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#22315 - 03/26/12 12:03 PM How much protection to we want?
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 828
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Please excuse the ravings of an old fella, but the Half Dome discussion has prompted me to wonder how much protection (against our own stupidity) do we actually need or want in the mountains? Do we need big daddy in DC to protect us from all harm during out wilderness outings? Please discuss; go on a rant!

Some examples: the HD cables, cables on the Whitney trail, tons of trail signs at nearly every junction, pine trees defaced by forest identification ("I" for Inyo, "T" for Toiyabe, etc.) markers hacked into the bark (in case we can't see the trail in front of us), duck markers all over the place (which one is correct???).

The original route on the Matterhorn (the one in Switzerland, not the Disneyland version), the Hornli Route, has a big honking line fixed nearly all the way to the summit. It makes the ascent easier, but ha ha, ya still might have to rap in a few spots. Ama Dablam, in Nepal, also has fixed lines up the easiest route; maintained by Sherpas, to help keep the tourist money flowing (is there a parallel in the HD cables situation?).

I'm talking about the lost sense of adventure being replaced by the instant experience syndrome, during which we are safe from all harm...no worries, no sweat...and it's still lots of fun. True confessions: No doubt, if I ever need help, I will press the 911 button on my Spot Messenger, no hesitation.

By the way: I'm all in favor of bear boxes, but for the sake of the bears, not us. We need to protect Ursa from the junk we devour.

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#22318 - 03/26/12 02:14 PM Re: How much protection to we want? [Re: Bob West]
RoguePhotonic Offline


Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Bakersfield CA
I personally don't want much of anything for protection. I think it's a persons own responsibility to calculate the risks and take them if they wish. You just have to be willing to accept the consequences of your actions. I know for allot of people this goes back to discussions on SAR and making it easier and safer to be found.

There are allot of people that are for removing all junction signs from the wilderness. I wouldn't go that far because I think it would make more people rely on GPS markers to find junctions. There are too many use trails out there also that would just get confusing. I think the level of junction marking that we currently have is good the way it is.

I'd say that in my own experience the notion of adventure by going into the unknown is so much greater. I myself many times now have taken to cross country, done some technical climbing and generally traveled into very remote areas with no experience and no safety net at all. I never carry any sort of locator and no one ever has my itinerary or schedule. If I simply fell and broke my leg in some of the places I have been it would be all over. This certainly made for a better sense of adventure. Is it foolish? I'd say only if your not willing to accept a slow and agonizing death alone in the wilderness. I was and am so I wouldn't say it's foolish.

I'm not sure where I would draw the line in the idea of placing so much added safety it puts people out there that have no business doing so. The Half Dome cables and trail were built in a different era. One that wanted to promote love of the out doors. I don't think there are many other examples of this sort of construction putting people where they should not be. In the Sierra anyway.
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#22319 - 03/26/12 02:44 PM Re: How much protection to we want? [Re: Bob West]
tdtz Offline


Registered: 08/26/10
Posts: 511
Loc: CA
My response to this could easily get long winded, so I will try to boil it down....

When something is made artificially easier than it would be naturally, we are inviting people who are taking risks beyond their skill or physical level.

With the HD discussion it was brought up that maybe we should remove the cables on the switchbacks. Something that I'm not sure that I disagree with (maybe we should bring cramps or microspikes and an ice ax, even in the summer).

But the flip side of the argument could be putting up cables at the ledges and the final 400'. Or even making hiking trails wheelchair friendly. Where do we draw the line?

My views are pretty close to what RP stated. If you aren't willing to deal with the consequences of your actions, then don't do the things that lead to them.

And the other part of it is that nobody is obligated to facilitate the pasttimes of other people.

Old saying "If you can't do the time, don't do the crime"

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#22321 - 03/26/12 03:41 PM Re: How much protection to we want? [Re: Bob West]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
What I am opposed to are extreme positions.

Let me give the example from my boating club, where the club owns a variety of boats. People have their favorite types, optimized for their favorite activity. That's fine. What's not fine, is when they try to enforce making EVERY boat in the fleet be THEIR type.

I don't favor making every peak easy to climb by artificially enhancing the route, like HD.

I don't favor making all areas totally remote and unaccessed by trail-like the Enchanted Gorge.

I don't favor making all outdoor areas inaccessible to those physically unable to walk into them.

I don't favor making all outdoor areas paved.

I DO favor a mixture of things, that allow maximal access to all, with all flavors of adventure being accommodated.

After all, the mountaineer didn't pay one red cent more for the public lands than did the couch potato.

No matter which you allocate to whom, the other side will think it should have been theirs.

It is hard to argue with the HD ration....about 1000:1 weighted towards the adventurers. 999 out of 1000 is not enough?

Apparently not.

You CANNOT read of Laura's or Rogue's adventures, and not think that are many lifetimes of remote adventures out there.

......but they weren't born that way. They had to work up to it, with the hand-holding of signs, etc, along the way.

I'm fine with the rest of the population having the same learning advantages.

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#22322 - 03/26/12 04:25 PM Re: How much protection to we want? [Re: Ken]
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2240
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
ECdR.



Another look:

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#22325 - 03/26/12 05:25 PM Re: How much protection to we want? [Re: Bob West]
Burchey
Unregistered


Originally Posted By: Bob West
True confessions: No doubt, if I ever need help, I will press the 911 button on my Spot Messenger, no hesitation.


