Editorials

Fee increase to climb Rainier makes sense

Officials at Mount Rainier National Park want to increase the fee to climb the Northwest’s tallest mountain from $30 a year to as much as $50 annually. Who would think that a mere $20 increase for an annual pass would raise such a stink?

It’s a reasonable request and one that should be adopted. The fees help train park rangers who provide the main safety net on snow-capped Rainier. On the upper reaches of the mountain, the rangers are every sick or injured climber’s best friend.

The fee increase would affect the three main guiding services who take hundreds of clients onto the mountain every season — May through September. But again, a $20 increase won’t deter someone from, say, Florida who really wants the big mountain experience.

Three climbing activist groups — Access Fund, American Alpine Club and American Alpine Guides Association — have protested the fee increase proposal as “unnecessary and unfair.”

We disagree. A $20 fee increase is little more than an inconvenience for a serious mountain climber who can spend upward of $2,000 for a tent, sleeping bag, clothing, boots, ropes and climbing gear necessary to summit Rainier.

And it’s an annual fee, for crying out loud. Climbers can use that $50 pass to ascend Mount Rainier as many times in a year as they want.

Have any of those protesting the proposed $20 fee increase looked at the parking rates around Qwest Field when the Seahawks are playing, or the price of a hot dog at a Mariner’s game?

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