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Dustin_B

RE: your future of climbing on Rainier

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Duchess said:

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

 

The Federal Wilderness Act dates back to the 1960s..I think 1965. It is Federal and controls specifcially designated Wilderness areas in National Forests. That has always been my understanding (I actully did some research on it in law school some years ago). But I can't confirm this 100%.

 

I am curious, because if this is the case then Camp Muir is a violation of the Act. Do you have a cite for the Washington law that you refer to?

 

wave.gif

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A friend did a little more research and here is what he found:

 

The first link is to a summary of the 4 options from the AAI website. Note that the summary table has a typo in Alt 4. It says 3 concessioners and it should read only 1 for the Muir, Emmons, Kautz, etc.

 

http://aai.cc/rainierinfo.asp

 

The second link is the entire proposal. Scroll down to page 37 (not 36 like it says in the above website) to look at the full alternatives.

 

 

http://aai.cc/pdf_download/cspfast.pdf p37

 

The first link is quite good. Ignore the correction he mentions, it looks like they fixed it.

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Rodchester said:

Duchess said:

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

 

The Federal Wilderness Act dates back to the 1960s..I think 1965. It is Federal and controls specifcially designated Wilderness areas in National Forests. That has always been my understanding (I actully did some research on it in law school some years ago). But I can't confirm this 100%.

 

I am curious, because if this is the case then Camp Muir is a violation of the Act. Do you have a cite for the Washington law that you refer to?

 

wave.gif

 

I believe non-wilderness "corridors" are present throughout the park and include roads and some parts of the upper mountain. (?) The solitude provisions of TWA 1964 state that "opportunities for solitude should exist", but some have argued that this was simply part of the criteria for establishing a given area as wilderness. Additionally, the wording, "should exist" is open for interpretation. Some of the more extreme environmental groups have tried to claim that the solitude clause applies to every square meter of a given wilderness area. This idea has sparked some intense fights between climbers and environmental groups down at Mt Hood, where the USFS administrator has lent a sympathetic ear to the radical fringe and proposed limiting the south route of Hood to 25 climbers per day. (!) I am sure these radical limits, or their proponents, will one day find their way to the upper slopes of Rainier as well.

 

IMHO: The solitude provisions of The Wilderness Act should be clearified....or scrapped altogether as arbitrary. Wilderness should be regulated based on the level of physical impact, not social ideals. The idea should be to encourage more responsible use, not to lock people out.

 

http://www.wilderness.net/index.cfm?fuse=NWPS&sec=legisAct&error=404

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Rodchester said:

Duchess said:

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

 

The Federal Wilderness Act dates back to the 1960s..I think 1965. It is Federal and controls specifcially designated Wilderness areas in National Forests. That has always been my understanding (I actully did some research on it in law school some years ago). But I can't confirm this 100%.

 

I am curious, because if this is the case then Camp Muir is a violation of the Act. Do you have a cite for the Washington law that you refer to?

 

It's actually all federal law, not state - the U.S. cite is 102 Stat. 3965 (1988). It's kind of a weird deal with Rainier, because the whole thing was created as a National Park in 1893, way before the 1964 Wilderness Act. I think that part of the Wilderness Act required the park service to study existing parks and figure out what portions should be designated and managed as wilderness. They did that, and in 1988 most (but not all) of the park was designated as wilderness. My hunch is that you are right, and Muir is not part of the wilderness portion of the park. Except on Saturday.

bigdrink.gif

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There's still a little time to write to the Park Super Intendant!

 

This is the email I sent. Feel free to use anything you might want to from this in your own email to the Super Intendant.

 

__________________________________________________

 

Dear Park Super Intendant,

 

As a professional climbing guide and a guidebook author, I have a tremendous amount of interest in the future of guiding on Mt. Rainier. The reason I am writing this email is because I would like to voice my support for Alternative #3.

 

Certainly this email may seem slanted because of my profession and it could be read that way. However I would like to state that I am personally NOT interested in working on Mt. Rainier. Though my company does have interest in these proceedings, I enjoy a diverse range of work in other locations. I am not a pawn of my company and am writing this email of my own free will. I would like you to read my comments as if you are reading the comments of a professional observer, someone who has insight into the guiding industry and what this particular alternative is likely to do.

 

First and foremost I believe that competition is good. Everybody can agree that competition in a field such as computer technology creates better computers and more diverse programing. The same is true with guides. If there were more guide services working on the mountain, competition would cause guides and guide services to work hard in order to be the best. Quality guide services already spend money on guide education. It is likely that the spirit of competition would cause this to become even more common amongst the most professional services.

