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View Full Version : Climbing Mt. Hood and Climber ethics...


bigmac
12-21-2006, 09:11 AM
It seems to me that a lot of the rescue hassle, heartache, and expense might have been avoided at Mt. Hood recently if those three climbers had opted to carry a MLU or PLB with them. Those things are available for purchase or for rent to climbers. An MLU is a direction finder beacon broadcasting on 121.5 for finding people within 2 miles with a direction finder, a PLB is like a land-based EPIRB and broadcasts a personal identifier emergency signal to the Air Force's SAR satellites with the wearer's GPS location as well as a 121.5 locator signal .

Do any of you climb? I'm curious about the ethos of mountain climbing - I know that part of that group tends to look down their nose at the concept of climbing with such rescue gear. They view the personal risk as a big part of the reason for climbing, but I look at the pain the families are going through, and the risks and expense faced by the rescuers and I'm wondering whether those attitudes shouldn't be re-evaluated.

Workin' 4 Toys
12-21-2006, 09:14 AM
I am no climber, but I was wondering why it seems like they have nothing to work with as far as signaling devices...:confused:

bigmac
12-21-2006, 09:33 AM
I am no climber, but I was wondering why it seems like they have nothing to work with as far as signaling devices...:confused:

Yeh, that's my point. Those devices are readily available. A Personal Locator Beacon with GPS broadcast is expensive to buy (~$650), but they're available for rent for about $5 / day, and Mountain Locator Units are even cheaper. They were developed at Mt. Hood and are rent-able 24/7.

It's a matter of choice, but many climbers choose not to use them, including these most recent three poor souls who even opted to climb Mt. Hood lightly equipped during the most dangerous time of year. It seems like basic safety gear to me, but I perceive that many die-hard (bad choice of words, perhaps) mountaneers view use of such gear otherwise. That's what I'm curious about.

Maristar210
12-21-2006, 09:36 AM
It seems to me that a lot of the rescue hassle, heartache, and expense might have been avoided at Mt. Hood recently if those three climbers had opted to carry a MLU or PLB with them. Those things are available for purchase or for rent to climbers. An MLU is a direction finder beacon broadcasting on 121.5 for finding people within 2 miles with a direction finder, a PLB is like a land-based EPIRB and broadcasts a personal identifier emergency signal to the Air Force's SAR satellites with the wearer's GPS location as well as a 121.5 locator signal .

Do any of you climb? I'm curious about the ethos of mountain climbing - I know that part of that group tends to look down their nose at the concept of climbing with such rescue gear. They view the personal risk as a big part of the reason for climbing, but I look at the pain the families are going through, and the risks and expense faced by the rescuers and I'm wondering whether those attitudes shouldn't be re-evaluated.


I am no climber either but I know one who is pretty stubborn. He likes the rush of a free climb versus a all the harnesses. He got me strapped into a harness and aidied me in climbing a fifty foot wall. I made it half way and had to let go. He climed it several times with no safety gear of any kind. I might also add there is an elitist attittude and ego with many of these guys (worse than us MC owners:D ) The risk of death is part of the adventure for them, as I see it.

Having said all of that I do not pretend to know what may have led the Mt Hood guys to the climb without the aids you mention but these would be my suspicions.

How was your birthday?

jeverett
12-21-2006, 09:41 AM
It seems to me that a lot of the rescue hassle, heartache, and expense might have been avoided at Mt. Hood recently if those three climbers had opted to carry a MLU or PLB with them. Those things are available for purchase or for rent to climbers. An MLU is a direction finder beacon broadcasting on 121.5 for finding people within 2 miles with a direction finder, a PLB is like a land-based EPIRB and broadcasts a personal identifier emergency signal to the Air Force's SAR satellites with the wearer's GPS location as well as a 121.5 locator signal .

Do any of you climb? I'm curious about the ethos of mountain climbing - I know that part of that group tends to look down their nose at the concept of climbing with such rescue gear. They view the personal risk as a big part of the reason for climbing, but I look at the pain the families are going through, and the risks and expense faced by the rescuers and I'm wondering whether those attitudes shouldn't be re-evaluated.

Those devices are available at the mountain, why they did not have them I don't know? Everyone has said that these were experianced climbers, however I must say respectfully that Mt. Hood has claimed many lives and people do not realize that above the timber line the Mountain is extreme, cravases, Ice flows, Glaciers, and just plain steep. People won't start taking tracking devices with them until the rescue effort is not free of charge. That being said rescuers pretty much knew were the frist guy was but could not get to him due to extreme weather and terrain.

