Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   02/03/18

      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  
Mike_Gauthier

from tire chains to crampons

Recommended Posts

JRCO asks?

"Speaking of permits and climbing rangers, what kind of authority due rangers have if they catch you without a permit?"

well, it depends on the park/forest you visit and the type of ranger you meet. in short, they have all the authority they need. that authority is granted to them through the laws passed by congress. those laws are then administered by the excuetive branch of our government, (ie, the president, through his staff of secretaries, DOI, DOA etc). if you have a differing interpretation of the laws/regs, there is always the judicial system…

"Can they give you a fine?"

yes

"Can they force you to leave the mountain?"

yes

"Can they arrest you?"

yes, you can be arrested, but probably not over a permit...

"I met a ranger on Hood who thougt we could do all of the above."

i'm not surprised, he probably could do all of the above. not every ranger, however, can write tickets. if they can’t, they can usually get someone else on the radio who can...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

yes they can fine you. a ranger has given me a small peice of paper detailing where i could send my money and where to get a permit next time. just be polite, theyre just doing their jobs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have met Gauthier. I have seen his tracks. I appreciate what he does. Pay the ticket. Do the time. When you have fallen, he'll be there. [hell no]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

quote:

Originally posted by Mike Gauthier:
(btw, many rangers agree that climbers are about the smartest of all park visitors. They can also be the most cussedly independent and cynical, but that's ok too)

Mike -- climbers are cynical?

You must mean OTHER climbers, not the ones that frequent this site.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Speaking of permits and climbing rangers, what kind of authority due rangers have if they catch you without a permit? Can they give you a fine? Can they force you to leave the mountain? Can they arrest you? I met a ranger on Hood who thougt we could do all of the above.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The funny thing about the incident on Hood is I was next to the chair lift. I admitt I did not have a backcountry permit but neither did the crowd of people downhill skiing next to me. Frankly I just forgot to get the permit in my haste to catch the chair lift to avoid some hiking. I was more than apologetic to the ranger but he conintued to brow beat us for 30 minutes on his authority in the mountains. Finally we told him we would walk back down the mountain and get a permit if he would shut his mouth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

hey jrco, sorry you had a bad run in on hood. too bad the ranger didn't just issue you a permit right there on the spot.

let's put a few things about tickets in perspective. After 12 summers on rainier, i can only recall 5 tickets (perhaps i'm forgetting a few?) that have ever been written for climbing related violations. 3 of those were for illegal guiding and the other 2 were for solo climbing w/o a permit. all of these folks were CLEARLY aware of the regs and blatantly breaking them. no “forgetting” or “surprises” there. to my knowledge, no one has received a ticket for not registering.

i'd like to add that i am NOT authorized or trained to write tickets OR arrest people. besides, resources related violations (like trampling fragile meadows, leaving human waste on route, etc) get me bent of shape more than permitting infractions. fyi, the folks on this site have posted numerous suggestions on how to avoid these types of hassles. i’ve seen their suggestions and must admit that for the most part, they’re right.

vote the green party in 2004, and always carry tire chains when visiting rainier in the winter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mike, It's to bad the one incident sticks in my mind more than the many other times that Park Rangers have been more than helpful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Question for Mike:

Does Mt. Rainier NP purposely give Rangers incorrect information regarding climbing conditions or do the Rangers purposely tell climbers incorrect information regarding climbing conditions just to keep climbers off the mountain?

What I mean is that almost everytime I have spoken with a Mt. Rainier Ranger regarding climbing/route conditions I get wildly incorrect answers.

One time I asked a Ranger, at the little climbing ranger hut, what the route conditions were like on the Kautz. He proceeded to tell me how I needed to be able to climb water ice at 70 degrees for multiple pitches and that I would need multiple screws, death route, bodies everywhere and all of that.

I was familar with the route having done it a few years before, I just wanted up to date route conditions. I walked out into the parking lot and spoke with some climbers that had just come off the route. They said conditions were normal for the time of year, no blue ice in the chute, no problems.