 

I have worked alongside other guides from other guide services in places such as Squamish, Red Rock Canyon, Lee Vining, and Mt. Baker. The reality is that in these venues guides are very pleasant to one another. They often share ideas on ways to do things, guiding styles, and route conditions. The result is that all guides in a particular area reap some benefit from being around other professionals.

 

The unfortunate reality is that some guides are not very professional. They don't treat their clients well or they don't understand modern guiding techniques or they are simply just arrogant. When these guides are around guides from other guide services that are striving for excellence they learn. They see how professionals treat their clients and employ proper techniques on the mountain, as a result they too strive to be better.

 

The public currently doesn't have much of a choice as to who to go with on Mt. Rainier. They are simply stuck with RMI. As the public enjoys having a choice between Starbucks and Seattle's Best Coffee or between McDonald's and Burger King, I believe that the public would enjoy a choice on Mt. Rainier.

 

Some have stated that more guide services would decrease the jobs available in Ashford. This particular point is ludicrous. If a guide loses his or her job, there are more guide services available in that location to potentially work for. More guide services would also mean more "home bases" for clients to get equipped. These "home bases" would employ MORE people than are currently employed in Ashford.

 

Some have stated that multiple guide services would create competition to reach the summit. They believe that if one guide decides to go in marginal weather then another guide from another service will be forced to go as well. This too is ludicrous. Professional guides are professional, they are capable of making up their own minds about what weather is appropriate and what weather is inappropriate.

 

Once again, I have personally been in the preceding situation on Mt. Baker. I have seen inclement weather where one guide decides to go and another guide decides to stay many times. There is no pressure. Professional guides can think for themselves and make a decision based on their clients and their own comfort level as to whether they will go or not. Ego to get to the top is not and should not be a part of a true professionals persona.

 

And lastly I would like to oppose one element of the Alternative #3. I understand that some areas will be closed to guiding, a commercial free zone if you will. There are a couple of problems I see with this:

 

1) The more area open to guiding, the less concentrated guides and clients will be in a given area.

 

2) Guides are a positive presence when something goes wrong in an unguided party. Guides are responsible for getting people out of jams throughout North America.

 

3) Guides are very good when it comes to the Leave No Trace ethic. They tend to provide good examples for non-guided groups and excellent examples for their own clients. This type of presence is important on all aspects of the mountain.

 

4) Routes such as Liberty Ridge and Ptarmigan Ridge are difficult routes and there have been some tragedies on these routes in the past. Many climbers wish to move forward with their skills and these routes provide a place to do that. Perhaps with a guided presence on routes such as these there would be a few less dangerous situations.

 

I understand the need to keep commercialization to a minimum. Perhaps the best idea would be to limit guiding on this side of the mountain. However, to completely close it to guides would be unfortunate. As shown above, guides can have a very positive influence in a number of ways.

 

I appreciate your time and I appreciate the fact that this is open to discussion. By opening this issue to the community you have created a very positive environment for discussion.

 

Thank-you for your time.

 

Sincerely,

 

Jason D. Martin

 

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I’m usually pretty quite around here. But I just sent in my comments for the Commercial Services Plan (CSP) 2003 for Mount Rainier National Park. And I want to weigh in here as well.

 

thumbs_up.gifI am in favor of increased competition, specifically, in two or three concessionaires being awarded to guide.

thumbs_up.gifI am in favor of the individual, single year Commercial Use Authorizations (CUAs).

thumbs_up.gifI am even in favor of limiting guiding on certain routes to certain weekdays.

Of course, the devil is in the details. And I don’t like many of the details as described in the CSP.

boxing_smiley.gifFor the three anticipated concessionaires, I do foresee a difficult introduction. To coordinate the logistics at Camp Muir, Camp Schurman, and on the “upper mountain”, will require pro-active planning and meetings. I think it would be wise for the Park Service to mandate and moderate these meetings.

thumbs_down.gifI am absolutely against decreasing the number of guided climbers. RMI refers to this as the “guided public”, and it’s a good way to think of it. Why decrease? The guide services are the only organizations that can be held accountable for non-LNT practices. LNT training is an industry standard. And the last thing guides want to do is impact negatively the very mountains they make their living on. Also, the number the park service uses are in conflict. In one section, they say the guided public makes up only 33% of the climbers on Mt. Rainier, yet in another section, they say that the guided public made up over 4100 people out of 10,000 climbers. That’s 40%, and a significant deviation.

