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wayne

Rainier Avalanche

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Not to mention climbing in blatant disregard to the conditions...

 

I think the point is there were a whole bunch of people (guides, clients, NPS Climbing Rangers and private parties) out on Saturday morning climbing in "blatant disreguard for the conditions".

 

We are lucky there was only one death. How to improve on both those issues is what I am interested in.

 

Rainier averaged around 3 deaths a year several years back. Then a few years ago there was a streak of good luck (was it luck?) with no deaths for a few years in a row. Could it be due to the good work of the previous NPS climbing ranger in charge?

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The things I love about climbing are also the things that make it so dangerous. It represents the purest form of personal responsibility. You can choose any mountain you want to climb, and in any condition you want to climb it in...and no one can tell you otherwise. I'm baffled why people are complaining about there NOT being enough information available on a trade route.

 

Regardless...any loss of life is tragic and I hope this climber's family can find peace.

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http://www.thenewstribune.com/2010/06/07/1217164/some-climbers-warnedbrof-avalanche.html

 

Any loss of life is tragic, but it's remarkable that the guided parties were in close enough proximity without being buried themselves and able to effect a rescue of the other 10 climbers who were caught. Kudos to them for their quick action.

 

 

Other news sources are reporting the missing/presumed dead man to be Mark Wedeven. Condolences to his friends and family.

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Exactly! I haven't been paying close attention for the last two years, but what was the avy report for the weekend? Wasn't there a bunch of fresh snow dumped last week?
NWAC stops their regular forecasting in April. It's sad that there isn't more funding to keep that going through the spring. Sadly, most parties are NOT properly educated on evaluating avalanche risk and fall prey to the many psychological missteps that other risk-sport participants encounter, leading them right into danger.

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Exactly! I haven't been paying close attention for the last two years, but what was the avy report for the weekend? Wasn't there a bunch of fresh snow dumped last week?
NWAC stops their regular forecasting in April. It's sad that there isn't more funding to keep that going through the spring. Sadly, most parties are NOT properly educated on evaluating avalanche risk and fall prey to the many psychological missteps that other risk-sport participants encounter, leading them right into danger.

 

NWAC had a special avy forecast SPECIFICALLY for last weekend, AND posted a warning on their facebook page.

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I missed this first time around on Max's previous post, thought it very well done, so thought I'd post the link and content again.

 

http://www.thenewstribune.com/2010/06/08/1217630/camp-muir-climbers-were-warned.html

 

Camp Muir climbers were warned

AVALANCHE AT RAINIER: Weather delays search for missing Olympia man

 

 

42-ava.standalone.prod_affiliate.5.jpg

 

JASON THOMPSON/Contributing photographer

This is the avalanche slide path on a portion of the Ingraham Glacier called Ingraham Direct where 11 climbers were caught. One is presumed dead. On the left is Gibraltar Rock and on the right is Disappointment Cleaver.

 

By Craig Hill, staff writer

Published: 06/08/10 6:42 am | Updated: 06/08/10 6:43 am

Comments (0)

Recommend (0)At least nine of the climbers caught in Saturday's avalanche on Mount Rainier were warned conditions were unsafe before they departed, a national park spokesman and multiple sources told The News Tribune on Monday.

 

Just hours after the warning, 11 climbers were caught in an avalanche on the Ingraham Glacier. One, identified as 27-year-old Mark Wedeven of Olympia, is presumed to be the 96th known mountaineering death in Rainier history, park spokesman Kevin Bacher said.

 

Avalanche conditions remained high Monday and prevented rangers from searching for Wedeven, Bacher said. It is unclear when conditions will permit the search to continue.

 

The Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center released a statement warning of “significant unstable snow accumulations” on Rainier and much of the Olympics and Cascade ranges.

 

Climbing ranger Tom Payne was stationed at Camp Muir on Friday night and Saturday morning and notified all of the parties camped there that the avalanche danger on the upper mountain was extreme, Bacher said.

 

“Most of the parties decided not to climb,” Bacher said.

 

The three- and six-person parties who were caught in the avalanche were among those warned by Payne, Bacher said. The other two climbers did not register for their climbs, so it is unclear whether they received the warning or checked avalanche conditions, Bacher said.

 

Wedeven reportedly started climbing from Paradise late Friday night or early Saturday and did not stop at Camp Muir. Park officials identified him based on descriptions from other climbers and a missing person report filed by his family.

 

International Mountain Guides and Rainier Mountaineering Inc. decided Friday night that they would not attempt the 14,411-foot summit on Saturday and relayed the news to their clients.

