Any mountaineers?

I’m thinking of going after 7-8k meter this spring in May before taking level 3. I figured just level 3 wouldn’t be hard enough.

Meh. I’m more interested in how people do their mountaineering than the height of the mountain. These people that do fully guided and supported expedition style trips in outfitter gear where they haul everything up the mountain for you and build your camps and cook your food are a bunch of pansies. I have more respect for a 5 thousand meter weekend unguided and unsupported alpine approach. Plus you gotta factor in weather, terrain, etc. For instance, K2, doesn’t have the altitude of Everest, but the terrain and weather patterns make it exponentially more formidable.

Not to mention the whole thing of checking off peaks kinda rubs me the wrong way.

Oh sure, I agree completely. Still I’m curious to see if I can manage at 7k without oxygen.

I’m no mountaineer but I did see an awesome mountaineering movie recently from the comfort of my couch.

I highly recommend this. One of the most gripping movies I’ve seen in a while.

I don’t totally agree with this because any of the 8,000 meter peaks is an incredible feat, whether or not you have sherpas or porters involved. Also, anyone that knows about mountaineering knows that Everest is extremely difficult, as is K2, etc. Just because you can’t cook a meal or pitch your own tent doesn’t make you any less of a moutnaineer in my view, as you can learn how to do these stuff at sea level anyway.

To the original poster – whether you should be tackling a 7,000-8,000 meter peak depends whether you’ve done much mountaineering before. Do you have any experience? From the tone of your post, I couldn’t glean whether you had much experience if at all. Anyway, you can get plenty of useful learning experiences by doing something like Mount Rainier, which should challenge you enough especially if you don’t have prior experience but will also enable you to develop confidence with basic skills. You definitely should not be hitting up a 7,000+ peak unless you know what you’re doing, in my view. If you just want to hike a tall mountain you can do Kilimanjaro which is about 6,000 meters and not technical at all.

I wouldn’t consider myself a “mountaineer,” but do enjoy rugged outdoor activities and have been through guided expeditions and also solo treks to Mount Rainier, Costa Rica, and New Zealand’s Southern Alps, and also spent several weeks in Chilean and Argentinian Patagonia. None of these are tall peaks but are good ways to develop basic intelligence about the wild and good survival skills and instincts (building a camp and cooking a meal on a portable camping stove are pretty easy…you get better with experience just like with any kind of cooking). Also it’s a good way to learn things like rock climbing, ice climbing, how to set ropes, rapelling, and so forth.

I realize that knowing any of these skills doesn’t exactly qualify me to say that I’m a “mountaineer” and I would have a lot of work and conditioning to do before tackling a huge mountain. But I am confident that I can survive in the wild for weeks and definitely have above-average instincts when it comes to basic technical stuff. For mountaineers of any kind, I think experiential learning is easily the most valuable.

Yeah, I do have some background. Done Mt Blanc and some 5k mountains in the Himalayas.

The nice thing about the Himalyas is that I’ll have guides taking care of me and doing most of the thinking for me.

Those treks in Costa Rica, New Zealand, and S. America sound great. One of these days I’m gonna quit my job and spend 6 months doing stuff like that.

Strongly disagree. You’re not a mountaineer, you’re a tourist at that point. You’re not carrying your own gear and you’re not even thinking. You know nothing about the mountain you’re on, or the gear you’re using because you don’t have to. There are many relatively in shape people who’ve climbed Everest without really being prepared at all. I know one, I’ve spoken to several others who are legit mountaineers that all share the same view. As one guy put it on the topic of Everest tourists, “They’re these spoiled douche bags and CEO’s that are doing it for their ego. They have no understanding of what they’re doing, and they’re looking for a life changing experience… The irony of it is, they’re @ssholes when they arrive and they’re @ssholes when they leave.”

And Everest and K2 aren’t even in the same ballpark. The reason is the terrain and weather patterns of K2 don’t allow you to disrespect it or run a tourist operation on it. It will kill you. Only the best of the best attempt K2, and for every four that attempt, one dies trying. So you have a 75% chance of simply not being killed and a much lower chance of actually reaching the summit. From 1986 to 2004 only five women reached the summit of K2. And all of them died. Since then, several have managed to reach the summit, but noone man or woman has reached the summit in the last five years.

But yeah, you’re pretty clueless if you think even setting up a tent at sea level is remotely the same to carrying it up a mountain at high altitude, then setting it up in 140 mph winds while your hands freeze. So ultimately, your view is more or less irrelevant on this topic.

