Lesson on Noobs

Need a climbing partner? Trying to form a hiking group for an outing?
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Re: Lesson on Noobs

Postby highpilgrim » Wed Mar 07, 2012 1:48 pm

Maybe we should postition a dog like Horton near all the trailheads in order to get the unprepared down safely. Eventually we could have lots of plaques then too.
Call on God, but row away from the rocks.
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Re: Lesson on Noobs

Postby climbing_rob » Wed Mar 07, 2012 1:49 pm

silverlynx wrote:IMO, a mind for problem-solving and can-do attitude are what get you out of bad situations. You cannot learn that in books, or classes or in years. You either have it or you don't. Experience is great, but you gain experience through learning hard lessons.

And on that note, a quote I feel is very relevant:

"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
~Michael Jordan
Vey well said Lynx, and that video above is awesome. The only lesson learned here is not about "Noobs", it's about how attitude and strength go a long way toward making up for some lack of experience. (Sorry nkan, we disagree, imagine that). What a tough chick, and good for her for giving it a go and making it. Bottom line lesson: "when it gets tough out there, suck it up, cream puff". she sucked it up and made it work.

Re: Lesson on Noobs

Postby SnowAlien » Wed Mar 07, 2012 1:53 pm

All I have to say is that is incredibly easy to get hurt on a mountain when you are first starting hiking. You don't know so much and all of it matters every minute while you are on the mountain. I suspect many of us got lucky when the mistakes we made did not turn deadly.

Thank you Sarah for posting about your experience. It is a great reminder to all of us that mountains (even non-technical ones) are a not a cakewalk.
It has frequently been noticed that all mountains appear doomed to pass through the three stages: An inaccessible peak - The most difficult ascent in the Alps - An easy day for a lady. Albert Frederick Mummery, My Climbs in the Alps and Caucasus

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Re: Lesson on Noobs

Postby randalmartin » Wed Mar 07, 2012 2:14 pm

Everyone of us makes mistakes, especially the first time at anything. The real objective is to learn from those so you don't repeat them.

I will never forget my first 14er attempt about 4 years ago. Bierstadt standard route in mid-May of a big snow year. What a cluster that was. Literally crawling out on hands and knees in the afternoon coming back across the willows, post holing into snow melt (water) running below the snow, no gaiters, feet numb. Had clip on shades over regular prescription glasses so my eyes were wind burned and sunburned. You get the picture.

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Re: Lesson on Noobs

Postby WheelerDealer » Wed Mar 07, 2012 2:28 pm

DeucesWild wrote:
=D> That is so fascinating. How can I become a member of your exclusive and elite society?

Weren't you the one that wanted to start a climbing club for Mensa members? #-o

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Re: Lesson on Noobs

Postby Jon Frohlich » Wed Mar 07, 2012 2:30 pm

I have no issue with saying people should gain experience through learning from mistakes. I think all of us have made our share and the learning process is vital to becoming better at this.

That said, I do get frustrated seeing people sign up for things such as happened here as their first winter outings. Practice in a safer environment first. Try out your gear somewhere where you aren't 6 hours from the car above treeline. There's nothing wrong with going for a winter snowshoe around Brainard Lake or RMNP to find out if your gear will keep you warm and dry. Even Boulder for that matter. I learned a number of lessons just hiking around in Boulder in winter. Learn your orienteering skills somewhere where getting slightly lost isn't the end of the world. Learn about avalanche safety in a safe environment.

I'm reminded of seeing a group of kids (age 18-20) at the Ouray ice park a few weeks back that mentioned to my group when we were at the bottom that this was their first (or maybe second) time climbing ice. Once a few of us saw the top rope anchor they had been climbing on we nearly lost it. It was one prussik cord and one locking biner. No backups. One thing failed in that setup and someone was going to die. They probably thought they knew what they were doing but they nearly got one of themselves killed.

I know people want to do big things and don't want to start off that way but many incidents like this could be avoided by taking time to learn in a safer way. You don't have to make big painful mistakes right off the bat. Michael Jordan didn't fail right away in the pros. He went to high school and college first and started his learning process there instead.
Last edited by Jon Frohlich on Wed Mar 07, 2012 2:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Lesson on Noobs

Postby centrifuge » Wed Mar 07, 2012 2:33 pm

I find this thread very interesting. Clearly there are lessons that can be learned from this persons experience on the mountain but haven’t we all had those moments? And if you haven’t yet, wait a while and you will too will have a moment where you wonder what the hell you have gotten yourself into. We, as humans, often learn from making misjudgments, then correcting course. Lets go back 15 years, in the days before websites like this one, people made these mistakes in the Colorado backcountry all the time. These types of errors are how our forefathers learned. I firmly the believe that the only real mistakes are the ones that we don’t learn from. She talks over and over again throughout her post about the things she learned, even as she was on the mountain.

As far as her translation of her experiences in ultra running to the mountain, and people having a beef with that type of thought process, I see people post that way all the time on the site. Besides, it’s a tiny bit hypocritical in general. Aside from that, if you take a moment to look at the subject of the blog itself, it’s a running focused blog. Of course she references back to running all the time! That’s her frame of reference. Hell, when I started running I compared it to climbing all the time because it was my frame of reference, and not a single person bashed me for it, and no one called it an over abundance of hubris. Sure, it resulted in more pain for her than need be due to poor preparation in regards to gear, but she clearly has the same spirit that drives us all onwards when we are climbing or running, and for that I applaud her. I also applaud her partner Brian for staying with her and helping her get down safely in the end, as well as Jed for doing what he could to help with the hand warmers. Its easy to bash people, its hard to help them grow. Lets help her grow, so she too will love the places most of us have come to see as our holy places as well instead of viewing us all as arrogant jerk-off’s who are so desperate to re-enforce our fragile egos that we need to pick others apart.

