Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   02/03/18

      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  
MarmotMountain

PUBLIC MEETING WEDS 2/2/11: RAINIER CLIMBING FEES

Recommended Posts

PUBLIC MEETING WEDS 2/2/11: MT RAINIER CLIMBING FEE INCREASE

 

THIS IS YOUR FINAL CHANCE TO BE HEARD AND GIVE INPUT TO MOUNTAIN RAINIER NATIONAL PARK ABOUT CLIMBING FEE INCREASES!

 

The Park has already held 3 similar public meetings, but only ½ dozen or so people attended each of these meetings!

 

The public comment period was to officially end on 1/31/11, but park officials have graciously agreed to allow one last meeting with the hope that more people will attend and provide input before any decisions about climbing fee increases are made.

 

There is concern that many of you have not even heard about this proposal to increase climbing fees, and many members of the climbing community over the past few months have expressed very passionate views regarding these fees and services. The attendance at these 3 previous public meetings does not seem to reflect the real public interest that exists.

 

Marmot Mountain Works will be hosting this final public meeting regarding the proposed Mount Rainier Climbing Permit Fee Increases next week at their store in Bellevue on Wednesday February 2nd 2011 at 6:30pm. Park officials, including Park Superintendent David Uberuaga, will be in attendance to answer your questions and to take public comments. Please call Marmot Mountain Works @ 425-453-1515 to RSVP and to reserve your spot at the public meeting.

 

Mount Rainier National Park is proposing to increase the cost of a climbing pass from $30 to an amount between $43 and $58. They are also proposing to institute potential annual incremental increases tied to the rate of inflation or some other methodology that tracks actual climbing program costs.

Park officials will do a brief presentation outlining current associated climbing program costs as well as describe proposals for the future that involve additional potential increases. Public comments and questions will then be taken following this presentation.

 

More detailed information regarding the current and future proposed program specifics and costs can be found by going to Mount Rainier’s web site www.nps.gov/mora/parkmgmt/climbingfee.htm.

 

WHETHER YOU ARE FOR OR AGAINST THESE FEE INCREASES, PLEASE COME AND ATTEND THIS MEETING AND PROVIDE SOME CONSTRUCTIVE COMMENTS AND INPUT FOR THE OFFICIALS AT MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK IN CHARGE OF MAKING THESE DECISIONS AND SHOW THE PARK THAT WE ALL DO INDEED CARE ABOUT THESE IMPORTANT ISSUES!

 

MARMOT MOUNTAIN WORKS

827 BELLEVUE WAY NE

BELLEVUE, WA 98004

425-453-1515

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We would like to encourage people to use this forum to post their thoughts, views, and opinions in order to engage folks in a pre-meeting discussion with the goals of building awareness and bringing to light all of the different issues surrounding this topic.

 

- I hope to see everyone at the meeting next week! - David May

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The fees to use MORA have spiraled out of control and seemingly unchecked. I'd MUCH rather see them cut costs (staff) associated with the climbing program than increase the fee again (for what, the third time in the last ten years)??

 

If I never saw another ladder, fixed line, or ranger sitting in a heated shelter on Rainier again I'd be a happier person.

 

Baker has (I believe) one seasonal climbing ranger. NOCA has just a handful. We really don't need a fleet of rangers on Rainier (or Denali for that matter).

 

If they REALLY wanted input from the climbing community, they'd have sent a letter to everyone who has purchased a climbing permit in the last five years. They have those addresses. But this is the first I've heard of this. Ugh.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wont be at the meeting however I sent them an email asking some questions and never got an answer. If you look through their budget numbers then you will see that most of the money generated by the climbing concessions does not go back into the climbing program. It goes to some pool that is then used to benefit all of the concessions in some way. I want to know what that money gets used on and why more of it can't go back to the climbing program.

 

The bottom line is the park service is going to do what they want and there isn't much that these meetings will change.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I want to know what that money gets used on and why more of it can't go back to the climbing program.

