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Chief Joseph
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PostTue Jan 09, 2018 2:42 pm 
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I think the answer varies from person to person. Some don't feel comfortable telling others how to act (me) while others must get on their soapbox and preach. curse.gif

And then others probably fall somewhere in the middle, so really imho there is no definitive answer to this question.

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RumiDude
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PostTue Jan 09, 2018 2:48 pm 
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silence wrote:
My concern wasn't about the response of a specific ranger at WIC ... it's more about the Park's policy.

As far as I know, there is no permit system for climbing any mountain in ONP. Matter of fact I am sure there isn't. It is not illegal to be ill-prepared, so even if there was a ranger there, they couldn't prevent them from going out. And they can't prevent a person from carrying a firearm.

In your instance, unless there happened to be a ranger up valley they could contact via radio, there wasn't anything anyone could do other than what you did. And even then the ranger could only talk with them.

ONP volunteer and paid rangers can only advise people of conditions and such. Unless someone is violating a regulation or law, there is nothing to do.

Rumi

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silence
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silence
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PostTue Jan 09, 2018 3:13 pm 
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RumiDude wrote:
As far as I know, there is no permit system for climbing any mountain in ONP

What? Backcountry permits are required throughout the Park for overnight stays ... so maybe I didn't make it clear ... these guys were backpacking and planning to be there for a while. In fact, we met up again with them at 5-mile Island where they planned to spend their first night. Frankly, after that we were pretty sure (and relieved) that there was no way they were going to reach their expectations. Still, at our first meeting going in, we were overly concerned about everything I talked about before. And, yeah ...  shocking as it was, you are correct ... rangers and volunteers can only advise ... like the rest of us. I guess it's up to all of us to take on the role of nature's stewards, for everything and everybody's sake.

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RumiDude
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PostTue Jan 09, 2018 4:28 pm 
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silence wrote:
RumiDude wrote:
As far as I know, there is no permit system for climbing any mountain in ONP

What? Backcountry permits are required throughout the Park for overnight stays ... so maybe I didn't make it clear ...

OK, I didn't make myself clear. I meant that there is no climbing permit needed. The backcountry permit is, as you mentioned, for all overnight stays in ONP. But no additional permit is needed to climb peaks.

My understanding is that in order to receive a permit to climb Denali, one must satisfy the officials that they have adequate experience and safety equipment. I could be wrong about that but that is my understanding. And as far as I know, it is the only mountain in North America that requires that.

Rumi

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Bedivere
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Bedivere
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PostTue Jan 09, 2018 6:00 pm 
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We got some serious diplomats around here.  I generally keep my yap shut because I'm not very diplomatic and I'd probably just piss people off and incite them to do even more stupid things just to show me.  I guess if I saw someone who was in imminent danger and they obviously had no clue I'd speak up, but for the most part I'm willing to let people learn from Hard Knock U.

Since this thread seems to be coming to it's logical conclusion, I'll try to derail it with a rant about the word "professional."

All it means is that a person gets paid to do something.  It means absolutely bupkis about their competence at or knowledge of the thing for which they are being paid.

I have worked with some lazy, sloppy people who turn out shoddy work but they get paid the same as me so I guess it's all good 'cause we're "professionals."

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RandyHiker
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PostTue Jan 09, 2018 6:56 pm 
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RumiDude wrote:
...
My understanding is that in order to receive a permit to climb Denali, one must satisfy the officials that they have adequate experience and safety equipment. I could be wrong about that but that is my understanding. And as far as I know, it is the only mountain in North America that requires that.

Rumi

I'm not finding the "anal probing" requirement here:

https://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/registrationinfo.htm

In the "terms and conditions" page

https://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/climbingtermsconditions.htm

there is this

Quote:
If the NPS treats a member of your party and/or evacuates a member of your party due to an emergency and determines that the situation was caused due to negligence, your climbing permit may be cancelled.

But this seems like an "after the fact" cancellation. 

IDK -- perhaps there is some sort of interview process that isn't listed on the website

Also AFAIK   Mt Rainier and Mt Whitney also have "climbing permits"

https://www.nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/climbing.htm

https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/inyo/passes-permits/recreation/?cid=stelprdb5150055

But it appears the the requirement for Mt Rainier is to pay the fee and for Mt Whitney you need to "win the lottery" for the limited number of permits. (and pay a fee)

AFAICT -- Neither the NPS or USFS appear to explicitly administering any sort idiot assessment in the granting of climbing permits.
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Bernardo
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PostTue Jan 09, 2018 6:56 pm 
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Sounds like the OP handled the situation well.

