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


May 2011


The Road Goes on Forever…some roads don’t have forks. These roads may be straight, slightly curved, or switch-backed a la Lombard Street in San Francisco, but they are true and they lead to refuge, to a place of safety, shelter, and protection from danger. This particular road leads to the Granlibakken Hut. You may not be able to see it, but it is there, far off in the distance, a beacon of all things TNSAR. It is the place where we celebrate our victories, shed tears for our fallen friends and family members, and tell tales about the lines we’ve skied, peaks we’ve summited, and the depth of powder beneath our skis. It’s our own home base, relax, you’re safe, no one can tag you here. So sharpen your wit, shed your inhibitions, and join us for the final TNSAR meeting of the 2010-2011 season. Food and drink will be provided to anyone who happens to come on by…6:00pm, Monday, May 2nd. All are welcome even the unrepentant sinners who have ducked ski area boundary ropes. Yes, even they are welcome, they may be saved yet.

Searches…TNSAR responded to seven searches in March and wait…let me get my calculator and tally sheet…yes, there it is…one search in April. No, your pager was not malfunctioning. Some years it is like that, we go from riches to rags in a heartbeat. The omnipotent searcher in the sky just decides to turn the search switch off and people start obeying the boundary ropes. Well, some people do. We did have an outing a few weeks ago. Not really a search, more of an afternoon ski off the backside of Alpine, just a quaint little snowmobile ride in the Five Lakes drainage backcountry. An outing. This particular outing involved three robust snowboarders. The three youths were unclear as to the exact area boundary of Squaw Valley so they travelled in a south westward direction until they arrived at Big Springs and quickly realized that the Squaw boundary was definitely not there. OTB Patrollers from Squaw (that’s On The Ball, in case you didn’t know) noticed the snowboard tracks exiting the resort and chased the lads all the way to Big Springs. According to those on the scene, had the Patrollers not followed the tracks out of bounds, the three boundary line surveyors likely would have hiked all the way to Auburn. In the early afternoon, two TNSAR skiers skied off the backside of Alpine to assist the Patrollers with snowshoes and extra clothing and were joined by two TNSAR snowmobiles who intercepted the wayward snowboarders and Patrollers who had hiked back up to Five Lakes. A la snowmobile, all parties were back to their vehicles and out of their snow pants before the sun went down. That was TNSAR’s 16th search of the 2010-2011 season for those of you keeping score at home. And though TNSAR is not officially hiring and may not be actively contributing to lowering the unemployment rate, we are still very much open for business.

Six Months and Counting…speaking of keeping score, I just happened to notice that we have been skiing for the past six months. And there really is no end in sight. This picture on the left was taken by Sara Carbonari from Alpine Meadows’ Red Trail on November 10th. The picture on the right is from my iphone a few days ago, April 26th, at the Hour Glass up on Mt. Rose. Twas truly a fantastic winter.


 Requiescat in Pace---Patrick Malarkey. Long time TNSAR A team skier and former TNSAR Board member Patrick Malarkey died on Wednesday, April 27th, 2011, after a lengthy battle with a brain tumor. Patrick was one of the proud founding members of the “Old Guys Rule” club. Our collective TNSAR hearts and souls go out to Patrick’s friends and family. I have no doubt that Patrick is laying down first tracks in heaven’s fresh powder.

More Tears…are being shed in the Tahoe Basin for Kip Garre and Allison Kreutzen who died a few days ago in an avalanche on the eastern Sierra’s Split Mountain. Kip and Allison went out for a day trip to climb and ski the infamous Split Couloir and were caught in a spring time slide that washed down the narrow couloir. And narrow it is. This is a picture of the line from Sierra Ski Journal. A link to the full story from Powder Magazine can be found here: http://www.powdermag.com/mantle/kip-garre-1973-2011/. Once again, with heavy hearts, TNSAR sends out condolences to all the surviving friends and families in the Tahoe ski community and beyond. 

 Benson "Cabin"---an excerpt from the 1949 Sierra Club Bulletin:

The Benson Cabin, named for ardent skier and Club member John P. Benson Jr., who was killed in action in Italy, has been completed and is now ready for occupancy after about 700 man (and woman) days of arduous labor during the past three summers by over 150 friends and members of the Sierra Club. Since the location of the cabin -- at 8,350 feet elevation on the north slope of Mount Anderson (8,687 feet), five miles from Norden and over three miles from the Gold Creek roadhead -- has made the progress of the construction slow and the problem of supplying the construction materials difficult, the success of the building program is due to the industry and perseverance of these people.

