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[pct-l] Northwest Mts. Bite

I don't think that snow conditions contributed that much to either accident. 
I just heard a ranger say on the radio that May and June are popular months 
because the crevasses are still under 4 to 6 feet of snow, affording easy 
crossing (roped, of course, just in case). The caveat is that storms are much 
more frequent in May and June than July and August. The problem on Rainier 
was that the weather wasn't respected. Any time the air comes in from the 
ocean is a bad time to climb Rainier. They chose a route on a ridge that is 
notorious for exposure to the wind with no way off the ridge. The air came in 
off the ocean -- not a particularly strong storm and their tents were ripped 
to shreds (I think people who think it would be fun to camp on the summit are 
either ignorant or flippant. Many a tent has shredded on the summit in 
120mph+ winds) They dug a snow cave, got settled in, someone went outside, 
slipped and fell off the ridge in whiteout conditions. Someone went to look 
for him, and accidentally walked on the roof of the cave and it collapsed, 
burying vital gear like sleeping bags, jackets and maybe even the snow 
shovel. They were then exposed to those horrendous steady winds, realized 
they had no chance at all if they stayed put, so went for the descent in 
whiteout conditions, became disoriented and fell and/or succumbed to 
hypothermia. 3 of the 4 might have lived if the snow cave hadn't been 
  Hood was an accident waiting to happen. The story there was no different 
from on several popular volcano climbs. Dozens of people climbing on a single 
file outdoor stair master -- the up steps replacing the stairs. If someone 
falls at the head of the line (and I'm guessing that person on Hood either 
lost their ice ax, had no ice ax, didn't know how to self arrest or needed 
crampons), and slides into those below, watch out. Once 2 people are all 
tangled up and falling with some speed, they will take out those below like a 
row of dominoes. This one is bound to be repeated someday on several of the 
crowded routes of Baker, Rainier and Hood
  Lessons? Avoid high altitude ridges when the wind is from the west 
(Cascades), pay CLOSE attention to the weather forecast and avoid popular 
routes that involve single file fall line climbing
 My climb of Rainier is still scheduled for mid June with 7 people. 4 of them 
were practicing by climbing to Camp Muir last Tuesday and witnessed an 
incredibly 15 minute change from bright sunshine to near white out fog 
followed shortly by a cold rain. They wisely chose to turn back