Recently, I was at a bouldery summit along a ridge in the Blue Ridge Mountains when a father with two nice kids, a boy and a girl about 11, came and joined me.  The girl was absolutely fearless and climbed the rocks like a squirrel climbs a tree.  The easy side could yield a good fall with a serious injury and the far side was a precipice.  I thought the father was very careless, but I didn't raise an issue.  I think I may have said, "Be careful" as kindly as I could as I moved off the tiny summit down the easy side and over along the ridge to another rocky point where I could be alone.  As I was sitting there looking back, I saw the girl start to climb over the sloping edge of the cliff side to follow me.  The way the rocks were arranged she might have been able to skootch/slide/fall down to a ledge, or she might have taken a deadly tumble.  I stood up and shouted "No, not that way!" and waved my arms.  The girl looked up and stopped.  I repeated, "No, not that way!" and her father called her back.  I hadn't had time to think it over; I reacted out of fear.  I think she was absolutely oblivious to how much risk she was taking.  Afterward I wondered about how thoughtless someone, in this case the father, could be.  I also thought that maybe I had stopped one of the world's great precocious climbing talents from having fun.  I proceeded along the ridge and left them to their own devices, pretty certain she would live to climb another day.
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Malachai Constant
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PostTue Jan 09, 2018 7:28 pm 
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Back in the day the Rangers would check you out before giving a climbing permit. One ranger used to put your axe between a couple rocks and jump on the shaft  doh.gif , this stopped when metal shafts became commonplace, don't know if many people do axe belays anymore. I have had them examine me before giving a backcountry camping permit although that is more LNT than safety.

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reststep
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PostTue Jan 09, 2018 8:26 pm 
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I assume you are talking about Mt. Rainier.  I remember the rangers testing the ice axe handles.  That was a long time ago in the 50's.

How old are you?

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Malachai Constant
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PostWed Jan 10, 2018 12:09 am 
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The were still doing it in the 70's, old enough to know better.

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RumiDude
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PostWed Jan 10, 2018 1:02 am 
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RandyHiker wrote:
I'm not finding the "anal probing" requirement here

RumiDude wrote:
I could be wrong about that but that is my understanding.

It was due to a conversation I had with a climber who had been to climb Denali. Looks like he either misunderstood or I misunderstood him.

Rumi

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moonspots
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PostWed Jan 10, 2018 9:21 am 
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Bernardo wrote:
Afterward I wondered about how thoughtless someone, in this case the father, could be.

When I was about 16 or so, a friend and I were scrambling along the Oregon coast south of Coos Bay. The slope was becoming gradually steeper the further southward we went. He quit and went back a ways, I continued. Eventually the slope "won" and I slipped, maybe 3-4 feet, but my fingernails were digging into the moss/grass/whatever to stop the slide. When I came to a stop, I looked down and there about 40' below me was the ocean, then the rocks, then the ocean, etc as the waves came and went. My Angel had me by the nape of the neck, I'd say (and not the last time either). So I learned a little about slope, footing, stance and so on that afternoon. We went back to where his folks were having lunch at a small park and we said nothing of the event.

Many years later my wife and I were driving the Going to the Sun highway through Glacier park, heading east when we stopped near the "Garden Wall" admiring the views. As I recall that particular viewpoint, the dropoff to our right was maybe 100' vertical, then a few more hundred steep slope to the bottom of the valley. The barrier between us and the dropoff was the standard NPS stone wall of about 3'. As I turned to see what I heard behind me, a 2-3 year old boy was walking along the top of this little "fence", with mom behind (by 30 feet maybe) calling to him to come back.

He was just out of my reach, but I *almost* reached for him, I *almost* called to him to stop, but thought if I did anything to startle him, he might fall over the edge. Yes, mom caught up to him and retrieved him, and neither she or dad seemed particularly concerned over the event. My wife and I got in the car and departed, I didn't want to see anything like that again. It's a vivid memory to this day, maybe 35 years later.

A few years ago, I stopped at "The Columns" in Eugene to watch a couple guys. I noticed that the belayer was very "relaxed" in his technique, meaning he'd hold the climber's rope with left hand while letting go of the anchor end of the rope with right, and just re-grab it next to the ACT, and repeat. I just left, didn't want to see a serious fall if it happened.

Maybe 3 years ago, I was belaying the grandkids at The Warehouse in Olympia when I saw a couple of young guys practicing leading. The belayer was using some method that probably would have assured a full drop to the floor had the climber slipped. I leaned over and said something like "here, try this, it is more solid". The kid thanked me, and then the climber dropped, but only to the end of his rope, not to the floor. Ok, that went well.

So, yeah, I agree, "saying something" is probably appropriate when you're truly concerned, and the danger is imminent or unforgiving. I also think that its reception will be based mostly on how it's presented.

I've been fortunate so far to have lived through a LOT of personal mistakes, so I'm more likely to offer an opinion of I see something truly likely to result in serious harm. So now all I have to do is decide "is what I'm witnessing something that likely would result in a tragedy, and I can help prevent it"? That's the big question...

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gb
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gb
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PostWed Jan 10, 2018 9:26 am 
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Interesting thread. I don't recall that many instances where it seemed like someone was doing something they shouldn't have been. Part of that is that when I saw another group in the mountains skiing or climbing I generally went someplace else. I trusted my own judgement and that of my partners' more than some stranger's. I do recall skiing up towards the base of the steep slope at the top of Kendall trees on a day when there could easily have been instability with sufficiently deep snow. I believe we turned around one ridge below the steep slope when another party came up. One of the party must have said something like "are you guys going higher?" I said no as I thought it might be possible to trigger the slope from below. The other party stopped where we did.

