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Monday, December 18. 2006
I feel badly about the climbers, and their families...but...if you want to climb Mt. Hood in December, get rescue insurance and have a rescue plan in place in case it is needed.
Either that, or sign something comparable to a DNR note: "We accept the risk, and we're on our own." Along with generous life insurance which covers it, to take care of your kids' educations.
Mt. Hood has no guardrails, and no McDonalds. It is a dead-serious deal, and everyone knows that. The danger is the appeal.
Why should the citizens of Oregon subsidize macho stunts like these with their hard-earned taxes? Isn't the whole point of climbing to risk life and limb? To encounter mortal danger when life is otherwise so soft, safe and protected? To find a trail without guardrails? To find a place where you cannot be rescued, and cannot find a McDonalds or a mall, and must face nature's harsh face?
I have had just two friends who "climb." One saw his mother fall to her death on the Matterhorn (photo). The other saw his best friend fall to his death in a snow-covered crevasse in Alaska, and roped down to pull up the mangled body. Neither of them "climb" anymore: unpleasant memories.
Death, when voluntarily courting mortal danger, is not a tragedy. It might be heroic, as in war, or an accepted risk, but not tragic: in our cozy, modern American life, you have to go well out of your way, and spend serious money, to find serious risk - unless you do something stupid and emotional like stepping on thin ice, or trying to outsmart the stock market. There is no tragic flaw involved.
On Everest, you are on your own, and it is strewn with freeze-dried bodies as memento mori. I admire folks who take on such adventures. I do not care for heights, however. If you want a safe, comfy vacation, go to Tinsley World instead of Mt. Hood, or take a walk around the neighborhood with the pup and the camera.
If you die on a mountain, we will remember you as someone with cojones, but not as tragic. People die on mountains all the time, but it only makes the news during slow news weeks. Hope the last two are OK, and that they can find another hobby.
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I admire their courage too. They take the risk, and figure their odds and the weather, and take their chances. And God bless them for their courage and spirit.
The idea that a self-imposed injury is tragic is right up there w/being entitled to something because of your color....
Well put, knowsherlimits. These climbers fought the odds, sensibility, and Mother Nature in a push for bragging rights and they lost. Hardly tragic in my view.
These guys were thinking with the wrong part of their anotomies! I am in this area: the day they started their trip it was cold, it was sleet, there had already been snow. As some of you know we are originally (and soon to be again--I hope) from that part of the west with high mountains, few trails. It is original. We the people are special too. We learned a long time before Hillary Clinton that it takes a community to survive in harch conditions. We don't go out skiing when it is -24F, but those, who come to prove something about themselves do make stupid decisions. We--the inheritors of a fine tradition--go out looking for the outlanders, because we would do it for our neighbors. This is what leads us to the "wicked problem" we confront today: who should pay for the "babysitters" to go out and rescue these jerks? I have an idea: when we screw up we take care of ourselves, with our own state tax dollars--when someone from out of state comes in to be stupid--let the Feds pay for it! (Or, here's an idea--how about Hollywood?) In the meantime, we still don't have access to cell phones--if we are out there--we are on our own. I like it that way--just have to learn to hold that .44mag steady!
Easy, you're from Oregon not the Himayalayas. These guys screwed up and died, it doesnt make the JERKS.
How much do you think came out of your pocket to pay for their rescue? Get over it.
You pay more for the people in your state for lazy people in your state then a few who come to climb. Dont forget about the amount of money out of state Climbers bring to your neck of the woods as well.
You should move here to New England you would fit right in...
Tough question. No way to do it with 'user fees'. Don't want to add regulations. How about the insurance industry, doesn't it have some wizards?
Why should the citizens of Oregon subsidize macho stunts like these with their hard-earned taxes?
They shouldn't. If the crew of a fishing boat in the Bering Sea gets in trouble doing their job, then the crew should be rescued - like coal miners are rescued. But a climber who knowingly exposes himself to danger - in fact in some ways maximizes the danger, just for the thrill? No way.
You could cover costs with climber - as opposed to park - user fees. According to National Defense magazine June 2006, a Chinook CH-47 helicopter like the kind we've seen on TV hovering at the top of the mountain has an hourly basic operating cost of $6,793. So say your typical upper middle class climber pays $500 per person and with the revenue from about 14 climbers you've paid for a helicopter to search for one hour. Pricey sport. Maybe we should hike that user fee a bit. You could do it through insurance, too, though it might be tough. A skyscraper window washer might be able to get insurance more easily - at least he is making every effort to have a safe experience, instead of a "thrilling" one.
Insurance could do it. You'd need a five million limit for say ten days of search coverage, payable to a receiver authorized by a rescue authority. Think "force majeure" and how Lloyd's of London assesses for say an offshore driller's weather risk. How much would that cost?
Of course, as is obvious, I have very little idea what I'm talking about.
The thing is, the offshore oil rig analogy is more akin to my example of the window washer. A rig is designed by a naval architect to withstand a hurricane. It is classified by ABS or Norske Veritas or somebody like that. The oil company has an evacuation plan in place. Again, making every effort to be safe instead of "living life on the edge". Then Lloyd's insures the thing. But yes, climbers could probably get some form of insurance, theoretically, anyway.
In my view, they can climb all they want - so long as they fork over the dough in one form or another to be saved when the need arises.
Good points, skook. What I had in mind was the 'willingly going in harm's way'. As, an offshore driller, with a structure of that sort out in the hurricane approaches, of his own volition tempts fate.
Had this conversation once with a judge's wife. Oh she just thought anybody, who skiied out of bound should pay the cost of rescuing. Then one day her husbnd was up there got into a jam, skiied out of bounds right into a tree. HA HA, now she the (tight fisted little wench) believes in no cost recovery! So, that brings us to another question: is skiing itself inherently dangerous and should thus be included into the insurance plans for paying the cost of rescue? How would we determine the levels of stupid/dangerous?
You betcha. Fee included with your lift ticket.
Now, how to determine the levels of stupid/dangerous I leave to the actuaries. Is a 40 year old egomaniac cave diving heart surgeon undergoing a midlife crisis a lesser or greater risk than an average 20 year old on a motorcycle?
well, that's why they call 'em "actuaries"--they have to find the actual statistic. A gray little task, upon which a mighty industry is built.
I hate to laugh, but the judge's wife--has she no sense of irony? Probably does, except where money's concerned.
As for her sense of irony: I tried later, and with discretion, to bring the subject up for debate. She responded with a firm statement regarding our " human responsibility to rescue all no matter what the price". It is funny, because she is one of the wealthiest (on her own) women in the country! It's too bad--the judge is a really decent human being and all around nice guy!
Correction: should have said she is wealthy by inheritance! After several generations it can make a difference--for good, or not so good!
Yes, the same thing happens here, though it doesn't get the press. Kids from the cities come here to central Pennsylvania every year to hike in the mountains. What they are oblivious to is the idea that some places are utterly wild and untouched -- like the mountains here. So even though all the pamphlets say "don't leave the trail!" and signs say "don't leave the trail!" they do leave the trail, get lost (I suppose they assume if they walk far enough, they'll walk into somebody's back yard), and every spring, remains are found.
Sometimes, they've starved or frozen to death, and sometimes, it's bears. Either way, they'd be alive if they'd had a clue.