how to become an experienced mountaineer : LUSENET : Mountaineering : One Thread

I am just learning how to climb, but my goal is to become an experienced mountianeer. Do you have any suggestions and/or know of any courses I could take to reach my goal.

-- Wes Parker (, February 23, 1998


Response to experience

I have had an incredible experience with NOLS(National Outdoor Leadership School), and have several friends who have as well. Their courses, most of which are 21 days, range from backpacking/backcountry courses to rock climbing courses to mountaineering expeditions. I took the 31 day Alaska Mountaineering course about 2 years ago and consider the experience invaluable. The instructors were extremely helpful and incredible climbers(one had summited Everest w/o oxygen), and the focus was strongly on acquiring and practicing technical skills. I leaned more in my month with them than I would have in a couple years of climbing on my own, and was safer in the process.

-- Steve Waydo (, February 24, 1998.

Response to experience

I would suggest Vertical Adventures. Bob Gaines is the director. I have taken a number of one on one classes and they are excellent. Bob Gaines is one of the climbers in the John Long group. Bob has assembled a staff of some of the best climbers in the world. Scott Cosgrove, Randy Vogel and Steve Sutton to mention a few. I personnaly took lessons from Steve Sutton. Steve is an outstanding climber and is without question one of the worlds leading experts in Big Walls. He did first accents of Mescalito and Magic Mushroom on El Capitan back in 1972 and 73 when he was just 17!!!!! Steve Sutton has climbed over 40 routes on El Capitan alone. I would say that makes Steve one of the most experienced "Big Wallers". I will be attempting my first big wall this summer. I am doing the Prow on Washington Column with my partner Dan Thiele. If it were not for Steve's experiance and patient teaching style, I would not be ready for at least another year! Good Luck! Be safe, and climb smart!!!!!

-- Robert Fonda (, March 14, 1998.

Response to experience

Get some quality instruction from a school and/or guide affiliated with the American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA). They have a web site at

-- Michael McGuinn (, April 24, 1998.

If you are a beginner and you can afford it, I strongly recommend the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) . I had no prior experience and I took the Northern Cascades Mountaineering trip. It gave me enough training to start going out and doing stuff on my own.


-- Andrew Rossetti (, December 20, 2000.


Congrats on getting bitten by the climbing bug. All the previous answers were good ones, but I can forsee a problem with taking that route. Expense! I got started alpine climbing with some friends at work and I wanted to learn more about climbing so I joins a local group, the Mountaineers in Seattle where I lived. Unfortunately, you can't just go on club climbs, you have to take classes first. I also found I needed to take prerequisites before I could take teh classes I wanted which means more expenses. I figured that with the money and time I could spare it would be 2-3 YEARS before I could get some real rock experience on real climbs. I found a different friend with much more experience and he was willing to teach me all I wanted to know. That way he was able to create another climbing partner (you can never Have enough).

Woodie Helmeteer

-- Woodie Helmeteer (, February 20, 2001.

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