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cluck

News poll: require climbers to carry beacons?

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Forget the poll. Write your state senator and representative. They're listening: I've had a 5 email back-and-forth with my rep. explaining the unitended consequences of beacon legislation (unprepared climbers taking greater risks, more calls for help, more rescues and more accidents. He's skeptical, but open to reason.

 

http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/home.htm

 

Remember, keep in civil. Point out that the experts (PMR, etc) oppose such measures.

 

Good links to bring up:

Portland Mountain Rescue position: http://www.pmru.org/pressroom/headlines/20091213PMRStatementRegardingMissions.html

Jim Whittakers 2007 NYT op-ed: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/09/opinion/09whittaker.html?_r=1

NASAR (national association of search and rescue) opposition to charge for rescue: http://www.nasar.org/nasar/news.php?id=316

 

Prayers for the lost, and safe climbing to all.

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I used to poo-poo technology in the backcountry, but having been in a situation this summer where a PLB would have been useful, I now carry one. It is light (5 oz) and GPS enabled. I can think of no good reason not to carry it.

 

Trent,

Was it needed or would it just have been nice to have?

 

It ended up not being needed, but would have made the rescue quicker and the ensuing situation easier to manage. Another form of technology, a cell phone was actually used to initiate the rescue. For further edification see: LINK

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As far as I'm concerned, anyone that wants to try to summit Rainier in the winter wearing only a speedo and ballet slippers should be free to do so for a variety of reasons - foremost of which is that their life/body ultimately belongs to them and only them.

 

Coming from that perspective, I don't think that the state should have the authority to prohibit anyone from partaking in hazardous activities of their own choosing, so long as the only one's that they are exposing to direct risks are themselves. I understand the argument that the state should have this right because rescue personnel are at risk when people make poor choices, but so long as first responders voluntarily commit to careers where they know in advance that they'll have to accept some measure of risk to help people - I don't think that this argument is a sufficient basis for granting this power to the state.

 

Hence, when it comes to technology - I'm all for anyone who wants to bring along whatever rescue/safety technology that they care to toss into their pack, should they choose to do so - and completely against mandating their use on public lands.

 

In practice - I think that the right way to use this stuff is to evaluate risks and make choices the same way that you would if you had no means whatsoever to summon help, and you knew that a rescue was impossible even if you could. I think that's the way that most (but not all) people who carry cell phones, and now beacons play the game.

 

 

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i sincerely think that the only people who really want to require a "mountain hiker" to wear an electronic dog collar are the people shrill people who post in internet news story comment areas. i think all those people are nuts. crazier than many of the people on CC.com even!

 

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Do you need a permit to climb Hood?

Are there any checkin procedures at all?

 

Where will the money come from to enforce any law that is passed?

I would sit and wait for the smoke to clear.

Or write your congress people.

 

I would be more concerned about the Mt Bachelor situation where a corporate entity has the enforcement team in place.

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One only need to fill out a Wilderness Permit to climb Mt. Hood. However, I think the last time I saw the Wilderness Permits available to fill out there was some time in mid-April. There are usually climbing permit sheets, but not always.

 

Hell, having written that I doubt a mandate would be enforced, seeing as the few regulations that already exist aren't even fully enforced.

 

FWIW, wrote my State Rep today. State Senator will receive a letter tomorrow.

Edited by rocky_joe

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I probably wouldn't be too pleased to be on the same route with speedo man and have to rescue his ass. When you have lots of newby/joesixpack traffic on a mountain, there is probably a threshold when some regulations should come in.

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As far as I'm concerned, anyone that wants to try to summit Rainier in the winter wearing only a speedo and ballet slippers should be free to do so for a variety of reasons - foremost of which is that their life/body ultimately belongs to them and only them.

 

Coming from that perspective, I don't think that the state should have the authority to prohibit anyone from partaking in hazardous activities of their own choosing, so long as the only one's that they are exposing to direct risks are themselves. I understand the argument that the state should have this right because rescue personnel are at risk when people make poor choices, but so long as first responders voluntarily commit to careers where they know in advance that they'll have to accept some measure of risk to help people - I don't think that this argument is a sufficient basis for granting this power to the state.

