# Mountian climbing in Dec, surprise!, surprise!

Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
At the Grand Canyon, they started charging to retrieve (rescue) people from the Canyon. These are folks who go hiking without the proper provisions such as water and Gatorade, or who have health problems, such as a heart condition, who don't appreciate the fact that the Canyon is at least 4300 ft (1300 m) at the river and rises to between 7000-8000 ft on the rims. It is a dry environment and the trails can get very steep toward the rim.

A helicopter evacuation will cost something like $2+K. grand-canyon-hiking.com said: PRECAUTIONS - TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY! You should not try to hike from the rim to the river and back in one day. Most people find that this round trip is a tough trip to do in two days. The extreme temperatures of summer can be life-threatening. Access to certain trails may be restricted in the summer when temperatures within the canyon are most extreme. Call (928) 638-7888 for information on trail restrictions and closures. See Summer Hiking Trails within the Canyon are remote, making search and rescue operations difficult and expensive. If you have to be rescued, it will be at your expense. A helicopter rescue will cost you$2,000 or more.
http://www.grand-canyon-hiking.com/north-rim-day-hikes.htm [Broken]

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Evo
Mentor
It has been reiterated multiple times in this thread that the rescuers are basically UNNECESSARILY risk their lives. Thats what YOU think not they so why should YOU judge what is unnecessary in THEIR lives. I am not putting any words in any peoples mouthes. Yes some people ARE stupid and get themselves into horrible situations. There ARE people out there that will risk their lives to help them when they need it though; just because you won't do it or you don't think anyone should do it has no bearing on the situation. Sure it's tax-payers money what are you going to do about it?
The fact is that no one has criticized the rescuers. That is your own personal interpretation, and it is inappropriate to make claims that others are saying things that you are imagining. Stop it now.

ideasrule
Homework Helper
Nobody has criticized the rescuers, but people have been talking about what they think the rescuers should or should not risk their lives for, instead of what the rescuers themselves think. The latter should have priority, no?

It's certainly regrettable that stupid people are wasting public money by getting themselves in danger, but not rescuing them is certainly not an option. Who's going to judge whether an activity is stupid or not? Some people are conservative and don't take risks; others find it thrilling to push their bodies to the limit. As long as search and rescue missions are mostly used for helping fishermen/merchants (which they are, according to Fred), I'm happy.

Evo
Mentor
It's certainly regrettable that stupid people are wasting public money by getting themselves in danger, but not rescuing them is certainly not an option. Who's going to judge whether an activity is stupid or not? Some people are conservative and don't take risks; others find it thrilling to push their bodies to the limit. As long as search and rescue missions are mostly used for helping fishermen/merchants (which they are, according to Fred), I'm happy.
Actually, it has been brought up that mountain climbers that refuse to take electronic locators with them because they feel it will "take away from the excitement" need to wave their right to rescue.

Nobody has criticized the rescuers, but people have been talking about what they think the rescuers should or should not risk their lives for, instead of what the rescuers themselves think. The latter should have priority, no?

Exactly my point, nobody is critizing the rescuers but they have been judging the actions and their job as unnecessary for 'stupid people'. (This could be considered a criticism I guess)

Who's going to judge whether an activity is stupid or not?
This is a valid point however I think that going climbing when it is known to be a dangerous time period to be climbing a particular mountain would be considered stupid. Maybe during these time periods the mountain should be closed off to climbing? Anyone caught climbing during this period regardless of if they need to be rescued or not will have to pay a fine? Kind of like a hunting season...
You're right about those thrill seekers but this is a situation where you begin to involve other peoples lives...

I'm not exactly sure how these fines/fees would be implemented or if it would even be possible to enforce them(this may very well be why there are currently nothing of the sort) but I think it's a great idea to pursue further... I think it would benefit the most people.

turbo
Gold Member
My good friend has retired as the chief of the Maine Warden Service (years ago, since we are both getting up there), and during his years of service on that force until he took on more supervisory duties, he was on the dive team. He risked his life countless times, not to save a (potentially) live person, but to recover the bodies of people that were certainly dead. Dark humor, but when he went on a body-dive he called it "looking for my chum". For the uninitiated, "chum" is meat thrown into the water to attract fish. Imagine diving under the ice in a river, fighting current and cold to recover the body of some idiot who thought that he could run his snowmobile across a river in uncertain conditions... My wife's cousin (his wife) sweated out a lot of assignments like this.

