View Full Version : Learning about Mountain Weather

12-11-2008, 08:48 AM
Hi, I am an aspiring mountaineer looking for a place to learn more about mountain weather. My goal is to be able to make wiser decisions when out in the mountains or on glaciers for extended periods of time where I will not have access to latest forecasts. I have a book that I purchased that is very detailed but a bit above my head with terminology. I was looking to take some non-credit courses and a college but there aren't any programs near me in Connecticut. Does anyone know of any online or local programs?

Bill O
12-11-2008, 08:59 AM
Aspiring mountaineer? I think you're past that.

What book do you have? Mountain Meteorology by Whiteman is probably a bit over the top and not practical for mountaineers. I'd recommend doing some research and finding the text they use for Meteorology 101 at various universities. Then buy it on Amazon.

You probably have Freedom of the Hills, the bible for mountaineers. I think that has a decent weather section.

It might worth it just to audit a for-credit course at a university. Take the most basic meteorology class. I learned more in that course than the rest of my time getting a meteorology degree. Avalanche courses are always good too. But you're right, CT is not the place to learn about mountain weather.

12-11-2008, 09:40 AM
Hi! Thanks for getting back to me! Yes, I have the Whiteman book and have read it about 5 times all the way through (including the definitions and tables) and it is way above my head. I definately have Freedom of the Hills and have read that book many times as well. I will look into some meteorology 101 courses. I don't think CT offers any but I think there is one in Mass that is not too far for me. I am fascinated by the weather in the mountains and the more time I spend in them the more questions I have!
One of the things I am beginning to learn is that weather is one of the biggest factors in summitting or not summitting and living or dying in the mountains. I feel that along with proper avalanche training, mountaineering skills and safety, and a strong understanding of weather and weather patterns I can make smarter decisions on when to climb and when not to climb. I will have to admit that some of my most exciting times in the mountains were when the conditions were horrible! :)

Bill O
12-11-2008, 08:45 PM
If you work your way through parts I and II of Whiteman's book you could learn a lot.

If you don't understand something ask away, there are plenty of meteorologists on this forum that can help.

12-12-2008, 01:52 PM
We learned a liittle about weather patterns and signs to look for while up on the Kahiltna. Other than "Freedom for the Hills" I second what Bill O mentioned about auditing a course.

Pete S
12-12-2008, 04:50 PM
Bill's recommendations are great. The basic met classs will really help you understand what you are seeing as any trip progresses.

Besides "Freedom Of the Hills", The Mountaineers Books also publishes a book by Jeff Renner "Mountain Weather". Although it has a PNW tilt to it, the basic science is good. It emphases pre trip weather information gathering / planning, and then stresses field observations that will help you determine if the pre trip information is still valid.... or if the situation has changed.

Its a good read. Even if all you remember is higher, fewer clouds=good,
lower, more clouds= bad, that's information that may lead to better decisions!

12-12-2008, 07:30 PM
I plan to just follow DangerGirl's trip reports and I am sure I will learn a lot about all sorts of wild weather situations.

12-12-2008, 10:48 PM
Thanks for all the info! I am going to research things a bit more. I do have some more exciting winter plans coming up which include a winter pemi loop, another presi traverse, and an evening washington ascent! I will keep you posted! I am also in the process of signing up for an avalanche course! :)

12-14-2008, 10:51 PM
How come I can't find a girlfriend like dangergirl? Where are all the outdoors women hiding?!

To keep this on topic though, I have always loved cold, windy weather. It makes things more challenging and exciting. Some people look at me like I am crazy when I tell them I had so much fun sitting in a tent with 70 mph winds blowing outside, drinking hot chocolate and kicking back in my sleeping bag talking with my best friend. :eek:

12-15-2008, 05:46 AM
How come I can't find a girlfriend like dangergirl? Where are all the outdoors women hiding?!
I can see into the future - - - she is going to get several proposals from folks out here.

12-15-2008, 08:13 AM
I know plenty of girls who enjoy these things but most of them live in CO, CA, OR, and WY!!!!! All places I would love to live!
As for the weather info, I have been doing lots more research and am going to purchase some introductory books on meteorology and I am trying to find classes (even if online) to take!

12-15-2008, 09:11 AM
I did find a kind of, well not so good 'outdoor enthusiast' dating site online. Heck I even registered. It's not so hot though because it doesn't have a SEARCH feature for states, only ZIP Codes..... Yeah, that helps eh?

dangergirl has a man already, so she's out. One with some wits about him too I might add. :)

12-15-2008, 01:55 PM
Ya, it took me a long time to find someone who likes to have fun as much as I do! We make a great pair in the mountains. I do the logistics and he puts it together in the field. There have been many times where we have literally kept each other going on some of our more demanding trips! We make a great team! Be patient and you will find your perfect partner when you least expect it! We were friends for about 7 years before we figured out we were a great match! (We have known each other for 11 years now!) :)

12-15-2008, 11:07 PM
I'm getting old so I need to hurry up and find me a 28-35 yr old :D