Some things in life just defy description: the Aurora Borealis, a child's laughter, Yanni. Lately, I'm finding my attempts at trying to accurately portray the goings-on of a particular Saturday night-a couple weeks ago-to any that weren't in attendance difficult at best. I'm referring to Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team's 30th Anniversary party, of course.
Now, as you may or may not know, Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team's reputation is not founded on parties. Not that we don't know a good French kiss when it grooves us on the smacker. For those of you who've been around long enough to remember North Lake Tahoe circa early 1980s, you've no doubt committed to memory the infamous Valentine's Day Balls, fundraisers for Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team and undoubtedly the hootenanny of the season. Over-the-top rock and roll cover bands of the day, a $1 per smooch no-holds-barred kissing booth, and the occasional adult beverage all conspired to shape up a memorable evening. The next day, all you needed to shake off the night's festivities was a long ski tour on hard blue wax and a couple cubic centimeters of penicillin. Good to go.
Well, the rock and roll cover bands of North Lake Tahoe 2006 still play old Stones tunes (so I'm told), but things are a little different for Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team. For one, our parties, though now occurring at a frequency of perhaps once-a-decade, have reached new heights-literally and figuratively. The celebration of April 8 took place on the summit of Mt. Watson, 2200 feet above, and with a mega-panoramic view of Lake Tahoe. The party was launched at dusk by means that were pyrotechnically memorable, and mostly legal. The piss-ant weather forecasted for the night never developed, upstaged instead by the soft glow of a quarter moon. The venue consisted of five main decks of snow (interconnected by staircases and ramps), including the summit itself, a dance floor, a fire pit no less than 3 meters in diameter, long strings of tiki lamps and twinkle lights, and a snow cave. The cave was decorated with framed photographs, a fully-racked elk head, and two dozen tea lights illuminating the sparkling walls, benches, and alcoves. This was no hovel of a bivouac cave: at one point we had 52 people inside. DJ Mustang Sal kept things hoppin' with everything from deep-set tribal beats to "I'm a Sex Machine." Indeed. Team member John Pang managed-and I don't know how-to feed at least 80 people with hot food on that icy summit, including pot stickers, chow mien, chicken salad, and steaming drinks.
Like I said earlier, the whole event was bound in atmospherics hard to describe. I guess you had to, as they say, be there (and if you weren't, why not?). It was a great celebration of Winter 2006 and the start of the Team's fourth decade!
This party was no spontaneous undertaking. BIG thanks go out to the high-energy engineers Scoop Remenih, Tony Bochene, Holly Beatie, John Pang, Jimmy Smith, Steve Topol (who donated all the party's beer), Ray O'Brien, and Randy Williams.
You know with us it's just one celebration after another: our next is Monday night, May 1, 6:00 PM at the Granlibakken Resort's Ski Hut. This will be the last general Team meeting of the year, so please attend to the ceremonies. Team elections will take place, as well as bestowing the Team's highest citation-the Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team Member of the Year award-on some worthy member. Oh-dinner and libations will be served too!
On March 19, at 2:00 PM, the Nordic Team was called to assist and transport the victim of a broken leg near the Sierra Club's Ludlow Hut. Five Team members responded with their over-the-snow machines including Scoop Remenih, Steve Twomey, Ray O'Brien, Bill Koplin, and Fred Carey.
This winter, as any backcountry traveler can tell you, has produced some impressive snowpacks while never getting a tight grip on burying the creeks and water channels. And as the boys headed out to the Ludlow Hut they had to improvise their way through, over, and across some deep water-slots. But make the hut they did. Upon arrival, they located the victim, stabilized the leg, and loaded him on the snowcat. The patient followed instructions pretty well considering his limited grasp of English. You see, the patient turned out to be a 165-pound Newfoundland (no, he didn't speak Canadian either). The dog had fallen through the hatch in the upper floor of the hut and apparently busted his leg. After the rescue, the dog's owner made a sizable cash donation to the Team.
This was the Team's eighth response of the season.
Mop 'n' Glow
Team director Dirk Schoonmaker (583-2929) has declared May 13 "Garage Clean Up Day." The Team's equipment and garage are "rode hard and put up wet" all winter long, and this spring ritual is the time to put an iron to the pleats and a spit-shine on the pate. Please meet at the garage at 9:00 AM and bring all your cleanin' and fixin' tools.
Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team member and longtime Truckee resident Chris Arredondo died March 22 at his home in Truckee. Chris succumbed to cancer of the esophagus and liver, discovered only two weeks prior to his death.
Chris was a fixture on the Nordic Team for many years, participating in Team trainings, searches, and as both a racer and worker of The Great Ski Race. Chris organized and manned The Great Ski Race's road crossing for several years-one of the most important links in the race's chain of events. Chris was a passionate skier, kayaker, and cyclist, completing many long rides in the US and Europe. I'll always remember Chris with his bike helmet on-he did a lot of riding.
In addition to his volunteer work with the Nordic Team, Chris was a founding member of the Sierra Green Building Association and a leader for the Special Olympics. Chris is survived by his daughter, Heather, many family members, and scores of friends in the Truckee/North Tahoe region and beyond. Chris was a great guy and is sorely missed. He was 52.
At the end of each winter season, Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team recognizes members within the group who have given that little extra, or, in some cases, a lot extra. The nominees for the Team Member of the Year award are the highlighted stand-outs, but there are always many more. This year, I think special thanks should go out to: Scoop Remenih, because even though the Mt. Watson party was the work of a lot of different people, he was the driving force behind an extremely fun and unique experience; Mikey Kennett, for dedicating probably close to half of his days off this winter to bettering the Team and its goals; Roman Fail, for putting The Great Ski Race on-line in a big way, thereby keeping the race at the forefront of the sport; Doug Read for leading us all through another successful Great Ski Race when the odds were decidedly against it; TJ Johnson, for showing a bunch of backcountry skiers a thing or two about backcountry preparedness, and deflecting jests at his sledneckness with nary a flinch; to the York brothers, for (keep an eye out for future editions of SnowLine-believe me, I've got some things to say about those York brothers, and I ain't even started...); Tony Bochene, who ever thought the Team would benefit from the skills of a bow hunter? Not me, and we have-in a big way; David Fenimore, for becoming a regular at Team functions again, and showing up not wearing a tie; Jackie Thomas, for being all business on the dispatch side of the phone, and cutting loose on the Mt. Watson side of the phone; Mark Johnson, because more and more of the Team's communication continues to focus on the Team website, and therefore on webmaster Mark; Scott Schroepfer, for writing all those checks! and a whole lotta addition and subtraction; Debra Ann Schroepfer, for about 20,000 lunches and 4,000 dinners over the past 20 years; Paul Cushing, who proves that being fit and being humble are not mutually exclusive; Sarah Lagano, who not only had the temerity to think we could train other rescue teams, but the organizational skills to pull if off; Dirk Schoonmaker, whose list of accomplished goals for the Team is a lot longer than yours, and a whole lot more organized; Diane Rienstra, because skiing round-trip to the Benson Hut from Sugar Bowl in a storm has never been easy-for anyone; Jim Coffey, for spreading the good word about whistles; Steve Twomey, who's always pushing our radio communication into tomorrow while trying to fix what's not working today; Jimmy Smith, for when the Team needed a bigger and badder truck, Jimmy delivered; Ray O'Brien, for his knack in handling large volumes of gasoline around two dozen flaming tiki torches; and Russ Viehmann, whose mix of energy/casual, serious/humor are just the right attributes for our front man.
Thanks to one and all. Have a great summer!
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