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Thread: Sheep Hunting / Mountaineering

  1. #1

    Default Sheep Hunting / Mountaineering

    This may be a silly question, but how many of you sheep hunters have experience rock/ice climbing and general mountaineering? Where did you learn the skills. I was thinking it would be good idea to take some courses, but can't seem to find anything tailored to basic skills.

  2. #2
    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Big Lake


    trial and error, some tv shows, a little rock climbing just for hobby. but mostly common sense and trial and error.
    Master guide 212

  3. #3
    New member mtcop71's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Prattville, Alabama, United States

    Default Training

    Agreed .. trial and error and practice before hand.. Hiking, climbing up shale and rock slides.. and books and more books. This is part of your training through out the year preparing your body for the rigorous hunt ahead.
    But well worth it!

  4. #4
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Eagle River, AK


    I believe that you can get some training through the Alaska Mountaineering Club. If you're in Anchorage, go to AMH - look at their bulletin board and talk to the employees. They should be able to hook you up with the right people. I know that the club also has regular meetings and talks about safety.

    It's true what the above folks wrote that you can learn a lot by trial and error. Unfortunately, when the conditions are bad enough, the error part can end up costing you your life. Don't buy into the notion that you shouldn't get training - it could be the difference between coming home tired and coming home in a body bag.

    I didn't do any formal training with a club, but as a teenager I hooked up with a guy that is an accomplished mountaineer. I accompanied him on many climbs in the the Chugach. There was a time on the more difficult ridge on Eagle Peak that I was truly scared and questioned why I was doing it, but I credit moments like that with getting me off a mountain safely the next fall when I took a bad route down while goat hunting.

    Climb as much as you can during the off season. Running the ridge behing Flattop all the way back to the summit of Ptarmagin is a great way to get some basic bouldering experience, as is climbing Rainbow along Turnagain Arm. Let me know if you want some other suggestions for safe areas to train.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2005

    Thumbs up Just do it.... as Arnold would say...

    Quote Originally Posted by mtcop71 View Post
    Agreed .. trial and error and practice before hand.. Hiking, climbing up shale and rock slides.. and books and more books. This is part of your training through out the year preparing your body for the rigorous hunt ahead.
    But well worth it!
    Yup, and working your way up to doing it all with 80lbs+ pack. Do it in the rain too. It's easy to train on the nice days on dry ground but it's not that way in the mtns all the time. After your in shape also train on some days when you are tired and don't feel like it. Mental training is just as important. Sometime the body says "no" but the mind has to kick in and say GO!

    my .02

  6. #6

    Default Training Hikes

    Thanks for the responses. I have been hiking and climbing as much as possible. Just did skyline trail on the Kenai with crampons and snowshoes. Have been looking at some other climbs for this summer. They are all learning experiences, but I was looking for a good way to learn basic skills to get me off of a mountain if I find myself in a situation that many have. Some of you may remember the story about the young man that fell this last fall in the Wrangells and went into a coma. Do you carry any basic mountaineering gear while sheep hunting. Any anchors and rope or necessary gear to repel if needed?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2005

    Thumbs up Maybe a helmet next time I go

    Quote Originally Posted by blackfoot View Post
    ...Some of you may remember the story about the young man that fell this last fall in the Wrangells and went into a coma. Do you carry any basic mountaineering gear while sheep hunting. Any anchors and rope or necessary gear to repel if needed?
    Ya, I was sheep hunting myself when that happened on long walkin hunt. Given his head/brain injuries it got me thinking about a lightweight mountaineering helmet. It could just as well have been me or my partner in the article. We had a thread going for a while about helmets. Might be worth the extra 8 ozs.

    Sheep/Goat Hunting and helmets

  8. #8
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006


    UAF and UAA both offer various backcountry skills courses, intro to mountaineering included

  9. #9
    Member TWB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    Another good trail to build yourself up on is the south fork trail on the back end of Hiland road, takes you up and over the top to arctic valley, pretty much right up to the chairs, 3-4 hour hike unless yer humping to the top. Awesome scenery. I plan on doin this hike weekly come summer.
    We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home; in towns and cities; in shops, offices, stores, banks anywhere that we may be placed

  10. #10
    Member shphtr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Default sheep hunting/mountaineering skills

    In the past a sheep hunting pard and myself took the UAA intro to mountaineering - very valuable and learned a lot of camping "pearls" about camping in the mountains, travel, cooking, route finding, and general survival. WELL worth the time and effort and the earlier one does it in their "sheep hunting career" the more benefit they will get from the classroom didactics and field instruction. Just do it...good luck.

