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About Government_Watch_Dog

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  1. two more overdue climbers

    After second thought, Mattp and Duchess are correct.
  2. Avalanche near Revelstoke

    Post deleted by iceguy
  3. Can't self-register

    Hey Snivelers The no self-registration rule has been in effect for a number of years; so I don't believe that there is any significant change to the system. If anything, the exception to this reg. is during the winter when visitor use limits are NOT in affect and self-registration is possible. Remember that a MAJORITY of the climbers on Rainier are beginners and new to mountaineering. The Park Service must plan for this and manage it accordingly b/c guess what, they must protect and preserve for everyone, not just a handful of "smelly climbers." If everyone was allowed to self-register at will during the summer, the high camps would be grossly overbooked, crowded, etc. Moreover, it has been my experience that the climbing rangers will work with you whenever possible. No system is perfect, they know it and they try to accommodate. And to limit your paranoia boys and girls, there are no new parking regs at Paradise. So don't get too pissed Hollycimber
  4. More Rescue Related Stuff

    Share rescue costs via user fees Wednesday, June 5, 2002 SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER EDITORIAL BOARD The tragic spate of deaths and dramatic rescues on two Northwest peaks last week has spurred suggestions that those who need rescue in public parks pay a greater share of the cost. After fear for the people on board, the sight of a $10 million government helicopter tumbling down a mountainside could certainly be expected to generate such a conversation. Concerns over such costs are understandable, especially when routine maintenance is lagging years behind in national parks and budget woes are forcing some states to consider closing some parks. Perhaps those who take the extraordinary risks involved in wilderness hiking, and certainly mountain climbing, should pick up a larger share of the parks' search and rescue expenses. There's a logic there, but it goes only so far. It would, for instance, be a decidedly bad idea to adopt a policy of directly billing climbers and hikers who need search and rescue services. The last thing any of the badly injured climbers from Mount Hood or Mount Rainier need is a bill, likely in the thousands of dollars, for services rendered. And do we send a bill to grieving family members of those who died? An after-the-fact billing approach is not only callous, it could very well prove counter-productive. The desire to avoid paying expensive rescue costs might cause climbers and hikers to wait too long to call for help, risking greater danger -- and ultimately, higher rescue costs. Another policy non-starter would be qualifications screening for potential hikers and climbers. While it's true that plenty of search and rescue operations each year help hikers and day trekkers who set out ill-prepared and ill-equipped for the conditions, even the most advanced and best-equipped mountain climbers get into trouble. Another approach would be to privatize the expenses by requiring the purchase of "climbing insurance," like that available in Europe, which would allow reimbursement of the public costs by private insurance companies. That makes sense for climbers taking part in organized expeditions or climbs, but not for the thousands of hikers who clamber independently over the lower elevations. It's far more reasonable to look at more efficient ways to socialize the cost of search and rescue. Taxation is, of course, the most fundamental way to share the cost of government services across society. A more attractive approach may be to apply the cost to the relevant segment of society by charging a fee to those who hike and climb, simply because they are more likely to need such services. The current $15 fee to climb Mount Rainier, for instance, is incredibly low. The $150 fee at Denali in Alaska is not only 10 times as much but 10 times more logical. Fifteen dollars seems hardly enough to cover the cost of the paperwork, let alone a reasonable share of the cost of any search and rescue effort. Boosting wilderness backpacking and mountain climbing fees could raise additional funds and provide a subtle safety reminder to those using the parks. It would be a mistake to eliminate the essential public service concept of search and rescue. There are obligations that government is best suited to handle, like law enforcement and firefighting. Search and rescue is another. At the bedrock of the search and rescue model in this country are the tens of thousands of volunteers who donate their time and expense -- and sometimes risk their lives -- to help people in trouble. With taking risks on public property comes a public responsibility to pitch in to pay for the help you may need, even if you never need it.
  5. Rescue Cost Recovery