 

I don't know for certain, but I would imagine that there are Congressional and Departmental limits and guidelines on how concession funds are spent. Remember that while the money generated in MRNP and NCNP (for instance) is rather paltry, the funds generated by Yellowstone and Yosemite are huge.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The bottom line is the park service is going to do what they want and there isn't much that these meetings will change.

 

Actually, The Park claims that public comment at prior meetings did have an impact on the decisions that they made a number of years ago regarding how these climbing fees would be handled.

 

So, please come to the meeting and tell them what you think if you can make it. Expressing your views in person can often have a bigger impact than sending in an e-mail. If you absolutely can not make it to the meeting, then please go to the Park's web site and send them a letter or at least an e-mail with your comments. You might wait a little bit for more folks to post other thoughts, opinions, and information here that could shed some new light on things that you were not aware of.

 

Also, at the recent public meeting for Denali National Park climbing fees, the Park officials told us that only about 50 or 60 comments had been received so far. The public comment period ends on 1/31/11, so more people should send in their input if they want to be heard! If enough folks write in, then the public has a chance of having an impact. You have nothing to lose by trying...right?

 

The Park is looking for specific ideas and thoughts regarding what the public would like to see them do or not do regarding the climbing program and related climbing services...not just a mere "yes" or "no" vote for or against climbing fees.

 

- David May

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If they REALLY wanted input from the climbing community, they'd have sent a letter to everyone who has purchased a climbing permit in the last five years. They have those addresses. But this is the first I've heard of this. Ugh.

 

Good idea!

 

It sounds like The Park is working on an e-mail list to be able to notify people that are interested in issues and decisions like this. They started compiling an e-mail list at the recent public meetings. I encouraged them to do this many years ago, so I am glad to see that they are trying to make more of an effort to keep the public informed. You should call them and see if you can get on this e-mail list.

 

- David May

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am normally not much into posting comments on-line, but this seems like an important issue that is worth some discussion!

 

As an independent climber, I do not feel like I need or want any of these climbing services at Mt Rainier that are in question related to these fees. Therefore, I do not feel like I should have to pay these fees when I go to climb Mt Rainier.

 

Furthermore, Mt Rainier's own numbers clearly show that there is plenty of money flowing through Mt Rainier from climbers right now. The money is just being mis-managed by the park service. I do not want to point fingers at anyone in particular, but the system is failing us.

 

It looks like their climbing program budget is only about $400,000...most of which goes to things that I think we do not need...who is it that wants these things? They are already receiving about $300,000 from climbing permit fees each year, $300,000 to $500,000 from climbing guide service franchaise fees, and probably around $150,000 from park entrance fees that climbers pay who would not otherwise be going there. There is also 3-4 million dollars of revenue generated by the climbing guide services each year. There is plenty of money already flowing that direction to accomplish almost anything that they are proposing. In fact, if they eliminated the permit and climbing fee program, that would eliminate a large part of their budget that is needed for the bureaucracy to issue permits and collect fees. We don't need it!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a 40% increase in the annual fee. In a recession.

 

The plan to tie the fee to the CPI and get automatic increases is bogus, if my understanding that federal employee pay is frozen for the next two years is correct. The cost to run the program has almost nothing to do with the CPI.

 

The concession fees should be high enough to more than cover all the related costs and impact. I, for one, stay away from Muir in the summer because it's become such a chaotic circus. The recent addition of semi-permanent guide structures has made this worse. There are no permanent or semi-permanent structures on any of the other volcanoes, for guides or anyone else.

 

I do think it's important to have a competent, accountable, professional group who can respond to emergencies on the mountain. We had two under-trained, under-equipped rangers die a few years ago and no one wants a repeat of that. But the tasks of issuing permits, checking permits, posting route conditions, and enforcing the blue-bag rules, wanding routes, updating blogs, etc. seem unnecessary. Nice perhaps, but not necessary.