Wow! I was really surprised to see so much opinion on this topic, particularly as much of it was void of fact. I'm going to pick out some representative posts, some good, some bad, and hope to interject some facts as I know them to be true based on first-hand knowledge:

...if climbers refuse to take electronic locators with them, then no attempt will be made to locate you.

Not true at all, particularly here in the Rockies. If you provide a trusted third party with a plan (trailhead, route, expected times, emergency actions, etc.), help will come.

I also think that anyone climbing that would like to be rescued should post a hefty bond to cover at least the cost of a one day search, with the agreement that if any rescue effort is made that exceeds the amount of the bond, that they agree to pay any remaining costs.

Interesting opinion, but who's going to enforce it? The U.S. Forest Service? National Parks rangers? The vast majority of the backcountry is unpoliced. Even if this were made into a law, few would follow it, yet most would still "like to be rescued."

There are real emergencies they need to be available for instead of searching for idiots.

Rescue resources and operations are prioritized like any other potentially scarce resource. You can be assured the National Guard will not be off rescuing a few lost winter hikers if there's a need to rescue dozens of people who're stranded due to rapidly rising flood waters.

The second issue is that whether the rescue forces are military, civilian, or volunteers, this is what they live for. They're willing to help someone or die trying. Secondly, real-world rescues are highly coveted as it provides them with rare, real-world training. Each successful rescue to these folks is more experience, making them better at what they do. They wouldn't turn down that opportunity if you paid 'em!

If [people] choosing to do something [beyond their capabilities, experience, and training] for the fun of it want to be rescued they should

1) carry emergency locators.

Optional.

2) pay for the rescue

Here in Colorado, if you're rescued, you're going to be paying something. I believe the going rate for a standard, foot-mounted rescue is something like $400, and that starts the moment they receive the call. It includes the three-hour drive to the Collegiate peaks, the return, and the five to twenty-four hours it takes them to find you and transport you down. That's per-rescuer, and they usually travel in packs of three. Thus, your ticket off a mountain will be somewhere in the neighborhood of$15,000.

...it is not the rescuers that I have trouble with, it is the fools who take unnecessary risks for no good reason. Why should these supposedly experienced mountain climbers climb in December when it is well known that the weather at the mountain tops is highly unpredictable and can change in just a few minutes.

Because they want to. Rescue ops here are voluntary. Even those on the public payroll are volunteers to do what they do. Not one's holding a gun to their head saying, "go get 'em!"

...yet the brave volunteers are out there risking their lives. That is what I object to.

Again, those "brave rescuers" do not share your sentiments. They're out there risking their lives because that's what they choose to do, whether it's for a living, or just as volunteers.

You can bank on the fact that they're far better trained and equipped than those they're rescuing, and they're almost always in better physical condition. So the risk to them is usually minor whereas for those who're stranded it may be life-threatening.

As for sea rescue if those in need of help are fishermen doing their life's work I have no trouble with helping them.

Would you still feel that way if you knew that 80% of all sea rescues were the result of captains pushing their crews and their boats in weather conditions beyond what they could handle? How is that different than people pushing themselves in weather conditions beyond what they could handle?

Whether for fun or profit, what makes one act "stupid" while the other is somewhat heroic, if often tragic? Alaskan crabbers and Glouster swordfisherman don't need to crab/fish to make a living. There's always something else they can do somewhere else. But if they stopped, someone else would fill in the gap.

They do it because that's what they want to do, and that's no different than the climbers. Both have far less risky alternatives, but neither chose the less risky alternatives. They chose the riskier one, and sometimes, they pay the price.

On the other hand if it is some landlubber that wants to take his 12' open boat with an outboard motor out just see the 30' waves, I say let Davy Jones have him, and give him a Darwin award.

LoL, the Dawin effect is indeed alive and well.

Perhaps if these guys realized that when they leave the pavement that there is no help to bring them home they would either not leave the pavement or at the very least be prepared to get themselves back if trouble strikes.

