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Dustin_B

RE: your future of climbing on Rainier

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This may have already been posted but I searched and didn't see it anywhere so here is an email that I was forwarded. I deleted names to protect the innocent but you can probably find those out from their job titles (thought those were important so I didn't delete them).

 

Dear Climbers and Friends:

 

I'm a 30-year veteran of guiding at Mt. Rainier and I'm contacting you to ask for your help BEFORE NOVEMBER 25th.

 

Mt. Rainier National Park has proposed a range of alternatives for future climbing in their newly issued Draft Commercial Services Plan. I ask you to please voice your support for Guided Climbing Alternative 3, which is their "Preferred Alternative". This innovative proposal creates groundbreaking opportunities for climbers on Mt. Rainier.

 

The Park's Guided Climbing Alternative 3 will:

 

. Allow three guide services to share equally in commercial guiding concessions on Mt. Rainier. (This replaces the virtual monopoly historically held by one guide service and will stimulate innovation and healthy competition among guide services.)

 

. Issue a limited number of "single use permits" to certified guides not affiliated with the concessionaires. (This will allow other guides to climb on Rainier with their own clientele.)

 

. Create "commercial-free zones" on selected routes on Mt. Rainier. (This will allow private parties the opportunity to climb in greater solitude if they prefer.)

 

. Cap the total volume of future commercial climbing on Mt. Rainier at current levels. (This will help preserve and protect the environment that both guided and non-guided parties will share and enjoy.)

 

Please voice your support for Guided Climbing Alternative 3 via an email to the Superintendent of Mt. Rainier National Park at:

 

Mora_commercial_services@nps.gov

 

or a letter to:

 

Superintendent

Mt. Rainier National Park

Commercial Services Plan Comments

Tahoma Woods, Star Route

Ashford, WA 98304

 

 

Your email and letters will be included in the Park's tabulation of public opinion, and every voice will count! The public comment period for this draft plan ends on November 25, 2003.

 

 

Thanks for joining me in supporting Mt. Rainier National Park's innovative proposal.

 

 

Best regards,

 

(Name deleted)

Co-owner of:

International Mountain Guides, Inc.

Mt. Rainier Alpine Guides, LLC

 

 

 

 

Follows is a email from (name deleted), head Climbing ranger at Mt

Rainier:

 

 

 

Hey Everybody,

 

I am making a plea to each and every one of you to take a few minutes to make a difference in the future look of guiding on our lovely Mount Rainier. RMI has stacked the decks by using its ample resources to get lots of their minions to speak out against the parks preferred alternative for Guided Climbing in the park. If you want to see things improve I suggest you do something NOW!!!! The deadline for public comment is in two weeks.

 

I am making it even easier to comment by attaching my letter to the park to this email. Please feel free to tinker around with it and put it in your own words. If you really want to be a slug, just copy it and send it as is with your name on the bottom. JUST DO SOMETHING. You may not agree with me. That is fine. Just tell management what YOU want to see.

 

The Commercial Services Plan 2003 that was released a few months ago is available on the web at: http://www.nps.gov/mora/current/park_mgt.htm#CSP

 

Again, the deadline to comment is only two weeks away so put together your comment (or use mine) and send it by email to:

mora_commercial_services@nps.gov

 

If you want to go snailmail, write:

 

Superintendent, Mount Rainier National Park,

Commercial Services Plan,

Tahoma Woods, Star Route, Ashford, Washington, 98304-9751

 

I apologize in advance if the authors didn't want this email posted on such a forum but it was a mass email and this seems like a good place to spread the word on this issue.

273445-2003 public comment2.doc

Edited by Dustin_B

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Everyone knows who his name is Dustin. There is no point in hiding it. It says right on their website. rolleyes.gif

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Not to mention the guy says he wants to get his word out there as much as possible. I think he'd rather you list his name. rolleyes.gif

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This is what RMI sent out:

 

Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. is asking you to stand up for your right to

mountain climb. Right now, the local anti-guiding lobby is working hard

to take away your access to Mount Rainier National Park. If you would

like to combat their efforts, please read on.

