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wayne

Rainier Avalanche

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A little on site video ...

 

http://www.king5.com/news/local/Climber-still-missing-after-Mount-Rainier-avalanche-95737794.html

 

 

 

BTW as for the OT guiding/cancelation/refund comments. Guiding has nothing to do with the situation. It is all about paying your money for a service that is condition dependent. Ever go to a concert and after one set the lead singer pukes and goes off stage? NO REFUND. Ever charter a fishing boat that goes outside the harbor and then turns around cause conditions sucked? NO REFUND. Had either not come on stage or left the dock you would have been rescheduled (not refunded). The examples could go on ad nauseum. The bottom line is that while most have cancelation policy rarely is there a refund because you have hired someone for their services.

 

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These two incidents were on different days: the one Paul_Reststep mentions occurred Wed, June 2 as AAI guides and clients were descending from high camp at the Flats after spending the night in a storm. They were not ascending on a summit attempt in known avalanche conditions, instead they were attempting to return to safety in stormy conditions - high winds that turned a 40 min hike into a 3 hr epic. Tell me you've never done something similar to reach safety. The experience of the lead guide was such that I wouldn't be too quick to round up a linch party. I'm guessing the reason why it didn't appear in the news is the same for any other climbing incident not reported, whether independent or guided: no one was hurt or killed. No conspiracy there.

 

On Wednesday morning an AAI group had attempted to summit, turned around, and were caught in an avalanche above Ingraham Flatts - they were swept 60 feet down the mountain-side; no one was hurt or buried, and they made it back to our Camp Muir shelter cold and shaken.

I'm amazed that the guide services are able to bury attention to their accidents. If this had been a recreational club climb, the critics would be having a field day.

 

tomtom-

This, from denalidevo's first post on this thread:

...I was on the mountain the morning of the avalanche (guiding for Alpine Ascents). The climbers caught in the avalanche most certainly were NOT part of a guided group. In fact it was RMI guides who unburied the four climbers caught in it and led the rescue operation in cooperation with the climbing rangers...

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Having just spent a week with AAI on Mt.Baker I can add this: It's true that for a noob, though very disappointing not to summit (we did not due to the difficult conditions and avy danger), it is indeed a rush just to get onto the mountain and receive an intro into glacier travel and skills which will hopefully translate into safe and successful summit bid on the next trip (with or w/out guide services).

 

In AAI's case, we were offered their "second summit" option if we wanted to try again, which means could sign up for the minimum 3-day Baker summit trip for 1/2 price.

 

It seemed very clear that safety was the primary concern and at no time did we see our guide suggest that we should push the safety "envelope" in order to bag the summit.

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Which AAI was that - Alpine Ascents Intl. (in Seattle) or American Alpine Institute (in Bellingham)?

 

Having just spent a week with AAI on Mt.Baker I can add this: It's true that for a noob, though very disappointing not to summit (we did not due to the difficult conditions and avy danger), it is indeed a rush just to get onto the mountain and receive an intro into glacier travel and skills which will hopefully translate into safe and successful summit bid on the next trip (with or w/out guide services).

 

In AAI's case, we were offered their "second summit" option if we wanted to try again, which means could sign up for the minimum 3-day Baker summit trip for 1/2 price.

 

It seemed very clear that safety was the primary concern and at no time did we see our guide suggest that we should push the safety "envelope" in order to bag the summit.

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American Alpine Institute

 

Which AAI was that - Alpine Ascents Intl. (in Seattle) or American Alpine Institute (in Bellingham)?

 

Having just spent a week with AAI on Mt.Baker I can add this: It's true that for a noob, though very disappointing not to summit (we did not due to the difficult conditions and avy danger), it is indeed a rush just to get onto the mountain and receive an intro into glacier travel and skills which will hopefully translate into safe and successful summit bid on the next trip (with or w/out guide services).

 

In AAI's case, we were offered their "second summit" option if we wanted to try again, which means could sign up for the minimum 3-day Baker summit trip for 1/2 price.

 

It seemed very clear that safety was the primary concern and at no time did we see our guide suggest that we should push the safety "envelope" in order to bag the summit.

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"The bottom line is that while most have cancelation policy rarely is there a refund because you have hired someone for their services."

 

If I hire you for your service as a guide I also hire you for your knowledge of local conditons.

 

If a guide drove me to a put in for rafting with the river running a gazillion CU feet and then said sorry no can do or a heli ski guide flew me to the top of a mtn and then said sorry...no can ski? How about a Halibut trip leaves the bay and then hits 10 foot swells in open water that has the crew laughing and the clients puking I might even feel a little ripepd off. When a guide service sends a guide out of Paradise with a full trip with guide and guide service both knowing full well they won't be going higher than Muir you can make your own decision on how ethical that is.

