Letters to the Editor Feb. 24
Congratulations to newspaper's David Ball
Congratulations to David Ball, Outlook Sports Editor, on being selected as the 2007 Wrestling Sports Writer of the year at the high school State Wrestling Championships in Salem. We appreciate your coverage of our great sport in East County. Keep up your outstanding attendance and coverage of the matches.
The Sam Barlow High School
Wrestling Coaching Staff
Locator law needs to be rational for climbers
As a former board and rescue team member of Portland Mountain Rescue, I must object to your recent editorial advocating for a new law requiring climbers to carry locator units (Feb. 21 edition of The Outlook). My objection has nothing to do with capping the thrill of climbing. Rather, my objection stems from a desire to avoid enacting laws from emotions rather than as a reflection of rational public policy. It is not clear what such a law is intended to accomplish. Here are some facts. One, the overwhelming number of search and rescues (SAR) in and around Northwest Oregon do not involve climbers.
Two, the overwhelming number of climbing-related SARs occur outside the November-March period contained in the proposed law. Third, it will only be a matter of time before someone carrying a locator unit dies and a suit ensues without any inclusion in the legislation to indemnify SAR groups, individuals and counties.
Fourth, the perception of the need for this law is driven by the public's perception of climbers being foolhardy. Actually, I went on more SAR missions for lost hunters, hikers, skiers, snowboarders, boaters, suicides and cars over cliffs than climbing related ones. However, the intense media coverage of climbing related ones does skew the public's viewpoint. Fifth, other outdoor enthusiasts take heed - it will only be a matter of time before these types of requirements grow and grow. Finally, right now, not every member of a climbing party carries a locator. In climbing groups like the Mazamas, in a party of 12, there will likely be two locators. Will every single climber be required to have one now? What about someone who skis up high with no intention to 'climb' Mount Hood? These might seem like small issues; but, it's issues like these that have already gotten Rep. John Lim, R-Gresham, to scale back the proposed law's coverage. Let's go for public policies that are rational rather than ones driven by emotion in the heat of the moment that will have little or no impact on public budgets over the long term.
Climbers should think about rescuers' risk
If you get hurt or lost while climbing Mount Hood, members of our local rescue organizations are going to make every effort to pinpoint your location, get to you, and get you off the mountain.
Rescuers may spend hours or they may spend days risking their lives in this effort. If a device is available that has even a remote chance of making THEIR task easier, of saving THEIR precious time, of reducing THEIR exposure and THEIR risk of injury, I find it hard to believe that a climber would not take one along. To have the attitude that the locator beacon somehow reduces one's independence as a climber or is too much of a tether to civilization seems totally self-serving and selfish. Taking along a locator beacon has very little to do with the climber and everything to do with reducing the workload of the rescuers in the event their services are needed.
I think it's perfectly understood that having a beacon along will not guarantee that rescuers will be able to reach you in time. There are times when the combination of the climber's location and the severity of the weather make the risk too great - but even so, they will be doing everything they can. Why not give them one more tool to help make their job easier?