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

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January 2008

Belly Up to the hut for the next general meeting of the Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team. The upcoming meeting is Monday, January 7th at 6:30pm. Granlibakken. Be There!

H.G. Wells once said, “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.” Many of you probably didn’t know that Mr. Wells was a founding member of TNSAR. Well clearly he was. How else could he have so eloquently described TNSAR’s unrelenting quest to teach crucial winter survival skills to local 4th graders? By the way, he was never seen on randonee gear, he always dropped a knee. But that’s beside the point. The crux of the matter is that now is the time to start gearing up for the 2008 Winter Wilderness Survival program for our local 4th graders. This is a favorite time of the season for many TNSAR members because Placer County Sheriffs office buys us breakfast before each school program AND we get to visit our local schools and teach 4th graders real-life, hands-on, time-tested survival skills. This isn’t true or false text book regurgitation. This is HD TNSAR. This is grab some tree boughs, ski poles, snowboard, and plastic garbage bags and build me a shelter! Blow that whistle! Louder! This is tangible stuff that kids get to go outside and practice on their school grounds. This is participatory sensory stimulation designed to save lives. This is your chance to help our local kids stay ahead in that race against catastrophe. Let’s do old Herbert George proud. Sign up, save a life. I see bumper stickers….And many thanks to Sara and Dave for stepping up and taking over this year’s education efforts. They were the first to sign up and deserve seconds at the breakfast table.

I am afraid that there may be a new backcountry affliction that is on its way to becoming a terrifying epidemic. It’s that dastardly IPOD. No matter where you look, there they are. Especially loud and conveniently stuffed into ski helmets, hats, sunglasses, there are
even backpacks with IPOD speakers tucked into the shoulder straps. I sure hope Apple is not sponsoring the Great Ski Race this year….Now I’m all for
rampant, unadulterated capitalism and shameless consumer therapy (it is Christmas, afterall) but I am going to have to draw the line here. The backcountry is no place for an IPOD.
I’m serious. Quick, run to the bookshelf and grab your copy of Snowsense. Turn to page 46 and review the Bull’s-Eye

“Oh, dear! Oh, dear!
I cannot hear.
Will you please
come over near?
Will you please look in my ear?
There must be something there, I fear.”
From Dr. Seuss’
One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish

Clues To Instability in a snowpack: WHUMPING NOISES and HOLLOW SOUNDS. How the !&@$#! are you going to hear those Bull’s-Eye Clues when Eddie Vedder is screaming in your ear? Sorry Ed, nothing personal. Traveling in the wintertime backcountry requires all of one’s senses, not just four of them. It is bad enough at a crowded ski resort, “…on your left Terd Brain! On your left, I said!” But it could be deadly in the backcountry, “…Dude, did you hear that? It sounded like the snowpack just gave way. Dude? Dude?” I’m not…what do the kids say these days…dissing…the IPOD/MP3 world takeover, I own one for cryin’ out loud (it was a gift). And there is nothing better that snapping into my skate skis and blasting Gloria Estefan while I burn orange klister around the nordic center. But do me a favor, do yourselves and your ski buddies a favor, leave the dern thing at home when you ski in the backcountry. What glorious silence!

AVI-I January 11-13. Did you sign up? Remember what I said last month about space being limited? Brian York is organizing an Avalanche I course the second weekend in January. The course will be taught by Lel Tone, one of Squaw Valley Ski Patrol’s avalanche forecasters. The class size in absolutely positively limited to 12 participants. If you haven’t done so already, call Brian and sign up (583-0465). There is a $100 pseudo charge for the course. You need to reserve your spot by signing over a $100 check to TNSAR. When you show up the first day, TNSAR will rip up your check. If you don’t show up, TNSAR will deposit your check. Thanks for donating! Seriously, this is a great course for newcomers or oldtimers in need of a refresher. Practice what you preach. Don’t forget your beacon, shovel, and probe. Friday, January 11th will be classroom lecture at the TCPUD building across from the garage. Saturday and Sunday (12th and 13th) will be in the field and in the snow. Thank your local snow god. Just in time for the holidays! Seasons greetings everybody.

INSKIP 0300 Tuesday, December 18th TNSAR pagers went off for the first winter search of the 2007/2008 season. Five skiers, three dog handlers, and one Placer County chaperone left the following morning for a long drive to the foothills near Paradise, CA and to the now infamous ‘Christmas Tree Search.’ Late in the afternoon of December 16th the Dominguez family (Father and three kids) disappeared while searching for the perfect Christmas tree. What they found, luckily enough, was a culvert, some minor frostbite and hypothermia, and three nights of misery. TNSAR searchers joined (more than a bit reluctantly) an army of search and rescue teams from as far away as Marin County. Not surprisingly, we were the only searchers on skis and the only ones with avalanche dogs, though we’re still not sure why they were called out to a grid-type, frozen body ground search. The dogs, by the way, stayed in the trucks. After following some really bad “clues” (one that just plain stank), and some even worse advice, all the ground crews came up empty handed. CHP’s CAL 20 helicopter spotted the victims “HELP” sign some two and half miles from where the search teams were forced to concentrate their efforts. But a happy ending is a happy ending, regardless of how many improvements could have been made at the scene. That makes for one Merry Christmas.

Not sure if I need an umbrella or a snowblower
----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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