View Full Version : Mountaineering newbie...

24th May 2006, 08:27 AM
Hi everyone,

I haven't posted here for a while but its nice to see the same people making regular comments (hey Boulia & Yakshaver!).

I did EBC in 05 and it seems I developed a need to climb higher when I was scrambling over Cho La Pass, Kallar Pattar etc. What fun!

I am planning to take a year off in 07-08 and doing some more remote trekking in Nepal. I really want to try mountaineering but I generally travel solo and the cost of joining a "fixed date" expedition is prohibitive. I am physically fit and aclimatise normally and I would like to do something more demanding than EBC or AC.

My question is, I guess, a painfully generaly one: where do I start? I have thought of doing a HMI course at Darjeeling, but then I am faced with the problem of finding other similarly experienced and enthusiastic people. Does anyone have any experience with this they wish to share?

Is it possible to find guides who provide their own gear? Any recommendations?

Anyone else in a similar boat?

Thanks in advance


24th May 2006, 09:14 AM
Hi Nick,

Welcome to the club! I have recent completed a mountaineering course in NZ (with Adventure Consultants) which was great as I got come experience with using crampons and ice tools, glacier travel and crevasse safety/rescue etc. Which leaves me in the the situation of having some skills now but no-one to climb with....

As you know there aren't too many opportunities to use those skills in Australia and there aren't too many other people around with similar ideas or who can organise similar time off / money required to travel internationally to pursue such activities. Mountaineering isn't really a sport that one can get involved in individually (at least not at the start anyway).

I think that there are plenty of "fully guided" (read that as "hand holding - you hold that end of the rope and we'll pull you up") climbs that you can do, but unless you've got at least one other person, venturing out on your own isn't really a viable option.

Climbing is something that I'd personally rather do with a regular partner as well, someone that you know and trust and get along with, not some "blow in" that happens to be in the same situation of having no climbing partner.

I see that you're in Brivegas, keep in touch and maybe we might cross paths??

24th May 2006, 06:31 PM

Check out this website:

Very useful information if you aspire to climb higher..

I am trying to raise funds to do everest in 2009 and will spend 2007-2008 learning mountainering and also getting about in Nepal and doing as much as I can to prepare for an assault on the mother...

good luck mate

24th May 2006, 06:33 PM
Link: http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/asiapcf/05/23/everest.deaths.hillary.ap/index.html

Hillary shock at Everest attitude
Climbers left stranded Englishman to die

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 Posted: 0131 GMT (0931 HKT)

More than 40 mountaineers climbed Everest last week.RELATED
Exhaustion kills three on Everest
Sherpa breaks Everest record
NZ double leg amputee conquers Everest

Edmund Hillary
or Create Your Own
Manage Alerts | What Is This? WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- Mount Everest pioneer Sir Edmund Hillary said he was shocked to hear that climbers left a young Englishman to die while pressing on towards the peak of the world's tallest mountain, reports said Wednesday.

"Human life is far more important than just getting to the top of a mountain," Hillary was quoted as saying in an interview with New Zealand Press Association.

David Sharp, 34, from Guisborough in England, died last week, apparently of oxygen deficiency, while descending after reaching Everest's summit.

Several parties reported seeing Sharp in various states of health on the day of his death and working on his oxygen equipment.

One party included New Zealander Mark Inglis, who became the first double amputee to reach the mountain's summit on prosthetic legs. His climbing party stopped and one of its Sherpas provided Sharp with oxygen before the group continued its climb.

Inglis told Television New Zealand on Monday that Sharp had no oxygen when he was found but that his own party was able to render only limited assistance and had to put the safety of its own members first.

Hillary, who with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay was the first mountaineer to reach Everest's summit in 1953, said some climbers did not care about the welfare of others.

"There have been a number of occasions when people have been neglected and left to die and I don't regard this as a correct philosophy," he said in an interview with the Otago Daily Times newspaper.

"I think the whole attitude toward climbing Mount Everest has become rather horrifying. The people just want to get to the top," he told the newspaper.

Hillary later told New Zealand Press Association he would have abandoned his own pioneering climb in 1953 to save another life.

