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Denali Fee Raises of 150%
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By TuRETZ
From Denver, co
Jan 12, 2011
FLIGHT!

I was looking on the alpinist website. Saw the article, kind of suprised it didn't pop up in the recent news forum on the MP.com home screen. Check it out. What does everyone think?

www.alpinist.com/doc/web10f/wfeature-denali-fees

Also a bit more from access fund:
www.accessfund.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=tmL5KhNWL>>>

Seems a bit excessive to me, or maybe it should be enforced on the the west butt only...

-Retz


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By Owen Darrow
From Garmisch,
Jan 13, 2011
Nice view

www.mountainproject.com/v/general_climbing/denali_climbing_i>>>

It was a topic but didn't get much attention when I posted it. I thought it was an issue too but I guess not to most climbers.


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By alpinejason
From Eau Claire
Jan 13, 2011

I've been following it but to be honest there's a billion other mountains out there that are free to climb. Don't get me wrong I think Denali is a pretty badass mountain and I hate to see fees go higher to put it out of reach of some climbers but eh you win some you lose some.

Also, I think the 150% increase is what scares people not the final price tag.


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By Owen Darrow
From Garmisch,
Jan 13, 2011
Nice view

I've been following it but to be honest there's a billion other mountains out there that are free to climb.

Especially in Alaska!


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By tradryan
Jan 13, 2011
Skis!

What's scarier is that it's a 250% increase. [$200 x 2.5 = $500]


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By alpinejason
From Eau Claire
Jan 13, 2011

tradryan wrote:
What's scarier is that it's a 250% increase. [$200 x 2.5 = $500]


Sorry to call you out but $200 to $500 is mathematically a 150% increase.


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By Buff Johnson
Jan 13, 2011
smiley face


The NPS is seeking input and ideas regarding two key questions:
1) Is the current mountaineering program the most cost effective, efficient, and safe program we can devise?

2) How much of the cost should be recovered from users, and what options are there for how those costs can be distributed?


Some of my thoughts

Is this fee increase addressing a natural resource conservation concern? Are peak-baggers eurotrashing the mountain??

Are there education opportunities to better assist to climbers contemplating this mountain?

Air support & evac should be a secondary in support of the ground effort. The NPS may be relying too much now on rapid extraction by air. It is effective and does limit exposure of rescuers & patients by time in terrain and number of rescuers needed, especially unfriendly terrain; but it's also the highest risk of any type of rescue operation. Acting like heli/air-rescue should be SOP can be a problem.

Are the higher talented climbers of any value on the mtn to the NPS or those that need aid? Raising the fee potentially eliminates the talented climbers that can't rub two nickels together but can lend a hand to others needing aid while promoting more of the lesser talented hiking peak-bagger able to pay anything but then puts the NPS in a position where they now must support them. Or maybe better put, peak-baggers should be redefined as morons with cash -- meaning that the conservation issues that go along with this will only serve to worsen.


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By MikeS
From Boulder, CO
Jan 13, 2011

So if you didn't go explore the links above, here are some opportunities to have your questions answered by the NPS

Monday, January 17 - 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
REI Flagship Store,
222 Yale Ave. N
Seattle, Washington

Tuesday, January 18 - 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
American Mountaineering Center
710 10th St.
Golden, Colorado

They are looking for input from the bada**es as well as the morons out there (really well said Mark; really. Make sure to right that down on a note card so you get it right at the meeting).


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By Mike Anderson
From Dayton, OH
Jan 13, 2011

That sucks, but as long as Americans keep refusing to pay taxes, this sort of thing will keep happening. But, you should easily be able to afford it with your big tax refund, oh wait, that assumes you are wealthy enough to get a big refund. Fees, toll roads, deductibles, etc, are just regressive taxes and John Boehner is so happy he can't hold back the tears....

What's fascinating is that Eastern national parks rarely have fees, not even entrance fees. Great Smokey Mtns NP is the most visited park and they don't charge an entrance fee!! If you live in the west, that should really piss you off. Maybe ask your congress people why Westerners are footing the bill for the entire NPS.


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By JPVallone
Jan 13, 2011

So its going up 150%, just like my US health insurance and US health care. :-(

Mark Nelson wrote:
Air support & evac should be a secondary in support of the ground effort. The NPS may be relying too much now on rapid extraction by air. It is effective and does limit exposure of rescuers & patients by time in terrain and number of rescuers needed, especially unfriendly terrain; but it's also the highest risk of any type of rescue operation. Acting like heli/air-rescue should be SOP can be a problem.