 

The National Park Service has asked for public comments that will

greatly affect their final decision. By sending unique comments, based

on your personal experiences, you will demonstrate that there is a

passionate, public demand for guided climbing.

 

The proposed Mount Rainier National Park Commercial Services Plan (CSP)

has overlooked majore away your operational and safety details as well

as its impact to 1) the resource, 2) overall safety, 3) the park

visitor, 4) the National Park Service administrative capabilities, 5)

the Gateway Community, and 6) the existing concessioner.

 

Carrying Capacity - Resource Management and Visitor Experience

 

The Wilderness Management Plan adopted by the National Park Service

pursuant to the Wilderness Act is in place to balance resource

protection and recreational use. The current Wilderness Management Plan

allows for 21,535 potential guided climbers in the Muir Corridor on

Mount Rainier each year. With the proposed Commercial Services Plan the

National Park Service is not following the numbers established by its

own Wilderness Management Plan. The plan is proposing to reduce this

number to 5,350 guided climbers annually, or 75 percent of the current

numbers. This is a severe reduction in recreational use, with

significant impact to park visitors.

 

What indicators and standards were used to setent proposed CSP the

limits proposed in the Commercial Services Plan? Where is the

administrative documentation that supports this process? We asked these

questions at the public scoping meetings, but the Park Service was

unable to provide us with any answers.

 

Traditionally and currently, the demand for guided services has

accounted forunted 30 percent of all climbers. The peak climbing season

on Mount Rainier is July and August. The limits in the proposed plan

fail to meet the current demand of guided climbing by overlooking the

seasonal nature of the climbing season.

 

The limits proposed by the Commercial Services Plan would reduce the

current daily limit of 59 guided spots in the Muir Corridor, to either

24 or 36 spots, depending upon which alternative plan you compare. Under

Alternative 3, 1,120 clients would have been turned away from climbing

Mount Rainier in July or August this year. The plan assumes that the

entire season will fill in, that climbers would automatically sign up in

May if July dates were full. Favorable weather, stable route

conditions, and summer vacation schedules all contribute to this being

the most popular time to climb Mount Rainier. The economic feasibility

study did not take this into consideration.

 

There is no factual evidence of resource degradation to support a ruling

of commercial free times or zones. However, there is ample evidence that

conscientious users protect the fragile environment and influence the

behaviors of independent users. Resource protection is compromised by

eliminating the guide presence. 80 percent of RMI Guides are Leave No

Trace certified.

 

 

 

Safety

 

The Muir Corridor is a high use route, with a single camp utilized by

the majority of the 11,000 park visitors who climb Mount Rainier each

year. Three guide services operating within the Muir Corridor will

decrease the current level of safety afforded by one guide service. Peer

pressure between guide companies, differences in guiding techniques,

congestion on the route, and competition among guides will all

contribute to a compromise of risk management and of prudent safety

decisions regarding route conditions, rock fall, ice fall, avalanche,

and inclement weather. With one guide service, safety decisions are made

through a process of evaluation, discussion, and unanimous agreement and

then communicated to all guides. The result is that decisions are not

influenced by other guides or groups on the route and a higher level of

safety is maintained.

 

Case Study Grand Teton National Park - Until the mid 1980s, a single

guide service, Exum Mountain Guides, operated exclusively on the most

popular route on the Grand Teton, the Exum Ridge. Due to pressure from

competing guide services, the National Park Service allowed Jackson Hole

Mountain Guides, to operate alongside Exum Mountain Guides. This new

arrangement compromised the safety of all climbers and resulted in a

climbing death. The Park Service decided to revert back to an exclusive

operator during the peak season, thus increasing the level of safety and

overall visitor experience. The Muir Corridor on Mount Rainier has many

similarities to the Exum Ridge, including thef rcent high use route and

a single camp utilized by the majority of climbers. We would be reckless

not to learn from this lesson the dangers of having more than one guide

service operating on the most popular route.

