Monday, December 29, 2014

A Note from Jeffrey Mayor

Tacoma News Tribune columnist Jeffrey Mayor has often featured stories from this blog in his reporting. On this occasion, we reciprocate with an excerpt from his article "Thanks, goodbyes to distinguished adventurers." Jeff acknowledges one of our own volunteers, saying:

Finally, Amy Mann deserves far more than a tip of the cap.

For 10 years, she has helped the hikers in the South Sound find a place to go each week as the author of The News Tribune's "Hike of the Week" feature. Amy told us a few months ago that she felt it was time to step down, and we sadly accepted her decision.

Amy has been a delight to work with. When we started the Adventure section in 2004, I don't think Amy or I realized how popular the hiking feature would prove.

As her editor, I can say that Amy was someone who never pushed the deadline envelope. She would produce her stories in batches, keeping us ready to go months in advance. It was a trait I always appreciated.

We have come up with a plan to continue the hiking feature, but I will miss having the opportunity to work with and talk to Amy.

I think I might speak for the staff of Mount Rainier National Park when I add, "Thank you, Amy, for all the good press you gave us over the years. You brought many people to the Park who might not have otherwise visited us without your literary enticements. You have been a great representative." ~Crow

Friday, December 12, 2014

Paid climate change internships in national parks

The NPS Climate Change Response Program and the University of Washington are pleased to announce paid summer internship positions related to climate change in national parks. Eligible students are highly accomplished graduate students and upper-level undergraduates (juniors and seniors). Interns must be US citizens or nationals, and be enrolled in a graduate or undergraduate degree program.

Twelve positions are offered in parks and program offices around the country for the summer of 2015--none at Mount Rainier, but Olympic and Crater Lake National Parks, in our corner of the country, are both hiring. Applications will be accepted until late January.
The implications of climate change are challenging and far-reaching, particularly for land managers tasked with protecting the resources of national parks and other protected areas. To meet this challenge, managers need to encourage and make use of the creative and innovative thinking of the next generation of youth scientists and leaders.

The George Melendez Wright Initiative for Young Leaders in Climate Change (YLCC) builds a pathway for exemplary students in higher education to apply cutting-edge climate change knowledge to park management. Through a summer-long internship, undergraduate and graduate students will gain valuable work experience, explore career options, and develop leadership skills under the mentorship and guidance of the National Park Service (NPS). Parks and programs will increase their capacity to understand and respond to climate change and its impacts.

National parks and NPS programs develop and oversee structured projects in one or more of the following interdisciplinary areas: climate change science and monitoring; resource conservation and adaptation; policy development; sustainable park operations; facilities adaptation; and communication/interpretation/education. During the internship, students apply critical thinking and problem solving skills to climate change challenges and communicate with diverse stakeholders. Interns who successfully complete the YLCC, an approved Direct Hire Authority Internship program, will be eligible to be hired non-competitively into subsequent federal jobs once they complete their degree program. These jobs would be in the Department of Interior (DOI), NPS, or one of the other bureaus within the DOI. An intern must qualify for the job in order to be hired non-competitively.
Quick Facts and Deadlines:
  • The YLCC is managed cooperatively with the University of Washington
  • Internship opportunities and application forms are posted on
  • Internships are 12 weeks (40 hours/week) during the summer
  • Interns are paid $14/hour plus benefits
  • Applications are accepted from early December 2014 until late January 2015
Who was George Melendez Wright?
George Melendez Wright was deeply influential in bringing science to the management of America’s national parks. Working as a naturalist in Yosemite National Park in the 1920s, Wright argued that good science was needed for effective conservation. In 1930, he was appointed Chief of the Wildlife Division for the NPS where he encouraged the agency to embrace science-based approaches to conserving species, habitats, and other natural conditions in the parks. Although he died while he was still a young man, Wright’s legacy lives on in the NPS’s commitment to use the best available science for preserving the resources of our National Parks.
For More Information: See the program website,

Monday, December 8, 2014

Volunteers assist with mountain rescue

Every year, volunteers assist with rescues on Mount Rainier. Our first major incident of the winter season occurred last Tuesday the 2nd, and was aided by both a climbing volunteer and several Mountain Rescue units. Volunteers are a vital link in our Search and Rescue chain. Here's the official report from Incident Commander Glenn Kessler:

Late afternoon Tuesday, a  911 call was patched through to Mount Rainier Dispatch from an injured 61-year-old male hiker.  He had broken his lower leg when he slipped on a steep icy slope and fell 50 feet just above Panorama Point coming to rest after hitting a rock hard enough to result in a compound fracture of both lower leg bones of one leg. 