wazzup.gifI would argue to determine the total number of climbers that the park would like to see on a given day or in a given season, and determine the number of guided climbers from that statistic instead. Decreasing to 4000 is arbitrary and without any factual basis.

thumbs_down.gifI disagree with the park service requiring a 1:4 guide: client minimum ratio. This is contrary to the national and international techniques taught by the American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA) and other members of the International Association of Mountain Guide Associations (IFMGA/UIAGM). If the Park Service wishes to limit the maximum group size, it should do so based on resource management. Professional guides should be allowed to use their judgment in determining the minimum safe number to climb with. Do independent climbers want the Park to tell us that we must climb in a group no smaller than five on a rope? hellno3d.gif

thumbs_down.gifI would like to see the individual CUAs implemented differently. This is described as a method to encourage IFMGA/UIAGM certified guides to gain access, increase competition, and encourage a wider variety of services. Yet the Cue’s described are arbitrarily set to 18 and the number of CUA user days is at 90. Also, the concessionaires are allowed to apply for the individual CUAs as well. Why?

wazzup.gifI would rather see the individual CUAs be used to encourage small group, short visit, single-trip guiding. Concessionaires should not be allowed to apply for these. Allowing them to do so defeats the stated purpose of the CUAs existence. I would also like to see the number of Cue’s be given out freely, until all the user days are taken. This would mean that some years there might be 18 CUAs, and other years there might be 36, but regardless, only 90 or 100 user days.

thumbs_down.gifFinally, I am also against closing certain routes to guiding. First, doing so would simply create a market for “pirate-guiding” these routes. Also, routes like Liberty Ridge, Tahoma Glacier, and the Mowich Face are classics. It is blatant discrimination to keep guided climbers from having access. It can be managed. I think by limiting guiding to small groups (smaller than the 1:4 ratio discussed above), allowing only one guided team on the route at any time, and restricting the guided group to week days would address many of the management concerns. And other routes should also be limited to weekday guiding only. Specifically, technical routes with bottlenecks that can increase objective hazard; routes that come to mind are Liberty Ridge, Kautz Glacier, and Furher Finger.

 

madgo_ron.gifMany people here appear to believe that guiding is inferior to independent climbing. Why? Guided parties accomplished many first ascents all over the world. Without doing any research, immediately coming to mind is Mt. Robson in Canada, Mt. Kennedy in Alaska/Yukon, and our very own Mount Rainier.

The first ascent of Mount Rainier took place on 17 August 1870, when Philemon Van Trump guided General Stevens Hazard to the summit. John Muir was guided for the fourth ascent. In the early decades of the 1900’s, the Mazamas were having Mt. Rainier Expeditions with over 100 people in the party (safety was in numbers).

Guiding is a legitimate method of climbing. My father was an excellent marksman and fisherman, but he wasn’t above hiring a guide. Why? He could only take a limited amount of time off from work, and wanted to make sure that his odds of having a successful trip be as great as possible.

confused.gifOf course RMI is fighting hard for its future. What kind of management would this company have if it weren’t? It’s not putting a “spin” on anything. The concerns it raised in its official letter and at the public commentary meetings are legitimate, and the park service should address them. Sure RMI has a good chance of being awarded one of the three concession contracts in Preferred Alternative 3. RMI is one of the oldest guide services in the country, and one of the largest, despite only guiding on Denali and Rainier. If Alternative 3 is chosen, RMI will have no choice but to start competing internationally as well. Before that happens, they will have to lay off a significant number of guides and office staff.

wazzup.gifMeanwhile, the guides from RMI, Alpine Ascents International, American Alpine Institute, Mt. Rainier Alpine Guides, and Cascade Alpine Guides provide a valuable service to their clients and the non-guided climbers. They augment the rescue services of the Park and more often than not are the first people to initiate a rescue. Countless people have reached the summit via the Ingraham Headwall or the Disappointment Cleaver only because of the work done by RMI to make the route fast and efficient. The fixed lines, nice traverse paths, and bridges are built, maintained, and removed when no longer necessary by the guide services, not the park.

 

In conclusion, while Preferred Alternative 3 seems to be the best, I would like to see significant changes to many of the points within it.

 

I’ll come out of the closet too. I am a professional guide, and because of restrictions that exist and like some proposed above I have to work for four different companies in order to barely make $20k a year. One of the very reason’s I’m working so hard on my AMGA/IFMGA certification is to leave the United States and live in Canada or Europe where guiding is paid a living wage. Any move to open guiding to competition and impose fewer restrictions could potentially improve my work and living conditions.