 

Rescue - there will be confusion in rescue situations as to the

functions and responsibilities of multiple commercial operators,

potentially decreasing efficiency and response times in rescue

situations.

 

A guide presence on other routes increases the level of safety for all

climbers and relieves pressure on the National Park Service to patrol

the mountain.

 

Park Visitors

 

The proposed plan calls for a 75 percent reduction in future use of

guided visitors with no plans for restricting the non-guided park

visitor. This is a clear bias against the guided public. Commercial free

zones or times are also a biased discrimination against the guided park

visitor. These proposed actions are in direct conflict with the recently

completed 2002 General Management Plan. Under the mission goals for the

park, as it relates to access and enjoyment, goal 1 states: "Visitors

safely enjoy and are satisfied with the availability, accessibility,

diversity, quality of park facilities, services, and appropriate

recreational opportunities at Mount Rainier National Park."

 

Historically, 30 percentrcente true also with multiple guide presence?]

of all climbers on Mount Rainier have been guided. This proposed plan

would fall short of meeting the current demand for guided climbing on

Mount Rainier.

 

Operational Concerns with Three Guide Services

 

The managing of Camp Muir cannot be a shared function without creating

duplication and inefficiency of the required services, including: the

water system, radio communications, solar power, and the propane cooking

system. If these functions are shared, it will compromise what is

currently in place.

 

Water System - The Camp Muir water system is classified as a public,

non-community, transient water system. Bacteriological sampling and

testing requirements currently require one full-time utility staff

employee. On site personnel, certified at the basic water treatment

plant operator level, are responsible for daily testing, treating, and

monitoring including; filtering, chlorination, turbidity testing,

giardia inactivation, and subsequent calculations. A shared water system

at Camp Muir is logistically unrealistic.

 

Radio Communications - The majority of all rescues and evacuations occur

within the Muir Corridor. Additional guide services will require added

radio frequencies. This will create increased confusion and decreased

efficiency, severely impacting rescue operations from a safety

standpoint.

 

Route - Currently one concessioner maintains the entire Muir Corridor

and takes responsibility for the route at a very significant expense in

time and resources. The proposed plan, splitting route maintenance

between three guide services, will not work. The coordination of shared

responsibilities for such a major task would be problematic. This is

evidenced on the Emmons Glacier where four operators do little to

maintain the route.

 

Administration - Currently, the National Park Service administers a

total of 18 concessions and incidental business permits. Under the

proposed plan, the preferred alternative would allow for in excess of 90

concessions or incidental business permits. Can the National Park

Service handle this significant increase in administration? Based on our

experience under their administration for the past 35 years, it seems

highly unlikely.

 

Gateway Community

 

Because Ashford is a very rural community, the opportunities for

employment are few as compared to larger urban centers. This proposed

plan will disrupt the employment opportunities that are already in

place.

 

Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. employs 110 people during the peak season.

Twenty-five of these employees live full time in the gateway community.

Under the preferred plan, our business model is reduced by two

thirdssions and permits (IBP', and 16 of these gateway employees will

lose their jobs.

 

Reducing the guided public numbers by 75 ercentpercent will dramatically

affect the future income potential for local business owners of hotels,

restaurants, and other tourist services.

 

Existing Concessioner

 

Since 1995, due to National Park Service mandates, Rainier

Mountaineering, Inc. has moved all operations outside of the park

boundaries. This relocation forced us to make considerable investments

for employee housing, offices, storage and warehouse facilities, client

parking, and shuttle operations in Ashford. These investments were made

(1) to adhere to the National Park Service mandates, (2) in spite of the

fact that we have been operating under the difficult arrangement of five

contract extensions in the past ten years, and (3) with the assumption

that our future business model would not be reduced by two thirds.

