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Author Topic: May 11, 2013, St. Helens  (Read 13069 times)
CascadeClimber
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May 11, 2013, St. Helens
« on: 05/12/13, 10:56 AM »

Just me, my skis, and 683 other registered climbers on St. Helens yesterday.

A handful of short carries got me down to within a mile of the trailhead.



TR here:

http://www.cascadeclimber.com/blog/?p=322
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Jim Oker
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Re: May 11, 2013, St. Helens
« Reply #1 on: 05/12/13, 11:54 AM »

Holy ant trail batman! Thanks for helping me appreciate having made my first trip up there back in March before it gets quite so busy! Of course if you're climbing on skis you can always chart a course away from the crowd in terrain like that.
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philfort
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Re: May 11, 2013, St. Helens
« Reply #2 on: 05/12/13, 02:16 PM »

Wow!
We were there on Thursday, and took a route similar to Lowell's from last week. Only saw one other person.
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CascadeClimber
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Re: May 11, 2013, St. Helens
« Reply #3 on: 05/12/13, 03:43 PM »

The upside is that there were lots of pretty women-folk in skirts Smiley
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Pete A
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Re: May 11, 2013, St. Helens
« Reply #4 on: 05/12/13, 03:47 PM »

The upside is that there were lots of pretty women-folk in skirts Smiley

i was wondering if the Mothers Day ski party on St.Helens was going to be celebrated a day early given the forecast.
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Kuroyama
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Re: May 11, 2013, St. Helens
« Reply #5 on: 05/12/13, 06:05 PM »

I was one of the 683. My first time up and it was awesome! The crowds didn't both me. They did make a nice easy boot track to follow.

We did see some glide cracks but they were easily avoided. The other hazard were glissaders. I am not used to looking up hill to make sure I won't get hit but an oncoming glissader when traversing.

At the advice of the very nice climbing ranger we went lookers right of the hoards and got a spot on the rim to ourselves.


The skiing was excellent. Big smile all the way down. Snow was never too slushy or too sticky (skied down at 12:30). Even the skiing from treeline to the last mile where the snow petered out was a blast despite my full overnight pack. Big thank you to previous posters so I knew to expect some walking. Snow was continuous to our treeline campsite.


Sad items for the day were seeing bloody paw prints left by a dog and the sherrif and SAR folks at the trailhead. Overheard something about 3 injured and we saw them go up with a wheeled litter. Hope everyone was Ok.


* helens_rim.JPG (72.16 KB, 800x435 - viewed 2089 times.)
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Jim Oker
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Re: May 11, 2013, St. Helens
« Reply #6 on: 05/12/13, 06:53 PM »

Hopefully none of the injuries was a big deal. I saw a dog once that was putting out quite a bit of blood from an abrasion cut from spring snow, and it turned out to be a pretty small thing, mostly a sign that the dog should have either had booties or just not been out there, but not too bad (and then again, I've heard of dogs having tendons sliced by ski edges† †Sad).

At the advice of the very nice climbing ranger we went lookers right of the hoards and got a spot on the rim to ourselves.
So what is in the hoard that the ranger wanted to steer you away from, and were the hordes getting into it? [insert clown emoticon here]
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CascadeClimber
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Re: May 11, 2013, St. Helens
« Reply #7 on: 05/12/13, 07:26 PM »

There was an official of some type stationed at 4800' checking permits when I passed through. I wonder how much of the $15 per person ($7 is a 'transaction fee') is spent on enforcement.
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Kuroyama
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Re: May 11, 2013, St. Helens
« Reply #8 on: 05/12/13, 07:45 PM »

So what is in the hoard that the ranger wanted to steer you away from, and were the hordes getting into it? [insert clown emoticon here]

Cornices. But in the picture seems the hoards were staying back.
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Oyvind_Henningsen
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Re: May 11, 2013, St. Helens
« Reply #9 on: 05/12/13, 08:03 PM »

Nice !  Went up on Thursday,  a few less folks ;-) and skied to within 52 yards of the trailhead ;-)

That is one massive conga line.
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Lytt til erfarne fjellfolk!
CascadeClimber
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Re: May 11, 2013, St. Helens
« Reply #10 on: 05/12/13, 08:11 PM »

and skied to within 52 yards of the trailhead ;-)

It's going away fast this year. And the warm downpour we're getting right now won't help.
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dahu
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Re: May 11, 2013, St. Helens
« Reply #11 on: 05/13/13, 04:20 PM »

Just me, my skis, and 683 other registered climbers on St. Helens yesterday.