Mark, I see your point here, but this model is so alive and well in the Alps and it kicks ass. I think you could argue both ways about which is riskier, I think 50 plus volunteers that are stoked about a mission wondering around on a mountain looking for someone, is quite expensive as well and seems a bit more riskier. Especially if it becomes overnight missions as they often sometimes do, then you have volunteers from all around racing in there cars to get to these scenes from every direction. Now Denali may be an entirely different scene given that it is NPS and potentially there are good Mountaineer SAR crew close and already in position to deploy on the mountain.

Here in the Alps it is so impressive to see a bird come in and long line out a full blown Doctor, Gendarme, and a full licensed UIAGM mountain guide , Mind you these three people are usually 1 person that actually holds all three credentials, Pretty impressive. Usually 1 or 2 ground crew are deployed, bird circles for about 5 minutes or will go land someplace close wait for the rigging, and Voila, Gone, it took about 4 or 5 people between flight crew and rescuers and less then 30 minutes, Not to mention the victim is now in route to difinitive care. Granted the bird is involved, but how is it riskier then putting 50 plus rescuers in the field for 1 persons broken leg or something. Isn't the first rule of rescue or scene safety and scene survey to not make another victim. I think you are just increasing the odds of this by deploying more folks on the ground which don't do this as there sole job for a living and God Bless them for volunteering, but it seems to be exposing more potential vicitms. No discredit to American SAR teams and what they do, absolutely amazing and yeah, most are volunteering, but Hands down the Systems, training and staff are far superior in the Alps. But I know a huge part of it is what the government wants to fund and in the states unfortunately this is a huge struggle.

I here your thoughts, I'm not saying your right or I'm right, but I see whats happening here in the Alps, it's impressive and I can by Carte Neige for less then a night out at a Boulder bar, It's nothing to cover my ass here, it's just my 2 cents


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By J. Albers
From Colorado
Jan 13, 2011
Bucky

Mike Anderson wrote:
That sucks, but as long as Americans keep refusing to pay taxes, this sort of thing will keep happening. But, you should easily be able to afford it with your big tax refund, oh wait, that assumes you are wealthy enough to get a big refund. Fees, toll roads, deductibles, etc, are just regressive taxes and John Boehner is so happy he can't hold back the tears.... What's fascinating is that Eastern national parks rarely have fees, not even entrance fees. Great Smokey Mtns NP is the most visited park and they don't charge an entrance fee!! If you live in the west, that should really piss you off. Maybe ask your congress people why Westerners are footing the bill for the entire NPS.


Well put. Funny how the states that have representatives that complain the most (and have the lowest taxes), get the most federal dollars from the rest of the high tax states (i.e. tax dollars flow from the blue states to the red states.... CA is a net loss state). Still, I gladly pay the NP fee to climb in the Ditch and Tuolumne because the NP service is surely under a lot of fiscal strain right now. I'm just glad that we have areas that are preserved as opposed to the "wilderness" setting of the mountains in Europe.


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By Buff Johnson
Jan 13, 2011
smiley face

It's a tough discussion, Joe.

If they go back to ground evacs off the Grand, each one is probably 2 full days (or more) and subjecting everyone to rockfall and shit-strewn talus fields with heinous scree systems. Then to consider the extreme elements with Denali.

But the highest mortality in rescue is from air; the danger is well known to us. Was that ankle or knee injury worth losing the doc, flight nurse, medic, pilot, equipment, etc; not too mention the climber as well because a heli went down? I don't think so.


One thing that does stick out is that ground based operations using well managed regularly trained personnel in specific rescue skill sets and high frequency of mission occurrence has a safety record over the past fifty some odd years, and considering this with multiple teams, that far exceeds the safety of air operations and, I argue, can be as/more effective in patient stabilization, loading, & transporting someone to definitive care in certain terrain and climatic situations. Don't get me wrong, air has great benefits, but seems over-emphasized considering the risk that has been shown.


I'm speaking out of turn anyway; my ideas on effective ground are a minority and not well received even in this country. But then I am a cocky badass to a fault; though I do try to inspire.


