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Choada_Boy

"Vacation Alpinism" and Epics

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It seems like there is a significant correlation between "Vacation Alpinism" and weather/conditions epics. I'd be curious to see how many climbers involved in rescues/epics due to poor weather or route conditions were on "vacation" and had time constraints that effected their decision to attempt a climb in less than ideal circumstances. If a strong correlation were found, perhaps parks services and rangers could target this population for increased pre-climb attention of some form.

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Several epics on Liberty Ridge come to mind. On Denali everyone is a vacation climber, but people come prepared to camp out and wait for good weather.

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Are you advocating for increased regulation of climbers by the government? Are you willing to pay for that?

 

I'm certain there is a correlation between people "going for it" in questionnable conditions when they've traveled long distances or have a limited amount of time.

 

Personal responsibility. We all take chances when we do what we do. Do I want increased regulation? Hell no.

 

 

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Education over regulation. But how do you get through to people? You'd think there would be enough of these incidents described on bulletin boards, etc.

 

I'm not an avid mag reader. The mags must have plenty of stories about how bad things can get in the PNW in winter.

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How many people attempt Mt. Hood or Mt. Rainier each year? Hundreds probably, maybe thousands? How many serious accidents? Around 10 maybe?

 

If it ain't broke...

 

Having climbers register and giving them the standard indoctrination seems plenty to me. If there isn't a passage in the list of topics about the dangers of pushing the weather, with pointed emphasis on people trying to fit a climb into their schedule, then there certainly ought to be something like that.

 

But other than that, I wouldn't advocate any blanket restrictions just because a small percentage of climbers get into trouble.

 

 

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it just seems like one of those things to me - you pay for your ticket and get the time off work, you want your money's worth on the climb, and are more likely to accept poor conditions where if you lived out here you'd just stay in the hot tub pounding beers, planning for next week - that dynamic can't really be changed or regulated, when traveling to climb you just need to be aware of the tendency towards doing stupid shit and be extra-sure you're not going to get yourself killed just to justify a couple hundred bucks

 

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When you go to Canmore and it's -30C outside, the locals are all staying home by the fire and it's only the poor roadtripping bastards that are out climbing brittle dinner platey shit and getting frostnipped.

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I did a quick browse through last years Accidents in NAM. The first 4 listed accidents in OR / WA were:

 

- Ave on N. Sister in May: locals from portland

- Frostbite / Lost on Ptarmigan Ridge; these were guides from RMI

- Weather on Muir snowfield: guy who died was from Seattle

- Fall on Gibraltar Ledges: guy from Port Angeles

 

It seems to me that it is just as likely that locals will get into trouble as visitors. I'm sure that statistically speaking more visitors get into trouble but to advocate some sort of screening process for visitors is a pretty elitist attitude.

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When you go to Canmore and it's -30C outside, the locals are all staying home by the fire and it's only the poor roadtripping bastards that are out climbing brittle dinner platey shit and getting frostnipped.

 

You are right on the money with that one! (I've been at the butt end of that cruel joke more than once).

 

As for vactations and epics, great thread. Late spring and early summer on Rainier especially comes to mind.

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ANAM is an incomplete list of accidents. The question to answer is "What percentage of climbers 'on vacation' are invloved in weather or conditions related accidents or epics?"

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ANAM is an incomplete list of accidents. The question to answer is "What percentage of climbers 'on vacation' are invloved in weather or conditions related accidents or epics?"

 

Fine... but what about people who have jobs and thus are forced to only climb when they have pre arranged time off. What about kids, babysitters, your mothers sunday brunch that you can't miss? Would these climbers be considered vacation climbers? What about weekend warriors?

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It seems like some flexibility is needed whenever your climbing. If your time frame is fixed and doesn't allow for weather your're better off having a somewhat flexible objective (i.e. weekend climbing in the PNW in the spring) . Where if your objective is fixed you had better have a flexible schedule (Denali).

 

 

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ANAM is an incomplete list of accidents. The question to answer is "What percentage of climbers 'on vacation' are invloved in weather or conditions related accidents or epics?"

