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The Mountaineers

The Mountaineers. The Mountaineers, with nearly 15,000 members, is based in Seattle with branches in Bellingham, Everett, Olympia and Tacoma, Washington. The club 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 includes basic, intermediate and refresher courses as well as evaluations for basic equivalency and numerous seminars. In 1994, in an attempt to manage growth, maintain a high-quality program and control the impact of our courses on the environment, we limited the number of students entering our basic climbing course to 200, turning away over 100 applicants. The students in the basic climbing course acquire the skills necessary for caring for and surviving in the mountains. In addition, students are taught basic navigation skills and are also required to complete a Mountaineering Oriented First Aid (MOFA) course. There were 91 graduates from the 1994 basic climbing course.

Our basic refresher course is offered for people who have not climbed for a while, or who want to update their skills. The course content is shaped to the needs of the group. There were 20 participants in our 1994 basic climbing refresher course.

In 1994, 80 students entered our intermediate climbing course and 22 graduated. The course covers more advanced rock, snow-and-ice climbing as well as field-trip teaching, rope leadership and wilderness ethics and can take up to five years to complete. Intermediate students teach at basic field trips and experience climbs, under the supervision of intermediate course instructors and approved climb leaders.

Over 330 climbs were offered to members as a part of our climbing program in 1994. The climbs included both single- and multiple-day climbs and are available to both students and graduates of our courses.

Twenty-nine seminars on such topics as friction, crack, aid, ice, winter-ice, multi-pitch, and leading fifth-class climbing, were offered in 1994. Seminars on climbing areas included the Peshastin Pinnacles, the Icicle and Tumwater canyons, selected intermediate climbs in the Washington Cascades, the Cassin Ridge on Denali, and a presentation on the 1993 American-Canadian K2 expedition. Other topics covered were rescue methods; climbing-equipment design, use and safety; wilderness ethics; and “Redemption! It’s what happens at the end of a fall that counts.”

The Mountaineers hosted lifelong Northwesterner and renown climber Lou Whittaker for a slide presentation on his recently published biography, Lou Whittaker: Memoirs of a Mountain Guide. Lou was at his storytelling best as he shared his life’s adventures, from wild youthful escapades to recent climbs with some of the country’s top alpinists. Books written by club members and published by The Mountaineers in 1994 included Best Short Hikes in the North Cascades and San Juan Islands by E. M. Sterling, Exploring Washington’s Wild Areas by Marge and Ted Mueller and 100 Hikes in Washington's North Cascades National Park Region, second edition, by Ira Spring and Harvey Manning.

In 1994, The Mountaineers joined with the U.S. Forest Service and local councils of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to develop an education program for back-country trip leaders on leave-no-trace wilderness principles and techniques. The partnership produced a training manual titled, Scouting Ahead: A Leader’s Guide to Teaching and Learning Leave No Trace. Volunteers from The Mountaineers and Forest Service staff organized training sessions for Scout leaders where minimum-impact techniques were explained. Scout leaders were then given the training manuals to aid them in bringing the lessons back to their scout troops. In all, 700 troop leaders, representing more than 20,000 Scouts, took the training. To test the effectiveness of the program and offer incentives for participation, a certification event was offered. Scouts who passed a written test and demonstrated their knowledge by setting up a leave-no-trace camp, including meal preparation, were awarded a specially designed patch. For many troops, certification in leave-no-trace techniques became a prerequisite for participating in 50-mile backpack trips.

Donna Price, Activities Division Chairwoman