 

The economic impact to RMI would be significant. The park has attempted

to provide an economic feasibility study for three guide services, but

has failed to study how this would impact our current business model. We

would be forced to sell properties, break rental agreements, sell six

shuttle vehicles, and lay off 72 employees in order to accommodate this

reduction in numbers.

 

Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. has operated a mountain climbing guide

service in Mount Rainier National Park and Denali National Park and

Preserve for 35 years. Thirty of our guides have stood on the top of

Mount Everest. Our reputation is a direct result of our outstanding

safety record, our environmental leadership, and our experienced guide

staff. We have set the standard for mountain guiding in North America

for the last four decades.

 

Conclusion

 

The very vocal anti-guiding lobby would like to prevent you from

climbing in what they consider 'their' National Park. They were quite

active in soliciting public comments to that effect. We are concerned

that those who feel that their use of public land is more 'deserving'

than yours will continue to fight for the elimination of guided access

to mountain climbing. We need your voice to be heard if you value

continued guided access in our National Parks.

 

Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. does support changes in commercially guided

operations on Mount Rainier which allow for additional guide services

and competition. However, more than one guide service in the Muir

Corridor is unsafe, operationally problematic and economically

unfeasible to the existing concessioner. We suggest an alternative with

one guide service in the Muir Corridor, and two other guide services

operating on other routes on the mountain. Furthermore, we suggest an

interim use limit that meets the current public demand for guided

climbing and allows for reasonable growth until new indicators and

standards have been monitored, and conclusively established, providing

the documentation needed to implement meaningful management action.

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sorry that's way too long for me to read. could you include some animated stuff in there? maybe a dancing squirrel or two?

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Thanks for posting the link Dustin. thumbs_up.gif I am going to make it a point to write in support of the preferred alternative ASAP.

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Xray said:

Everyone knows who his name is Dustin. There is no point in hiding it. It says right on their website. rolleyes.gif

 

Some people don't like their names 'published' on websites, as apparent by all the avatars. rolleyes.gif

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Hmm... Option 3 sounds good. But what are option 1 and 2?

 

iain said:

sorry that's way too long for me to read. could you include some animated stuff in there? maybe a dancing squirrel or two?

You sound like a veteran!! yelrotflmao.gifrockband.gif

 

The RMI response sounds like FUD.

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Kiwi said:

Hmm... Option 3 sounds good. But what are option 1 and 2?

 

iain said:

sorry that's way too long for me to read. could you include some animated stuff in there? maybe a dancing squirrel or two?

You sound like a veteran!! yelrotflmao.gifrockband.gif

 

The RMI response sounds like FUD.

 

Download the attachment and scroll down to page 36

fruit.giffruit.giffruit.giffruit.gif

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skyclimb said:

I don't have time to scroll down and read 36 fuckin' pages, I got a trip to get ready for hahaha.gifhahaha.gifhahaha.gifwave.gif

yellaf.gifyellaf.gif Well Jason M. had it right on...

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The only person who is an owner of Mt. Rainier Alpine Guides and International Mountain Guides is Eric Simonson. And he put his name on that email for a reason - he backs up what he says.

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alternative #3 seems like the way to go imo. i especially like the fact that it finally does away with a monopoly on guiding the mountain, allows for guided parties from outside the area, puts a raisonnable cap on the number of guided climbs of very popular routes and keeps a healthy portion of the mountain free from large commercial groups. the only change i'd make would be to allow a limited number of permits for small guided parties (1:1) on climbs like liberty ridge because a pro would want to be able to offer advanced classic climbs to a select group of clients. i am impressed with the park service for advocating alternative 3 (though it did take quite a while) bigdrink.gif

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Though Alternative Three is clearly the best I agree with j_b. Limited guiding on technical routes should be considered, even if it's only a half dozen permits.