Most simply don't know how. I'd be nice if, instead of whatever passes for Saturday morning cartoons these days, they'd play interesting spots on first aid, basic mountaineering skills, etc.

The Coast Guard probably spends more time finding merchant vessels and fisherman than the average joe fisherman or sight seer.

Yep.

I can't think of very many professions, except military, where one earns a living mountain climbing. Those that do, I would bet, spend a lot of time working on being safe and knowing when to quit.

Very few military units are trained mountaineers. But you're right, those that are, like the 10th Mountain Division, are so trained:

"The 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) is a light infantry division of the United States Army based at Fort Drum, New York. It is a subordinate unit of the XVIII Airborne Corps and the only division-sized element of the US Army to specialize in fighting under harsh terrain and weather conditions." - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/10th_Mountain_Division" [Broken]​

Back in the late '80s, I remember being told that, Uncle Same spent about $14,000 per hour of our flight time. It varies quite a lot between aircraft. For Herks it's around$5,000 an hour, but for Buff's it's about 10 times that.

I think the idea is great to make it known at all starting points that if you want to be rescued, you're signing up to pay for it.

Not true, my friend! I previously mentioned the "real-world training," and that training can prove invaluable later on, particular during combat conditions, when the people who're being rescued are our own soldiers, or downed airmen. These "idiots" are actually a golden opportunity. The military actually pays big bucks to create real world scenarios for our various forces to hone their skills for combat. When you're job is rescuing people, all rescues are considered valuable training of the kind you'll never find in a classroom.

As I said, rescuers live for this. It's what they do.

I know - I am one of them.

ETA: I also run an outdoor adventure group here in Colorado Springs, but don't take this as advertising, as I'm not, and won't reveal the name of my outfit, here. :)

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thank you
As I said, rescuers live for this. It's what they do.

I know - I am one of them.

kohana
My daughter was a member of a mounted search and rescue volunteer group in NM, and almost aways the difficulty of getting to the search area, the cost in time, meant they brought in a body. She always despaired and always went out again when called. She now has an adult son who enjoys deep woods backpacking, so she bought him a GPS so she could find him if necessary. IMHO I think a few people feel invincible, that nothing will happen to them, so they don't properly prepare or think out the logistics prior to attempting a difficult feat.

Whew! Lots of heat! (cool!).

The rescuers go when they feel safe doing so. They're adrenalin junkies too, so it is what they live for. So I think that part of the debate is moot.

I think there are two basic issues on the table:

1. How much should the general taxpayer bear for rescue services to be provided?

Idiocy is a pretty subjective measure (e.g. there are only two kinds of people sharing the highways with me -- the idiots going faster and the idiots going slower). There is always measured risk. Some are (to my thought) foolhardy, others even more careful than me in going outbound. Both get in trouble (with different statistical rates) because it can become suddenly and surprisingly 'harsh' out there (understatement) no matter what your preparation is.

Net-net on this score, I vote that it is good to have such rescue capabilities extant. This means a certain 'sunk' cost that the taxpayer must bear. Then, as pointed out, if they didn't go out and do actual rescues, simulation exercises would have to be manufactured for them to train on. So, IMHO, the cost to be borne by the rescued should be limited only to the opportunity costs -- those costs expended specifically by the rescue operation itself, not infrastructure, and over and above the training exercise costs that the event displaces. This brings the per rescue cost down quite a bit.

Some level of cost by the rescued makes sense. Should help weed out the less prepared.

2. The negative impact on the public opinion of these kinds of adventures, and those who do them, that is caused by the 'idiots' who are clearly unprepared or incompetent. Dick Cheney as a hunter, the insane pile up on Mt. Everest detailed by Krakauer, etc.

These damage their respective sports and make it more likely that silly regulations (like the recent legislation -- thankfully repealed -- in Maryland requiring all boaters to have PFD's on at all times above deck, even at anchor), are passed that are ineffectual, unfundable, unenforceable, endlessly bureaucratic, and needlessly freedom limiting.

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FredGarvin
It varies quite a lot between aircraft. For Herks it's around \$5,000 an hour, but for Buff's it's about 10 times that.
That's why I said that was dollars per OUR flight hours. Not anyone else's.

