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slothrop

Yet another Lib Ridge accident

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I hope this is not off topic, but the southland had a pretty bad start to the year too.

 

In January alone I believe 7 or 8 bodies were recovered off of the 3 southern California peaks of San Gorgonio, San Jacinto and Mt Baldy. That is phenominally high considering San G is the highest at only 11,500 and a class 2 on most routes.

3 weeks ago when I climbed Mt Sill a guy fell to his death on a class 4 the night I was up there.

 

All these deaths(except possibly the one on Sill) had to do in some part to the poor conditions at the time of the climb. Right. All people have the personal responsibility to make decisions, but we dont have to talk shit on those who make bad decisions and die or will very likely die...its obvious that they made a bad decision(in combo w/ bad luck). It's unneccesary to restate it.

 

As far as the public perception and public cost of climbing is concerned. I believe in the last "Accidents In N. American Mountaineering" they have some statistics on who the most rescued groups are and climbers are behind hunters and hikers on it. So climbers are more capable of self-rescue and/or do not require rescue as often as some other groups of outdoor users. However, climber rescues are more dramatic than the others often due to the extreme conditions and mystic of high altitude mountaineering. That could be a problem I would imagine since it will attract more attention regardless of the statistics.

 

Good climbing & better days for those in trouble and the families of those who've died

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On a route like liberty wouldnt it be better to travel unroped in poor conditions if you are not going to use fixed protection? It seems that a fall that is not self-arrested is just going to pull your partner down with you.
You said something that I was afraid to say, but I have to agree. Sometimes though you get past a hard part, the slope eases off, and you let down your guard and decide not to put another picket in. But with more steepness coming up you stay roped. I can totally see how it could have happened. All you can do on routes like this is to never let down your guard.

What route is it better to travel roped w/o pro?

 

Two weeks ago I was hit by an ice chunk, swept off the slope and would have fallen several hundred feet if I hadn't been roped to wayne1112, whose self-belay held. There was no pro. I'll post the story eventually. Meanwhile drink a brew bigdrink.gif for our buddy, who I heard just fractured a wrist in a non-climbing accident.

 

Sorry about the off-topic stuff. But, there are no rules.

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News

 

This sucks to hear of so many deaths on the same route over a relatively short time period. This second group requesting assistance is going to get eaten alive for their reason calling 911. Well, be careful out there.

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This is tragic. Peace to all involved. A string of accidents like this leaves us all looking for answers, but I don't really think there are any.

 

I also support the Park's decision not to close routes. Its not their responsibility to tell us when conditions are a go.

I agree 100% Winter

 

It's hard to imagine a procedure for "closing" routes which wouldn't cause more danger than it would avoid. If the route is "not closed" does that imply some assurance of safety? People will certainly assume it to some degree. Conditions can change daily -- hell, hourly -- and I can just see the blame and accusations (and litigation) that would result. (Would your AAC insurance not cover you if they declared a route closed after you were up there?)

 

It'd end up with a situation where they'd have to "close" all routes all the time except during small windows when they are positive things are perfect.

 

I told my wife this morning that I was glad I'd climbed LR last year, since she probably wouldn't let me do it now, and she said "you got that right!"

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This sucks to hear of so many deaths on the same route over a relatively short time period. This second group requesting assistance is going to get eaten alive for their reason calling 911. Well, be careful out there.

 

Agree with you PP that they will catch hell for their reasons. But honestly, I'd rather they realize that and call for help than see another person or two die on that route this year. Hopefully no one gets hurt during their rescue. My thoughts are with the volunteers and climbing rangers heading up there to save them.

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...This second group requesting assistance is going to get eaten alive for their reason calling 911...

 

Hmmmm, descending from 10,670... just above Thumb. They should be fine, as long as they don't snag a crampon in a gaiter.

 

And as long as Gator doesn't send a team their way, there's "no harm, no foul." It's just a call on a cell phone.

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This sucks to hear of so many deaths on the same route over a relatively short time period.

 

Look on the bright side. The law of averages suggests it should be very safe after these events.

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And as long as Gator doesn't send a team their way, there's "no harm, no foul." It's just a call on a cell phone.

 

It looks like it is too late for that. A choper picked them up this morning. King5.com

 

At least the rescue is over. Hopefully the search and recovery will be quick and incident free.

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I was on Rainier that day hiking to Muir. I saw the helicopter and knew what had happend. :-\ I figured it was LR again.

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Seattle Times: Two climbers won't be fined for rescue

 

A good discussion of the costs of SAR, too.

 

edit: good enough, in fact, that I'm going to cut and paste the story while the link is still active.

 

************************************

By Stuart Eskenazi

Seattle Times staff reporter

 

Mount Rainier National Park officials have opted not to fine two climbers who admitted they were ill-prepared to attempt the summit and needed to be airlifted off the mountain.

Al Hancock and Bruce Penn had climbed 10,700 feet up the 14,411-foot mountain Wednesday when they called for help getting down, saying they were uninjured but "in over their heads." A military helicopter and about 10 rescuers returned the men to safer ground Saturday.

