Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer Solstice and Remembrances

The longest day of the year has just passed and summer is now officially happening. This change of season has been marked by many of the Rainier employees (climbing rangers included) staying busy long past daylight hours responding to lost and injured visitors. Fortunately one of the week's rescues ended well, and unfortunately one did not. We can't overemphasize enough how important it is to make good plans, be prepared for unforeseen events (injuries), and to let someone know your plans including any possible alternate plans you might have. Even with precautions experienced backcountry users take, accidents still occur, but stack the deck as much as you can in your favor.

Nick Hall
This past weekend also marked the second anniversary of the loss of our friend and co-worker Nick Hall. Nick was killed in a rescue on the Emmons Glacier on June 21st, 2012. His quiet, calm, fun-loving demeanor and his superb confidence and skill as a climbing ranger will continue to be missed daily. We wish you were here to work the long days with us, slog through the snow for miles then finally get a few good tool swings tools into alpine ice. Wish you were here to sit on the front porch at high camp drinking coffee and listening to good tunes, complain about the bureaucratic hoops we jump through, make plans for where to climb on off days, and then finally sit back and marvel at the beauty of the place we get to work and how incredibly privileged we are to have this job of "Climbing Ranger". Wake up and do it all over again. Will miss you always brother.

It's prime climbing season. Routes are in great shape. Get after it.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Early June Update

Mowich Headwall
This upcoming weekend looks to be a sunny one! Warm but not too warm temperatures should also prevail making for some potentially great climbing conditions. We have started seeing the summer surge of climbers here on Rainier. Weekends at popular spots (Muir and Schurman) have been crowded and lots of people are successfully reaching Columbia Crest (aka the summit).

We've recently crunched some numbers for you folks who are interested in such things and found this: The six year average of registered climbers between January 1 and June 1 is 1,160 and this year during that same time period we have had over 2,000 climbers register. It's hard to tell if this trend will continue through the season but we are happy to see so many folks out enjoying the alpine! Usually somewhere between 10,000 and 11,000 people register to climb Rainier annually, so anyway you look at it the majority of climbing this year is still to come. Also thanks for registering and getting permits. Not only are you following the law, but you are also helping yourself out tremendously in the event of an emergency. The permit system is how we track climbers, figure out if you are overdue, who your emergency contacts are, cell numbers, itinerary, supplies, gear you have, etc. This is very valuable information. One of the first things rangers do if we get any sort of hint that a group might be in trouble is look at their climbing registration. It's Important!

We are playing catch up a little with some of our route updates, but there are now current photos of almost all routes on our conditions page. Climbers rangers have done very thorough updates for the Emmons/Winthrop and Liberty Ridge routes. Stay tuned for updates on the DC (It's great right now). Coverage seems to still be good on all routes and people have definitely been taking advantage. Please be safe out there. Take your time, get good info, watch the weather. Know your and your partners ability. Climb Safe!

Monday, June 02, 2014

To All:

Liberty Ridge
Many of you have now heard about the accident on Liberty Ridge late last week that took the lives of six climbers. This accident is not only unprecedented in size (the biggest of its kind in over 30 years) but also hits close to home, as two well known guides were lost along with their four clients. Our sympathies go out to all the friends and families of the climbers involved in this accident.

To our friends at AAI and across the larger guiding world, thank you for all you do in the mountains. By leading people, who might otherwise never get to visit these beautiful and wild places into them, you provide a view of life and of the world that is hard to equal. We are constantly impressed by the professionalism you show in your work and by the support many of you have provided to us climbing rangers over the years. We know we'll see you in the mountains again, because those are the places we all feel most alive.

This accident is a stark reminder of the inherent hazards that come with climbing. Our community of climbers is a small one and that becomes all too clear in tragedies such as this. Keep reaching for higher heights. Safe travels to wherever those heights lead you.

For further reading here are a couple of well written pieces. National Geographic Daily News & Seattle Times