Thanks for reading this through and taking time to consider it. Feel free to post or PM any responses.

I'm going for a bigdrink.gif

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Roger said:

Rodchester said:

Duchess said:

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

 

The Federal Wilderness Act dates back to the 1960s..I think 1965. It is Federal and controls specifcially designated Wilderness areas in National Forests. That has always been my understanding (I actully did some research on it in law school some years ago). But I can't confirm this 100%.

 

I am curious, because if this is the case then Camp Muir is a violation of the Act. Do you have a cite for the Washington law that you refer to?

 

It's actually all federal law, not state - the U.S. cite is 102 Stat. 3965 (1988). It's kind of a weird deal with Rainier, because the whole thing was created as a National Park in 1893, way before the 1964 Wilderness Act. I think that part of the Wilderness Act required the park service to study existing parks and figure out what portions should be designated and managed as wilderness. They did that, and in 1988 most (but not all) of the park was designated as wilderness. My hunch is that you are right, and Muir is not part of the wilderness portion of the park. Except on Saturday.

bigdrink.gif

I spoke with the climbing rangers about this a number of times. One of the issues that must be addressed when evaluating a piece of land for wilderness designation is its historical use. Initially, the standard Muir approach and the Disapointment Cleaver were included in the wilderness designation. That's why RMI had to build that ugle brown box - the law dictated that any structures in a wilderness be "temporary" in construction. The RMI Client Shelter was built in the late 70's.

I believe this change was based on the early traffic of 100+ "expeditions" lead by the Mazamas, the permanent, historical structures that exist, and the removed structures, such as the Fire Observatory that used to exist at Anvil Rock.

So the Park re-evaluated the "Muir Corridor" and decided to creat a non-wilderness track to the summit.

From Paradise, this corridor stretches on the paved trails to the Muir Snowfield, bracketed by the Nisqually Glacier to the west and the Paradise and Cowlitz Glaciers to the east. From Camp Muir, I believe the corridor traverses right from Cadaver Gap to lower Cathedral Gap, then on to the Disapointment Cleaver. From there, essentially it travels up the Ingraham Glacier to the summit, bracketed by Gibraltar Rock and upper Nisqually Glacier to climber's left and Disapointment Cleaver and the upper Emmons Glacier to climber's right.

The stone structures at Camp Muir are WPA and CCC projects during the Depression. As part of the new General Management Plant, the Park hopes to remove the "temporary" RMI shelter and the Butler Shelter and replace them with a permanent, multi purpose hut for guided climbing teams, non-guided climbing teams, and rangers.

Hope this helps

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it would be time to join the rest of the world as far as guiding and access issues. USA is only country in the world right now using protectionism policy in regard of regulating guiding in national parks.

even in canadian guides certified by uiaa can guide without special permit. the same format is in europe, where uiaa guides can guide parties naywhere in the world, exept for national parks in the united states.

so this issue is larger then just who gets the piece of pie on raineer or denali. the whole system has to change.

while my visit to poland and slovakia this summer i had a talk with a very good guide (does a lot of trips to nepal and pakistan). last summer he issued a request to PZA (polish climbing association) to prohibit guiding by any guide from the us in poland. more, there are similar sentiments among some british guides.

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lummox said:

socialist thinking dont fly in this capitalist world.

now, before you reply think. granting a concession to one or 2 or even 3 companies is a socialst thinking and socialist way of economy. so your comment should be treated as a brain fart.

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glassgowkiss said:

lummox said:

socialist thinking dont fly in this capitalist world.

now, before you reply think. granting a concession to one or 2 or even 3 companies is a socialst thinking and socialist way of economy. so your comment should be treated as a brain fart.

like duh. whynt you try that thinking yourself? rolleyes.gif

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I'm for more guiding opportunities and less restriction in Mount Raininer National Park. I don't know what Glasgow and Lummox are aruging about here - the historical grant of a concession to the Whitacker brothers has nothing to do with socialism or capitalism -- it was just good old cronyism. I'm not some free-market competition freak; I just don't think it is fair nor do I see any advantage for anybody except RMI in maintining the current system.

 

On a side topic, I gotta say that this is the second time in a week I've agreed with Fairweather:

The solitude provisions of The Wilderness Act should be clarified....or scrapped altogether as arbitrary.