    Some of you referred to the debate, I found this on Saturday. Climbers, officials say keep rescue costs public Saturday, June 1, 2002 By TOM PAULSON SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER This week's deaths on Mount Rainier and Mount Hood -- and the related crash of a $10 million military helicopter -- have rekindled public debate over whether mountain climbers should be better regulated and held responsible for rescue costs. Both are bad ideas, say park officials and climbers, and would neither make climbing any safer nor rescue operations any more efficient. "Because of all the media attention given to climbing accidents, climbers are getting singled out unfairly on this," said Mark Gunlogson, a vice president of Mountain Madness, a Seattle-based guiding firm. Taxpayers may grumble, but the cost of rescuing the few climbers who run into trouble every year is much lower than the cost of assisting many more people engaging in other outdoor sports and activities, he said. Mike Gauthier, lead climbing ranger and chief of rescue operations at Mount Rainier National Park, agreed. Gauthier said climbers make up only a fraction of the $3 million or so spent by the National Park Service every year on search-and-rescue operations. "Most of our costs at Rainier, for example, are for searches involving hikers," he said. Elaine Sevy, spokeswoman for the Park Service in Washington, D.C., said that's true nationwide. The agency responded to 3,619 search or rescue incidents last year and 1,270 of them involved hikers, Sevy said. Only 202 involved climbers. Swimmers required assistance in 780 incidents and boaters called for help 495 times. Even the category of "other," with 540 incidents, beat out climbers. "More and more people are climbing, including a lot more people who don't seem to know the risks," Gunlogson acknowledged. "So I'm actually surprised there aren't more accidents with all the wacky stuff I see going on." Climbers are already singled out for the costs of rescue operations at some of the bigger peaks, such as Rainier and Denali, he said. Climbers pay $15 at Rainier and $150 at Denali to get their climbing permit, Gunlogson said, while backpackers pay nothing. "I don't know any climbers who have any problem with paying the fee," he said. But if climbers are going to have to pay for their own rescues, Gunlogson said, so should all the hikers and anyone else who might need the assistance. "In the Alps, they require you to buy climbing insurance for rescues," he said. But all that seems to do, Gunlogson argued, is give people a false sense of security, "which is why they have to do so many more rescues over there every year." Gauthier, who last year did a study on the issue at Denali for the Park Service, said there are a number of reasons why it's best to keep search-and-rescue operations in the realm of public service. Europe's experience with the insurance approach, he said, indicates that making payment for rescue explicit can actually encourage more risky behavior. A less obvious effect of making people pay the costs of a rescue, Gauthier said, is that it could alter the legal relationship between the victim and the rescuers in a disturbing way. "Right now, we have the discretion of deciding whether or not to conduct a search-and-rescue operation and how to do it," he said. If a victim is required to pay for this service, Gauthier said, some might challenge certain decisions -- such as whether to send a helicopter or when to send rescuers. "A guy who gets frostbite and loses a foot might decide to sue us because we waited two hours for the weather to clear," he said. "We could end up paying more for lawyers by trying to charge people for the costs of the operation." Conversely, Sevy added, some in need of help might not call for assistance because they are worried about the cost. "We don't want people in danger to hesitate to call for help," she said. Even though $3 million sounds like a lot, Sevy said it's "relatively small" when considered in light of the Park Service's $2 billion annual budget. "It's about a penny per park visitor -- quite a bargain," Gauthier said. He noted that the costs of using the military helicopters -- including the costs of the crash at Mount Hood -- are all factored into the Army's budget for training and not passed on to the parks. The idea of regulating who gets to climb mountains is equally unworkable, according to the experts. "That will never happen," said Gunlogson. "These are public lands. The idea that you would have to pass some test to get access to them is ridiculous." Most park rangers already do a great job of educating climbers when they apply for the permit, he said. Making it more bureaucratic will only put climbers and rangers at odds with each other and add costs. "If we were to screen people and base it on the statistics, we'd probably only allow novices on the mountain," Gauthier said with a laugh. "It's usually the intermediate to more advanced users that get in trouble."
  6. college towns?

