The Mountaineers. The Mountaineers, with members Mike Burns, Karen Close, Steven Cox (American team leader), Don Goodman, Natala Goodman, Jim Tweedie and Howard Weaver, joined with The Himalayan Club to conduct the first Indian-American climbing expedition to the remote region of Kulu in the Himachal Pradesh state of northern India. The team climbed five peaks of varying height, including two first ascents. Don Goodman and Donna Price organized this “Parvati ‘96 Indo-American Himalayan Expedition.”
The Seattle climbing program, under the leadership of Steven Cox, continued to experience a demand that exceeded capacity. The number of people wishing to enter the climbing courses is consistently greater than course size allows. Climbing program volunteers are doing an excellent job of finding creative ways to satisfy this demand while ensuring a safe, high-quality, enriching experience for participants and addressing as well the related issues of access, stewardship, conservation, and growth management. Most significantly, the volunteer administrators of course field trips are working actively to reduce field trip size by offering required field trips more often at varied locations. That effort matches a long-standing practice of smaller group sizes for Mountaineer climbs. In 1996 Intermediate Field Trips, under the leadership of Mike Burns, conducted training in groups never larger than 40.
There were 244 students accepted into the basic climbing course; 72 graduated. Unusually poor weather and snow conditions led to a higher-than-normal number of students who will require a second year to graduate from the basic course. There were 34 applicants for basic course equivalency; 17 were granted. Also, 79 students enrolled in the intermediate climbing course and 13 others graduated from the multi-year class. Mountaineers members, in a club-wide vote, supported and affirmed the climbing program practice of requiring students to volunteer time toward conservation service in order to practice a lifelong commitment to stewardship. This requirement for graduation from the basic climbing course was introduced over the last two years.
After an extensive review of belay practices under the direction of Barb McCann, a significant change was approved for course curriculum. The hip belay is now only demonstrated for basic climbing course students, who are required to learn a belay technique that utilizes either a belay device or muenter hitch. Instruction in the hip belay is now reserved for the intermediate climbing course. In order to challenge and retain experienced climbers, Advanced Climbing Experiences (ACE) are being scheduled in addition to our many seminars. This year’s ACE activities included an ice climbing trip to Banff.
In the spring, The Mountaineers published the first Washington Backcountry Almanac for National Parks, National Forests and wilderness areas within the state. The 112-page guide answers questions critical to hikers, climbers and outdoor users, such as where backcountry camping is allowed and the procedure for obtaining overnight permits and dealing with other regulations. Also included are telephone numbers of agencies that provide information not in the guide. It is a book of up-to-date facts that can readily be used as a trip planner. This insightful publication, spearheaded by Mountaineers president Marcia Hanson, is now in its second printing. With over 400 copies sold, the book is expected to be revised annually.
Donna Price, Trustee