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


December 2012

     Pretty limited search activity in our area during the last month.  Don't get complacent, though, things will pick up soon.  Just when you take your sled in for repairs, misplace your OES card or drop your climbing skins in the dirt your phone/pager will go off.  Guarantee it. 

Alpine Meadows Injured Skier

     A twenty four year old female went backcountry skiing at Alpine Meadows on Saturday, November 10th with two male friends.  They selected the Wolverine Bowl area as their destination.  The two males descended first and waited at the bottom for the woman who was on telemark gear for her first time. She dropped in, went over a bump, fell and slid into a rock that was lurking below the surface of the snow.  While she was wearing a helmet, she still sustained serious trauma to the left side of her face and neck.  Her friends called back up the hill to her but she was motionless and unresponsive.  They climbed back up the hill to her position as quickly as they could where they found her with a pulse but irregular breathing.  By the time they dug her out she was not breathing so they initiated CPR. 
     Around this time two TNSAR members who were also skiing in the area made contact with the party.  The injured party's position on the hill made administering CPR difficult so the rescuers moved her down the hill to a flatter spot that was more workable.  They initially had difficulty getting through to 9-1-1 but eventually succeeded.  They were patched through to Alpine Meadows Ski Patrol who arrived 20-25 minutes later with a sled.   A helicopter was called in but the decision was made that they would be unable to land in Wolverine Bowl.  Ski Patrol transported the victim to the base area where she was transported onto the helicopter and flown to Renown Hospital.  Despite all efforts to save her, she passed away November 14th.

Missing Couple In Alpine County

     A 46 year old female and her 44 year old boyfriend left Citrus Heights for Gardnerville on the afternoon of Thursday, November 29th.  At the Highway 88/Highway 89 intersection they turned south onto Burnside Lake Rd.   The boyfriend had recently bought a 1989 Jeep Cherokee 4x4 and wanted to test it out on the dirt roads of the area.  Burnside Lake Rd. had been closed earlier that day by the Forest Service in anticipation of the approaching storm but the decision was made to drive around the closure and drive the road to Burnside Lake.  They made it approximately six miles up the road before the Cherokee became stuck in mud.  Family members had expected them in Gardnerville that evening so when they didn't arrive they reported them missing.  The boyfriend and girlfriend spent the night in the Jeep and on the morning of the 30th the boyfriend attempted to hike out  to Highway 88 despite the girlfriend's pleas for him to stay with her in the vehicle.
     According to the Nevada Appeal, on the night of Friday, November 30th the family members contacted Douglas County 9-1-1 services, which acts as dispatch for Alpine County and asked them to search Burnside Lake.  Apparently that message was passed on to Alpine County shortly after midnight. 
     According to SNOTEL sensors at Burnside Lake (8129 ft.) the area received 30 inches of snow on Saturday, December 1st.  Meanwhile the girlfriend wrapped herself in a blanket and remained in the jeep eating snow and tomatoes she had received from a relative in Citrus Heights.  On Monday, December 3rd, after waiting for three days for her boyfriend, she believed he was not going to return with help and she had to save herself.   She left the vehicle and walked/crawled towards HIghway 88.  According to KRNV out of Reno it seems the search was called off at some point on this same day.  The girlfriend later told reporters that she passed her boyfriend's deceased body about a mile from the Jeep as she was attempting to make her own way down the road.
     On Wednesday, December 5th the missing party's brother decided he was going to Burnside Lake.  (Note to reader:  This is where things get awesome) He commandeered a Caltrans front loader from a nearby sand shed and drove up Burnside Lake Rd. looking for the couple.  He proceeded up the road for several miles where he eventually found his sister wrapped in a blanket, hypothermic and huddled in a hollowed out tree.  He placed her in the bucket of the loader and drove back down the road to Sorensen's Resort where they were met by emergency personnel who transported her to Carson Tahoe Regional Hospital. 
“We couldn't stop him, we just let him (the brother) do what he had to do,” the mp's sister said. “He had a feeling. They have a special bond, they really do. It is an unusual bond, it is different than the one I have with my sister.”  She is being treated for first degree frostbite and is expected to be released early next week.

Facebook Saves The Day
     I don't have a Facebook account and admittedly talk trash about "friending" and "updating your status".  The whole enterprise seems kind of narcissistic in my opinion.  I spend enough time in my day staring at a computer and I don't need waste any more of my day staring at said monitor reading about how someone cut in front of you in the lift line at Squaw or the weird tasting almond you ate yesterday.
     That said, it looks like Facebook was actually useful a few weeks ago in Oregon.  A hiker attempting to summit Mt. Hood became disoriented in a storm and then stranded on the south side of the peak on the afternoon of November 28th.  The missing person called 9-1-1 and Portland Mountain Rescue deployed a team of thirteen.  After notifying authorities that he was in trouble, he posted the following to his Facebook page:
     “You're gonna hear about it in the news anyway, may as well spill it myself,” he wrote. “Got stuck in a storm on the summit of mt. Hood. Stuck on cliffs over 10,000' in a white out. Called 911 after several hours of trying to self rescue. Search and rescue has been notified. Wish me luck!”
     A short while later he then posted, "OK guys, I have no idea where I am, other than right now on the edge of smoke gnarly cliff. Too far east or west?” He posted a picture of his coordinates at the same time, showing he was at 10,064.35 feet in elevation.
     The hiker was experienced and had packed appropriately as he had proper clothing and food and water for several days.  When rescuers reached him at approximately 11:45PM that evening he was in good shape and it was determined he did not need medical attention.

Tahoe Nordic Festival Postponed
     The Tahoe Nordic Festival, which was originally scheduled for December 14th -16th has been postponed until January 11-13th due to lack of snow.  (Sound familiar?…I bet we'll get a 4 ft. dump on December 13th.)  The team will be on hand at this event with the team truck and a booth/table to educate the public and network with the community.  We will need volunteers for this great event to make it a success so contact Paul Honeywell if you can help out.
     The Lake Tahoe Nordic Festival is an event that will cater to one of the fastest growing cross-country regions in the United States. While it is no secret that Lake Tahoe is a famous alpine skiing destination, we are also lucky enough to possess world-class Nordic skiing. With multiple cross-country ski resorts and hundreds of kilometers of groomed trails, Lake Tahoe serves up some of the finest Nordic skiing in the United States.

Upcoming Trainings
    •    Where: Team Garage
    •    When: 5:30pm Team Garage
    •    Contact: Jimmy Smith (use current callout list for phone #)
Team Garage 5:30 to 9:00 PM
We will be refining the loading/unloading procedure and going through the equipment on the cat. This training is for all current and would be cat operators.

    •    Where: Team Garage
    •    When: 5:30pm Team Garage
    •    Contact: Jimmy Smith (use current callout list for phone #)
This will be snow dependent and will involve basic snowcat operations. Call Jimmy for more information if interested.

    •    Where: TBD
    •    When: 8:00am Team Garage
    •    Contact: Scott Shane (use current callout list for phone #)
Join Scott for winter fun and mountain skills development!

    •    Where: Team Garage
    •    When: 8am Team Garage
    •    Contact: Russ Viehmann (use current callout list for phone #)
Russ will be leading a training on snow patient packaging and litter work on steeper terrain. These are very valuable skills that need constant training every year so that we are prepared for the next search. Come and practice.

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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