I went back in and asked the Ranger again and he promptly repeated the conditions he had stated earlier and the route's difficulty. I picked up his books (I think there was a Nelson book and another, maybe Becky) and read the route description to him, which clearly stated the route difficulty to be NO WHERE near the difficulty as stated by him. He just stared at me in silence.

I walked out.

I know others have had similar experiences at Mt Rainier NP, as well as other NPs. This was only one of many I have had at Rainier. (I will say many of the RMI guides while a bit cocky, will give decent beta on conditions).

Does the park or the rangers purposely overstate difficulties and conditions? Doing so may keep the bundy and the simpons off the mountain, but it has caused a cry wolf view among climbers.

Straight shot: I no longer listen to anything the Mt. Rainier Park Rangers tell me.

(Yes, I still get a permit and pay my fee)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nobody-

I'm a former member of Gator's crew (sort of an honorary member these days I guess).

I am here to tell you that there is no conspiracy among climbing rangers to mislead the public. The climbing rangers I worked with for a number of years were by and large an honest group of guys and gals who I would consider, even today as a non-NPS, a group of climbers first, rangers second. This status in fact occasionally rankled the NPS brass, that is, until a dangerous rescue occurred and then all of a sudden we were really popular.

There have been a few individuals in the group through the years who were perhaps less experienced, or in any case, had different PERSONAL interpretations of route conditions, or else otherwise different attitudes towards providing information. Generally, speaking from experience, a vast majority of people asking us for beta ask questions they shouldn't have to ask, and by mid to late summer, honestly- we start getting into a pattern and getting a little burned out. Granted that is no excuse for reverse sandbagging climbers, but in terms of what happened to you, I think that is better than playing down the difficulty. Try to imagine yourself in the ranger's shoes, and the consequences of a rescue on the mountain. It's our ass on the line when it goes down. I've had people at Muir ask to rope up to me because they said they "didn't really know what they were doing", had a guy (in blue jeans) ask me to help him put his step in crampons onto a pair of Sorels (the only time I have ever actually told someone point blank that they should go down and take some lessons) and on a daily basis we'd get bombarded by foolish attitudes to the point where it is truly hard to not start seeing everyone with suspicion. Sorry you had to deal with that crappy beta. I will also assert that when you ask rangers in Longmire or anyone who is not a climbing ranger you should expect to get a whole garden variety of route information that will likely be subject more to hearsay and the ranger's opinion and misconceptions about climbing, and not on personal experience.

Interestingly related to your Kautz story, I once met a guy at Paradise (who to me appeared to be guiding as he was very experienced and had two total gapers with him wearing brand new clothes and everything) going to do the Kautz. His partners nervously asked how steep the route was, I said up to 50 degrees and that several recent reports from climbing teams indicated that there was black ice in the chute and recommended screws and two tools- it was early August and I was not surprised at this report, as I had climbed the route in August years earlier and found the chute to be the same conditions. The leader broke in and insisted that there is NEVER ice in the chute, no one would ever have the need for two tools on that route, and that the angle is never steeper than 40 degrees. To be sure, I asked Gator his opinion later, and he says the angle is 50-55 depending on the season and time of year. I didn't have to ask him about the black ice because it wasn't my imagination that I placed two ice screws in the chute when I climbed it earlier. And I don't think it was off base to suggest two tools to climbers who are not comfortable on that type of terrain, as the two partners obviously were not. That team did not end up summitting, they turned back from Camp Hazard if I remember right. Probably because of the non-existent steep ice?

