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  • 2019-05-14 Meeting notes - Discussions around Climbing Program Policies

Contents

Date

Attendees

Meeting Minutes

Concerns raised

  • In the past, it is seen that we gave preference to participants who could raise more funds and not being open to all? We should be open to all.

    • Why target Microsoft only? Why not other companies?

    • This discouraged the individual to discontinue his volunteer efforts.

  • From the climbers in the past year or so, I saw that most of the climbers if not all were just going to MIYAR’s store and no one was talking about REI Garage Sale or others for more options.

  • Number of participants on the mountain; acceptable limit 20 or 21...it was informed that there were only 20 spots but 21 climbers were taken to Rainier. Is this legal?

  • In 2018, some participants were taken on private climbs to Rainier as friends and they donated to "Asha for education". That is unfair to many who are registered for 2 year programs because of unavailability. The rules should be applicable to everyone equally. Are volunteers experienced, (medically trained) etc to lead climbs to Rainier in an effort to raise funds for Asha.

  • It seems like we are training the climbers for MIYAR and why are all climbs guided by MIYAR? Even the new additions such as 5 volcanoes and Kilimanjaro or Everest Base Camp treks.

  • "Do we as Asha help out people who reach out to us" ? How do we "politely" deny.

Current Policies surrounding the concerns

  • Selection Process

    • All interested folks fill out a survey form listing their experience in various fields such as hiking, backpacking, scrambles and/or mountaineering.

    • They also provide their email for contact and their preferred mountain(s) to climb along with any recommendations from previous climbers, guides or our admin team.

    • All entries are sorted based their preferred mountain first and then on the amount of experience that they bring in from the past 2 years only.

    • They are then sorted based on the involvement with difficulty levels of outdoor activities.

    • We go in order to select the participants only for Rainier (to avoid injuries in a short training period) and Shuksan (as this requires individuals to have some feeling on the exposed terrain).

    • For other mountains, we send a link to RSVP and fix their spot based on a preferred mountain with date and time to act upon as these are First Come First Served basis.

  • We circulate participant packets once they are registered with us for the climb and the training program listing all the details that we will be covering throughout the training period. A copy of this year’s packet can be found here - https://drive.google.com/open?id=12Gi0KaHUK4rN99RGckRscm31dpIDbQqh

    • This packet tabulates tentative hike schedule and talks about the training regime during weekdays and how to work on different aspects of training along with recovery.

    • This also talks about the etiquettes and policies that we want our participants to follow.

    • We also provide  a list of stores on page 18 of the PDF

    • Many  volunteers do share REI/Online sale information on Facebook or on whatsapp group that the climbers tend to create.

    • Some online stores do offer good deals at the cost of flexibility for trying out different options in person and then decide which is where a local store like MIYAR with special discounts for Asha participants comes in very handy.

    • Also, this year we are working to provide them with the brands the previous climbers have used and give them the min standards to buy such a gear for their reference - the draft can be seen here - https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Fww2F7ZplweGDremmdzSq5gkXHvKWfeXk40jqRRtS98

    • We allow MIYAR to promote their sales on our email lists and we take their help to provide in shop tour for the feel of the gear while learning about it. This is a very common practice among well established mountaineering clubs for introduction to gear.

    • We do not endorse one or the other; the selection of the gear and store they want to buy from is upto the individual and their comfort.

  • We apply for Special use Permit in lieu of Commercial Use Authorization (SUPilCUA) for a non-profit climb per Mount Rainier National Parks guidelines before September every year.

    • This permit only allows us to do a single trip summit attempt for a group of 12, total including guides.

    • To maintain a proper climber to guide ratio for such climbers, we restrict the number of climbers to 9.

    • Link for reference - https://www.nps.gov/mora/getinvolved/commercial-services.htm

    • In regard to individuals intending to climb with other guide companies or as a private climb, we do not have any restriction as such. All individuals are welcome to register with any guiding company of their choice and leverage on our training program and raise funds for Asha but we do not have a process in place for this. Such individuals are treated as non-registered participants as far as occupying the spots are concerned. In regard to training we welcome all to take our benefit of being outside already and maximize the effort to build a better community and spread knowledge. We also coach or connect to the ones who can’t participate in our training hikes on regular basis to help them grow throughout the training period, independent of their registration with us or not as long as they are committed to the training.

  • There are no restrictions as such for other mountains that we train our participants for although when needed they can be obtained on first come first served basis or reservations made by the guiding company with no restriction on number of trips.

    • Here we limit the number of participants based on the volunteer bandwidth.

  • In regard to inclusion of non-registered participants we follow the below mentioned policies mentioned in our FAQ (also available on our website at https://seattle.ashanet.org/home/team-asha/climb-faqs/)

    • I am signed up for the treks and/or climbs with other groups or guiding company and am looking for a team to continue to train with. Please let me know how I can be included in the training program.

