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Dane

Changing the face of the NPS on Mt Rainier?

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Have you ever been helped on a Rainier climb by this blog?

 

http://mountrainierclimbing.blogspot.com/

 

It was started by an entire crew of folks just wanting to offer help and saftey tips to Rainier climbers. I found it a great resource over the last few years until just recently when the NPS stopped using the blog for climbing specific info.

 

It would be nice if all the Rainier guide services and their guides and the NPS climbing rangers would offer their input on a daily basis as well.

 

more here:

http://mountrainiercontribute.blogspot.com/2006/11/behind-scenes.html

 

If you find it worth while email the current climbing program manager and rescue coordinator for Mount Rainier National Park and ask that he and his staff continue and update the original blog.

 

His email is:

 

Stefan_Lofgren@nps.gov

 

If you have had a difficult time getting a solo request processed in a timely manner or climbing questions in general answered or wonder why there are fewer climbing rangers on staff and on the mountain at any given time ask the same email address.

 

If you have concerns on how the park is being taken care of or any climbing concerns you can also reach the Park Superintendant here:

 

Mount Rainier National Park

ATTN: Superintendent's Office

55210 238th Ave. E.

Ashford, WA 98304

 

or via phone at: 360-569-2211, ext. 2301

 

or here via email:

 

http://www.nps.gov/mora/contacts.htm

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The solo permit process is insane. It has to be the only of its kind on planet earth and should be changed.

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The solo permit process is insane. It has to be the only of its kind on planet earth and should be changed.

 

Agreed. One of the reasons I'd bet the latest avi victim didn't have a solo permit and with no permit you can not register to climb solo. Nice how that works out.

 

As an example I have had a solo permit for YEARS on Rainier. I generally get one late winter or early spring every year. Last two years it has become a silly exercise in "cover your ass" for those involved. And frankly I have less and less patience for it and them dragging their public paid feet simply so I can have access to a freaking National PARK.

 

 

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Ever since the changes to the permit process in the mid 90's, it's puzzled me why the NPS climbing permit process on Rainier National Park is so much different than in the Tetons .. the Tetons are a breeze, I consider it one of the best systems in use .. Rainier sucks the big one!

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Good info, thanks.

 

Teton's climbing ranger's conditons blog.

 

http://www.tetonclimbing.blogspot.com/

 

http://www.tetonclimbingroutes.blogspot.com/ with a 6/03 update on conditons.

 

And the Tetons registration program:

 

"ll overnight stays in the park require a backcountry use permit.

Obtain a backcountry permit at the Jenny Lake Ranger Station, Moose Visitor Center or the Colter Bay Visitor Center. The Jenny Lake Ranger Station is the clearinghouse for all backcountry permits when climbing is on the agenda and for all camping in Garnet Canyon.

 

Climbers are not required to register for climbs in Grand Teton National Park; however, climbers are encouraged to leave itinerary details with friends and family. Currently, climbing permits are not required and there is no fee for climbing in the park.

 

If you do not have a person with whom to leave details of your trip with and would like to participate in the Voluntary Registration System, you may do so in person at the Jenny Lake Ranger Station (JLRS). Climbers who decide to register with the park must check in upon return from their trip by stopping by the Jenny Lake Ranger Station in person or dropping off their registration form in the drop box at the JLRS."

 

If Parks Canada and the entire Mt Blanc Massif which covers parts of three countries (who both have more climbers and much more serious weather and routes) can do it you have to wonder why the NPS on Rainier continues to drop the ball.

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It would be interesting to see the comparison in staffing at Grand Teton/Rainier and broken down as a ranger/climber ratio.

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Any chance things have been made purposely more difficult/obnoxious to steer climbers to the guide outfits?

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I understand that it is difficult and time consuming to attain a solo permit as I have gone through the process myself. But....any chance things have been made purposely more difficult/obnoxious to steer climbers who obviously do not have the necessary decision making skills, mountaineering skills, and experience to safely climb Mount Rainier solo?

