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making slow break into alpine climbing. some questions.
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cush


Dec 20, 2009, 12:46 AM
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making slow break into alpine climbing. some questions.
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hey. i've been climbing trad for 2.5 years, comfortably leading easy gunks 5.9s and backpacking all over the Dacks for about 6 years. I've never done a whole lot of winter camping but i ski and have my fair share of winter gear. that being said, i've got a couple questions.

i plan on doing quite a bit of winter hiking on some pretty steep stuff in the upcoming months. will crampons be necessary? i'm not talking about stiff boots and ice climbing 'pons but a regular strap on crampon over a hiking boot with gaitors.

i've been told by some guys at the local gym who do quite a bit of alpine climbing to tackle some slides up in the dacks but truthfully, i know nothing about slides. they seem like their just long, usually easier alpine style trad routes on slabbish, not steep faces. is there anything one should know before attempting such a route?

i would probably try my first during the warmer months and then eventually try to combine the steep winter hiking with the longer alpine rock routes and gradually push my way up to tougher and tougher stuff with the aid of people who have done this sort of stuff before?


skiclimb


Dec 20, 2009, 9:56 AM
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Re: [cush] making slow break into alpine climbing. some questions. [In reply to]
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Main thing to do is sign up for the next avalanche course.

Practice self arrest techniques..get comfortable with all possible arrest scenarios..it's fun practice anyway :)

3rd even if you are trying some easy chutes to start out with plan to take longer than you expect. watch the clock and pick a turn around time. good general rule is split your time into 3rds and save the last third to get back.

As always keep a close eye on weather


(This post was edited by skiclimb on Dec 20, 2009, 10:00 AM)


rschap


Dec 20, 2009, 2:07 PM
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Re: [skiclimb] making slow break into alpine climbing. some questions. [In reply to]
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I would recommend snow shoes and crampons. Out in the Los Angeles area there are a few peaks over 10,000 ft that have snow in the winter. I have climbed all of them many times in the winter and most of the time I have not needed snow shoes or crampons but there were the few times that were a lot safer because I had them. Including the time I left at 6am and hiked up Mt Baldy kick stepped up the bowl with my crampons and by the time I was hiking out the snow was melty and a lot less firm and even with snow shoes on I sank down to my hips a couple of times, on the way in I didnít even wear them. The other scenario I can think of is one time I was on a well packed down trail for about 8 of the 10 miles up the mountain but as I got higher more and more of the hikers that had gone before me had turned around and the trail was much less packed until I got to the point that the only one ahead of me had put on show shoes and I didnít have any at the time and I had to turn back 1 mile or so from the summit. I found if you stick to established trails most of the time they get packed down with in the first day or two after it snows and you wonít need snow shoes in the early morning (crampons may be needed depending on how icy it is) but as it worms up or you get higher youíll find you need them. If you donít have them make sure to be out of there before 10 or 11am or the snow can soften up and be a real bitch. On another note I have telemark skis now and the only time I snow shoe is when Iím out with the wife.



And I also second what skiclimb says.


karmiclimber


Dec 20, 2009, 5:44 PM
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Re: [cush] making slow break into alpine climbing. some questions. [In reply to]
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I really doubt you will need crampons. I've used snow shoes in the sierra nevadas for all of the mountains I've climbed and been fine...
Serious question...is it truly alpine climbing if it takes place in the adirondacks? I thought there had to be a certain elevation to be considered alpine.


kheegster


Dec 20, 2009, 7:35 PM
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Re: [karmiclimber] making slow break into alpine climbing. some questions. [In reply to]
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karmiclimber wrote:
I really doubt you will need crampons. I've used snow shoes in the sierra nevadas for all of the mountains I've climbed and been fine...
Serious question...is it truly alpine climbing if it takes place in the adirondacks? I thought there had to be a certain elevation to be considered alpine.

I'd consider elevation gain and ruggedness as the definition of 'alpine'. It's possible to get elevation gains of over 3000' in the ADK, which is more than some climbs in the Rockies. Having said that, the average climb in the North Cascades is >5000 ft, a lot harder than stuff in RMNP even though summits there are below 10,000 ft.