 

Nothing has been decided yet. The best thing we can do to change the current situation is to write to the park service in support of Alternative 3. Talking about how we're for or against it on this website doesn't do anything. Writing an email to them has a far greater impact.

 

Jason

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Jason_Martin said:

Nothing has been decided yet. The best thing we can do to change the current situation is to write to the park service in support of Alternative 3. Talking about how we're for or against it on this website doesn't do anything. Writing an email to them has a far greater impact.

 

Jason

 

good point jason, although there is nothing like a fiery debate to generate interest in this issue and hopefully written comments to the park. or is it that everyone already agrees that #3 is the way to go?

 

should this thread be flagged and painted red for another week or so. yo moderator!

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Here is a letter from my friend David M. It includes minutes of the meeting below his letter. I asked David if I could post it here on his behalf, since he doesnt post and rarely lurks.

 

Here is David's reply to my asking his permission to post.

"Go ahead and post it on the Cascade Climber's site if you like. Hopefully, it will encourage more folks to write in with their opinions and comments. At the very least, I hope that it will generate more awareness, interest, and discussion about these issues."

 

So, with that, see attached, or view this link to his letter on Bushwhacker Newsletter - either way, same thing. David's letter.

Dox

 

275997-Mt Rainier Commercial Services Plan.txt

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And here is another letter, from a different David. He also gave me permission to post his letter on Bushwhacker Newsletter. I'm sure he wont mind me spreading it here.

 

Food for thought. David S. letter to MRNP

Doxey

 

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From dkemps site-the minutes from the last meeting--(long, but easier to read in this forum--just minutes part of letter if you dont want to download):

 

I will try my best to be as unbiased as I can as I write this, but it is inevitable that my own opinions will creep in now and then. I tried to include everyone¹s comments that I could remember, but I may have forgotten a few.

 

As I walked in the door to the meeting room at the Mountaineer¹s Clubhouse just minutes before it started, several Park officials were handing out packets of information about their proposed plan. A sign-up sheet for the attendees listing their names and organizations was there on the table where the Park¹s representatives were greeting folks. As I glanced down the list it seemed that the majority was comprised largely of people associated with different commercial guiding companies. From glancing at the list and from hearing those who spoke up and gave comments, I would estimate that only about 5% of those in attendance were independent climbers that were not there representing a particular organization.

 

The Park had a half dozen or so representatives there including folks that were involved in analyzing and developing the commercial services plan, the Park Superintendent, the chief climbing ranger, the Park¹s concessions analyst, as well as folks in charge of various wilderness and alpine zones and other services related to the Park. The Park first presented some of their proposed alternative commercial services plans. You can go to www.nps.gov/mora to read and download a copy of this. The Park representatives emphasized that their final decision would not be limited to the four alternatives that they had described exactly as they were presented, but could combine different aspects of these alternatives as well as involve new ideas not included in their proposal.

 

After the Park¹s initial presentation, there was a short time period for general questions about the Plan. Questions included ³when will this plan take effect?², ³what is the final process after this meeting?², ³who will make the final decision?², ³what is the criteria for deciding if a service is necessary in the Park?², ³what is the criteria for deciding whether the Park should provide the service or whether it should be contracted to a private commercial business?², ³ how much money does the Park collect from Franchise fees and contracts?², ³why is the Plan being reviewed now?², ³if the Plan implemented isn¹t working out very well, is there a mechanism built into the Plan to be able to make any changes?², as well as others. There was a short break and then folks were allowed to split into separate groups relating to specific aspects of the Park¹s plan if they wished, including ³guided climbing², ³guided wilderness use², ³guided alpine wilderness use², and ³additional commercial services² in order to ask specific questions. The topics could range from guided mountaineering, guided mountain circumnavigation, guided backpacking trips, guided bus tours, guided bicycle tours (including the West Side Road), shuttles, towing, and others. Areas covered might include Summer and/or Winter use. Most attendees spent the majority of their time at ³guided climbing². Although I was quite interested in the other areas, I spent my time at guided climbing as well.

