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Please Help Me Get This Straight
#3477 04/08/10 06:09 PM
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On the portal board there is a post with pictures of a largish group going up the MR about a week ago. They have helmets, axes, crampon, harnesses, ascenders, fixed rope, and goodness knows what all. Pictures from the trip are here:

http://kurtwedbergphotography.com/Sierra...828199557_xgqyb

There is another group going up the same route with what seems like no gear at all.

What gives?? I'm just a backpacker and don't have a handle on the winter climbing stuff but this seems odd.


Mike
Re: Please Help Me Get This Straight
Mike Condron #3481 04/08/10 07:49 PM
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From my perspective: The professionally guided group is just that, professionally guided. Which means that there will be a huge margin of safety, and no real chances are going to be taken. With such a group, the pro often has people along that he/she has never met. In my experience, people show up with no knowledge, no fitness, no gear, no idea of the route, the dangers, the mitigation. You have to be prepared for it all. They don't have a sleeping bag, they use the guides sleeping bag. (the guide goes through the packs down below)

Private groups may comprise the same people. They may not have the same goals or destinations. They certainly don't have the "hand of experience" that the other group is paying for. They are much more "throwing the dice." (people don't look through other people's packs, as a rule)

Re: Please Help Me Get This Straight
Mike Condron #3484 04/08/10 09:44 PM
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Ken is, of course, correct. In that famous--or as viewed by some on another board, infamous--post, I warned about taking the Mountaineer's Route too cavalierly. I encouraged people who were not independently fully up to the task to go with guides or experienced friends they could trust. The group you saw was exactly as Ken described: expert guides with a gaggle of clients whose abilities, quirks, skills, strengths, shortcomings, etc., were unknown. All possible precautions were taken, and that was the right approach. Those same guides, if going up by themselves, would have undoubtedly dispensed with virtually all of the gear you saw.

There are plenty of people who climb the Mountaineer's Route regularly in winter. My rescue group friends and I do it often. (See below for ways I have gone above The Notch; although in winter, it's always been via the first chute.) But we know the route and conditions quite well, and we almost never take anything beyond crampons and axes. If a storm is anticipated--and as rescue people we can't always go when the conditions are best--we'll take a rope and a few pickets, just in case.

As in all things, what looks like a dangerous endeavor may or may not be that at all. It depends on who's doing it. If you see someone climbing the East Face unroped, you may think, "That's crazy!" But if you are then told it's Peter Croft, you understand.

Don't judge a book by its cover.

Routes I've done above The Notch

Re: Please Help Me Get This Straight
Bob R #3486 04/08/10 10:08 PM
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In reading Ken & Bob R's cautionary posts, I am reminded of a very important caveat to collecting information -- very important safety information -- by message board: one runs the risk of falling under the spell of another's experience (or cavalier attitude in some cases). As a novice who may not express my (lack of) experience well enough, I could query if "ropes are needed on the Final 400" and receive a chorus of "Nahhhh!!!" from those who scamper down the route face-forward on a weekly basis. I, on the other hand, would most likely do a 2K face-plant.

As an inexperienced, two-right-footed, ex-model-turned-wannbe- adventureress, I would offer the only advice that I am qualified to give:

Be very careful who you solicit your potentially life saving/ending advice from.

To my good fortune, it just so happens that 3 of my trusted resources have weighed in on this thread!

B


The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
Re: Please Help Me Get This Straight
Bee #3491 04/09/10 08:19 AM
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Bob and Ken state the obvious. However, the obvious is not obvious to a lot of people. I see it every weekend in the winter to some degree in the SoCal mountains.

It has gotten to the point where, just say one thought provoking thing to these people and keep on moving, not looking back. The problem is nothing ill happens to these people, which reinforces bad habits and then these people are looked upon as experts by their friends.

My guess is 99 times out of 100 nothing will happen to the ill-equipped and unprepared on the MR but that one time is going to be really bad.

Re: Please Help Me Get This Straight
Bob R #3493 04/09/10 08:48 AM
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Forgiving my obtuseness: are the routes marked in the picture the area known as "The Final 400?"