The climbing rangers after awhile get a second sense for reading people; if we start hearing red flags questions, we generally will start sounding a bit more fatalistic. If you don't like it, then go find out the conditions for yourself. Mostly, that's what experienced climbers do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

also, btw, as conditions change on the mountain through the summer, the climbing rangers compile and update a "conditions report" based on reports from independent climbing teams and from the climbing ranger's route patrols, which the past half dozen seasons have covered most of the major routes on the peak. This report is distributed on the park mail system for all ranger information stations to have access. So try and ask someone at one of these stations (Longmire, Carbon, White River, Ohana, if you are not talking to a climbing ranger) if they have a copy of the report. Otherwise, be prepared for speculation. As Gator points out in his earlier post, the rangers really are eager to give information and to help, the trouble is, they don't always really know and sometimes they feel a guess is better than saying they don't know.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I might also add that about a week before the Kautz story I relate above occurred, a team of Tacoma Mountain Rescue folks on a private climb of the Kautz were climbing roped together as five. The leader dinner plated a huge chunk of BLUE ICE, which struck his son behind him, knocking him unconscious; because they had not placed any ICE SCREWS (which is what the leader was attempting to do at the time) the whole team peeled off and cartwheeled and bounced about 500 feet down the Kautz ice chute and nearly went over the lower Kautz ice cliff below Camp Hazard, stopping only because the rope snagged on a penitente. I along with my dad (who is a bc ranger) and two other rangers climbed up and helped the team carry their gear out; amazingly they had only severe bruises, road rash, and one gashed eye that needed stitches. And I may also have mentioned as I did to every team attempting the Kautz that Camp Hazard was being directly hit that summer by icefall from the ice cliff and that we recommended camping lower down from Hazard on the side of the turtle. And that it was recommended to move fast while traversing to the chute due to the threat of icefall (doubt that I mentioned the near fatality from icefall at that spot in 1997 or 98, can't remember...). If it appears I am getting a bit too zealous about this argument I am feeling an increasingly eerie resemblance between my story and "nobody's". If it is the same incident, I am amazed at the different interpretations of what was said. I know for a fact I would not have said 70 degree ice! If it's not the same incident, then I still feel this needed some illustration. Sorry to rant.

[ 02-13-2002: Message edited by: W ]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

W

Nope, not me. Different time of year. Also, I did look at the report in the Ranger station (I think it was on a clip board, it was ahout three maybe four years ago) and it was directly counter to what the Ranger stated.

If you didn't say 70 degree ice, it wasn't you. I was with a larger group with about half experienced and half some what experienced. No new coat types in the group. We ended up not climbing on Rainier, and went up to Baker.

The recommendation of carrying a screw or two in the chute is common and well taken. I think most, if not all, of the books say so. So telling someone to bring a screw or two is not what I am talking about.

The problem I see here is that many beginneing climbers and intermediate climbers look to the Park service for info. When it turns out to be dead wrong or horrbly overstated, the "wolf cry" sinks in and soon a complete lack of respect arises.

Nothing personal just and observation. Thanks for the frank response though. It is appreciated.

I will say that other parks and forests suffer from the same problem. Almost everyone I know takes with a very large grain of salt what comes out of the rangers mouth, as far as conditions and beta go.

Too bad too. Because I have known a few of the Rainier rangers over the years and have found many to be very knowledgable and experienced climbers. The office staff at the point of customer contact just can't or won't keep up.

Again thanks for the opinion W.

