/ How to: newbie to mountaineer

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MostazaPicante on 12 Jan 2018

Hi all,

First post here after seemingly being directed to and reading more and more articles from ukh, and reading forum posts.

I've actually already posted this in UKC, but as my aim is to encompass some basic climbing to achieve general mountaineering, I thought I'd post here too (sorry if I'm infringing on rules).

I've done a good amount of research, which has given me a (very) basic understanding of what's involved from multiple sources: BMC content and videos, this and other sites, books eEtc

I know experience is the most important thing, and have no intention of trying to jump straight into Alpine mountaineering!

A bit of background:

I've been an avid UK hiker (spring to summer) for a long time. Done some long and difficult hikes, and some minor scrambling.

I've also done a few (easy but unguided) peaks in the Andes and Himalayas. Highest 4800m.

I also do some fell running and snowboarding, and I'm in quite good physical shape.

I'd like to progress to some grade I/II/III Scottish, then to Alpine (depending on how well I've understood the comparison of grades - see below).

I'm more interested in winter mountaineering in terms of bagging peaks, rather than the most challenging routes/technical climbs. However realise you can't necessarily have one without the other.

I've got a 2 day winter skills course in the lakes next month, for learning crampon, ice axe, winter navigation, etc skills. So you can see I'm starting from scratch.

I'd really like to hear from other members what their advice would be to get from where I am now, to where I want to be. How long, courses, experience needed before progressing to the next stage, etc.


In reply to MostazaPicante:

This post is very well timed. We've got a big article on making the transition from hillwalker to winter mountaineer coming out next week. Stay tuned!

MostazaPicante on 12 Jan 2018
In reply to Dan Bailey -

Ha ha! I am known for my timing!

To pre-empt: will this cover topics such as...

  • What climbing skills are needed
  • Differences between rock climbing and winter/ice climbing (skills, technique and equipment)
  • Etc
Post edited at 10:01
Ghastlyrabbitfat on 12 Jan 2018
In reply to MostazaPicante:

Soak up as much information as you can when on the two day course.  Apart from the obvious direct instruction you will receive, look at how the instructor/guide moves; what gear he uses and how he sorts that gear.  You might pick up on things you want to adopt yourself that will save years of experimentation.

Make notes of important points in technique and any small tips that are passed to the group.  Again, learning from another's vast experience might preclude making mistakes yourself.  (A waterproof notebook might be handy for this, but best to do it at the end of the day! Camera can be handy as well - I used one to record some aspects of a ski mountaineering course.)

Post course, get out and practice, practice, practice.  Pay particular attention to navigation and assessing snow conditions.  Enjoy what you are doing and try to learn something from every hill day you experience. 

You will become obsessive about weather charts and forecasts.  Remember to view these in conjunction with the SAIS reports.

When you are confident, classic UK ridges can be a good place to start.

Have fun!

(Do you singletrack by any chance? Someone on the forums was asking for very similar advice re courses.)




MostazaPicante on 12 Jan 2018
In reply to Ghastlyrabbitfat:

Thanks for the input.

(After googling what single track is, I can safely say I don't!)

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