Forum Index » Mountaineering & Alpinism » Where to learn basic climbing skills?


Display Avatars Sort By:
Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: west coast best coast
Where to learn basic climbing skills? on 04/19/2013 01:36:28 MDT Print View

I am really interested in learning some basic climbing skills. I want to know how to rappel and how to set a rope to protect myself while doing risky scrambling. I think that having learning some climbing skills could really help me on some of my hikes. I'm not interested in doing actual rock climbing. I just want to be able to deal with waterfalls, short drop offs, and short climbs.

Where should I start? Where is the best place to learn these skills? I don't want to spend a lot of money and I don't want to waste my time learning skills I'm not going to use. Any suggestions?

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Where to learn basic climbing skills? on 04/19/2013 06:23:33 MDT Print View

Did you check at REI? I was in the Santa Rosa store last weekend(bought nothing), has a whole bunch of different classes coming up.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Where to learn basic climbing skills? on 04/19/2013 10:02:48 MDT Print View

If you live in limestone country, you may be able to find a spelunkers club. They tend to be pretty good with ropes, mud, and water.

--B.G.--

Jeremy B.
(requiem) - F - M

Locale: Northern California
Re: Where to learn basic climbing skills? on 04/19/2013 10:06:06 MDT Print View

If you're going to use a rope you'll want to learn to build proper anchors. There is also a gear requirement* (the rope, gear to attach you to it, gear to build the anchor, etc.) If you are climbing up (rather than down), a rope is mostly only useful if you're placing protection along the way, which means even more gear.

Your local climbing gym (or REI intro class) can easily cover the basics of tying in to the rope and belaying a partner when top roping. REI also offers an anchor building class for $90 (I haven't tried it, so can't say what it's like). They won't cover everything you need to know, particularly for going solo, but I'd count the pair of classes in the "things everyone should know" category.


*Do you have any idea what that'll do to your baseweight?!

Mike Oxford
(moxford) - MLife

Locale: Silicon Valley, CA
meetup on 04/19/2013 11:19:23 MDT Print View

REI is probably your best bet for anchor building. Climbing gyms are usually top-rope or pre-placed protection for leading. Not much help there in actually setting anchors up.

If your local community college has an outdoors program, email one of the instructors and ask if they know.
If you can dig up some local climbing/bouldering spots, and I'm sure there are quite a few around you ... swing by and ask the climbers there. They may be able to point you in the right direction.

You can learn a lot as well, depending on what kinds of anchors you want to build, by looking up SAR anchors online. Books, such as Freedom of the Hills as well done and will give you a huge set of reference material.

But, really, you don't want to screw up ... it's your life on those anchors. So just be safe, go slow and make sure you get your anchors perfect and don't just settle ... take extra minute or 5 or 10 to make sure it's as perfect as you can get. It's far from rocket science ... heck, they teach it at REI ... but you do need to understand the gear and basic placement.

And don't buy a sport-climbing harness. Get a BD Alpine Bod. Much (MUCH) nicer and easier to get on and off. :P Or just get some 1" tubular webbing (REI or online) and learn to tie your own ... but that can be a tad uncomfortable if you're actually hanging on it much. Cheaper, lighter and smaller than a harness though.

Edited by moxford on 04/19/2013 11:50:58 MDT.

Andrew Zajac
(AZajac)

Locale: South West
How I have learned so far on 04/19/2013 11:19:26 MDT Print View

I have never had any climbing instruction beyond belay tests at climbing walls and haven't had any problems climbing so far. However, I have stuck to sport climbing and top-roping so far. There is lots of good info on the internet and in books. I personally just bought some books on the subject and learned how to build good anchors. Then I bought some appropriate materials to make anchors on trees and 'rappelled' by walking backwards on flat ground to get the hang of the ATC and everything. I then transitioned to steeper hills, short vertical faces, and then larger vertical or overhanging faces. I also climbed in a gym which was really helpful in getting comfortable with heights, harnesses, belay devices, lead climbing etc. Take it slow, practice techniques in safe situations, and be careful!

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: west coast best coast
REI on 04/19/2013 17:54:21 MDT Print View

I didn't think of REI. That sounds like it should work.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: REI on 04/23/2013 02:29:18 MDT Print View

If you're by yourself and climbing up...well a rope is useless. Yes there are ways to self belay, but it's all VERY complicated and somewhat gear and time intensive. Definitely not something I'd recommend for someone with no experience. This is why climbing is usually a partner sport.

An anchor class (either for top rope or traditional climbing) will teach you most everything you want to know for rapelling.

Now if all you want is to go down, then a Canyoneering class will also teach you how to set up rappel anchors and a myriad of different rope techniques often not learned by the regular climber. They're usually a bit better about self rescue such as what happens if you rappel and accidentally get stuck half way down (not terribly uncommon). It's basically the same stuff you'd get out of a spelunking group, but you aren't technically underground.

REI or any other local outdoor rental shop will usually offer these classes for anywhere from $75 to $250 depending on hours of instruction.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: west coast best coast
Re: Re: REI on 04/23/2013 02:53:13 MDT Print View

Rappelling would be the most useful skill for me. I usually hike with a partner who is also interested in learning some climbing skills.

