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[pct-l] Northwest Mts. Bite



> 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. 


> 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...

Not sure if I agree.  From what I have read two people fell in a team 
of four, and that can be really difficult to stop.  I have never had 
to self arrest and stop anyone other than myself (I fell as a lead 
climber and stopped in about 10 feet).  I have practiced with a team 
on a steep slope with a safe run-out, and had the top person take a 
running start and glissade down as fast as possible in an effort to 
try and make everyone else fall.  We were all prepared for 
this "fall" and its damn hard to stop.  If you are just the slightest 
bit off balance, or have your weight on the wrong foot, or you are 
facing the wrong direction, or you are not paying attention (like 
adjusting your gear), or have your axe in an awkward position because 
you are adjusting something, or you friend calls your name just as 
the other guy falls, or there was too much slack in the rope and the 
other guy's fall knocks you off your feet, or you are nor wearing 
crampons because the snow is too soft and thus do not have the added 
benefit if digging in with your feet, or you are carrying an extra 
heavy pack because your buddy bailed at base camp, etc, etc, etc.

We would all like to find the ONE thing that they did wrong and be 
able to say "that won't happen to me" because I am smarter, or more 
experienced, or in better shape, or know the territory, or whatever.  
We donít want to believe that we, too, are fallible and fragile.  We 
want to believe that our excursions into the wilderness are 
different, that somehow we could not possibly fall victim to the 
mountains.  The truth is that any of us could be killed or injured 
anytime we go out.  If any of us ultralighters got caught in an 
unexpected brutal early summer snow storm while in the high sierra, 
it could be disastrous.  It has been known to snow in every month of 
the year at Lake Tahoe (the only reason the ski resorts do not stay 
open year round in good snow years is because the Lake keeps people 
water skiing, swimming, and jet Skiing).

I also totally agree with Greg who said that its not always feasible 
or practical to avoid climbing in the fall line of the group above, 
ESPECIALLY on mountains that are really crowded.  When you get ONE 
damn three-day weekend every six months and only two weeks of 
vacation per year, it makes the line of climbers on the couloir above 
seem like its not as risky as they said it was in the mountaineering 
class that you and the other 25 people on the mountain took a few 
years earlier.  Bottom line is, if you have trained for weeks or 
months for this moment several hundred feet from the summit, and your 
only options are (1) wait for everyone in front of you to get to a 
safe position which will cause you to run out of time and DEFINITELY 
not summit, or (2) Climb below some climbers who look like they know 
what they are doing and risk that they MIGHT fall and POSSIBLY could 
hit you, but know that you will keep to your schedule and have a 
reasonable chance of summiting.  Which one would you do?  

Things are not like they used to be 30 years ago, when there were 
only 1 or 2 groups on the mountain during the optimal climbing 
season, and each group was experienced and had been climbing together 
for years on increasingly more difficult mountains.  Back then people 
paid their dues, AND they didnít have to deal with traffic jams at 
11,000 feet.  Today, there are more climbers than ever and they all 
want to summit on the same day during the weekend.  Itís a new risk 
that we have all created and tacitly accepted because we all want 
what we want when we want it.


...my 2 cents.

peace,
dude

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