This is often the trickiest part. Having a course under your belt makes things a lot easier, as it demonstrates some level of competency. Clubs like the Alpine Club of Canada, the American Alpine Club, or the Sierra Club are plentiful. A quick Google search in your area should turn up some results. Having a course under your belt demonstrates a commitment to getting trained and that you have been presented with the skills required, making it much easier to join a trip.
Doing a course with friends is another great way to ensure you’ve got adventure buddies. But remember, courses just give you the skills to react. They don’t give you the experience to know how to act. Where possible, try and find some more experienced people to go into the mountains with. You’ll have a rich trove of stories and experiences to learn from.
So, how do you get mentors and partners?
- Join a club: A lot of people, a lot of knowledge, a lot of perspectives.
- Be enthusiastic: Watch Alex Honnold in Line Across The Sky. He is perpetually bringing good vibes to the team. Always bring the stoke, especially when it’s slipping. Many beginners are slow, and it can be a little tiresome taking them out. But if you are fun to be around and keep the moral up when its taking a nose dive… you’ll find that people will invite you a lot more.
- Be responsible: Do your research, know the route, don’t rely on others to do your camp chores or plan the route.
- Reach out: Feel free to ask people to do stuff. You will often hear a no, but ask anyway.
Get the gear
Many people rush this step first. This step is intentionally the fourth step.
There are very few pieces of fancy mountaineering gear that you need. My first trip was wearing clothes that cost a total of $100 and an assortment of borrowed gear. Ignore the blog posts telling you the 10 items you NEED. Bad gear is normally partly influenced by bad attitudes. Remember that the first attempts at Everest were done wearing eight silk shirts, tweed jackets, and cravats.
Okay, so chances are by this stage you probably have pretty much everything you need already. Not borrowing gear and buying dirt-cheap crappy stuff is a great way to find out what things you really need.