But trouble the Mountaineers

  Mount Rainier National Park bypassed public discussion and sprang a surprise fee on backcountry visitors recently, drawing a protest letter from the Mountaineers, the Seattle-based conservation group. The Mountaineers says the new hierarchy of fees is too steep, especially for short visits. Two visitors might pay $10 to enter the park, $20 to camp in the backcountry for one night, then $15 each to climb Mount Rainier - for a total of $60 over two days. The Mountaineers suggests combining the fees for multiple uses, such as both camping and climbing. Ranger John Wilcox admits that the experimental fees, which pay for backcountry improvements, need fine tuning. "We'll work on making the fee structures fair and not so confusing," he says. Send comments to Superintendent, Mount Rainier National Park, Tahoma Woods, Star Route, Ashford, WA 98304. To get a copy of the nonprofit group's letter, see the June 1998 issue of The Mountaineer or contact Mountaineers Headquarters, 300 Third Ave. W., Seattle, WA 98119 (206/284-6310).