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ncascadesranger

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About ncascadesranger

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    national park ranger
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    north cascades national park
  1. [TR] Forbidden - W and NW ridges 8/9/2011

    Val Zephyr: That initial 8x10 glossy notwithstanding, we enjoyed your photos and trip report from the W and NW of Forbidden Peak. The rant… not so much... In fact, I want to dispel a few incorrect things about permits, fines, climbing registers that are incorrect from your report, so others are not mislead: - the “white zone” referred to on the permit map is a coding of party size limits, not an indication of a permit-free zone. An overnight backcountry camping permit is required everywhere in NCNP, either by trailside camps, or cross-country zones. I believe almost all the national parks in the system require what you call the “stupid free permit”, although many do charge for it. At NCNP we have long been proponents of a free system, using the permits for management purposes, but advocating for free use of public lands. However, as budgets decline, the opportunity to pay for the Boston Basin permit may not be far away - - the Voluntary Climbing Register is ... voluntary. It does not substitute for the required permit (even if there is a line at the permit desk!) By all means, if you have someone watching for your return, skip it. In fact we will be soon discussing the elimination of the Voluntary Climbing Register program, due to many cases of registers with incorrect info and parties that neglect to sign out. The registers can be helpful during a response to a mountain accident (mishaps do happen often before you’re overdue, we learn of accidents through hard-to-hear cell calls, etc) but this season’s experience with the climbing register is making the case to discontinue it. (See one case in point on a Shuksan TR from Aug 3. The more time wilderness rangers spend checking for overdue climbers the less time there is for serving people at the permit desk in a timely fashion, not to mention a myriad of other duties they have.) - no one has ever been fined for being honestly late, overdue, or cautious in their descent with an unplanned bivy and exit the next day. We are relieved to find that situation when searching for reported overdue climbers rather than an accident scene. However, intentionally putting incorrect information on the register or permit, giving a ranger cause to believe you are lying, being deceptive or negligent in some way - especially if it results in unnecessary cost or risk - could be subject to a fine. Again,nice TR, but the rant invited a few clarifications. Wilderness District Ranger North Cascades National Park
  2. summit register on Storm King?

    Regarding a search underway on Storm King in NCNP I am interested to know if anyone who climbed Storm King recently - this or last summer, say - could report whether a summit register was seen? Thanks for any info, Kelly Bush NCNP
  3. Missing climber in/around Storm King

    Regarding a search underway on Storm King in NCNP I am interested to know if anyone who climbed Storm King recently - this or last summer, say - could report whether a summit register was seen? Thanks, Kelly Bush NCNP
  4. Getting to Luna without water taxi

    Nope. It's in the Ross Lake NRA which is part of the Park Complex. It is also the most heavily used "part" of the park, so highly patrolled. Hope this is still relevant to your trip planning....if not it is definitely relevant to any trip to North Cascades National Park Service Complex (includes Ross Lake NRA). I'm glad to see that other folks on this thread have steered you away from the bike idea, but I hope that I can convince you that whether you would "get caught" by a ranger with your bicycle on the trail or not is not really the point. Yes, it is true that it is not legal to take a bicycle on the trail from Ross Dam Trailhead into Big Beaver. Bicycles are prohibited on all of our hiking trails and this trail actually goes in and out of designated Wilderness. The Wilderness Act expressly prohibits "mechanical transport", which even means carrying a bicycle on your shoulder or back. The spirit behind this law is to preserve the wilderness character of the place. In a National Park that is 93 percent Wilderness, any ranger you meet on the trail in North Cascades will have a knowledge of the Wilderness Act of 1964, how the NPS chooses to manage its wilderness, and a passion for keeping the North Cascades as pristine, untrampled, and untrammeled as possible. We are here for many of the same reasons as our visitors. Wilderness "character" embodies many values, but our (as in the American People) Wilderness Act spells out that such lands are "protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which (1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticeable; (2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation; (3)has at least 5,000 acres of land...; and (4) may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value." Another potentially compelling reason not to take a bike on trails where it is prohibited is to protect the experience of other people along the trail who are also in search of a wilderness experience, whom along with hikers could include stock animals (which could easily spook with a bicycle coming down the trail). Anyway, I hope that clarifies "why" some. Please let us know if you have any questions or comments. Rob Burrows Wilderness Climbing Ranger North Cascades National Park Service Complex
  5. Cascade River Road Conditions?

