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Responsibilities on PCS Trips - Loma Prieta PCS

The climbs of the Section range from comparatively slow-paced trips which follow established trails almost all the way to the summit to climbs in which strenuous cross-country travel must be capped off with some steep and possibly exposed climbing in order to attain the goal. This variety of climbs represents an endeavor to provide a schedule directed toward the interests and capabilities of every Section member. There is a leader assigned to each PCS trip. The wide variety of climbs makes it important to match climbers and climbs, and for the leader of a climb and his companions to understand their responsibilities to one another. THE LEADER IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SAFETY AND WELFARE OF ALL MEMBERS OF THE PARTY. To fulfill this responsibility, the leader needs the full cooperation of each climber, and may restrict a climb, or some portion of it, to climbers with certain types of experience. As climbs increase in difficulty, the leader can expect the individual climbers to assume an increasing share of the responsibility.

Leader's Duties and Responsibilities

  • The leader, or his/her designated representative, has the ultimate responsibility and authority on all PCS trips for reasons of safety. This responsibility includes foot travel to base camp, to the base of the peak(s), the climb of the peak(s), and return to the trailhead.
  • The trip officially begins at the trailhead. The leader is not responsible for carpools.
  • The leader must ensure that all participants on an official PCS trips sign a liability waiver. This is true for unrestricted trips as well as restricted trips.
    The PDF version of the waiver is available on line for viewing and printing. There are also Sierra Club Waiver FAQ.
  • The leader will determine the maximum number of trip participants, depending on the difficulty of the trip and the popularity of the area visited.
  • The leader will determine who may participate on the trip. Factors to be considered include the type of trip, the participants' experience, equipment, climbing ability, his/her judgment, and behavior on previous PCS trips. It is suggested that "Leader Screening for Trip Participants" (Appendix C) be used as an aid in the screening process for trip participants.
  • The leader is responsible for making sure sufficient safety equipment for the group is brought. The leader may require special personal equipment specific to the trip.
  • The leader will brief all participants at the trailhead prior to leaving the cars on the following: route(s) to camp, rendezvous points, campsite location, climbing schedule, and other pertinent information. The purpose of this briefing is to aid the participant, should he become separated from the group.
  • If the leader does not participate in any part of a trip, (s)he should designate a representative with adequate experience who will have the same responsibilities.
  • The leader has the authority to determine if and when the party should turn back for reasons of weather, climbing conditions, rockfall, avalanche danger, and/or route difficulty. The leader also has the authority to require a participant to stay in a given location on the peak or to return to camp WHEN IT IS SAFE, if the participant's actions threaten the safety of the party.
  • The leader is responsible for making sure all members of the party are safe and accounted for at all times. This includes making sure all participants return from the climb to camp and also that all participants have returned to the trailhead.
  • In case of accident or illness, the leader is responsible for ensuring first aid treatment.
  • Recommended reading: "Outing Leader Handbook" published by the Sierra Club Council.

Participant's Responsibilities

  • The trip participant agrees to abide by the decisions of the leader at all times on PCS trips, except when (s)he feels the leader has made a dangerous error in judgment. A primary aim should be for the participant to resolve the issue with the leader. Leadership complaints should be submitted to the Mountaineering Committee Chair in writing.
  • The participant on an official PCS trip must read and sign a liability waiver. This is true for unrestricted trips as well as restricted trips. The PDF version of the waiver is available on line for viewing and printing.
    There are also Sierra Club Waiver FAQ.
  • In no case should a trip participant attempt or abandon a climb, camp in a different area, or return to the trailhead without the leader's permission. If the participant elects to not abide by the leader's direction, then the Sierra Club/PCS cannot be held accountable for the participant's safety.
  • The trip participant agrees to provide all personal climbing equipment required by the leader.
  • It is the leader's responsibility to brief all participants prior to leaving the trailhead. If the leader neglects to provide this briefing, it is the participant's responsibility to request that the leader do so.
  • In case of emergency, all participants agree to help in any way possible at the direction of the leader.