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Mountaineers or WAC ?


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CascadeClimber asked for a list of things the Mountaineers have done for the Cascades. I don't have time to do a thorough brain dump, but here are a few things that come to mind:

* They created The Mountaineers Books, the biggest publisher of mountain books in the country and arguably the best. The Mountaineers Books are known for their high quality and their responsible approach to publishing. (Disclaimer: I've been a volunteer manuscript reviewer for over ten years.)

* They published Tom Miller's "North Cascades" and "Mountaineering, the Freedom of the Hills."

* They were a key player in creating the Mountain Rescue Council, both as an organization and through the individual efforts of the founders, Wolf Bauer, Otto Trott and Ome Daiber (all Mountaineers members).

* They were an important player (although perhaps not as important as the North Cascades Conservation Council, a Mountaineers spin-off) in creating the Glacier Peak Wilderness, North Cascades National Park, and Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

* They have recorded the history of exploration in the Northwest (one of their missions). I've been spending a fair amount of time in their library recently, and I can't thank them enough.

Most recently, they've taken the wrong position in support of Fee-Demo, and I share the disappointment of others in this. (I'd like to see a guerrila action by the members reverse this. Note that NCCC is firmly against Fee-Demo, which they've described as the biggest potential disaster since the railroad land grants of the 1800s.)


--Lowell Skoog


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One of the most obvious things the Mountaineers have done is publish pretty much all of the guidebooks Mr. CascadeClimber uses to find his way in the hills.

One thing I would like to point out is that if we looked at all of the private parties out there, I think we'd see about as much stupid stuff as we see in the Mountaineers (I know I've witnessed plenty of 'accidents waiting to happen' in private parties). The Mountaineers are just really easy to pick on as the are visible and tend to travel in packs. That isn't to say that there aren't problems with the Mountaineers, they're merely human like all of us.

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Excellent thread. Based on the passionate posts this is obviously an important issue to all of us who value our time in the mountains and feel that the Mountaineer’s (and WACs to a lesser degree) are compromising our experiences there.


In summary, what I’ve read in the above posts (and can verify from experience) is that although they provide some positive services in support of the climbers, they are negatively affecting the quality of our experiences in the mountains by a) overcrowding b) posing an unexceptable risk of accidents due to both overcrowding and the number inexperienced climbers involved.

But here’s a news flash…. THE MOUNTAINEERS AREN”T GOING AWAY ! For better or worse they are part of the Cascades climbing community. All the complaining in the world, is not going to convince them to disband. The best we can hope for is that maybe they would be willing to clean up their act, so the rest of us can enjoy the Cascades right along with them.

The obvious course of action is to put these problems in front of the Mountaineers and solicit their cooperation in dealing with them (how else will change occur?). If they hear from enough people maybe they’ll be convinced that some change is necessary. There seems to be enough critical mass here to start applying some pressure.

I would suggest that you write them a letter, send them an email, or post on their website bulltein board. Let them know how you feel. Let them know how they are perceived by the rest of the climbing community. It’s a long shot, but it is probably the only shot at seeing some change.


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***Rant Warning - Proceed with Caution***

Okay, I've been through this before, but please, for my education, list some specific things that the Seattle Mountaineers have done. It isn't that I don't believe that there are things, I just haven't ever seen a list of *specific* things.

Here is my list:

- Consistently go on trips with large numbers of people.

- Consistently have an attitude that they have preferred rights to the Cascades because of "all they've done".

- Consistently berate and chastise other climbers for doing things the "wrong" way.

- Support the ridiculous Fee Demo program for the reason that "if we don't support it, we don't get a seat at the table to discuss it." Really? What kind of discussion is that, given that everyone there has to support the policy?

- Try to run almost 200 people through the basic climbing course each year.

- Consistently monopolize areas and routes trying to train all those people.

- Consistently have a significant number of injuries each year and try to rationalize them as "to be expected given the number of trips we do." I've been on some of those trips and I see why people get hurt. It isn't just percentages.