Monte
12-21-2006, 09:43 AM
Yeh, that's my point. Those devices are readily available. A Personal Locator Beacon with GPS broadcast is expensive to buy (~$650), but they're available for rent for about $5 / day, and Mountain Locator Units are even cheaper. They were developed at Mt. Hood and are rent-able 24/7.

It's a matter of choice, but many climbers choose not to use them, including these most recent three poor souls who even opted to climb Mt. Hood lightly equipped during the most dangerous time of year. It seems like basic safety gear to me, but I perceive that many die-hard (bad choice of words, perhaps) mountaneers view use of such gear otherwise. That's what I'm curious about.

Not a climber either, but I have done some trek hiking on the AT and in New Mexico. My question is not about the Locator, but why they separated their party when Kelly James had a cell phone???.. Any survivalist will tell you to keep everyone together in that type of situation. More heads = better decision making...

jeverett
12-21-2006, 09:54 AM
The problem is the location and the weather. Mt. Hood located next to the columbia river gorge and has some of the most extreme weather of any mountain. It seems to be a proving ground for Denali, K2, and Evrest. Big Mac is correct in that some of the devices now used to locate climbers were developed after we lost some high school students in '87 that could have been saved if they were able to locate them. Sadly we have had some very good weather this week, but the week before when these guys went up, not so good.

bigmac
12-21-2006, 10:25 AM
Not a climber either, but I have done some trek hiking on the AT and in New Mexico. My question is not about the Locator, but why they separated their party when Kelly James had a cell phone???.. Any survivalist will tell you to keep everyone together in that type of situation. More heads = better decision making...

Well, I was curious about that too. It seems like bad decision-making. Three people in a snow cave = three times the heat generation, not to mention the practicality of the other two descending the mountain in a 100 mph storm.

Everybody from the Hood River Sheriff on down has made a serious effort to be politically correct. They all keep talking about how experienced these guys were as climbers. I suspect that recriminations will come later. Once the news media has wrung every bit of news value out of the rescue effort, they'll start concentrating on blame so they can keep the story alive.

jeverett
12-21-2006, 10:36 AM
We had close to 100mph winds at 3500ft. The winds were actually clocked at greater than 100mph at Timberline on Hood that week. I am with you 3 guys in an Ice cave could have probably walked out few days later. Now they are all gone. As you know the first thing to go is rational once exposure sets in.

Monte
12-21-2006, 10:43 AM
I suspect that recriminations will come later. Once the news media has wrung every bit of news value out of the rescue effort, they'll start concentrating on blame so they can keep the story alive.

I have a good feeling that you are correct:( . The saddest part is that no one will ever know what caused the split. The Autopsy will show what happened to James, but the human factor, or why will never be answered without a miracle. I agree... probably just bad decision making.

mbeach
12-21-2006, 10:56 AM
BM, i started to post the same thing!! having been raised in florida and been offshore in atlantic and gulf out of sight of land many times. no one, repeat no one, in their right mind ever ventures out without the signaling devices you mention because poop happens and sometimes very fast. only the inexperienced do so sometimes even without a compass. having spent the better part of a day lost in the ochlochnee river swamp hunting near tallahassee, i never go into the wilds without some type of signaling device (at least a cell phone) and a compass.

richardsoncd
12-21-2006, 11:05 AM
I grew up climbing until I out grew the sport, but my father is a seasoned climber, having climbed with Scott Fisher and even was asked to be on an Everest base camp team (while in his 50's). He has always preached safety in all things, especially the outdoors, but in all things there are those who get comfortable and miss things. From what I know these three guys were experienced climbers and still lost there lives doing what they loved. Do I feel that they should have been prepared for the worst..absolutely, but the bigger picture (in my opinion) is to learn a lesson from them and stay alert in what we do, especially since our hobby includes a 19'-25' boat with huge engines and a propellar. At any rate, Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and/or Happy Holidays to everyone. I know I am thankful that my family will be together this season, and hopefully many more. Some are not so lucky.