"i feel so extraordinary, somethings got a hold on me, I get this feeling I'm in motion, a sudden sence of liberty“ new order

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Re: Lesson on Noobs

Postby BillMiddlebrook » Wed Mar 07, 2012 2:38 pm

I read though this thread while riding the lift today and I must say it does sound a lot like the Yale thread. For those of us who have winter experience in the CO backcountry, it's important to really, really stress the difficulty of these climbs when talking with potential group members with less, or no winter experience. I've flat out told people they can't join me on a climb before because of their experience level and it's a tough discussion.

If Sarah is reading this, my advice (not that it matters, but here I am in front of my computer with nothing better to do) is to get into winter climbing gradually with shorter climbs on "easy" winter peaks. Find partners who are experienced but willing to stick with you and turn around if you aren't feeling it. While Spread Eagle Peak isn't too hard in winter, it's no joke and often requires snow-slogging on the descent because the main route is on the leeward side of the mountain - as I'm sure you found out.

Doing marathons and lots of running allows for better strength and endurance on these big climbs but that's just one part. More experience, proper gear, planning and good partners will make your climbs more enjoyable and safer for you and your partners.

If your mind or body is screaming at you turn back - do it. Don't get pressured into a summit, even if it's you applying the pressure. Have fun, be conservative and safely climb on...

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Re: Lesson on Noobs

Postby 14erFred » Wed Mar 07, 2012 2:41 pm

As American poet, James Russell Lowell (1819–1891), put it in 1870: " One thorn of experience is worth a whole wilderness of warning."
"Live as on a mountain." -- Marcus Aurelius

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Re: Lesson on Noobs

Postby sgladbach » Wed Mar 07, 2012 2:43 pm

In my not so humble and completely accurate opinion,

These general comments have some references to the Spread Eagle group, but are generic in nature and not intended to judge Saturday's group dynamic. Sometimes, however, I used that group's dynamic as an example.

A group that organizes on a public thread has a responsibility to all of its participants. Groups who do not wish to assume that responsibility should organize through PMs. That is not to say that the group must hike in formation or that a leader must be declared, but the group should assume a single safety dynamic.

1.Sarah had a responsibility (which it seems she met) to identify herself as an inexperienced winter mountaineer.

2.Though no such commonly accepted criteria exists on this forum, the person to whom she identified herself (Jed) must accept responsibility to tell her the trip is not appropriate OR give her the necessary preperatory information. If the person who recieved the Noobie's info is unqualified to help, the climber should be referred to another trip participant who can help make that call. Jed seems to have performed well in that role.

From here on , things could have been improved.

3. Yes, indeed, even in the dark, we should look at each other's footwear and ask pertinent questions about other gear, ESPECIALLY of those who've identified themselves as inexperienced. ( Commonly, in this situation, I show up at the TH with extra pairs of expedition mitts because I still haven't impressed my dictum, "Mittens Madatory, Gloves Optional." )

4.This is the time the inexperienced hikers should identify themselves to the rest of the group. Those not accepting a role as part of the group dynamic (....I have to be back in Denver at 5:00; I'll not be participating in the group...) should also identify themselves at this time.

5. Strongest hikers should keep the weakest in the forefront of their minds. Too often, I see the strongest hikers, those most able to be of assistance, reaching the car far too early for their strength to be of use. On your way down, help the newer hiker make a realistic determination about their progress and safety. Be realistic. Don't expect the other hiker to turn around if they are simply slow. They have worked hard to get here. Help them make a safe decision, not one that is convenient for you. (Think Anatoli Boukreev on Everest, 10-11 May 1996.)

6. A strong experienced team member sticks with the newbie (good job Brian.) All other members travel in a minimum of pairs. Or else, identify yourself as a non-member.

5. The inexperienced hiker has an absolute responsibility to turn back when they are weakening, when the group asks them to, or when a an experienced idividual asks them to.

7. The group accounts for all of its members before finishing the day. Good job to the Spread Eagle group.

The expectations need to change when a 'group' has been gathered. Again, if this is not your thing, head out w/ a few buds gathered through PMs or head out solo.

I go on a variety of trips. if I go out as part of a public group, I try to be responsible to that group. I enjoy this type of trip immensely, but not all the time. I often go out with a few "known" friends and maybe throw in a wildcard. Recently, I enjoyed a trip like this to Phoenix Peak; it worked out very well. The "wild card" was clear in relaying his abilities, knowledge, strenghts, and limitations. The holes were easy to fill in, because the communication was clear. Sometimes, often when the "right" partners are unavailable, I head out alone. There are many peaks where I wouldn't want to be responsible for a Newbie and I either get an experienced partner or head out alone. I get flack for solo trips, but they can be much safer than taking along beginner (i.e. Thunder Pyramid this winter. I'd have gone with Sarah T. Kiefer and the like, but nobody was available.)


To reiterate, there is no need to respond to these comments. They are 100% correct.
"We knocked the bastard off." Hillary, 1953
"It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves." Hillary, 2003
Couldn't we all use 50 years of humble growth?

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Re: Lesson on Noobs

Postby BillMiddlebrook » Wed Mar 07, 2012 2:48 pm

sgladbach wrote:To reiterate, there is no need to respond to these comments. They are 100% correct.

I have to reply with a...

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Re: Lesson on Noobs

Postby oldschool » Wed Mar 07, 2012 2:54 pm

+1,000,000 Bill and Steve!
"There's a feeling I get when I look to the West and my spirit is crying for leaving" Led Zeppelin


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