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Jens

Mountaineers Leaders?

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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?

The main reason he wont do this is because the mounties probably wont let him. As I understand it hey have a set Curriculum and they want their leaders to have recently been through it themselves. One of the best climbers on this website went to the mounties and tried to teach a kids course and got absolutly nowhere because of all the bullshit rules they had. To put it lightly the mounties missed a great opportunity to have a great person and teacher work with them, but they missed the boat. I know lots of people (including myself) who would be happy to do some teaching or mentoring for some of the kids programs, but the mounties lawyers are not going to let that happen.

Everyone else needs to keep in mind that there are some very good climbers that have come out of the mounties programs.

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I think Selkirk makes some great points from his personal experience, and demonstrates that the "stereotype" of Mtneers as total bumblers or the blind leading the blind is a misperception when applied to the entire group.

 

However, one comment seems mis-calibrated:

So the best case impression is no impression, and worst case impression is a party of slow moving basics on an easy route.

 

I believe that the WORST case impression stems from some of the recent fatalities which the club has had around Boston Basin and Icicle Creek...both of which took place during organized classes being run with students.

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The main reason he wont do this is because the mounties probably wont let him. As I understand it hey have a set Curriculum and they want their leaders to have recently been through it themselves. One of the best climbers on this website went to the mounties and tried to teach a kids course and got absolutly nowhere because of all the bullshit rules they had. To put it lightly the mounties missed a great opportunity to have a great person and teacher work with them, but they missed the boat. I know lots of people (including myself) who would be happy to do some teaching or mentoring for some of the kids programs, but the mounties lawyers are not going to let that happen.

Everyone else needs to keep in mind that there are some very good climbers that have come out of the mounties programs.

I can comment about the kids program, at least as it was when I was involved about five years ago. They had a group called Youth Activities that was involved in all sorts of outdoor activities including climbing. My own kids were participants at the time. As I recall, the only stipulation on climbing outings was that one person on the Climb Leaders list be present at the outing, which most often was top rope climbing in the Icicle. We had a really good crack climber and his wife who volunteered. He wasn't a member, but he was a really good teacher and we valued his contribution. I remember this one very promising 14 year old named Colin. He (and I) were soaking up information from this guy. Last I heard Colin had become a pretty fair climber.

 

Coincidentally tonight is the Gear Grab. This is a sale that raises money for the Youth Activities Committee. Here's the blurb:

 

Gear Grab in Seattle - October 26

Winter is almost upon us - you had better make sure that you have all your snow gear. One good place to look for sweet deals is at The Mountaineers Gear Grab. If you don't mind gently used (and sometimes new) gear, and want to save some bucks, then you'll definitely want to head down.

The Gear Grab is held at The Mountaineers Building (300 Third Ave W, Seattle) from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend, but to sell gear, you must be a member with a valid ID. For more information about the Gear Grab, call 206-284-6310

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I believe that the WORST case impression stems from some of the recent fatalities which the club has had around Boston Basin and Icicle Creek...both of which took place during organized classes being run with students.

 

Unluckily climbing is a dangerous and unforgiving activity, and for some reason the last couple of years has seen a spate of accidents in the mountaineers. That said from what I've seen none of them have been precipitated by inexperienced climbers out for their first trip, and in over their heads.

 

Sharkfin was one of those almost classic climbing accidents, where a set of what were a seriers of seamingly reasonable judgements at the time (But in retrospect may have been less than ideal) compounded, and ended in tragedy. They were in the wrong gully, but we've all done that, there was rockfall, but we've all experienced that. The ultimate cause was that their chosen rappel anchor failed. However, without being there at the time, and knowing what the other options were (if any), it's impossible to know whether there were better options. To say it was inexerpience, or lack of technique, is innaccurate in case. All we can do is learn to be vigilant about everything.

 

Yellowjacket this spring, was a lapse in judgement. It wasn't a first year basic student, but a somewhat more experienced intermediate on 4th to low 5th, easier than what many of us have scrambled before. Could this have been prevented by a longer mentorship, or better teaching? Maybe. How many of you still scramble 4th/low 5th terrain even with some exposure?