[ 02-13-2002: Message edited by: nobody ]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nobody- Okay, thanks for clearing that up! Definitely wasn't you-sorry to drag that out but I couldn't let it go. The guy in question had a hat advertising some guide service and his two friends were total newbies. In fact I also remember this guy in filling out the section of the registration card, in the part where it says "Other Glaciated Peaks You have climbed" and he wrote: "TOO MANY TO LIST". His partners wrote "zero" summits of Rainier while he had like thirty or something. As I recall, he wanted to do the DC but the permits for Muir were full and the Kautz was their only option- and i think he was getting pissed that I was telling his blatently nervous novices that the route he was about to drag them up was somewhat technical and not exactly something easy, at least for first timers. But fuck him. I'd hate to see him get these guys scared, or worse, injured or killed. Or make me have to go stand underneath the Kautz seracs for three hours rescuing them, or ride around in helicopters (a risky venture anytime!) because of his ambition and ignorance. He seemed really reckless to me.But I definitely understand your complaints. Again, if you talk to rangers about climbing, at least on Rainier- the climbing rangers are who you want to talk to about route conditions. Even then, just keep in mind that they don't know you and have no idea if you are a gumby or a sleeper bad-ass who's done all sorts of gnarly routes. And keep in mind that they are, for better or worse, likely and under duress to initially assume the former due to the constant exposure to a deluge of unbelievably inane queries and actions. A calm, patient,understated and non-pretentious demeanor will identify you as someone who needs route conditions only, not a safety lecture- and believe me more than a few up there need far more than that! Definitely, you are right about taking with a grain of salt any info you get from rangers at general info desks related to climbing. They aren't up on the mountain, and many of them haven't ever climbed it. One more favorite story: this was an actual message left on the Paradise Climbing Ranger Station voice mail: "Uh..hello, I'm calling from my cell phone at the base of Ptarmigan Ridge at 10,300...we were wondering, uh, that 1934 variation- how steep is that? And how hard is the rock climbing on the traverse to the right? Do we need pitons? Is it hard? We got some more questions...we're going to keep our cell phone on for the next hour or two so call us back at ### ###-#### as soon as you get this. Thanks".FUCKIN A! mad.gif" border="0rolleyes.gif" border="0

[ 02-13-2002: Message edited by: W ]

[ 02-13-2002: Message edited by: W ]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to agree with Nobody that I have been misinformed so many times (and often outright lied to) that I am cynical when it comes to interpreting what I am told by rangers, but more and more I seem to be encountering rangers who are supportive of my recreational fantasies, who actually know their districts, and who give out accurate information. Is it just me, or has there been a bit of a change in the culture within the NPS and FS recreation staff?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nobody- yeah, no shit! You would think that someone even thinking of attempting Ptarmigan wouldn't have to ask any questions about it, much less call from the foot of the freaking route to ask how HARD it is!!?! Argh! you see what I mean?

And Matt, I can't speak for other parks or the USFS, but at Rainier as most people have read in the recent Outside and many other articles about Gator and the climbing ranger program- things have changed dramatically since about 1994 or 1995. Gator was put in charge of hiring the upper mountain rescue and climbing crew and he hired...well, climbers. Before, many of the climbing rangers were rangers who were NOT climbers, or who were at least not the lifestyle climbers that work there now. Almost to a man and woman, every one of the people I worked with on the mountain were people who try to climb year round, outside of the summer Rainier season. One of my Muir partners came to Yosemite with me after the season to climb big walls. Another had climbed the Cassin Ridge 10 years previous, and 20 years ago had ski-traversed the ENTIRE ALASKA RANGE from Tok, Alaska to the Kichatna Spires, where they then did some FA's. Another ran up and down Rainier in 5:06 parking lot to parking lot. Okay I'm spouting now, but there is a big difference between getting info from these guys than from someone whose recent exploits prior to working at Muir was working the fee booth at Gulf Islands National Seashore in Mississippi for five years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

W

Quick question, in your experience at Rainier NP and realizing you don't speak for the park, what is soloing on Rainier? In otherwords, does two climbers climbing unroped on a glacier and going for the summit amount to solo climbing?

Mike if you are surfing through, I am curious.

And yes, Chad Kellog is a machine.

