/ At what point do you stop being a beginner?

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needvert on 12 Dec 2012
First lead at the gym?

First lead on trad?

First multipitch lead?

First time you bring up inexperienced seconds?

First time you set up a TR by yourself?

First lead of an E1?


Just curious. When I get to the stage of comfortably onsighting E1/18s I'll feel I have left the beginner label behind. Got a way to go yet!
crustypunkuk - on 12 Dec 2012
In reply to needvert:
First time you mock/look down on a post from an actual newbie?
Although, plenty here do that regardless, so maybe not.
First time you climb VD? VS? HVS? E?
Surely experience negates newbie status, although experience is relative.
Cameron94 on 12 Dec 2012
In reply to needvert: When your skills and expereinces have a value to someone else eg. you could help out a newbie. By this I mean to a reasonable level, not just showing them how to put on a harness and tie a figure of 8.
Just how I see it.
crustypunkuk - on 12 Dec 2012
In reply to crustypunkuk:
Just to clarify, i know LOTS of climbers with 30/40/50+ years of summer, winter and everywhere inbetween experience who have never climbed harder than (old school) vs. Are they inexperienced? should they go back to school?
Gordon Stainforth - on 12 Dec 2012
In reply to Cameron94:

The first time you lead anything (any adventure climb). that is potentially very dangerous, well i.e. safely.
Cameron94 on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to Gordon Stainforth: What does danger mean to you? It's probably something else to me.
needvert on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to crustypunkuk:
> (In reply to needvert)
> First time you mock/look down on a post from an actual newbie?

..Just deleted my aggressive reply...Since I thought you were suggesting I'd recently mocked a newbie on here (had that indoor climb logging for instructor cert thread in my mind). Which I like to think I haven't!

Gordon Stainforth - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to Cameron94:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth) What does danger mean to you? It's probably something else to me.

A real risk of killing yourself. I.e. decking it from c. 30 feet plus. I don't mean anything trivial.

puppythedog on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to needvert: Once you have been in the top 40 posters twice?

In climbing terms for me it was when I realised I could rock up at the bottom of any crag with someone who was inexperienced, but could belay, and we could have a fun safe day including routes that would challenge me. I.e. that my experience would be enough. *

If that doesn't count I am still a newbie, only been climbing three ish years.
** I will be a newbie on an ice climbing trip in January .
Jamie B - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to needvert:

For me it was definably the time that my University club gave me two novices and asked me if I wanted to take them up Pedestal Route at the Roaches. Which in case you were unaware is a 2-pitch VDiff with directional belays, a cramped stance, rope drag/jamming issues and a spicy wee traverse.

Years later, as an experienced MIA I would decline this brief in favour of a more easily-manageable route. Then I just got on with it, bluffed my way through and learned loads! Not the quickest lead of the route, but definitely a turning point..
Trangia - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
> (In reply to Cameron94)
>
> The first time you lead anything (any adventure climb). that is potentially very dangerous, well i.e. safely.

What about someone with decades of experience under her belt who can belay well, she's attentive and it's very comforting to have her as a second on a climb, including multi-pitch, can second anything up to E1 and is a steady climber with good technique, is happy to ab anywhere including off sea stacks, yet she has never lead anything in her life and has no desire to?

Surely you can't classify her as a beginner?
Erstwhile on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to needvert:
Reply to - "At what point do you stop being a beginner?"

When you give up.
jkarran - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to needvert:

I'd go with: When you are comfortable that you know what to do and understand why in the full range of scenarios you regularly encounter.

jk
Trangia - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to needvert:

When you don't need to ask the question .
GrahamD - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to needvert:

When you back your own judgement. Partner, venue, route,rack....
silo - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to needvert: The first time you drop your rope and climb not knowing the grad ( because it looks irresistible).
Gordon Stainforth - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to Trangia:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth)
> [...]
>
> What about someone with decades of experience under her belt who can belay well, she's attentive and it's very comforting to have her as a second on a climb, including multi-pitch, can second anything up to E1 and is a steady climber with good technique, is happy to ab anywhere including off sea stacks, yet she has never lead anything in her life and has no desire to?
>
> Surely you can't classify her as a beginner?