 

The guide services get preferential treatment on the mountain: They are allowed to do many things that independent climbers are not, and let's not forget that they when the 2006 flood closed the park they (and their clients) were allowed special access months before the general public.

 

And David, I've given the park my name, address, and phone number each time I've attempted to climb since 1995; at least 100 times. The most certainly have contact info for the affected parties in this situation.

 

I'll be at the meeting on Wednesday. Thanks to the Marmot folks for posting this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Email sent, thanks for the heads up. I think MRNP's "deficient" staffing levels at the $30 fee level are adequate- I don't really see much of a need to expand patrols or staffing. Trying to save people from themselves is a sure way to spend lots of money . .. Since Gator left the blog hasn't been really very current either- I usually find more up to date conditions info right here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This is a 40% increase in the annual fee. In a recession.

 

Fee's often go up in a recession because there's less tax revenue :wave:

 

Honestly the fee, itself, is of minimal concern to me. $10, $20, $100, BFD compared to the whole pain of the permit system itself, which isn't going away.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To me there is a tipping point...local climbers seem to be down with the $30 as it seems to fund the CLIMBING (support of staff) on Rainier, its not excessive but hey parks are short on money, you get larger fees and locals can bail when the weather isnt so good but out of towners are more could be more "commited" and going up when the weather is more borderline--higher fees and less climbers when weather is dicier..more rescues?? The rangers are doing a good job from what I've seen, lower costs in that dept.. but the costs may hurt later.

TTT

just sayin' look at that end of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Mount Rainier National Park receives approximately $350,000 annually from the combined franchise fees of the three mountaineering concessioners. Franchise fees from all park concessioners (there are 5, total) are pooled and prioritized by park management for use on concession-related needs.

Franchise fees augmented Line Item Construction funding and helped to support the recently completed structural rehabilitation of the historic Paradise Inn, and construction of the new Jackson Memorial Visitor Center. Franchise fees have also been used for projects such as the new roof and painting of the National Park Inn and Paradise Inn electrical upgrades.

 

Since 2008, franchise fees have funded a climbing ranger to monitor the climbing concessions on the upper mountain. Franchise fees were also used for a major renovation of the Camp Muir Public Shelter. $54,000 in franchise fees are programmed to support the climbing program in 2011. The park will use franchise fees to complete the Camp Muir Development Concept Plan and then to implement the plan, including the replacement of toilets and other facilities at Camp Muir. The renovation of Camp Muir could include a new public shelter and/or guide-client building, as well as general rock wall and soil stabilization. Over a million dollars in franchise fees would be needed to complete all of these Camp Muir-related projects."

 

Seems like it would take less than 5 years to save the money needed for all of the camp muir projects if the climbing concessions get all of their money back in improvements.

 

Personally I think they should just raise the entrance fee by $5 and the annual by $10. It would generate a lot more money and we probably wouldn't care as much. The general public would grumble but it wouldn't reduce visitor counts.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Raised: I just don't see *any* need for new buildings at Muir. It's a high camp in the wilderness on a volcano, not a village.

 

We ESPECIALLY don't need a new "client-guide" shelter. Let them camp in non-permanent tents.

 

I don't have the background on the upgrades to the public shelter; if this was necessary to maintain the structural integrity of the building or not. I do know that it was reported here that the one thing in the shelter that should always work, the emergency radio, was non-functional.

 

When it comes to wilderness and adventure, less is more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didnt mean to say there was a need and I personally don't think there is. I meant to say that if the park really wanted those buildings they could get them if they put more of the concessoners money towards them.

 

The services that I really think are necessary/ejoyable are the waste removal at the high camps, an updated climbing conditions blog, and rangers at the two high camps. Huge fines for abandoned blue bags would be nice too but not very enforceable.

Edited by RaisedByPikas

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A larger Camp Muir could allow the park to make Muir the only climbing high camp via that side of the mountain (No Nisqually Flats).