A group of skiers descending from Camp Muir fortuitously came upon the accident site and the injured hiker. The group was better prepared than the great majority of backcountry travelers and was able to radio park rangers with the GPS coordinates and other pertinent information.  They then went to great lengths to protect, rewarm and care for the injured party for several hours of cold and windy conditions while mountain rescue resources were summoned to the park to perform a carryout. 

Teams from Tacoma Mountain Rescue, Seattle Mountain Rescue and Olympic Mountain Rescues were battered by high winds as they performed the late night evacuation by rescue litter. The operation included several steep-angle technical roped lowers down the icy slopes of Panorama Point.  Rescue efforts continued into the wee hours of the morning.  The injured hiker was transported by ambulance to the hospital.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Winter Operations Training, December 13, 2014

Winter Operations Training will be held in the Community Building at Longmire on Saturday, December 13 beginning at 9:00 a.m. This training, for both full-time staff and intermittent volunteers, will cover the basics of winter travel, emergency response, and "Snow Roving."

Volunteers who are interested in helping out as "Snow Rovers," or with guided snowshoe walks, should plan to attend this training if possible. Alternative orientation opportunities will be available for those who can't make it, but this will be the most thorough option. Returning and new volunteers are both welcome. The training will cover volunteer logistics, safety, road conditions, emergency response, radio use, snow avalanches, winter driving, and hiking, snowshoeing, and skiing routes.

"Snow Rovers," like "Meadow Rovers" in the summer, patrol the meadows above the Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise, contacting visitors and assisting them with their experience. During the winter, of course, the meadows and trails are covered by snow, so Snow Rovers focus less on resource protection and more on visitor safety, informing people about current conditions and making sure they are prepared before they head out. The work is done on snowshoes or skis, and focuses on lower-elevation routes near the visitor center. Those who are interested in more extensive patrols, deeper into the wilderness and higher up the mountain, should consider joining the Nordic Patrol, operated by the Washington Ski Touring Club ( Snow Rovers also often help with guided snowshoe walks, especially serving as a "sweep" at the end of a line of visitors to assist those who are having trouble with their snowshoes and to make sure the group stays together.

The Winter Operations Training will begin at the Longmire Community Building, across the suspension bridge from the rest of Longmire, at 9:00 a.m. After a break for lunch, the training will move to the Wilderness Information Center, and then, weather permitting, up the road to the Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise. Note that state law requires all vehicles to carry tire chains, and depending on road conditions, chains or 4WD may be required to get to Paradise. At the conclusion of the training, about 2:45 p.m., participants may join an optional snowshoe walk.

Volunteers are needed to make short 5-minute presentations on safety topics during the training. We did this last year and it was very successful. Topics may include hypothermia, frostbite, route finding by GPS or map and compass, the 10 essentials, shoe traction, putting on tire chains, dehydration and sun exposure, winter weather, or any other subject related to staying safe during the winter at Mount Rainier. A PowerPoint projector will be available if you choose to use it, but presentations of any kind are welcome. Please reply to this message ASAP to let us know what you'd like to contribute.

Please RSVP if you plan to participate in Winter Operations Training so that we can get a sense for how many will be attending. You may reply to this message, or write to the general Meadow Rover mailbox at, which will be the standard contact address for correspondence throughout the winter. We are pleased to welcome Taryn O'Connell, who has served with our education staff during the summer, as a winter interpreter and coordinator of the Snow Rover program. She can be reached at the e-mail address.

Bring a sack lunch and warm clothes, and we'll see you on Saturday the 13th!