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  
Jens

Mountaineers Leaders?

Recommended Posts

Selkirk-

I believe part of the issue is that the new instructors have insufficient time to gain experience using the skills they've been taught in a variety of terrain and situations. These are the basic skills they will be expected to pass on to other students. Some experience is necessary - the question is how much, and is the current criteria sufficient.

 

I can certainly agree with that. But I think that the level of experience needed to demonstrate a basic skill, and then ensure that someone is doing it safely is much, much less than the experienced to decide what to teach. I get the impression that some people think that there is a pack of unsupervised people with 1 years worth of experience who are entirely responsible for teaching basic students climbing skills, which isn't even close to correct.

 

The net responsibility of a 1st year intermediate in a teaching situation is to demonstrate a skill they already know, and then watch to make sure the basics are doing things safely. (tied in, harness on correctly, belay device threaded and locked, yada, yada, yada). More experienced climbers have decided what to teach, how to teach it, and which experienced climber is going to be in charge of each teaching area. I think in my opinion a year's worth of climbing experience is likely enough to demonstrate a basic skill, and then supervise someone while they practic it.

 

The higher standards that had been suggested are a great starting point, but I think it's likely overkill as even these instructors have a set of more experienced climbers intermixed and overseeing what they're teaching. Now having a few people who design and run the field trips, go through some more advanced training I think could be very useful.

 

So what would your opinion be, on the minimum amount of experience appropriate to demonstrate a belay or rappel, and then supervise while someone else practices, all in a controlled environment?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So what would your opinion be, on the minimum amount of experience appropriate to demonstrate a belay or rappel, and then supervise while someone else practices, all in a controlled environment?

 

I don't know that the answer is a finite number of days climbing or peaks climbed -- I think the answer is more based around conscious competence -- does the instructor know what they're teaching and WHY it is the way it is?

 

In other words, if a student asks why this belay technique is used in this situation, or why the load strand is here vs. here, or when you might want to consider using a different technique (i.e. wet, icy ropes, etc) - the instructor needs to know how to answer those questions (which only comes through experience) rather than parroting, "that's what they taught us in the intermediate class last year, so that's how I do it...."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From my own, rather limited anecdotal experience, the folks I know and have instructed usually have a pretty good grasp of why things are done the way they are and can answer most basic questions. More in depth questions are often referred to the the area leaders (typically climb leaders or other folks with at least 3 or 4 years of climbing under the belt). The people going on to take the intermediate class are usually the more aware, more interested, and focused climbers in the basic class, not the students who were in over their heads and struggling to keep up with the technical aspects. Usually during the spring field trips you don't actually get many of those questions. The students are too busy trying to just absorb the basic techniques. Unluckily, the answer is sometimes, this is the way were teaching it because it's what's been decided. Most instructors are pretty good about discussing alternatives.

 

Those questions tend to pop up more out on the climbs, and again purely anecdotaly, most of the intermediates I know are pretty sharp people, and if they don't know the answer refer the question to the leader.

 

I think like any other group, there will be some people who probably shouldn't be teaching, but for the most part, I think the instructors do a pretty good job.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This thread has focused on criticizing the Mtnrs training program in terms of safety. Another issue is how well the club trains beginners to travel and camp in the mountains with minimal impact on the resource. After I issued a citation to a Mountie leader for sleeping on heather on Sulfide Ridge, the Mounties invited me to give a presentation to their climbing course leaders at the Seattle clubhouse. I showed slides of climbs and climber impact in the North Cascades and reviewed the NPS expectations regarding minimum-impact camping and travel. They were quite interested and willing to admit that their instruction in minimum-impact was, well... minimal. My message to them was that they have a high responsibility to ensure that their newbies are receiving adequate instruction in the philosophy and skills underlying no-trace camping because they are introducing so many new recreational users. I don't know if this resulted in them beefing up the curriculum in this area or not, but I left the meeting hopeful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
the instructor needs to know how to answer those questions (which only comes through experience) rather than parroting, "that's what they taught us in the intermediate class last year, so that's how I do it...."

 

I don't think this is much of an issue for the Basic Course, as any 1st-year intermediate has mastered belaying, rappeling, and girth-hitching slings to trees.

 

Where I think it's a big issue is MOFA. If I were to take their MOFA instructor training course, my WFR would make me "overqualified" to teach MOFA, yet I've never had to care for an f'ed up patient. The same lack of practical experience applies for most MOFA instructors. I think it's important that MOFA/WFA instructors have experience as EMTs, ski patrol, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It seems like there's an inherent cultural assumption in the last post (by downfall) that everyone WANTS to climb 5.10 in the mountains and just wish that they could do so, but lack the partners, skills, body fat percentage, or courage to do so...

 

I would say that this assumption, like most, doesn't apply to all climbers, mountaineers or otherwise...though it might certainly apply to many.

 

Just pointing that out that there may be other goals besides climbing hard...like after-climb bigdrink.gif for example! wave.gif

 

Sorry I was just trying to reply to the origional post:

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)?
not necessarilly the same old tangent this mountie critique thread has taken like all the old mountie critique threads.

 

I guess I was making the assumption that Jens was refering to "skill" as how hard one climbed. Not what gear skills you know as I think is pretty easy to learn anything about gear compared with the kind of learning which goes in to actually controlling your body to move up the rock.