snaf.gif

Folks were asked to stand up and face the center of the room when they spoke to help insure that everyone in the room could hear what they had to say. Many of the owners and employees of major guide services were present. The ones that I can remember identifying themselves include Rainier Mountaineering Inc, American Alpine Institute, Alpine Ascents International, and International Mountain Guides. I could feel a tremendous amount of nervous tension and/or emotion in the voices of many of those that spoke. It was a very intimidating environment to be in to have to get up in front

 

of these many icons of the international commercial guiding world as well as these highly ranked officials of Mt Rainier National Park. A summary of the majority of the comments and questions that I can remember that were raised by the attendees of the guided climbing section will now follow.

 

Many of the folks representing the commercial guide companies were

 

looking for a larger chunk of the business in the Park. The owner of American Alpine Institute said that this business is worth 3 million dollars a year, and is the largest concession in all of North America. No one debated this. He said that the business on Mt Rainier is worth more than the combined total of all of the other concessions in North America, and that a commercial guiding company only needed a small portion of this business in order to make it a worthwhile and profitable venture. Apparently, the 3 or 4 companies that have contracts to run a couple of trips on the Emmons route each year pull in around $40,000 each and they all feel that this is worth doing.

 

Someone questioned whether the Park had made any efforts to insure that their plan would allow for commercial businesses that operate in the Park to be profitable. They felt that they Park was setting up the smaller guide services to fail. The Park representatives said that they had hired professional consultants from Pricewaterhouse Coopers that had reviewed the proposed alternatives to make sure that the concessionaires would be able to run successful businesses. They also said that there was no such consideration given to companies who would hold ³commercial use authorization² permits that would need to be renewed on an annual basis as opposed to the companies receiving long term 5-20 year ³concessions² contracts.

 

Many different folks throughout the night said that they felt that it was safer for folks to go with a commercial guide, that they had a better safety record than independent climbers, and that more guides on Mt Rainier would somehow make the mountain a safer place. Someone asked if the Park had ever done a study on this and if there was any statistics to back this up. Mike Gauthier, the lead climber ranger on Mt Rainier, said that as for as he knew there had not been any studies of this nature done. He also said that from his experience there was no difference in the safety record between these different groups. He had been involved with the rescue of rangers, guides, clients, and independent climbers. He seemed to be saying, that from his perspective, the presence of commercial guides did not necessarily make trips any safer and that there was no scientific evidence at this point to support these statements. The average safety record for different types of groups seemed to be about the same.

 

A comment was made that the Park should make sure that whatever they decide to do, that it is truly compatible with the Park¹s mission and purpose. They were not sure that the proposed plan would be compatible with this stated purpose. - ³The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.² As well as one of their stated purposes ³To provide for wilderness experiences². Commercial guiding may be incompatible with these missions and purposes. By definition, a wilderness area is a place that is untouched and untrammeled by the commercial and industrial aspects of man and our modern civilization. The beginnings of commercial elements mark the end of Wilderness.

 

A representative from Rainier Mountaineering Inc went to the front of the room to call into question the numbers that the Park was presenting that related to the potential number of commercially guided clients that the Park¹s alternatives would allow for. He seemed to be saying that they wanted to be able to guide as many as 20,000 people a year on Mt Rainier. Other commercial interests also questioned the Park¹s numbers. Several folks, from both commercial and independent climber interests, seemed to think that more attention needed to be given to how things were handled during the peak of the popular climbing season. There was also concern expressed about how winter use was to be handled in the Park. One person said that guided trips to the higher elevations on Mt Rainier during the winter were not a good idea. He felt that the Park needed to include more about winter commercial use in their plan.

 

One gentleman commented that he had worked with several community groups over the years and that this type of discussion always came down to ³what are we going to do about water and shit?²

 

A person who did not appear to be with a business said that she had special needs, she was older and only weighed 105 pounds, could not carry a heavy pack, and needed extra help in order to climb to the summit of Mt Rainier. She wanted to see more done by the commercial guide services to accommodate those people with special needs.