PendO
12-21-2006, 12:01 PM
one of my friends is into backcountry snow skiing and I KNOW that he carries one of those devices ... when the climbers got lost and they had no locator equipment, at that elevation, at this time of year, it was a done deal ... I told my wife, I just hope one of the rescuers does not die trying to look for those guys. it would seem that the guy with the cell phone was the most prepared and understood the need to stay put ... man the wind was so bad 250 miles inland it got up to 105mph at Schweitzer and was swinging the chairs up over the cable ... and my buddy (the skier) who lives in Snoqualmie, WA is still without power 10 days after the storm

RickDV
12-21-2006, 05:01 PM
Not a climber either, but I have done some trek hiking on the AT and in New Mexico. My question is not about the Locator, but why they separated their party when Kelly James had a cell phone???.. Any survivalist will tell you to keep everyone together in that type of situation. More heads = better decision making...

Some reports suggest that they may have been separated before Kelly James built his snow cave. The Dallas News (http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/122106dnnatclimbers.2b2551ca.html) reports that based on equipment found near the peak that the other two may have fallen over a precipice or been washed away by an avalanche and that may be how they were separated.

Tragic in so many ways. Our prayers for the families.

Monte
12-21-2006, 05:31 PM
Some reports suggest that they may have been separated before Kelly James built his snow cave. The Dallas News (http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/122106dnnatclimbers.2b2551ca.html) reports that based on equipment found near the peak that the other two may have fallen over a precipice or been washed away by an avalanche and that may be how they were separated.

Tragic in so many ways. Our prayers for the families.

I feel that they did probably fall or get blown off the side of the mountain, But the earliest reports stated that in his last phone call James left word that he was hurt and the others had gone to seek help... :confused: Doubt we'll ever know the true sequence of events.

Yes and yes

M-Funf
12-21-2006, 06:46 PM
Well, I was curious about that too. It seems like bad decision-making. Three people in a snow cave = three times the heat generation, not to mention the practicality of the other two descending the mountain in a 100 mph storm.


Same could be said about the Kim family last month. Had he stayed with his family, he'd still be alive...

bigmac
12-21-2006, 07:45 PM
Same could be said about the Kim family last month. Had he stayed with his family, he'd still be alive...Yes, I agree. The end result of his trek, despite its noble intent, was a big circle 8 miles in circumference and he ended up dying about 1/2 mile from the car where he started. A tragic-yet-classic example of why you stay with your group when stranded. Perhaps yet another example of why you shouldn't venture off the beaten path without any form of communication or other rescue gear appropriate to the terrain you are involved with.

Maristar210
12-21-2006, 08:40 PM
I knew Kim would come up and I must say these are two seperate issues all together. RIP... but Kim was just an idiot, I am sorry but he was. Proof that there is stupidity or lack of intelligent thought, at various levels, ........ still kills:mad:

S

bigmac
12-21-2006, 09:10 PM
I knew Kim would come up and I must say these are two seperate issues all together. RIP... but Kim was just an idiot, I am sorry but he was. Proof that there is stupidity or lack of intelligent thought, at various levels, ........ still kills:mad:

SApparently not politically correct these days, but I must agree.

Birthday was good.

sand2snow22
12-21-2006, 09:16 PM
Mt Hood seems to be able to create her own weather. I was up at Mt Hood Meadows the following day after Kelly James called his family (Monday), it was very windy at 6,000 ft. The first time I actually held on to the chair lift for dear life....

Experienced climbers and they left their route, but why not rent those beacons for $5 day? Did they not know about them? Why would they want to summit in the middle of winter? I understand climbers practice on the Eliot glacier during the winter, it would be interesting to see how many people actually summit this time of year?

Pushing the envelope.....14 people have died on the same route in recent years. Training for Everest or Denali?..........50-60 degree slopes + high winds = a recipe for disaster......

atlfootr
12-21-2006, 09:42 PM
Can anyone put the price on a human life :confused:
I'd say, it's priceless ....

Carbon Dreams
12-21-2006, 09:51 PM
Some climbers are naturally cheap. Notice the word natural. Some like to climb as naturally as they can and return to their Subaru and eat some home made nugget stew. Not saying that is the case here, but it is common in Oregon. Basically, it comes down to judgement. Why would anybody in their right mind climb the challenging North Face of Hood in the height of a winter storm? All I can say is, I was happy to be hunkered down in my house during that storm. My backyard looked like a tornado went through. Reminded me of my days in North Dakota.

Very sad anytime someone dies, let alone due to a stupid decision.

BTW: How much do you think it costs the taxpayers to mount a search for weeks on a nasty mountain in nasty conditions?