 

No offense, But I'm sure the last thing Stefan needs right now is a bunch of emails complaining about the current solo permit process. I'm sure he has many other important things to be dealing with right now that he possibly wouldn't have to be dealing with if people registered for their climbs and went through the proper (regardless if it is overbearing) process to attain a permit. Not to speculate and I am very sorry for the recent accident, but could the reason for the current situation be that this gentleman was not experienced enough to make proper decisions on the mountain to begin with. And that he knew he would in fact be denied a solo permit? That seems likely to me, but obviously I could be wrong. While I do agree that the process could be made easier, I for one feel that this is much more likely reason the fallen climber may have not gone through the paperwork. Clearly there were some bad decisions that morning made by said climber. Again....I dont want to sit on my computer and speculate about an accident, but I wanted to voice my opinion

 

As a climber from the East coast that frequents Mount Rainier almost every year (I will be in the park next week) I agree that ever since Mike left, the blog has taken a turn for the worst. I used to check it every day. Now I rarely check it and turn to CC.com for more recent beta. So while I do agree with the original poster in that I wish the blog was what it used to be, I just wanted to voice my OPINION on the other issue's which were mentioned.

Edited by cms829

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I can only give you my experience as an example.

 

In the past I have had solo permits on Rainier every year for years and no hassle just send in the paper work. Generally bug them a time or two after 30 days and you get a letter or now an email with the OK.

 

Then last year, same gig and I get a phone call, application "not good enough". So I do a little written tap dance as requested.

 

That interaction sticks in my crawl as most of the written tap dance wasn't anything anyone would ever do soloing on a glaciated mtn. Your survive soloing any terrain by being smart not by the gear you carry. Looked good on paper but TOTAL bs. Things were obviously going backward at RMP not forward imo.

 

The reputation in my mind of the climbing rangers went from squared away climbers I need to talk to before every trip, to complete wantabe nerds I'll avoid at any cost in just two phone conversations.

 

The climber that died in the most recent avalanche by his father's accounts "had climbed Rainier numerious times, by many routes".

 

I have to wonder why he didn't have a current permit. How about the skier who was soloing and also trapped in the avi? But I know why I would not have one. I was certainly out of patience this year when my emails weren't returned. And I am not the only one unhappy with the situation and lack of communication from the little research I have done. I did finally get an email from the NPS giving me the details and a link on how to apply again for a solo permit.

 

Which I did again last week. Same info again they have gotten for the last 10 years. Which has to be the worst system in the universe for returning solo requests! But I'll freely admit I would have gone on the mtn already this year without a permit if the weather and conditions had been better. And frankly it pisses me off to be put in that position by a park service employee.

 

I don't think the solo permit program is being used to steer climbers to the guide programs working the mountain. But I do think the solo permit program is being used an an inept way to lower the percieved agency risk by those in charge at the NPS on Rainier.

 

You want to lower the risks to the public on Rainier? You add qualified climbing rangers, you don't axe the staff of extremely qualified seasonal climbing rangers. You have a public place to get info out from all sources like a Blog. You don't stop using a blog that was the best source of Rainier climbing info.

 

The only way the system will be changed is if we as climbers make it an issue and make them change it. AINT THEIR MTN, it is ours.

 

And it is time to remind them of that fact.

 

 

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Mike posted about the solo permit a while back and I believe it went something like this.

 

Cascadeclimber01 "Getting a solo permit is very hard. you should make them able to be gotten there."

Cascadeclimber 02 "I've never seen anyone ever turned down on a solo permit"

Mike G "It's true, i've never seen anyone turned down, just let us know if you need one ASAP, fax it in or mail it depending on time and make sure you let us know so we can get it through the system"

 

Doesn't sound over the top for me. I think what they're wanting to do is discourage people from climbing solo on a mountainlike this.

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Big difference imo between how Mike G. handled climbers and how the NPS handled climbing on the mtn and how it is being done now.

 

Mike G's mantra from what I saw was "how can we help you have a better and safer climb" and bent over backwards personally to make it happen.

 

Now with Mike G. no longer in that position...not so much imo.

 

And why the concerns are now in a public forum.

 

I just got off the phone to the Ranger Station in Talkeetna and baring the 60 day advance notice it is easier and faster to get a solo permit for Denali than it is on Rainier currently. Why am I not suprised.

 

I think what they're wanting to do is discourage people from climbing solo on a mountainlike this.

 

I have little doubt you are correct it that assumption. Two things about it bother me. Why is the NPS discouraging anyone from using the Park? And anyone actually qualified (not capable mind you, as almost anyone in resonable health is) to solo Rainier doesn't consider it much of a challenge or risk by the easiest routes.

