Question Regarding Equipment and Progression for a Beginner (Have read all the other beginner threads) : LUSENET : Mountaineering : One Thread

Okay, I'm trying to get into mountaineering, but I have several questions. First off, I am 19, male, live in Utah, and have done some rock climbing and have done a lot of hiking in the past (but I used to live on the East "mountains" were 3,000 feet high). Anyway, I've done quite a bit of hiking, a little bit of rock climbing, and I run college cross country, so I'm already in very good shape aerobically (at least better than the average person). I currently live at 4,500 feet in utah. This weekend I made an attempt on a 12,000 foot mountain near my house, but I didn't make it very far. My equipment (that I rented from my university) was faulty (crampons and snowshoes) and I didn't think I'd make it without those two things. So I turned back. But I want to make another attempt, and eventually get up to climbing some bigger stuff....maybe a 14,000 next year, and then McKinley a year or two after that. Anyway, because of this equipment mishap, I want to get my own gear, but I'm not really sure what to get. I figure I need the following things: 1. boots 2. crampons 3. snowshoes I already have an expedition backpack (external frame), a coldweather sleeping bag, rock shoes (not that I would need those I don't think), even rope, harness, belay tool, carabiners. But my question is regarding the boots, crampons, and snowshoes. I want to buy equipment good enough that I won't have to replace it before climbing McKinley or other mountains of that nature.....but that won't be SOOO expensive that I can't afford to buy it now for current trips up 12,000-14,000 foot mountains in the winter.....I am a college student remember. I have heard that the best boots to get for straight up mountaineering (no ice climbing) are plastic....but I'm looking for recommendations from people on that, snowshoes and crampons. I am not looking to do any ice climbing, just straight up climbing mountains.

Oh, also, just for curiousity's sake....I am figuring once I conquer a few 12,000 foot mountains here in Utah (up to 13,000) then I'll have to get some of the Colorado fourteeners and then Mt. Rainier or something, but then I don't know what mountains to shoot for after that but before McKinley. That's a big jump. I suppose there are some smaller mountains in Alaska I just haven't heard maybe those are logical stepping stones to McKinley, and then on from there.

Anyway, just let me know what kind of things I should look for in my equipment.....or if anyone knows of a place that gives instructions on buying this equipment, that would be great also. Thanks a lot.

-- Brenton Peterson (, November 30, 2003


You might consider joining a National Outdoor Leadership School course in mountaineering, or an Outward Bound mountaineering course. Great places to learn the ropes, so to speak. As for training mountains, the Wasatch above Salt Lake City is the training grounds for many high level climbers. You could also come up here to the Tetons, stay awhile at the Climbers Ranch (right in Grand Teton National Park) and find people to climb with. The Tetons have long been one of the best places in this country to learn to climb rock and snow at a high level. It's also easy to find used gear here for sale. Good luck!

-- David Gonzales (, February 03, 2004.

Hey thanks a lot. That's actually a really good idea (the teton school)....perhaps when I get out of school in april I will head up there for some time.....I have a long summer so I don't need to start working immediately. And I've been getting out into the mountains around here a bit....not as much as I'd like. Thanks for your help.

-- Brenton Peterson (, February 03, 2004.

Anyone who wants to "conquer" mountains needs a serious attitude adjustment. You need to be one with the mountain, not its master. Start with joining the local mountain club. They will most probably have a technical climbing or mountaineering section. I recommend the American Alpine Club. Also pick up a recent copy of Mountaineering - Freedom of the Hills. It's the mountaineer's bible.

You can buy cheap used gear on Ebay, sometimes, if you know what you're looking for. I wouldn't recommend it. This is gear that is going to save your ass one day. It is worth every penny you spend. When I was a student, I cut out a few nights of bar-hopping and womanizing a month and lo and behold in a year I had enough money for good basic gear.

Good overall double boots - Scarpa Invernos Good overall crampons - Grivel G12 Good overall snowshoes - Grivel Promenade I never heard you mention 'ice axe'. Get a good overall moutaineering axe, which are longer (70-90 cm, depending on your height)than technical ice climbing axes. You'll be glad you did when you self- arrest just before the edge of a thousand foot drop.

Stay away from Alaska until you are good. Even the small mountains there are brutal for the beginner. There are plenty 12-14'ers in CA, CO, WY, MT, WA, British Columbia and Alberta that will kick your ass for years to come.

There are plenty of climbers in forums and in person, mountain shops and books that will gladly give you advice on hardware purchases. Spend your money wisely and you'll have gear that will last for years to come, if you treat it right.

Lastly, there is no subsitute for professional instruction. Climbing schools are expensive, but there are plenty of outdoor clubs with climbers in them that will be happy to pass of their years of wisdom to you. "Just straight up climbing mountains" without knowing the intracacies of the sport will ultimately lead you to serious injury or death.

Best of luck to you, stay safe always and good climbing.


-- Chris Bechard (, February 13, 2004.

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