  11. #11
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
    Anchorage, Alaska

    Default Some comments on mountaineering skills-

    Great thread!

    I doubt that many of us have had formal training; just the "hard knocks" as others have said.

    I'll reveal my own ignorance in saying that I did a few solo glacier crossings (with sheep on my back) before a friend told me that's one of the biggest "no-no's" of climbing in Alaska. He was an experienced ice climber with formal training and lots of experience. It made me think about ending up in a 100' crevasse with no way out.

    A few years back a friend of mine was killed in a fall on a solo sheep hunt in the Talkeetnas. We'll never know what exactly happened, but his camp was found and a short way up the valley they found him partially buried under a shale slide at the foot of a 1200-foot drop. It appears that the outcropping he climbed up to glass from gave way beneath him. Perhaps if he had had some formal training he would still be alive today. Hard to say.

    In most cases though, you would probably not bring anchors, ropes, jumars, chocks and such. Just too much junk to carry already, and Dall sheep are less likely to be found in the really gnarly rocks and such like goats are. Still there are exceptions... I remember a few years ago hearing about a guy who spent over a month circumnavigating the entire Tazlina Glacier area, living out of his backpack, looking for the Ultimate Ram. He had ropes and climbing gear with him, I'm told. I was only in one situation where it would have been handy, and that worked itself out.

    If you have the time, a mountaineering course isn't a bad idea though. Anything you can learn will only help, and it doesn't cost much to carry that information around in your head. I would suggest picking up a copy of Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills, by Cox and Fulsaas. As their website says, it's the best selling mountaineering book of all time. Very well written and readable. Great nightstand reading! Maybe we can get it on this website? How about it David?

    Good luck as you train and learn!

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  12. #12

    Default A few thoughts

    OK, here are some things to remember when climbing in the backcountry:
    - When in doubt, face into the slope. The alternative is to face the cemetery.
    - Steeper terrain with solid rock is safer than fractured rock or scree where you can dislodge rocks above you, or break a hold.
    - Don't hike above your parnter on scree, stay on the same level - many accidents are caused by someone else dislodging rocks onto people below.
    - When crossing glaciers, stay off the snow which can hide crevasses. Think of a glacier as a river and cross where you would expect the calmest "water".
    - A 50' to a 100' length of 7mm cord weighs ounces, but you can use it to lower a pack, assist your partner, fix an exposed traverse without a pack and then carry the pack across, use to sling a horn and do a body rappel, set up a tyrollean across a canyon to sling packs across plus many, many other ways to keep you out of trouble (or into more trouble...) - and all for a few ounces of weight.
    - Be profficient in ice axe arrests on snow - this is imperative if you will be crossing snow couloirs.

    Oh, yeah, and you have to be comfortable with exposure.

  13. #13

    Default climbing

    Good thoughts/suggestions. There hasn't been a sheep hunt I was on where there wasn't at least one precarious position during the hunt that really could have gone south under the right/wrong circumstances. I grew up backpacking in the shale and cliffs, so I think that experience helped know what to do when. But accidents happen and I hope to not put myself in those positions again-----bottom line is I should have taken the time/energy to find a better/safer way. When you're tired mentally and physically, that's when mistakes seem to happen. And that's where training comes in. For me, training with a loaded pack up and back down the mountains is the best way, as it builds up muscles for climbing and muscles for stabilizing as you pack that ram off the mountain. I also think rock-climbing in the off-season helps maintain hand/arm strength for not only climbing after a ram, but lugging your rifle that starts to feel like 50 lbs after day 5. Plus, being up on a rock, even in a climbing gym, gets you used to some heights and how to control your emotions. Losing your head while in the crags is the worst possible scenerio. But, with all that said, I think having climbing education/experience would really make a difference in technical situations. I plan on getting more training myself.

  14. #14

    Default Will Get Training/Experience Now!!

    I drew a sheep tag for 14c and a goat permit for brown mountain. Guess I will get some mountaineering experience now!!! Thanks for all the replies. I will take the advice to heart and work my but off this summer getting ready!


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