You’ll note the obvious absence of any courses or curricula here. I don’t have any set routines or packages. Instead, I want to know what you are looking for, and if I can serve that quest, we can move ahead. If I can’t, I’ll help you find someone who can. Here’s a range of requests I’ve had over the years.
“My partner and I are beginning to do longer and more remote climbs, but we are uneasy about getting ourselves in trouble. We need to work on basic self-rescue skills.”
Yes, things can go wrong. And it feels really good when you are confident about handling any contingency. Self-rescue starts with having good rappel skills. Then it’s being able to prusik up a rope (much harder than you might imagine!), tie off a loaded anchor, and set up 3:1 mechanical advantage pully system. You don’t need a come-along and a pair of jumars. With a couple of slings and biners, plus a knife and a headlamp, you can get yourself out of just about every problem situation. I won’t just talk. I’ll throw you into situations and let you practice building solutions.
“I’d like to become a 46er. Can you get me started?”
Sure. But ultimately, you’ll probably want to be independent of a
professional guide. I can join you for an introductory sample of hikes
and tell you quite a bit about what you’ll need to complete the list on
your own. I can write up a gear list and a recommended sequence of
hikes. Maybe I’d join you for the more remote ones, like Allen or the
Santanonis. Then, how about saving a great slide route or the
Trap Dike for your celebratory finish?
“Your clinic Steep Ice for the Weak and Chickenhearted is always booked during Mountainfest.”
I’m happy to offer that course any time. You must be willing to try some new thinking, and you must be ready to laugh at my jokes, regardless of whether they are good or tasteful.
“I taught my daughter to climb when she was young, but she’s sixteen now and I can’t keep up with her. She needs to be challenged.”
I can probably do this. I can work her on longer, multi-pitch routes, introduce the possibility of leading, and show her a host of principles about technique and safety. If, however, she needs to be on 5.12 sport climbs, I’m not the guy, and maybe the Adirondacks aren’t the venue.
“I’m planning a trip to the Tetons (or Rockies or Sierra). What do I need to know?”
This is a fun one for me.
There’s a lot of information to pass, and it’s exciting to focus on a clear objective. It will be even better if have done the route you have in mind.
“I want to learn to lead ice.”
We have lots of good places to get
used to being on the scary end of the rope.
It’s best to start easy. It’s also good to mock lead –
that is to have a top-rope present while you are
working out your systems. Another method is to have
me just hanging nearby as you and your partner
do a lead and follow. I can inspect screws, offer advice,
and come to the rescue if you get shaky.
“I want to work on crack climbing (or thin face or
any particular kind of technique improvement).”
The Adirondacks has enough variety, so as long as I know the
kind of techniques you have in mind, it’s pretty easy finding
the right place and planning an effective day.
“I can clip bolts, but I want to learn to lead trad.”
That’s a good one. Oddly, I feel a lot better above a solid nut than a shiny bolt. And this assignment hits me at my own particular strength. I understand leading – the safety, the strategy, the challenge – very well. It’s partly athletic, but it’s also very intellectual. There’s a lot going on and a lifetime’s worth of wisdom to gain.
“My kids and I want to backpack the Great Range, and
we’d feel better with a guide.”
Sounds like fun. But I prefer to sleep in my own bed after a day’s work.
“I am planning to climb Rainier and then Denali. I need to learn about snow conditions, avalanche dangers, and crevasse rescue.”
So do I! I have not been in those kinds of mountains, and so I’m not qualified to teach that kind of stuff. But I’ll be very happy to connect you with some real pros in the field.
“I want to do a particular Adirondack route – Power Play, Wallface, Fastest Gun, Moss Cliff.”
Again, when there is a clear challenge, the day usually goes well. I will, however, make sure that you don’t get in over your head. You could either give me a list of climbs (in the Adirondacks or even around the country) that you have done and then I’d have a little perspective about the appropriateness of the request. Or, better, we could to a warm-up day to make sure things were in place and the choice was right.
“I have a group of 75 campers from downstate who want to hike Whiteface.”
Believe it or not, I took this job many years ago. Let’s say that I have matured, grown more discerning….No, on this one, unless 72 of them call in sick.
“I am a member of the police/fire department/military/first responders, and I want to know more about technical rescue work."
I love the technical side of things. We can cover the basics and then follow up with a real-life rescue scenario. I’ve had a lot of experience up here, and even though the missions can be tense and difficult, it’s really satisfying when you’ve put the pieces together well and the outcome is a happy one.
“I work at a camp (school, college outdoor program, Scouting group) and I want to learn about safe group management.”
Having done the school thing for 43 years, I know this area pretty well. Caring for personal safety is, of course, paramount. But it’s also vital that participants finish their experience with a win. There’s a lot to talk about here. Especially for kids, there is an emotional and developmental aspect that’s often more important than the climbing itself.
“I just want to go climbing.”