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I have had approved solo permits for the last three years and got another one about a month ago. The application was the same exact application I used last year just different dates and routes. I got it back approved in about 1-1/2 hrs from when I e-mailed it in.

Another partner of mine got one back this year the same day he sent it in.

I have heard the stories of the long lead time for approval but have not experieinced anything like it.

 

Dane, maybe they just know who you are :) lol

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I have had approved solo permits for the last three years and got another one about a month ago. The application was the same exact application I used last year just different dates and routes. I got it back approved in about 1-1/2 hrs from when I e-mailed it in.

Another partner of mine got one back this year the same day he sent it in.

I have heard the stories of the long lead time for approval but have not experieinced anything like it.

 

I got my solo app back from Stefan two days after I emailed it to him. Same has been true every year I've applied. Dane, I bet you'd get a better result with email than postal mail.

 

As I mentioned in the other thread, less is more as far as NPS presence on the mountain goes, in my opinion. More red tape = less fun, less adventure. The summer permit process could probably be improved to accommodate climbers doing single-push climbs. I've done this several times and I always leave well after the official registration centers are closed.

 

To his credit, Stefan brought back winter self-registration, which is very helpful.

 

I don't want or need NPS staff to assess and report conditions to me. I'm happy to ask around or just go find out myself. Nor do I expect NPS staff to be minutes away if I get in trouble on the mountain. Relying on others for this sort of thing is partly antithetical to what mountaineering is for me. And requiring the NPS to assess and report conditions would likely result in 'official' closures of the mountain due to someone's definition of 'unsafe' and their lawyer's concern over liability.

 

Mike did a better job with the blog and made significant improvements to the training and equipping of the climbing ranger staff during his tenure. I can't imagine anyone being a better advocate for non-guided parties on Rainier than he was, and though I miss his presence at Rainier, I'm hoping his current gig will result in him getting a bigger NPS role in which his climber's advocacy will be even more benefical.

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Thanks for the comments and for posting your own experiences. I hope the conversation does not end here.

 

I sent a snail mail solo request on Monday 6/7 (from Issaquah to Ashford) and recieved a email appoval today 6/9 from Shefan. Hard to be any more prompt than that. Although my earlier emails were not answered in the same manner or by Stefan himself, as would have been typical, and certainly unusual from other's experiences posted here.

 

I have no doubt Stefan Lofgren and Chuck Young care about the Park, climbers and how both are managed.

 

I have a phone appointment with the Chief Ranger on Mtn Rainer Chuck Young, set for 10AM tomorrow. I'll relay what I find out from that conversation. If anyone has any concerns or questions you'd like me to mention please post them here or send me a PM.

 

I'd obviously like to see some flexibility from the NPS on climber related issues and am hopeful that will happen by the tone of our first email exchange:

 

Chuck Young, CR RNP sez:

"You are correct in your observations that there have been some significant changes in the park's climbing program.. I would like to be able to discuss why they have come about and what your ideas are for improving the program."

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I'm doing solo laps on Willis Wall & ttxting y'all. F*xk the permits.

Back in the 70s on Rainier, they were the "Ranger Dangers."

 

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I had a good conversation this morning with the chief ranger at RNP, Chuck Young and a short email exchange with Stefan as well.

 

I was mistaken in attributing all the changes over the last two years to Stefan. He was not the one totally responsible for what I might think was less services in the park for climbers. My apologies to Stefan for the misunderstanding on my part.

 

Chuck Young (and Stefan) truley do care about how the NPS interacts with the climbing public and want to better the communication between the NPS and the climbing community.

 

The poll else where on the forum is info that will help that situation. Hopefully more will get involvd there.

 

I am hopeful from our converstaions today that the blog will become more active again, volenteers will step up to help and we'll see timely road and back country as well as climbing info incorporated from the NPS employees, private climbers and the guide services on the blog. The NPS doesn't want climbers avoiding the NPS employees any more than we want to have to avoid the NPS while on the mountain just to keep from being '86 out of the park.

 

The NPS is at least willing to discuss some options available on solo requirments to bring Rainier National Park more intune with the NPS's typical" solo requirements and permit systems.

 

 

Write a letter to the emails listed above if you have concerns or opinions you want voiced. They are willing to listen.

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