> From: Nick Malczyk [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> That said, I don't think more than a small fraction of winter
> climbers ever consider bringing avalanche equipment with them on Mt.
> Washington.  Most of the time I think it's quite unnecessary to bring that
> equipment, and I'll explain why later.

While I agree with the [controversial] assertion that
New England climbers and hikers can be safe *without*
carrying avi or self arrest gear, I very much disagree
with Nick's reasoning that follows.

> The warnings given each day should allow the prudent climber to
> choose a safe way up the mountain.  Lots of times when there
> is high avalanche danger in one area, it's lower (although not
> necessarily safe) in another.

A posted avalanche danger of LOW will *not* "allow the
prudent climber to choose a safe way up the mountain".

About 5 years ago I witnessed a skier triggered slide
take 3 skiers out of the Chute.  While they all walked
away from the slide, a climber was put into a coma
over in Huntington that same afternoon.  The avi
danger that day was posted as LOW.

All of the areas for which avi danger is posted are
traditional avi zones.  History remains the strongest
indication of avi danger.  If you go to these places,
you are at risk.  Period.

If you steer clear of them, you are pretty safe from
either avi or fall danger.  This is why I don't carry
an ice axe up Lowe's Path to Adams or carry avi gear
while skiing glades.

Mt. Washington though is whole other ball of wax.

> I've never seen more gumbies than on Mt. Washington.

Hike Half-Dome.  Or any trail out of the valley in
Yosemite, for that matter.  More to the point though,
what on earth does the gumbie-effect have to do with
this incident?

> Despite the obvious  warnings, too many people continue
> to climb on days of high avalanche danger.

Phoey.  On 2 counts, phoey.

First, the vast, vast majority of the so-called "gumbie"
problems happen in the summer and spring.  Winter conditions
are more or less self-selecting and limit the number
of the totally unprepared.  Not saying that there aren't
inexperienced people out in the winter.  There are.  But
it's nothing like the summer and fall.

Second, the problem is not people hiking into the face
of high avi danger.  The problem is people hiking and
skiing in traditional avi paths.  As this awful incident
shows, Moderate (and even Low) rated days can be deadly.

> I  think a major contributing factor to this is the
> lack of a general mountain awareness in the area.

Careful, you are going to make a good case for a
permit system tied to the completion of an educational
program of some sort...

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