As for the OP, snowshoes are going to be a lot more useful in the ADK in general, unless you're going above treeline (e.g. Marcy) or doing something like NF of Gothics.


rokdoc


Dec 20, 2009, 9:12 PM
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Re: [cush] making slow break into alpine climbing. some questions. [In reply to]
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In summer conditions many of the slides in the High Peaks are easy, low-angle hikes by climbing standards. The difficulty of course depends on the route. Some, like the popular slides on Giant, are easy, if exposed. Others, like the North face of Gothics, are pretty significant undertakings. The classic Adirondack alpine climb is the Trap Dike of Mount Colden, which is generally 3rd class with some harder overlaps.

Compared the climbing your have done in the Gunks, the major difference to climbing some the more technical slab route in the Park is lack of protection leading to substantial run outs. You can get a feel for this by climbing some of the trade routes on the Chapel Pond Slab.

As far at the slides and steep hiking in winter, the conditions set the gear. Unlike more consistently cold places, there is often significant icing in the Adirondacks. In deep, compact snow climbing the slides is little more that kicking steps. Other times the rock is plastered in ice from verglas to thick flows. There may be deep snow appropriate for snowshoes. Sometimes there is deep, poorly bonded snow setting the stage for an avalanche. You may encounter all of these in one outing.

Snowshoes may be helpful and required if are heading into some areas like Marcy Dam to preserve the trails for skiers. Many times you can get by with traction aids like Yaktrax if you are just hiking. In my experience, strap-on crampons provide the most flexibility on narrow, steep, icy trails where snowshoes get cumbersome.


tomtom


Dec 21, 2009, 6:57 AM
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Re: [kheegster] making slow break into alpine climbing. some questions. [In reply to]
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kheegster wrote:
I'd consider elevation gain and ruggedness as the definition of 'alpine'. It's possible to get elevation gains of over 3000' in the ADK, which is more than some climbs in the Rockies. Having said that, the average climb in the North Cascades is >5000 ft, a lot harder than stuff in RMNP even though summits there are below 10,000 ft.

A famous alpinist once said:

Once you have to cross a glacier, then it's alpine.


(This post was edited by tomtom on Dec 21, 2009, 6:59 AM)


brownie710


Dec 21, 2009, 7:19 AM
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Re: [cush] making slow break into alpine climbing. some questions. [In reply to]
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having grown up in the foothills of the adirondacks, leading adventure therapy programs in the park and climbing rock and ice there as well my bias would be that the park would be a great place to start. for starters on the slides and backcountry ice/mixed routes you can get

1. get temps of 30 below with nasty wind (regularly)
2. have huge sections of ice blow out from water pressure building below (see Mellor's description in the ice climbing section)
3. Lost, parts of the park are hardly traveled, especially in winter if you stray from the Giant mountain/cascade pass area, so you can work on route finding
4. climb at spots that you can wonder if anyone has climbed before if your willing to put in the slog.
5.Truly learn what the screaming barfies actually feels and sounds like
6.Get into situations in the park that can make you say " what the hell was i thinking" regarding getting into Alpine style and/or thinking the Adirondacks was a stepping stone


(This post was edited by brownie710 on Dec 21, 2009, 7:20 AM)


dynosore


Dec 21, 2009, 8:40 AM
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Re: [cush] making slow break into alpine climbing. some questions. [In reply to]
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cush wrote:
hey. i've been climbing trad for 2.5 years, comfortably leading easy gunks 5.9s and backpacking all over the Dacks for about 6 years. I've never done a whole lot of winter camping but i ski and have my fair share of winter gear. that being said, i've got a couple questions.

i plan on doing quite a bit of winter hiking on some pretty steep stuff in the upcoming months. will crampons be necessary? i'm not talking about stiff boots and ice climbing 'pons but a regular strap on crampon over a hiking boot with gaitors.

i've been told by some guys at the local gym who do quite a bit of alpine climbing to tackle some slides up in the dacks but truthfully, i know nothing about slides. they seem like their just long, usually easier alpine style trad routes on slabbish, not steep faces. is there anything one should know before attempting such a route?

i would probably try my first during the warmer months and then eventually try to combine the steep winter hiking with the longer alpine rock routes and gradually push my way up to tougher and tougher stuff with the aid of people who have done this sort of stuff before?

