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The Mountaineers

The Mountaineers. Climbing techniques and climbing equipment have changed considerably over the past few years. The Mountaineers’ Climbing Course has also changed to keep pace with the new techniques and equipment. Changes include new methods of instruction, course and climb-size limitations and an increased emphasis on making experience climbs more instruction-oriented than they have been.

The large demand for climbing instruction has necessitated limiting each Basic class to a maximum of 240 students. This number was determined by considering how many students we can instruct at field trips without decreasing course quality or increasing the number of field trips. Climbing-party size has now been limited to 12 on glacier climbs and 8 on rock climbs. We must schedule and obtain leaders for nearly 100 basic experience climbs each summer for our students to complete their required three climbs.

Changes in climbing technique and equipment have also had a considerable impact on our Intermediate climbing class. We begin with a mandatory field review of many of the most important basic techniques. In 1975, a third day of practice was added to the Intermediate rock climbing. As the use of chocks has become more widespread, our emphasis has been on their use though we have not abandoned piton instruction. Ice-climbing practice has also changed, with more emphasis on developing a well-rounded, flexible technique. Most of the students and instructors find our rescue-methods intermediate field trip to be one of the most enjoyable and interesting.

The Seminar program provides lectures and field trips about once a month during which a single topic is discussed or practiced in detail. Two of the important classroom topics are leadership and teaching skills. Another type of seminar is a “brush-up” trip aimed at former students who have become temporarily inactive or who have been climbing regularly but have not kept abreast of the many new techniques and items of climbing equipment. In 1975, the 275th student graduated from our Intermediate climbing course.

Edward L. Peters, Climbing Committee Chairman