I have heard it been said before that if you can’t climb Mt. Everest with only a Swiss Army Knife, Oxygen Tank, and some MREs, then you’re not a BSD.

Black Swan – well, let me just say that from the vitriol of your posts, you make it sound like you are really an experienced mountaineer (which I don’t think is the case, to be honest) or you just have an axe to grind with someone. Granted, I’m definitely aware that there are many hobby climbers and tourists that attempt Everest, and I can certainly understand how this can be frustrating having to wait on some of these folks in my prior expeditions myself. On the other hand, I don’t totally abhor these people either because they have to gain experience somehow, and because I’m not actually so elitist that I feel like the mountain belonged to me (as opposed to someone else). Curiously, that you feel compelled to describe some of these people as “@ssholes, douchebags and CEO’s” actually detracts from the cogency of your argument and make it sound like you have more of an ad hominem issue with someone you know that attempted Everest whom you had some personal issue with. I’m sure there are many more “douchebags” at Sea Level in the Northeastern U.S. than at the summit of Everest.

Of course, as someone that’s never attempted Everest (but hope to someday) and that doesn’t actually consider myself a mountaineer, I’m not actually offended. I’m just slightly bewildered by the heavy-handed nature of your comments.

It was a quote. Read better.

The man who said it was one of the two founders of Pategonia mountain gear. He’s summited Everest many times and is a reknowned mountaineer. He’s also roughly 70 and a little rough in his dimeanor. Anyhow, the essence of what he’s saying is true. Your perspective is ivy league. For people that live in these outdoor sports and build their life around them, these places are holy and demand respect. And the tourists that show up and pay exhorbitant amounts (50-100k) to have someone hold their hands and do all the work so they dont’ have to strike the others as extremely disrespectful, trying to purchase what should be meaningful and poluting some of the few pure places on earth where people have gone to leave those sorts of things behind. Noone has a problem with a CEO that takes years to train, spend time on peaks, learn to use his gear and understand the weather and the terrain. They do in fact, mind people that try to buy what should be earned.

Also, Black Swan, I’m aware of the difficulties of K2 having known someone that has successfully summited that and Everest. The statistics you mentioned, while appreciated, are also well known to most people already via Google searching, television, etc.

You’re also correct in that setting up a tent in highly adverse conditions is different than at sea level, but my point is that I don’t begrudge people for wanting to travel or learn climbing the way they want to. Now, if you can demonstrate to me that you are an experienced mountaineer or have some other qualification where you feel like you can take such a degrading view on people that want to explore mountains with groups, then I’d be curious to hear that view. All I know is that like you, I also know “people” that have climbed 8,000-meter peaks who don’t share the same view as you. Simultaneously, I’m sure there are many others that have a different view from me too. We’ll probably just have to agree to disagree on this, though I’m still curious to know why you have such a heavy-handed opinion on the subject.

Anyway, having said all of that I definitely appreciate your opinions (even if they differ from mine), because you’ve also cited some good facts that do lend credence to your point of view. Mostly I’m just curious to hear what makes people develop such strong opinions on the matter because it’s not like you have people that successfully summit 8,000-meter peaks running around all over the place.

I haven’t summited everest or K2 if that’s what you’re wondering. I have done a fair amount of mountaineering, backcountry skiing, ice climbing and last winter got trained and certified by aiare through their level II avalanche rescue program. I’ve also experienced camping out overnight in -50 degrees fairenheight (with wind chill) and on several occasions 140 mph winds. So I do know what that’s like. My background is more than most.

I edited my prior post above apaprently while you were replying. I put why people feel so strongly in that post.

Summiting K2 is legit. Everest is just a miserable grueling hike that anybody could do if it were at sea level. I bet I could do Everest someday with support, but I don’t think I’ll ever try something like K2.

As for the purists out there, yep you’re right. It sorta defeats the purpose. But tell that to Lance Amstrong. Yes, I have an ego and it wants to be stroked.

^ Fair enough. lol

I’m no mountaineer, but I’ve hiked to about 4.6k a few times outside La Paz, Bolivia. No technical skills were needed, but I certainly would have needed O2 if I had gone much higher.

I think having arguments about what makes a true mountaineer is kinda like an adult version of having a “I bet spiderman could beat batman” argument.

Let people do what they want to do without feeling the need to judge them. If you want to climb Everest unasisted, without oxygen, in your underwear for the extra challenge, whatever, fine, if you get your kicks that way, cool. On the other hand, if you want to spend $70K of your hard earned cash and get sherpas to make hot coco for you all the way up and you get your kicks that way, then that’s also cool, you worked hard to earn that money, good on you for spending it the way you please.