The cabin should be an attraction as an overnight stop either on a loop trip from Donner Summit or while en route to Squaw Valley, just six miles farther south. In addition the slopes adjacent to the cabin provide several good ski runs, albeit without a chairlift. The skier's route from the Sugar Bowl is over the east shoulder of Mount Lincoln and along the ridge which extends to the south, a distance of four miles, a skiing time of two to four hours depending upon the snow conditions and one's speed for a total ascent of approximately 1,700 feet.

The cabin provides bunks for twelve people, cooking stove and utensils, heating stove, indoor toilet, and a moderate supply of wood; however, no large stock of food is available other than emergency rations. The door and a second floor window for deep snow conditions have been left unlocked and the use of the facilities of the cabin is cordially extended to non-members. No fee is to be charged; however, any large group intending to use the cabin should check with the manager at Clair Tappaan Lodge to avoid conflict and overcrowding.

Benson Cabin Committee

Here’s the “cabin” in the summer of 1949

Here’s the “cabin” on a TNSAR training last week. Yes, that is the roof peak. Don't know what that other thing is...must have been dust or something on my camera lens. The Benson Hut, as we know it, figures prominently in TNSAR escapades. Early this season 10 snowshoers had to be rescued after they failed to find this hut. According to their GPS coordinates they were a mere 300 feet from the hut. Many other lost skiers have found the hut by mistakenly skiing over the top of the outhouse which is a few hundred feet to the west of the hut proper. Some swear that the hut is haunted by a little girl from the Victorian era. Footsteps can be heard at night, voices, even apparitions. Gives me chills just thinking about it. Either way it is a great place to tell ghost stories.

GSR 2011…There really is only one great ski race and it is The Great Ski Race. I happened to be wandering around the TNSAR garage the other day and I noticed an old scrappy piece of paper clinging to wall. Frayed along the margins, ink faded, Doug Read’s chicken scratch handwriting…it was a hastily made keep sake from TNSAR’s first ever Great Ski Race…total number of skiers---30. This year, some 35 years later, in spite of a wet, windy, and wild forecast for race day, we had close to 800 racers. This one gracefully sacheted across the finish line…

this one crossed the line heels first…

this one face first…

and this one was brought to tears by the sight of the bar at Soup Station 2.

Thanks to Troy Corliss for the photo-documentation. Simply put---yet another Great Ski Race for TNSAR.

Elections…April showers brings May elections. Yes, it’s that time again folks. Stump speeches, political propaganda leaflets dropped from airplanes, bald faced lies, fact checking, live coverage from CNN and the World Wide Wrestling Federation. I have only one question: why aren’t YOU running for a seat on the Board? For President? Vice President? Secretary? Don’t stop to measure how big the cow patty is, just step right on in!

MOY…as in Member Of The Year. Who’s it going to be this year? Who will join the others on the revered plaque on the garage wall? Could be you, could be the person sitting next to you at the upcoming meeting. Whoever it is, one thing is certain; they earned it by countless hours of dedicated service to this organization, to this community, to all of the people that we go out to save. I can’t wait to find out who it is! Oh wait, I already know who it is…it’s…it’s….it’s….

Summer Fun…Sad though it is, snow melts. Skis are banished to the closet, boots are displaced from their place drying by the fire, goggles are tossed in the dungeon basement of the search pack. But TNSAR continues on into the Spring, Summer, and Fall. www.tahoenordicsar.com has it all…trainings, search reports, forum discussions, random invitations to climb, kayak, cycle, or sample adult beverages. Stay tuned, stay in touch, stay connected.

So difficult…impossible even, to thank everyone who contributed to yet another outstanding search season here at TNSAR. Hopefully you know who you are and you know how much your efforts are appreciated. It’s still hard to believe that this is an all volunteer organization; no one drives a company car, no one punches a company time clock, no one gets matching contributions to a company 401k savings plan. We do this because we care, plain and simple. I’m not sure I’d have it any other way. Thank you all for coming to monthly meetings, for wandering around in snowstorms, for abandoning your families in the middle of the night to search for strangers, for picking up trash at the Cottonwood after The Great Ski Race, for returning snickers bars and AA batteries from the bottom of your search packs, for tolerating endless paperwork for out of county searches, for remembering to bring your OES cards on searches, for accepting the search grids that no one else wants because there is no way the victims are there, for giving the victim all of your food, water, and warm dry clothing when you really could use it for yourself, for probing tree wells, for stopping to fuel up the snowcat at 3am when all you really want to do is lay down and go to sleep, for waiting in the rain for hours for a search assignment, for breaking trail in thigh deep powder, for refusing to give up hope for someone else’s loved one, for reading grammatically challenged newsletters that are always, without fail, posted late, thank you, thank you, thank you.

I can’t wait to do it all over again next year. Really, I can’t wait!




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