Safety Stories

Safety Stories

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Rainy Season Tips for the Summer Hiker

I grabbed my antique wooden snowshoes and headed for the door. Growing up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, solo adventures every weekend were the norm as a kid. Winters were my favorite; a blanket of snow transformed the world into a black and white vintage photo from December through April. My brothers and I would skate on the lake and wander the empty woods surrounding our small cabin until dusk. Read more…

Safety Stories: Mount Tebo – We Were Hopeful It Was Only a Bad Sprain

As Mountaineers, we are committed to learning from our experiences. We examine every incident that happens on a Mountaineers trip for opportunities to improve the ways we explore and teach. Our volunteer safety committee reviews every incident report and picks a few each month to share as examples of ‘Lessons Learned’. The trip report below describes what happened on this trip, in the leader’s own words, and outlines the lessons the leader has identified. In some cases, we offer additional key learnings from the incident. Read more…

Safety Stories: Where's The Leader?

As Mountaineers, we are committed to learning from our experiences. We examine every incident that happens on a Mountaineers trip for opportunities to improve the ways we explore and teach. Our volunteer safety committee reviews every incident report and picks a few each month to share as examples of ‘Lessons Learned’. The trip report below describes what happened on this trip, in the leader’s own words, and outlines the lessons the leader has identified. In some cases, we offer additional key learnings from the incident. Read more…

Your Rescue Practice May Look Like an Emergency to Someone Else

As Mountaineers, we are committed to learning from our experiences. We examine every incident that happens on a Mountaineers trip for opportunities to improve the ways we explore and teach. Our volunteer safety committee reviews every incident report and picks a few each month to share as examples of ‘Lessons Learned’. The trip report below describes what happened on this trip, in the leader’s own words, and outlines the lessons the leader has identified. In some cases, we offer additional key learnings from the incident. Read more…

Safety Stories: Running a Climbing Field Trip during COVID-19

As Mountaineers, we are committed to learning from our experiences. We examine every incident that happens on a Mountaineers trip for opportunities to improve the ways we explore and teach. Our volunteer safety committee reviews every incident report and picks a few each month to share as examples of ‘Lessons Learned’. The trip report below describes what happened on this trip, in the leader’s own words, and outlines the lessons the leader has identified. In some cases, we offer additional key learnings from the incident. Read more…

Crevasse Rescue Practice - The student was caught by the backup belay

As Mountaineers, we are committed to learning from our experiences. We examine every incident that happens on a Mountaineers trip for opportunities to improve the ways we explore and teach. Our volunteer safety committee reviews every incident report and picks a few each month to share as examples of ‘Lessons Learned’. The trip report below describes what happened on this trip, in the leader’s own words, and outlines the lessons the leader has identified. In some cases, we offer additional key learnings from the incident. Read more…

Did You Know? | Mountain Rescue's Roots in The Mountaineers

Exposing ourselves to the most unforgiving elements of nature can be cathartic, electrifying – and dangerous. Uncertainty is a necessary part of her appeal, but when Mother Nature (or plain bad luck) starts baring her teeth, today we have measures in place to help you get home safely. Read more…

Safety Stories: They Asked for Directions, and We Said, "Just Follow Us”.

As Mountaineers, we are committed to learning from our experiences. We examine every incident that happens on a Mountaineers trip for opportunities to improve the ways we explore and teach. Our volunteer safety committee reviews every incident report and picks a few each month to share as examples of ‘Lessons Learned’. The trip report below describes what happened on this trip, in the leader’s own words, and outlines the lessons the leader has identified. In some cases, we offer additional key learnings from the incident. Read more…

My Surf Kayak Got Trapped by Breaking Surf

As Mountaineers, we are committed to learning from our experiences. We examine every incident that happens on a Mountaineers trip for opportunities to improve the ways we explore and teach. Our volunteer safety committee reviews every incident report and picks a few each month to share as examples of ‘Lessons Learned’. The trip report below describes what happened on this trip, in the leader’s own words, and outlines the lessons the leader has identified. In some cases, we offer additional key learnings from the incident. Read more…

Mountaineering Judgement in the Age of COVID-19

In our Mountaineers climbing and alpine scrambling courses, an essential skill we are always trying to instill in our students is what I call “mountaineering judgement.” To be safe outdoors and in the mountains, one always needs to be aware of - and alert to - risk factors, changing conditions, and issues with other party members. Because of this, courses in activities like climbing, scrambling, and kayaking could just as easily be called risk management courses. Everything students learn in these courses reduces risk and makes the activity safer. Read more…

Trail Edge Gives Way, Backpacker Falls 30 Feet

As Mountaineers, we are committed to learning from our experiences. We examine every incident that happens on a Mountaineers trip for opportunities to improve the ways we explore and teach. Our volunteer safety committee reviews every incident report and picks a few each month to share as examples of ‘Lessons Learned’. The trip report below describes what happened on this trip, in the leader’s own words, and outlines the lessons the leader has identified. In some cases, we offer additional key learnings from the incident. Read more…

