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Mountaineering Course or Rock Climbing Course

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Mountaineering Course or Rock Climbing Course

Postby msh1064 » Fri Mar 02, 2007 5:32 pm

I am thinking about taking a mountaineering course or a rock climbing course to learn more about rope management, belaying, setting anchors, etc. I am not really in need of some of the other training that most of the mountaineering courses offer (navigation, routefinding, etc.). I have done plenty of climbing but have never used a rope before. I am looking to get into some more technical climbing and I want to get proper training.

I guess my question here is this, are the techniques and skills needed for rock climbing comparable to the rope skills one would need on more difficult climbs (specifically, belaying, setting anchors, rapelling). I have found that I can take a rock climbing course for much less $$$, but I want to be able to use those skills for both rock climbing and mountain climbing. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. I might also mention that I live in NM, where rock climbing courses are much more common than any mountaineering classes. Thanks in advance.

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Postby denalibound » Fri Mar 02, 2007 5:45 pm

A rock climbing course should address most everything you come across in the mountains in the summer and fall.

A mountaineering course will likely cover winter and spring conditions.

If you intend to do winter and spring snow ascents a rock climbing course will fall short of the necessary skills. You will need to find a course that covers ice axe and crampon use, self arrest, avalanche awareness... to be properly prepared for climbing in the snow.

If you intend to only do summer routes with technical sections then a mountaineering course is probably more than you need, and a rock climbing course would better prepare you for the rope work you may encounter.

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Postby gc » Fri Mar 02, 2007 10:59 pm

A traditional (more commonly trad) climbing course would teach you to set up anchors, manage the rope, place protection, etc. for non-snow/ice routes in the mountains. A simpler rock climbing class probably would focus more on technique and less on those subjects. The basic principals and skills used in a trad class will be similar to snow/ice, just the techniques and protection will differ. A mountaineering class would be useful to learn how to properly setup anchors/climb in snow/ice. Look for a course that will teach you a lot about anchors. To supplement a course you might want to read Freedom of the Hills and also John Long's book on Climbing Anchors (came out later last year as the 2nd edition).

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Postby Moon » Fri Mar 02, 2007 11:50 pm

To supplement a course you might want to read Freedom of the Hills

Freedom of the Hills is a great book and covers everything anyone would need to know on climbing. But as far as courses, I think that a rock climing course that focus' on anchors and rope management would be your best bet. A mountaineering cousre is going to focus more on the ice axe/crampon aspect of climbing.

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Postby roozers42 » Sat Mar 03, 2007 8:58 am

I'd start with a beginning rock climbing class that focuses on rope work and safety and go from there. You might meet some people who can teach you how to place pro and build anchors along the way. I think taking a comprehensive beginning class is really important even though it probably won't get into the more technical stuff. Become comfortable following multi-pitch and practicing your knots/technique before leading trad - IMHO.

I think you'll find the rock class helps out with any mountaineering classes you take later on.

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Postby Darryl Dunlap » Sat Mar 03, 2007 9:46 am

MSH1064,
You might check into the Los Alamos Mountaineering Club. They have some pretty good programs and courses. Also, check with REI in ABQ for any ongoing training that they have listed or know about. For around the Sandias, rock climbing courses would be good with a site on some future mountaineering classes.

http://lamountaineers.org/

Darryl
"A great loss of a wonderful person clouds us tonight, Rest In Peace David...."

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Postby malcolml1 » Sat Mar 03, 2007 1:26 pm

A major difference between gym and trad climbing ( by the way the terms should be "make-believe climbing" and "climbing") is that to climb you need to find the start of the climb; eg the guide book says start in a crack below the ovious overhang only to find when you get there there are many such to choose from. Or, as the old Longs Peak guide book says about Kieners when you get near the summit something to the effect " there are many obvious ways to the summit", something that resulted in the hardest, but enjoyable, pitch of the climb. This term "there are many obvious---" is a favorite route description, which usually mens trouble.
And then when you are launched on the route in the fond belief that you've found the obvious overhang, are you actually on route and if you make the move up can you continue or do I now have to reverse this commiting move that I'm about to make.
Answers come only form long practice of the craft and many adventures.
Best of luck, if you persevere you may have more fun than climbing all the 14ers.

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Postby chealey » Sat Mar 03, 2007 7:55 pm

I recommend the Ellingwood Arete route on Crestone Needle once you get your rock climbing skills in place. It is easy class 5 rock climbing on a beautiful 14er with good protection on solid rock. The ridge to Crestone Peak from the Needle is dangerous and evil IMO.

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Postby Drake » Sun Mar 04, 2007 4:08 am

I'm not sure what it may offer there but in the east REI holds climbing schools and the beginner level courses focus on crack climbing, face climbing, maneuvering and belaying. I've seen other schools which focus on knots, anchoring/belaying and safety. The west is a different environment so their focus may be in different areas. Check with REI and see what schools they have to offer in their "Get Out There" programs. Check with other schools and see if they offer training in other areas you're more interested in or wanting more training with.
He who conquers men has strength. He who conquers himself is truly strong.

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Postby Devin » Tue Mar 06, 2007 9:04 am

Darryl Dunlap wrote:MSH1064,
You might check into the Los Alamos Mountaineering Club. They have some pretty good programs and courses. Also, check with REI in ABQ for any ongoing training that they have listed or know about. For around the Sandias, rock climbing courses would be good with a site on some future mountaineering classes.

http://lamountaineers.org/

Darryl


Although it is a bit of a drive from ABQ, I would second this. I took their basic rock climbing course a few years back and learned a lot. Very knowledgeable instructors. Also, this class didn't really focus on rock climbing technique. It focused more on safety and setup than anything else. Although, each Saturday, we had an outdoor session where we got to get out on the rock. One of the sessions included learning how to rappell. They also touched on the basics of some rescue/recovery techniques for glacier travel.

The class ended with a "graduation climb", where you go out and are paired with an experienced leader and get to do a multi-pitch climb.

Great course. I would highly recommend it. Plus, this year it is being headed up by Jason Halladay, I believe. He has a wealth of knowledge about the subject and is a super nice guy to boot.

I think that they are still accepting applications for this year's course. Here is a link:

http://lamountaineers.org/zSCHOOL.html

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Mountaineering Course or Rock Climbing Course

Postby trailwerks » Tue Mar 06, 2007 9:15 am

The New Mexico Mountain club also offers a climbing course once a year (starting April 16). Typically it fills up quickly but I got a message yesterday that there are still five slots open. The cost is only $75 plus $12 to join the Mountain Club.

Details can be found at: http://www.swcp.com/~nmmc/climbrocks/school_info.html. At the bottom of the page is contact info for the lead instructor. Call Roger and ask him for details. I took the class last year and although focused on the fundamentals of safety, equipment, rope work, etc., the instructors are trad climbers who spend a lot of time mountaineering. I found the course to be applicable and useful as I branched out from 14ers to other types of climbing.

Mark

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Postby Darryl Dunlap » Tue Mar 06, 2007 9:19 am

Also, if you find yourself up near Durango in the next few weeks, the San Juan Group-CMC is having a mountaineering course that is given in modules. It has a module that deals with the basics of rock climbing but is more suited for use in mountaineering. If you or anyone else is interested, contact me at racerextreme@hotmail.com
"A great loss of a wonderful person clouds us tonight, Rest In Peace David...."

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