My $.02

bigmac
12-21-2006, 10:09 PM
Some climbers are naturally cheap. Notice the word natural. Some like to climb as naturally as they can and return to their Subaru and eat some home made nugget stew. Not saying that is the case here, but it is common in Oregon. Basically, it comes down to judgement. Why would anybody in their right mind climb the challenging North Face of Hood in the height of a winter storm? All I can say is, I was happy to be hunkered down in my house during that storm. My backyard looked like a tornado went through. Reminded me of my days in North Dakota.

Very sad anytime someone dies, let alone due to a stupid decision.

BTW: How much do you think it costs the taxpayers to mount a search for weeks on a nasty mountain in nasty conditions?

My $.02


Well, I read that a Blackhawk costs about $2700 per hour to operate, and they had two of them plus the Chinook which is probably at least twice as much, plus the C130. Then there's man-hours for the National Guard personnel, plus man-hours and overtime for the Sheriff's dept. I read, however, that the majority of the rescuers were volunteers.

Oregon has a law that allows charging the rescuees $500 maximum each for a rescue. However, reportedly Oregon has never charged anyone that fee fearing that some distressed mountaineers might hold off calling for rescue if they thought it was going to cost them. That's assuming they had the technology to call for a rescue in the first place.

The cost really isn't the issue IMHO as much as the pain the families went through, and are now going through, not knowing what happened or whether the other two are still alive, or where their bodies are -- all that stuff. It seems to me that a lot of that could have been avoided with some different decision-making. I don't know. It's easy to sit here and second-guess - I'm not a climber. It's why I posted the thread. I must be misunderstanding a lot since so much of the whole scenario seems avoidable to a flatlander like me.

Carbon Dreams
12-21-2006, 10:26 PM
Well, I read that a Blackhawk costs about $2700 per hour to operate, and they had two of them plus the Chinook which is probably at least twice as much, plus the C130. Then there's man-hours for the National Guard personnel, plus man-hours and overtime for the Sheriff's dept. I read, however, that the majority of the rescuers were volunteers.

Oregon has a law that allows charging the rescuees $500 maximum each for a rescue. However, reportedly Oregon has never charged anyone that fee fearing that some distressed mountaineers might hold off calling for rescue if they thought it was going to cost them. That's assuming they had the technology to call for a rescue in the first place.

The cost really isn't the issue IMHO as much as the pain the families went through, and are now going through, not knowing what happened or whether the other two are still alive, or where their bodies are -- all that stuff. It seems to me that a lot of that could have been avoided with some different decision-making. I don't know. It's easy to sit here and second-guess - I'm not a climber. It's why I posted the thread. I must be misunderstanding a lot since so much of the whole scenario seems avoidable to a flatlander like me.


Well said! The tragedy was definately avoidable. Climbers (I used to be one), are a unique breed. They generally have large ego's and feel like they can out-climb nature. Look at all the bodies still on Everest.

I really feel bad for the families and my families prayers are with them. Hopefully the national exposure will wake up the people who take undue risk.

bigmac
12-21-2006, 10:51 PM
I guess one of my biggest fears about this whole scenario is the very likely knee-jerk political and legislative response that will follow from this very high-profile tragedy. I envision some self-important congressman who's never even been on a mountain introducing a bill banning mountain climbing (or something only slightly less stupid) - following the government's usual dogged determination over the years to protect us all from ourselves.

sand2snow22
12-22-2006, 12:24 AM
[QUOTE=bigmac]Well, I read that a Blackhawk costs about $2700 per hour to operate, and they had two of them plus the Chinook which is probably at least twice as much, plus the C130.

Oregon has a law that allows charging the rescuees $500 maximum each for a rescue. However, reportedly Oregon has never charged anyone that fee fearing that some distressed mountaineers might hold off calling for rescue if they thought it was going to cost them. That's assuming they had the technology to call for a rescue in the first place.
QUOTE]

I think they said the Chinook costs $2800 an hour in gas alone!! Hood River county $6,000/day. They haven't charged a climber $500, but they do charge a skiers and snowboarders. If you go out of bounds and get lost and they have to send the rescue team to find you, I think it's automatically $500 and you lose your season pass?

tex
12-22-2006, 12:29 AM
Horrible accident. A guy in my office is very close with one of the climber's daughter. Still, take a device...increases your chances of being found and saves everyone else money. You will still get your juices flowing out on the climb in other ways. I'm not a climber but I have done my share of dangerous things. Minimize your risks while still living on the edge! Still...horrible accident...my thoughts are with the families.