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Keep Our Mountains Free. And Dangerous By Francis Sanzaro

January 14 2018 at 6:09 PM
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Tom Lopez  (no login)


 
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Ray Brooks
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Climber used to be regulated in National Parks

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January 14 2018, 7:24 PM 

Tom! Thanks for sharing the article. I do remember registering for climbs in Grand Teton National Park in the mid-70's, where I had to provide a list of 3 previous climbs equal to, or harder than, the route I was registering for. I think there was also a required gear list, depending on the route.

Mt. Rainier National Park rangers in the 1970's decided MSR's metal ice axes were a standard & declared war on wood-shaft axes. Apparently, some rangers would even place would-be climbers wood axes between two high points & jump on them in an attempt to break the shaft. Of course, required gear for a Rainier climb included ice axe, crampons, & a rope, plus previous experience.

It looks like we may be re-visiting that era again.


    
This message has been edited by raybrooks on Jan 16, 2018 7:32 PM


 
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Geo
(Login Geo_R)

urban space of commerce?

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January 14 2018, 10:30 PM 

That's not on my list.

-George

 
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Tom Lopez
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I remember . . .

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January 15 2018, 10:33 AM 

hiking in Smokey Mountain National Park in March 1972 and the rangers going through everything in our backpacks to insure we would survive. By the time I climbed the Grand 7 or 8 years later there was no inquisition by the rangers. I prefer the latter but there is no doubt a tension between managing too many people (experienced and inexperienced) trying to use the wilds. I am afraid the tension will always, in the end, lead to more regulation and more control by authorities.

 
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Tod
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Not necessarily.....

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January 16 2018, 7:03 PM 

Good article and conversation. I just wanted to add that I know of an example of a governing agency not reacting with more regulation in the face or litigation, although I imagine this is rare.
When I lived and climbed in the Tetons in the 90’s the initial policy at that time was a sign in and sign out before all climbs. No gear or experience checks thank God! My roommates and I got to know the rangers well as I was often more focused on the post climb beer than letting them know I was back which resulted in many phone calls the next day to check up on me.
At some point a young guy, off by himself, fell off the snowfields on the east face of Buck Mt and launched off a 300 ft cliff, predicatably dying. When the rangers went out late the next day they found him pretty quickly. This happened every year somewhere in the Tetons and still does today. In this case, the family decided that it was the negligence of the delayed response of SAR (24 hours after he should have returned) that was responsible for their son’s death. Not his own judgement or the 300 ft fall which likely (hopefully) killed him instantly.
I don’t know all the details but the Park won the lawsuit and, the following year, dropped the sign in/sign out policy. Too much exposure to liability policing everyone’s whereabouts I guess. Everyone I knew of in the community supported the move and, to this day, from my experience, they are still pretty hands off about regulating climbers beyond protecting the environment from being overrun.
Hopeful case I believe.

 
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splattski
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comment

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January 15 2018, 6:56 AM 

Thanks, Tom.
I feel the need to point out a couple things. I hope they are obvious to this group.

The use of "we" in the article includes not just the community of experienced climbers, but everyone who goes into the mountains (or the "wilds'). The latter group is often untrained and uneducated about the challenges they face. Route finding, gear selection, hazard identification, and knowing when to turn around are all developed skills.

Note that there are true accidents. But in many cases, there were errors in judgement that led to the incident. As an example, here's an article about camping next to "an obvious hazard" (In liability cases, hindsight is always 20/20) that the Boise National Forest supposedly should have removed:
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/04/11/idaho-family-sues-usfs-for-1m-after-tree-hit-son.html

It's not "the lawyers" who cause the problems described. It's again the latter group of untrained and uneducated, and/or their families and loved ones. The lawyers are only providing a legal service to those who seek retribution (or absolution), often for the mistakes that led to injury or death.

Ask yourself: If you were to come to harm, would you or your family expect "the government" to look for you and provide rescue? Would you or your family sue?

And ask this: does "the government" have a right to try to avoid these situations by setting basic levels of skill/equipment/experience? Yeah, I've been grilled by the Park Service. But I don't think they (nor the lawyers) are the ones that should be the target of my annoyance.

 
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Tom Lopez
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I agree.

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January 15 2018, 10:39 AM 

Well said John. Lawyers and the government are always blamed but they just react to what the masses cause. Face it to many people wanting to use the wilderness lead to too many search and rescue missions. Rescue personnel risk their lives often as a result of inexperienced or excessive risk takers getting into trouble.

 
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