 

Other folks made similar commentsŠ..saying that they had climbed Mt

 

Rainier with commercial guide services and wanted to be able to do so again in the future and felt that they would not be able to do so without a commercial guide. A person from the American Lung Association Climb for Clean Air called for more use of shuttles to access the Park in order to cut down on air pollution.

 

Someone not representing a commercial guide service commented that the nature of the mountains is that they will not allow everyone to go to their summits. Certain people will be physically and mentally capable, and certain people will not. It is my belief that people who enter the mountains, particularly those who choose to pursue mountaineering activities there, must take on a certain level of responsibility for themselves. We cannot hold everyone¹s hand to the summit, we cannot make it wheelchair accessible to the summit, we have to draw the line somewhere. Many of us in attendance had helped and encouraged many folks with different needs and challenges over the years to reach the summit of Mt Rainier.

 

An independent climber spoke up and said that he had served as a

 

volunteer instructor for non-profit groups and knew many of the commercial guides there. He said the he liked them, had climbed with many of them, would trust his life to many of themŠ.but, that we (the public) did not owe them a living. He was concerned about the independent climber being squeezed out. He was concerned that current and future proposed policies were slowly turning climbing Mt Rainier into the realm of the wealthy and elite. The message that was being sent was that if you have a lot of money, then you can go wherever and whenever you want. The kid without a lot of money with a dream to climb Mt Rainier was gradually being left behind. He felt that the limits being set by the Park were probably too high. The independent climbers at the meeting who were not associated with any commercial guide services seemed to generally be in agreement on many issues. They wanted to see a limit to commercial guiding in the Park. They

 

wanted commercial-free zones and times. They felt that the commercial guide services should be restricted to certain areas. One person thought that we should concentrate them on the Muir corridor, and do our best to make this area able to handle this large use and impact. Some were concerned that the Park¹s proposed alternatives did not include enough commercial free zones and times on the standard routes that most people use to access the summit. Some felt that the proposed cap on the number of commercially guided clients was too high and that a lower limit should be set instead.

bigdrink.gif

It was stated that it was unfair to the independent non-guided climbers that the commercial guide services were issued a large number of permits in advance of everyone else. They are also currently allowed to access the public reservation system once it opens up and compete with the rest of the independent climbers for the rest of the permits that are still available. This means that the current potential for guided clients on Rainier is essentially equal to the total amount of permits that are available each season. We should require the individual climbers to obtain the permits themselves; then if they felt the need to have a commercial guide along, they could hire one of the companies approved and permitted by the Park to do so within the requirements and restrictions determined by the Park¹s commercial services plan. This way, the independent climbers would have

 

equal access to all available climbing permits for all routes and all times. This system would certainly be more equally fair to everyone.

 

It was pointed out that commercial guiding causes an increase in the use of and in the impact on those areas where they operate.

 

For myself, it does not feel like much of a ³wilderness experience² when a commercial company is occupying the same camp, trail, route, or area of the mountains that I am visiting. We need to preserve some areas where folks can go and enjoy some solitude, and Mt Rainier should undoubtedly be one of those places.

 

The comment was made that we need to be very careful about the decisions that are made for Mt Rainier National Park. These decisions will set a precedent for what other Parks, Forests, and Wilderness Areas will be likely to do with the commercial services in those areas. Many independent climbers are concerned about what might be happening soon in other areas such as the North Cascades National Park and the Stuart Range, and that these decisions that are being made for Mt Rainier will have a spillover effect into these and other areas. What about Olympic National Park as well?

 

It seems that there was a new law passed recently that is requiring all of the National Parks to redefine how they are handling commercial services. Folks should contact these other Parks to find out if a similar decision making process in underway in these areas and to express their opinions and concerns as to the appropriate nature and level of the commercial services such as guided climbing in these areas.

