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

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Newsletter

February 2011

Early…in the 1930s, Ma and Pa Joad loaded up their old Hudson pickup truck and headed west on Route 66 to escape the hopelessness of the Dust Bowl era.  To California! The fruitful land of plenty! And now some 80 years later a similar exodus is happening here in California, only this time it is in an easterly direction because of the hopelessness of the High Pressure era. To Utah! The fruitful land of powder! Unruly characters have departed en mass and unconfirmed “powder tales” started surfacing shortly thereafter. Suspicious stories grew like weeds until (gasp!), the dreaded “I LUV UT” bumper stickers started showing up at local coffee joints. Crikey, ye of little faith, fear not! Winter will return. For those of you unable to get the old Hudson started, a support group will be meeting at the Granlibakken Hut on Monday, February 7th, at 6:30pm to help fellow sufferers who are unable to drift easterly. Refreshments and “Puffs” brand tissues will be served. Because of the magnitude of this powderless epidemic a second support group meeting will be held on Monday, February 28th, 6:30pm at the Granlibakken Hut. That's right people we have two meetings in February just like last February and the February before and the February before and the February before....

 

 

Thirty Three Days…and counting. There is still time to get in shape for the 35th Annual Great Ski Race. We don’t call it Great for nothing…

Back…and better than ever.  After a forced and extremely humid hiatus, the much coveted TNSAR snowcat is back in action. The snowcat committee met at the garage recently and thoroughly went through all of the gear on our “new” snowcat. At the end of the day we had a pile of gear that was either broken, duplicitous, expired, and/or downright dangerous. That pile is now resting comfortably at the retirement facility at Cabin Creek. The paramedics at Alpine Power Equipment even revived our amphibious chainsaw. Thanks to Dave, TNSAR’s new fearless Team mechanic, we will be upgrading the snowcat’s alternator, possibly adding a bigger, badder, bolder new winch, and Dave will also be exorcising some miscellaneous wiring ghosts that have haunted our backup lights for the last several years. Dave is also a PADI certified scuba diver, by the way, just in case….

Searches…TNSAR pagers went off early Sunday afternoon, January 30th, for two “missing” skiers off the backside of the Sugarbowl ski area. One skier was an adult, the other was a child. Hence, there was a considerable amount of haste in the preparations of most of the initial hasty TNSAR respondents. As the fuzzy picture slowly began to focus we learned that the party of two was actually a Father/Daughter combination and that the Father figure was out “teaching” his nine year old Daughter how to powder ski. The curriculum, so to speak. Since there was little fresh powder to be had on the front side of the ski resort, the rope encircled ‘in-bounds’ portion of the resort, the Father figure decided to exit the resort with his nine year old Daughter to search for some of the powdery white stuff. The lesson plan, as it were. According to phone conversations with the Placer County Sherriff’s Office, the Father figure had planned to ski the powder down the backside and then hike back up to the resort. However, once the two skiers descended the eastern flank of Roller Pass, the Father figure quickly realized that his nine year old Daughter was not quite up to the task of hiking back up to the resort. So he called 911. No Child Left Behind. Sugarbowl ski patrollers were dispatched off the backside and quickly located the pair at the bottom of Roller Pass. Both skiers were in good health but were ‘too tired’ to hike back to the resort. The Father figure then requested transportation out. Snowmobiles would suffice but a helicopter was preferable. Placer County Sherriff’s Office responded that:

 

A---Cost of a CareFlight “taxi” would be (not including the tip)---------------$5,000  

B---The Father figure would likely be charged with child endangerment-----Priceless

 

The Father figure, nine year old Daughter, and two patrollers hiked back up Roller Pass and were safely en route (via Sugarbowl snowcat) to their interview with Placer County Sherriff’s Officers within 45 minutes of that final phone conversation. TNSAR searchers were not deployed.

