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

was conceived in 1976 as a response to the death of a boy lost off the back side of Northstar-At-Tahoe ski area during a blizzard. There was, at the time, no organized backcountry team to help search for the boy. Desperate phone calls to some local Nordic skiers produced a search party that eventually located the youth, but only after it was too late. This group of skiers, along with the boy's father (who today still remains a TNSAR member), realized there was an important void to be filled. Thus, the Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue Team was born. Based in the North Lake Tahoe/Truckee area, the Team has matured considerably after these many years but the goals remain the same: Conducting fast, safe rescues and educating the public on winter safety.

In February 2006 the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services completed the Alpine Team Guidelines for Search and Rescue Mutual Aid, a document that will help to establish standards guiding Statewide SAR support. TNSAR assisted the Placer County Sheriff's Office in providing a substantial amount of input for this effort, which will ultimately make TNSAR more available for SAR events throughout the state of California.

consists of a wide variety of individuals. TNSAR has EMT's, emergency room doctors and nurses, firefighters, professional ski patrollers, paramedics, and MD's as active members. The level of medical, mountain, and skiing skills among the members is very high. In addition to the search and rescues, different members handle TNSAR committees such as training, dispatch, education, equipment upkeep, bookkeeping, the monthly newsletter, and the organization of The Great Ski Race® (the main fund raising event for the Team). General meetings are held the first Monday of each month, October through May, at the Granlibakken Ski Hut in Tahoe City at 7:00pm. New members are always encouraged to join this fun and diverse group.

In 2010 TNSAR welcomed the Placer County Sheriff's Office (PCSO) SAR OHV team as a new part of Tahoe Nordic SAR!

In May 2016, after 31 years, TNSAR decided to end the annual selection of a Member of the Year who exemplified the dedication and volunteer spirit endemic amongst successful non-profit organizations like TNSAR; instead the seasonal award will be presented at the discretion of the Board.

To become a new member, simply show up to a meeting! Introduce yourself, and meet some of the team members to get a better idea of where you might like to help out. If you are interested in participating in TNSAR trainings, the only additional requirement is that you must sign on for a civil defense card issued through OES, the Office of Emergency Services. Placer County is the local issuing agency for the card; so if you need to sign on please call the Sheriff's substation in Tahoe City for more information (a Sheriff's representative is usually at each Team meeting, too). The station is about 2 miles east of Tahoe City, at 2501 N.Lake Blvd. (530) 581-4038.

TNSAR is called out many times each year responding to a variety of search and rescue operations. Wandering children, lost hunters, urban disasters, mud slides, avalanches, ski lift evacuations, downed aircraft, and snow-bound shepherds: these are but a sampling of the incidents that the Team has responded to throughout California and Nevada. No two "callouts" are ever the same. The majority of TNSAR's responses, however, are for individuals lost in the winter wilderness of the Sierra Nevada. TNSAR has located hundreds of individuals; the majority of these have been patrons of a ski resort that have strayed from the area's boundary into unfamiliar and rugged mountain terrain. The majority of these searches (and rescues) have historically occurred at night and during poor weather. TNSAR has conducted searches originating from most all of the Lake Tahoe ski areas, and has maintained an unrivaled success rate for finding these lost recreationists.

Fielding a network of skilled search teams requires constant training. In a minimum of two field training sessions per month, Team members are exposed to a variety of conditions and situations that hone their knowledge. First aid, avalanche safety, navigation, and search techniques are but a few of the practiced disciplines. These skills, coupled with the members' intimate knowledge of the Tahoe backcountry, are vital for fielding an effective search team.

While TNSAR is ready to self-sufficiently search under any circumstances - TNSAR includes a ski team, a snowmobile team, a snowcat team, and a Communications team (fielding a van full of the latest in radio technology) - there are many times when TNSAR does not function on its own. TNSAR works with a number of agencies including Placer, Nevada, El Dorado, Washoe, Douglas, and Toulumne County Sheriff's Departments, WOOF and CARDA search dogs, OES, American Red Cross, Civil Air Patrol, Naval Air SAR, and the California Highway Patrol. TNSAR also has excellent working relationships with the management and ski patrols of the Lake Tahoe downhill and nordic ski areas. The expertise and professionalism of all these groups have been instrumental in bringing successful conclusions to search activities.