- Have an organizational belief that they represent climbers in the Northwest. To quote from Monty Python, “Well I didn’t vote for you!”

I joined to find other people to climb with. And I did meet some great people. But in the few months that I was in the Basic class I repeatedly saw trip leaders ignore input from students about safety issues. In one case, on the Nisqually glacier, this attitude nearly cost several people their lives when a car-sized boulder fell *between* two rope teams. Five minutes earlier I had been one of a group of people who strongly suggested to the Training class leader that the area was not safe. Our suggestion was summarily dismissed. And that is why people get hurt on their trips.

And who was here first is irrelevant. It is about who is here now and how they (we) behave. But for the record, and contrary to some beliefs, it was Native Americans who were here first, not the Mountaineers.



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In response to Heinrich:

First of all I am from CA. if it matters. Also I don't recall the Mtnrs owning the mountains. What gives you the right to imply that people such as me are part of the "problem"? I have to admit I bumble around all the time (I suck). But I never subjected anyone to the likes of what Mike mentioned above though... And what does it matter how long the Mtnrs have been around? Is this some sort of "we were here first so we own it" mentality? You even admit you avoid thier large trips...

Apparently there are benefits of course. As I said before I was just more or less speaking my mind and stating what I saw (facts). I have been to thier place in Seattle to watch the Mtn films twice (one thing I think is cool for them to host). I also do believe they have courses with good skills to be learned. I just don't prefer to take them because of the rumors I have heard about the bs you have to put up with. I just have this gung ho former paratrooper attitude that is part of my personality that does not mix well in groups like that. You may have to excuse me if I am too blunt or offending. If in fact I do start "bashing" you'll know it.

I do have 2 climbing partners that once were in the Mtnrs. After speaking to them about thier experiences I came to the conclusion it is not for me. Topics like doing Kp mentioned by Mike definitley would spark a fire with me. I have done my share of Kp and prefer not to shovel a porch for 2 hours either.

I am in complete approval of Mr Good times quote: "friends don't let friends join the Mountaineers," or something like that. "



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I took the Cascade Alpine Guides basic mountaineering course and would recommend it to anyone willing to spend a little extra to get a solid (and safe) climbing foundation.

As for the Mountaineers: as others have mentioned, their library is outstanding and would be reason enough to join (in fact I've started to volunteer there).

[This message has been edited by Peter Baer (edited 01-06-2001).]

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Did you have any idea about the bee's nest you were playing with?

I agree totally with Lowell S. The mounties have done a lot to be admired; however, their climbing class and other classes are an objective hazard in the Cascades. frown.gif SHW please don't become part of the problem.

PS Stay away from those WACky people too. there may be only 300 of them, but they have chosen the dark side of climbing. shocked.gif


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I have found I don't have to be a member of the Mountaineers to read the great books they publish.

I highly suggest starting your own library starting with a few basics. First and foremost is to buy and read cover to cover Freedom of the Hills. I would also suggest Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue by Andy Selters if you are even thinking of venturing onto a glacier. Then go find a tree and PRACTISE some of this stuff!

Next I would purchase the three guides to the Cascades by Fred Beckey and the Climbers guide to the Olympic Mountains.

Speaking of the Olympics, I personally learned much of my climbing in this beautiful range and use it to expose less experienced climbers to the beauty of mountain climbing. In the Olympics you get to hike through beautiful forests and then climb steep snow without the fear of falling in a crevasse (on most routes.) I find them less crowded and I can honestly say I have been rained out more in the Cascades than in the Olympics. They are a great, safe place to start teaching yourself what you can learn in a book.

Spend some time in Leavenworth learning to rock climb on a top rope and then work your way into leading. Experience is your best teacher if you keep your head about you. Just don't underestimate ANYTHING when it comes to being in the mountains.

One last note....the 10 essentials are a good list to know. Just realize it depends on what route you are doing and what time of year whether you really need all ten.

Happy trails and wear your helmet,

Dave Parker



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