Safety Stories

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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…

Join us at the 2018 Wilderness Risk Management Conference!

How do industry trends affect, shape, and impact our programs at The Mountaineers? If this is a question that you've ever considered – and a conversation that you're interested in being a part of – we invite you to join The Mountaineers at this year's Wilderness Risk Management Conference in Portland, Oregon. Read more…

Why Developing a Routine Could be Your Most Important Water Safety Precaution

I have been a recreational kayaker for twenty five years and paddle often.   I kayak on slow moving rivers, ponds, lakes, and protected salt water coves. I continue to improve my skills as I gain even more experience and become involved with various paddling communities.  I have learned that most of what you can do to stay safe while paddling happens off the water. Read more…

Lessons Learned – Spring Avalanche on Colchuck NBC

With the recent stint of sun and warm spring conditions has come the annual cycle of wet avalanches in the Cascades. Mountaineers Sherrie Trecker and Nicole Cederblom were on a private climb and shared this close call with us. The two were roping up to begin an attempt on the North Buttress Couloir route on Colchuck Peak on May 24, 2018, when the lower half of their descent route was consumed in a massive wet avalanche. Read more…

Forbidden Peak Incident - Summary Incident Report

In July of last year, The Mountaineers community experienced the tragic loss of Sue Bennett, a cherished super volunteer and extraordinary leader of the Bellingham climbing community. As a result of the incident, which occurred on a Mountaineers trip, The Mountaineers initiated a critical response process including the formation of an incident review committee. Read more…