B


The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
Re: Please Help Me Get This Straight
Bob R #3495 04/09/10 09:49 AM
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Bob and Ken,
I see how in the climb with all the gear the safety of the less experienced climbers is in play and also that very experienced climbers may do the MR route with minimal gear in use. But after reading many of the posts on the upcoming trip up the MR I see quite a few people claiming no or very little winter climbing experience. I may be even more obtuse than Bee as I don't get the "no gear" when there are novices in the group.


Mike
Re: Please Help Me Get This Straight
Mike Condron #3498 04/09/10 10:12 AM
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Mike,

I love that signature line.

It applies to your inquiry to Bob and Ken. People want to do what they want. In a lot of cases they do not perceive the dangers involved.

Last weekend in Baldy Bowl, a woman glissaded by me with with crampons on and a trekking pole held high over her head and asked, "Am I doing this right?" Not having experience or proper gear does not get in way of some people...they want what they want when they want it. I can fill up this page with similar things I've seen during the winter our local mountains...including some of the stupid things I've done.

Last edited by wbtravis; 04/09/10 10:14 AM.
Re: Please Help Me Get This Straight
Mike Condron #3499 04/09/10 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted By: Mike Condron
Bob and Ken,
I see how in the climb with all the gear the safety of the less experienced climbers is in play and also that very experienced climbers may do the MR route with minimal gear in use. But after reading many of the posts on the upcoming trip up the MR I see quite a few people claiming no or very little winter climbing experience. I may be even more obtuse than Bee as I don't get the "no gear" when there are novices in the group.


Yeah, one wonders.........

Re: Please Help Me Get This Straight
Bee #3500 04/09/10 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted By: Bee
Forgiving my obtuseness: are the routes marked in the picture the area known as "The Final 400?"

B


It is, and I remain amazed that those blue markers that Bob placed up there stand up through all sorts of weather. smile

Re: Please Help Me Get This Straight
Ken #3501 04/09/10 10:15 AM
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Ken,

I'm well beyond wondering. wink

Re: Please Help Me Get This Straight
wbtravis #3503 04/09/10 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted By: wbtravis
Mike,
Last weekend in Baldy Bowl, a woman glissaded by me with with crampons on and a trekking pole held high over her head and asked, "Am I doing this right?"


Correct technique for crampon glissading is to assume a skier's crouch & steer with the ice axe.

Done that. And the chopper run to get the broken leg victim rescued.


Verum audaces non gerunt indusia alba. - Ipsi dixit MCMLXXII
Re: Please Help Me Get This Straight
wagga #3508 04/09/10 07:13 PM
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Wagga,

I did it early in my winter learning period. I severely sprained and ankle and put good size tear in a perfectly good pair of TNF Mtn. Light pants.

A very inexpensive learning experience.

Re: Please Help Me Get This Straight
wbtravis #3511 04/09/10 08:03 PM
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Maybe Bob R will post the x-ray of his broken ankle from glissading with crampons on. That got my attention.Talk about a picture being worth a thousand words.

Re: Please Help Me Get This Straight
Rod #3527 04/10/10 10:41 PM
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Rod,

When Bob posted that I felt blessed my bout of stupidity only cost me a few weeks on the trails and a bill to stitch up my Mtn. Light pants.

I'd post the receipt but I don't think it would have the same affect. wink

Re: Please Help Me Get This Straight
wbtravis #3529 04/10/10 10:57 PM
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.....and here it is, folks -- the infamous X-Ray of Bob R's ankle (and I have to state here that I, too, have broken my ankle in the exact same spot)



Since this thread is a discussion about safety, I believe that it is important to include the text that accompanied the above photos here


The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
Re: Please Help Me Get This Straight
Bee #3539 04/11/10 04:37 PM
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From the swelling and echimosis in the picture I think the fibula fracture was the least of Bob R's ankle injuries.

Yes Bee thanks for putting the broken ankle x-ray into context. The point, well taken I might add, is to never glissade with crampons on as they might snag the snow and snap a bone like a twig. Until Bob R posted that warning along with that picture and x-ray I had never been told of that danger.It was a warning and visual that many of us can learn from.


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