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Jens

Mountaineers Leaders?

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I am not trying to rile anyone up or be mean at all and I am sorry if I offend anyone with this question.

______________________________

Why is the skill level of climbing leaders, instructors, and trip leaders for the Mountaineers Organization so low (wheter it be rock, ice, or alpine)? This seems to be across the board for all the groups (Seattle Mountaineers Branch, Tacoma Branch, Everett Branch,etc.). I've been at this game for long enough and had enough encounters to accurately make this correlation. I probably shouldn't have made this post as it is imflammatory in nature but the correlation is so strong that it does make for very interesting food for thought.

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Certainly not the majority,butI have heard some are last years students, I appreciate ANYone who is willing to teach people skills. They have a system and most times it works great

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The Mounties is an all volunteer organization. All students who want to pass their advanced courses much also teach every module of the previous course. Combine the two and you get a mix of skill levels; some folks who've only been climbing for a year are teaching basic students the next year, other instructors are very experienced and decent climbers. There are so many people working their way through these courses that the scheduled climbs tend to be a bit crowded. A large party, particularly one as mixed as Mounties groups are, is a slow party.

 

We've all got bozo Mounty stories, but many of the instructors I had several thousand years ago in the Everett branch were good solid climbers who instructed because they wanted to spread the love. Some weren't. You see more of the latter because they're more, how should I put it, stationary.

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To clear up some misconceptions,

 

1) Intermediate students can teach and ropelead their first year, but they are not required to. They have 5+ years to fulfill that requirement.

 

2) There should never be a situation where a 2nd-year is teaching a 1st-year without supervision. Usually 1-2 2nd-years are paired with someone more experienced when they are teaching the 1st-years.

 

3) When you see that dumbass large slow group in front of you, is it the Mounties? Or is it WAC / BoeAlps /OSAT / Mazamas?

 

4) The Mounties don't like having a bad image of themselves. If you encounter a problem with them and can't resolve it in the field, then please notify a higher-up in the Mounties so that action can be taken.

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If you encounter a problem with them and can't resolve it in the field, then please notify a higher-up in the Mounties so that action can be taken.

 

"Alright listen up! In future, when rapelling down a steep trail, try not to look like such a dork! Mountie High Command, signing out!"

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If you encounter a problem with them and can't resolve it in the field, then please notify a higher-up in the Mounties so that action can be taken.

 

"Alright listen up! In future, when rapelling down a steep trail, try not to look like such a dork! Mountie High Command, signing out!"

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For the sake of argument let me take their side.

 

What do you mean by 'skill' anyway? Skill at teaching basic techniques and keeping beginners from killing themselves? Or skill in a completely irrelevant sense like being able to climb 5.12, WI5, grade V, etc., which while impressive, has nothing to do with their curriculum? Why should it bother you to see 5.9 climbers teaching 5.5 climbers how not to f' up? Better them than you, right? Otherwise, you'd volunteer to be that 'skilled' leader.

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4) The Mounties don't like having a bad image of themselves. If you encounter a problem with them and can't resolve it in the field, then please notify a higher-up in the Mounties so that action can be taken.

 

Now that is great news. I'm sure I'm not the only one who objects to the mounties taking over the Icicle a weekend or two every spring, with 90 or more people in one drainage. Sometimes there are even multiple chapters of the club up there on the same weekend. I have spoken to people within the organization about this and gotten nowhere, so if you know the name of someone who actually cares about improving the reputation of the club, I'd love to hear it. Clubs are fine and all, but they don't own the canyon.

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As much fun as we have with the Mounties/Mazamas/BOALPS, everyone has their own level of acceptable risk.

 

In some sense, by belittling it, we make that not OK.

 

Which kind of sucks.

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If you have a problem with the skill level of the people teaching and leading, Jens, then why don't you put your money where your mouth is and do a little teaching for them? Or are you just complaining to hear your own voice?

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Basic Climb schedule:

 

July 24-25, Mount Rainier, Willis Wall route.

Instructor permission required. Group size 4.

Climb leader: Jens

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Basic Climb schedule:

 

July 24-25, Mount Rainier, Willis Wall route.

