Earnest Hemingway said that mountain climbing, bull fighting, and auto racing are the only real sports while everything else is just a game. There are many things that make mountain climbing unique but I think what Earnest was trying to touch on here is the intersection of ambition, risk and reward that every mountain climber experiences.
In the day of climbing gyms, single pitch cragging, bouldering, and an utter fascination with shiny outdoor gear, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that the core motivation behind alpine climbing hasn’t changed: experience the mountains in a deep, challenging, and fulfilling way. Often times the mountains don’t fit into our lives in an easy or convenient manner. Unlike the climate controlled climbing gyms of our urban areas, the mountains may only allow us a protracted window of opportunity to see our goal and climb towards it. As climbers we stack our deck with technical skills and pull on previous experience to make us more efficient at moving through this environment. The Irwin Guides Alpine Skills Clinic is designed to help climbers learn a variety of skills in the diverse alpine terrain around Crested Butte, hopefully empowering them to quest deeper into the hills and come back in one piece.
So what sets this clinic apart from other climbing courses in Colorado?
Our playground: Crested Butte offers an amazing variety of beautiful and dramatic climbing terrain. We enjoy both quality rock climbing and steep snow climbing within a relatively short distance of one another. Because the mountains are so diverse, we always have an awesome opportunity for learning.
Our guides: Our guiding staff has years (in some cases decades) of experience working and recreating in the mountains around Crested Butte. This local knowledge and passion for our area enhances the student experience and helps the course meet its learning objectives. In addition, Irwin guides is an American Mountain Guides Association accredited business, meaning that our guides meet or exceed the highest industry norms in client experience, risk management, and technical proficiency.
Logistics: We provide the guide, the technical gear (crampons, ropes, etc), and the plan. All you have to do is show up with some standard outdoor kit and a hearty desire to learn.
These three factors come together to create a world-class environment to learn and develop your alpine climbing skills.
The old mountaineering adage “the more you know, the less you need” still holds true, and if you find yourself wanting to gain the skills necessary to push further into the mountains without all the hype and guesswork, this clinic is perfect for you. Hope to see you out there.