"It was wrong if there was a man suffering altitude problems and was huddled under a rock, just to lift your hat, say 'good morning' and pass on by," he said.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

25th May 2006, 05:55 AM

Check out this website:

Very useful information if you aspire to climb higher..

I am trying to raise funds to do everest in 2009 and will spend 2007-2008 learning mountainering and also getting about in Nepal and doing as much as I can to prepare for an assault on the mother...

good luck mate
Sheesh Hoot, that's a lofty ambition for such a short period of time. I'll be happy if I make it up Island Peak sometime over the next 3 years.

Good luck with it

25th May 2006, 06:27 AM
Sheesh Hoot, that's a lofty ambition for such a short period of time. I'll be happy if I make it up Island Peak sometime over the next 3 years.

Good luck with it

I know....but if you dont set goals and targets, you will never get off yout butt and get things done....with this plan at least I will know if I can or cant make it by late 2008 after doing some other mountains out in nepal...

25th May 2006, 09:54 AM
Thanks for your comments, guys. Its good to know there are other people who have been bitten by the high-altitude bug and it won't be too hard to find climbing partners when the time comes.

25th May 2006, 12:34 PM
I am trying to raise funds to do everest in 2009 and will spend 2007-2008 learning mountainering and also getting about in Nepal and doing as much as I can to prepare for an assault on the mother...

You must have some serious money! Learning to alpine climb will cost you $1500-3000, then a couple of ascents of 6000'ers another $2000-6000, you'll need to do Cho Oyu as a lead up to Everest that is $10000 upwards and then Everest herself will be $25000 at least from the south side, a little less from the north. And that is before getting any equipment you need. With two years climbing experience you are almost certainly going to need guiding and be sucking O's. Decent companies who provide this service are very expensive. The cheaper ones are a serious liability for the inexperienced.

For that kind of money I could spend a lifetime climbing beautiful and technical unclimbed 6000'ers in the Himalaya. I don't really understand why anyone wants to spend such an astronomical amount of money on one goal just because it is the highest mountain.

Everest is a dangerous mountain to climb without the queues that form these days at the bottle necks. The ridges are strewn with inexperienced climbers driven by ego and when things crap out lots of people die. Its slopes are not a place for novice mountaineers. Sure a lot of inexperienced climbers summit each year but mostly it is because they are very lucky with the weather. If the conditions weren't good for them alot of them wouldn't make it. Being above 8000m and always having to rely on a guide to save your skin and make all the decisions for you isn't what I call real climbing. Mountaineering should be about self sufficiency and adventure not reliance on someone else to drag you up and save your skin.

Mountaineering for me is about partnership and camaraderie and sharing a common goal with your climbing partners to get to the top but most importantly to get down safely. When 40 people can go UP past a dying climber because they don't want to let go of the chance at the summit, then it is a very sad day for mountaineering.

Each year Everest becomes more and more of a circus and more and more distanced from what real climbing is all about. I don't know why anyone wants to climb there anymore, they are far more significant challenges without the concentration of inexperience and ego in one place, but sadly saying "I climbed the West ridge of Annapurna III" doesn't mean anything to alot of other people.

Good luck though and be safe.


25th May 2006, 12:54 PM

In my opinion the best way to learn to climb is to get some time one-on-one or in a small group with a western guide. Somewhere like NZ, the Alps or Canada spend a week climbing with a guide and you will learn a lot. Western guides are very rigourously trained and have to have an awful lof of climbs under their belt before they are allowed to guide.

Some of the Asian courses (so I have been told) will show you the technical stuff but might be a bit short of proper time in the mountains. You'll be shown how to self arrest, use crampons, rope work all that stuff but alpine climbing is really about moving fast and being efficient and you only get this by actually climbing and doing lots of it. So one on one with a western guide you will get quite a few mountain hours in, get happy in crampons all day and see what it means to move swiftly in the mountains. The more time you spend the more different conditions you will encounter and all experience in teh bank should things go pear shaped at high altitude.

Your average Nepali guide (alot of them are very good climbers) will string a fixed rope up the hill and just expect you to jumar up behind him. This will teach you nothing about risk assessment, the weather, how to get yourself out of dodgy situations, moving efficiently and so on. These are the things that make up mountaineering and can only be learnt through experience. Getting to the top of a mountain by jugging up a fixed rope is not mountaineering as it misses all those important elements. If you rely on your guide to make all the decisions and if things go wrong your life is solely in their hands then you aren't a mountaineer. You need to be able to deal with all conditions and situations. Someone who can is a real mountaineer.