A canyoneering class sounds great because that's basically what I am going to use it for - canyons. I do lots off trail hiking in Big Sur and we usually follow streams. The streams turn into canyons and we sometimes run into waterfalls. Being able to rappel would help for going downstream and for rappeling back into a canyon after we bushwacked around a waterfall.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: REI on 04/23/2013 04:39:03 MDT Print View

Yeah, canyoneering would be your best bet. You probably don't get potholes as much as we do in the southwest, but it's worth learning how to escape those as well. Also with enough practice/experience you won't have to bushwhack...you can just rappel down the waterfall itself!

Will Elliott
(elliott.will) - F

Locale: Juneau, AK
Freedom of the Hills on 05/12/2013 23:39:50 MDT Print View

My friends and I taught ourselves to climb by reading "Freedom of the Hills," buying used gear, and experimenting. Our first rope was from Home Depot. Just go for it. Look for climbing texts written in the 1960s, before expensive gear--- you'll learn economical, elegant techniques.

Will Elliott
(elliott.will) - F

Locale: Juneau, AK
Re: Where to learn basic climbing skills? on 05/13/2013 00:00:22 MDT Print View

"I am really interested in learning some basic climbing skills. I want to know how to rappel and how to set a rope to protect myself while doing risky scrambling."

Rappel: the dulferstitz works. No harness needed. The Munter hitch on a big carabiner works without a belay device. Prussiks, Garda hitch, and other techniques are good low-tech ways of ratcheting up the rope.

Risky scrambling: buy nice approach shoes with sticky rubber. Rope-soloing isn't that complicated, but the problem is, I think you need to master 'actual rock climbing' before you can do it safely. So it seems like if you're using the rope to protect yourself during risky scrambling, you've already graduated beyond 'actual rock climbing.' But check it out and see what you think. Lots of good info on rope solo and solo aid on the web.


"I think that having learning some climbing skills could really help me on some of my hikes. I'm not interested in doing actual rock climbing. I just want to be able to deal with waterfalls, short drop offs, and short climbs."

So, just to reiterate, I think the best measure is to just wear approach shoes and solo it. Or bring some thin rock climbing slippers. 30m 8mm rando rope and no harness can get you back down.

"Where should I start? Where is the best place to learn these skills? I don't want to spend a lot of money and I don't want to waste my time learning skills I'm not going to use. Any suggestions?"

An old copy of Freedom of the Hills. Rappel out of a tree. Have fun and good luck!

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re: Where to learn basic climbing skills? on 05/15/2013 17:39:34 MDT Print View

Pinnacles is right around the corner from you.
There are some short easy pitches that would be a great place to start.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: west coast best coast
Re: Re: Re: Where to learn basic climbing skills? on 05/17/2013 17:14:27 MDT Print View

There are actually some places to climb/rappel really close to me. Hood Mountain, Mt. Saint Helena, and the Calistoga Palisades all have some rock faces and cliffs.

"Rappel: the dulferstitz works. No harness needed."

I looked up the dulferstitz rappel and it looks very useful for short and easy drops. Or for walking down super steep dirt slopes where a slip could be dangerous. I am definitely going to practice it.

Most of the trips where I would need to climb or rappel would be cross country trips where I would be hiking with someone for safety.

Edited by justin_baker on 05/17/2013 17:18:27 MDT.

Stephen Komae
(skomae) - MLife

Locale: northeastern US
harness-less rappel on 05/20/2013 12:22:03 MDT Print View

> Rappel: the dulferstitz works. No harness needed

Be sure to wear a collared shirt for this, and go slowly! I wouldn't do this on terrain where you are free-hanging in air, as you could flip upside-down and lose control of the rope. .

You can also rappel without a harness as long as you have about 10-20 feet of webbing. Just create a webbing sit harness (see: Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills) and add a large locking 'biner. Combined with a munter hitch, this is a much safer and easy way to rappel on a money/weight budget.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: harness-less rappel on 05/20/2013 12:26:19 MDT Print View

"Be sure to wear a collared shirt for this, and go slowly!"

We used to call this the body rappel, and it can really take a toll on your clothing in certain spots. If the moving rope slides off your clothing in those spots, it can take a toll on your skin.

--B.G.--

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
classes on 05/20/2013 13:08:01 MDT Print View

http://alpineskills.com/

I know you said you don't want to learn to rock climb... but all the things you mentioned is rock climbing... take a beginning class and they would cover what you need...

bill

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
also... on 05/20/2013 13:17:40 MDT Print View

before you reject the idea of learning to rock climb,

consider that you can't always predict what it is you're going to get into when climbing... even when having a good view of your route... it often happens that you start out thinking you're going to climb some easy 3rd class and an hour later you are sweating bullets on some 4th or 5th class with exposure..

so consider that in the mountains it is better to know more and have more skills than you actually need... better than getting into something and having less knowledge and fewer skills than you need...

strung out on something harder than your skills is not a great time to wish you had taken that rock climbing class, eh?

bill

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
book on 05/20/2013 13:32:48 MDT Print View

Freedom of the Hills... http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0049P1ZTC/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=1535523722&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=1594851387&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=0YBZDE6JE9WE1R9MCW06

covers most everything climbing... anchors, belaying, rappelling, placing protection, etc...

still, not a substitute for in the field instruction... either a class or experienced friend...

bill