No, I wouldn't call them a beginner, but 'an experienced second'. As I think the essence of climbing is leading I find the idea of a second never leading a bit odd. Ideally, on a serious, Alpine-type climb, with objective dangers, the climbers should be of roughly equal ability, because if one gets injured the other has to take over the lead.

Jonny2vests - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to needvert:

Beginner at what? It's a grey area that's hard to pin down for many aspects. But for technique alone, there is definitely a point at which movement becomes efficient, smooth and automatic for grades you are comfortable with.
Monk - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to needvert:
> First lead at the gym?
>
> First lead on trad?
>
> First multipitch lead?
>
> First time you bring up inexperienced seconds?
>
> First time you set up a TR by yourself?
>
> First lead of an E1?
>
>
> Just curious. When I get to the stage of comfortably onsighting E1/18s I'll feel I have left the beginner label behind. Got a way to go yet!

I think that you stop being a beginner when you are reasonably comfortable doing a certain task on your own. Even experienced people can be beginners. For example, I'd been a very competent rock climber (i hope) for some years before I did my first pure ice climbing; although I was competent at ropework, I was definitely a beginner on ice at that point.
Jim at Work on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to Trangia:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth)
> [...]
>
> What about someone with decades of experience under her belt who can belay well, she's attentive and it's very comforting to have her as a second on a climb, including multi-pitch, can second anything up to E1 and is a steady climber with good technique, is happy to ab anywhere including off sea stacks, yet she has never lead anything in her life and has no desire to?
>
> Surely you can't classify her as a beginner?

I'm curious, why 'her'? Does this sort of condition only apply to the fair sex?
GridNorth - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to needvert: When you can approach any route of your choice and know that you can deal with anything it throws at you safely, efficiently and competently.
tlm - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to needvert:

When you stop caring if you are seen as a newbie or not.
GrahamD - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to tlm:

Probably at the same time you drop all that shiney extraneous extra gear from the harness and from the rucksac haul loop.
tlm - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to GridNorth:
> (In reply to needvert) When you can approach any route of your choice and know that you can deal with anything it throws at you safely, efficiently and competently.

Never then?
davidbeynon - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to tlm:

That's the best attitude.

You stop thinking you are a beginner the day you get complacent and stop double checking. Then you are on borrowed time.
teflonpete - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to needvert:

When you can find and lead a route from a written guide book description and no photo topo! :0)
Jimbo C - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to needvert:

Dunno. Maybe when you start to unconsciously do the things that you used to have to think hard about - i.e. how to tie a clove hitch onto a belay anchor. Selecting the right size nut for the placement first time on most occasions. Walking up to something and thinking ' I'll solo that' without any doubt in your mind.
Trangia - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to Jim at Work:
> (In reply to Trangia)
> [...]
>
> I'm curious, why 'her'? Does this sort of condition only apply to the fair sex?

No, it's just that I had a particular lady in mind. Actually the facts are a bit artificial and it's an historical scenario. A few years ago she was following someone else I know up a multi pitch HVS along with a third more inexperienced person, and the leader got stuck, threw a wobley and couldn't go on. My female friend rose to the occasion and took over the leading (her first time ever) and safely got the rest of the party to the top, which included her leading the crux pitch.

So, in answer to Gordon's query, she now knows she can lead if necessary, but still prefers to second! :)
David Ponting on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to Jimbo C:

I'd probably agree with this - the point when you no longer have to think ("now, how do I do this again"), consciously at least, about usual techniques - by which I'd imply setting up a belay, abseiling, placement and similar things. It's also therefore the most dangerous time, just as in driving - when you have confidence but not yet wisdom.

An alternative definition, for those of us in clubs at least, would be the same as Jamie Bankhead's post earlier - the point when you are trusted enough to be handed a group of complete beginners and told to get on with it.

It's probably different for the different skills - so should be counted separately for: hillwalking (summer and winter), cragging, multipitch, ice climbing, alpine, expedition, greater ranges etc.
Gordon Stainforth - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to Trangia:
> (In reply to Jim at Work)
> [...]
>
>
> So, in answer to Gordon's query, she now knows she can lead if necessary, but still prefers to second! :)

Good - she's not a beginner then! :)

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Trangia - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Agreed! But my original question related to how she was before she did that lead, based on your definition! :)
USBRIT - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to needvert: Well American John Long who writes books for beginners and experts last week decked out on a climbing wall and badly injured himself when his knot came untied... personally I learnt by my mistakes that up to now have not been fatal.Just go for it !
IPPurewater on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to needvert: When you can lead a route, safely protect it and competently set up a belay at an intermediate stance or the top.
Bulls Crack - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to needvert:
> First lead at the gym?