That is quite a picture!  Looks like Paris subway at rush hour, glad you survived it!  Smiley
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water
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Re: May 11, 2013, St. Helens
« Reply #12 on: 05/14/13, 12:40 PM »

There was an official of some type stationed at 4800' checking permits when I passed through. I wonder how much of the $15 per person ($7 is a 'transaction fee') is spent on enforcement.

Was it a FS employee? Their volunteers are supposed to be able to ask about permits but obviously hold no power to do jack squat about it if you don't have one.

The permit is $22
$15 goes to the forest service
$2 goes for the processing of the permit (online web interface/envelope/postage/meaningless piece of shit tyvek permit)
$5 is a mandatory donation to the Mount St. Helens Institute Climbing Stewards Program (to maintain and protect the mountain!)
----

Of that $5 mandatory donation (if that doesn't just roll off your tongue) they harvest $65,000-85,000 a year from the public to access a federally protected national monument. Who has all the liability and does all the work when it comes to the mountain, the Forest Service, volunteer groups, SAR, etc. NOT MSHI. Additionally while their tax forms show climb revenue there is ZERO accountability about how that money is actually spent.† Obviously they could pay two people $30,000 to live on Mt. St. Helens for the summer and be full time helpers but that wouldn't make sense when they can get all this cash from the public and use it on whatever they'd like.


Per their website:
- A permit is required to climb above 4,800 feet on Mount St. Helens year-round. Begun in 1987, the permit system helps protect the volcano and its organisms from harm, reduces crowding, and helps inform climbers regarding hazards, Leave No Trace principles, and safety.

"....and a $7 service charge- $5 of which goes toward the MSHI Mountain Stewards Program to maintain and protect the climb route, and a $2 cart fee."

However using the Waybackmachine one can see they scrubbed their current website of the term $5 donation...now they choose to call it a service fee.
http://web.archive.org/web/20101125072421/http://mshinstitute.org/index.php/climbing/buy_your_permit


I for one will happily flaunt not buying the piece of shit whip-in-the-wind tyvek from them and let a private institution leech money from the public in order to access a public resource.
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water
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Re: May 11, 2013, St. Helens
« Reply #13 on: 05/14/13, 12:53 PM »

additional goodies on their Form 990 from 2012 is that they generated $14,000~ for their co-organization....
....The Mount Adams Institute!!!!!!!!!!!


But for MSHI:
$309,055 in Government Grants for 2012. Guess the $65,000-85,000 of money from the public for permits isn't enough?! Sad
$9,400 spent on travel
Pretty sure they fold the climb permit revenue under 'membership dues [$156,267]'...which is clever eh? If you bought a permit you're paying a due to them, dear member!

$38,047 in contract services
$30,498 in event services
$16,807 in supplies
$18,905 in misc expenses





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snoholic
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Re: May 11, 2013, St. Helens
« Reply #14 on: 05/14/13, 02:04 PM »

Thanks for the info Water. This info helps support my  uneducated guesses to where the $ goes.
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Micah
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Re: May 11, 2013, St. Helens
« Reply #15 on: 05/14/13, 02:24 PM »

Is the $22 required year round now? You used to be able to go for 'free' during winter....
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water
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Re: May 11, 2013, St. Helens
« Reply #16 on: 05/14/13, 04:25 PM »

april 1 to october 31st, you are supposed to pay.
up till may 14th no limit on number of permits available
after that until the end of october, 100 per day.

all other times of year still supposed to 'get a permit'



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CascadeClimber
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Re: May 11, 2013, St. Helens
« Reply #17 on: 05/14/13, 04:41 PM »

I got an email today asking me to fill out a survey about my 'characteristics' and attitudes toward leave no trace.

I didn't ask for this or tell them they could use my email this way.

Since they conveniently included the email address of an Eastern Washington Univ. person running the survey, I forwarded it and said I'd do it for a small $22 service fee.
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philfort
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Re: May 11, 2013, St. Helens
« Reply #18 on: 05/14/13, 08:05 PM »

I got an email today asking me to fill out a survey about my 'characteristics' and attitudes toward leave no trace.

I didn't ask for this or tell them they could use my email this way.

Since they conveniently included the email address of an Eastern Washington Univ. person running the survey, I forwarded it and said I'd do it for a small $22 service fee.

When you buy the permit online it states right under the email address line that they may contact you in this way.

There is a section in the survey where you can say you are "very disappointed" with the permit process and say why. So filling out the survey might be better than complaining on TAY about the process :-).
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pinnatifid
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Re: May 11, 2013, St. Helens
« Reply #19 on: 05/15/13, 12:41 PM »

Thanks for the great TR Cascade Climber!