Safety Stories | A Fall on Cutthroat Peak

Everything about this climb was perfect, until it wasn’t. Read more…

50 Foot Leader Fall on Concord Tower

As Mountaineers, we are committed to learning from our experiences. We examine every incident that happens on a Mountaineers trip for opportunities to improve the ways we explore and teach. Our volunteer safety committee reviews every incident report and picks a few each month to share as examples of ‘Lessons Learned’. The trip report below describes what happened on this trip, in the leader’s own words, and outlines the lessons the leader has identified. In some cases, we offer additional key learnings from the incident. Read more…

Change Creek Waterfall Rappel – Employing Best Practices After a Slip

As Mountaineers, we are committed to learning from our experiences. We examine every incident that happens on a Mountaineers trip for opportunities to improve the ways we explore and teach. Our volunteer safety committee reviews every incident report and picks a few each month to share as examples of ‘Lessons Learned’. The trip report below describes what happened on this trip, in the leader’s own words, and outlines the lessons the leader has identified. In some cases, we offer additional key learnings from the incident. Read more…

West McMillan Spire - Slipped, Slid, Bounced, Finally Arrested

As Mountaineers, we are committed to learning from our experiences. We examine every incident that happens on a Mountaineers trip for opportunities to improve the ways we explore and teach. Our volunteer safety committee reviews every incident report and picks a few each month to share as examples of ‘Lessons Learned’. The trip report below describes what happened on this trip, in the leader’s own words, and outlines the lessons the leader has identified. In some cases, we offer additional key learnings from the incident. Read more…

The Time a Search & Rescue Member Got "Rescued" By Her Team

In April 2019, my friend Becca and I were antsy to start backpacking season. We were excited to escape urbanite life for a couple of days and hit the trails. We opted to head out on Baker Lake Trail in the North Cascades. The trail is a lower-elevation trail, perfect for early season backpacking when many trails are still covered in snow. Read more…

Commonwealth Basin Snowshoe - The Fall Looked Minor

As Mountaineers, we are committed to learning from our experiences. We examine every incident that happens on a Mountaineers trip for opportunities to improve the ways we explore and teach. Our volunteer safety committee reviews every incident report and picks a few each month to share as examples of ‘Lessons Learned’. The trip report below describes what happened on this trip, in the leader’s own words, and outlines the lessons the leader has identified. In some cases, we offer additional key learnings from the incident. Read more…

I Fractured My Wrist By Way Of A "FOOSH"

As Mountaineers, we are committed to learning from our experiences. We examine every incident that happens on a Mountaineers trip for opportunities to improve the ways we explore and teach. Our volunteer safety committee reviews every incident report and picks a few each month to share as examples of ‘Lessons Learned’. The trip report below describes what happened on this trip, in the leader’s own words, and outlines the lessons the leader has identified. In some cases, we offer additional key learnings from the incident. Read more…

Cutthroat Peak: Hit By A Large Rock At High Velocity

As Mountaineers, we are committed to learning from our experiences. We examine every incident that happens on a Mountaineers trip for opportunities to improve the ways we explore and teach. Our volunteer safety committee reviews every incident report and picks a few each month to share as examples of ‘Lessons Learned’. The trip report below describes what happened on this trip, in the leader’s own words, and outlines the lessons the leader has identified. In some cases, we offer additional key learnings from the incident. Read more…

Staying Prepared For the Best Kind of Adventures

Unprepared adventurers, if they’re not lucky, can find themselves struggling out in the dark, under deteriorating conditions — or worse. Perhaps they leave without appropriate clothing or gear. Or they go without being cognizant of weather or available daylight. A few face difficulty because they chose an objective they were not physically ready for. And some expose themselves and others to risk because they decide to continue the climb even though objective information suggests they would be safer turning around or choosing another destination. Read more…

Join us at the 2019 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 Albuquerque, NM. Read more…

Outside Insight | That Could Never Happen To Me: When Luck Runs Out

I was lucky. In over 25 years of climbing, I was accident free. Friends have been injured. Others have died. I figured that I wasn’t better than them, just lucky. Read more…

Gnar Face

We’ve all had those days. Ranging from brutal crashes to foolish mistakes, when you get after it outdoors you’re bound to eat some dirt and bleed a little. Risk is part of the adventure, and sometimes your card comes up and you find yourself cam over teakettle. Your dedicated Mountaineers staff is no exception – enjoy the funny, painful, and unfortunate things we’ve done to ourselves in the outdoors. Read more…

Staying Safe on Remote Day Hikes

Outdoor activities have the tendency to escalate into bigger and more complex pursuits, and hiking is no exception. Even if you start with only an interest in moderate day hikes, you may soon be eyeing longer and more difficult trails. With long hikes, you assume more risk than on a day hike near town, and you may find yourself in remote places without cell service and few people on-trail to help if something goes wrong. Follow these tips to navigate this middle ground between hiking and backpacking responsibly: Read more…

Safety Stories | Beware of Slugs

Last May, what started out as a straight forward backpacking trip turned into a harrowing ordeal for Mountaineer member Michael Kelly. With humor and grace, she recounts the good, the bad, and the downright ridiculousness of having to travel five miles without the use of her right leg. Read more…

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…