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Beginner looking to summit via snow route...

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Beginner looking to summit via snow route...

Postby MO Flatlander » Mon May 07, 2007 3:57 pm

I'm looking to try and summit a 14er via a snow route. I've never hiked up a mountain in snow. We have crampons and ice axes and I was looking for a beginner friendly route that was a little technical but also "safe". We will be hiking the first week of june. At the moment I was looking at the Angel of Shivano??

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Postby Scott P » Mon May 07, 2007 4:05 pm

We have crampons and ice axes and I was looking for a beginner friendly route that was a little technical but also "safe".


What you want is a non-techical route rather than a "little technical" route. For 1st timers, always practice on a non-technical route.

We will be hiking the first week of june. At the moment I was looking at the Angel of Shivano??


Angel of Shavano may be melted out by then, but depends on the month of May and how it goes.

As far as couloir climbs go, it really doesn't get any easier than the Angel of Shavano, but it's still steep enough that you should know how to self arrest.

What you should do is practice on lesser slopes first rather than try and climb a 14er route that requires an ice axe and crampons. You want something with a good runout.

Even though the Angel maxes at 30 degrees tops as steepness, by June, if it's still there, you would likely run into rocks if you couldn't stop sliding.

There should be plenty of areas available with a good runout in June, but they may or may not be summit routes to the 14ers. Many routes will be safe by then (i.e. the East Ridge of Elbert), but of course they are too gentle to get any real practice with the ice axe.

If my scedule fits, I wouldn't mind taking a few newbies out for ice axe practice, but I live out in the middle of nowhere and few ever want to head out this way to climb anything.

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Postby DaveP » Mon May 07, 2007 5:11 pm

Try Lost Rat Couloir on Grays.

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Postby michaelverdone » Tue May 08, 2007 5:21 pm

Christo Couloir on the south side of Quandry is also a good beginner route. Its short and sweet and not too steep.

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Postby Geof3 » Tue May 08, 2007 11:38 pm

michaelverdone wrote:Christo Couloir on the south side of Quandry is also a good beginner route. Its short and sweet and not too steep.


I don't know about that. It's average angle is 45 deg. Not too steep overall, but for a total nube it might be daunting. You could take a nasty fall in the couloir. From top to bottom it's about 3500ft. So I wouldn't call it too short either. There are better first choices out there. Get some crampon time in on flatter firm snow, take a class or two as well. Self arrest is NOT intuitive. If you haven't practiced it, it's useless. Some crampon techniques are not intuitive either. There are techniques to proper snow/ice travel that most never bother to learn. The primary reason to learn all the aspects of snow/ice travel is to be more efficient for any given situation. You need to know when it's not safe to use cramp's and when it is etc. There is more to it really than simply donning an ice axe, some boots and crampons and tromping up some slope. Then there is the avalanche potential. Let's no get into that. Good luck in what you choose, but a good solid edjucation will make you a better climber in the long haul...
Blue Steel

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Postby joe-g » Wed May 09, 2007 5:33 am

Geof3 wrote: edjucation


???

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Postby michaelverdone » Wed May 09, 2007 7:30 am

Geof3 wrote:
michaelverdone wrote:Christo Couloir on the south side of Quandry is also a good beginner route. Its short and sweet and not too steep.


I don't know about that. It's average angle is 45 deg. Not too steep overall, but for a total nube it might be daunting. You could take a nasty fall in the couloir. From top to bottom it's about 3500ft. So I wouldn't call it too short either. There are better first choices out there. Get some crampon time in on flatter firm snow, take a class or two as well. Self arrest is NOT intuitive. If you haven't practiced it, it's useless. Some crampon techniques are not intuitive either. There are techniques to proper snow/ice travel that most never bother to learn. The primary reason to learn all the aspects of snow/ice travel is to be more efficient for any given situation. You need to know when it's not safe to use cramp's and when it is etc. There is more to it really than simply donning an ice axe, some boots and crampons and tromping up some slope. Then there is the avalanche potential. Let's no get into that. Good luck in what you choose, but a good solid edjucation will make you a better climber in the long haul...


Thank you for correcting my apparent lack of judgement. However, I still believe that this mans question is unanswerd.

MOClimber, you may also consider the East Slopes of Flattop on RMNP.

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A little clarification...

Postby MO Flatlander » Wed May 09, 2007 8:48 am

I want to add that we will be in CO for 4 full days. I planned on spending the first 2-3 days at St. Mary's Glacier to practice self arrest and using the axes/crampons. I'm very concerned with avalanche risk and selecting a route that is not going to be beyond our ability. While some people may have others to train them and take them out and show them the "ropes" or have the time and $$ for a class/course, we don't have those things. So we are attempting to self teach ourselves and just get a feel for summiting via snow.

That being said, what suggestions would the more experienced climbing community out there have for us on a route to begin on? We are not throwing all caution to the wind, I am educating myself as much as I can on technique and route options.

Thanks for the excelent replies so far!

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Postby Geof3 » Wed May 09, 2007 9:58 am

joe-g wrote:
Geof3 wrote: edjucation


???


Would edgumacashun be better? Typo bonehead!! It was 12:30 am... ????
Blue Steel

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Postby zacob » Wed May 09, 2007 10:57 am

Given your experience you’re not going to have a lot of good options. By June many of the normal routes that have snow right now and would be good routes to begin on are going to be melted out. Many of the routes that will hold snow are likely going to be pushing your skills. of the ones mentioned I agree with the Lost Rat on Grays it will be close to the area where are going to be practicing thus you don't need to drive all over the state, if money is even a minor issue that will be nice in light of the likelihood of $4.00 gas prices.

The final thing I would say is check back right before you to CO to see what we have to say then. Not being from here you can’t believe how quick the conditions change the snowfall this year has been quite odd

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Postby Kevin Baker » Wed May 09, 2007 11:08 am

Yeah, Lost Rat is a good one to start out on assuming you are comfortable with your self arrest skills and can judge the safety of a slope. You also will need to start real early so that you are out of the couloir no later than 10am.

You should also have a beacon, probe, and shovel and know how to use them. Snow conditions can deteriorate quickly in June when temperatures rise rapidly. If there's still a lot of water in the snow and you are sinking beyond the top of your boot, then it's time to back off.

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Postby zacob » Wed May 09, 2007 11:10 am

Kevin is right...it is amazing how quick things can chagne up in june... and keeping that in mind if the saddle between Grays and torreys is still holding snow be wary of that area on decent

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