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Spencer

To Help Or Not to Help?

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With all due respect to the family of the lost Rainier Climber, it brings to mind a difficult decision we have all been in if you have climbed long enough, every year going up and down Rainier and other hills I have run across people who are not at all prepared for the environment they are in or about to be in, I always make a point of mentioning politely how tough things may get or are, however never force my assistance on anyone, if they accept or ask I will do all I can, we also were penciled in to leave Monday for a Rainier Summit attempt but a quick glance at the UW weather report pushed it back to this weekend,

If you know a life threatening situation exist how far do you go to help someone who may not want it? I have no doubt these climbers past others who may have been thinking the same thing as they past these folks early or later in their climb,

On the other hand at nearly 1 am one snowy night last year I passed lone climber on the Muir snowfield with nothing more than a day sack sitting on a rock, we asked if he needed help he smiled and said no, we laughed and joked down to paradise that this guy was crazy only to find out later it was Robert Link who has made 300 Rainer summits and knew what he was doing.

Edited by Spencer

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I don't offer 99.9% of the time. I was walking down from Muir in a white-out and say a guy in front of me wearing jeans and old beater gaiters on the snowfield, in the late afternoon. I ended up meeting him just above Pebble Creek and it turned out to be Lou W. out for a stroll.

 

If they're obviously in some amount of distress though, for sure.

Edited by Figger_Eight

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Climbing in Ecuador I mentioned to a French climbing team that they might want to unrope and belay. The leader told me to STFU.

They were all tied in short and needed to down climb a 15' rock band. We had unroped and solo'd he band. I waited to watch the French climbers.

The first French climber slipped near the bottom jerking the second climber off the upper ledge, the third climber quickly followed.

Now I keep my mouth shut.

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I once took my 13 year old nephew up the Grand. While hiking up to the Lower Saddle the evening before (6ish) I had 3 parties walk over to me and ask me if I knew that it was almost dark and to say that walking up to the Lower Saddle in low light with a child was dangerous. The next day while going up to he Upper Saddle I had 3 climbers go out of their way to tell me that I was being irresponsible and that the Grand was no place for a child. The ironic thing is these climbers were middle aged fat guys who had turned back from the summit due to fatigue.

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Sometimes you can learn by listening to others and following their advice. Other times you learn best by messing up; these are the lessons that you learn best and stay with you.

 

If somebody is hurt I'll stop. I might make a comment if I see someone doing something really dangerous, but I rarely say anything. They might know something I don't.

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June_23_07_Hood_Camp.jpg

 

So last June I was camped just off the main trail going up Hood SS at 9,600' (I know, bad idea!), thinking about sleeping in, when a voice outside yells "I got a climber who can't make it so I'm gonna leave him here by your tent". Then the voice says more softly "We'll be back in 4-5 hours for you". WTF? It's 4:30 am and conditions out there suck ass. Being the curious type I dress and go out to find some old guy (yeah, even older than me) shaking and shivering by the tent, totally freaked. Turned out he was 65 and partially blind, had paid major bucks for a semi-private guide to the summit, and couldn't get his windpants or crampons on by himself. Sucked to be him that day, what with the whiteout and wind and rime-coated everything. Guess he picked the wrong guide for that trip. I wasn't going anywhere but down, so I fixed him up and had him stick close all the way back to the TLine lot. Never saw someone so grateful before, was afraid he was gonna start kissing me before I got loose. Anyway, helping that old guy out made me feel way way cool about myself, prolly the best high ever. Easy to see how those mtn rescue guys get totally hooked on it.

 

Hood_John_june_24_07.jpg

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I offer information if asked for it or I ask if they are OK, if they look distressed. This usually seems to be a polite way to start. Curiously, most young people don't ask for information.

 

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I agree, if a climber is obviously injured, or you recognize he, (or she) is in trouble...it is well worth it to help & assist, hopefully it may not ruin your summit bid, but in that moment & time, the time to act is now. I'd make that decision & sacrifice without a second thought.

One ironic "IF" I always consider however, is if the person is obviously dumber than a bag of rocks, (i.e.no proper gear to the point of being ridiculous; i.e. trek shoes, windbreaker well above the snowline, obivous lack of skills, etc..)I politely stress not to proceed due to weather & time of day, at their own risk....if they still ignore the "advice" then F-'em. (see ya on 10 o'clock news dumbass)

~rik

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I have had the opportunity many times to help and have enjoyed doing so. I have needed help before and it was appreciated. Its usually just a case of asking " How are you doing?" then reading between the lines of their response or if it seems like they could be in trouble, I will ask more questions. Even at my most misanthropic, I would help someone.

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I start with:

 

"Hi! How are you?" then:

 

"Can I make a suggestion?"

 

I think shit loads of people do dumb things and then refuse help or advice out of embarrassment. Guys are the worst, they'd rather die than admit that they are wrong or made a mistake. Sadly, they sometimes take their wives/friends/dogs along for the dirt nap.

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One day in Rocky Mtn NP, parter and I were hauling ass off a ridge line to avoid the monster thunderstorms that come off the plains every afternoon in the summer. We run into a dumpy tourist couple heading UPHILL wearing tshirts, two small kids in tow. "You might want to head down- the mother of all thunderstorms is headed this way." The dad freaks out, starts yelling at us that he knows what he is doing, and we can feck off. So, off we went, and 10 minutes later the sky went purple-black and 1/2" hail stones started flying- no news in the paper, so it must have turned out OK for them.

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I've been known to utter that very phrase from time to time. Not so much anymore, since I joined mountain rescue. A little education comes first, now. If they don't wanna listen, so be it. I'll be back... with more friends to help me carry him out.

 

Cross-posted from the "I fall down..." thread in the Rock Climbing Forum...

 

...I think maybe it is time to start wearing the helmet all the time on lead. Like you, I come from back in the time when only geeks wore helmets.

 

I come from that same skewl, Off, until about 15 years ago or so, when I witnessed a Brit dude auger in at Smith. Rapped off the end of the line onto the head of his partner. I mentioned to the first guy on the ground that their rope didn't make it the whole way down. He said, "I know, I just rapped it, mate. It's just a short downclimb." I suggested he remind his partner of that fact, since it didn't appear to me that either one of them was paying much attention to what they were doing/what was going on. But he gave me some lip in something British, so I utterred that oft-quoted phrase to my partner: "C'mon, let's get out of here before we have to rescue somebody." (see Dru's post in the concurrent To Help Or Not to Help? thread in the Climbers Board)

We weren't quick enough in our departure...

 

The second guy down lived, but he was a blathering idiot on the carry up and out to the parking lot. The guy who lipped me was in no fair shape either.

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I was leading a group of climbers down the Red Ridge of the South Sister. It was about 2:30 in the afternoon and we came

up on a bunch of Boy Scouts heading very slowly up the ridge. I could hear the scout leader giving them a bad time about how slow they were going, and saying "We will have lunch on top".

I came up to the leader and said "I want to talk with you a minute in private". I then told him the kids are slow as they need energy, its past time for a lunch, If you don't let them eat now, and later there are problems, I will testify at your trial. As we left they were enjoying lunch.

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Good an ya, OMR! :tup: Kids succomb to peer pressure, but are especially susceptible to pressure from "adults" such as this scoutmaster. I'm sure not a one of them was willing to take issue with his original choice of the lunch venue. I would posit that you certainly saved at least one person's bacon that day.

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