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By Mike Anderson
From Dayton, OH
Jan 13, 2011

You can't really compare air ops in the Alps vs Denali. Denali is a high altitude, arctic mountain, so helicopters are much more risky there.


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By Buff Johnson
Jan 13, 2011
smiley face

minor point Mike, but the big tax refund is really a return of tax overpayment made throughout the year because the taxpayer is too ignorant to manage their own affairs and would rather invest in the U.S. Federal Govt; talk about a huge zit on the pimpled ass of humanity that ever needed to be popped, and rightfully so.


If mountaineering went to a taxpayer based system, climbing would end in this country. Our society will not accept this pursuit nor any rescue needs as a reasonable use of taxpayer dollars.

In fact, anything straying outside of the sidewalked white lines of paved American obesity and mass media decadence strife from fear laden talking heads, should be executed immediately. We're so douched in prime time Hollywood glamor'd materialism that even our poor resemble the Fat Bastard.

Get in my belly


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By Phillip Morris
From Flavor Country
Jan 13, 2011
1234

The alpinist article states that the climbing fee does not fund search and rescue, rather the mountaineering program: climbing rangers, base camp doctors, waste management, trash removal, weather reports, etc. So land versus air rescue costs doesn't seem to be an issue.

Although I would agree with JPV that euro SAR possess a ninja like ability to air evac a distressed party.

Even if the fee was raised to $500 per climber, and 2,000 climbers paid the fee, that's one million bucks. A mere rounding error in the overall federal budget. A bit sad that we can't come up with the dough for that.


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By slim
Administrator
Jan 14, 2011
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

agree with mike about comparing denali to the alps in terms of heli access. i would consider it comparing apples to lawn furniture, as the two aren't really even like comparing fruit. he pointed out the altidude and temp/climate differences. there is also the population density difference. there are a lot of cities around the alps, as well as a much larger climbing population, so having a few helicopters around is more feasible.


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By John Maguire
From Boulder, CO
Jan 14, 2011
Bastille Crack Final Pitch

Maybe keeping all the staff around the base of Denali, with rangers and extra officials is the bad idea. Mountains are supposed to be wild. Doesn't it add to the challenge if there isn't a support crew waiting 24/7 to get your ass out of trouble?

Sure some more people will get into trouble - but that why you need to earn your experience elsewhere before you attempt Denali. I like the mountains for their ability to demand self proficiency. I don't feel like I should be forced to sacrifice that.

I'd like to see a line item budget...I support the wag bag initiative, but I just can't imagine excreting enough waste to fill $500 worth of baggies.


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By jack roberts
Jan 14, 2011

I think the peak increase only covers the administrative costs and the expenses of educating climbers. Even the patrols on the West Butt or on the mtn itself are usually volunteers staffed by paid rangers. The rescues are still operated by the armed services and are written off as "exercises" so at no direct expense to tax payers.

Anyone know what the fine is for not paying a peak fee? It used to be the same as the peak fee. Frequently climbers would take the risk of not paying the fee and roll the dice that if they got caught the fine was no worse.


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By Mike Larson
From Los Angeles, CA
Jan 14, 2011
Weeping Wall Central Pillar

I think the adverse selection/moral hazard problems that Mark alluded to are the potentially bigger problems here, both with respect to the fee and air rescues. The fee will price younger/poorer but talented climbers out of the mountain resulting in more and more rich peak-baggers swarming the mountain equipped with more cash than skills.

And by equipping the mountain with staffed camps and like, it increases the likelihood that these climbers will push themselves beyond their limits under the assumption that the infrastructure on the mountain is such that they can engage in riskier behavior (moral hazard). This could then potentially push up the number of rescues already being performed.

The Alps provide an example of the latter. As JP said, the rescue infrastructure in Alps is incredibly professional; but as a result, climbers there are more willing to take risks knowing that they can call in a helo rescue at no cost to them if things get out of control. You here stories in Chamonix of guides calling in the rescue services to take struggling clients off their hands on Mt. Blanc just so that they can get the rest of their clients to the summit (I'm pretty sure I witnessed just such a thing when I climbed the mountain myself). This is exacerbated by the fact that the gumby/climber ratio is so high in the Alps.

While such a robust rescue infrastructure surely saves lives, it does comes with considerable cost and unintended effects.


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By Buff Johnson
Jan 14, 2011
smiley face

Are my right-wing-nut conspiracy rants just not funny anymore?

Man, I thought I smoked one.


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