Class 3+, Solo or partner?

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Re: Class 3+, Solo or partner?

Postby jdorje » Sun Sep 23, 2012 3:11 pm

Tortoise1 wrote:So what's a good class 3 to start on - i.e. good experience, but on the low side in exposure?

Crestone Peak was basically my first, and a good one. Lots of easy class 3 and no exposure on-route until the very end.
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Re: Class 3+, Solo or partner?

Postby illusion7il » Sun Sep 23, 2012 3:57 pm

One of the easier class 3 routes that I know of is Kelso Ridge on Torrey's Peak, however there is a little route finding involved as well as a little exposure. It might be a good idea to partner up for your first class 3 as it will certainly be alot different than your normal walk up class 2 route. Might even help to be with someone who actually knows the route. Sometimes being slightly off route on class 3 can easily turn into class 4, even class 5. Seems like most climbing accidents these days are a result of being off route. The best thing you can do for yourself is to actually do some technical roped rock climbing. Makes class 3 and 4 seem like nothing. Longs peak isn't too bad either, but much longer and the keyhole route is well marked out. Oh and buy a a a helmet

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Re: Class 3+, Solo or partner?

Postby wineguy » Sun Sep 23, 2012 5:26 pm

I've done almost all of the Class 3 & Class 4 14ers solo. On a long day its great not to have to wait for someone to get ready, and to be able to move at your own pace. For safety, I always carry a Personal Locator Beacon. The biggest disadvantage of going solo is route-finding. To minimize this problem on the way down, I always lay a track down on my GPS while climbing up, and then I can always check my relative position on the way down when the route gets sketchy.
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Re: Class 3+, Solo or partner?

Postby mtree » Mon Sep 24, 2012 10:13 am

Solo climbing is certainly a personal choice and the reasons to do so are numerous.
I'll climb solo up to class 2+. Maybe class 3 on occasion. I get much more enjoyment out of a hike when I can share the experience. To me, the decision to go solo isn't so much based on the difficulty as it is how remote is the peak, number of potential hikers on trail, distance, and accident danger. A busted knee at 13,000 ft with little chance of being found within 24 hours is not something I want to experience. Although I do enjoy the solitude at times, I don't want THAT much solitude! If the climb is a 'new' peak and route finding is an issue, I'd rather tackle that with someone else in tow. It's all personal preference.

I do agree with most of the poster's, your comfort level changes with experience. Years ago I would NEVER consider a 15 mile trek solo! Now, biggy.
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Re: Class 3+, Solo or partner?

Postby shredthegnar10 » Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:12 am

As others have said, it's really a question of personal experience ... and I would even narrow it down further and suggest that routefinding experience/ability is the main factor. If you don't have a lot of experience routefinding on a variety of terrain, having a partner is nice just to have another set of eyes on the mountain. There's enough info on this site about the class 3 routes on Colorado 14ers that soloing shouldn't be a problem for most people, and in fact might be a good way to learn routefinding skills. That said, don't do something if you don't feel comfortable with it, whether it's class 2, 3, or anything else.
If you're worried about getting injured in a remote location, I guess you could carry a SPOT/PLB, though I choose not to as I think it kind of takes the adventure out of it :wink:
As for a good first class 3, I second the recommendation of Crestone Peak, and IIRC the Southwest ridge of Sneffels isn't too exposed either.
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Re: Class 3+, Solo or partner?

Postby forbins_mtn » Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:13 am

personally, i feel a million times more comfortable solo'ing a Class 3+ peak than solo'ing the CO Trail, or doing something out in the backcountry. but i have way more experience rock climbing than i do backpacking. to each his own, i guess

and i just did the Crestone Peak on Sat, with the last 1,000ft solo since my partner wasn't doing well. i think it's a great Class 3 to start with. Tons of options that are really straight forward and provide solid rock.

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Re: Class 3+, Solo or partner?

Postby I Man » Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:14 am

shredthegnar10 wrote:As others have said, it's really a question of personal experience ... and I would even narrow it down further and suggest that routefinding experience/ability is the main factor.


Personally, I solo Class 3+ all the time and enjoy it very much. The real issue is your route finding skills - a second or third set of eyes can help you find the best route, but at the end of the day, regardless of partners you will still be "Soloing" the climbing (read: no rope) so the partners can't really do much there.
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Re: Class 3+, Solo or partner?

