Safety Blog Posts

Safety Blog Posts

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Humility and Exposure: Enduring Lessons from Forbidden Peak

In July 1996, I was a rock climber with very little experience in the mountains. I found myself in Glacier, having moved to Washington State from the relative flat-lands of the East Coast, where "it might be hot but at least it's humid." I was working for a small outdoor education program, and my new friend there suggested we go climb a technical peak in the North Cascades. Read more…

Safety First | Which Way to Go in Snow: Winter Decision-Making

My friend Roger Rosenblatt and I had arranged to meet early one Saturday morning in April some years ago to go skiing in the Snoqualmie pass backcountry. Neither of us were especially good skiers, so our normal trips involved going up a logging road, and then branching off to find a lake or view rewarding ridge line. Read more…

North Plaza Friction Slab Traffic Safety

The North Plaza friction slabs at our Seattle Program Center have become a popular resource, and it's important we keep safety in mind during course instruction. We ask you, as leaders and participants, to be aware of large groups spilling out into nearby streets or frequently crossing the eastern roadway, as this creates the potential for a traffic accident.  Read more…

Hiking With Dogs - The Basics

There’s nothing like sharing the great outdoors with your best friend. However, it’s important to keep trail etiquette and safety in mind when you explore with a dog in tow. Below are excerpts from the Mountaineers Books title Best Hikes with Dogs: Western Washington by Dan A. Nelson. Learn what to do (and not to do!) when you and Fido hit the trail. Read more…

How to Safely Go Bear Spotting in Washington

We are fortunate to have large National Parks and Wilderness areas in Washington State, and with them come an incredible array of wildlife. Among the more mysterious and hard-to-spot creatures are the bears populating our forests and rivers. I've had the opportunity to see over 50 bears in Washington over the last 15 years, and another dozen or so outside the state. I’ve written down every memorable encounter and have learned a few things about where to find them, how to spot them, and what to do (and not do).  Read more…

Traversing Blowdowns in the Pasayten Wilderness

My husband Bri and I love backcountry adventures, particularly to remote places without crowds and high routes without trail. We’ve explored much of the Cascades, but when we eyed a trip into the Pasayten Wilderness we felt that the driving distance and spectacular scenery warranted a longer expedition than usual. We decided to go before Slate Pass Road opened, when the high peaks in the area still had snow blanketing their scree slopes and the travelers on horseback had not yet arrived.   Read more…

Outside Insight | A Life of Adventure Education: An interview with Ken Wylie

A massive avalanche buried thirteen climbers below La Traviata peak near Revelstoke, British Columbia in 2003, killing seven in its wake. It made international headlines. Ken Wylie was among those buried; he escaped with guilt weighing heavily on his conscience, as he was one of the mountain guides responsible for decision-making on that trip. Ken wrote a popular book titled, Buried, about his experience surviving that avalanche, and the soul-searching life lessons which ensued. I have been learning from Ken for almost twenty years - starting at Outward Bound, then at the Wilderness Risk Management Conference, and most recently as a speaker at our Mountaineers Leadership Conference in 2017, where he gave a profoundly moving presentation about leadership, loss, and the healing that comes from courageous vulnerability. I sat down with him to learn more from his experience. Read more…

Backpacking Blunder: Headlamp-less in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness

When my fiancé Chelsea and I moved to Seattle, we were thrilled to enjoy the amazing hiking and backpacking opportunities the Pacific Northwest has to offer. We decided to explore the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, having purchased the map shortly after moving. Our plan was to start near Stevens Pass, ascend along Surprise Creek, then join up with the Pacific Crest Trail to Deception Pass. We would then head up to either Marmot or Jade Lakes to camp. Read more…

Nanga Parbat, Hermann Buhl and Our Physical Peaks and Valleys

When I suffered a bicycle injury recently, Mountaineers Books Senior Editor Mary Metz sent me an excerpt from Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage, by the late, great Austrian alpinist Hermann Buhl, the first person to solo an 8,000-meter peak. It was a reminder that even our heroes get injured. (Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage is a classic of mountaineering lore and is being reissued in Mountaineers Books "Legends & Lore" series in September 2018.) Read more…

The Importance of Turnaround Times

Decision-making as a leader is hard and inevitable. There are times when you are forced to face these epic inner battles rivaling Middle-Earth wars and can choose to retreat or be defeated. Retreat equates to loss of pride, but you live to die another day. Defeat may bring you to the ultimate destination but may also ensure delicious victory in the clenching teeth of the Sauron of Summit Fever. Read more…