A new webcam was installed at Camp Muir on May 18, 2011, by supervisory climbing ranger Stefan Lofgren. The camera is a StarDot NetCam SC Vandal Resistant Dome with a wide-angle lens, mounted on the NWAC instrument tower at the west end of the plywood guide-service hut extension (the "Gombu"):
The new webcam (inside the clear inverted dome) mounted on the NWAC instrument tower.
The view looks south towards Mounts Adams, Hood, and Saint Helens, and includes the upper Muir Snowfield. This should provide an important new tool for trip planning, especially under weather conditions which produce a thick cloud deck at the elevation of Paradise with sunny skies above (very common lately, and typically very common in late spring and early summer).
Images are 1024x768 pixels and set to upload once per hour at 15 minutes after the hour, which is apparently all the current communications link can handle. The camera finally went live today June 2 for a few hours, managing to upload several images starting after 2pm. The time stamp on the image is incorrect for now, showing January 2000. Here is a nice image from 7:17am on June 3, 2011:
At an elevation of 10100 ft, this is now the highest webcam in Washington state by a big margin (as far as I know, the previous highest was the Mission Ridge summit cam at 6800 ft), and also the highest in the entire Cascade Range, surpassing the two webcams at Mount Bachelor's Pine Marten Lodge at 7700 ft.
So somehow the climbing program couldn't afford to safely staff itself due to budget issues, but now it can afford stupid webcams at Muir?
It's a mountain camp, not an amusement park.
Maybe next year they can bump the fee again and build a frigging gondola to the summit.
I'm not sure why you're so negative about the webcam, Loren. It's a useful tool, just like the NWAC telemetry is (although based on your comments, I'm guessing that you're in favor of removing the NWAC telemetry site at Muir too ??). I doubt the money for the webcam came from the climbing program budget, it is more likely that Stefan found another source for those funds from a different NPS budget (although I didn't ask him that specifically, so I don't know).
By seeing current conditions up high, above the cloud decks which block the view up from Paradise, it will potentially save you (and anyone else who decides to use it for trip planning) more in gas money on a single trip than the entire cost of the annual climbing pass. Although I'm annoyed to have to pay a climbing fee, in real terms its cost is essentially nothing: gas for a single roundtrip from Seattle to Paradise is 12 gallons in my vehicle, which at current prices is over $48, more than the cost of the newly-inflated $43 annual climbing pass. One saved trip due to seeing poor conditions on the webcam despite a good-looking NWS forecast would cover those dollars.
And a single trip to Muir or higher which I actually decide to drive down there based on seeing sunny weather on the webcam above a thick cloud deck (instead of sitting at home due to a NWS forecast of mostly cloudy with showers) would be immeasurably valuable, at least to me.
Loc: 200' below the top of Charity
What annoys me is the desire to turn wilderness into an amusement park, and the misleading way the need to increase the permit fee was presented.
The camera and telemetry into are useful and that is not the same as creating a better experience. Adventure, which is why I go to Rainier, requires by its nature an unknown outcome. Having more info before I go doesn't add to adventure, it degrades it.
Rainier was climbed and enjoyed for over 100 years before there was any telemetry, website beta, route conditions reports, or anthing else. If people wanted to know what was going on, they just went down to see. In fact, when I first started climbing here in the mid-90s, it was still that way. And I don't find that my experience is at all enhanced by all the additional information that is available. The operating premise that 'more is better' when it comes to structure, staffing, ancillary equipment, buildings, fees, regulation, statistics, etc. around the climbing program, and that 'everyone' feels this way is problematic for me.
And wherever the money came from, I doubt that it paid for Stefan's time to install the camera. And my opinion is that installing a webcam is not the best use of the time of the supervisory climbing ranger at the park, ESPECIALLY in the wake of him telling people at public meetings that the program was so dangerously understaffed and underfunded that climbing rangers were forced to climb solo and this led directly to one skiing into a crevasse.
As far as not wasting a tank of gas, I think that's what places like Crystal are for: They are highly controlled, managed environments with cameras and patrollers, and avy control and heated lodges all over the mountain. And I have no problem with this. What I dislike is the growing treatment of Rainier in the same way.
They are highly controlled, managed environments with cameras and patrollers, and avy control and heated lodges all over the mountain. And I have no problem with this. What I dislike is the growing treatment of Rainier in the same way.
Sounds like a "park" (Yosemite and Yellowstone come to mind..."
I think that's the difference between a Forest and a Park: in the Parks, people are highly managed.
But I also agree with you: Parks seem to degrade the adventure.
I am doubting that adding a webcam will turn Mount rainier into an amusement park. Lets be honest. It is already one of the most largely visited tourist attractions in the state. And that's ok. Everyone should be able to enjoy the mountain. I have worked on mt rainier for 2 years rebuilding the trails. Seeing people from all walks of life enjoying Mt rainier brings them together. And as far as taking away from the adventure, then do not look at the web cam before you go to the mountain. Then you are still surprised when you go up there and the weather is terrible and you have to go home.