Not true, my friend! I previously mentioned the "real-world training," and that training can prove invaluable later on, particular during combat conditions, when the people who're being rescued are our own soldiers, or downed airmen. These "idiots" are actually a golden opportunity. The military actually pays big bucks to create real world scenarios for our various forces to hone their skills for combat. When you're job is rescuing people, all rescues are considered valuable training of the kind you'll never find in a classroom.

As I said, rescuers live for this. It's what they do.

I know - I am one of them.
Yeah. And if you had a family and kids waiting for you to get home, that relied on you, you would/SHOULD have second and third thoughts about putting your neck on the line to rescue someone that put themselves in that bad position. If it is a freak accident like a fall or something along those lines that no one could have foreseen, then more power to them and go get them.

I used to do this quite a bit on Mt. Ranier in WA. The only people I call idiots in this are the people who NEED the rescuing, especially after what can be termed as negligence or bravado on their part. I am well aware of what we did for training and what was done for real. The big difference in training is that it is controlled. Also, there are many times where people who are not trained use these for an excuse for training and bad things happen. The UH-60 video on Mt. Hood Ivan posted is a perfect example.

Pushing a boat crew to get the most they can, IMO, is not the same as some climbers ignoring warnings of weather or avalanche just so they can get to the top of a mountain for a pretty view. There are people's livelihoods at stake in the former.

FredGarvin
2. The negative impact on the public opinion of these kinds of adventures, and those who do them, that is caused by the 'idiots' who are clearly unprepared or incompetent. Dick Cheney as a hunter, the insane pile up on Mt. Everest detailed by Krakauer, etc.
I always love bringing up JFK Jr. too.

These damage their respective sports and make it more likely that silly regulations (like the recent legislation -- thankfully repealed -- in Maryland requiring all boaters to have PFD's on at all times above deck, even at anchor), are passed that are ineffectual, unfundable, unenforceable, endlessly bureaucratic, and needlessly freedom limiting.
I agree that they do sometimes end up in the stupid territory legislation wise. That being said, I could probably find more times where it has done good more than it has been silly. In my state, it took a whole lot of people getting killed and injured because of young kids driving jet skis. Finally they put out a law that one has to be 16 (IIRC). Granted, how enforceable is it? Eh...50-50 if you ask me. But it did do a lot of good in weeding out the people who did take it seriously.

You have really missed the point sorry, it is not the rescuers that I have trouble with, it is the fools who take unnecessary risks for no good reason. Why should these supposedly experienced mountain climbers climb in December when it is well known that the weather at the mountain tops is highly unpredictable and can change in just a few minutes. On top of that these guys had the bothered to look at the weather could have known that we were going to see a change for the worse. Well now they are all dead (or very likely) yet the brave volunteers are out there risking their lives. That is what I object to.

As for sea rescue if those in need of help are fishermen doing their life's work I have no trouble with helping them. On the other hand if it is some landlubber that wants to take his 12' open boat with an outboard motor out just see the 30' waves, I say let Davy Jones have him, and give him a Darwin award.

Perhaps if these guys realized that when they leave the pavement that there is no help to bring them home they would either not leave the pavement or at the very least be prepared to get themselves back if trouble strikes.

Rescue efforts are not cheap, they consume taxpayers money just because some fool wants to have fun. Not on my watch.

I agree. Their should be a waiver signed before setting foot on the mountain in dangerous weather. The rescuers should not have to risk their lives because you thought it would be fun to climb the mountain during the riskier part of the year. Once the weather clears up then the rescue will commence, but not while the same elements that trapped you on the mountain are hampering and endangering your rescuers who are coming up after you.

I would equate this to a Deep-Forest-Bon-Fire club. If they have their deep forest bonfire during the hot/dry summer months they would be charged with arson when they burn down the forest. The weight of responsibility for the fire is on the fire starter. The weight of recovery is on the state and the firefighters who have to try and stop the fire.
(This is a hypothetical club, I'm pretty sure there is no deep-forest-bon-fire club.)