So build up slow, learn all you can and put in the time and then you will be self sufficient and wise enough to make your own decisions, be a great deal safer and glean a great deal more satisfaction from your climbing.

Good luck


25th May 2006, 04:27 PM
I am doing it to prove to my dad I am not a useless git he makes me out to be...its a personal mission..and not for glory.

I am an outdoor leader and a triathlete and AR racer..am also a race director so I am very aware of the risks more than anyone with Everest....

I also know alot of comments have been made about climbing everest becoming a circus but what do I care..

If I think I can do after gaining sufficient experince and knowledge and I get the OK from an experinced mountainer out in NZ or Nepal and I have the sufficient cash, why not...

We all have dreams..we all have goals in life..

And I know the risks involved with such an endeavour...

but I accept them as part of the little life I have and what little ambitions I have left because my life has been....one I have little to look back on.

Its a personal thing.

25th May 2006, 04:32 PM
Good luck. I hope you make it.


25th May 2006, 09:39 PM
Good luck. I hope you make it.


I hope so to...if it doesnt bankrupt me 1st! lol..

Might need to morgate my house...lool

8th June 2006, 02:44 PM
Sorry for not replying for a while, I have been travelling. Actually I am in Germany and I'll be here for a year-or-so, so I am going to look into doing a mountaineering course in the alps. Can anyone recommend any companies (English speaking) that do this?

8th June 2006, 03:14 PM
Do a search on this site www.ukclimbing.com/forums or just ask the question there, you will find lots of the usual British companies like Icicle Mountaineering, Jagged Globe mentioned.

The alternative is to employ a guide 1 on 1. Someone like Alan Kimber would be good. Anyway have a look around on the UKClimbing forums and you will find a wealth of information.


10th June 2006, 04:58 AM

I am a newbie also; that is to mountaineering in Nepal. Don't know if I have the money right now to climb everest; I am still a student. My plan is simple: This summer I am doing some trekking in Nepal. Next year I plan to take a course and do some peaks in the US. The following year I want to do Denali. I would like to do Kilimanjaro sometime before Denali or right after that. I do want to do Everest eventually, but understanding Escher, I just want to climb anything. Let me know your plans in the future. I was hoping that I might run into some people on this forum.



26th June 2006, 08:22 PM
I know there has been a long gap from when you asked this question, but I can recommend Alan Kimber as a very good climbing instructor, he climbs a lot in the Alps during the summer, he has a web site and i have his phone no if you need it.


29th June 2006, 08:13 AM
Anyone have any information or comments about the himalayan school in india for mt climbing and alpine training?

Havent seen or heard much comments about the school..just looking at options from a cost factor point of view..

29th June 2006, 10:45 AM
I don't know anything specific about any of the Indian schools however I would have to think that you would get better technical training from either Europe or NZ.

I attended a 1 week Alpine course in NZ with Adventure Consultants a couple of months ago and found them to be very professional and they certainly have the pedigree to back up their instruction.

Being out in the mountains for a first time was pretty tough as it was without factoring in being in a "different" country (food, culture, etc). For me at least, going to a very western country like NZ allowed me to be comfortable about concentrating on the instruction offered and getting the most from the course.

I am seriously considering heading back this spring for a more technical week of training. I can forward you some details if you'd like?

I would assume that the Indian run course would be cheaper (maybe??), but when you're investing in skills that you may have to rely on for you life, maybe cost shouldn't be the primary factor.

29th June 2006, 03:52 PM
I attended a 1 week Alpine course in NZ with Adventure Consultants a couple of months ago and found them to be very professional and they certainly have the pedigree to back up their instruction.

The requirements for being a guide are long and very extensive. For instance when you look at the list to be British Mountain Guide you soon realise the quality of knowledge and instruction you can receive. The NZ guides will be no less experienced.

