School to teach how to conquer mountains

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By Kirsten Laskey

Scale cliffs, creep up rocks and conquer mountains through the Los Alamos Mountaineers’ climbing school.

The education in endurance begins March 23 and runs through May 2. Classes are held Saturdays in April and Monday nights from March 23 through April.

Monday sessions are classroom lectures and demonstrations and the Saturday sessions will take students to various locations around White Rock to climb and practice various climbing skills.

The last Saturday session will be the graduation climb. This all-day event will take place at a climbing area in northern New Mexico. Students will lead belay and instruct, then follow up a multi-pitch sport climb.

Bill Giest, director of this year’s climbing school, said there are several focuses for the school.

“One of which is to learn to rock climb,” he said. “And we also teach the safety aspect of climbing. And we also give an introduction to sport and traditional climbing and then a little bit on general mountaineering,” Giest said.

Some of the techniques that students will learn include belaying, repelling and lead belaying.

He encourages people to try these techniques out “just to get outdoors. It’s a good hobby; it builds muscle strength. I also find when I rock climb (that) rock climbing is sort of like solving a puzzle. It forces you to focus on what you’re doing. So it’s a good way to forget about your day and relieve stress.”

The class is not just for mountain climbing enthusiasts, it can appeal to hikers, too. Giest said the class helps hikes tackle more difficult trails such as those on the Colorado fourteeners.

Giest offers a lot of experience for students as well. He is a 2000 graduate of the climbing school and has been active in the Los Alamos Mountaineers for nine years.

He said he accepted the position as director of the school because “it felt like a good way to give back to the climbing community.”

Plus, Giest said he is looking forward to meeting new people and seeing them take up the sport.

“It’s nice to see people learn something and get excited about it,” he said. “Also when you teach something, you continue to learn about the subject.”

Everything needed to register is available on-line at www.lamountaineers.org/zschool.hltml or e-mail at LACLIMBINGSCHOOL@gmail.com.

The maximum  students is 26. To successfully register, people need to fill out an application, sign a waiver and pay the $185 fee. Additionally, there is a membership fee of $15 for individuals or $20 for a family.