 

Yeah, most of the mouties don't want to climb hard and thats part of what makes them not, but not having very many that do around also doesn't provide the opportunity for students to be exposed to what it does take if they want to get there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
After I issued a citation to a Mountie leader for sleeping on heather on Sulfide Ridge

 

After you WHAT? wazzup.gif

 

Tell me that's a typo or troll or something.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
confused.gif Whoa, enlighten me, a SE WA dweller, on this insidious heather-abuse crime. I'm all for and personally practice leave no trace, but since when did something like that result in a citation? What else can people be cited for?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Camping w/o a permit...illegal campfire...dog in a no dog area...

I once got cited for an illegal campfire in Whiteoak Canyon in Shenandoah N.P.

I worked as a mountaineering ranger in N. Cascades National Park for ten summers and wrote less than a dozen citations. And the problem with sleeping on heather is that heather is particularly fragile. Camping on it kills it, and leads to a spot of bare dirt in the meadow in about one season. Surfaces resilient to damage from most to least durable: Snow, rock, bare ground or sand, sedge/grassy, heather meadow. Choose your campsite accordingly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So is it posted up there not to camp on the heather? I've seen signs at lots of places regarding the other infractions, but never about certain plants which must not be camped on. As they say, you learn something new every day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know if it is currently posted not to camp on the meadow. It's difficult to post signage for the Sulfide because the trailhead is in National Forest. One doesn't enter the park until Shannon Ridge, and the only sign there is a small National Park boundary sign. Usually information about restrictions on camping are provided at the point where the camping permit is issued.

And now that you press the question, I'm not sure I'm recalling this right... I know I issued the guy a citation and lectured him for sleeping on the heather and providing such a poor example for his students, but the infraction that resulted in the citation might have been something else, like camping w/o a permit. It's been at least fifteen years since I was a Tool of the Man, and my memory is notoriously unreliable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, well the Tool is actually usually slow to cite, because it's generally preferred to gain voluntary compliance, and to use the visitor contact as an opportunity to educate users about no trace travel and camping. There are certainly exceptions, like the tool that cited me in Shenandoah. I brought no attitude, but he didn't hesitate to paper me. I deserved it. I was young and green but I knew better. Most park visitors are eager to do the right thing, especially folks that take the time and effort to get to a Boston Basin or a Sulfide Ridge.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

He deserved it.

Explain

It has to do with the responsibility of the Mountaineers to teach no trace travel and camping if they are going to introduce numbers of new recreational users into the sport. This guy was shirking his responsibility in my view. Even though he forgot his Thermarest, he should have made an uncomfortable bed on the snow in his partner's tent, using his pack and spare clothing under him. Instead, he trashed the heather, and set a very poor example for the newbies. He actually took it well, was sheepish, and I ended up getting invited to make a presentation in Seattle. I think it was the happiest ending of any of the few citations I issued...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We do police our own. I once encountered an Intermediate student from a different branch of the Mountaineers camped on heather at Merkwood (Harrison Camp). I told him that he should know better than that, and that there were numerous developed camp sites available. He apologized and moved his bivy sack.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So is it posted up there not to camp on the heather? I've seen signs at lots of places regarding the other infractions, but never about certain plants which must not be camped on. As they say, you learn something new every day.

 

It doesn't need to be posted - it's common sense, and part of Leave No Trace guidelines.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had several encounters with Mountaineers parties this summer, and compared to many other users of the back country they are really pretty good at practicing leave no trace. I was very impressed to see them packing out their shit, which is more than most of the people on this site do. That is not to say they are perfect. I had one particularly anoying encounter this summer, but this is the exception not the rule. There certainly seems to be a major difference between the different mounties clubs. I have not had any complaints about the Seattle club, and the everett club seems pretty good. The other big one is a different story altogether.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do the mounties have Leave No Trace education in the curriculumn of every course? Also is it policy for the groups to always pack out their shit?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I had several encounters with Mountaineers parties this summer, and compared to many other users of the back country they are really pretty good at practicing leave no trace. I was very impressed to see them packing out their shit, which is more than most of the people on this site do. That is not to say they are perfect. I had one particularly anoying encounter this summer, but this is the exception not the rule. There certainly seems to be a major difference between the different mounties clubs. I have not had any complaints about the Seattle club, and the everett club seems pretty good. The other big one is a different story altogether.

 

Perhaps I am naive, but the statement that most people on this site probably don't pack out their own shit surprises me .... and then it dawned on me that you probably mean "shit" literally, as in feces...which would almost be a certainty that most people don't pack it out.

 

LNT practices recommend catholing feces when in the proper environment to do so (organic soil that can break it down over time) or blue-bagging it and packing it out. Of course, some NP sites have backcountry composting toilets...

 

Having said all that, when in LARGE groups, it's much better for them to blue bag and carry it out and I applaud those who have chosen to do so...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Do the mounties have Leave No Trace education in the curriculumn of every course? Also is it policy for the groups to always pack out their shit?
We've had Leave No Trace lectures in every Mountaineers course with which I am familiar. The policy on Blue Bagging is usually to comply with whatever rules are in effect in the area.

 

For example, the MRNP has a Blue bag policy is in effect on the Kautz route. I climbed the route with some visitors from Canada who did not comply and in fact I was ridiculed for following the rules.

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  

×