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billbob

Guiding Ethics

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This morning, June 24, 4:15am

So I'm peeking out my tent at 4am, 9,600' on Hood, parked right off the SS climber route. After a windy night we have a windy morning and white-out conditions. Not much point in an early start today, but right as sleep resumes I hear a voice outside "Hey, anybody in that tent?" Having camped by this busy trail before, I know that various characters are going to pass by. But then the voice says "I got a climber here who can't make it, so I'm going to put him next to your tent out of the wind. I hear him tell someone "take my jacket, stay put and I'll be back in about 4 hours". Well this sounds interesting, so I get out to find some old guy sitting next to the rocks next to my tent. Hmmmm. It's 4:20 am, winds 30 gusting 35, temp 25F visibility nil, location about 20 feet from a 500 cliff down to the White River Canyon glacier, and now there's this old guy who's gonna freeze his ass off next to me for the next 4 hours. Turns out he's 66 and had wanted to bail on his guided climb and the water bottle in his daypack is already half-frozen. His guide, a well-known NW area pro whose name will not be disclosed, decided to take the one other person in his party up to the summit. The old dude is John. John isn't sure about much at this point and appears disoriented and out of sorts. John asks for help putting on his windpants. Says The Guide told him he could go ahead down if another guide comes along. I kick down my ice-covered tent and pack fast. Watching me, John asks if he can walk down with me, so apparently he has something going for him. He asks for help getting his crampons on. Once up and moving he does great and we get him down no worries. Sure, I wasn't going to wait for the weather to clear up and go up myself anyway, or fool around with my climber babe/tent mate. Note to self: Do not ever, under any circumstances, camp near a summit route.

Never having been up with a guide, I gotta wonder about ever wanting to do so in the future. Is it standard practice to park non-performing clients or someone asking to bail w/o shelter or a bag, even In conditions so shitty you wouldn't let your dog out in? Today there's this old guy driving home to Everett thinking how he's gonna sell his gear and quit climbing. There's also a Guide out there who (IMO) made a poor judgement call, but then maybe I'm the one who is wrong. Please tell me I'm not.

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that action is complete bullshit and should never happen. simple.

 

I have guided for 8 years and never even considered leaving anyone behind like that in good or bad conditions. the prime job of a guide is to minimize client risk. how can one do that when they are miles away?

 

you should think twice about leaving the guide unnamed. let everyone know who he is. Plus, I have reservations about your story/claim without a name of the guide. How do we know you are not just making this up? I doubt that a "well-known NW area pro" would do such a thing.

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Several people saw us and spoke with me on the descent this morning but frankly I don't give a damn about anyone's reservations regarding the veracity of this posting. He knows who he is and I hope to have the opportunity to speak w/ him in person. To publish a name would distract from my question. .June_23_07_Hood_Camp.jpg

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I hope the "guide" reads this and explains himself here.

 

"I got a climber here who can't make it, so I'm going to put him next to your tent out of the wind. I hear him tell someone "take my jacket, stay put and I'll be back in about 4 hours".

 

 

 

Bill, awesome for you to help, sacrificing a WCR summit for your fellow man.

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Never having been up with a guide, I gotta wonder about ever wanting to do so in the future. Is it standard practice to park non-performing clients or someone asking to bail w/o shelter or a bag, even In conditions so shitty you wouldn't let your dog out in? Today there's this old guy driving home to Everett thinking how he's gonna sell his gear and quit climbing. There's also a Guide out there who (IMO) made a poor judgement call, but then maybe I'm the one who is wrong. Please tell me I'm not.

 

This is NOT standard procedure amongst professionals. A guide's job is to take care of his or her participants, not to leave them behind...

 

Jason

Edited by Jason_Martin

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Actually, the guide said 4 to 5 hours!!! As Bill's 'climber babe/tent mate' :), I can attest that this is how is happened. John is a great guy and you could see his recovery as we got lower in altitude and got him moving. Also, that he is in decent shape, so for him to request help with windpants, crampons, etc indicates that there was definitely some disorientation going on.

Like Bill said, I don't know what giuding ethics require in this kind of situation but, just as a decent human being it seemed reprehensible.

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As far as I know, (second hand info only) at least in the past, a certain guide service on Rainier would leave clients -alone if need be, but with a sleeping bag or such- above the DC and pick them up on the way back down. My guess is that this would be in good weather only though. Again, its just what I heard a while ago so maybe someone else could correct this or inform me otherwise.

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I wouldn't make a blanket statement saying it is always wrong to leave a client on the trail, but in this case it was clearly wrong. Whether it is safe depends on a lot of things:

 

Is the weather fine or foul?