I'd be careful relying on that bad boy - my kind family bought me this: ResQlink

Originally Posted By: Ken
......but they weren't born that way. They had to work up to it, with the hand-holding of signs, etc, along the way.

I'm fine with the rest of the population having the same learning advantages.


Great point - we're all at different "levels" in this game, and none of us were born with an ice axe in hand.

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#22328 - 03/26/12 09:02 PM Re: How much protection to we want? [Re: ]
MooseTracks Offline


Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 582
Loc: Bishop, CA, United States
Originally Posted By: Burchey
Originally Posted By: Bob West
True confessions: No doubt, if I ever need help, I will press the 911 button on my Spot Messenger, no hesitation.


I'd be careful relying on that bad boy - my kind family bought me this: ResQlink


Hoooollld up... something Adam and I agree on? WTH is the world coming to??? wink I take my SPOT intermittently, more so if I'm out galavanting by myself, but I have taken to only hitting the OK at intervals throughout the day/in camp. The reliability of getting an accurate signal out, especially in some of the deeper canyons/drainages of the eastern Sierra, is a lot lower than what people think. What it boils down to, essentially, is that more and more people are simply buying the toys and not really learning how to use them appropriately (and this goes for SPOT, GPS, avy gear, you name it). So it comes back around to taking responsibility for your actions, and knowing how to handle yourself if an emergency arises.

Originally Posted By: Burchey
Originally Posted By: Ken
......but they weren't born that way. They had to work up to it, with the hand-holding of signs, etc, along the way.

I'm fine with the rest of the population having the same learning advantages.


Great point - we're all at different "levels" in this game, and none of us were born with an ice axe in hand.


From the archive (my first neff Milo at 6 mos)...


I was recently accused of being an "education snob" when it came to studying as many books and manuals and taking classes as spending actual time in the back/side/slack/front country. To me, that's just part of what it means to be self-sufficient back there, especially since I do go off on a regular basis by myself. Trips all have objectives, but plans shift and change with such fluidity that the only way to respond, in my mind, is to be able to roll with the flux.

But, all book learning aside, what is mostly needed out there is common sense, which, unfortunately, seems to be getting less and less common... frown

Thanks, Ken, for the kind words, and for being one of the people who did some hand-holding when I started all this insanity... smile

-L
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#22331 - 03/26/12 11:04 PM Re: How much protection to we want? [Re: MooseTracks]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7527
Loc: Fresno, CA
Adventurous humans are peculiar. They like to push the limits, and seem have the best experience if they can get as close as possible to the danger point -- where going beyond might lead to a catastrophe.

And obviously, some people don't pull back from that limit soon enough, or they miscalculate, and something serious happens -- injury or death.

I think from the consensus here, nobody wants the government to stop us from having our adventures. Thank goodness too many lawsuits haven't occurred causing the government to "protect" everyone from having fun.

...and that brings to mind that other thread... Since Yosemite is now permitting people to climb the Half Dome cables, are they taking on the burden of ensuring that they are 100% safe? Are they ensuring that hiking the Mist Trail is safe? The area at the top of Vernal Falls? How about hiking the trail after dark? But since permits for the JMT have been in place for decades, I would think (or at least hope) permits for Half Dome would be just as safe from lawsuits.

Looking at those "danger zones" in Yosemite, if a private business were to conduct similar adventures on property they owned, the liability insurance would be so high we couldn't afford to hike, or there would be a ten-foot high fence along the Mist Trail and at Vernal Falls.

Unfortunately, in the case of Hot Creek, Inyo N.F. has put up that fence because someone declared it to be unsafe. It is a terrible shame, since the fence ruins the natural beauty of the area. And now, if they take the fence down, a lawyer friend tells me, that implies they have found it to be safe, so next time some idiot drinks too much and drowns there or gets burned wandering into the wrong place, they could lose a lawsuit.

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#22338 - 03/27/12 08:56 AM Re: How much protection to we want? [Re: Steve C]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1251
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
There is no doubt many want a degree of protection. All you need to do is go out on most heavily traveled summer routes during the winter...the exceptions being Ice House Canyon and Mt. Baldy. What is busy during the summer can be pristine wilderness during the winter. I think I've taken 4 trip this winter along routes/trails that have high traffic in the summer where I saw no one this winter. Many of the protections go away with as little 6" of snow.

A week ago we had people follow us way off the grid during the last snowstorm figuring we were on "the trail". They were looking for protection in all the wrong places because we were just out trying to get away from the maddening crowds. Not long after our group stopped to grab a bite, our hanger ons turned around.

The question is what should the forest service and park do. With places like Half Dome and Mt. Whitney, not much. You can neither put the genie back in the bottle nor should you to any great degree. There are to many citizens who have made investments based on these Disneyland au Natural decisions.

There are still plenty of places to go where it is still wilderness that lack the protections... just not some of the glamor spots we wish were less protected.

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#22344 - 03/27/12 12:43 PM Re: How much protection to we want? [Re: Ken]
tdtz Offline


Registered: 08/26/10
Posts: 511
Loc: CA
Ken,
very reasonable position and very reasonably presented.
Tom

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