 

"They didn't exercise the greatest judgment, but in the end, they made a mistake," said Mike Gauthier, Rainier's lead climbing ranger. "We're glad they called us when they did because had they continued, they might have gotten injured and then the rescue would have been more expensive, complicated and dangerous."

 

The National Park Service can fine climbers who are negligent, creating hazards or endangering others. But no Rainier climber has been asked to reimburse the costs of rescue.

 

Park officials, as well as mountaineers, oppose ideas that would force climbers to pay hefty fees or carry insurance bonds to help cover those costs.

 

"How do you separate the day hiker who trips and falls and requires 25 people to haul him off versus the person high on the mountain who trips and falls and needs a helicopter?" said Greg Prothman, past chairman of Seattle Mountain Rescue. "And how is that different from someone who breaks an ankle while walking down the streets of Seattle? Taxes pay for all of that."

 

The fines, with penalties of $250 and $500, are rarely given at Rainier. Only one climber got a ticket last year, Gauthier said.

 

Last week's rescue of Hancock and Penn coincided with a fatal accident involving two Montana men considered more experienced at climbing. Rescuers recovered the body of Luke Casady Friday. He is the third climber to die on Rainier this season. His climbing partner, Ansel Vizcaya, is missing and presumed dead.

 

Gauthier estimated last week's two missions cost taxpayers $25,000, which covers equipment purchases, helicopter use, overtime and other expenses.

 

Nationally, the Park Service spent about $3.5 million last year on search-and-rescue, saving more than 200 lives, Gauthier said. A small fraction of rescues were for mountain climbers.

 

Anyone trying to reach Rainier's summit must pay an annual $30 registration. The fee helps defray personnel and land-management costs but doesn't cover expenses related to rescues. "Climbers already are anteing up more than the average park visitor," said Gauthier, who concluded in a 2001 study that the Park Service would be unwise to shift more rescue costs on the climber.

 

In Europe, mountain climbers are required to carry a bond and authorities must respond to their distress calls. As a result, climbers tend to be less conscientious of safety, leading to more rescues and deaths, said Eric Simonson of Tacoma, a climbing guide.

 

The Park Service is not obliged to bring people off mountains. Rangers therefore have more flexibility and sometimes talk climbers down rather than attempt a risky rescue, Gauthier said.

 

Edited by Thinker

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Cell phones are obviously the "foam pads" of the alpine set...granted the conveinence of having a rescue at your fingertips is very nice but what is the actual cost of such convenience and does it precipitate a casual attitude towards potentially hazardous undertakings? Thusly causing society to view climbers as a nuisance and a waste of taxpayers money. Really WTF kind of illusions are we creating?

 

Chirp, respectfully, i think that is an assanine statement. I really don't believe that climbers are more casual in their route selection or judgement of a situation b/c they're carrying cell phones.

 

i would assume that nearly every climber who undertakes a route like lib ridge would assume that they would have no cell phone service and if they do it's just good fortune. i can't imagine that climbers are counting on cell phones to save their asses. most areas in the mountains i have no cell service. i still throw that phone in my pack just in case but by no means am i relying in any way on that phone if i need a rescue.

Minx , maybe you are responsible enough not to depend on your cell phone, but fact is alot of climbers think it is an umbilical cord to the outside world and 911 is at their finger tips. Rangers in the Adirondaks[NY] complain of the numerous calls they get from people who really don't need a rescue[ they are cold and tired, their boots got wet and their feet are cold, or even cases of twisted ankles/knees that if the hiker/climber took there time they could get out on theire own, not needing a litter], but call anyway, and they have to respond .I have heard this debate rage on for along time nowand hold my opposition to them. They do have a use for weather forcasts I guess, if you can trut those .

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Liberty Ridge being one of the 50 classics, I'm curious about what fraction of parties come from out of state. I would guess that climbers who arrive from other parts of the country are less likely to bail when conditions turn out to be less than perfect.

Pope, I think the answer to that is probably yes. Not al visiting climbers will push on dangerously, but they may be more willing to raise the bar a bit. Push in less than ideal conditions.

 

I know for myself , I climbed Forbidden Peak last August. On the way in the ranger we met told us that the snow coloir was" out" and couldn't recomend the climb. We came from the East coast we were going to atleast go up and check it out for ourselves, We did summit, but the descent was a wee hairy. The Rap anchors were quite away up in the air from the snow, with a big fat open 'scrund underneath.

Maybe if we were more local we would have just gone and climbed something else.

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Cell phones are like any other technology in that there is a continuum of attitudes on their appropriate uses. We can all sit here and say 'No cell phones for ME in the back country!", but if you or your partner broke a femur or sustained a severe head injury it would seem irresponsible not to have a cell phone along to increase the chances of surviving that injury.

 

IMHO, it's equally irresponsible to call for a rescue when it's not needed...but how do you establish guidelines or regulate it?