Is the client merely tired or suffering from altitude sickness?

Are there few or many other climbers on the route, such that aid might be rendered in an emergency?

Do you have gear to leave with the client to ensure his/her comfort and safety?

How long would he be expected to wait?

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you should think twice about leaving the guide unnamed. let everyone know who he is. Plus, I have reservations about your story/claim without a name of the guide. How do we know you are not just making this up? I doubt that a "well-known NW area pro" would do such a thing.

 

We were up there today. Shitty conditions for sure. We actually leap-frogged with this group throughout the morning. We ran into them again at the Hogsback and we asked them what happened to their other partner and they said "we left him down below because he wasn't feeling good." I wondered to myself, where they could have left him in this weather and still make sure he was safe.

 

We saw them again heading up WCR and chatted briefly. They were a friendly couple and from what I could tell the guide seemed like he knew what he was doing and had things under control. I still kept wondering about their other partner.

 

When we reached the parking lot the guide asked us if we had seen their partner anywhere on the descent. He said he wasn't where they left him and that he was concerned that he was still up on the mountain. I thought for sure this was the beginning of something bad.

 

Well, it turned out that he made it back to the car (as billbob mentioned) and was waiting in the lodge.

 

FTR, I don't know the guide. But from what I could tell he had everything handled and seemed very capable. Interestingly, the only thing I had an issue with was what he did with his client. Seemed like a bizzare decision and a poor choice for sure.

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Isn't this essentially what happened to Beck Wethers on Everest?
Yes and when his guide failed to appear and an approaching storm was evident he started down with another climber.

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Today there's this old guy driving home to Everett thinking how he's gonna sell his gear and quit climbing.

 

Cheap? Did he have anything good?

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RMI used to do this on Rainier, but I've heard that times have changed (and the guide:guest ratio has improved) and this practice has stopped. When they did "bag" someone at a rest break, it would occur if and only if 1) there wasn't a guide immediately available to turn around, 2) the guest was able to remain comfortable and warm, and 3) the guest was trusted to follow the guide's directions about the borders of the "safe" area. Guides would even carry up an expedition sleeping bag, typically one for every three rope teams, to facilitate this.

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I remeber hearing about RMI bagging their clients, I personally have always thought it was a bad practice, especially over a several hour period. If I was ever to hire a guide (which I doubt would ever happen), I would expect them to do what I hire them for, that is guide, not leave me out in the open to wait.

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Sure, I wasn't going to wait for the weather to clear up and go up myself anyway, or fool around with my climber babe/tent mate.

 

post pics of your climber babe/tent mate so we can question your judgement...

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I have passed an bagged RMI client on the DC. It was so sad. The person was just waiting there. They were warm and comfortable and in a safe area.

 

From the sounds of discription I would say that leaving the client was marginial for the conditions. He probably should have had more insulation and shelter. Carrying a sleeping bag and bivy sac would add all of 5 pounds. The guide should have had this anyways.

 

The RMI guides really really make sure that their clients understand that they are not to move from where the leave them for any reason.

 

 

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The "guide" is a fool. And there aren't too many "well-known NW area pro"'s except for some of Big Lou's former boys and Jim Nelson and I'm sure it WASN'T one of them because they definitely know better. Maybe he's some sort of local hero in the Oregon "climbing community".

 

- sounds like the "guide" parked him next to a tent so that he could be found more easily on the way down (kind of like a big wand) and hoped that the tent owners would take care of him or he could crawl in (someone else's tent) should things get bad. Lame! Sounds like a bad guiding decisions all the way around from client care to weather assessement. Imagine the look on his face and feelings of horror (although maybe I'm assuming too much) when this "guide" descends looking for the client and both the tent and the client are gone. At least John the client showed some degree of concern by not getting into his truck and driving home which might have set off a rescue, but if I were him, I'd ask at least for my money back.

 

lou.jpg

BIG LOU says: "That's kindergarden stuff, mister!"

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RMI used to do this on Rainier, but I've heard that times have changed (and the guide:guest ratio has improved) and this practice has stopped. When they did "bag" someone at a rest break, it would occur if and only if 1) there wasn't a guide immediately available to turn around, 2) the guest was able to remain comfortable and warm, and 3) the guest was trusted to follow the guide's directions about the borders of the "safe" area. Guides would even carry up an expedition sleeping bag, typically one for every three rope teams, to facilitate this.

 

On occasion, if they didn't trust the client to stay put they would take one of the boots of the client's so they could ensure they wouldn't walk away on their own :tdown:

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shit why not just put them in a haulbag on a sled and drag them to the summit with a dogteam of giant snafflez? :pagetop: :pagetop: MUSH!

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