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Many people learn how to rock climb the hard way. If you ask them how they learned to climb, their answers might include “my buddy, Ernie,” “it was a great day, but,” and “the best thing in my life.”
They may also utter phrases like “but I kept at it anyway,” “after that I went back and bought better (shoes, harness, rope),” and “we didn’t really know what we were doing, but we had a great time and we’re still alive.” Though seat-of-the-pants and trial-by-fire work for some intrepid souls, most would prefer less struggle and better results, as offered by the long-running Los Alamos Mountaineers’ Rock Climbing School.
The 2013 school runs from March 26-May 4, with an application deadline of March 17. Teams of experienced local climbers will teach students what they need to be competent and safe on the high-angle out-of doors.
The course is targeted at those who are curious about what rock climbing, who love the outdoors and who want to expand into new adventures. Some students have a bit of experience climbing in the gym or on crags, but would like a more well-rounded understanding of climbing safely in a variety of outdoor settings. Climbing skills can broaden prospects, making it possible to climb mountains that require rope experience, or descend canyons that require rappelling.
Skills are introduced in the classroom and practiced in local venues near Los Alamos and White Rock, culminating with a day-long excursion to cliffs near Tres Piedras or El Rito. Taught by active climbers, the school provides a comprehensive, step-by-step program that instills skill and confidence in its students. The school is also a place to meet others with similar interests. Students range in age from 18 to older than 60, and include beginning climbers with no experience and others who first learned decades ago and want to be refreshed on current practices. Sixteen and 17-year olds can take part if a parent/guardian is present.
The $185 fee (plus dues) includes more than 45 hours of discussion, lectures and practice on the rock and in the gym. The course culminates with a day-long graduation climb that involves multiple pitches, climbing to an intermediate point and anchoring for the stage upward. Students must purchase their own harness and are encouraged to furnish their own climbing shoes and helmets.
The Los Alamos Mountaineers have trained hundreds of climbers in its 60-year history. The club membership that comes with the school opens the door to dozens of volunteer-led adventures. In 2012, trips were as far-flung as Nepal and Mexico and as varied as a Sunday walk on country trails, a week rappelling down canyons in Zion, or a weekend mountaineering in Colorado.
For more information, see the Mountaineers’ website at lamountaineers.org/zSCHOOL.html or contact the 2013 Climbing School directors, Steve Reneau and Lorrie Bonds Lopez, at email@example.com.