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ScaredSilly

Rainier Rescues - disarray ???

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I'm not really surprised or alarmed. The implications (to me) is that helicopter rescues will be reserved for "life-or-limb" injuries more, and that non-life-threatening rescues will take more time to descend by litter or on foot.

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Denali has a similar policy of reserving helicopter rescues for when there is a "threat to life or limb" although there are occasional exceptions to that that are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

 

A key difference between Denali and what has been the case at Rainier to this point is that Denali has it's own helicopter on call 24/7 during the climbing season on the peak. They contract with a helicopter outfit who provides the helicopter, a pilot (trained for high altitude missions and technical rescues) and mechanic who spend the entire season in Talkeetna. This is very different than what Rainier has done over the years. Occasionally, Denali needs to call in a Chinook from the military for a specific purpose but that is uncommon.

 

One major advantage of the current Denali system is that the helicopter pilot has radio contact with the rangers on the ground coordinating the rescue or other aspects of flight operations. They also do training together prior to and during the season. That is not the case with the Army. When the Chinooks fly, the pilots do not have the same communication which raises the risk of the situation considerably, particularly when one considers the huge winds created by those helicopters when they come in.

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I would hope that Rainier would have a helicopter on call 24/7, as they do at Denali. If they don't, it would come down to someone asking, "Can my budget handle another rescue by charter flight this season?" That's the wrong question at the wrong time. I would not be surprised (nor would I object) if this results in a climbing permit fee increase.

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The more I've dug into what's going on at MORA, the more disgusted I get and the less surprised I am by things like this. My understanding is that they had another helo incident on a rescue recently that was kept quiet.

 

Remember when the fee was jacked up a few years ago and justified on 'ranger safety', including staffing both Muir and Schurman with two rangers all summer? They've failed on both counts. Which leaves me wondering what's going on with the money.

 

Training failures, staffing failures, incidents on rescues, rangers shooting fireworks from the summit, corrupt real estate deals, etc. The beat goes on...

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