    Relatively speaking the North Cascades National Park and nearby areas escaped last week's storm without much damage to roads, trails and bridges, except for this on the Cascade River Road. This closure is 12.7 miles above Marblemount. Eldorado Creek is approx 20 miles; the road had been gated for winter here. SKAGIT COUNTY – An apparent avalanche rushed down Hard Creek causing mud, debris and boulders to damage a county-owned bridge on the Cascade River Road. The bridge, constructed in the mid-1990s, received significant damage to the concrete abutments and the pre-cast pre-stressed concrete deck. The Cascade River Road provides access to National Forest Lands and no residents live beyond the bridge. Upon discovering the damage, on Tuesday, December 4, Skagit County road crews put up barricades and closed the road. Because of the structural damage to the bridge and amount of mud and debris covering it, Skagit County Public Works Department have declared it unsafe for vehicles. Cascade River Road will remain closed until the bridge is repaired or replaced.” “It appears that the two deck panels are damaged and the east abutment has taken a substantial hit and has shifted slightly downhill,’ said Skagit County Engineering Services manager David Sheridan. Sheridan said that replacement cost could be as high as $1 million.
  6. Cascade River Road Conditions?

    Over this past weekend it was still drivable to Eldorado Creek in almost any type of vehicle. The gate is closed at that point. The blowdowns were cleared last week. Only a dusting of snow on or around the road at that point, and while Sahale Arm would be skiable, you'd be hauling the boards aways to get up there. Of course, this conditions report is subject to change - probably overnight!
  7. Crazy Permit Fines

    Blake: Unfortunately I think you started the rant abit early - in court in front of an (evidently) NPS-supportive judge. I hope you are sincere in your statement that you'll drop by here in Marblemount and get the permit next time. Dannible: Blake told me about the permit experience that you describe here. It's true - some of the new lesser-experienced staff may take a few minutes to code a complex permit like the trips you guys take. Have some patience please; the data from interesting trips through remote wilderness is as important to us, if not more, than say, one night in Boston Basin. And your chance encounter with one of 25 trail crew members and that anecdotal info about the rangers seems unfair. But if it's important, I believe fewer tickets were written this year than most. Others: At NCNP we have successfully kept the permit system free and available at all hours of the day and night (self issue system) despite political odds against that. I simply don't know how we can make it any easier. The permit data is used for many good things that I hope you might support - regarding endangered species and other wildlife, water quality, occasionally search and rescue, amongst many other things. I really don't like this issue to be an "us and them" thing as many of these posts seem to want to make it. The wilderness rangers are just people who are keenly interested in the mountains like you are (this is rather an obvious statement I realize...)and doing jobs that allow them to spend as much time as possible out there. Thanks to those who understand that even with wilderness a little responsibility and support from all of us (in this example, just get the free permit) in involved in the existence of this treasure of a national park. Feel free to call me with any questions or input about permits. Kelly Bush Wilderness District Ranger, 360-854-7241
  8. Mount Baker Rescue

    Mr. Radon - Great photo. I know Whidbey SAR would love to have a copy of and see the others and video you mentioned. If you'd like to contact them, or need info to do that, let me know at kelly_bush@nps.gov, and at the least I"ll alert the commanding officer to check out cc.com. We rarely get such good photos of sars in progress.
  9. Falling climbers' numbers