Instructor permission required. Group size 4.

Climb leader: Jens

Required equipment: Helmet, 10-Essentials, 2 Tools, Adult Diapers

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3) When you see that dumbass large slow group in front of you, is it the Mounties? Or is it WAC / BoeAlps /OSAT / Mazamas?

 

More than likely it is the Mountaineers with their several local chapters. By the way, I'd rather share the route with OSAT than the Mountaineers. OSAT (One Step At A Time)is terrific and isn't some mere hobby club, but has a socially therapeutic mission for individuals recovering from addiction.

 

If you have a problem with the skill level of the people teaching and leading, Jens, then why don't you put your money where your mouth is and do a little teaching for them? Or are you just complaining to hear your own voice?

 

B.S. What kind of LAME thinking is that? Jens has every right to point out nonsense without some sort of arbitrary requirement to personally find a solution and participate. He's complaining because he has an opinion. I happen to agree with him. Give it some thought and maybe YOU should help fix the problem if should agree and you're involved with those people.

[an example: I think the bananas suck this week at the Fred Meyer's in Tacoma. Should I, therefore, go to Guatemala, open a banana plantation and make sure the quality control is adequate for my Tacoma customers? Or can I let the complaint be known and those who might be concerned about reputation and quality deal with the situation?)

 

You want more "what's wrong with the Mountaineers"? Check into their little "mentors" program, a.k.a. "the blind leading the blind." rolleyes.gif

 

peeweeherman01_story.jpg

"I know you are but what am I?"

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If you have a problem with the skill level of the people teaching and leading, Jens, then why don't you put your money where your mouth is and do a little teaching for them? Or are you just complaining to hear your own voice?
Actually, Jens is a fine teacher. He's been mentoring a fellow he met at his gym. This guy has come a long way. So Jens is into the more traditional model, which is fine.

 

The reason organizations like the Mountaineers exist is that not everyone is able to hook up with people like Jens. Not that many experienced climbers have time to take out a rank beginner. Once people have some experience be it with the Mountaineers or whatever, they have an easier time finding partners.

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It would be great if a group of accomplished climbers, such as, say, some of the folks on this website, got together, contacted the Mounties, and offered to give a leader's seminar. Skills like routefinding, climbing safely on shitty terrain, and going light and fast are not emphasized as much as more specific skills like crevasse rescue in their courses. At the very least, that might keep a few basic students alive longer. At the most, it might gradually modernize Mounty culture a bit. Of course, that would mean getting together and agreeing on the seminar content.

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Accomplishments of folks I've climbed with in the mountaineers (which is an awfully small sample size to begin with, so I'm sure there are lots of others):

 

-Denali (Several folks,some multiple times)

-Skied across the Greenland Ice Cap

-20k+ft peaks in China, Mexico, and South America (some multiple 20k+ peaks)

-Liberty Crack in a day

-CNR Stuart in a day

-Dierdre-Ultimate Everything linkup

-A3 routes in the Valley

-3 months a year in the Valley for the last 3 years.

-25+ climbing trips in one year

-SEWS, NEWS, Lexington, Concord, Lib Bell enchainment

-Guiding for RMI

-Lots of folks working with local mountain rescue groups

-Multiple winter attempts on Rainier (failed due to weather)

-Performed initial rescues of professional guided parties that got in trouble.

and most importantly

-kinder and more giving folks than some of you fuckers.

 

and I only know maybe 10% of the folks in the climbing program. I'd so those things qualify as climbing hard/technically good?

 

That said there is also a set of leaders who are out climbing (moderate objectives that are appropriate to their, and their parties, skill level.) because they like being in the mountains with good people, and they enjoy teaching people to climb. (I've heard the term green-bonding, I think it was used by Ira Spring?) The best way to protect our access and the climbing culture is to teach new climbers. This is also the only group I've come across who's willing to take people with little or no experience, teach them to climb in a safe fashion, and provide them with a group of people to climb with, and from which to draw their own climbing partners. In my opinion, that alone is a pretty special, pretty valuable thing. Of the folks I climb with regularly, without the climbing course, maybe 25% or less would have started without the basic course. (and some of the 75% have accomplishments on that list)

 

And yes, people who have only been belaying for a year are teaching other people to belay (or rappel, or tie in, or put on their crampons, or self arrest). Were not talking rocket science here, and they're not teaching advanced techniques of any sort. And yes it's all supervised. "Teach" may even be too strong a word, it's more like a brief demonstration followed by supervised practice.