 

But examples do go on and on.

 

Sure, getting to Muir and then getting up at 1 am for the hike up to the Ingraham can be a great experience. But it isn't what most Rainier clients are paying for is it?

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Ya but if they cancel every trip with potentially bad weather they might not ever leave Paradise. I think the policy as it stands is fair, albeit unfortunate.

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Dane, maybe I'm an exception to the rule and hopefully it's the result of having other (non-snow/alpine) climbing experience, but I would never assume that a summit is guaranteed. If nothing else, as an "old guy" I know better than to think that the mountains always deliver - guide or no guide.

 

If we're talking specifically about guided summit trips and folks with near-zero mountain experiences, then I can see how the pressure might be pretty intense on guides to deliver the experience.

 

I don't envy the guide services and schools. OTOH, for someone with limited time and not living near such mountain ranges, a "school" was an excellent vehicle for acquiring some essential glacier skills.

 

Anyway, I just wanted to comment on my experience - and it's true that I was on a different peak, and under diff circumstances. YMMV...

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Lots of summit climbs that make it safely to the top of Rainier in marginal weather all year long.

 

Fair? Fair to who? Only one it is fair to IMO is the guide service. But I am talking about a very limited time frame (really shitting conditions) on Rainier specifically and the refund policies of the guiding concessions there. In this case imo a way to milk the clients knowing full well they aren't going to get the experience they are have paid a healthy amount of money for.

 

I am not bashing guides or guided trips in general. Done to much of it myself. But I think Rainier is a unique situation.

 

The demand for guided climbs on Rainier allows the guide services to book every trip full for the entire year well ahead of time. They make some serious coin doing so. Part of that IMO should be some financial risk on both sides, as it is after all MOUNTAIN CLIMBING.

 

If every client or beginner climber thinks the guide services offer a good value, great. And it might well be a good value depending on what you are looking for from the experience.

 

But it doesn't really matter what the client thinks as the lines of new clients are never ending and uninformed by definition to make a decision if they got a good value or not.

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Snappy retort. The continued conversation was in answer to a question previous in the thread:

 

Being new to this board and climbing, I apologize if this question is inappropriate, but....Was the group caught in Saturday's slide part of a guided trip?

 

I only ask because I am scheduled for two guided trips this summer. I read climbing forecast on Friday that would have definitely kept me off the mountain for the past few days. Would guides normally push clients to climb with the forecast that have been posted for the past few days?

 

Obviously the answer to that question is yes if you consider leaving Paradise starting a Rainier climb. Every guide concession on Rainier had trips up at Muir or higher in these conditions all of last week.

 

 

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Seems I stirred a bit of controversy with my question, so I think it is only fair that I offer my input as a paying customer.

 

I am 100% comfortable paying a guide without a guarantee of a refund nor would I expect one if the trip were cancelled due to weather...even if it were at the trailhead. Climbing is condition dependent. That is part of the game as with most outdoor activites we all enjoy. You cannot expect the guide or the guide service to not reasonably try to get their clients to the summit...if there is a chance it can be done safely.

 

However, what I would expect is their best assessment of the conditions on the mountain and their judgement as to what to do in any situation given the conditions. Thus, my reason for the question I posted. I read the climbing reports last week and all indicated "dangerously unstable conditions for climbers on the area peaks". That data was easy to find. So, If it had been a guided group ascending above Muir in those conditions, I would have been highly suspect of that guide service.

 

If I fly to Seattle and encounter those conditions and read similar reports, I would expect my guide service to provide me with their best assessment based on the info available. I do, however, think it is prudent of me to know the reports as well so I can question the guide specifically about them.

 

If guide service thinks it would be absolutley safe to get to Muir or aany other location, enjoy the experience, practice some skills, BUT not get to summit...I would be ok with that. Sure it would be disappointing since I planned a trip a year in advance, but it is out of everyone's control....so why do I get a refund?

 

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I've always been amused (appalled?) by how many alpine trips the local guiding outfit would book for the month of June in the Cascades. How many of those clients sold on beautiful blue sky pics of Mount Baker flew all the way out here knowing just how miserable the weather would in all likelyhood be?

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"Sure it would be disappointing since I planned a trip a year in advance, but it is out of everyone's control....so why do I get a refund?"

 

Seriously if you are happy, I am happy :)

 

But my point is if you could estimate the conditions from where ever you are and I can from my desk then it isn't "out of everyone's control". How far you decide to push those conditions safety wise is what your guide does up high. Leaving Paradise is likely totally in the guiding company's control. And their major product is blue sky for good parts of the season:)

 

 

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"Sure it would be disappointing since I planned a trip a year in advance, but it is out of everyone's control....so why do I get a refund?"