    The numbers for climbers in certain areas published in the NWMJ for 2004 did show a dramatic drop for that year. I speculated on reasons in the intro - the trail and bridge damage from the Oct 2003 flood event (which was well-publicized over the winter) combined with unusually persistent bad weather in Aug 04. Also our numbers for hikers, and even the visitor center were down in 2004 too, suggesting an overall downward travel trend to the park as M. Husbands suggested. Yes, these are permit data which were collected consistently over the past few years with no changes to quotas or other variables like that. Of course it's possible that general compliance with the permit system is down - there are always more people out there than what the permit data show, but given the consistency with Mount Rainier's trend and our other data, I don't think that is the main factor. What it is exactly...I don't really know either! It looks like 2005 will show a somewhat busier season than 2004, although some areas (Boston Basin for instance) still in a downward trend. As far as the comment about climbers sticking closer to the roads - actually the data, and our observations, show that remote areas are getting more use and it is the close-in areas like BB that are less busy than years past. 2005 was way below average at North Cascades for number of climbing accidents and rescues, and for that matter, floods, fires and other incidents as well. (although did have the first multi-fatality climbing accident in many years). I'll submit the same info to 2005 NWMJ and to the park website again soon. Kelly Bush Wilderness District Ranger North Cascades National Park
  10. Sorry for this long drift, but since ivan is asking: 1) The utility of permits? In the big picture it is about data. Off the top of my head for example, most recently I have used or provided data (how many people go where / when) on: High Lake Fishery EIS, a grizzly bear habitat study, the USFS interest to develop the Shannon Ridge (to Shuksan) route to a trail. Wide-ranging uses that could be more about wildlife or air quality, say, than people directly, but important and required components of managing a national park. 2) Permits related to rescue? The earlier post was referring to the voluntary climbing register offered in Marblemount and some other NCNP stations, not the permit. The permit is about camping and is required, the climbing register is for anyone who wants to use it as a safety net while climbing or hiking and is optional. No it won’t save a fallen climber in the golden hour, but has made a lot of difference for some parties who are in trouble, can’t get out for notification or choose to stay w/ the injured. With an undecipherable cell call it can provide the complete info if we can just hear one name, then check for a register. It is often also a nice service we offer for spouses and families of climbers who have different understandings about just when so-and-so is supposed to be home. Then I can say – no, we won’t be starting a search cause your husband signed right here on our form when he’s coming out. (you all know who you are). But when we do start a search, have some faith - we DO find people “up a remote drainage w/o a trail, no flagging, no obvious campsite, no slash-track”. 3) Permits and fees? I’ll just say it – the staff at North Cascades NP for the most part, hope never to be using permits as revenue generation. This permit program is about resource protection. We were directed to put together a permit fee last spring for 06 which is now on hold until 07. This is an obtuse or over-simplified explanation of the question, but the # of people not getting permits, or for that matter, the # of people getting permits is not volume enough at this park to influence whether the powers-that-be direct Interior agencies to charge for recreation. What I can’t square in my mind, ivan, is that the 10 minute imposition on your freedom to pick up the permit (free, obtainable middle of the night even, most stations) is too much as a trade-off in support of the overall framework that will keep places like the wild Moxes wild. Enough. Thanks for asking. I was actually really bothered more by the machete. Kelly Bush Wilderness District Ranger, NCNP
  11. Quote: i wasn't aware the n cascades were sacred? What?... Who’s not aware…? OK that’s it…now we definitely have to post.... But first, while Michael Layton and Erik Wolfe hardly need more accolades after the Bham Herald article, radio stories, etc, let us say anyway that we are all super impressed with the SE Mox climb. The vast majority of climbs undertaken in this park are now found in one, if not several, guidebooks, or have info available with a quick cc.com search. But this – this is true wilderness adventure. Congrats to Michael and Erik. In fact, the part of this range that made it into the North Cascades National Park, surely the wildest, most remote and dramatically rugged, most ecologically-intact landscape in the lower United States – IS some variety of “sacred” to many people. It is sacred to our mountaineering / conservation elders who a generation ago fought tooth and nail to preserve this great wilderness as a national park before the timber and mining interests gobbled it up. That belief in sacred places resulted in the Mox Peaks remaining as wild and mysterious places today and not exposed at the end of some trashed logging road. For many, that concept of sacred places includes simple wilderness travel ethics that include no flagging, no trash left intentionally marking your presence, no bonfires and no machetes hacking your way through un-trailed wilderness. Some of this may seem trivial, some of these impacts are aesthetic and not ecological (that devil’s club will grow back and be brutal for the next Perry Creek hikers too). But seeing these tremendous photos of the FA of the remote Mox wall paired up with the machete approach is disappointing. This could be all be said bureaucratically too – these high impact practices are all violations of NPS regs. (you are right Jon “Protect yourself on cc.com” – the government computers do indeed lurk all the time.) But you know that. Moving on to the red flare / yellow plane part of this wilderness adventure. We know Scurlock is always in search of an excuse to fly, but generally we encourage climbers to steer clear of the ol’ flare-gun distress signal method of initiating rescue. Seriously, the (optional) climbing register offered at ranger stations may work out better. There are a host of climbers who will attest that these registers saved their bacon when their climb went sideways. This is easily filled out when obtaining the (required!) backcountry permit. Permits - yes - some climbers this season have been surprised to learn from rangers in the Pickets and other remote places, that the permit is required in all areas of the park. The NCNP is trying hard to keep this permit FREE for all and simple to get, (not an easy thing in this fee-crazed era and it may change by 07 despite our best efforts), but it is required and your cooperation will help. Thanks for reading our somewhat divergent post. We mean no disrespect for the climbing achievement – we just wish those setting the bar higher for amazing ascents such as this were also setting an example for low impact wilderness climbing style. North Cascades NP Wilderness and Climbing Rangers: Kelly Bush, Alex Brun, Kevork Arackellian, Lin Skavdahl, Michele Blank
  12. [TR] Ruby Mountain- South Ridge 1/14/2005

