/ How to progress from newbie to mountaineer

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MostazaPicante on 11 Jan 2018

Hi all,

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

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.

If someone could also send a comparison of all grading systems, that would be great!!!


Post edited at 15:04
rocksol - on 11 Jan 2018
In reply to MostazaPicante:

In my opinion you,re probably fit enough to tackle Scots 1-3 as basically they,re easy. For alpine climbing I,d join a club and pick someone else's brains/experience

My generation just set off for the Alps and got stuck in There wasn't money for courses instructors etc.

I know personally several British guides who did just that and took the carnet test later

whatever you do enjoy it

Wish I could go back and start again!!

MostazaPicante on 11 Jan 2018
In reply to rocksol:

Thanks rocksol!

Thanks that gives me a lot of confidence already. I'm wary of jumping in with two feet, as making a mistake on something even semi serious could be avoided with a bit more experience and prep.

As above, I'm looking specifically at winter mountaineering. Would you still give the same advice?

Trangia on 11 Jan 2018
In reply to MostazaPicante:

Sounds to me that you have progressed well and are doing all the right things. You are becoming experienced and are definitely no longer a newbie.

Your upcoming course will be very valuable and you will meet new people. It sounds as though you would benefit from forming a regular climbing partnership with someone at least as experienced or even better a bit more experienced. You might also benefit from joining an active club near you.

This climbing grade chart will be helpful

Good luck with your continuing development!



MostazaPicante on 12 Jan 2018
In reply to MostazaPicante:

I'm getting ahead of myself now, but in preparation for next winter (!), I want to get some climbing basics done over summer. 

I live near a couple of indoor climbing centres, so would likely start there before venturing outside.

For example (excuse my ignorance of terminology and understanding): belaying, rope skills, familiarising with equipment types and uses, and of course building up some experience and strength.

Are indoor and rock/outdoor climbing basic skills completely transferable to winter mountaineering and ice climbing. I mean the real basic of how to tie in, belaying, knots used....


flour - on 12 Jan 2018
In reply to MostazaPicante:

I don't think you are getting ahead of yourself. Its what I would advise as your next step. Getting used to dealing with a rope, belay skills and knot tying are all essential skills. This is how a lot of people make the progression to mountaineering. If you can persuade a friend to learn with you then it will be easier, less expensive and more fun. Good luck.

Rog Wilko on 12 Jan 2018
In reply to MostazaPicante:

At some point it will be worth your while doing a week's introduction to Alpine climbing with a good long-established set up like ISM. Other organisations are available, but I doubt any of them are better. After that you'll be all set to do some easy Alpine peaks independently i.e. not alone, preferably with two others similarly trained. 

Don't know how much you know about Alpine mountaineering, but there is a lifetime's stuff to go at without getting into technical or overly committing climbing. Most of the big peaks have easy routes to the summits where objective dangers are not too worrying and which can be done by reasonably fit people with basic experience such as a good introductory course would provide. Lots of 4000 m peaks can be reached by F grade (facile) routes which are basically snow plods and PD routes (peu difficile) open up another tranche of slightly more challenging routes. Routes like the Bishorn, Weissmies and Gran Paradiso voies normales are good examples of routes you could do in your first season of independent Alpine climbing.

Hope this helps to fire you up.

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