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rbw1966

Does Size Matter?

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When climbing in the backcountry, what group size is too big?

 

I ran into a group of 4 mounties on Ingalls and the group leader said that the Mounties have a policy of only allowing one group of up to 4 people on any mountain at any time (I may have misunderstood him and he meant 4 on a route). According to this guy, the Mounties have some sort of database to ensure that overcrowding doesn't happen.

 

He mentioned this after criticizing a group of 8 Mazamas on the same route behind him.

 

I later ran into a group of 6 Mazamas on Three Finger Jack and Mt. Washington--all on the same route.

 

Personally, I prefer climbing with one or two other people at the most.

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Some routes just don't work well with many people. TFJ is certainly one of them. I've heard people have turned around at the parking lot when they see the onslaught begin. Six on the easy routes up Hood, for instance, seems fine if not fun.

 

TFJ south and Washington n. ridge often seem to be peoples' first introduction to climbs of any real exposure. This seems to lead to unnecessary shouting about really being on belay, tangles, thrutching leading to rockfall, etc. Plus half the time it seems like the folks just met each other in the parking lot, so have no idea about each others' abilities.

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Two years ago I ran into 12 Mazamas on the N Ridge of Washington. Too many for that route IMO even if there was no one else on the mountain.

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As a newbie, I've gone up Hood (SS) with 11 other mazamas of varied skill levels. I won't do that again.

 

Too messy and confusing.

Much slower.

Greater chance of no-summit.

Most importantly, it's much harder for newbies to raise concerns or outright objections due to weather/route/leadership failure/ etc.

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Any party size greater than 4 belongs on the trail, not on the route...

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Usually the Mounties do limit it. Occasionally on rock you'll see groups of 6 but that's about the max and it's always on pretty easy routes (ie Da Toof, easy routes on Ingalls etc). On glaciers it's a different story, usually 6 to 9 (occasionally 12) rarely more than 3 rope teams though. Those can get a bit clusterish but the times i've been out we didn't run into a sould until we hit the summit. Whole idea is to be a completely self sufficient party, and i've known a few climb leaders who ended up pulling other climbing parties asses out of the fire because their groups weren't large enough or up to snuff. Half the complaining everyone does here about mounties should be directed at the other large clubs in the. Had a mountie friend (and small party) who had the distinct pleasure of waiting while a WAC group top-roped 9 people up Da Toof earlier this year.

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Had a mountie friend (and small party) who had the distinct pleasure of waiting while a WAC group top-roped 9 people up Da Toof earlier this year.

 

Top roped? confused.gif Wow. I guess you mean that a leader lead it and then belayed each of the 8 followers up? Not that he actually set a huge ass top rope...right?

 

Just imagine what a 400 foot or more "top-rope" would look like. yellaf.gif

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Yep, the description I got was a leader at the top of each pitch, toss the rope down bring one, repeat ad infinitum!

 

Actually saw a about a 50 m toprope down at smith, with the belayer at the bottom (i.e. 100m of rope out). One guy fell 10 ft up and nearly decked from rope stretch. Was something else.

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yup, saw the same shit at smiff this spring...a horde of fahqers toproping the entire spiderman route w/ a host of pissed off folks sitting 'round the base sharpening their knives.

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Your kidding me? At least the group I saw was only top-roping a single pitch (Karate Crack) and no one was waiting.

That's disgusting.

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I've run into pretty large Mountie groups on da Toof (10), SEWS (10-12) and out on Shuksan (8). They were all right but should teach their students about the appropriateness of letting faster, more competent parties pass.

 

But the most annoying experience with a large crowd in the back country was the 50-60 people climbing with RMI on the DC route on Rainier 3 summers ago. The snow conditions sucked and my party (3 teams of 5 up for a friend's wedding on the mountain so we weren't really small either) turned back at the base of the DC because the snow was 3" of breakable crust with 6" of sugar underneath. Stuff was already sloughing at 2 am. The RMI "bus" was not very understanding that we needed to get by them on the traverse and bitched about it the whole time we were passing. We turned back mostly because we didn't feel like getting to the top of the DC and waiting for so many bumblies to get up so we could go back down since a summit in those conditions was unlikely. It was funny to watch the RMI train later in the morning though fumbling their way back down the route around 7 in the morning. I was glad I got 3 more hours of sleep in the tent rather than wait for them up on the route... hellno3d.gif

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The Tooth: Two people on every belay ledge from top to bottom (10 to 12.) Those that weren't sitting in sullen, goretex wrapped silence, were bitching to each other as I tiptoed through and around their packs and heaped ropes and shit in approach shoes, shorts, sunglasses and a t-shirt. I descended the north ridge to avoid the negativity. The scene at Pineapple Pass looked like one of those REI garage sales with shit scattered and perched on every flat and semi-flat spot.

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