I’m often asked how to describe the experience of mountain climbing—and mountaineering in general—to people who have never been and who may only know the activity through, say, Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air or some movie(s) they say. I can try to convey my own experience, but whenever I get started up, people tend to regret it, I’m told. I tend to provide, not too much information, but much too detail. Or else I get too far the other way and go straight to the euphoria of summitting and surviving. I’ve never been great at book learning, I’m okay, but I do have a memory that’s very experientially oriented.
So I’ve thought about over the years, and one of the unusual references I make, which sometimes work and sometimes doesn’t, but I’ll ask if the person has ever read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. There’s a kind of effortless focus that humans are capable of only when their immediate safety is threatened, even if it’s hopefully in a controlled way. Pretty much every climber I’ve talked to doesn’t have a death wish—well, no more so than other people. I’ve never met a climber who seemed suicidal, anyway.
Like riding a motorcycle across the country, climbing and mountaineering evoke this effortless focus and way of being. From the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Northwest, here is a list of places that you should check out to learn how to climb and go mountaineering.
|American Alpine Institute||Bellingham, WA||1515 12th St, Bellingham, WA 98225, USA||1 360-671-1505||http://www.alpineinstitute.com/|
|Northwest Mountain School||Leavenworth, WA||940 US-2, Leavenworth, WA 98826, USA||1 509-548-5823||http://www.mountainschool.com/|
|Baker Mountain Guides||Bellingham, WA||214 W Holly St, Bellingham, WA 98225, USA||1 360-319-1160||https://www.bakermountainguides.com/|
|North Cascades Mountain Guides||Mazama, WA||48 Lost River Rd, Mazama, WA 98833, USA||1 509-996-3194||https://www.ncmountainguides.com/|
|Alpine Ascents International||Seattle, WA||109 W Mercer St, Seattle, WA 98119, USA||1 206-378-1927||https://www.alpineascents.com/|
|Kaf Adventures||Seattle, WA||2960 4th Ave S #115, Seattle, WA 98134, USA||1 206-413-5418||http://www.kafadventures.com/|
|Mountain Madness.Inc||Seattle, WA||9249 17th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98106, USA||1 800-328-5925||http://www.mountainmadness.com/|
|Jackson Hole Mountain Guides||Jackson, WY||1325 US-89, Jackson, WY 83002, USA||1 307-733-4979||http://jhmg.com/|
|Teton Mountaineering||Jackson, WY||170 N Cache Dr, Box 1533, Jackson, WY 83001, United States||1 307-733-3595||http://www.tetonmtn.com/|
|Colorado Mountain School||Estes Park, CO||341 Moraine Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517, USA||1 800-836-4008||https://coloradomountainschool.com/|
|Apex Mountain School||Avon, CO||51 Eagle Rd, Avon, CO 81620, USA||1 970-949-9111||http://www.apexmountainschool.com/|
|Pikes Peak Alpine School||Colorado Springs, CO||1819 N Corona St, Colorado Springs, CO 80907, USA||1 719-368-9524||http://www.pikespeakalpineschool.com/|
|Peak Mountain Guides||Ouray, CO||280 7th Ave, Ouray, CO 81427, USA||1 970-325-7342||https://peakguides.com/|
|The Colorado Climbing Company||Springs, CO||Colorado Springs, CO, USA||1 719-209-6649||https://www.coclimbing.com/|
|Colorado Mountain School||Boulder, CO||5958, 633 S Broadway unit a, Boulder, CO 80305, United States||1 800-836-4008||https://coloradomountainschool.com/|
|Rocky Mountain Ventures – Climbing Guides||Steamboat Springs, CO||2619 Copper Ridge Cir, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487, USA||1 970-870-8440||http://www.steamboatclimbing.com/|
|San Juan Mountain Guides LLC||Ouray, CO||725 Main St, Ouray, CO 81427, USA||1 800-642-5389||https://mtnguide.net/|
|Mountain Trip||Telluride, CO||135 W Colorado Ave #2a, Telluride, CO 81320, USA||1 970-369-1153||https://mountaintrip.com/|
|Mountain Chalet||Colorado Springs, CO||226 N Tejon St, Colorado Springs, CO 80903, USA||1 719-633-0732||https://www.mtnchalet.com/|
|Ouray Ice Park||Ouray, CO||280 Co Rd 361, Ouray, CO 81427, USA||1 970-325-4288||http://ourayicepark.com/|
|Ouray Mountain Sports||Ouray, CO||732 Main St, Ouray, CO 81427, USA||1 970-325-4284||https://ouraysports.com/|