 

I think some provision for solitude is cool, but the main management priority should be physical impact to the landscape in a wilderness area. If you want solitude on Mount Rainier, you don't climb any of the half - dozen popular routes. If you want solitude at Snoqualmie Pass, you don't go to Snow Lake -- but there are plenty of opportunities for solitude if you head back toward, say, Chickamin Peak.

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mattp, my point was that the whole system with granting concession to 1 or 2 or 3 companies in national park stinks. there is a universal system used in the entire world, canada included. the system grants guiding access to anybody who is certified by uiaa standards. so if you want to be guided to the top of matternhorn, mont blanc or alpamyo and you have a working relationship with a guide you can hire them and they can work for you all over this planet. the exeption is us national parks, where this system is not respected. american alpine institute is guiding people up on aconcagua, in bolivia, patagonia and few other locations. they also do trips in the alps. i wonder what would guides started to say if guides from the US were barred from guiding in national parks in europe or south america, nepal or other locations?

hence i think the whole discussion regarding access to one or 2 or 3 companies is just another spin on the same old story.

i was talking to a couple of the guides and they are pissed of, since one of them is trying to offer 7 summits. that leaves denali out of the question, since it is a national park and again the concession is granted to only a handfull of the services. these guides start to get quite pissed off at the whole situation and they are voicing their opinions louder then ever. the proposed solution is to close their markets to the guides from the usa, untill there is a change in the policy in national parks.

i really don't care one way or the other, since i don't guide, nor i use guided services. but in all fairness it really buggs me looking at this situation, where the whole issue is regulated by strong arm tactics of lobbying power of some services and government.

regardless of the number of companies granted permits in raineer np, it will remain the same old system.

all i am saying it is time to join the rest of the world and use the same rules.

Edited by glassgowkiss

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I understood your point and I agree with it, Glaskow. I worded my post poorly.

 

When it comes to restaurant services or lodges, I can see the point in having limited licensees granted to concessionaires in the National Parks -- the idea being that we may not want to have a "strip" of competing businesses next to Old Faithful even if there might be enough business to support it but that we do want there to be some opportunity to buy souvenirs or get a sandwich. However, when it comes to guide services, I don't see this justification. We may need to limit the number of climbers out of some environmental concern, or we may want to limit the number of guided parties on a crowded route in order to keep some room for private non-guided parties, but as I said: I don't see any advantage in maintaining the current system.

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glassgowkiss said:

mattp, my point was that the whole system with granting concession to 1 or 2 or 3 companies in national park stinks. there is a universal system used in the entire world, canada included. the system grants guiding access to anybody who is certified by uiaa standards. so if you want to be guided to the top of matternhorn, mont blanc or alpamyo and you have a working relationship with a guide you can hire them and they can work for you all over this planet. the exeption is us national parks, where this system is not respected. american alpine institute is guiding people up on aconcagua, in bolivia, patagonia and few other locations. they also do trips in the alps. i wonder what would guides started to say if guides from the US were barred from guiding in national parks in europe or south america, nepal or other locations?

hence i think the whole discussion regarding access to one or 2 or 3 companies is just another spin on the same old story.

i was talking to a couple of the guides and they are pissed of, since one of them is trying to offer 7 summits. that leaves denali out of the question, since it is a national park and again the concession is granted to only a handfull of the services. these guides start to get quite pissed off at the whole situation and they are voicing their opinions louder then ever. the proposed solution is to close their markets to the guides from the usa, untill there is a change in the policy in national parks.

i really don't care one way or the other, since i don't guide, nor i use guided services. but in all fairness it really buggs me looking at this situation, where the whole issue is regulated by strong arm tactics of lobbying power of some services and government.

regardless of the number of companies granted permits in raineer np, it will remain the same old system.

all i am saying it is time to join the rest of the world and use the same rules.

Welcome to corporate America. Soon we will own your country also and the guides that are pissed off now will serve french fries.

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Hey guys,

cantfocus.gifJust a small point of clarification. The UIAA does not certify guides.

wazzup.gifGuiding is certified at a national level by national guiding associations, such as the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides or the American Mountain Guide Association. The Associations are part of an International Federation, called the International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations. Depending on whether you want to speak in english, french, or german (the three document languages), the correct acronym (spelling?) is IFMGA, UIAGM, or IVBV, respectively. UIAGM is the most commonly seen, but with the AMGA's admittance six or seven years ago, IFMGA is becoming more popular in North America.

For more information and lots of links, check out the American Mountain Guide Association at www.amga.com

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