Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Snippets from the 2005 Report

I'm having some "formatting" problems with blogger when it comes to tables, charts, etc. I'll do what I can to get the entire report on the blog soon, but it may take a while. In the meantime, here are a few snippets from the 2005 Mountaineering Report.

It was a unique year of climbing on Mount Rainier. The winter was marked by extended stretches of clear and stable weather with very little snowfall. This provided incredible winter mountaineering opportunities, of which some climbers took advantage. We found that winter registration grew threefold in 04/05 to over 375.

The stable weather pattern changed in the spring however when a series of cold and wet storms blanketed the upper mountain with snow. This precipitation revitalized the glaciers and the alpine meadows for the summer season. Aesthetically and botanically, the meadows were simply amazing. They melted out early and many Rainier aficionados found the abundance of alpine wildflowers in 2005 to be some of the most spectacular in recent memory.

Another highpoint in 2005 was the reopening of the Paradise Guide House. The newly remodeled visitor center houses climbing, alpine ecology and rescue exhibits. It’s also the best place to get a climbing permit. During the summer, climbing rangers staff the Climbing Information Center each morning and help with registration. The Guide House has become a great venue for information about the upper mountain.

Similarly, the historic renovation of Camp Muir that started in 2004 was finally completed this summer. The contractors did an outstanding job restoring the Cook Shack, Public Shelter and Historic Men’s Toilet. In particular, the work on the Public Shelter was exceptional. Travelers staying at Camp Muir will appreciate the enhanced appearance, lighting, and livability of the remodeled interior.

On the climbing front, the season was intense and short. Most notably, the total number of climbers registered decreased. Though there was a successful winter climbing season, formable spring weather denied climbers’ reliable access until July. Additionally, there were a plethora of rescues and three recoveries in 2005; it was a difficult spring.

There were 8,972 registered climbers in 2005. We again see a continued trend in climber registration numbers. Over the past five years, those numbers have been steadily decreasing (table 1). Of the 8,972 registered, 3,879 were part of a guided trip, while 5,093 climbed independently. Table 1 lists those statistics in comparison to other years. Independent climbers have a 44% success rate; guide service averages a 60% success rate.

Here is a list of yearly totals since 2000:

Year: 2000 = 13,114
Year: 2001 = 11,874
Year: 2002 = 11,313
Year: 2003 = 9,897
Year: 2004 = 9,251
Year: 2005 = 8,972

In 2005, over 36 barrels of human waste (five and a half tons) were collected from high camps and Panorama Point. With good news, we report that fewer climbers improperly disposed of their human waste. Climbing rangers, however, still carried down hundreds of pounds of trash and garbage from high camps. They also dismantled rock walls, newly established camp sites, and contacted parties who were camping illegally. The vast majority of climbers do their part to leave no trace, and it’s greatly appreciated.