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CMC / Denver Group

BasicMountaineering

Preparation

Mountaineering is a demanding sport and our Basic Mountaineering classes are correspondingly demanding. Simply having the desire to be a mountaineer is not enough if you want to stay alive. You need to make a solid commitment and have a mindset of taking these classes as seriously as if your life depended on them.

The temporal commitment is substantial. You cannot take shortcuts by missing lectures and field days. And you need to reflect and practice. That is, you need to take the learning home and digest it with a view toward building on that learning with each successive lecture and field day. You cannot drop the material from your consciousness at the end of a lecture or field day and then need to catch up at the next lecture or field day. We hit the ground running and start out running at every new session.
If your calendar does not allow you to attend every date on the Traditional calendar, consider going Modular. If your calendar does not allow you to attend every Modular lecture and field day, take the long view and wait until your calendar opens up. Do not allow your eagerness to compromise your safety.

The physical commitment is substantial. Although most of the Field Days are fairly easy, the Couloir Climb can be a Difficult C and the High Peak Climb can be a Difficult D. I say the Field Days are easy but keep in mind that you will be carrying a lot of gear that you might not be used to carrying. And you might be climbing uphill more than you are used to. So, although the C Hiker Classification is not required before the Couloir Climb, we strongly recommend that you do not wait. Start working on it now.

For the C Hiker Classification, you need the following:

Not only does the C Hiker Classification prepare you for the rigors of mountaineering, it also prepares you for dealing with Colorado terrain and weather. The Technical Climbing School does not instruct in the basics of non-technical outdoor travel. We assume that you already have those fundamental skills.

The financial commitment can be substantial. We can provide all the technical gear you need: helmet, harness, belay device, ice axe, crampons, etc. But you need to have clothing necessary for winter travel. You need to have the layers necessary to keep you safe and dry in snow blowing at 40 mph.
And you will need mountaineering boots. This is mountaineering; you need mountaineering boots. Hikers will not be sufficient. You need stiff-soled mountaineering boots that are waterproof and that will accept crampons. You can find some deals but mountaineering boots are generally at least $300-$400. You can also rent mountaineering boots at some local retailers. You will also need overnight camping gear. For more information see the page on Boots.

The mental commitment is substantial. You are moving into technical climbing, now, and you need to bring a focus that is respectful of the fact that your life and the lives of your climbing partners are dependent on the highest level of preparation and execution.
We recommend buying Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, 8ed (FOTH). This is an excellent one-volume source. Some of the lecture notes refer you to reading material in FOTH.