> First time you bring up inexperienced seconds?
>


>
>
I've never eaten an inexperienced second

puppythedog on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to Bulls Crack: You should try it ;-)
Howard J - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
> (In reply to Trangia)
As I think the essence of climbing is leading I find the idea of a second never leading a bit odd.

But that's just your opinion - she apparently takes a different view. People get different things from climbing. For some it may be the excitement and challenge of leading, but she apparently takes sufficient satisfaction from seconding.

Personally, I don't 'get' indoor climbing or bouldering - I can see that they have training benefits but to me they're not 'proper' climbing. However there are plenty of people who take these activities very seriously.

I'd say you cease to be a beginner when you are no longer a liability to your companions and can take responsibility for yourself.
Gordon Stainforth - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to Howard J:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth)
> [...]
> As I think the essence of climbing is leading I find the idea of a second never leading a bit odd.
>
> But that's just your opinion - she apparently takes a different view. People get different things from climbing. For some it may be the excitement and challenge of leading, but she apparently takes sufficient satisfaction from seconding.

That's right, that's why I said 'I think ...'
>
> Personally, I don't 'get' indoor climbing or bouldering - I can see that they have training benefits but to me they're not 'proper' climbing. However there are plenty of people who take these activities very seriously.

For me climbing has a core meaning, that goes right back to childhood tree climbing and early bouldering, without a rope in sight.
>
> I'd say you cease to be a beginner when you are no longer a liability to your companions and can take responsibility for yourself.

Yes, not bad, but i think it has to be expressed a bit more strongly and positively than that, when you're talking about a climbing team, or even a bunch of hill walkers. You have to not only not be a liability, but also able to help the rest of the team if they're in trouble. This is more than simply 'taking responsibility for yourself'.

mrchewy - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to Gordon Stainforth: Reading your comments, I couldn't help but think of Ben and Marion Wintringham - Marion only seconding for many many years. I doubt anyone would think her to be a beginner or in-experienced.
Gordon Stainforth - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to mrchewy:

I find it very hard to believe that Marion never led anything. But I agree with your next point completely.
ebachini - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to needvert: A beginner is just a title, does it actually compare to skills and knowledge, of course not. Having a hierarchy and measurement of titles for something like climbing, to me is slightly confusing. What use does it have to think of yourself as a beginner or expert?

In regards to other people's suggestions about when you're no longer a beginner, it comes across as someone would have to know everything about their given field to no longer be deemed a beginner. I'd like to think that I know enough about rock climbing, belaying, knots and that stuff to keep me and others safe while climbing in certain situation.

I don't however have a clue when it comes to mountaineering and ice-climbing to name a couple. I wouldn't give myself a title based on my experience, skills or measurable achievements because it has no benefit to me whatsoever. If someone was to ask me if I wanted to ice-climb with them, what use would it be to inform them I was a beginner when it's clear it has such a vague application. Surely explaining what experience I'd had or hadn't would be more effective at determining a general level of knowledge, skills and experience.

Milesy - on 14 Dec 2012
Beginner does not equal grades.
ice.solo - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to needvert:

when you realize its about getting home, not to the top.
DerwentDiluted - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to needvert:

When you have an experience that is, to paraphrase Churchill;

Not the end, not even the beginning of the end, but possibly the end of the beginning.
SophieEmily - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to ice.solo: Totally agree!
GridNorth - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to ebachini: What a long winded way of saying that as far as alpine climbing and ice climbing is concerned you are a novice. ;-)
oddtoast on 14 Dec 2012
Well, the traditional craft progression was three stages built around standard competencies, peer judgment and time/experience:

apprentice: from knowing nothing to being able to do tasks supervised
journeyman: being able to do all relevant craft skills to a suitable level independently and monitor/assist apprentices.
master: (optional stage for some) possessing some or all relevant skills at highest level and take full responsibility for apprentices.

