Sunday, June 17, 2007

Route updates and more incidents

There are a number of climbing conditions updates now that the mountaineering rangers are regularly patrolling the standard routes. The Gibraltar Ledges, Emmons, DC, and Kautz were all climbed last week and we still welcome your reports if you're out and about...

This weekend went by without a mountaineering "accident," but their were "incidents." The first one involved three climbers who separated while descending from high camp on the Kautz Glacier. Two climbers (the faster pair) took off hoping to wait (relax) in the parking lot for their buddy. Can you guess what happened next? After spending much of the day wondering where their "teammate" was, the climbers finally contacted the NPS hoping to initiate a search. Sparing you the details, the third climber eventually showed up on his own many hours later. During which, his buddies were sent out to retrace their descent. Free advice: if you set out as a team, stick together. This is especially the case on descents that involve glacier crossings and cloudy/whiteout type weather.

And once again, we had another team use a cell phone to call their emergency contact and 911 for information and directions. Thankfully, the climbers worked out the issue before the NPS had to dispatch a climbing ranger team. Really, be prepared to sit out bad weather (which is common) on Mount Rainier, or become fodder for this blog. ;)

And speaking of cell phones, I've been getting a few questions about the "preferred" cell phone provider on the mountain. Truth is, I don't know. I think that each service does better in some places and elevations than others. That said, I'd be curious to get your comments on where your cell phone has worked and where it didn't (we know they work well on Liberty Ridge BTW). If you've used one while climbing (it can
be fun to call a friend while on the mountain) send me your comments so that they can be shared with other climbers.

The last and most significant mountain "related" news involves a search for a missing day-hiker on Eagle Peak. A 47 year old man didn't return from his hike last Saturday. I suspect that there will be more information released on this issue if things don't get resolved soon, stay tuned.

And if you're wondering, the opening photo is from the now famous Camp Schurman toilet seat. Dmitry Shapovalov's wanted to share the view with all of you. But if you head up there today, don't expect to see this unless you leave the NEW door open! Let's hope that this one makes it through the summer.