Wednesday, October 10, 2007

2007 Northwest Mountaineering Journal

The 4th issue of the Northwest Mountaineering Journal is out, and it is a beautiful thing.

Lowell Skoog, via
"The mission of the Northwest Mountaineering Journal is to be an edited, permanent, annual record of mountaineering in the Pacific Northwest. The journal documents the events, people, history and spirit of climbing and other mountain sports in this region. The journal is published by volunteers from the mountaineering community in collaboration with The Mountaineers. [The 2007 issue] has feature articles about alpine rock climbing, high traverses, mountain rescue, glaciers and climate, influential mountaineers, and more. It includes reports of new climbing routes, first winter ascents, and first ski descents from April 1, 2006 through March 31, 2007. It also contains highlights from Mount Rainier and North Cascades National Parks."

While historic mountaineering accounts have long visible in print publications, the NWMJ is a good example of the new possibilities open to the writers, photographers and adventurers of the mountain community. It's hard to replace the power of a large, glossy print image, but it's great to see options expanding.

For ski mountaineering, check out the Short Reports section, which features accounts from a number of impressive descents throughout the rugged peaks of the Cascades. And backcountry users of all types should read Iain Morris' Center Stage on Mount Hood. Morris - a member of Portland Mountain Rescue - recounts the search and rescue mission for three climbers stranded on Mount Hood in Oregon in December 2006.

The search captured national attention and quickly became a media circus, complete with national commentators proclaiming that the state should close the mountain in the winter. The debate over acceptable risk in the mountain community then moved into the state legislature, where House Bill 2509 - which required climbers to carry a two-way communication device and a locator device on Mount Hood from November to March above 10,000 feet - passed the House before stalling in the Senate. As a searcher on the scene, Morris shares his thoughts on the proposed regulation, the inherent harshness of the mountains in winter and the draw of such adventure.

As backcountry pursuits continue to grow in popularity, the interplay between self-reliance, regulation, risk and preparedness will undoubtedly arise again. It's always good to remind ourselves of the consequences of risk in the mountains and how far our actions might reach fellow skiers, rescuers and others in the community indirectly. How can we as a community increase awareness of both the risks and the desire to venture out into wild places that aren't sanitized or watered down?

What say you? Leave a comment and share your reaction...

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