I climb/ski Mount St. Helens pretty often (5 times so far this year) and Iíve been a volunteer member of the Mount St. Helens Instituteís board for 14 years. I can provide some information about the MSHI and what it does with your $5. Sorry this will be kind of long, but so many on TAY ski on Mount St. Helens, and quite a few of you whose trip reports I admire and enjoy are annoyed, so I think it is worth taking some time.

As an organization MSHI is dedicated to the stewardship of the Mount St. Helens landscape and educating the general public about all things Mount St. Helens, including climbing, but especially the biology and geology of this amazing mountain (see the new Science and Learning Center website www.mshslc.org).

The funds MSHI collects from the climbing permit program are used to support our volunteer programs, especially the Mountain Stewards who augment the Forest Service climbing rangers and provide support to the many novice climbers that attempt to summit Mount St. Helens every year. Last year our 27 Mountain Stewards spent 2400 hours on climbing and nearby hiking routes. Stewards were the first on the scene for 3 separate incidents in 2012 that resulted in the evacuation of non-guided climbers. They carry extra food and water, reconnect groups that have been split up, share information about mountaineering and conditions, and more. They are not engaged in permit enforcement. In addition, this time of year our office staff answer over 50 calls a week regarding climbing conditions, the route etc.

Regarding some of the other questions raised: Yes we used to characterize the $5 service fee as a donation, something our Executive Director decided was inappropriate and changed early last year. The funds are actually rolled into the 'Government Grants' line on our 990 at the advice of our accountant, since they are part of our many contracts with the Forest Service. The other part of that line includes helping the Forest Service get the Coldwater Science and Learning Center up and running, keeping Pine Creek Information Station open and conducting fish habitat restoration work on several streams flowing off of Mount St. Helens. Most of this shows up as staff salary and contract services in the expenses section of our 990.

The survey we sent out recently was developed with input from the Forest Service with the goal of improving the climbing permit system and use of the mountain. Email addresses were not shared or released, the survey email was sent directly from Kinsail's servers to protect climber's contact info. We will be adding an opt-in option for climbers interested in receiving more information from MSHI directly next year.  The Institute has changed how the permit program runs over the years in response to feedback, and this survey is indeed an opportunity to express your point of view.

I hope with some investigation and consideration you will not find MSHI is as insidious as a few on TAY make it sound. My own view is that we provide educational and maintenance programs at Mount St. Helens that the USFS cannot begin to afford and at a much lower cost than if they were running it. MSHI is really run on a shoestring budget and on the strength of volunteers (244 volunteers donated more than 15,000 hours last year). Participation by more members of TAY would be very welcome.

Thanks!
John
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uncleben
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Re: May 11, 2013, St. Helens
« Reply #20 on: 05/15/13, 01:40 PM »

The fact is, $22 is a lot to play just to climb a mountain.  Especially when it's a wilderness experience where no services are expected or provided.  What is the FS using their $15 cut for?  If it was $10 or less I would consider it, but $22 is rediculous.  How about the snowmobilers who go above 4800'?  I assume they don't have to buy a permit, and their machines likely cause more damage and pollution than skiers or climbers ever could.  The only service I expect is that the road and parking lot be plowed, and this is paid for with sno-park passes.
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water
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Re: May 11, 2013, St. Helens
« Reply #21 on: 05/15/13, 05:08 PM »

John,

Appreciate your measured and detailed response, especially clarifying parts of your form 990 that otherwise leave the public in the dark regarding how climb permit service fees are allocated and used. I welcome your lengthy response and if you do not mind have some more questions.  Having raised this issue on numerous occasions on nwhikers, portlandhikers, katu message boards, with friends, and having sent a few emails to MSHI this is the first response I have seen from anyone affiliated with MSHI, so thanks again for chiming in.

It is unfortunate my vociferous passion against a private organization collecting money from the public in order to access a public resource clouds what would otherwise be my strong endorsement and support of a non-profit such as MSHI.

As uncleben has said, one who climbs MSH should have no expectation of services, as I do not believe any such claim is made anywhere. The work your volunteers do is noble and I support it, however I have failed to see in any substantive manner which you explain how the roughly $65,000-85,000 a year from the $5 part of the permit fee helps these 27 volunteers to attended to injured climbers, carry extra food and water, reconnect groups, or share information about mountain conditions, or more. Using the low figure that could compute to $2400 per volunteer.