HMS Royal George…at the time of her launch in 1756, the HMS Royal George was the largest warship in the world.  Twenty six years later, after numerous maritime battles including service in the 1776 American War of Independence, the HMS Royal George sank in Portsmouth taking 800 lives with her. Years later, in 1839, British Royal Engineers began to salvage the wreckage of the Royal George. Under the direction of Major General Charles Pasley, salvage divers were ordered to work in pairs. This was a major milestone in the history of scuba diving because it was the first recorded systematic utilization of the Buddy System. The Buddy System is one of the major cornerstones in the foundation of scuba diving. It is gospel for divers. It is a required safety procedure for all but a tiny minority of the most experienced divers. Why is the Buddy System required, and enforced by Dive Masters, for scuba diving but not for other recreational sports? I asked this question to several scuba diver acquaintances of mine and received a similar answer from all of them: the Buddy System is required because the underwater environment is totally foreign to us and in order for us to explore that environment we need to rely on equipment that is essential for our very underwater existence. The exposure risk is so incredibly high that the Buddy System is one of the few things that can actually reduce that risk. It absolutely makes sense. That is why scuba divers have been using the Buddy System for the last 172 years. Granted, the Buddy System is not infallible but it does considerably and reliably reduce risk and thereby increases safety. So why is the Buddy System not required for other sports with extreme exposure risks? Why do snowboarders, with a tragic history of perishing face down in powdery tree wells, unable to self-rescue, continue to ride alone? Why did a 24 year old woman, with epilepsy, ride out of bounds into a major Sierra snowstorm, off the backside of the Alpine Meadows ski resort, alone? Where was her Buddy? Why aren’t we insisting that skiers, riders, surfers, mountain bikers etc, etc, etc, utilize the Buddy System? Why do people think that it is acceptable to teach nine year old kids to ski out of bounds, under ski resort ropes, to look for powder snow? God forbid that the next time she’ll go alone, without a Buddy…  

Find Answers…here http://www.sierrasun.com/article/2011110129900. This is one of many articles about TNSAR’s education efforts in the local community. This year, as in every past year, the Winter Wilderness Survival program has been a huge success. So far we have visited North Tahoe, Truckee, and Glenshire Elementary Schools, and on February 17th, we’ll finish up this year’s program at Incline Elementary School. In total more than 400 kids will be exposed to some basic life-saving survival concepts that are absolutely required for mountain living. Lest you have taken it for granted, the mountains are a foreign environment that requires specialized equipment without which we could not survive. At least not for very long. Find a Buddy, be a Buddy. Teach the Buddy Gospel. It just makes sense. Thanks to all past and present TNSAR volunteers who have helped promote our Winter Wilderness Survival program. At least with kids there is hope...

El Viejo…is in the building. At least that’s what NASA, NOAA, and Heraldo Rivera are saying. From the NASA website: The latest report from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) noted that "A moderate-to-strong La Niña continued during December 2010 as reflected by well below-average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) across the equatorial Pacific Ocean." The CPC report said that La Niña is expected to continue well into the Northern Hemisphere spring 2011. All I have to say about that is.....corduroy. The January Nordic skiing has been absolutely sublime. The grooming is not bad either

Presented in….Dolby digital. On January 18th, 2011, TNSAR received a generous donation from Ray and Dagmar Dolby. The Dolby Family Fund has been a regular and exemplary sponsor of TNSAR and we are extremely grateful for this latest gift. Funds from this donation will be used to purchase a much needed portable radio repeater for TNSAR. The portable repeater has been on our ‘wish list’ for quite some time. It is an essential piece of equipment for the Team because of the many Tahoe backcountry areas that are well known ghost towns for radio reception. This repeater will be able to connect us in areas where connectivity has virtually been non-existent in times past. On behalf of all TNSAR members, I would like to issue a huge round of thanks to the Dolby’s for their continued generosity to this community and to this Team. TNSAR will be working diligently in the near future to utilize these funds as seed money to inspire others to continue to financially support this organization.  Now go out and get yourselves a movie ticket as a small way of thanking the Dolby’s personally.

Proof…that TNSAR’s snowmobile team is not subject to the laws of gravity. Wait, I think I have that upside down...

 

Last…but not least. Doug Read just called and wanted me to remind everyone that this year’s Great Ski Race is the first Sunday in March. I think he was standing up when he called to tell me that. He also wanted me to tell everyone to bring their checkbooks to the upcoming meeting because the latest and greatest GSR merchandise will be available for sale. Get 'em while they're here...

 

B.Wright

…just now realized that even the middle of nowhere is somewhere…

 

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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