The guys who are assholes in my opinion are the guys who make sweeping generalisation like Black Swan quoted:

“They’re these spoiled douche bags and CEO’s that are doing it for their ego. They have no understanding of what they’re doing, and they’re looking for a life changing experience… The irony of it is, they’re @ssholes when they arrive and they’re @ssholes when they leave.”

In my experience, the type of people who need to vocalise these types of judgement are usually just doing so as a result of their own insecurities and as a way of justifying their own existence, place in life/society, and choice of lifestlye.

Yeah, I mean, the guy who made that statement is the founder of Patagonia and one of the true pioneers of mountaineering and progress on Everest as we know it. The people who climb it commercially these days can only do so because of many of the revolutions in climbing equipment to make the sport safer and more environmentally friendly that he and his company have made. These are their holy places. They have a lot invested in this, which is why they form opinions on intruders that alter these environments by polluting the purity of it. Or maybe they’re just more offended at the bigger picture that this “buy anything you want” mentality has cheapened most things in the world and it’s idealistic warefare. To some extent these people search the world and travel ten thousand miles from civilization into the harshest environments to escape the cheapness of society today and find meaning… and maybe some of it is a terretorial defensiveness that arises when they find a thousand bankers nipping at their heels trying to buy their way in.

Yeah sure, it’s just a sport to you and just some remote place to you, but to these guys it’s much more. I think it’s something a bunch of cubicle jockeys just can’t understand, so I guess it’s pointless to try to explain it. As I said, it’s the concept of buying what you haven’t earned. I think most bankers especially are just taught they should be able to buy anything they please and put a price tag on it so they get offended to find out other people think that’s a sh*tty way to live. In fairness, I’ve seen to topic of prostitutes come up on here a lot, so I don’t know that would suprise me.

It sounds like being ‘hardcore’ about this outdoors shit is a big part of your bullshit insecure internet tough guy identity. It’s too bad you’re just as much as a retarded asshole as all the tourists you disparage for looking for life experiences without the effort.

The thing is, I don’t think you CAN really buy the experience that “true mountaineers” have. At the end of the day, anybody who spends the cash and gets babysat up to the top of Everest won’t get that same sense of satisfaction that someone who would have done it on his own, or unassisted, or whatever you want to call it. Personally, flying gliders is my hobby, and though it’s a vastly different sport to mountaineering, there are similarities when you look at it in the context of this argument. You can “buy” experiences that you haven’t “earned”. I’ve paid money with a group of other glider pilots to fly with a guide pilot in the French Alps (he leads, you follow, you go places you would never dare go alone). Having had no mountain flying experience, I wouldn’t have dared to explore the Alps on my own, but with a guide pilot it allowed me to experience something I’d always dreamed of doing, and to this day I have amazing memories from that experience. Was I a bit of a tourist, yeah, sure, I guess you could call it that. Would I have a greater sense of satisfaction if I had managed to do it on my own by having spent years getting to know the mountains, yeah of course. Does having paid for that experience make me an asshole though? The fact is, yeah, I am a desk jockey, I sit in front of a computer 10+ hours a day and have chosen a lifestyle and career which only allows me to be a bit of tourist at some things. But does that mean I should just stay at home on my holidays or restrict my adventures to Disneyland and Cruise Ships? I know it wasn’t your quote, but I do find the attitude a bit elitist. Just because they climb Everest unassisted or were the first ones there or whatever, doesn’t somehow grant them ownership of it or give them a right to say who or how the mountain should be scaled. The point is, that mountain CAN be scaled by someone with relatively no experience. If you think Everest is too crowded or polluted because there are 30 tourists on it when you rock up, then go find another mountain that tourists can’t climb (i.e. K2).

This might have something to do with Mr. Chouinard’s distain for bankers:

“We began to grow at a rapid pace; at one point we made Inc. Magazine’s list of the fastest-growing privately held companies. That rapid growth came to a halt in the summer of 1991, when our sales crimped during a recession and our bankers, themselves in trouble and up for sale, called in our revolving loan. To pay off the debt, we had to drastically cut costs and dump inventory. We laid off 20% of our work force–many of them friends and friends of friends. And we nearly lost our independence as a company. That taught us a major lesson. We have kept growth – and borrowing – to a modest scale ever since.”

Mr. Chouinard also had to take his first company, Chouinard Equipment, Ltd., into Chapter 11 to avoid product liability lawsuits. Probably no great love for lawyers after that either.