 

From what I've read about these accidents (and like many of you I obsess about accidents and causes), none of them seemed to be tied to how the courses were run, or the experience level of the leaders or students. No one was doing anything blatantly dangerous or anything most climbers don't get away with on a semi-regular basis. They were just what the name implied, accidents.

 

Further neither of those accidents were during "organized classes". They were basic CLIMBS, not basic field trips. At that point the students are climbers, granted they're green, and still learning from the more experienced climbers on the trip, but they are climbers none the less. And neither accident happend to a basic student.

 

In my opinion these accidents are no more tied to courses, than a football players blown knee is to his coach. It's an acknwoldged risk of the sport when things go bad.

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Last year I ran into the girlfriend of one of the victims of the Sharkfin accident. The weather was marginal, which probably increased the chances for rockfall, and may have contributed to the fall that caused the first injury. The rappel anchor failed during the attempted rescue of that injured climber: a non-ideal situation at best. All the leaders had many years of experience.

 

Ironically, my partner and I met this woman while she was tenously negotiating an exposed 3rd class descent...solo. She was clearly uncomfortable, so we hung with her until she was down.

 

Her partner, the faster climber, had abandoned her. Unfortunately, we did not see him again to let him know how much of a prick he was.

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Hey Dwayner!

 

Who has the higher body count on Rainier? The amateur Mountaineers, or the "professionals" at RMI lead by Lou Whittaker?

 

You would think Lou could bring em back alive.

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Hey Dwayner!

 

Who has the higher body count on Rainier? The amateur Mountaineers, or the "professionals" at RMI lead by Lou Whittaker?

 

You would think Lou could bring em back alive.

 

What exactly are you trying to point out with that comment? I am sure # of person climbing days has nothing to do with your point does it? Did you think before you posted that?

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Did you think before you posted that?

Does he ever?

 

RMI, in addition to being miniscule as compared to the mounties, is also quite a bit more expensive, making it out of reach of a lot of beginning climbers, particularly very young climbers.

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Did you think before you posted that?

Does he ever?

 

RMI, in addition to being miniscule as compared to the mounties, is also quite a bit more expensive, making it out of reach of a lot of beginning climbers, particularly very young climbers.

 

What do you mean by miniscule? If you are saying that the mounties have more person days on the mountain than RMI then I think you are wrong. I would guess (although I do not know for sure) that RMI has a hell of a lot more person days on that mountain every year than the mounties.

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As president of the Bushwhacker Climbing Club, this thread is very interesting to me. We struggle with many of the same issues. Lots to learn and figure out...

 

I hope the tone of this thread doesn't become angry. Certainly Jens didn't sound angry when he started it.

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RMI certainly has more days on "Rainier" in year, so your right Alasdair, number of deaths on Rainier doesn't show anything. Need to have a broader comparison to be fair.

 

It would be interesting to know the number of injuries/deaths per person days climbing (rock, ice, alpine, sport, cragging) in a year for say, RMI or another guiding service, the Mountaineers, and climbers as a whole. And statistics wizards running around?

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Hey Dwayner!

 

Who has the higher body count on Rainier? The amateur Mountaineers, or the "professionals" at RMI lead by Lou Whittaker?

 

You would think Lou could bring em back alive.

 

What exactly are you trying to point out with that comment?

 

Jens' initial post on this topic was rather vague (the skill level of Mounties leaders is low) although he is convinced it is accurate. How does one compare skill level of a group among all participants (Mounties vs. non-Mounties)? One way would be to compare against the "Gold Standard", which should be "professionals". Probably the most important goal of a trip leader is to "bring em back alive", so this seems like a reasonable metric. Dwayner, being the knowledgable and educated type that he is, should be able to make a reasonable stab at the comparison whether it be deaths/trip, deaths/season, or deaths/$profit. The numerator is easy, and the denominator a little more troublesome.

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Did you think before you posted that?

Does he ever?

 

RMI, in addition to being miniscule as compared to the mounties, is also quite a bit more expensive, making it out of reach of a lot of beginning climbers, particularly very young climbers.

