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The Great Holly Beattie
It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that Holly passed away on the afternoon of January 2nd. She was a force of nature and when she set her mind to something, there was no stopping her. Doug Read and I spoke this morning and he told me a story that reinforced what a go getter she was. The setting was her beloved Great Ski Race several years ago. She and Doug were at the finish line and the results were somewhat scrambled. Lots of folks were getting impatient, wanting the results to be finalized and the award ceremony to start. As Doug remembers it there were a group of parents that were rattling cages especially hard. Apparently there were some errors in the results relating to kids' age divisions and this group was making an already hectic finish line scene just about unbearable. Enter Holly. She grabbed the results, disappeared for a few minutes and returned with everything fixed. No idea how she did it. As Doug stated perfectly, "She was the calm in our storm that day".
While we will all carry on Holly's legacy by continuing our work with TNSAR, I thought it would be appropriate to pay tribute to her in the newsletter. I have no doubt we could fill pages of pages with stories of how Holly shined bright in this life but I chose to share with you two pieces of writing in particular:
From Gary Sterle:
"Holly had many passions in life - she was a world class biathlete, creator of enduring events like the Squaw Mountain Run, flower essence practitioner, healer and most dear to her, Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue.
The Team's mission and Holly's personal interests intertwined perfectly. Holly's desire to help people and share her joy of being in the beautiful backcountry of the Sierras was a source of pride and strength for her.
Holly's roles and involvement with the Team evolved over her time with TNSAR. Her involvement spanned writing press releases, A-Team skier and providing the backbone for sponsorship and fundraising for the Great Ski Race. She especially valued the relationships she formed over the years with the Team, which became an integral part of her extended family.
No matter how she was feeling, Holly always wanted to hear about how folks on the Team were doing, how the trainings and meetings were going, news from the searches and cracking jokes about her own experiences from years past. Up until the last week before her passing, she was talking about sponsorship confirmations for the GSR, always concerned that the organization that she came to love was getting the support it needed to continue its mission.
The Team honors Holly's memory by continuing its mission of providing help to those in distress and educating our community. We are better as individuals and as a Team for having known Holly."
From Cathy Strand:
"Where to begin? Holly will always have a special place in my heart. She got me involved with The Great Ski Race in 2006 and infected me with her enthusiasm for the mission of TNSAR. I really thought she would be with us for this year's Race. Her life force was always so strong and her spirit unbeatable. How many women do you know that can shoot a gun and crack a whip? That was how she battled cancer and the health care system … and it had to be done her way! Her inner warrior will always inspire me to fight for my beliefs. Holly will always be the Tahoe Gal personified for me ... rest in peace, dear one."
The Great Ski Race
We're getting closer folks! Two months until The Big Ski. If you don't have a role in the Largest Nordic Race This Side Of The Mississippi it's not too late to get involved in what is not only our big fundraiser, but also a great party. If you don't have a role in helping pull off this amazing all volunteer produced event….why the heck not? Get on down to the Granlibaaken Ski Hut tomorrow and see where we can use your help.
It's Winter Survival Month
As I've written before, educating North Tahoe's young'uns about how to make the right choices if they find themselves lost in the backcountry is at the core of the team's mission. Teaching our community's kids how to be safe outdoors in the wintertime is an invaluable service and it's imperative that everyone participate. You know what they say about, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"…well this is the same principle. If we can impart the knowledge and skills to just one child so they avoid getting lost in the backcountry, we've achieved something pretty significant.
This is a really fun and easy way to contribute and if you haven't done it before, it is very easy. As Bernie has said, "Novices encouraged. No teaching diplomas required." If you go to the team forum you can see which days/times have been confirmed, pick the one that best suits your schedule and then contact the team leader for that program. You can also come to the general meeting tomorrow and we'll find a place for you. If you don't already have an idea of which station you would like to help out with, take a look at this web page. It's just that easy folks!
Russ Viehmann Team Library
A few years ago Russ donated a ton of outdoor/mountaineering/SAR-related books and if you haven't borrowed a book from the library, I would encourage you to do so. There are lots of great books in there. It's located on the far end of the garage near the battery chargers. I read Above The Clouds by Anatoli Boukreev over the holidays and it was a great read. The name may sound familiar to some of you if you have read Into Thin Air as he was the Russian climber who was portrayed rather unfavorably by Jon Krakauer. He ascended seven of the world's fourteen 8000m peaks without oxygen and made eighteen successful attempts of 8000m peaks between 1989 and 1997. I was fascinated to learn about the Soviet style of mountaineering (they grind harder than you can imagine) and his response to Krakauer's accusations. His writing style is direct but also very pensive and full of wonder. There are lots of other great titles available so next time you're in the garage, grab a good book.
Batteries Not Included
Shortly before my night time navigation training back in mid-December I was getting prepared, taking inventory of necessary equipment, etc. and realized that I hadn't checked to make sure we had enough batteries. Aw oh. Sure there were some AA's but those aren't of much use to me anymore. My previous headlamp, beacon and GPs all took AA's but those days are gone. Seems like it's all AAA's now. I keep a personal stash of AAA's in my "fix it bag" but I only had two in there. My point being that I sure hoped that everyone else's batteries were fresh because I didn't have time to hop over to Save Mart.
Fortunately I was only planning on having us up in Paige Meadows for a few hours but this predicament got me thinking about how much we rely on GPS nowadays. GPS's are great tools that makes navigating quicker and easier but it made me consider how my training would have been different if we could have only used map and compass. I feel like I have good proficiency with a map and compass but the idea of going out on a bonafide big, wet and windy Sierra storm search at night with only these tools to navigate with would be challenging. (I can hear some of the old guard snickering as I write this, "Back in the day our headlamps burned whale oil and we ate nothing but hard tack on searches. To navigate , we used an astrolabe and sextant and the maps were printed on bison skins. Of course the maps weighed twenty pounds apiece and we didn't have no Five Lakes Special, either, which meant…etc., etc., etc.")
But I digress. My point being is that in this age of "plug and play" don't become too reliant on your electronics. Do use your big brain and make it a point to practice your map and compass skills and just as importantly, use your own sense of self-orientation. Look at the map of the area you'll be in and familiarize yourself with the topography you'll be moving through. Use available handrails, fences and checkpoints if available. Electronics are great but they don't hold a whale oil headlamp to your big, bad brain.