 

Instead, both groups left Camp Muir later than usual and climbed to Ingraham Flats to show the clients the upper mountain.

 

The RMI group reached the flats first, and guides were showing clients how to do a pit test to check for avalanche danger when the wall of snow began its deadly descent.

 

“The guides turned and told the clients to run,” said Paul Maier of RMI.

 

Because of their position below where the avalanche stopped, the RMI guides needed just 10 minutes to get in position to help rescue climbers. IMG guides weren’t far behind.

 

While climbers not buried by the avalanche were the first to start digging, RMI guides Tyler Jones, Adam and Caroline George, Mark Falender and Thomas Greene helped dig out three climbers.

 

Many of the climbers weren’t wearing avalanche transceivers, so guides had to probe the snow and pull on ropes to find them. None of the climbers was buried deeper than about 1 foot, but two were blue by the time they were rescued, Maier said.

 

Wedeven was traveling alone, so he was not roped up and perhaps not using an avalanche transceiver. Wedeven’s parents, David and Carol, told KIRO-TV that their son had climbed Mount Rainier numerous times.

 

“He said to me, ‘Mom, if I die on a mountain, don’t worry about it,’ and I’m sure it was instant and it was over,” Carol Wedeven said to the news station.

 

All of the buried climbers were pulled to safety within 10 minutes, about the time IMG guides Eric Remza, Josh Smith, Mike Haft and Austin Shannon arrived and started tending those who were hurt.

 

“They were lucky because they were in the right place at the right time to help,” Maier said of the guides who helped in the rescue.

 

The current high avalanche danger is not unusual in June when winter and summer conditions mix, said Paul Baugher, co-director of International Mountain Guides and director of the Northwest Avalanche Institute.

 

Most of the avalanche danger comes early in the season, and so far this season more of IMG’s climbing parties have turned around than have reached the summit, he said.

 

The nice weather Saturday morning might have given climbers a false sense of security, he said.

 

“You go up a little bit to take a look and it’s so nice that you get lured into going a little bit farther,” Baugher said.

 

“People get away with a lot of bad decisions.”

 

With nasty weather battering Rainier for the past three weeks (at one point last week three hours of 100 mph winds ruined several tents at Ingraham Flats), climbers and guides alike were itching for a nice day that would allow them to summit.

 

“I give a lot of credit to the guides to be able to resist the temptation (to climb on Saturday),” Baugher said. “It’s always OK to turn around.”

 

Wedeven is presumed to be the first mountaineering death on Rainier since 2005, when a Jefferson County firefighter fell down Gibraltar Chute. From 1998 to 2005, park records show there was 0.18 fatalities per 1,000 climbers.

 

With the risk of avalanche still high, Baugher says climbers must be diligent about checking conditions before they climb.

 

“Watch the avalanche reports,” Bacher said, “and take them extremely seriously.”

 

Craig Hill: 253-597-8497

 

craig.hill@thenewstribune.com  

 

Staff writer Joyce Chen contributed to this report.

 

The other soloist in the group, is a skier. His video is here:

 

http://www.king5.com/news/local/Avalanche-Survivor-Shares-Home-Video-of-Aftermath-95750639.html

 

 

Mark Wedeven, 27, of Olympia had by his Father's account, "climbed Rainier numerious times, by all different routes." Mark had also climbed Olympus by biking from Olympia to the mtn, climbing it and biking home. He was a climber by any definition. Our best to his family and friends.

 

 

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“He said to me, ‘Mom, if I die on a mountain, don’t worry about it,’ and I’m sure it was instant and it was over,” Carol Wedeven said to the news station.

 

Sounds like he did have his shit together. God speed brother.

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Unfortunately the last time I checked the statistics (I admit its been a while) on avalanche deaths, most people killed in avalanches have moderate to advanced avalanche training. Unless things have changed the biggest issue seems to be decision making not training. So either they chose to accept the risk, or they ignored the signs.

 

 

 

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Why is this article making the RMI guides out to be the hero's. They were not first on the scene. Climbers in the climbing party began a self rescue and RMI joined their rescue effort.

 

While climbers not buried by the avalanche were the first to start digging, RMI guides Tyler Jones, Adam and Caroline George, Mark Falender and Thomas Greene helped dig out three climbers.

 

Many of the climbers weren’t wearing avalanche transceivers, so guides had to probe the snow and pull on ropes to find them. None of the climbers was buried deeper than about 1 foot, but two were blue by the time they were rescued, Maier said.

 

The climbers initiating the self rescue were too stupid to pull on the rope? WTF?

 

Props to the guides for their quick actions but why is the article focused on the efforts of RMI? Sounds like all kinds of people were involved in this.

