Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue, Inc. Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue, Inc.

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October 2007

Rivers in Egypt
There’s no denying it, time does indeed march on and now it’s time to march on over to the Granlibakken ski hut for the 2007 kickoff meeting of the Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team. As always, food and drinks will be provided by the able crew of Chez Schroepfer. Black tie optional. The meeting will commence at 6:00pm. Tales will be told, stories will be swapped, lies will be liberated detailing how many miles we rode, trails we hiked, birds we watched, and naps we nabbed over the summer. Once we get all of that out of our systems, we will get down to the serious business of kicking off the 2007 search season. Yes, I can hear all of your collective scoffing…..”summer’s not over yet….I’m not putting my bike away until there is a foot of snow on the ground…I can’t remember where I put my search pack…Indian summer is going to last until February….global warming trumps winter…“etc. etc. I’ve heard it all. Unfortunately, no matter what the weather, what season it is, how well or poorly preparations are made, people get lost. And that’s where YOU come in. Yes, you. Whether we are making phone calls, welding grousers, mixing cocktails, combing over maps, re-gluing climbing skins, writing grant proposals, or slogging through creeks with skiis on, we are all active participants in this multifaceted organism we call the Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team. Without you, this team would not be what it is and would not be able to do what it does. There is a place for everyone, with any and all skill sets, of any and all levels of ability. In fact, the more the merrier. As someone really famous once said, “…diversity is (insert unpronounceable multi-syllabic word here)…“There is, however, one crucial prerequisite; participation. The lights are on, the door is unlatched, and we are officially open for business. As those dusty desert folks say, “Welcome home, brothers and sisters.“
Three Quarters Half Nuts
One must be at least that crazy to try and make predictions about the upcoming winter weather. Yet that is the buzz in the air this time of year. Especially with the drizzle that is currently outside my window. (Though there was a confirmed sighting of some white powdery substance in Truckee early this morning….) And every year we are likely to hear the infamous “squirrel theory.” Laugh about it or laud it, the theory goes something like this: squirrel behavior (most notably in the fall when ski areas announce their new season pass prices) is indicative of the onset and magnitude of the ensuing winter season. A little cha-cha to the left, tango twirl to the right, dip here, soft shoe over there and the next thing you know it’s snowing. Actually it’s nuts. The nuts. Pine nuts. NOAA notwithstanding, if the squirrels are busily gathering nuts, stuffing their cheeks and nests with nuts, then winter is coming and coming on strong. If the squirrels are lounging about, nibbling here and there according to their fancy, then Indian summer will likely continue and fair weather will prevail. Some people think it’s bull, others will challenge you to take it outside mano a mano just to prove it is true. Often I find that the most convinced (and struggling the hardest to convince) are those who just purchased their season passes at prime time prices. “It’s gonna be huge, bro!…..30% chance of showers next week…thigh deep pow-pow by the weekend….rock on dude.” Others who haven’t squandered their kindergartner’s college savings are a bit more nonchalant. “It’ll snow…a week before I put my studs on the Subaru…and I still haven‘t stacked all my wood…” Just to be fair and scientific like, I consulted a real weather oracle and have this to report, and I quote, "...This winter will be sometimes cold, sometimes warm, sometimes wet, sometimes dry, talk to me in the spring....."
Not so Live, from BlackRock City
Last month, as I was wandering around the playa completely disoriented in a sand storm white-out (sand-out?), I had a little time to reflect on the concept of being lost. Of getting lost and getting found. Few of us out here have truly been lost so it is a difficult concept to wrap one’s brain around. As of this writing, Steve Fossett (world renowned aviator, adventurer, world record setter and breaker) is lost. It is no conceptual thing. He is out there somewhere in the Nevada outback and no one, I repeat, no one knows where he is. Hundreds and hundreds of people, in airplanes, looking at computer screens, via satellite images and radio waves, from ground searches and scriptural prayer searches, are looking for him and after 18 days and nights he is still lost. And like Amelia Earhart, the longer he remains missing the more the mystery grows. What is not mysterious is the methodology of searching for lost victims. Whether they are land, fresh water, or sea searches, most organized rescue and/or recovery missions search in a grid-type fashion. Search areas are delineated on maps and divvied out and then individual search teams (from several to several hundred) begin combing through each grid in the designated region. Depending on the scale and the nature of the search, each grid can be quite enormous to quite small. Though it can be a needle in the haystack type reality, the actual search is, or should be, extremely systematic. Typically our searches out here in the winter wonderland of the Tahoe backcountry are not of the needle in the haystack variety. Though we definitely have found ourselves searching for extremely small needles in extremely large haystacks, most (but not all) of our searches have a defined point of origin. A skier/snowboarder /snowshoer is reported lost and last seen at the top of Mt. Judah or dropping in off the backside of Grouse Rock or at the parking lot of Tahoe Meadows. Sometimes we have very reliable and definitive information (e.g. the known victim’s car and boot prints heading off into the trees). Other times we end up slogging through creeks with our skiis on hollering into the trees when the real “victim” is sitting at Bar of America. Because we never truly know for certain, we strive to conduct all of our searches with equal intensity, efficiency, and thoughtfulness. Sometimes it is not so easy to roll out of bed at 3am and wander off into a howling whiteout. Oftentimes someone’s life depends on it. Sound intriguing? Want to learn more? Please join TNSAR at 6pm, October 1st, in the Granlibakken ski hut. Thanks in advance!
Late night tap dancing with rodents ----B. Wright

The goal of TNSAR is to conduct fast and safe rescues, and to help educate the public on winter safety. If you would like to help TNSAR in this cause, please use the following PayPal donate link. Thanks!

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