Newbie Questions

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by Goatguy, Oct 10, 2016.


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  1. Goatguy

    Goatguy Member

    Hi All, New Guy here. I took an Ice Climbing 101 class with EMS in Lake Placid at the end of last winter and absolutely loved it. I've been waiting ever since to get back out there. I was planning to sign up for the EMS 201 class, but then thought I'd check in with you guys for suggestions and recommendations on how an interested rookie should go about (safely) immersing himself without just blindly dropping a bunch of cash on gear. Are the EMS classes worth it? Are there other guides, clubs, groups, etc. that I should consider hooking up with instead? I'm in Western MA, so the White Mountains and Adirondacks are both reasonable options, as are the Catskills (though I've never spent any time there). I'm sure there are tons of other questions I haven't thought to ask - any advice you can offer is much appreciated. Thanks!
  2. Jacon

    Jacon Active Member

    Buy crampons, tools, and boots, used. I bet you already own a helmet, harness and rope, but if not, buy those too. Now you've just dropped a bunch of cash, and you haven't even used it! That's good, feed that guilt. Shame on you. Now go set up some top ropes and keep doing that until something feels so easy you think you can lead it. Etc.
    Goatguy likes this.
  3. Goatguy

    Goatguy Member

    Guilt is a powerful motivator! Actually, I've never been climbing on rock (except in a gym a few times), so I'm really starting from scratch equipment-wise. I took an intro to ice climbing class as a way to broaden my winter mountaineering skills and to give myself more single-day activities/options and found I liked the climbing a lot more than I expected to. But you make a good point about just getting out there as often as possible. Now to go find some used gear... :)
  4. Henry

    Henry New Member

    Also, don't be afraid to get lots experience as a belay slave. You'll get rope handling and belaying skill quickly, you'll see how others pull moves, rest, and place gear effectively or not, and most importantly - you'll meet others and get out doing what you enjoy. As for used gear, check out IME consignment basement in No. Conway; they usually have gobs of gear.
    Goatguy likes this.
  5. Goatguy

    Goatguy Member

    Good advice. I am more than willing to to pay my dues!
  6. AlpineIce

    AlpineIce New Member

    Contact AMGA Guide Ian Osteyee, who resides in the Town of Keene, New York. He is one of the best alpine/ice guides in the Adirondacks and, for that matter, the country. He owns his own guiding business and is a professionally sponsored athlete . Here is the link to his website & telephone numbers. I couldn't recommend anyone with more technical skill, knowledge or compassion than Ian.
  7. Goatguy

    Goatguy Member

    I'll check him out, thanks.
  8. Bill Kirby

    Bill Kirby Active Member

    Just my 2 cents but this is how I would get on the ice..

    First, buy boots. Good new single leather boots from a reputable shop. Make sure the guy you buy them from fits you. The Mountaineer or IME are two good shops. Good boots that fit are the most important piece of gear. You can borrow some old crampons, grab whatever tools and have fun toproping ice. You can save money buying used crampons and tools that aren't fancy. If your boots suck and or don't fit the day's goin kinda suck.

    Next, get some instruction and nail down good technique. Good technique is 90% of the game on ice. Ian Osteyee is a great teacher. He taught me. I would pay Ian before I went out and dropped $600 on tools if I was you. You could also learn from different clubs like AMC Boston.

    You might find a mentor who's willing to teach you but it could be difficult to make happen considering you have no belaying experience. I would recommend learning anchors, knots safety etc.. from Ian or another guide and then maybe head out with a club like the AMC.

    When you think you can tie in safely, get your gear on the right way and set up a top rope anchor safe post up for a partner on here or Mountain Project. That can be dangerous as you don't know if your "blind date" is experienced and safe or a total jackass but you gotta start somewhere. Be truthful about your abilities and DON'T FOR SECOND think you have to climb with someone if you feel they're unsafe.

    Sometimes I'm looking for a partner on the weekdays. I'll be in the Dacks here and there throughout the season and North Conway February 3-23rd. If you're around PM me.
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  9. Billy Bevans

    Billy Bevans Member

    Guys keep talking about boots... just remember $500 boots = $50 a toe....Get good boots ! Also while your learning rope handling as a belayer ... make sure your learning the correct way developing good habits.. not from a hacker.... also learn your problem solving situations, escaping belays and the "what -to-dos-if" Don't be in a rush to get rad... take your time to master the fundamentals..the rest will come... the study of alpinism is a life long one if you choose..I second the recommendations for Ian... he is a top notch guide.. Ive learned almost every facet of climbing from the guides at Rock River and such and they are all top notch and if doesn't get much tougher than the dacks... I was trained at the hands of a mentor years and years ago... happy to pay my experience forward.. Ive been mentoring a group of alpinistos and alpinistas closely for a few seasons now so if I can be of guidance, reach out..
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  10. Jeremy Cote

    Jeremy Cote Member

    Learning from others is critical, but there is a lot you can do right at home that will help you with the basics: practice knots, rope handling/coiling, efficient racking of gear, anchor building/configurations, self rescue from a tree, rap down your stairs, etc.

    Get yourself some webbing or powercord and some biners and experiment with anchors. Get a couple ice screws so you can practice v-threads, etc.

    There are also some excellent instructional videos online as well that cover the basics. I'd start here:

    Jeff Lowe's Waterfall Ice Climbing Technique (Part 1) - YouTube
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  11. Goatguy

    Goatguy Member

    Thanks all for the feedback and suggestions. Boots, I do have - picked up a pair of LA Sportiva Nepal Evo GTX last winter on deep discount. I will be up in North Conway the first weekend of December and will definitely pay a visit to IME's consignment shop to add some other items.

    I'll look into Ian too. He seems a bit pricier than the EMS class I am signed up for, but sounds like it would be money well-spent.

    Once I get my gear in order, I will likely reach out to those who have offered assistance. You all are awesome, I really appreciate it!
  12. Goatguy

    Goatguy Member

  13. Billy Bevans

    Billy Bevans Member

    nepal evo's will serve you well here and in many other places... most importantly as you get out pay attention to how you manage the cold.. I tend to be on the "warm" side so I can get away with wearing lighter apparel.... just because the guy next to you can do mid winter pinnacle in a certain pair of boots and only needs a 40 degree bag doesn't mean you should "copy" him.. learn what works for you based on your experience... mostly trial and error..this tweaking of gear takes years.. don't get frustrated..ask around, observe, read reviews, but dial in a kit that works for you.... tools, pro, gear, clothes, etc... good luck man
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  14. Lucas Weiss

    Lucas Weiss Active Member

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  15. Mike R

    Mike R Well-Known Member

    A first timer really shouldn't be building anchors, let alone V threads. In time, sure. But OP has more important things to worry about/learn.
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  16. Crag

    Crag Member

    Read - study - practice - train - (twice on Sundays) everything and anything you can get your hands on. Hire guides, find a mentor - drink whisky - immerse yourself into this fragile yet exciting world of ice climbing. Don't hold back your insatiable desire for more - ditch your girl/boy friend - leave your spouse, foreclose your house quit your job and learn how to be a carpenter.

    Goatguy likes this.
  17. Goatguy

    Goatguy Member

    So wait... is it drink then climb, or climb then drink? :)
  18. mjhouser

    mjhouser Member

    I drink while I climb:p

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