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Everything posted by CascadeClimber

  1. The Poles seems to have a unique knack for enduring severe amounts of suffering in the mountains. Cheers to them.
  2. Yes, pairs. Agreed. And...this program was recognized nationally for safety in the last few years and it was not short-staffed then. So I can't quite get my head around how, despite adding $71,000 to their budget, they are suddenly so short-staffed that it's a serious safety issue. And yes, agreed: I don't need a climbing ranger to issue me a permit. Especially if I'm then going to be quizzed by one at Muir or Schurman.
  3. There is something funny going on with these numbers. I don't understand how a prgram that was running successfully (received national recognition) and with adequate staff three years ago suddently cannot afford to put two rangers at Muir on a summer weekend, especially when they've gotten a budget increase of at least $71,000 for 2011 (the money allocated from concession revenue- Dave said they got $0 from that until 2010).
  4. The most upsetting revelation for me in the meeting was Dave Uberuaga's assertion that the $350,000/year that the park keeps (20% goes to some NPS general fund) from the climbing concession revenue cannot legally be used to support the climbing program. I'm going to verify this. Either way, the climbing community could really help itself out here if we got a bit more voiciferous toward the right people. It was informative, though I also found it to be depressing.
  5. Just saw my shadow so I'm running off to the Marmot (Mountain) Hole. See you soon.
  6. The assumption being that adding structure wouldn't affect the number of people. My position is that buildings, staff, and other structure (i.e. safety and comfort) cause an increase in headcount and the net effect on impact is negligible. It's like the freeways around Seattle: Building more/widening them doesn't ever help traffic much, it just allows more people to move out to the burbs and commute in. I, for one, would not be as attached to Muir as a high camp for my many (failed) winter attempts were it not for the hut. I've been going throught he numbers on the three documents from the NPS site. I'll post some more later, but if just 2/3 of the revenue from the climbing concession went back into the climbing program, they'd have the revenue they want to achieve from the $43 permit. In short, the concession revenue has been used to pay for non-climbing related costs (the new visitor center, roof and paint at the National Park Inn at Longmire, electrical improvements at the Paradise Inn). So if they want to increase our cost by 40% so they can continue to use the climbing program to fund other areas of the park, I'd like to see the cost to use those areas (namely hotel room costs) go up by a similar amount.
  7. Baker gets a lot of traffic. A lot. Hood, too. But your last paragraph is really the crux, I think. My position is that putting facilities in place exacerbates the issue, because people expect it and then, for example, complain when the hut is full and we hear that "people want better facilities". Gee, I went to the pooper and had to wait in line, so I think there should be more. And while you are at it, how about hand sanitizer and running hot water and the toilet is stinky can't we make it flush and cots and linens would be nice in the shelter (like in Alps, eh)... The ultimate example is the clown who pedaled his pod off-trail through the Paradise meadows a few years back and was hassled about it. He responded by suing the NPS to force them to install a handicap-accessible commode at Muir. I think that as soon as any sort of permanent structure or staffing is placed there will be a subset of users that clamors for more. And it's onto these folks that the revenue hounds glom. We just don't have any tangible debate about this sort of thing anywhere else in the Cascades because the door hasn't been cracked open. As for Muir in the summer, I'd like to be able to go up there and not have the guide services tell me "The DC is OUR route", I'd like to not trip over gear and climbers packed in like fish in weir, see ladders and ropes on the DC, see a growing collection of structures at Muir, helicopters ferrying propane, rangers, and other supplies up, being hassled about permits, etc. And I recognize that I'm at one end of the spectrum on this and it's not going to be a quiet wilderness experience there. But enough is already too much with the infrastructure.
  8. I stand corrected. Though I would contest the inclusion of Silcox Hut, in the middle of a groomed ski run, in this list.
  9. "Need" is a misused word. People were climbing Rainier LONG before there was any structure at Muir or ranger system. If newbies 'need' these things on Rainier, how do they muddle up every other Cascade volcano without them? I've never been atop Adams when there wasn't a person in jeans and a flannel shirt. Glacier Peak, Baker, Adams, St. Helens, Hood, Jefferson, North Middle and South Sis, Shasta, and Lassen: None of them have permanent shelters (aside from the cabin at 7000' on Shasta), much less shelters reserved for paying customers. Mike was/is a tireless, passionate, dedicated advocate for climbers, independent climbers in particular. I miss his presence on Rainier. My understanding is that the blog was started because the old NPS/MORA web site conditions page was so hard to update/maintain; the blog was intended to be more effective with less work. And I'll again point out that there is no such blog for any other Cascade volcano, and yet we all manage to climb them. As someone pointed out earlier, people will quickly come to expect an enhanced level of amenities: Wands, fixed lines, ladders, a ranger brigade up the route, paved trails, rescue helo circling the mountain at all times, etc. That doesn't make these things a good idea. If people are looking for a absolute guarantee of safety, they belong at Disneyland, not on a volcano. It seems to me that the bottom line is that the climbing program is treated like a profit center that supports other areas of the park, and because of this there is pressure to increase revenue from it, which means both higher fees and enticing more people to pay them. The latter means making it easier/more comfortable for people who aren't truly prepared to attempt the climb. All this BS about providing the level of service that people expect is just that: BS. I personally don't expect anything except perhaps a rescue attempt as possible if I ever got into serious trouble. (Edit to add: Which is my expectation for all the places I go in the Cascades that don't require payment to use) So I guess it comes down to one question for me: What is the mission of the climbing program at Rainier? The answer to that question drives (or should) choices about structure, staffing, regulation, and fees.