 

I don't know all the issues involved with that decision, but a bigger hut may reduce costs associated with climbers camping on that side of the mountain. That side of the mountain does receive the most climber use.

 

Possibly an upfront expense and a long term saving. I'd want to see how they decided on expanding/rebuilding it. Maybe bigger bathroom facilities is all they need.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We ESPECIALLY don't need a new "client-guide" shelter. Let them camp in non-permanent tents.

 

A single structure would likely produce less impact than a seasonal horde of tents - Muir isn't exactly a wilderness experience when there's 100s of people trekking up. The whole "less is more" mantra fails with the impact places like Muir receive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A few comments after several long chats with multiple people in the NPS.

 

1. The public shelter and the guide's (now NPS) hut are historic buildings. So there are fairly strict rules for their up keep. They can not easily be removed or changed. I think both serve a need and should be maintained. I griped over 10 years ago about the public shelter and it condition. All I can say is "keep the damn doors closed" as that is what has cause many if not most of the problems.

 

2. While I personally advocate that the guides us temporary shelters such as Weather Ports. The guides have mixed feelings because the snow level varies as the season progresses and such they need to be reset. At what frequency I do not know.

 

3. The Gombu shelter was an illegal construction and is slated to be removed. But until #2 above is solved it will remain. Similarly, the A-frame now used by the guides is to be removed, but will remain for now.

 

4. The whole Camp Muir update was stalled by the floods as money had to be re-allocated.

 

5. Climbers are not the only folks at a Muir - just look at the congo line on the weekends. Day hikers also have an impact. The NPS is aware of that.

 

Personal side bar - IMHO there should three permanent structures at Muir; NPS shelter, Public Shelter, and the crappers. Everything else should be temporary.

 

All of the above to a large part are separate from the climbing fee.

 

In regards to the climbing fee:

 

6. Guided clients also pay the climbing fee. It is included in the guiding fees.

 

7. The blog is a big issue and they have been made very aware of the need to keep it updated on a regular basis. There are some politics in regards to it. That said, I believe it probably has the biggest visible impact in regards to the climbing program that if the blog is not maintained on a regular basis that many climbers will forego the fee.

 

8. Out reach is a big issue. Gaitor was out there. He sold the program. For the program to continue the NPS needs to look at his tenure carefully. Those who follow need not follow exactly but they need to be doing a lot more on the out reach. See #7 for a prime example.

 

9. There will always be mix of users. Many of us on CC are old hands and do not need the hand holding like many coming to Rainier. We want to see condition reports and get to the business of climbing. We (or at least most) how to deal with a blue bag, how to find the damn bivy site in a white out, look at a weather report etc. As such, we do not require much from the NPS. However, we are the minor, the small minority compared to the others.

 

The others, do not mind and actually like having rangers on the hill. And some really need that person contact. Like the guy climbing in blue jeans with a clothesline.

 

10. Something I would like to see is the NPS go to a lifetime pass for climbing. Say after 5 season passes you get a life time pass. Or just pay up front for 5 passes. At this point some of us should probably get a refund after all the seasons spent on the hill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Need" is a misused word. People were climbing Rainier LONG before there was any structure at Muir or ranger system. If newbies 'need' these things on Rainier, how do they muddle up every other Cascade volcano without them? I've never been atop Adams when there wasn't a person in jeans and a flannel shirt. Glacier Peak, Baker, Adams, St. Helens, Hood, Jefferson, North Middle and South Sis, Shasta, and Lassen: None of them have permanent shelters (aside from the cabin at 7000' on Shasta), much less shelters reserved for paying customers.

 

Mike was/is a tireless, passionate, dedicated advocate for climbers, independent climbers in particular. I miss his presence on Rainier.

 

My understanding is that the blog was started because the old NPS/MORA web site conditions page was so hard to update/maintain; the blog was intended to be more effective with less work. And I'll again point out that there is no such blog for any other Cascade volcano, and yet we all manage to climb them.