 

Several individuals suggested that the Park needed to come up with a ³climbing management plan² in addition to the commercial services plan that would address all of the issues surrounding climbing in the Park including those related to both commercially guided clients and guides as well as independent climbers.

 

Another person felt that anyone with a known history of ³pirate guiding² should not be allowed to obtain any of the future contracts and permits with the Park. He seemed to be calling for a way to get a handle on this so-called ³pirate guiding².

 

Several folks who seemed to be guides for some of the smaller commercial companies said that increased competition amongst the guide services by allowing more companies to operate in the Park would benefit everyone. They said that the competition would increase the quality, safety, and level of education in the guide services.

 

Some people were calling for more infrastructure to support the commercial guiding in the Park, others wanted less and were arguing for more independent self-supported groups. Several folks, both from independent climber and commercial interests, called for the group size limit to be lowered in order to lessen the impact on the Park. 6 people or less per group seemed to be the number that they were looking for.

 

The meeting went over the planned time and there were many more details and issues that could have been discussed further. After the official question and comment period was over, the Park officials stayed around so folks could speak with them one-on-one about their concerns if they wished. They had recorded most of the public comments on giant flip charts so that they would have some sort of documentation of the meeting to take back to the Park.

 

I spoke with several of the Park officials after the meeting was over. They thanked me for attending and asked me what else they could do to get in touch with more of the independent climbers and backpackers in the general public. The main voice that had been heard so far in the Park management¹s decision and planning process was that of the commercial businesses. They said that they would really like to have more independent people contact them with their input. They seem to want more folks to write in to them in support of limiting commercial guiding in the Park so that they would be able to do so.

 

 

 

Please send in your comments to the Park before the end of the public comment period this November 25th

 

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Thanks for the posts, Dox.

 

I was taken aback by "David M's" letter. He seems to be saying that commercial activity should be eliminated (!) within the park, and seems to subscribe to a more radical interpretation of The Wilderness Act. Additionally, he seems to believe all (?) man-made structures should be removed from the upper mountain. Also, I guess I did not realize that Westside Road was such an "overused commercial corridor".rolleyes.gif

 

"David S'" letter, on the other hand, reflected my own views virtually to a tee! I think the arbitrary "solitude" provisions of The Wilderness Act are, and have always been, outrageous. His letter puts into words what many feel; that parts of The Mountain can't be considered places in which one seeks solitude.

 

Basically, I support the status-quo on Mount Rainier. (But I would like to see the guide shack eye-sore removed and rebuilt to more "alpine" standards.)

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I don't see why the Wilderness Act is being invoked at all. Rainier is not Wilderness Area. It is National Park. It is not subject to any such restrictions.

 

My biggest concern after reading dkemps report above is that the guide services are being allowed to go to the head of the line on permits. How fair is that? They should be on an equal footing with independent climbers.

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actually, wilderness areas are specially designated areas within national forests, national parks, etc. and are managed by that agency. 97% of mt. rainier is actual wilderness, designated through the washington wilderness act in 1988. so, the wilderness act does very much apply to all management within the park. smile.gif

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catbirdseat said:

My biggest concern after reading dkemps report above is that the guide services are being allowed to go to the head of the line on permits. How fair is that? They should be on an equal footing with independent climbers.

 

Hard to see how this would work as people pay the guides months in advance to guide them up on a specific day. What if 20 clients showed up and there were only 10 permits? If guides couldn't guarantee a permit, they would become extinct.

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Hard to see how this would work as people pay the guides months in advance to guide them up on a specific day. What if 20 clients showed up and there were only 10 permits? If guides couldn't guarantee a permit, they would become extinct.

 

But independents also need to plan ahead, as do community college classes and mountaineering club classes. Everyone wants to plan ahead, but the only ones that are guaranteed the ability to do so are commercial guides.

 

 

 

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