Your website says the money is to protect and maintain the climb route. I am unaware of any protection the climb route needs as it is a federally managed national monument. At least half the year the entire route is snow-covered.  How much actual work is done to maintain the trail above 4800ft? If I recall correctly the vast majority of that is on volcanic boulders and then in a fine volcanic sand. It is my (perhaps wrongly) understanding that Americorp and other volunteer/stipend trail crews participate a lot in trail maintenance on federal lands.

If one is concerned about the landscape, snowmobile use high on the mountain is a glaring issue that would seem to be a hypocritical double-standard compared to skiers or climbers as uncleben mentions.

Beyond that it also seems somewhat arbitrary that today the mountain can only 'handle' 100 people today but 5 days ago was sufficient to handle 683...or 900...or 1200 if that is how many purchased permits.  In the summer I believe this issue is about vehicle parking space more than any other issue at all. And I can understand that, imagining 350 vehicles at climbers bivouac is...not something I want to do.

But really the services of information centers and visitor centers and public outreach seem especially separate from climbing and skiing the mountain (especially when snow covered). The Deschutes national forest does not charge people to climb South Sister so that they can manage the lava lands visitor center.

At the end of the end of the day I cannot accept a private organization collecting money from the public in order for the public to legally access a public resource that provides a wilderness experience (no developed amenities)--especially when we already pay for a snopark pass to get to the mountain in winter, and a NW Forest Pass to legally park in the summer. 
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CascadeClimber
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Re: May 11, 2013, St. Helens
« Reply #22 on: 05/16/13, 08:06 AM »

So filling out the survey might be better than complaining on TAY about the process :-).

Thanks, Phil. I chose not to complete the survey, but I did send an email listing my concerns to all the addresses in the email I received, before I posted here.

I am not in favor of mandatory fees, donations or other such charges to access wild, undeveloped public lands in order for land managers or other entities to provide 'enhanced' services, such as docents, trail guides, "Mountain Stewards", information kiosks, ambulances on standby (Paradise), hot dog stands, etc. I like to believe that I pay enough taxes for there to be money available to maintain rudimentary access (maintaining roads), which is all I desire.

Ultimately these things/structure create expectations of support, discourage personal responsibility, and inevitably the demand for more structure (shelter, staff, webcams, etc.). At, for example, an established ski area or a drive-in campground, I have no issue with this sort of structure and staffing. But in a places that are designated wilderness, managed as wilderness, or otherwise wholly surrounded by wilderness (Muir and Schurman, for example), I believe they should be kept to an absolute minimum. There is a bizarre paradox to human behavior that many of us yearn for and actively seek out wild, undeveloped places, and then have an immediate desire to tame, develop, and make them 'safe': Signs, trail markers, trail improvements, huts, webcams, rangers, weather stations, cell service, Internet access, mountain locator systems, etc. For me, and I believe many here, part of the allure of these places is the unknown and the uncertain. Otherwise we'd all just be lift skiers.

As far as the email goes, yes, any contact should, I believe, be opt-in only. And those emails are required to include and opt-out method by the CAN-SPAM act. What I got does not.
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andyski
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Re: May 11, 2013, St. Helens
« Reply #23 on: 05/16/13, 09:02 AM »

It's funny how those most allergic to structure and regulation seem to gravitate to exactly the "wild" places that have the most of both (Paradise, MSH, the Enchantments). Thickness in the crowds alone has removed any sense of wilderness in such places.

Get a sled and head off to any number of other places in the state with fewer crowds and regulations (though certainly not "none" of either). Paved-road-to-trailhead spots are always going to be a mess.
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: May 11, 2013, St. Helens
« Reply #24 on: 05/16/13, 09:43 AM »

Get a sled and head off to any number of other places in the state with fewer crowds and regulations (though certainly not "none" of either). Paved-road-to-trailhead spots are always going to be a mess.

Yeah, life would be a lot better if the 600+ people on Mt St Helens all bought sleds.† †Wink

For me, the permit system on Mt St Helens makes sense only as a way for the Forest Service and private outfitters to collect revenue "because they can."

The permit system isn't designed to protect the environment, since the permits apply only above 4800ft, where there's little to protect besides rock and snow.

The permit system isn't designed to limit crowds.† If it was, why should you need a permit on a day when the numbers are unlimited and 684 permit holders are on the mountain?

I see little evidence that the permit system enhances safety.† There's no safety education provided and, if an incident does occur, the effectiveness of the response will most likely have nothing to do with the permit system.

It's great that there are local people who are willing to volunteer as Mountain Stewards.† Volunteer away, I say.† But don't charge us for it.†
« Last Edit: 05/17/13, 08:27 PM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
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