbin--I just saw your post, I'll send you a PM too. Very relatable haha.