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Soloing in my view when I worked there was someone climbing alone, without a partner. Whenever I would see two people climbing unroped, I used to mention something like "might consider putting a rope on" or "be careful" or something like that, since I had no idea whether they were experienced climbers who knew and understood the dangers or were gumbies who weren't roped on the glacier because they didn't see any open crevasses around. From that standpoint, you kind of morally feel like you have say something, given one's position/job and the fact that as an independent climber one would probably be much less likely to say something. But as far as "busting" people for solo climbing when they are climbing together but unroped- I and most of the others didn't go there. The only people I contacted about soloing were those who were obviously up there totally alone, and who hadn't obtained the solo permit. Soloing Rainier is not illegal- you just have to submit a written request. The NPS I think just wants to ensure that soloists fully understand the risks involved. The sticky situation that we did not like to have to deal with is being put into the position to "judge" someone's skills as being worthy or unworthy and give or reject the request. For that reason I was an advocate of doing away with the solo permit altogether and requiring only that the person consult with the rangers prior to the climb- usually those who are truly not qualified can be convinced to find a partner. It was rare that someone who applied for the permit was not aware of the risks. For what it was worth- I soloed up and down the route all summer in 99, as did many of the Rangers. On the Emmons, the rangers almost always rode or skied down, and two of the Muir rangers in 99 skied the DC. On paper, the park brass probably sees soloing as any unroped travel, but the beauty of our job up there is we as climbers got to interpret and translate rigid regulations into some kind of reality. The only people I ever tried to get busted in any way were those who openly lied to my face or otherwise defied the regulations and acted like an asshole towards me at the same time- especially when my first approach was always to just get them to comply and not compromise my position. Many times I issued climbing permits on the spot at Camp Muir to climbers who pretended to not know about the fee or the quota- I simply told them "please pay when you get down"- almost always, they did. If I had been towing the super cop line, I could easily have taken their info and then radioed down to have them issued a citation, and believe me I took a lot of flak from lackey, cop-wannabe rangers down below who always approached me later insisting that I should have "gotten them a ticket and kicked them out of camp"....yeah, make them descend from Camp Muir at 9 Pm in the dark in bad weather. and give them a ticket, that will make them understand, right? b.s.!I hope this gives you and others some insight into the system and how to work WITH it rather than against it. I don't like the fees and regs but they do go to a worthy cause- removing crap from the mountain and providing toilets to use. To the question raised in an earlier post- if you use other routes where there are no toilets, you still are likely using blue bags, which, if you are disposing of them properly, are disposed of in the barrels at the parking lot or the high camp that you likely will descend through. (the smear technique is really okay for remote routes in my book though). Ultimately, I don't think paying $15 to help remove shit from the mountain and keep the snow clean is a lot to ask if you are leaving your boot prints up there. And while the fee doesn't pay for rescue per se, it does pay the salaries of those who would rescue you. Until Congress decides the park budgets are important and that people shouldn't have to shell it out, look at it all as taking care of our own. As for quotas- if you ever spent a night at Schurman with 227 people like I did while working there in 1996, you would I am sure support a quota. I digressed from soloing, but I think these issues are important- tell your friends!

[ 02-13-2002: Message edited by: W ]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I seem to remember a certain RMI guide who acted the bad-cop part more than any climbing ranger. This unnamed guide..Alex...was hassling a solo climber and demanding to see his solo permit on the DC in 99'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The funny part was that the solo climber actually had a permit.

I doubt that RMI would have liked it had I gone into one of their snow schools and started showing their clients how to do ice axe arrest.

Halling, didn't you leave the park do go work for RMI?

rolleyes.gif" border="0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh yea..to continue...so these two get into an argument at 12,500' on a windy, cold day. Alex demanding to see the permit and telling the climber to turn around. The climber telling Alex to screw off. So the climber takes off and continues up the mountain and Alex has to go cause' he has some sheep to tend to and herd back down to the pen at Muir. So this climber (I can't remember his name...some Russian name...I know you know it Gator) keeps going and runs into a climbing ranger patrol. They see this solo climber who happens to be missing his gloves (and has to shift his axe between his hands every 10 seconds to keep it from freezing to his hand) and contact him. Well the dude is already fuming and when someone else tries to talk to him he gets very upset. Anyways the patrol let him keep going and he chills out. I wonder how many other climbers have bad-cop stories that weren't even NPS....but RMI or perhaps one of the other guide services. Then there was this girl named Mary...........

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wanted to work for RMI. I thought I had the job but then Gator's boss..Mary...decided she wanted to guide and beat me outta the job. I think she is the lead guide now....on top of still being Gator's boss.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×