  10. @Raised: I just don't see *any* need for new buildings at Muir. It's a high camp in the wilderness on a volcano, not a village. We ESPECIALLY don't need a new "client-guide" shelter. Let them camp in non-permanent tents. I don't have the background on the upgrades to the public shelter; if this was necessary to maintain the structural integrity of the building or not. I do know that it was reported here that the one thing in the shelter that should always work, the emergency radio, was non-functional. When it comes to wilderness and adventure, less is more.
  11. This is a 40% increase in the annual fee. In a recession. The plan to tie the fee to the CPI and get automatic increases is bogus, if my understanding that federal employee pay is frozen for the next two years is correct. The cost to run the program has almost nothing to do with the CPI. The concession fees should be high enough to more than cover all the related costs and impact. I, for one, stay away from Muir in the summer because it's become such a chaotic circus. The recent addition of semi-permanent guide structures has made this worse. There are no permanent or semi-permanent structures on any of the other volcanoes, for guides or anyone else. I do think it's important to have a competent, accountable, professional group who can respond to emergencies on the mountain. We had two under-trained, under-equipped rangers die a few years ago and no one wants a repeat of that. But the tasks of issuing permits, checking permits, posting route conditions, and enforcing the blue-bag rules, wanding routes, updating blogs, etc. seem unnecessary. Nice perhaps, but not necessary. The guide services get preferential treatment on the mountain: They are allowed to do many things that independent climbers are not, and let's not forget that they when the 2006 flood closed the park they (and their clients) were allowed special access months before the general public. And David, I've given the park my name, address, and phone number each time I've attempted to climb since 1995; at least 100 times. The most certainly have contact info for the affected parties in this situation. I'll be at the meeting on Wednesday. Thanks to the Marmot folks for posting this.
  12. Beta: You can exit climber's left just a bit before the top of the couloir and scramble easy rock (or mixed) to the summit. Step over the moat, make a couple third-class moves, and you're on the crest of the ridge. Also, the clearing you were looking for is just a few minutes after the trail crosses the logging road. The trail does not enter the clearing, but traverses across the slope under it.
  13. The fees to use MORA have spiraled out of control and seemingly unchecked. I'd MUCH rather see them cut costs (staff) associated with the climbing program than increase the fee again (for what, the third time in the last ten years)?? If I never saw another ladder, fixed line, or ranger sitting in a heated shelter on Rainier again I'd be a happier person. Baker has (I believe) one seasonal climbing ranger. NOCA has just a handful. We really don't need a fleet of rangers on Rainier (or Denali for that matter). If they REALLY wanted input from the climbing community, they'd have sent a letter to everyone who has purchased a climbing permit in the last five years. They have those addresses. But this is the first I've heard of this. Ugh.
  14. It's good to hear that's the position this year. AND, in past years they have attempted to both close that route to uphill travel and, more significantly, banned parking in those lots for anyone without a lift pass. It was at that time that we discovered that there is absolutely no winter-time unrestricted public parking north of I-90. I requested a copy of the lease from the Forest Service. They sent a heavily redacted version and told me I'd have to file a FOIA petition if I wanted the entire thing. Summary: Just because it's a reasonable situation this year does not mean it will stay that way.
  15. I am not sure if you were trying to imply this or not, but I just want to clarify one thing. For the most part, no additional fixed draws were added. Mostly it was a remove and replace operation. Carry on... Orion You mean on Saturday, right? Because it seems that a lot has been added in recent years. To be clear: I'm not at all dumping on your effort to make the place safe. A lot of the original bolts and chains were put up by people on a very tight budget and replacing worn-out/unsafe gear is important. My point is that the fixed draws aren't necessary to climb the routes and should therefore be kept to a minimum, just like our overall impact. Making it 'easier' isn't, in my opinion, enough of a reason to leave draws behind. It's also easier for people with dogs to leave turds on the trail. The beer drinking should have been kept off the trail, though. This just isn't a good presentation to other users.