What's your ultimate goal? You can get somewhat better futzing around in the Adrionacks, but if you want to do serious alpine climbing someday you'd better learn glacier travel and av. safety, as skiclimb mentioned. I'm trapped here in Michigan (not much longer.....) and I personally want to climb the Cassin ridge someday, so I'm taking a 12 day course with Alaska Mountain School when I wrap up school. This isn't sport climbing, and I'd better know what I'm doing. I've traipsed around the backcountry of Alaska myself a fair bit, and I'm to the point that I need expert help because playing daredevil with crampons and iceaxes is going to catch up with me unless I get some professional instruction. I expect to learn more in a couple weeks than I would in several more dangerous trial and error type trips.....consider your goals, and if they are true big mountain alpine climbing, professional instruction might be in order.


jmeizis


Dec 21, 2009, 10:07 AM
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Re: [cush] making slow break into alpine climbing. some questions. [In reply to]
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It sounds like you have a some of the skills needed for alpine climbing, mainly being comfortable outside for long periods of time in sometimes adverse conditions.

I've done some of the slides in winter. You will need crampons and at least one ice axe. You're required to have snowshoes on Adirondack trails after snow cover is deeper than six inches. Strap on crampons are fine but the stiff boots and step-in crampons are very nice and warm.

Alpine climbing isn't about any one particular skill. It's about doing all of them efficiently and for a long time. Pretty much the terrain you see is ice, rock, and snow. If you can move over those for several thousand feet that's about all you need to do.

The slides are mainly ice and snow in winter so they have the hazard of avalanches sometimes but it's unusual in that area. Avalanches are not uncommon in other places. Knowledge of avalanches is a good way to maintain your health.

If you're climbing 5.9 in the Gunks than you're not going to have much trouble with the slides in summer. They're just really long slabs with little or no gear. At places like Wallface there are some longer, more adventurous climbs.

Technically all the stuff we're talking about in the 'Dacks is alpine. I takes place in an alpine setting with mountain conditions. What I've noticed since moving from NY is that while climbing slides and trudging around in the snow was good for building confidence in my skills it did not prepare me for altitude or large vertical gains. Big mountains generally have big mileage. The last alpine route I did this winter had more than 5000 ft of elevation gain. You'd have to climb 5 slides to get even close to that.

So they're good training but they're just that in comparison to other mountains, training.


graniteboy


Dec 23, 2009, 12:31 PM
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Re: [karmiclimber] making slow break into alpine climbing. some questions. [In reply to]
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A tend to agree with Skiclimb. Study avalanches.

On another point...I've never climbed winter routes in the Adirondacks, just places like the Sierra Nevada, Cascades, Canadian Rockies, Alaska Range, etc.
But B4 we start foulmouthing those very old ranges out on the east coast, and whether or not they "count" as "Alpine" climbing....we oughta remember: That's where Johnny Waterman Came from.
And there's not a person in all of RC.com (yeah, that's what I said...not one of you) who can solo the Truly Gargantuan S.E. Spur that He Soloed on Hunter. 145 days.
Must have had some good "Non-Alpine training routes" out on those "non-alpine" climbs, eh?

http://books.google.com/books?id=_gChjCzLlcQC&pg=PA91&lpg=PA91&dq=Johnny+Waterman+Buttress+Hunter&source=bl&ots=O1YRPRBOeX&sig=hfEkNrXwomV3LA1H5Tk18pCg830&hl=en&ei=d3wyS9HOBI6iswPpu9C8BA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CAgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=&f=false


reno


Dec 23, 2009, 12:40 PM
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Re: [graniteboy] making slow break into alpine climbing. some questions. [In reply to]
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graniteboy wrote:
A tend to agree with Skiclimb. Study avalanches.

On another point...I've never climbed winter routes in the Adirondacks, just places like the Sierra Nevada, Cascades, Canadian Rockies, Alaska Range, etc.
But B4 we start foulmouthing those very old ranges out on the east coast, and whether or not they "count" as "Alpine" climbing....we oughta remember: That's where Johnny Waterman Came from.
And there's not a person in all of RC.com (yeah, that's what I said...not one of you) who can solo the Truly Gargantuan S.E. Spur that He Soloed on Hunter. 145 days.
Must have had some good "Non-Alpine training routes" out on those "non-alpine" climbs, eh?

http://books.google.com/...e&q=&f=false

Clickable.


karmiclimber


Dec 23, 2009, 1:06 PM
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Re: [graniteboy] making slow break into alpine climbing. some questions. [In reply to]
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Woah woah woah. You misunderstood. I recently moved from the west coast to Ohio and I was looking for a new playground for me and my snowshoes.


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