 

It seems to me RMI's goal is to make money as a business first, and teach you about climbing second. Clubs are the other way around. Many people hire RMI to climb Rainier, with no interest to learn how to climb or doing climbing beyond that one trip up the mountain. For around $1000 you get only one day of instruction (mostly self-arrest practice), and a hand-holding up the mountain with a bit of security knowing you are with experienced folks and a backup system in the event of an accident or emergency.

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I would guess (although I do not know for sure) that RMI has a hell of a lot more person days on that mountain every year than the mounties.

You'd guess. Enough said. In any case, cost was my main point. The two organizations are apples and oranges.

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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Did you think before you posted that?

Does he ever?

 

RMI, in addition to being miniscule as compared to the mounties, is also quite a bit more expensive, making it out of reach of a lot of beginning climbers, particularly very young climbers.

 

It seems to me RMI's goal is to make money as a business first, and teach you about climbing second. Clubs are the other way around. Many people hire RMI to climb Rainier, with no interest to learn how to climb or doing climbing beyond that one trip up the mountain. For around $1000 you get only one day of instruction (mostly self-arrest practice), and a hand-holding up the mountain with a bit of security knowing you are with experienced folks and a backup system in the event of an accident or emergency.

 

Apples and oranges.

 

RMI is a business. Mounties are a club.

 

If you really wanted what you described yes you would pay more for it but you would better instruction from RMI.

 

You get what you pay for.

 

RMI guides have many many more days out than Mounties per year.

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better instruction from RMI

 

I haven't taken a trip with RMI so I wouldn't know. I have bumped into RMI on the hill and found their guides to be skilled and personable. But better instruction includes a better curriculum. Do RMI clients learn, for instance, crevasse rescue?

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individual RMI guides might have more days out per year than most individual Mounties. But if were talking accident statistics. But if your looking at statistics for the groups as a whole, I'd be willing to bet that Mounties as a group have a comparable number of days out per year (official climbs, unofficial climbs, field trips in the hills, etc.) as RMI and their clients do.

 

And how many people can really afford to shell out a grand for 1 weekends climbing instruction?

 

As an interesting sidebar

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better instruction from RMI

 

I haven't taken a trip with RMI so I wouldn't know. I have bumped into RMI on the hill and found their guides to be skilled and personable. But better instruction includes a better curriculum. Do RMI clients learn, for instance, crevasse rescue?

 

yes but I would say these two aren't worth comparing... that is RMI offers a number of services... depending on what you are shopping for (a summit or a snow travel class) will dictate what and to what depth you learn it

 

god i am going to regret this but a much much better comparison would be comparing NOLS or Outward Bound versus Mounties...

 

Both are for instruction... one is a lot lot more expensive.

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better comparison would be comparing NOLS or Outward Bound versus Mounties...

The Mounties use toilette paper.

 

Strictly anecdotal, but I haven't been terribly impressed with my encounters with NOLS instructors. Very rigid and dogmatic, regardless of the situation at hand. Just my experience or an aspect of the organization? I don't know.

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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god i am going to regret this but a much much better comparison would be comparing NOLS or Outward Bound versus Mounties...

 

Both are for instruction... one is a lot lot more expensive.

 

Good comparison, but I get the impression that NOLS / Outward bound is course taught by proffesionals, not volunteers / amateurs.

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exactly... hence the price difference

 

Food for thought: NOLS has had 6 deaths since it founding... of those drowning was the only "preventable" death... the others were from lightening strikes.

 

No climbing deaths.

 

EDIT: deaths during a course. NOLS graduates and/or instructors have died on non course activities.

Edited by John Frieh

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I am surprised so few were self-taught. The adventure of learning the basics with my friends was a great experience and I think for the most part a fairly safe way to go, however, looking back I would say that glacier travel/route finding training is best (ie most efficiently)not learned at the school of hard knocks.

 

Pretty much anyone can become an “exceptional” climber simply by applying themselves. I think it might be harder to become an exceptional instructor in a formal environment.

Edited by Peter_Puget

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