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The Mountaineers

The Mountaineers. The club, with over 14,000 members, is based in Seattle with branches in Bellingham, Everett, Olympia and Tacoma, Washington. It offers more than 1,000 trips each year in over 20 different outdoor activities, while pursuing a strong conservation agenda. Mountaineers Books publishes guide books, outdoor adventure and environmental titles. In addition, the club maintains lodges and property, and publishes a monthly magazine. Further information about the club may be obtained at (206) 284-6310.

The Mountaineers’ climbing program encompasses basic, intermediate and refresher courses. The basic course places emphasis on beginning skills on rock, snow and ice. Two hundred forty students began the course in 1993 and 110 graduated. Participants in the intermediate course have two to five years to complete graduation requirements. The course covers more advanced rock, snow and ice climbing as well as glacier ice climbing, field trip teaching and climb leadership. Eighty students began the intermediate course this year, and 16 students graduated. The refresher course draws people who have not climbed for a while, or who want to update their techniques. The course consists of several lectures and field trips, with specific content shaped to the needs of the group. This year 15 people participated in our refresher course. The Mountaineers schedules a large number of single and multiple-day climbs for students and graduates each year, as well as a series of climbing seminars. For 1993, 311 climbs and 29 seminars were scheduled.

Related issues of growth management, minimum impact and climbing access are becoming more important to the club and its members. To manage our growth, and control impact of our courses, we are limiting the size of the two large courses in 1994, accepting a maximum of 200 people into our basic course and 75 into our intermediate course. Further, we are working to integrate minimum impact techniques and ethics into all of our activities. Finally, we are working with other climbers in the area to become more active on access issues, to be sure that we are aware of emerging concerns and are a part of the process of developing solutions.

Fred Beckey, John Roskelley, Greg Child and Royal Robbins were just some of the renowned climbers and authors who visited The Mountaineers for slide presentations and book-signing events in 1993. Members also enjoyed meeting and getting autographs from Malcolm Bates and several of the mountaineers he interviewed for his book, Cascades Voices. Other presentations were made by kayaker and photographer Joel Rogers, and bear expert Wayne Lynch.

In 1993 an Interagency Committee of state, federal and Canadian wildlife officials laid the groundwork for a Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan covering the North Cascades ecosystem. The proposed recovery zone is 9,565 square miles, encompassing all of North Cascades National Park, the Mount Baker- Snoqualmie and Wenatchee National Forests north of Interstate 90, and the Okanogan National Forest west of the Okanogan River. Currently estimated at 10 to 20 bears, the area could support a self-sustaining population of 200 to 400 bears. In order to educate our members on the recovery process and help protect them from an encounter with a grizzly or the more populous black bear, The Mountaineers offered a free course on bears several times throughout the year. Taught by Wayne Buchanan, a member of the Great Bear Foundation with extensive knowledge of grizzly biology and recreation safety, the course covers how to camp and travel safely in bear country, the lifestyle and habits of grizzlies, and the implications of recovery of threatened and endangered species. Several hundred members have taken the course in the last few years.

The Mountaineers Youth Committee offers climbing, backpacking, hiking, skiing and other trips for members age 14 and up. In late June, five youths and two adult leaders set out to climb the state’s highest peak, Mount Rainier. All seven made it to Emmons Flats at 9,400 feet, and four successfully summited the 14,410-foot peak. The final ascent took 12 hours, from 3:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Chris Hooyman, age 16, was one who made it to the top. He commented, “What a feeling! We were in another world, above the clouds and at the peak of our dreams. We stayed on top only long enough for a few snapshots and a ceremonial high-five before turning to begin the long plunge downward.” The adventure was chronicled in The Mountaineer magazine, and summed up by Jason Surendranth, age 18, “That weekend was an enormous success for all of us, making nature seem even more riveting and inspiring than we could ever imagine. The wilderness had set us free once again.”

Donna Price, Activities Division Chairwoman