Safety Stories

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VHF Radios and Safety 101 for Sea Kayakers

A group of six of us set off from the north shore of the mouth of Willapa Bay. The tide was coming in, but was going to turn around noon and the swell outside was about six feet. We intended to cross over to Leadbetter Point, enjoy the beach there for lunch and then return in the afternoon. We had four people with lots of experience in coastal paddling (surf conditions) and two with much less experience but were strong paddlers. Read more…

Simul-Climbing: Pros and Cons for an Advanced Skill

Simul-climbing is an advanced climbing technique where both climbers simultaneously climb while roped together, with pieces of protection continuously placed between them by the lead climber. Given the long and committing nature of many alpine routes in the Cascades, simul-climbing can offer distinct benefits to climbers seeking to balance efficiency and safety moving over vast amounts of terrain; however, the technique has pros and cons, and nuances which warrant attention. It's important to dispel some common misperceptions about this technique. Read more…

Damnation Peak Winter Scramble - Situations Come in Threes

Due to avalanche danger higher on the ridge (we hit wind deposition at 3900' on the ridge with 40 degree slopes either side), I elected to turn the group back. The descent to Damnation Creek was steep in places, but mostly in the 20-30 degree range. As soon as we turned around, several issues immediately rose. Read more…

Quartz Mountain - Where Did THAT Avalanche Come From?

We were attempting a winter scramble of Quartz Mt via the east gully. The approach was pleasant and without incident. The forecast was for moderate avalanche danger below tree line and considerable above. While the route was below tree line, due to the nature of the gully on our route, we thought the conditions were considerable, and we were on the look out for any surface activity. Read more…

Brent Williams attends Wilderness Risk Management Conference on Mountaineers Scholarship

The core objective of the annual three day Wilderness Risk Management Conference is to offer an outstanding educational experience to help mitigate the risks inherent in exploring, working, teaching, and recreating in wild places. Brent Williams was one of two Mountaineers members awarded a scholarship to attend the 24th annual WRMC conference in Portland, Maine. Read more…

Grace Lakes - Snowshoe Field Trip Leaders Assist Young Skier

During the Basic Snowshoe field trip on Saturday, Jan 21 at Grace Lakes, an 11-year-old skier fell while skiing. He was a few hundred yards and about 40 feet up slope above the first of the Grace Lakes. He made three loud, urgent screams. This incident was within hearing distance from where several snowshoe students and instructors were grouped. Read more…

South Climbing Wall, Seattle - Crag Student Rappels Off End of Rope

Seattle Crag Course was conducting a class on various aspects of basic single and multi-pitch climbing for crag students. The south wall was where multi-pitch instruction was being taught and practiced. Read more…

Risk Assessment with Josh Cole, North Cascades Mountain Guide

Josh and I first met when we worked together at the Northwest Outward Bound School, and I’ve always been struck by his creativity, analytical skills, approach to teaching, and sense of humor. Josh has a rare ability to champion and role-model the highest values and expectations as an outdoor educator/guide — one of many attributes that make him such an inspiring professional colleague. Read more…

Risk Management Evaluation: Recommendations from Outdoor Safety Institute

In the summer 2016, The Mountaineers hired Outdoor Safety Institute (OSI) to evaluate how we manage risk in our Global Adventures, Climbing, and Scrambling programs. OSI outlined a number of recommendations, and we have put together a plan to implement them. Read more…

Surprise Mountain - Winter Wading in Surprise Creek

This is a classic winter scramble up a scenic valley, past two mountain lakes, to a summit with outstanding views. Read more…