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Newsletter

April 2009

Jabba as in The Hut as in the first Monday of April. Yep, you guessed it, the next TNSAR general meeting is right around the corner. Pack your beacon, shovel, and probe and meet at the Granlibakken hut. 6:30pm.

Or you Mr. Ugly here will eat you for lunch.

The Madness of March has little to do with basketball. Sorry about that sports fans. It has everything to do with bulbs, blizzards, and obituaires. Yeah, yeah, we all know the chant…in like a lion out like a goat….something like that. Well March has come and gone and left us (once again) with clear skies and cold nights. Yet just a week or so ago, on a cold and stormy night, the TNSAR pagers came ‘a ringing. On March 21st, Placer County reported a missing snowmobiler somewhere behind Tahoe City. The missing party had departed from the trailhead behind the Team garage but failed to return with the rest of his friends and family. At approximately 5pm the missing person phoned 911 from his cell phone saying that he had crashed his snowmobile and was unhurt but also unable to salvage his machine or his whereabouts. Luckily for him (and for us) the missing party had a GPS unit and was able to phone in his coordinates. A few hours later the TNSAR snowmobile Team and the Team snowcat located the victim on the Forest Service road high above Highway 89. The victim’s snowmobile was also located (about ¾ of a mile away from the victim) and nursed back to health, and the entire search party rendezvoused at the Team garage for pizza and adult beverages. I was fortunate enough to ride along in the back of the snowcat and spent a fair amount of time with the victim, feeding him snickers and water and outfitting him with warm, dry clothes. Not surprisingly, he was cold, wet, and thoroughly spooked from his experience. He was pretty well convinced that without our aid he would have perished. I felt it was my duty to fully agree with him and forcefully pointed out that he should have perished. Afterall, were it not for his cell phone and his ability to operate his GPS unit, he most likely would have died that evening. Maybe…maybe not. Either way I really wanted to scare the beejeebees out of him because I don’t like snowmobilers. Actually I wanted to drive home the point that complete dependence on technology as a means of life support is a really bad idea. Granted, cell phones, GPS units, family talk radios, personal locator beacons, SPOT satellite transmitters…all of these types of technology can and do save people’s lives. But far too often these tools become a false beacon of security in the hands of people who either do not fully know how to operate them or fail to pack enough spare batteries to keep them operational when they are really needed. Continually, people need to be reminded that a proper survival toolbox needs to contain more than just a cell phone and a GPS unit. Ironically, the day after this search the missing person phoned a friend of mine to ask his advice about purchasing PLBs and SPOT satellite transmitters just in case this ever happens again…

Maggie’s Veil We’ll never really know what happened on Saturday, February 21st, when Chris Trethaway skied up the Cascade Lake drainage. All we do know is that Chris’ body was found two days later beneath three feet of avalanche debris at the base of Maggies Peaks. Why he chose to ski alone...why he chose to ski that particular drainage and that particular line…if he knew that the forecast for avalanche danger for that day was “considerable” with “pockets of high danger…” All of these secrets are out of reach, well hidden behind Maggie’s veil.

Extreme Obituaries If TS Eliot is right and April really is the cruelest month, then March is her twin sister in terms of obituaries. March marked the passing of three Tahoe locals: Extreme Athlete Shane McKonkey, who lived in Squaw Valley and continually defined the adjective ‘extreme’; Extreme Realtor Kendy Hooper, who grew up here in Tahoe and had one of the best hearts of all the people I’ve ever known; and Extremely Good Guy Bob Dalbon. Bob owned and operated the deli in Squaw Valley back in the good old days and was a loving father as well as an extremely good guy overall. I’d like to say that they all died doing what they loved but I’m not so sure that is ever true. But it does remind me of a joke I once saw on the wall of a greasy spoon diner somewhere north of San Francisco. It went something like this:
When I die, I want to die peacefully, in my sleep, like my Grandfather. Not screaming like the passengers in his plane.

GSR 2009 It all seems like a dream now…kind of like a bed wetting dream come to think of it…but the 2009 Great Ski Race was a GREAT success. We did everything we set out to do; we put money in the TNSAR coffers, we put on one hell of a great ski race for locals and visitors alike, and we had one hell of a good time doing it. In spite of the rain. The highlight for me was…the whole day actually, from the 5am snowmobile ride up the fiberboard freeway to check the race course to the 5pm garbage bag stuffing at the Cottonwood parking lot. What a day, what a crew. Thanks to all!

Get Out The Vote TNSAR elections are here once again. Run for office, vote for your buddy or enemy…do both at the April meeting!

Waving a white flag at my bulbs---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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