 

Hence, when it comes to technology - I'm all for anyone who wants to bring along whatever rescue/safety technology that they care to toss into their pack, should they choose to do so - and completely against mandating their use on public lands.

 

In practice - I think that the right way to use this stuff is to evaluate risks and make choices the same way that you would if you had no means whatsoever to summon help, and you knew that a rescue was impossible even if you could. I think that's the way that most (but not all) people who carry cell phones, and now beacons play the game.

 

 

My thoughts exactly. We should be allowed to make potentially fatal decisions. Its part of the life process, not time for the state to have a say.

 

In regards to rocky joe, I have only rarely seen copies of the wilderness permit available at Timberline and have never heard of checkups on left permits. My understanding of them is that they are there as a reference for climbing route plan and equipment for rescuers only after someone else (family, etc) has called for a search.

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Colin,

I think you're pretty much right on. In the 8 times I've tried the hill, I've only seen the actual Wilderness Permit there 2x and the climbing form has been there maybe a little over half the time. (I always leave some note in case of accident.) But I would bet that us climbers pay more attention to the permits out of curiosity of what others are doing than does any authority (until there is an accident.)

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....In the 8 times I've tried the hill, I've only seen the actual Wilderness Permit there 2x and the climbing form has been there maybe a little over half the time.....

 

So many things have become obvious in these threads. Please correct me if I am off base. One of the glaring issues I see is little or no infrastructure on Hood to support climbers. Silcox sounds like it gets used as much by climbers today as when it was abandoned and unused 40 years ago. No one keeping track of who is on the mountain or where they might be. No daily or current on site weather or avi info available.

 

As much as I get annoyed at the NPS on Denali or Rainier , Parks Canada or even climbing in Chamonix all those things are easily available..current weather and avi conditions, a useful hut system for when the mountains flush you out and someone in most cases requires you to register...and they actually keep track of your route and OVER DUE date and time.

 

10,000 climbers a year on Hood and no support required? No wonder we see an abnormal amount of accidents there.

 

 

 

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Dane,

you are spot on. I don't think that the relationship between number of accidents has much to do with this, but perhaps the efficiency in which the accidents that do occur are responded to.

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So. Hut on the summit and we are all fixed up?

 

 

Seems to me the accidents are about statistics. Realistically, what sort of support lowers those statistics?

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Last time I checked it was still free to climb Hood. The other mountains and places that Dane listed are funded by the people who climb them through fees or fairly direct tourist dollars.

 

All you Portland climbers wanna pay every time you step out your back door?

 

This whole thing just sucks. Experienced people have an ACCIDENT and now were talking about mandating that I carry an electronic gizmo with me every time I go for a walk in the woods.

 

Every time something happens on Hood this subject comes up. We don't have money to take care of our roads and keep teachers in our schools but we're worrying about the government mandating what gear we carry? Seriously folks...how could they possibly enforce something like this with nearly 10,000 attempts every year? It would take alot of money. Money that we don't have as a state or a country.

 

Not that it wouldn't be cool if the powers that be took an interest in managing the place...we all know it's a circus.

 

117272_1_.jpg

 

Like I said...this whole thing sucks.

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....In the 8 times I've tried the hill, I've only seen the actual Wilderness Permit there 2x and the climbing form has been there maybe a little over half the time.....

 

So many things have become obvious in these threads. Please correct me if I am off base. One of the glaring issues I see is little or no infrastructure on Hood to support climbers. Silcox sounds like it gets used as much by climbers today as when it was abandoned and unused 40 years ago. No one keeping track of who is on the mountain or where they might be. No daily or current on site weather or avi info available.

 

As much as I get annoyed at the NPS on Denali or Rainier , Parks Canada or even climbing in Chamonix all those things are easily available..current weather and avi conditions, a useful hut system for when the mountains flush you out and someone in most cases requires you to register...and they actually keep track of your route and OVER DUE date and time.

 

10,000 climbers a year on Hood and no support required? No wonder we see an abnormal amount of accidents there.

 

 

Land of the free, home of the brave.

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Every time something happens on Hood this subject comes up. We don't have money to take care of our roads and keep teachers in our schools but we're worrying about the government mandating what gear we carry? Seriously folks...how could they possibly enforce something like this with nearly 10,000 attempts every year? It would take alot of money. Money that we don't have as a state or a country.

 

do i dare say it?