 

As someone pointed out earlier, people will quickly come to expect an enhanced level of amenities: Wands, fixed lines, ladders, a ranger brigade up the route, paved trails, rescue helo circling the mountain at all times, etc. That doesn't make these things a good idea. If people are looking for a absolute guarantee of safety, they belong at Disneyland, not on a volcano.

 

It seems to me that the bottom line is that the climbing program is treated like a profit center that supports other areas of the park, and because of this there is pressure to increase revenue from it, which means both higher fees and enticing more people to pay them. The latter means making it easier/more comfortable for people who aren't truly prepared to attempt the climb. All this BS about providing the level of service that people expect is just that: BS. I personally don't expect anything except perhaps a rescue attempt as possible if I ever got into serious trouble. (Edit to add: Which is my expectation for all the places I go in the Cascades that don't require payment to use)

 

So I guess it comes down to one question for me: What is the mission of the climbing program at Rainier? The answer to that question drives (or should) choices about structure, staffing, regulation, and fees.

Edited by CascadeClimber

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

for the record Mt. Hood has at least 4-5 permanent structures above timberline, 2 of them are in wilderness areas. 1 of them for paying customers of Timberline inc., though you can pop in there if you need.

 

I'm on board with poop facilities/blue bag barrels for heavy traffic areas, no matter where, volcano or forest--it just makes sense. That or you limit people (already in conjunction with feces mitigation)

 

 

Edited by Water

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
for the record Mt. Hood has at least 3 permanent structures above timberline, 2 of them in wilderness areas.

 

I'm on board with poop facilities/blue bag barrels for heavy traffic areas, no matter where, volcano or forest--it just makes sense. That or you limit people (already in conjunction with feces mitigation)

 

 

I stand corrected. Though I would contest the inclusion of Silcox Hut, in the middle of a groomed ski run, in this list.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Silcox is not within the Mt Hood Wilderness area. Are the others you are referring to the McNeil and Cooper Spur shelters?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

correct, and sure, toss out any the ski related buildings & silcox. a bit pedantic perhaps to call out those two hovels, but to say there is no structure on any of the other mountains.. not true. additionally right at treeline more or less, you've got tilly jane cabin (in wilderness area and fee-based).

 

I generally agree with cascadeclimber that it would be nice to know what the long term goal of the MRNP climbing program is. More visitors? safer? less environ. impact? more consolidation of users, etc...or whatever combination and weight the importance of each.

 

I'd be fine with no buildings, personally.

Edited by Water

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And David, I've given the park my name, address, and phone number each time I've attempted to climb since 1995; at least 100 times. The most certainly have contact info for the affected parties in this situation.

 

I'll be at the meeting on Wednesday. Thanks to the Marmot folks for posting this.

 

Sorry, I hope that I did not give the wrong impression here with my comments about getting on a park e-mail list. I should have elaborated more on this. My intention was to try and encourage folks to ask Mt Rainier National Park to establish and maintain an e-mail list of folks that want to be notified about these types of issues at Mt Rainier. People like yourself that have been on the mountain a lot over the years are probably some of the best ones to provide constructive input to the park officials.

 

I believe that it was in 2003 that I spoke with officials at Mt Rainier about doing a better job in getting the word out to the public about various issues that they were working on. At that time, they seemed to feel that it would be a big expense that they did not have the people for and the funds to manage. While they may have names and addresses for climber's that have registered and purchased permits over the years, I can see how it could be a major expense to send out letters to everyone whenever some important issue that requires a decision and public comment came up. I suggested that they at least start an e-mail list since this seems like it would be a lot less expensive and easier to compile, manage, and use than an actual mailing list. Maybe some tech savvy person could even volunteer to help them set up an e-mail list like this that could be joined via the web site for Mt Rainier National Park. My guess is that this would be fairly easy to do and would save them the time and labor of answering phones and entering e-mail addresses in by hand.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×