The Basic Climbing Experience

Seattle Basic Alpine Climbing Student Cody Golden shares his experience in the Basic Course.
Cody Golden Cody Golden
May 27, 2016

The Mountaineers offers the Basic Alpine Climbing Course in five of our seven branches. In this course, students learn the basic skills needed to climb peaks in the Cascade and Olympic ranges. In addition to learning skills, students become part of a climbing community and often connect with lifelong climbing partners. As we near the end of May, our courses are wrapping up their skills sessions, and the climbing season is beginning! Check out the experience that Seattle student, Cody Golden, wanted to share:

I was introduced into the outdoors through a series of long, multi day backpacking trips in some of the most beautiful places around the country. Traversing the Cascade Range west to east and spending a week in the Wind River Range in Wyoming were a few of the trips that opened my eyes to how much the wilderness has to offer. While those trips were nothing short of amazing, we were constantly in the shadows of massive mountains, either glaciated volcanoes or massive behemoths of rock. It didn’t take long before I decided that as much as I enjoyed backpacking under and around these mountains, I needed to climb them. This, among other things, is what led me to sign up for the Basic Alpine Climbing Course.

The sport of mountaineering is inherently dangerous and extremely intimidating. Knowing where and how to start is just the first challenge of many. The Mountaineers Basic Alpine Climbing Course is, in my opinion, the best possible way to dive into the world of climbing and build a knowledge base that you will carry with you throughout your climbing career. The city of Seattle itself is home to one of the most active and knowledgeable climbing communities in the world, and this class offers a direct line into the minds of some of the most experienced climbers in the country.

My experience with the Basic Alpine Climb Course has been an experience of a lifetime. I came into the course with the expectation of learning how to climb mountains and hopefully meet some fun, interesting people along the way.  Halfway through the course, my expectations had been blown away. I have learned more than I ever thought possible in these last five months and have made numerous friends that share the same passions as me.

One of the main things I’ve learned about this class is that what you get out of the class is directly related to how willing you are - as a student - to make the time commitments and put in the necessary work. The incredible amount of time and energy dedicated by the volunteer leaders enables committed students to gain more than they imagined. When I signed up for this class, I knew that I was making a massive time commitment. I understood that most of my weekends would be consumed by this class. I understood that I would have to dedicate tons of time just to getting in good enough physical shape, and I understood that I would have to dedicate weekday nights to actually learning the required skills.

As big of a commitment I have made to this class, my leaders have made an even bigger time commitment. Organizing climbs, conditioners, and skills nights, as well as actually executing all of the aforementioned requires an IMMENSE amount of time. On top of the time commitment, these leaders are 100% volunteers, which to me means that these people are leading students not because they have to, but because they love doing it and want to help educate future generations of mountaineers. I cannot speak more highly about my leaders (Albert, Loni, Petra and John, you guys are the best). Besides all of the work that my leaders have put in to make sure we get the most out of this class, they have all put in extra effort to get to know all of us not as students, but as friends. Whether that’s grabbing dinner as a group after conditioners, barbequeing together, or even celebrating birthdays on top of Mt. Si, my leaders have been absolutely exceptional, both as teachers and as friends.

At the end of April, I completed my snow field trip, where we were taught how to properly use ice axes and crampons. Completing this field trip meant that I was now eligible to join basic climbs. Myself and one of my good friends from my group took that quite literally, and within 20 minutes of completing the field trip took off to go and climb The Tooth. This was my first ever multi pitch alpine climb, and it was one of the best experiences I have ever had in the outdoors. As awesome as that day was, I know that the best part of this class is just about to begin. My summer is packed to the brim with awesome climbs with the mountaineers, and I couldn’t be more excited.