Required to be a British Mountain Guide:-

Be at least 22 years of age.
Submit the Association's medical form completed by a medical practitioner.
Provide details of mountaineering experience in the UK over a period of at least five years, which should be geographically extensive and include:
the names of their climbing partners on all significant ascents
at least 50 multi-pitch climbs led at El 5b or above in a wide variety of areas in the UK technical leads at 5c or above
a comprehensive list of at least 50 snow and ice climbs of Grade III and above, of which 20 must be at Grade 1V/V. Over 70% of these should be in the Scottish mountains in a variety of areas
a general mountaineering history including British hillwalking, mountaineering and camping experience
Provide details of Alpine mountaineering experience over a minimum period of at least four years. Applicants must include the names of their climbing partners on all significant ascents. This experience should show the following:
a knowledge of several Alpine climbing areas, at least three of which should be European;
20 ascents of major summits
a variety of experience including rock, snow/ice and mixed (mentioning any winter ascents).
As a guideline, experience in the European Alps should include a minimum of 20 big routes, at least 10 of which should be Alpine tr?s difficile standard or above. Of these 10 routes 5 should be at least 1000 metres in length and preferably mixed (i.e. classic North faces or similar).
Provide details of skiing ability on and off piste including a minimum of 30 days ski mountaineering experience in glaciated Alpine terrain,of which at least 15 must be linked days on recognised tours. Applicants are expected to ski all pisted runs with good style, demonstrate good balance, posture and control whilst skiing linked parallel turns of varying radius. Applicants should cope well in all off-piste conditions showing the ability to ski safely, effectively and in control.
Provide written references from at least two referees, one of whom must be a fully qualified Guide. The guide must be able to vouch for the authenticity of the candidate's application and be prepared to help and advise him/her through the scheme. One referee must be able to attest to the candidate's good character.
Provide details of a current first aid certificate with a mountain component.
List any relevant qualifications held.

Send an Application Fee to British Association of Mountain Guides (details of the cost are to be found in the Guidance Notes for Applicants available from the BMG office.) It is also recommended that the candidate obtain as much experience and observation of instructing as possible prior to entering the scheme. Candidates should note that the pre-requirements are high to help ensure that those who embark on the scheme have the commitment, experience and technical ability required to complete the scheme successfully.

Summary of Training And Assessment Scheme
Registration takes place when the Association accepts the candidate's application. The candidate is not a member of the Association at this stage

Induction Courses
These provide an opportunity to discuss the level of training and assessment on future courses and consist of: a one day formal rock climbing assessment in which candidates demonstrate an ability to climb at E1 5b, a successful performance being a pre-requirement for the Summer Assessment. two days of skiing and winter climbing providing an opportunity for candidates to demonstrate their current standard. This will take place in Scotland.

Summer Training
Five days of training covering all practical elements of the summer syllabus, run in the Lake District.

Physical Performance and Coaching in Mountaineering.
Four days of training which will include physical performance, injury avoidance, environment, leadership, coaching and aspects of assessment techniques.

Summer Assessment
Six days of assessment on the summer syllabus, based in North Wales.

Winter Training/Scottish Avalanche Training
Five days of training on the winter syllabus including avalanche awareness and prediction, based in Scotland.

Winter Assessment
Six days of assessment on the winter syllabus, based in Scotland.

Alpine Summer Training
Five days of training on the Alpine syllabus in the European Alps. The Aspirant carnet and logbook are issued at the conclusion of this course.

Alpine Apprenticeship
Prior to attendance on the Alpine Assessment course Aspirants should complete 30 days work experience with Guides who have been qualified for a minimum of three years.

Alpine Assessment
Five days assessment of Alpine guiding techniques in the European Alps.

Alpine Ski Training Course
Six days training covering ski techniques for pisted and natural slopes, ski touring and guiding skills. This course is based in the European Alps.

Avalanche Course
Five days of training followed by one day of assessment looking at snowpack evaluation, avalanche risk assessment and terrain evaluation. This course will be run in an Alpine area in winter.

Alpine Ski Mountaineering Assessment
Five days on the ski-mountaineering syllabus with assessment of skiing standard and touring skills. This course will be run in an Alpine area.

Alpine Ski Apprenticeship
A minimum of 10 days work experience with Guides who have been qualified for a minimum of three years.