So you are no longer a beginner when you reach journeyman stage. Competent skill set in discrete area but long way from mastery!
LastBoyScout on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to needvert:

When you've passed your SPA...

(...runs and hides :-D)
nufkin - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to LastBoyScout:

So my CWA was for nowt?
ebachini - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to GridNorth: I was simply using it as an example, I couldn't care how little experience or knowledge I have with something like alpine climbing or the title others would label me because I have little experience.

I guess what I was hoping to point out is that I don't believe giving yourself or someone a title based on their experience, doesn't outweight specific details about what they actually know and also has no benifit to be classed as a beginner for example.
jenniwat001 on 15 Dec 2012
In reply to needvert:

The OP seems to be confusing skill with experience- I have been climbing for 6 years now. I can lead, I can set up anchors, I can teach 'newbies' but I struggle to top rope a 6a at the wall. Watching me on a route you would think I was a beginner, but I'm not, I just a cr*p climber!
Orgsm on 15 Dec 2012
In reply to needvert:

The point at which you have built up enough skills and experience to participate safetly in your chosen climbing style, without the need for close supervision / direction or complete reliance upon a more experienced companion.

So as a beginner you will be enthusiastic but need direction and encouragement from a more experienced partner. As you build up your skills, your initial enthusiasm may have waned, so you may need more encouragement and less direction. As you progress further you may get to quite a high level technically, but your commitment may waver. So you may just need encouragement. At the top of your game, you'll be highly skilled technically and fully committed. You'll be out the door before someone has had the chance to say "let's climb".

So in terms of your journey I'd say

  • Beginner - You start off needing direction on how to do things correctly safetly.
  • Novice - As you progress you need coaching to consolidate the skills you have and help build new ones
  • Punter - Further on, your commitment may waver, as the great strides you made as a beginner / novice have begun to slow down. So you just need a bit of encouragement and support.
  • Enthusiast / Professional - As you become fully competent and committed, you increasingly need others to get your climbing fix. So you'll seek others to climb with you, and based on where they are at; you'll direct, coach and encourage them as much as they want / need.



  • GridNorth - on 15 Dec 2012
    In reply to needvert: When you are confident enough in your own abilities to tie in with a bowline and not follow the herd. :-)
    xplorer on 15 Dec 2012
    Does any of this really matter?


    ;-)
    GridNorth - on 15 Dec 2012
    In reply to xplorer:
    > Does any of this really matter?
    >
    >
    > ;-)

    No, but what has that got anything to do with it? :-)
    Orgsm on 15 Dec 2012
    In reply to xplorer:
    > Does any of this really matter?
    >
    >
    > ;-)

    You are clearly a beginner at this post on, post off young cricket....

    xplorer on 15 Dec 2012
    In reply to A Game of Chance:

    Blimey, how nice are you?

    xplorer on 15 Dec 2012
    In reply to A Game of Chance:

    Just don't understand why it has to be so technical.

    Climbing, which ever style you choose, really isn't that hard to learn safely. Common sense is really all you need.

    needvert on 17 Dec 2012
    In reply to xplorer:

    Perhaps to some. Personally, I had/have to be told a fair amount!

    alburns - on 18 Dec 2012
    In reply to needvert: when you know how to use your gear safely when you feel confident enough in your ability to climb, when you feel confident that you can climb with an inexperienced second & possibly have to lead the whole climb you take on
    Wilbur - on 19 Dec 2012
    In reply to needvert:

    A few pointers;

    Leading vs comfortably on a variety of rock types inc multipitch.
    Not shitting yourself on this grade or grades below it. Hvs is fine, everyone shits themselves on an hvs at some point whether they admit it or not.
    Safely arranging gear for a second on a traverse, safely and assuredly building belays and not nearly killing yourself when abbing.

    All of that's a start....
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    JimboWizbo - on 19 Dec 2012
    In reply to needvert: We're all evolving from newbies into experienced climbers. When was the first human born?
    CurlyStevo - on 19 Dec 2012
    In reply to needvert:

    I think you hit punter rather than novice when competently leading:
    VS, F6a, and grade IV.

