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Letter writer should be slower to judge, cast names about

| March 6, 2007 11:00 PM

To the Editor:

Mr. Bob Creighton: Let me start by saying I will write this with as much tact as I can muster. Unfortunately I am a bit brash, so my wife may have to tune this down a bit.

I don't know you, and I don't know anything about you. I do know that I don't want to know you after reading the rhetoric and unwarranted name-calling you submitted to The Western News. I would like to suggest that you do some research, talk to some people, or participate in something before publicly showing your ignorance on the subject.

I, myself, am not a "mountain climber," but I am a rock climber with over 20 years experience. I have, however, climbed a few mountains in both summer and winter conditions. With this in mind, know that I speak with experience and knowledge on this subject. I can tell you with certainty that mountain climbing in August does, in no way, present the same challenges as climbing in winter.

The old adage "because it's there" is not, and never has been, the reason climbers climb. The British mountaineering legend George Mallory coined that phrase to brush off a pesky journalist who asked why he wanted to climb Everest. Climbers generally feel that if you have to ask you will never understand.

The reason we climb and the season we climb is of no consequence, just like the reason you continuously write letters to the editor that cut someone down is of no consequence. As you stated in your 2/23/07 Letter to the Editor: "The freedom to choose is a responsibility that must be assumed by us all if we're to live in a free society."

With that said, we as a people cannot close the mountains to the people who wish to climb them. We all realize the risks and accept them, or we wouldn't be climbing in the mountains. Do you stop driving on roads slippery with ice or snow, even knowing one slip could cause a wreck that injures or kills you or others? Maybe we should close all roads in the United States that have ice or snow on them because of the risk they pose!

I have a great deal of respect for the men and women involved with search and rescue. These people are volunteers. They give their time and expertise to helping others. Why? Because they enjoy it.

There is a vast majority of mountain rescue personnel who are also climbers. If they didn't want to be there, they wouldn't be there. Have you ever heard any search and rescue personnel complain that they have to go save a life? I don't think so.

The funds for search and rescue organizations come from mill levies and donations, with a small part coming from grants. For example, David Thompson Search and Rescue receives 1 mill that is split 60/40 between Libby's DTSAR and Eureka's Can-Am Search and Rescue. Additionally, DTSAR receives donations from individuals and organizations in the way of moneys, search gear, search vehicles, etc.

A very, very small percentage of DTSAR's funds go toward mountain rescues. Snowmobilers and lost hunters consume more of DTSAR's resources than anything else does. Additionally, Oregon rescuers spent only 4 percent of their budgets annually on climbers. More money is spent by Oregon rescuers on lost hikers.

The big costs are search, not rescue. Do you also want to outlaw hunting and hiking due to the large amount of money needed for these type of searches? Trust me, it won't happen in this area.

Now, knowing the facts, I hope you are slower to judge and even slower to cast names at people or groups of people whom you know nothing about. All you can accomplish with that type of letter is making people angry with you.

Ken Miller

P.S. So much for my tact. My wife edited this. I suggest you find someone to do the same for you. And for goodness sakes, say thank you!