The deaths at the Ice Caves have one major difference from Enchantments, Rainier and/or other alpine tragedy locations. The victims at the Ice Caves are..standing comfortably, posing or looking with awe at the structure. They are not ascending, descending or mountaineering. The objective is to eliminate the loss of life-period. On any given summer weekend, you can watch droves of all ages walking up to, in to and on top of the Caves- and they’ve all seen the extreme message on the signage. It is comparable to jay-walking; we all know the danger but pedestrians still are hit and killed by cars-because of making a judgment call instead of following the rules.
At the Forest Service public hearing a couple of years ago concerning improving safety on the ice caves trail I was one of only 3 people representing the public and the only hiker there. I drove an hour and took a ferry to be there. Just sayin'.
I think there were about 8 people at the one I attended; and like yours, only a few actual hikers - which non- or occasional hikers/strollers are a lot of the kinds of visitors at Big4. No but the on-line comments and ongoing pile of comments after every incident, and that Tam lawsuit combined make up for lack of bodily presence.
-------------- " I'm really happy about this! … I have very strong good and horrible memories up there." – oldgranola, NWH’s outdoors advocate.
I participated in one of the focus groups that Kim and Schroder referred to above - there were about 8 people attending. The FS subsequently installed a bunch of new signage, and as Kim mentioned, the end of the trail there is now pretty obvious. During the high season on weekends they even had a ranger wandering around trail's end - don't know how long they kept that up.
The only other improvement the FS could make is to go out there in late spring and put up a free-standing cautionary sign right in front of the caves, which also mentions the number of people who died because of going in/on them. The sign would have to be removed before winter set in. I saw something like that in BC at a popular inlet reachable only by boat. There's a waterfall at the head of the inlet with an informal trail that goes to the top. The wardens put up a caution sign about staying off the slippery rocks and noting how many people had died at the site. A good video for the "kiosk" the article suggests:
-------------- "There are yahoos out there. It’s why we can’t have nice things." - Tom Mahood
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