/ step into mountaineering - how?

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Pietrach - on 08 Oct 2016
I am a keen hill walker, now very regular but will go out once every two months or so. I do both summer and winter scotland. Walking with walking ice axe and crampons is fine, did a basic Tiso course on use of the above and self arrest. However, now i would like to get slightly deeper into mountaineering knowledge. Not necessarily to access more difficult routes, but to feel more confident in the hills, knowing that if i need to then i have the knowledge and skills. How can i obtain such skills? what would you recommend? mountaineering club? courses? partnering with someone experienced? thanks
I am based in glasgow by the way.
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 08 Oct 2016
In reply to Pietrach:

Hi Pietrach- from a similar background, i did a couple of winter courses with West Coast Mountain Guides; then onto easy winter routes eg CMD arete, sron na lairig, NC gully on stob coire nan lochain, dorsal arete, and similar in lakes/snowdonia.

also grade 2/3 summer scrambles eg curved ridge, clogwyn y person arete, and mileage on easy rock climbs

basically lots of mileage on 'scrambly' ground in summer and winter- with partners of similar experience.

the courses were about 10 years ago now, others can give current recommendations, but Alan Kimber at west coast mountain guides was excellent
zimpara - on 09 Oct 2016
In reply to Pietrach:
You want to obtain skills for what? To feel more confident in your skills should you need them, from your OP.

There is such a huge amount of information already on the forum,

Eiger northface thread which is the best thing I have ever read personally.

Guocho and Co adding alot of info on this thread.



It's definately not a straight cross over from hill walking, there needs to be a sense that you've always been longing for more, it's 100% a head thing- why else would you put yourself in very exposed, very lose, very dangerous cold places where you have a fair chance of dying. So progressively push the boundaries of your exploits, whether that is with more experienced partners or not. A good partner is essential, not necessarily a good climber, just a good guy.

And bear in mind, when things go wrong-it will be major wrong.
Have you got a really good inner voice and do you listen to it? This is important-much more so than the standard you climb or the gear you have.

For me personally, I've done a few big mointain routes in north wales, went to the Alps and summited Mt Blanc, several times (including the approach scramblle to g£uter hut) I thought I may die, and 1 small slip up would ensure you did.

NB:a slip from someone else can be just as deadly, On the bosses ridge 'mt blanc' another party (solo) staggered off the ridge and lurched onto my partner (who was in microspikes) a terrible state, I only found out at the top.

I am now absolutely addicted.
Have fun

Disclaimer: this is really serious, really dangerous stuff, the adjective danger can be overwhelming.


You can procure anything in the world with these.
Post edited at 10:30
Dave Perry - on 09 Oct 2016
In reply to Pietrach:

Map reading. Map reading and more map reading. Be able to read and follow on the ground in any conditions - thick fog and at dark. Using timing & paces, and slope aspect. Are you 101% sure you can?

Knowing you can do this will save you lots of worry, and avoid ever getting lost. All a major cause of mountain rescue call outs.
Pietrach - on 10 Oct 2016
In reply to Pietrach:

Thank you all for your advice.

I am definitely not 101% confident in terms of map reading, and I an aware this is the skill which I do need to practice.

You all did give me some food for thought. I used to do some occasional indoor climbing (1-2 week), but I found that I enjoy bouldering much more than roped climbing. Then I tried rock climbing outdoor, and again I found that I am not comfortable with the additional level of risk associated with this. So maybe, I don't have this desire in my head to go for more exposed and more "dangerous" routes. So far I am perfectly happy with hill walking and low grade scrambling, and perfectly at peace with not attempting Aonach Eagach.

Thank you.

colinakmc - on 10 Oct 2016
In reply to Pietrach:
Pietrach, with all due respect to zimpara ( and I wouldn't suggest anything he says is actually wrong) he's a bit over the top in my view. Risks are mostly banal and you're just as likely to have something happening while hillwalking as climbing (see MRT stats for almost anywhere!)
To get as safe as you can be, I suggest (1) join a club- where you can learn from folk who have a lifetime's near misses to draw upon. (2) do hill skills course ( see the Mountain- training website or search on the Glenmore Lodge site) (3) get out more, try for your limits, but always have an escape plan;
And (4) follow your heart!
(Edit: my predictive text decided your name was pig tranch! Sorry about that....)
Post edited at 17:23
jonnie3430 - on 10 Oct 2016
In reply to colinakmc:
I'd agree, join a club, or the modern equivalent, a local Facebook group. Posting for a partner on here, explaining experience and what you want to get from it should have good results too.

And zimpara is a bit OTT in my opinion. If you take on too much too early you can have dodgy times, but if you keep it simple, get the Winter Skills book by Cunningham Fyffe, or as we've suggested above, go out with someone who knows what they are doing you'll be fine.
Post edited at 17:42
Misha - on 12 Oct 2016
In reply to Pietrach:

Join a local club, that's a good way to learn.
ogreville on 14 Oct 2016
In reply to Pietrach:

Would I be right in saying that you have experience (summer and winter), you've done a skills course, but want to expand on all of this to feel fully confident in the mountains....but not necessarily to do anything any more challenging than you currently do.

Course / Club / experienced partner - all very helpful, but in my experience, your best bet is to hit the books!
If you study the details; the full technical ins and outs of mountaineering, the knowledge will improve your skills and judgement and give you the boost you need. You should be able to answer every obscure question out there on navigation, bearings and grid references, magnetic declination , avalanches, cornice formation, types of snow and ice, weather fronts and cloud types - wind speeds and precipitation, the munter vs the super munter etc etc.
It all needs to be put in to practice mind you, but take your time and go at a slow pace, over a couple of summer and winter seasons. Get out there at every opportunity. Practice your knowledge on safer, lower risk terrance until you've nailed it.

Good Luck
Sean Kelly - on 14 Oct 2016
In reply to Pietrach:

In this order:
1. Go on a relevant course/s (eg. Rock intro weekend, winter skills weekend etc)
2. Join a local mountaineering club (see BMC date base for clubs in your area)
3. Get outdoors every weekend, or as much as possible (plus some wall work in the winter if the weather is too knarly. Clubs often use the wall on their club evening in the winter).
The Ice Doctor - on 00:50 Wed
In reply to Pietrach:

Just get out there as much as you can. It takes years to become a competent mountaineer.
Stu Tyrrell on 12:45 Wed
In reply to The Ice Doctor: I would try someone like


Learn the basics well, then its up to you!

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