 

... and so far nothing has ever ended in any legislation...

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....In the 8 times I've tried the hill, I've only seen the actual Wilderness Permit there 2x and the climbing form has been there maybe a little over half the time.....

 

So many things have become obvious in these threads. Please correct me if I am off base. One of the glaring issues I see is little or no infrastructure on Hood to support climbers. Silcox sounds like it gets used as much by climbers today as when it was abandoned and unused 40 years ago. No one keeping track of who is on the mountain or where they might be. No daily or current on site weather or avi info available.

 

As much as I get annoyed at the NPS on Denali or Rainier , Parks Canada or even climbing in Chamonix all those things are easily available..current weather and avi conditions, a useful hut system for when the mountains flush you out and someone in most cases requires you to register...and they actually keep track of your route and OVER DUE date and time.

 

10,000 climbers a year on Hood and no support required? No wonder we see an abnormal amount of accidents there.

 

 

 

 

Given the fact that 10,000 climbers a year (is the number that low) attempt Hood, I'm actually surprised that the number of incidents is as low as it is.

 

Given Hood's size, proximity to major population centers, ease-of access, weather, etc - it doesn't seem like there's necessarily an abnormally high number of incidents - at least relative to the traffic on it's slopes.

 

On a related note - this PLB debate seems to be arise whenever there's a tragedy on Hood, but I can't remember it ever coming up when there's been an accident on other peaks in the Cascades. I wonder why that is.

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10,000 climbers a year on Hood and no support required? No wonder we see an abnormal amount of accidents there.

 

Rainier has 12,000 attempts per year. What about other mtns worldwide?

 

Are there more accidents on Hood than Rainier?

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Given the fact that 10,000 climbers a year (is the number that low) attempt Hood, I'm actually surprised that the number of incidents is as low as it is.

 

Given Hood's size, proximity to major population centers, ease-of access, weather, etc - it doesn't seem like there's necessarily an abnormally high number of incidents - at least relative to the traffic on it's slopes.

 

On a related note - this PLB debate seems to be arise whenever there's a tragedy on Hood, but I can't remember it ever coming up when there's been an accident on other peaks in the Cascades. I wonder why that is.

 

the other cascade volcanoes with high traffic are somewhat more remote or not climbed/attempted nearly as much.

 

St helens and s. sister have passed hood for most often climbed volcanoes worldwide, behind fuji. if rainier got the traffic hood gets i bet the proportion of accidents might be about the same. there's a fair bit of traffic up baker, but how many trips go to the other 8 cascade volcanoes over 10000 ft? not so many, probably... relatively speaking.

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I'm not sure that St. Helens and South Sister see more hikers than Hood. I've really can't see more people climbing south sister since for a large part of the year it is accessible only by a 4 mile ski. Hood, however, sees ascents in most every month of the year since access is never an issue.

 

Edited by rocky_joe

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....In the 8 times I've tried the hill, I've only seen the actual Wilderness Permit there 2x and the climbing form has been there maybe a little over half the time.....

 

So many things have become obvious in these threads. Please correct me if I am off base. One of the glaring issues I see is little or no infrastructure on Hood to support climbers. Silcox sounds like it gets used as much by climbers today as when it was abandoned and unused 40 years ago. No one keeping track of who is on the mountain or where they might be. No daily or current on site weather or avi info available.

 

As much as I get annoyed at the NPS on Denali or Rainier , Parks Canada or even climbing in Chamonix all those things are easily available..current weather and avi conditions, a useful hut system for when the mountains flush you out and someone in most cases requires you to register...and they actually keep track of your route and OVER DUE date and time.

 

10,000 climbers a year on Hood and no support required? No wonder we see an abnormal amount of accidents there.

 

Dane and Rocky, I'm going to respectfully disagree. There is more support for climbing Mt. Hood then there is, say, for climbing Mt. Baker or Shuksan, two peaks that are managed similarly. And in the five times I've climbed the hill, I've never not found the Wilderness Permit and Climbers Sign in sheet.

