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Mountain climbing for beginners

  • 11-02-2012 1:26pm
    Registered Users Posts: 2


    I spent some time last year in Equador. While there I climbed Cotopaxi, alpine F/PD grade, 5897m. I had no experience at climbing whatsoever! I'd like to try another climb at a similar level. Are there any mountains in Europe that 3 beginners could have a go at?

    How does somebody gain experience at this sort of thing?

    I was looking at Mt. Elbrus in Russia. Emailed a guy with Pilgrim Tours,, he said no experience necessary, we'd have a guide for the 10day trip, €812 not including flights, is this a reasonable price!?!

    Any info would be much appreciated.


  • Registered Users Posts: 272 ✭✭DeepSleeper

    I'd suggest learning to walk before you try to run to be honest - Start by joining a mountaineering club in Ireland and then learn the ropes - there are a lot of technical skills you need to understand and master. Build up from long-route scrambling in Ireland to Scottish winter mountaineering and then move on to Alpine mountaineering - that's the normal route for people interested in mountaineering in Ireland, but you avoid a lot of this if you choose a guide to bring you up the route - You just need to decide if you want to serve the usual apprenticeship over a few years and climb the mountain under you own steam, or cut out the learning phase and get a guide to organise everything while you tag along...

    Irish mountaineering cubs listed here...

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,328 ✭✭✭Sev

    Are there any mountains in Europe that 3 beginners could have a go at?

    Plenty, if you're willing to be guided up. Guiding is big business in the Alps, take a look at this site for example:

    Good examples of easy beginner routes:
    How does somebody gain experience at this sort of thing?

    I agree with the previous poster. If you want to be self proficient: to be able to just go to the Alps and climb mountains without a guide, you need to start in Ireland.

    1) Learn to rock climb, join a club as the previous poster suggested.
    2) Climb regularly at your nearest indoor climbing wall, learn about belaying.
    3) If you live in Dublin, as soon as possible try get out to Dalkey quarry with somebody more experienced, like another club member.
    4) Second some more experienced people on lead climbs in Dalkey quarry (or your equivalent local outdoor venue), learn about rock climbing equipment and anchors.
    5) As soon as you feel comfortable and you understand the game, dive right in there: lead your first climb in Dalkey on your own placed trad gear. Once you can do this, it unlocks a world of possibilities. If you want to be able to climb big scary remote routes in the alps, you need to have the self-confidence and the balls to just commit and go for it.
    6) Find a regular climbing partner, somebody around your level with the same level of ambition and enthusiasm. Climbing is a team sport, usually done in groups of two, you can't climb on your own.
    7) Climb multi-pitch. With your buddy, seek out locations around the country where you can find adventurous outdoor climbs and bigger routes than in Dalkey. On your weekends, visit Glendalough, Luggala, Baravore valley, Gleann Eidhneach, Fairhead, Coumshingaun, Kerry to camp/hostel and do multi-pitch routes.
    8) Read. Pick up a copy of Libby Peter - Rock climbing, Andy Cunningham - Winter Skills and Mountaineering, the freedom of the hills. Read up on rope work, winter climbing, glacier travel.
    9) Perhaps visit Scotland in Winter and do a winter climbing cousre. Learn to use an axe and crampons and climb Ben Nevis the hard way in Winter conditions. Although, you could skip this step and do your axe and crampons training in the Alps, on say the Aiguille du Tour or the Petit Verte.
    10) You should now be ready to take on at least an AD in the Alps. Research the Alps, pick a classic area like Chamonix. Pick a route you like the look of. Learn about it in detail: some routes are snow or ice routes requiring ice axe and crampons, some routes are primarily rock routes that may just require ice axe and crampons for the walk-in. Learn about Glacier travel and crevasse rescue, perhaps do a course there. You may just want to climb a big rock route, but travel over glacier may be the only way to get there.
    11) Wait for Summer. June - August is the time you want to visit the Alps for a pleasant introduction for the aspiring mountaineer. June to July is best for snow routes, July-August for rock routes.
    12) Book your flights

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,566 ✭✭✭Gillo

    I have to say Sev, thats pretty sound advice.

    OP do what Sev says and you can't go wrong, also there'll be a much better sense of achievement when you've trained yourself and do the climb yourself without a guide to "hold your hand".

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,328 ✭✭✭Sev

    It's basically the chronology of how I got into it.

    I did my first indoor wall climb in September, was lead climbing in Dalkey by November, multi-pitching in Glendalough/Luggala in December/January, winter climbing in Scotland in March, went to the Alps in June.

    Time span - 9 months.

    You're gonna need a montage:

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,566 ✭✭✭Gillo

    Thats an impressive nine month's.
    What's that question they ask at interview's- where do you see yourself in five years?:D

    The one thing a guide can't give you is confidence OP, thats something you'll pick up over time.

    Also, a great thing about climbing walls, Dalkey, Glendalough etc is most climbers are really sound, you'll meet a really nice bunch of people. They're also almost always willing to help, tell you what you are doing wrong in a constructive way and point you in the right direction.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,226 ✭✭✭rje66

    cotopaxi is a volcano, so its more of a walk up a steep hill than training on a climbing wall.
    confusion here maybe:confused::confused:

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,328 ✭✭✭Sev

    Sure, Cotopaxi may be a snow plod, but it's still, presumably through crevassed terrain, and involves a number of skills you will pick up as you learn to rock climb, e.g. rope technique and how to construct anchors.

    If you take on steeper snow routes on more mixed terrain, you will need to learn how to place rock runners, move together, make belays and abseil out of tricky spots. These are all skills you will pickup from rock climbing and scrambling in the Irish hills.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,226 ✭✭✭rje66

    thanks sev, sounds like a good hike.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2 Hysteric

    Thanks for the advise guys. I might try another guided trip before I commit to the montage needed to get myself up a mountain.
    As far as climbing mountains goes, I'd say Cotopaxi is as easy as it gets. The altitude sickness and the previous night on the beer didn't help me!

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,328 ✭✭✭Sev

    Hysteric wrote: »
    Thanks for the advise guys. I might try another guided trip before I commit to the montage needed to get myself up a mountain.
    As far as climbing mountains goes, I'd say Cotopaxi is as easy as it gets. The altitude sickness and the previous night on the beer didn't help me!

    Sure, but you're guide for it probably knew the route well, knew where the crevasses were etc, understood the snow conditions and the avalanche danger, and was well prepared to set up a crevasse rescue and to haul your ass to safety if you fell in. As a client, all you had to do was follow him and plod your way up the hill.

    The benefit of learning to rock climb in Ireland and doing plenty of remote multi-pitch climbs in this country, is that by the time you head over to the
    Alps do your first big alpine climb on your own you'll go into it with a huge amount of confidence. This is because you'll be so used to climbing on more difficult and dangerous terrain in Ireland.

    You'll have already gotten yourself into a number of tricky spots in hostile vertical terrain and developed the skills to cope and get yourself out safely. You'll also understand climbing equipment, runners, belays, abseiling, general rope technique and all of these skills are immediately transferable to snow and ice too. You'll also have a good head for heights.

    A simple PD/AD in the alps, although it could be on snow and ice, a medium you're less familiar with, will feel like child's play. The more difficult sections of the route will often be on rock, your home ground. You will of course still need to develop axe and crampon skills and learn about snow conditions, avalanche risk, serac danger, glacier travel etc. but much of this will come with experience and common sense. A short course in scotland and/or the alps will ground you in much of this, and the rest you just need to have the confidence to find out for yourself!

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