Postby MrJohnnySpot » Mon Sep 24, 2012 2:59 pm

Late reply...I'm still pretty green with all of this but from my experience:

My first class 3 was Longs - Keyhole with a partner. I found that he was slower than me, was supposed to be leading but I ended up leading, and didn't hold the most interesting of conversations so I decided that I'd go by myself on more hikes/climbs and see if I could handle it at class 2. I like being with a partner and also without one but for different reasons that aren't necessarily related to the difficulty of the climb. When I went to go solo my first class 3 I asked everyone here if they had any suggestions as I had narrowed it down primarily between Kelso Ridge and the Sawtooth between Bierstadt and Evans. After reading the replies I realized that I was confident in my ability to go do Kelso by myself but that I had doubt about Sawtooth, so I went with my gut and soloed Kelso instead. I then proceeded to add a couple more class 2's under my belt and finally felt confident enough to go do Sawtooth this last weekend on a solo trip. It was great but was also difficult mentally because I didn't have anyone to help push me through. And, that is one of the reasons why I like being by myself. When there's no one to talk to and help you out or commiserate then you can realize, and learn a bit more, who you are.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say--and this has been echoed time and again already--is that study your routes carefully, know what you're capable of physically AND mentally, and look at trip reports and as many guide books as you can to see if it's viable and you still feel comfortable with it. You know what you're capable of and if there's anything I've learned as I do anything solo, but especially doing 14ers, is that my gut instinct is right. If I'm remotely scared or worried then there's something not right and it's not worth it. But, when I feel confident then I'm good to go and know I can get through it. And, I know I'm not being arrogant and cocky in my skills when I still have that nervous anxiousness in my gut, it's the good anxiety though...the realization that what you're doing is inherently dangerous and that the hope is to summit on the more difficult route but that if anything hits the fan then I'm out and going home in one piece on my own accord. There's a subtle difference I think between the cocky confidence and the hesitant confidence where you're still anxious, not because you doubt yourself or being able to do the route you want to do, but more of the realization that regardless of how well you may be prepared or experienced there is always something that could go wrong.

That being said, if you're comfortable then go for it, but make sure you study up, know the basics of where you'll need to routefind and what to look for and then you'll be set. I would suggest, since you said you feel pretty confident you could pull it off, to do Kelso. The nice thing about Kelso is that you're still relatively close by to people if something goes wrong. The route is a little bit easier to backtrack than some others and it'll test you enough to build up your confidence for future endeavors.

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Re: Class 3+, Solo or partner?

Postby edhaman » Mon Sep 24, 2012 3:21 pm

A good first class 3 is Father Dyer Peak (a 13er). The class 3 section is shorter than Kelso Ridge, but somewhat similar in exposure without any route-finding difficulty.

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Re: Class 3+, Solo or partner?

Postby sunny1 » Mon Sep 24, 2012 4:51 pm

SES_17 wrote: "how many would climb class 3+ solo and how many wouldn't attempt without a partner?"
I realize a lot has to do with knowing your ability and limitaions and a lot of you are quite capable of soloing much more than class 3. I've yet to tackle a class 3 route

A couple of things I think about before I do C3 solo:
- do I know everything about the route? What's the penalty for being off route?
- fall penalty: If I fall, how far would I drop? 10 feet? 2000 feet?
- if I were to get into trouble, can I get out of it?

The other thing to remember when you're solo is that you're it. You're your best (or worst) resource. You won't have the objectivity or alternate opinion of a buddy.

Most of my C3 and above has been done with friends.
If you're lucky enough to have good friends to join you, it's a superior situation, in my experience.
IMHO, the more difficult the peak, the more important it is to have a trusted friend with you.
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Re: Class 3+, Solo or partner?

Postby Bullwinkle » Mon Sep 24, 2012 5:28 pm

By virtue of coming in from out-of-state or out-of-country, I solo almost all peaks--and am completely comfortable on sustained Class 3 ascents and some Class 4.

Going it alone means one must come physically and mentally prepared for a wide range of circumstances and contingencies. I would love to go ultra-light, but I usually end up at 15-20 pounds gross pack weight for a day hike. I have never had a serious incident, or even a turn back, but I do my preparation under the supposition that it is fully my own responsibility to get my butt off the mountain, that I might need to self-administer first aid, and/or I might need to survive on a mountain overnight. Should it ever come to this, my actions and route should be predictable to SAR. Someone always knows my intended route and timing, and I stay on plan.

Climbing during the summer season--especially on weekends and holidays--lessens the risk, so long as you get an early start. I have been the beneficiary of some fine impromptu meet-ups--including Sunny1 on Crestone Peak, as well as several others. I have also thought I would meet others enroute--such as on Crestone Needle and Blanca/Ellingwood, and yet have the beauty and solitude all to myself. You just never know.
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Re: Class 3+, Solo or partner?

Postby Jim Davies » Mon Sep 24, 2012 5:36 pm

edhaman wrote:A good first class 3 is Father Dyer Peak (a 13er). The class 3 section is shorter than Kelso Ridge, but somewhat similar in exposure without any route-finding difficulty.

You beat me to it. :) This is a great climb, solid and fun. If you do it solo you'll really be solo; in 7 or 8 times doing the route I've only met other climbers twice.
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