It totally depends on the availability of the spots on each training hike/climb. We can certainly support you get conditioned. It is maybe good to note that some of the conditioning hikes have certain requirements based on the time of the year such as climbers carrying heavy packs or following a time to turn around and so it will be at the discretion of the volunteer leading the hike or a climb. Please contact the lead in advance to see if you can join the team on a trip.

  • Due to personal constraints, I cannot commit 100% but I would love to sign up for hikes, raise money and climb 1 or 2 mountains.

We would be happy to accommodate you and will have checks and balances throughout the training program to make sure we see progress in each of our climbers. We reserve the right to cancel the climb for the participant if its deemed unsafe for other climbers based on fitness levels.

  • Do you take minors on the climbs?
    Unfortunately, we are not equipped to take any minors on our training hikes and guided trips.

  • This FAQ also answers some questions on the registration, selection and fundraising questions.


Processes not covered in the policies mentioned above

  • Adding 5 Volcanoes to the program

    • We have taken about 30 participants in the past 2 years with no relation to number of mountains we offer.

    • To offer more variety of terrain to our participants, in 2018 we anticipated that climber may be interested in a daunting 40+ mile hike and climb to summit Mount Olympus in the Olympic Rainforest but the interest seem to have diminished.

    • Learning from it, this year we changed the package to read 5 volcanoes which simply comes from replacing Mount Olympus with Glacier Peak as the rest of the mountains are still the same as we offer. This sparked interest from the climbers through the registration period and seem to work.

  • Why do Rainier in 2 years?

    • The primary reason for individuals not getting selected is lack of recent relevant experience.

    • By doing the same package of Baker+Rainier for example as Baker in the first year as an introduction to Mountaineering and then jumping into doing a bigger achievement gives more fruitful results.

    • If they choose to gain some experience on their own and come back next year for Rainier, they can. We do not force individuals to commit to 2 years; in fact we relax our cancellation policy for the climbs that span for 2 years.

    • This year, we chose 9 climbers for Rainier and gave the rest 6 or 7 climbers who preferred Rainier and didn’t get in for 2019 - an option to climb Rainier next year or come back next year, 5 of them chose to commit now and stick to it. This is their choice.

  • MIYAR is chosen as a guiding company (after talking to AAI, RMI and Kaf Adventures) for the following pros:

    • Undivided attention and unparallel guidance provided to the climbers through the training months

    • Invested as a steward in Asha Project - GRAVIS

    • Lowest unmatched guiding fees in the area

    • Flexible schedule to warrant an attempt with better success rates

    • Understand the needs of the Asha climbers (most evident being most of the Rainier climbers not able to reach Camp Muir in 5 hours with 45 lbs backpack as required by most guiding companies)

  • 2018 Private Climb

    • All participants from 2-year program were contacted and only the fit individuals attempted. This is fair as this involved the process of evaluation and talk.

    • For participants who might be fit and not registered for a Rainier program with us, they can schedule their own private climbs and raise funds for Asha but we don’t feel it’s unfair to them by not making such participants participate in the process because they were not registered for that climb.

    • This was a non-Asha affiliated climb although we facilitated to help out the need from the climbers to climb in 2018 who expressed their eagerness and proved to be fit.

    • All individuals can do private climbs not affiliated with Asha for facilitation purposes and still can raise funds to Asha. there are no restrictions as such.

  • Adding Kilimanjaro & Everest Base Camp Treks

    • We have a go from the chapter and we have published that we will be doing such treks this year online to gain some attention but we are working on details to finalize which include but are not limited to:

      • Choosing a guide company - Our Facilitator Ashish with help of Seema, an volunteer are working on contacting guide companies and gather their info along with the quote for us to discuss in early March before a decision is made.

      • Why add these? - Everest Base Camp is what I have heard from the past Asha climbers and unlike other programs, we don’t have returning participants to register again. This is very rare and adding Everest Base Camp seemed like a good option for that.

      • While pursuing the idea of Everest Base Camp, I heard Kilimanjaro from the past climbers so I thought I will just add 2 treks and see which one rolls or may be both.

      • In order to have a better quality program, we are restricting these treks to maximum of 10 individuals because of volunteer bandwidth and to not hinder the big climbing packages in the Washington State.

  • How about doing Grand Canyon RIm-to-Rim or Mount Whitney?

    • These are the hikes that can be done without a guide but when we attach ourselves to this, I would like to ask myself (the coordinator) the following:

      • Are we equipped for any emergencies?

      • Do the leads who lead such a trip have wilderness first aid certification?

      • Do the leads have navigation skills in adverse weather condition?

      • This is possible as long as we have a lead who knows the above and is available for such a hike.

      • Good suggestion; I will discuss this with my facilitator Ashish and Seema to see how we can incorporate this into our new package for Kilimanjaro and Everest Base Camp.

      • I had ideas of including a section of Pacific Crest Trail too.

      • If the volunteer bandwidth increases, we will request the chapter to add these in our program.

        Attachments:

        20190214 MRNP Email on number of Climbs.pdf
        20170214 Kaf Adventures Voicemail - Availability for climbs.mp3



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