I agree. Their should be a waiver signed before setting foot on the mountain in dangerous weather. The rescuers should not have to risk their lives because you thought it would be fun to climb the mountain during the riskier part of the year. Once the weather clears up then the rescue will commence, but not while the same elements that trapped you on the mountain are hampering and endangering your rescuers who are coming up after you.

I would equate this to a Deep-Forest-Bon-Fire club. If they have their deep forest bonfire during the hot/dry summer months they would be charged with arson when they burn down the forest. The weight of responsibility for the fire is on the fire starter. The weight of recovery is on the state and the firefighters who have to try and stop the fire.
(This is a hypothetical club, I'm pretty sure there is no deep-forest-bon-fire club.)

I am quite sure that the rescuers do not head out into situations which will immediately pose a danger to them... like going out into a blizzard. They of course wait until after. However some volunteer rescuers may travel off into a blizzard to rescue the people. As has already been pointed out several times in this thread though this is their choice, they want to go give help to the stupid people.

Their should be a waiver signed before setting foot on the mountain in dangerous weather. The rescuers should not have to risk their lives because you thought it would be fun to climb the mountain during the riskier part of the year. Once the weather clears up then the rescue will commence, but not while the same elements that trapped you on the mountain are hampering and endangering your rescuers who are coming up after you.

Half a million people will climb a 14-er in 2010. Perhaps three times that many will hike somewhere above 10,000 in Colorado's backcountry, which is very large, spread out, and easily accessible from hundreds of roads.

Any attempt to implement such a program will cost sums of money vastly greater than the cost of funding the few rescues which are required.

Many, in their own hubris, continue to use the word "stupid" instead of more appropriate terms, such as "ill-prepared," "inexperienced," "over-extended," and even "ignorant." The latter, while being the least polite, doesn't dispair another's intellect, but remains a serious statement about their lack of knowledge.

One reviewer of the book, "Colorado 14er Disasters: Victims of the Game," said something very pertinant about a fellow reviewer's comment he disparagingly entitled "Morons in the Mountains." I'm sharing it with you, here:

"I have to take issue with the reviewer below who titled his review, "Morons in the Mountains" I'm sure most people, including the experts, who have spent time on the 14ers or other high Colorado peaks, have made errors or have had at least one close call. Taking risks is part of the nature of climbing. It's very easy to do Monday morning quarterbacking when climbing accidents are involved. No doubt, hubris and human error are the primary causes of climbing accidents, and this cautionary book may well help 14er enthusiasts avoid disastrous situations. But let's not reduce tragic deaths in the mountains to the Darwin Awards. Imagine how a family member or friend of one of the victims feels, reading your clever title."​

Or, for that matter, disparaging adjectives like "stupid."

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Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Were I the dictator there would be no winter rescue, you go in, you get yourself out. They should be required to carry a beacon for spring time body recovery.

I am quoting my OP just to point out that I. as dictator of world did not consider the feelings of the rescuers. It is not that I wish to rob the rescuers of opportunities for daring do it is that I wish to discourage trips into the wilderness in the harsh weather seasons. In most mountainous areas weather can develop and change very rapidly creating life threatening conditions which no amount of preparation can guarantee survival. The knowledge that someone will come and haul you out in the event of difficulties ENCOURAGES recreational adventurers to attempt poorly considered expeditions.

Simple rule, No rescues. Go in, do what you want, get yourself out.

BTW, I am a native Oregonian who spent his teenage years hiking and camping in the woods and mountains of Southern Oregon. So I am not blind to the draw of the wilderness, I just think people ought to use their heads for more then a hat holder.

drankin
If I were a mountain climber type, I would do what I could to rescue them without getting myself killed. No matter how stupid they might be. It's easy to call them stupid when they fail. But how many people have done the same and been less equipt? How many have done the same thing and came down just fine?

One solution for society "bearing the financial burden" of rescueing stranded hikers that got in over their head is to NOT have a socially funded rescue service. I mean what's the point of funding one? And then to complain about the cost when they actually do their job? Makes no sense to me.

Well, as of yesterday, they have called off the search. They found the body of one of the companions and the other two are presumed dead. It's a very sad thing. I do appreciate the efforts of the rescuers regardless of what happened.