JAHpowI'm all about saving money so you intrigue me, iFlip.
How/where did you learn mountaineering?
I've always lived a very outdoors-oriented life. I started at a young age with long hiking and canoeing trips around the US and into Canada. I then gravitated toward climbing and fell in with a group of like-minded people. After I graduated college (undergrad) I thru-hiked the AT. For several years I lived the dirtbag climbing lifestyle, moving as the seasons dictated to follow the best climbing weather. There is a core group of climbers who live this cycle. I lived in Yosemite for a very extended time, as well as Joshua Tree, Squamish, etc. For several years I climbed 100+ days per year between rock and ice.
When I took up ice climbing I was lucky enough to fall under the tutelage of an exceptionally strong ice climber. I learned how to read the ice, snow conditions, and all of the hundred other things that go into ice climbing. I've been leading hard ice for quite a few years now and am very comfortable on it.
I've spent a fair amount of time in the big mountains, on glaciers, etc. This winter's goal has 1,000 feet of vertical ice on it, at extremely high altitude. Should be quite interesting, especially with all the travel and expedition logistics.
I own more climbing gear than could be considered reasonable (somewhere around $10,000 worth), including a $1,200 portaledge. As noted, I'm extremely proficient in all alpine and climbing pursuits, from week-long El Capitan routes to mixed ice/rock objectives in the big mountains. A really ideal place to learn would be the PNW, due to its proximity to the bigger volcanoes (Rainier, Shasta, Hood, etc), plenty of rock climbing locations, and the excellent alpine training ground that is the Tetons.