30th June 2006, 05:36 AM
Yep good point Escher, you should definitely look for specific qualifications of the guides. All of the AC guides were NZMGA and / or IFMGA qualified which is why I have no hesitation in naming them in particular. Which is not to say that there are not other equally experienced or qualified guides / companies in NZ.


30th June 2006, 12:31 PM
I am at work really early and I am bored so I am going to have a bit of a waffle about climbing! Not that I have ever done that before. :rolleyes:

Hoot - when it comes to choosing between getting training in Asia or with western guides I think it comes down to the aspirations that you have. I don't think it can really come down to money because if you are willing to shell out for at least one crack at Everest (and who knows more if you don't get up the first time) and Cho Oyu beforehand then you are going to need a very large stack of cash. Getting some guiding or training in beforehand is going to cost a pittance in comparison.

There are cheaper options for climbing Everest (still 5 figures though) where you can get on a permit but receive little other support. The other option is being guided and having a proper Sherpa support team with a large organised expedition company such as Adventure Consultants, this can be VERY expensive. But to take the cheap option, as many do is taking a huge gamble with your life. Just look at the recent stories from this past season. Those left to die were unsupported. Those who were rescued were with the big organised groups. If you are planning to climb Everest in 2 years you won't have anywhere near the experience to safely choose the cheap option. Not that going the guided route is exactly guaranteed and safe!

You are obviously very fit, motivated and relish a hard mental and physical challenge. Adventure racers and triathletes are well suited to alpinism. Once you start climbing in the mountains you might be completely bitten by the bug and become absorbed in the activity of the climbing itself. It is very addictive and this has happened to me and alot of my friends. But often all those that get bitten by the bug just want to climb and the summit itself becomes less important. So I do really hope that once you start climbing that you will love it, it can be very fulfilling and challenging and you might consider that all the money that you would need to climb Everest could bankroll 25+ years of climbing in the most beautiful ranges in the world. If you think that is what might happen then get some decent training in NZ, the States or Europe. The things you will learn about the weather, avalanche assessment, alpine style climbing etc etc will be invaluable to you in the future. For me alpine climbing is about camaraderie and decision making in small team where it is just you and your climbing partners efforts that get you safely to the top and down again. The strong friendship, feeling of independence and satisfaction from that process is hugely fulfilling. That is what alpinism is all about. Unfortunately some of those elements are vitally missing from a guided ascent where everything is laid on for you and you just jug up fixed ropes. As an outdoor leader I am sure you know what I mean.

There has been an awful lot of discussion on the climbing forums about the ethics of what recently happened on Everest and the reasons why. Many of the thoughts expressed have been around the responsibility of the big expedition companies and the guides that work for them. To climb from the south with a fully supported guided expedition can cost $65000 but for that money you will get one of the best Sherpas or a very experienced western guide who will carry extra O's for you and will do everything to make sure you get down alive. My personal opinion is you should never walk past someone who needs help but if you have paid a company a stupid amount of money and your guide leaves you to save someone else who is climbing unsupported and then you die, have they broken their responsibilities to you? Would your family sue the nuts off the company? There is such a great deal of money involved in the Everest circus that I would be surprised if there wasn't an "unspoken" code that guides do not help others unless they can guarantee the safety of their client.

If you try and save money and go unsupported and you get into trouble you are very likely to die. Of course you could be lucky and make it, but many don't. Is it worth the risk to just reach the highest summit on earth? This is the reason why I don't get the idea of solely being focussed on Everest. I climb because I like the activity of climbing, I love beautiful mountains and I love the feeling of climbing on them. I don't climb just to say I have reached the top. So for me the risk of dying on the flanks of Everest just to be able to say I've climbed it is not even remotely worth it. The point of climbing is the climbing!

So if your aspirations are to become an experienced aplinist and a decent climber then go and learn from an experienced guide in NZ. What you will learn will be invaluable and will set you on the road to be a proper mountaineer. If however you want to focus on the relatively technically easy peaks like Cho Oyu and Everest, learn basic skills like crampon work, ice axe arrest and following fixed lines then go and train in Asia.

To be a good enough and experienced enough climber to climb Everest without being short roped up with someone making all the decisions for you and carrying your bottled oxygen you need to climb for alot of years and climb an awful lot.