 

Seriously if you are happy, I am happy :)

 

But my point is if you could estimate the conditions from where ever you are and I can from my desk then it isn't "out of everyone's control". How far you decide to push those conditions safety wise is what your guide does up high. Leaving Paradise is likely totally in the guiding company's control.

 

 

This refund policy is a major reason I opted NOT to go with RMI back around 2003 when I was trying to get into climbing, and had hiked up to Muir already by myself. I figured it would be better to spend some time learning some climbing skills and gaining experience on smaller peaks so I could head up Rainier without a guide and shelling out $1000 for a one-weekend shot. (I climbed the Emmons route in 2005).

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"

Seriously if you are happy, I am happy :)

 

 

I will be happy if this weather pattern improves in two weeks time :)

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I got my mountaineering start using RMI about 15 years ago. Best money I ever spent (it was around $350 then.) The first trip a storm rolled in, we sat in Muir, walked halfway across the Cowlitz and turned around. I loved it, had never done anything like that and thought it was the best experience ever. I knew going up that the summit was never guaranteed. T

 

Their policy then was that if you didn't summit due to weather, you got a second chance the same year at half price. Booked another trip a month later (that was also when every trip wasn't booked a year in advance.) Again, storm rolled in, got up on the Ingraham, the guides said the Cleaver and Ingraham direct were avy prone, so we turned around. Two denials in the same summer, and I loved it! The second trip was better than the first! I learned a ton, including learning that i love the mountains.

 

The next year, did RMI with my dad and brother, and we bagged the summit. Never had expectations to make it, but we did. Anyone who says to me "I want to climb Rainier," I tell them to use RMI. Safe, you learn a ton, and don't have to spend years gaining experience when all you want to do it climb one mountain and never climb another one.

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Dane,

Your heliski comment doesn't reflect what I've seen. Whistler Heliski, at least, monitors weather closely and tells you early am if they'll fly that day or not. If they don't fly on the day of your booking you don't get charged at all. When they do fly, the guides assess potential slopes by a variety of means before clients arrive, so clients typically don't get to choose the slopes/routes. Unlike a climb up Rainier, the heliski folks have a wide range of slopes and aspects to choose from. Bottom line is that they are almost certainly not going to take you to the top of the mountain, call it off at that point, and then fly you back down and charge you for the run. Private charters may be a different story.

Regardless, perhaps the main reason to hire a mtn guide is to have someone to help keep you safe. Deciding when/if to attempt the summit is a huge part of that, and if I were the client I wouldn't want to second guess the guide.

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I had alot of fun on an RMI guided summit of Rainier. Granted if you live withing driving distance of Rainier then you should be able to get enough experience on your own and just go up with friends. But if you live an airline ticket away things get more difficult. After you add up the cost of tickets, motels, rental car, and the value of your vacation time, the cost of the guide starts to seem a bit less objectionable. Plus, a lesson I certainly learned, you can go to rainier with friends and things can still get seriously F*up. At least with RMI, the ONLY reason you won't summmit is due to weather/conditions. When you go with friends there are many more variables to deal with (and usually more gear to buy). Granted, going with a guided group isn't the same as doing it on your own, but that's not always a bad thing. A guided group is more like a vacation, less to worry about, you just enjoy the experience and have a good time. Not every climb has to be the ultimate proof of your mountain badassness/judgement. I wouldn't hesitate to go up guided again if I was in the area for business or whatever and didn't want the hassel of planning a trip.

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Whistler Heliski, at least, monitors weather closely and tells you early am if they'll fly that day or not. If they don't fly on the day of your booking you don't get charged at all.......Regardless, perhaps the main reason to hire a mtn guide is to have someone to help keep you safe. Deciding when/if to attempt the summit is a huge part of that, and if I were the client I wouldn't want to second guess the guide.

 

My point exactly on the Heli guiding. You don't get charged when they don't fly. When you do fly, you ski. Not so much on Rainier in iffy conditions. And no question on the safety issue of using a guide. Clients don't make decisions on climbs generally, the guides do and for good reason.

 

Like i said, "if your are happy", I am happy :)

Just thought the topic worth the conversation for those wondering.

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If the question is do I spend my hard-earned cash climbing some low angle shitpile with a bunch of people from Chicago tied to me, without skis, or go heli-skiing with skis the answer is pretty clear.

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If the question is do I spend my hard-earned cash climbing some low angle shitpile with a bunch of people from Chicago tied to me, without skis, or go heli-skiing with skis the answer is pretty clear.

Did you call Rainier a shitpile? Thems fighting words in these parts. :battlecage:

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