    "Sorta like driving to Squamish from Seattle," but no one will ask you where you're going, who you're going to see, or pilfer through your gear.A four-hour drive to the Valley, it's worth it. But from Anchorage ("the Rage!") it's only 20 minutes to the ice and even less to a ski hill. I forgot about Flag. Great town, good coffee, but it seems to mostly be a rafting scene. If the Owens Valley had a University, it would be heaven.
  7. college towns?

    Forget Boulder Colorado ("Rado"). Though the climbing and snow are good, living there is tough. Not only is it expensive, the town seems to be filled with rich DORKS and it's too much of "a scene." It's always been my theory that that side of the Rockies serves as and excellent filter for conservative mid-westerners and east coasties that like have fallen in love with mountains, but seem to be unable to drop their driven conservative ways. Maybe I've run into too many idiot Coloradians in the mountains. As we say, "Rado" stops the "east infection." Montana was summed up nicely. A mixed bag, but cool place, good climbers. CA is still the place. The home of cool rich people that take lots of neat drugs, just stay away from So-Cal (unless your super rich or on vacation to J-tree or Tahquitz.) Berkeley (and much of the bay area) is excellent, plus there is a good outdoor scene going on. And hey, Yosemite is right there. WA rocks! But don't forget the unsung classic. Alaska! There is so much good mountain climbing there, it will make you SICK. Plus, Alaskan climbers are pretty damn good and darn friendly. Though the state has this weird fascination with conservative politicians like Frank "the tank" Murkowski, the climbing scene is really great. Plus you get the AK State dividend, the tuition is affordable and there is ice climbing for 6 months of the year.
  8. As a result of efforts by AAC board members Charlie Sassara and Steve Davis, Denali National Park has agreed to cut the current 60-day pre-registration period to seven days for those climbers who have registered to climb Denali and Foraker since 1995. According to NPS Associate Alaska Regional Director Ralph Tingey, “All climbers in our database who climbed on either Denali or Mount Foraker will be assumed to have met the 60-day requirement.” Starting with the 2002 climbing season, climbers who previously have registered must register seven days prior to their departure date and pay a $25 deposit. They will pay the remaining $125 of the $150 mountaineering fee upon their check-in at the Talkeetna Ranger Station, where rangers will update them on current route conditions and cover resource protection policies. The National Park Service established the 60-day pre-registration requirement in 1995 to provide an opportunity for educating climbers about the harsh arctic conditions on these mountains in an effort to reduce the number of rescues, fatalities and injuries. Climbers are sent information translated into several languages that covers needed equipment and food, altitude-related illnesses and the extreme cold climbers will face on an ascent of these peaks. Upon arrival all expeditions are briefed further about routes conditions and policies governing human waste disposal, trash and fuel removal, marking of caches, and rescue/medical transport. While the educational materials and pre-registration period were helpful in educating climbers unfamiliar with Alaska Range conditions, Alaska locals and those with previous experience in the area viewed the 60-day rule as unnecessarily cumbersome. “It was extremely frustrating not being able to put a trip together within a week or two,” said Sassara. “We wouldn’t know about conditions two months in advance, and the 60-day wait could put us on the mountain when conditions were dangerous.” Sassara, an Anchorage native with extensive experience in Alaska including the first winter ascent of Denali’s West Rib, previously requested a waiver of the 60-day rule to do a technical route on Foraker while near term route conditions and weather were judged to be favorable. He was turned down by the NPS, but then began meeting with Davis, Tingey, South District Ranger Daryl Miller, and Acting Lead Climbing Ranger Roger Robinson - all of whom are AAC members - to develop the compromise. “This compromise is just another example where the AAC has made a difference for climbers,” said Davis. “Experienced climbers now will have greater access to these superb mountains.”