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Minx , maybe you are responsible enough not to depend on your cell phone, but fact is alot of climbers think it is an umbilical cord to the outside world and 911 is at their finger tips. Rangers in the Adirondaks[NY] complain of the numerous calls they get from people who really don't need a rescue[ they are cold and tired, their boots got wet and their feet are cold, or even cases of twisted ankles/knees that if the hiker/climber took there time they could get out on theire own, not needing a litter], but call anyway, and they have to respond .I have heard this debate rage on for along time nowand hold my opposition to them. They do have a use for weather forcasts I guess, if you can trut those .

People have been lost on the FRONT SIDE of Mt Hood Ski Bowl and called 911. In sunny warm weather.

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Minx , maybe you are responsible enough not to depend on your cell phone, but fact is alot of climbers think it is an umbilical cord to the outside world and 911 is at their finger tips. Rangers in the Adirondaks[NY] complain of the numerous calls they get from people who really don't need a rescue[ they are cold and tired, their boots got wet and their feet are cold, or even cases of twisted ankles/knees that if the hiker/climber took there time they could get out on theire own, not needing a litter], but call anyway, and they have to respond .I have heard this debate rage on for along time nowand hold my opposition to them. They do have a use for weather forcasts I guess, if you can trut those .

People have been lost on the FRONT SIDE of Mt Hood Ski Bowl and called 911. In sunny warm weather.

 

Wonderful! If they're truly lost I'd rather go look for them when it's light and warm instead of when it's dark and cold...or tell them which landmark to walk toward while they can still see something.

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Cell phones are like any other technology in that there is a continuum of attitudes on their appropriate uses. We can all sit here and say 'No cell phones for ME in the back country!", but if you or your partner broke a femur or sustained a severe head injury it would seem irresponsible not to have a cell phone along to increase the chances of surviving that injury.

 

IMHO, it's equally irresponsible to call for a rescue when it's not needed...but how do you establish guidelines or regulate it?

Yeah Thinker, sorry, being a little sanctimonious about the phone use.It isn't the presence of the phone but the general lack of self control and responsibility that goes along with sooooo many users is whatI'm yapping about.If the users could really only call for a rescue when it is truely needed[ broken leg far from the trail head or on serious technical ground,yes. Even in a case when you are rescuing your self, they can be useful to notify someone that you are coming out and may need help to expediate things.

 

I've just heard of too many jokers who either call for help at the first sign of danger/discomfort , or will push on until really in the shit because they think they have a quick way out/off if they just make a call.

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Wonderful! If they're truly lost I'd rather go look for them when it's light and warm instead of when it's dark and cold...or tell them which landmark to walk toward while they can still see something.

I can tell from your response you've probably never been to Mt Hood Ski Bowl. It's a small ski area (960acres) with runs never out of earshot of a highway. It's pretty much impossible to get lost in, unless your lazy. And calling 911 at noon on a 60 degree day - when you've been out for a little bit is irresponsible.

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Anyone trying to reach Rainier's summit must pay an annual $30 registration. The fee helps defray personnel and land-management costs but doesn't cover expenses related to rescues. "Climbers already are anteing up more than the average park visitor," said Gauthier, who concluded in a 2001 study that the Park Service would be unwise to shift more rescue costs on the climber.

 

In Europe, mountain climbers are required to carry a bond and authorities must respond to their distress calls. As a result, climbers tend to be less conscientious of safety, leading to more rescues and deaths, said Eric Simonson of Tacoma, a climbing guide.

 

The Park Service is not obliged to bring people off mountains. Rangers therefore have more flexibility and sometimes talk climbers down rather than attempt a risky rescue, Gauthier said.

 

Great article! It's good to read a factual and positive viewpoint on the costs of climbing rescues.

 

I'm glad that the MRNP rangers can exercise discretion in choosing to perform a rescue or not. Makes sense to me. thumbs_up.gif

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I'm glad that the MRNP rangers can exercise discretion in choosing to perform a rescue or not. Makes sense to me. thumbs_up.gif

 

I wonder if the same thing applies to SAR in other parks and National Forests. Can Seattle Mountain Rescue try to talk a climber down? What about the Chelan County Sheriff?

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I'm glad that the MRNP rangers can exercise discretion in choosing to perform a rescue or not. Makes sense to me. thumbs_up.gif

 

I wonder if the same thing applies to SAR in other parks and National Forests. Can Seattle Mountain Rescue try to talk a climber down? What about the Chelan County Sheriff?

 

General MRA (Mountain Rescue Association) protocol is that if the rescuers feel that it is unsafe to attempt a rescue, you abort. "Do not create more subjects" is the rule. We are all volunteers in SAR and Mountain Rescue, and no one can demand that we go after someone.

 

Case in point: We had a County deputy here in Yakima a few years back who thought that we were at his beck and call, and ordered us into what we in MR deemed to be a dangerous rescue situation. We (CWMR) refused. That deputy isn't involved in SAR/Mountain Rescue anymore. We still are.

 

More info here.

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