 

Of all the folks I've climbed with in the mountaineers, their is one leader I wouldn't climb a skill level appropriate objective with. There have also been 3 students (that I heard about by way of mouth), none of whom graduated their respective climbing courses, or climb with the mountaineers any longer. That's a pretty good record in my opinion.

 

Half the "image" problem is that the image is driven by basic climbs, and on any basic climb, 50% of the people are on their first or second climb EVER. It's expected that they're going to be inefficient. Everyone hear who was dialed on their first rock or glacier climb ever, please raise they're hand? However the climbs are usually good ones to learn on.

 

Everyone has had a run in with a bad local climbing party, and it seems like they all get blamed on the Mountaineers, whether or not it us. On any given weekend in the summer there are probably 10-15 climbs going on. Most of these draw little or no attention whatsoever, obtain their objectives and go home. So the best case impression is no impression, and worst case impression is a party of slow moving basics on an easy route.

 

 

Oh, and the light/fast seminar might be interesting, and there are on going discussions on how to modernize the course. As with any volunteer orginization it's a slow process.

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It would be great if a group of accomplished climbers, such as, say, some of the folks on this website, got together...

 

While there are some exceptions, I think you overestimate the abilities, common sense, and maturity of many on this website.

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It would be great if a group of accomplished climbers, such as, say, some of the folks on this website, got together, contacted the Mounties, and offered to give a leader's seminar. Skills like routefinding, climbing safely on shitty terrain, and going light and fast are not emphasized as much as more specific skills like crevasse rescue in their courses. At the very least, that might keep a few basic students alive longer. At the most, it might gradually modernize Mounty culture a bit. Of course, that would mean getting together and agreeing on the seminar content.
A lot of what you see is just plain lack of experience. There are many things you just can't teach in a classroom. You have to be out climbing to learn a lot of the important stuff.

 

Why aren't there more good leaders? Because too many of them move on just as they are becoming experienced. Why do they move on? Because they aren't being challenged any more. They don't want to keep leading the next batch of newbies up the easy routes. I am not sure what the solution is.

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A lot of what you see is just plain lack of experience. There are many things you just can't teach in a classroom. You have to be out climbing to learn a lot of the important stuff.

 

Why aren't there more good leaders? Because too many of them move on just as they are becoming experienced. Why do they move on? Because they aren't being challenged any more. They don't want to keep leading the next batch of newbies up the easy routes. I am not sure what the solution is.

 

CBS hits it right on the head. A lot of students have never stepped foot on a trail before, yet alone climbed anything. They take the mountaineers course as a deep plunge, headfirst, into the world of climbing. Those groups of 12 you see on the Coleman-Deming, Eldorado, Sulphide Glacier, etc. are probably on their first or second climb *ever*. And a good number of them take the class and never climb again - it was a novelty to try out, or they just figured it took too much time, or was not for them in the first place. Others move on and climb on their own. And a few others become instructors and leaders. And of the instructors and leaders, many are 2nd-4th year climbers, who will move on themselves. Only a few stick with the organization beyond that. I'd say the ratios are something like 9:2:1 (worst case) down to 6:2:1 (more typical).

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I might add that someone with say two or three years experience like many of said leaders if paired with similar partner would do just fine on the popular routes and not create the bottlenecks and jam ups of which people complain. But put them in charge of a first year student who knows practically nothing, and it's too much to ask. You have to really know what you are doing to keep parties moving along. What I am saying is that the inexperience of one partner should be made up for by an overabundance of experience in the other partner, but unfortuanately that isn't always the case.

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One thing I'd like to add to this thread is what some of the skills the Mounties are good at. In particular, they provide great hands on crevasse rescue, first aid, and avalanche safety training, to name a few. I've know a few self taught, highly skilled climbers who are lacking in one or more of these areas.

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