TNSAR's second most important goal is public education. A wide assortment of TV news shots, radio, newspaper, and magazine interviews are conducted annually. Winter Awareness, a Team-produced brochure, is distributed free throughout northern California and Nevada. Every winter the Team's Education Committee presents the North Lake Tahoe and Truckee students with skits and demonstrations about being "Winter Aware". These programs are very successful and very important, for these youngsters are the next generation of winter adventurers. Many books and videos on search and rescue, avalanche science, survival, and outdoor safety have been purchased by the Team and donated to public libraries.

TNSAR Truck TNSAR snowcat The TNSAR truck is a 2008 Ford crew cab, specially outfitted to meet team needs. It serves as an equipment cache holding all the tools of backcountry wintertravel: skis, poles, backpacks, stoves, tents, sleeping bags, food, maps, radios, avalanche transceivers, shovels, storm clothing, headlamps, medical kits, climbing skins, rock and ice climbing gear, sleds, snowshoes, etc. Currently there is enough equipment to outfit about 12 skiers for any weather.

Snocats are a vital piece of equipment in support of the Team's winter rescues; the machines can transport victims and rescuers when terrain and snow conditions permit. TNSAR is fortunate for the continued generosity of the Placer County Water Agency and our partnership with the Tahoe City Public Utility District, to operate an LMC 1500.

Truckee Tahoe Airport District TNSAR Pisten Bully 100

In 2018 TNSAR applied for and was awarded Agency Partnership status with the Truckee Tahoe Airport District. The Truckee Tahoe Airport District is furthering its mission, which is to provide a high level of benefit and value to all Airport District constituents. Through this policy, Agency Partnerships Funds are set aside to partner with another public agency and or taxing agency, town, county, or local government where a specific defined airport benefit to mutual District/agency constituents, direct airport benefits, improvement of District property, shared equipment, and/or enhanced safety is realized. TNSAR and TTAD have embarked on a 20 year partnership agreement which includes the acquisition of the Pisten Bully 100 snow cat and the rollaway truck hauler.

TNSAR provides the operation, transportation, maintenance, and upkeep for both Snocat's. The truck and snowcats are housed in the TNSAR garage in Tahoe City, on land generously donated by the Tahoe City Public Utility District.

While dependent to a great extent on donations, TNSAR conducts one primary fund raiser each year: The Great Ski Race®. The race has grown to be the largest Nordic ski race in the West with 1000 Nordic skiers competing along a spectacular 30km route from Tahoe City to Truckee. Other smaller events are held throughout the season, often put on by local businesses on behalf of the Team. TNSAR is selective in its endorsement of these events and grateful for all the support received. TNSAR is a highly organized, highly motivated, completely non-profit, all volunteer group. TNSAR has full tax-exempt status and is incorporated in California.

Starting in 1981 TNSAR produced a Newsletter for team members. In October of 2003 the Newsletter went online, and sometime thereafter the paper issue was discontinued.

Sadly, in January 2018 the Newsletter transitioned to full-time sporadic due to difficulty in finding anyone who wanted the thankless job, and in October 2019 the Newsletter was discontinued entirely.

The editors of the Newsletter:

1981 - ?? Dave Fenimore
Jan 1991 - Oct 1991 Beverly Lynch
Nov 1991 - ?? Patrick Malarkey
Nov 1995 - May 1996 Laura Read
Oct 1996 - Nov 2006 Randall Osterhuber
Dec 2006 - May 2012 Bob Wright
Oct 2012 - May 2014 Geoff Quinn
Dec 2014 - Dec 2017 Steve Hoyt
Jan 2018 - Oct 2019 Andrew Osterricher

The decisions of TNSAR are managed by the Executive Staff, which consists of a President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer and 4 Directors; every position is for a 1 year term, with the exception of Directors who serve 2 year terms. Elections are held in May at the end of each TNSAR season for President, Vice-President, Secretary and 2 Directors (to provide for some consistency the term for 2 Directors are staggered). The Treasurer serves at the discretion of the Board and is not an elected position.

The Team By Laws are available here.

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!

E-mail or Snail mail or Media Inquiries

TNSAR staff

Friends of TNSAR

©2021 TNSAR
Non-profit Tax ID# 94-2737988