 

  • There's Timberline Lodge and the Ski Area building at the base;
  • a cat and chairlift service;
  • its possible to find shelter in the Magic Mile and Palmer lift shacks if you look around;
  • reliable weather reports can be found online at the National Weather Service, the Weather Underground, and the Northwest Avalanche Center;
  • and NWAC provides a specific avie forecast for the Mt. Hood area.
  • most people have at least one spouse/significant other/domestic partner/room mate/friend/drug dealer/loan shark (I'm sure there are exceptions on cc.com), with whom they could reliably check in/out with.

 

The difference from many other management examples - such as Rainier - is that the burden to find these resources and use them is on the climber, not the land manager. And that's the way I would prefer it. The other end of the spectrum is a ranger, 24/7, whom you must check in/out with who has the authority to prevent your climb due to weather hazard, avie hazard, or thinks you don't look "prepared" or "equipped" for your climb. Such a system is impossibly expensive and restrictive. So we get systems like Rainier's as a compromise, where climbers have to check in with a live ranger, get lectured, and then go. And the fee's that come with it to have that ranger there - which means you need another ranger around to enforce the regulations - which costs more - oh, this is getting complicated...

 

So instead of "requiring," lets "encourage" climbers and skiers to come with SPOTs or MLUs or PLBs or (my personal favorite) PBRs! Lets encourage climbers to take responsibility for themselves - and how about a notice that gives directions for what to do if there aren't any forms left, "If there are no Wilderness Permits or Climber Sign In/Out Sheets available, please leave a note here with the following information..."

 

If people don't take advantage of the incredible amount of services and conveniences available to them for their climb of Mt Hood, if accidents happen, then we should all bow our heads, light a candle, and learn from the event. But we should not start to cry out for someone else to start supervising our actions, out of fear that we can't take care of ourselves.

 

What do you think?

 

Chris

 

Now, what I'd really like is a refugio on top of the Palmer lift!

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I think that sounds good. And I do love that you can go up hood with minimal procedure...the $ permit stuff/limits for some of these other mountains is a crock (Adams, st helens). This winter 2x we have climbed hood and twice I had to ask for more climb sheets/pen/permit. We forgot to sign out of our sheet the first time, and a week later when we went back signed ourselves out. That was kinda funny, in that nobody looks at those I guess until after something is reported. There are so few forms it would take the FS 5 minutes to review them each morning, max.

 

This last accident has moved me on getting some device for myself, and renting the poor mans beacon, MLU for $5 until I can buy a PLB or SPOT(maybe)-If only because me and my climbing partner were in the same area a week earlier, it has really made me feel it 'could have been me'. Anyways, with the PLB, it just seems like it makes sense to have. I'm never going to see that in my pack at any point and think it is stupid to have or not worth whatever weight or cost - and heaven forbid it would ever need to be used, in my book that means death or a condition that will quickly lead to such without help, with all personal alternatives exhausted.

 

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I like it Chris

 

I check the conditions on hood daily. That info is easy to find. Timberline's web site has conditions and web-cams going 24-7 NWAC has "hood" specific reports as well.

 

I have registered many times @ timberline to find that no one has done anything with the forms. The "Out Climbing" box over flowing as well as the "returned safely" box. The forest circus only keeps track of climbers during the "climbing season" I do think they could do a better job. That said, I do like the fact that I can get out on any route when I feel like it without hassle.

 

Self-reliance is a part of alpinism, a very important part. Working hard to stay safe is a no-brainer. Crampons, rope, helmet, are tools used to increase ones self-reliance.

 

I am all for a personal location device, but at the discretion of the user, not beaurecrats in Salem who DO have much more pressing issues to deal with.

 

I don’t believe MLU's would have saved any lives in the last several accidents on mt hood. When storms roll in, S&R teams do not move.

 

B

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Chris,

 

I did not intend to advocate for a Rainier style climbing ranger. I was trying to express my disappointment in the how the system in place is managed. I'm glad you've always had the permits available to fill out, I know for many this is not the case. I've climbed a couple times where my permit was a note left on a napkin.

The part that really gets me about the current system is the blatant lack of attention paid to the climbers cave until there is an accident. I've NEVER seen a ranger in there on a day where PMR isn't doing a rescue. It would be nice to see someone going through the permits and giving the emergency contacts a call if the party is due back and hasn't signed out.

 

Biggest pet peeve about the cave: the Mt. Hood Death Triangle board does not have the bearing that will safely get one from crater rock to the lodge!!! WTF?

 

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