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The Eighties
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Mt. Rainier Centennial Web Site

Bad tempered mountains. 1980-1989


- Mount Saint Helens erupts on 5/18/1980. Employees are busy clearing a layer of ash from roads at Mount Rainier. Climbing is temporarily called off, but shows no decrease in popularity when it resumes. There is little evidence of ash at the higher elevations.

Mountain rescues are helped by Military Assistance To Safety And Traffic (MAST), the 10th Aviation Battalion (Ft. Lewis), and the 92nd Aviation Battalion Reserve from Paine Field, Everett.


- At 5:45 AM June 21, 1981 A Rainier Mountaineering Inc. (RMI) climbing party of "5 guides and 20 clients en route to the summit are struck by an ice avalanche killing 11 persons, one of whom is a RMI guide. None of the bodies are recovered nor is it expected that they will ever be."

The Paradise Ice Caves are closed in September due to accidents caused by ice falling from the ceiling.


- Washington State has an unemployment level of 14%. Revenue and citizens are depressed. Park visitation is down 23% from previous year, but back-country use of the 41 designated trailside camps (including climber camps) is down only 7%.

8,358 climbers register to climb Mount Rainier, nearly 500 more than the 1979 record turn out. 4961 make it to the top, compared to 4143 in 1979.


- A Bull Market drives stock values to new records (in the 1200 range). The local economy is still down.

Fort Lewis holds a team relay, running all the way to Paradise and carrying their company guidon (small flag or streamer), on June 25th.

There are 14 deaths on the mountain, 5 as result of a Navy plane crash.


- 31 Search and Rescue missions are made on Mount Rainier, a relatively low total. This expensive and risky approach to human endangerment (endangering the rescuers as well as those who needed rescuing) is increasing at an alarming rate. It is feared that there is a "growing lack of respect for safety while climbing" (many climbers are spotted un-roped and with improper equipment). Also noticed is an attitude that members of a climbing party "are not responsible for each other's well being. In a particularly ugly incident, members of a climbing party "left a fellow climber on the Muir Snowfield with an injured knee. Once they reached Paradise they requested rangers to go get their partner while they went to dinner at the Paradise Inn."


- Since 1982, climbing and other back country use declines. A just-completed three year study, "Human Impact In Alpine Zone," by Dr. Ola Edwards leads to changes in planning for limiting pollution high on Mount Rainier caused by human waste and refuse. Solar toilets tested the year before, are in use at Camp Muir. The park joins the Nisqually River Planning Task Force in studying and planning prevention of flood damage along the Nisqually River and nearby streams.

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- Climbing is on the upswing again. Further studies are made of damage caused by the large number of climber populating the higher levels of Mount Rainier. "Human Impact in the Alpine Ecosystem" leads the list.

Past five year visitor use of the Hiker Information Center continues to decline.


- The Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center is dedicated (formerly called the Paradise Day Use Facility and the Paradise Visitor Center).

Guest Services Inc. contract for serving the public is renewed for 25 years.

Paradise ice caves are closed in September due to falling chunks of ice.


- Cecelia Carpenter compiles Indian legends for the park.

The park Wilderness Plan is enacted. Mount Rainier National Park Wilderness Area is established on 11/15/1988. A Wilderness Management Plan and a Comprehensive Hazardous Waste Plan are drafted, and both an Ozone Monitoring Project and re-vegetation of high human impact areas begin.

A "Mass Transit" system to and within the park, including linking with Northwest Trek, is proposed. A public survey and feasibility study commences.


- Back Country Permits are now required all through the year.

Refurbishing of the National Park Inn (Longmire) begins, and a "Meadow Stompers" (stay on trails) program is initiated at Paradise.

Geothermal resource evaluation of Mount Rainier is initiated by Bureau Of Land Management, and a four year study of debris flows/flooding at Tahoma Creek begins.

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