 

Fine... but what about people who have jobs and thus are forced to only climb when they have pre arranged time off. What about kids, babysitters, your mothers sunday brunch that you can't miss? Would these climbers be considered vacation climbers? What about weekend warriors?

 

I would consider climbers that travel from a different time zone (or drive for greater than 10 hours within a time zone)for a period of time between 5 and 10 days using "vacation time" away from their jobs.

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When you have a weekend you can and usually do go anywhere within range. Hmmm, raining on Slesse, let's climb at Squamish instead.

 

But when you fly in from distant lands with a week off from work and Rainier the next tick on your road to Everest and the 7 Summits, you may not have brought enough stuff or have the mental attitude to pack it in on Big R and head to Vantage instead just because the forecast is crappy for 3 days down the road.

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The prudent climber in the PNW sets out for an objective with a back-up recreational activity in mind. For example, skiing or boating.

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Early on, all of my epics were a result of inexperience; a larger vacation window wouldn't have helped. I'd guess most epics occurring due to the constraints of time (vacation) are attributable to this also as experience would dictate what is folly given unfavorable circumstances.

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I agree that flexibility is needed whenever doing alpine routes - and I don't think any alpine climber would disagree. Regarding visitors vs locals and conditions... I can't speak for OR / WA but in AK the majority of accidents (in sum and proportionally) due to conditions involve locals.

 

This isn't really a Cascades issue - bad weather is everywhere (think about Mt. Washington). Locals might be aware of conditions but familiarity of an area / region often cancels out fears regarding conditions. How many times do you go skiing during high ave conditions just b/c you know that certain runs don't (or rarely) slide? On the other hand if you were visiting you'd probably not ski in that area b/c you wouldn't know what to ski.

 

As for conditions and reporting - the best system I've ever seen is at the Ice Fields Office in Banff / Jasper. At the ranger's desk there is a detailed log book for the area with excellent details regarding routes / conditions / accidents etc.. People are really good about updating it and newly arrived climbers can quickly get a feel for conditions. I've never seen this in the US - in the US it seems the NPS and USFS want to act as a filter.

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I think there's more evidence that locals push it too far because they feel more familiar with the conditions and the terrain than visitors.

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Well, perhaps "we're out here for a week from Maine" would send up a red flag.

 

What, I flew out from Maine more than a few times to go climbing. Why should that throw up a red flag? I think whether or not a party gets into trouble is going to be more dependant a parties attitude and experience, than whether they are on vacation and have a set window period to do their climb.

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i have a hard time with anyone calling for more government intervention considering themselves as a climber. the climbers most important trade is self sufficiency. that counts for the crag climber to the super alpinist.

 

however, to the other part of it, yes. if you spend some dough to fly somewhere you just may stick it out there more. its cost me a couple plane tickets to do something safe.

 

but targeting them with more government oversight? WTF is this world of climbing coming to when there are climbers even thinkin like that...

 

the first time i climbed mt hood i was alone, it was winter, and i did it RT from the parking lot in 4 hours on the doggey route. should the government have targeted me because i was from out of town? perhaps they should measure bodyfat and pack weight instead...

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I'm suggesting perhaps an extra kind word or a few more minutes of conversation, not "intervention" or "oversight". More like "Hi there. I see that you're from (insert distant location). Did you know that the weather around here has been super shitty, so you may want to change your plans?"

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Sweet - so now it's time to really clamp down on all the visiting climbers at Smith Rock, the Tetons, City of Rocks, Yosemite and Joshua Tree.

 

I vote for an extra $100 fee for all residents of Washington.

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Problem is that "kind word" or conversation is hard to address via written policy in a government agency. A site like this, which any number of visitors use as a planning tool, is as good a way to perform that service as any. The trick is being kind and tactful instead of the "you're gonna die you ignorant noob, go back to (fill in the blank)" attitude that folks sometimes adopt.

 

To be fair, often as not, those from elsewhere do get treated with respect, as well as some very thoughtful responses to apparently inexperienced people posting questions (hiking to Camp Muir springs to mind as an example).

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