    All the webbing in that bag was removed from Triumph's NE Ridge last July 30. What happens to them? Well, NPS workers are, of course, a thrifty lot - I gave some of them to a maintenance worker to tie down a ladder, our retired ropes and webbing are always popular with the trail crew, and a few of those Triumph runners are now holding together a tipsy file cabinet in my office...important stuff. Seriously, there was actually more than that 20 lb bag! When rangers clean a route, they will leave only what is comfortable and safe for that descent - a new well-placed one or two and cut out the rats nests that develop at these stations. We encourage climbers to do this as well! (LNT msg opportunity, thanks Klenke) On related notes - rangers remove ALL flagging, and NO summit registers. Nice trip report and photos!
  13. Scott Croll

    With a long ago NW Arete (Coulour) accident on Shuksan brought to mind recently, I was remembering Scott Croll. Scott was one of several rangers (as Skeezix had mentioned) on this team effort, which spanned from 1991-94 to recover climber Gary Gary, killed by sudden ice fall. Yes, Scott's father was a career NPS ranger, Scott was well on his way too.
  14. cascade river road

    From the North Cascades NP report "Summary of Storm Damage, 3/17" Cascade River Road The road was severely eroded at Boston Creek and sustained lesser damage at nearby Morning Star and Midas Creeks. A repair contract will be issued, and work may begin during July 2004 with completion in late August or September. While this work is underway it will be necessary to close the road at Eldorado Creek so that parked vehicles will not impede the passage of construction equipment. Walking the road beyond Eldorado Creek is permissible but anticipate that crossing Boston Creek could be difficult or impossible until repairs are in place. Updates will be on http://www.nps.gov/noca/storm03/report.htm
  15. Boston Basin question

    Rodchester et al - There actually are quotas for the permit zones on all sides of Forbidden Pk, but the Boston Basin permit gets all the attention for obvious reasons - being the closest access and the one most people are seeking. It is true though that even in prime summer, and esp in June there are, more often than not, permits available for BB during the week. Just try to avoid Sat night. About the road - usually open all the way at least by July 4, but this year may be an exception. The upper road sustained damage and may be closed at Eldorado Cr longer than usual, but we should know more about the repair schedule in another month. The Cascade Rd overall faired better than many in the Oct storm, but in the upper mile failed at each of Boston, Midas and Morning Star Creeks. If you have more questions about the permits or want to keep posted about the various roads, pls consider calling the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount at (360) 873-4590. Try x35 or 38 now; after May 1, x39.
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