    Punter will then take you up to and including:
    E2, F6c+, grade V
    Bulls Crack - on 19 Dec 2012
    In reply to needvert:

    When you can tie your own knot without being reduced to a gibbering wreck thinking about all the possibilities of it becoming undone?

    or is that experience?
    5eamuz on 21 Dec 2012
    In reply to needvert:
    > First lead at the gym?
    >
    > First lead on trad?
    >
    > First multipitch lead?
    >
    > First time you bring up inexperienced seconds?
    >
    > First time you set up a TR by yourself?
    >
    > First lead of an E1?
    >
    >
    > Just curious. When I get to the stage of comfortably onsighting E1/18s I'll feel I have left the beginner label behind. Got a way to go yet!

    When you stop wanting to improve
    Gordon Stainforth - on 21 Dec 2012
    In reply to 5eamuz:
    > (In reply to needvert)
    > [...]
    >
    > When you stop wanting to improve

    That is utter nonsense. That's what happens when you're an old-timer or has-been like myself. As long as you are an active climber, devoting much of your leisure time to it, you will be wanting to improve. Not necessarily climbing technically harder, but certainly climbing better, more slickly, more fluently etc. etc.

    DaveAtkinson - on 21 Dec 2012
    In reply to needvert:

    Hopefully never.

    One of the things I enjoy most is learning something new. You're a begginner each time you push the grade, or a new crag, new rock type, winter, alpine, aid climbing, dry-tooling, a new climbing wall, even a new boulder problem.

    Long may I remain a beginner.

    Gordon Stainforth - on 21 Dec 2012
    In reply to DaveAtkinson:

    That is so wise. On the best climbs I've ever done, I've always felt like a complete beginner ... hard to explain what I mean really. Except that you can't fall back on autopilot. If it's a real challenge it'll have something rather new about it.
    5eamuz on 21 Dec 2012
    In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
    > (In reply to 5eamuz)
    > [...]
    >
    > That is utter nonsense. That's what happens when you're an old-timer or has-been like myself. As long as you are an active climber, devoting much of your leisure time to it, you will be wanting to improve. Not necessarily climbing technically harder, but certainly climbing better, more slickly, more fluently etc. etc.

    But that is my point - as long as you are trying to climb harder or better or smoother then you are a beginner at your new project
    rurp - on 21 Dec 2012
    In reply to needvert: when you climb right unconquerable without a rest,or fall. second or lead.
    nrhardy - on 21 Dec 2012
    In reply to needvert: Tomorrow.
    Paul Hy - on 21 Dec 2012
    In reply to rurp:
    > (In reply to needvert) when you climb right unconquerable without a rest,or fall. second or lead.

    thats it, i'm not a beginner any more!!
    rtwilli4 - on 23 Dec 2012
    In reply to needvert:

    First time you almost die and actually learn something from the experience.
    chris_r - on 23 Dec 2012
    In reply to needvert:
    When you have an opinion on the grade of Three Pebble Slab.
    will - on 23 Dec 2012
    Begginer? i guess you stop being a begginer once you have all the fundermental safety skills nailed: Tying in and belaying. but being fair, does anyone ever get out of the amatuer category, as i cant speak for everyone else, but personally regardless of how long ive been climbing, im always learning something new, and found that no route is the same, no gear placement is the same, and the weather is always changing, so im always changing the way i do things, and adapting the basic skills to create something that works for the situation im in...

    So no matter what grade you climb, we should never over estimate our ability, thats when accidents happen.
    Gudrun - on 23 Dec 2012
    In reply to needvert:
    It depends what you aspire to,if its only single-pitch cragging then being able to lead safely should do it.If its summer and winter mountain routes then its multi-pitch leading as well as all the other issues that get you to and from the mountain safely in all the many and varied conditions.
    Though it can be when things go wrong or something unexpected happens that you gain more confidence,i find.
    a lakeland climber on 23 Dec 2012
    In reply to needvert:

    You stop being a beginner when you realise that there's more than one way to do something. You move to enlightenment when you realise that the numpties promoting the figure of eight are wrong.

    ALC
    paul mitchell - on 23 Dec 2012
    In reply to needvert: Try Beginner's wall at Blackwell dale,then you tell me.
    Unfortunately chipped by a repeat ascensionist.

    Mitch

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