 

This whole thing is shitty...

 

and I agree with your other post Dane that the guide services leaving the parking lot with a rope team of noobers knowing full well that the upper mountain is "out" is obviously just in this for the money. Total bullshit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A why don't we know the missing climbers name?

 

"Ever wonder exactly why anyone who was capable of climbing Rainier solo would not bother with the madatory registration and again the mandatory solo permit? Good question to ask of the Chief Climbing Ranger on Rainier since he controls the permits and applications process."

 

Because the solo permits have taken exceedingly long and rather hard to get over the last two years. So many just don't bother and avoid the NPS althogether after trying to get a solo permit now. Avoiding the NPS is easier since they have cut the climbing ranger staff in half in those same two years.

 

So when a climber is lost soloing with no permit the NPS then looks for their car in the parking lot to identify the victim.

 

You guys don't see an issue with the system here?

 

Somebody's arse is on fire! ....

And it's the guide companies fault that the privates passed them up and continued on how?

 

Don't jump too quickly to conclusions Dave. You mentioned in a previous post there is a reason that private parties should not be blindly following the guided parties out of Muir. I agree with that.

 

Could it be possible that the lack of NPS climbing rangers since the staff was downsized might have some influence on the private party decision making as could the guide services given the chance to communicate what they are doing.

 

How about the guide service and the NPS do daily updates on the mtn's conditions at the blog? So that incidents like what happened on Wednesday last week were well known?

 

Both the guides services and the NPS climbing rangers make a living off the NP is it asking too much that they make a better effort to open access to the park and offer up the little information they do glean on the mtn in a public forum?

 

I think there are several issues here that could be done better to everyone's benefit. Which is why I am wasting the time to day to make the point.

 

 

Anyone spending anytime out of doors last week could have told you that avy conditions were off the hook. Having an updated blog might have swayed a couple of people, but there are numerous websites out there that provide that same sort of valuable info. I am sure that any ranger at Paradise could have shared that same info.

 

Look the fact that this guy didn't register means nothing to the outcome of the situation. A massive avalanche occurred, climbers were in the path, a climber died. Knowing who he was wouldn't have saved him.

 

 

Dane sounds to me like you got scorned by the solo permit process this year. I can understand frustration. But how is the solo permit process in any way an underlying factor in this accident...?!?!

 

When I read this thread, it sounds to me like a lot of indirect blame is being cast. I think it is absolutely out of line to imply that any of the rangers at Mount Rainier (or any of the guides, guide companies, etc) were in any way personally liable for this incident.

 

This is sad. A sad, sad tale.

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Then think of how much more info could easily be there for anyone climbing on Rainier if the NPS and all the guide services contributed on a daily basis.

 

If I owned a guiding business, one of the many things I would not do is offer a daily blog on conditions. All you need is one person to get injured or killed, some lawyer figures out how my blog affected his situation and then I would be liable. The guide services make some money but not enough to cover a decent sized lawsuit. Even if the insurance pays the suit, the company may not be able to get insurance afterwards, therefore killing the business that I spent 15 years making.

 

Guide services already deal with enough risk management and really shouldn't be expected to take on more for the sake of the general community. (the one that has filed frivolous suits in the past) If it is so important, then suggest that it should be drafted into their user permit system, which may eliminate the liability.

 

Climbing is about many things, one of them is personal responsibility. We make choices that directly affect the outcome of wether we come home or not. We (newbies to experts) all need to keep alert to the hazards around us and not rely on others keep us informed.

Edited by genepires

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Dane, for what it's worth, I got my solo app turned around in two days in January. Emailed it in, got an email reply from Stefan.

 

I have no issue with the ranger staff being cut. There is functionally no staff in the winter, and in the summer they rely on guide service staff for SAR anyway. I'm not sure what their stated or actual role on the upper mountain is, and I know I've never missed NPS staff when there weren't around on my Rainier trips. But my idea of a great Rainier trip is seeing no other people outside my partner(s).

 

I certainly don't want the NPS or anyone else CLOSING the mountain due to conditions, which is where I think we'll end up if this silly talk about "where were the rangers?" and "why isn't there a helicopter on standby at Paradise?" talk continues every time there is a serious incident on the upper mountain.

 

People sometimes choose not to register because registration is closed when they start their climb. I've done several one-day solos and the stations are closed when that sort of a climb begins. Stefan brought back self-registration in the winter, which helps in these situations without causing overcrowding in the camps. Maybe there is a way to do something similar in the summer for single-push ascents, or those on uncrowded routes.

 

And again, this thread should be split in two.

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