The most remarkable instances of people taking risks happened one summer repeatedly on classic NW alpine climbs. I partnered with a couple of different partners for several years. We would meet at the U of W rock and folks would discuss their planned trips. Anyway, this one summer, this one guy who seemed reckless showed up that summer on the same climbs we were doing and it creeped me out. I didn't want anything to do with him as I thought he was reckless and could easily have an accident with us around. We started to be clandestine in choosing climbing objectives. At a later point in time, this same individual took a two thousand foot fall on snow-covered ground on the north face of Monte Cristo while soloing. He wasn't badly injured just badly bruised. Sooner or later, everybody is going to make a mistake. If that mistake happens with high potential consequences it is likely to be the end of the game. I think there is a big difference between courses and credentials and experience. That is certainly true regarding avalanche exposure and knowledge. When I think back to what I did when I was young and inexperienced I did many things I wouldn't have done later (climbing and skiing).  At the time I didn't think that much about risk in most instances; I just thought that there was this thing I wanted to do and I was sure I could do it. My most serious avalanche involvement came after I had had 20 years of experience. We were regularly skiing real alpine terrain because of the spectacular nature of the scenery. I realized this at the time and recall thinking whether we were taking too much risk. I was good at evaluating hazard but the question was one of cumulative risk. That spring I triggered a 4' slab and took a one half mile ride, dropping 1500 vft. At one point during the slide I must have been 4-5' under the snow as everything was dark. Luckily, because of a gamble I made as I went over a 40' cliff suspended on a cushion of wet snow, I ended up nearly completely on the surface. After the accident I thoroughly researched weather and avalanche data. The avalanche hazard was rated Low at the time but we were 1000' above the top of forecast zones. In analyzing the data I came to the conclusion that there is no way I would have had the ability to have predicted the hazard on this particular slope. Although each decision one makes may seem like a good one, the problem is cumulative risk over time. In teaching avalanche courses I relayed stories of this accident (in a detailed four page write-up with data tables) and other close calls. I realized what I was teaching was philosophy rather than skills. There is no way young enthusiasts will listen to "don't do this or don't do that". Personal examples in which it is difficult to grasp the complexity allow one to have a much longer lasting influence on safety.
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cascadetraverser
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PostThu Jan 11, 2018 9:48 am 
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I have to chime in with the "don`t preach" group.  Common sense rules apply and sometimes I try to warn people but often times the admonitions are unnecessary and put people off.  Who is really the expert out there anyway?  My brother and I learned our lessons in the old days the hard way and I wouldn't want it any other way.
Once I was hiking with my wife and children (aged 4 and 6) on the Ingall`s creek trail and my daughter was 4, looked smaller than that at the time, and had hiked into an overnight camp at around 3-4 miles in on her ow; and the next day, we were day hiking further up the trail when an elderly hiker sternly chastised all of us for day hiking a child so far up the trail. (the person assumed much and didn't understand we had broken up the trip and had decades of outdoor experience between us, as well as were health care providers aware of our child`s physical limitations). I was in a peaceful mood and frankly was speechless as they proceeded to hike the opposite way on the trail, feeling good about themselves and I guess felt they were sparing the child unnecessary risk. The whole thing put me in a bad mood and was unwarranted....
That wasn't the first time I have been lectured unecessarily outdoors and I never appreciate it...
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cascadeclimber
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PostThu Jan 11, 2018 12:54 pm 
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cascadetraverser wrote:
I have to chime in with the "don`t preach" group.

Over the years I've also found myself reacting negatively to having my choices judged by someone else's standards. The Mountaineers used to be infamous for this, and on more than one occasion I had them yell at me from far across glaciers that I "shouldn't be doing that!"

I've also had people coming down a route I was going up tell me that it was "impassable". In those cases I proceeded and always found a way (one person's 'impassable' is another person's 'sporty').

And of course there is the dressing down that my partner for Willis Wall and the new route on Johannesberg got from a number of people because some people thought those routes were "unfit for parents".

Perhaps where I begin to cross over from silence to speaking up is when:

1. The choices of the other group have a chance of endangering me.
2. The choices of the other group have a chance of endangering someone in the group who doesn't seem to have the knowledge to make an independent analysis, particularly a young person.

Said another way, (1), I don't much care if you want to try to sketch up the icy Haystack in your flip flops unless you are likely to fall on me and/or I would be expected to provide aid/scoop the parts into a bag. And (2), you just dragged a ten year old kid up it who doesn't have enough experience to realize how dangerous it is and so is depending on you to look out for him/her.

And in those cases perhaps it's best to endeavor to provide facts (we needed two tools to pass obstacles on the glacier, I was challenged to get down the scramble with full crampons, descending is more difficult than ascending) rather than an uninformed assessment of the ability of the other group to deal with the facts.

Just ruminating.

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