  16. No, it's better to glue on a piece of native rock you find at the base. Consider drilling it out and bolting it on to improve longevity. Can you say "Glob Job"?
  17. So following your logic, Steve, if I climb 5.13 and place my own draws, can I then remove the fixed gear from any easier climb, because the people using it don't "know what it takes" to climb the routes placing their own gear? How about if I free-solo; can I then remove the bolts with reasonable justification? I don't hear a lot of complaints about the bolts and chains, in part because they are not readily visible from the trails. But when we start leaving tat and other brightly colored garbage it can become a problem. And which group do you think uses that area more: Day hikers going up Little Si year-round, or sport climbers who show up from May to October? And the "too lazy to find it" comment? Really dude, your position is rife with hypocrisy. How lazy do you have to be to not be willing to carry a few quickdraws up a grid-bolted sport route?
  18. Steve, the crags there are on public land and in view of non-climbers. Either of these things makes the opinion of any user of that land valid. The attitude that you represent creates a lot of problems for climbers. What it takes for you to climb a route that's hard for you is no different than what it takes someone else to climb 5.6, if that's hard for them. If you can't climb 5.12 and place your own draws, then maybe you could work harder at it? I'm pretty sure people were climbing 5.14 well before fixed draws were a 'tradition' and leads on pre-placed gear were seen as a second-rate effort, which is why clean ascents on pre-placed gear used to be called 'pink-points' rather than red-points. You might not have any idea what's involved in clear-cutting a mountain, but I bet you'd have an opinion that you'd think was valid if land managers announced that Mt. Si was being closed to public use so it could be safely clear-cut or mined.
  19. I've been climbing off and on at Little Si since 1995, and there was no "tradition" of fixed draws then. I saw you all coming down the trail in the downpour on Saturday and while I appreciate the effort in crappy wx, I also think fixed draws create visual clutter that doesn't help the sport with non-participants and some participants, creates extra maintenance and risk, and is completely unnecessary. So not "everyone" expects fixed draws there, or even wants them. And the position that an opinion doesn't count unless it's given while sending a route of proper difficulty just exacerbates the problem that the sport climbing community has with the larger land-use community: There are plenty of people who will see bright blue-clad permadraws hanging off a cliff along their hike and complain directly to land managers. You think their opinion doesn't count or affect policy? In the same light, walking down the trail while drinking beer doesn't do anything to help our position with the non-climbing community, either.
  20. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2012089516_avalanche12m.html Don't be stupid.
  21. I got my solo app back from Stefan two days after I emailed it to him. Same has been true every year I've applied. Dane, I bet you'd get a better result with email than postal mail. As I mentioned in the other thread, less is more as far as NPS presence on the mountain goes, in my opinion. More red tape = less fun, less adventure. The summer permit process could probably be improved to accommodate climbers doing single-push climbs. I've done this several times and I always leave well after the official registration centers are closed. To his credit, Stefan brought back winter self-registration, which is very helpful. I don't want or need NPS staff to assess and report conditions to me. I'm happy to ask around or just go find out myself. Nor do I expect NPS staff to be minutes away if I get in trouble on the mountain. Relying on others for this sort of thing is partly antithetical to what mountaineering is for me. And requiring the NPS to assess and report conditions would likely result in 'official' closures of the mountain due to someone's definition of 'unsafe' and their lawyer's concern over liability. Mike did a better job with the blog and made significant improvements to the training and equipping of the climbing ranger staff during his tenure. I can't imagine anyone being a better advocate for non-guided parties on Rainier than he was, and though I miss his presence at Rainier, I'm hoping his current gig will result in him getting a bigger NPS role in which his climber's advocacy will be even more benefical.
  22. Dane, for what it's worth, I got my solo app turned around in two days in January. Emailed it in, got an email reply from Stefan. I have no issue with the ranger staff being cut. There is functionally no staff in the winter, and in the summer they rely on guide service staff for SAR anyway. I'm not sure what their stated or actual role on the upper mountain is, and I know I've never missed NPS staff when there weren't around on my Rainier trips. But my idea of a great Rainier trip is seeing no other people outside my partner(s). I certainly don't want the NPS or anyone else CLOSING the mountain due to conditions, which is where I think we'll end up if this silly talk about "where were the rangers?" and "why isn't there a helicopter on standby at Paradise?" talk continues every time there is a serious incident on the upper mountain. People sometimes choose not to register because registration is closed when they start their climb. I've done several one-day solos and the stations are closed when that sort of a climb begins. Stefan brought back self-registration in the winter, which helps in these situations without causing overcrowding in the camps. Maybe there is a way to do something similar in the summer for single-push ascents, or those on uncrowded routes. And again, this thread should be split in two.
  23. All the chest-beating in this thread should be moved to another thread or deleted. I don't think it has any place in a thread about a missing and now presumed dead climber.
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