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Newsletter

February 2017

Snowmageddon. Snowpocalype. Januburied.

It snowed. AND it snowed a lot. And then it even snowed a little bit more. I get it. The drought is over and it is awesome out there. The skiing, the snowmobiling and all the general winter activities are so much better with snow. I am just wondering when things started to get so dang poetic. When I was a kid, albeit years ago, the weathermen (there were no women then (at least not on the weather stations)) would say there was a snowstorm coming or a snowstorm had past. Nowadays it has become somewhat more dramatic. Hell the Weather Channel is even naming them now. Winter Storm Hercules! There was even a Gandolph and a Draco. But the one I love is the Polar Vortex. It sounds like a Christmas story. Or the calssic (at least now) Atmospheric River.  I am waiting for the Stratospheric Unicorn Fluid Migration. Seriously..give it time...I would not be surprised.

Movie night

Olympic Valley Lodge hosted the Alpine Glow Movie series this year. Proceeds went to benefit my favorite 501C3. Us. Thanks again to Brendan and the folks at Alpenglow Sports for January's Alpenglow Sports Winter Film Series with Tommy Caldwell; as the designated non-profit recipient TNSAR earned approximately $4600 in raffle sales, which will be used to support TNSAR's many needs.*

Trainings

Get your train on. Plenty of trainings have happened and plenty more on the way. Avalanche trainings, beacon trainings, GPS trainings, you name it. Get out and know your team. Learn stuff. Share what you know. After a quiet fall, things are starting to ramp up on searches.  Be prepared.

There was an Avalanche training in the first part of January. A 2 day affair with what looks like a pretty good turnout on that Saturday the 14th. And a pretty good snowpack behind them!

From the looks of it, one might almost think they were loking for a ride after a condo run at Alpine. Not sure I would stop to pick up such a scruffy bunch of individuals.Especially here where you see their Tomfoolery begiinning to run amuck!


Prepared..To be or not to be

Speaking of being prepared, I am a good example. Of being unprepared that is. I showed up on a search the other night for the first time this year. After scrambling to find my stuff, I arrived with my brand new radio that Matt had programmed with no idea on how it worked. It was slightly embarrassing especially since it was an inter-department search and I was standing in Nevada County’s search van. That coupled with the fact that my GPS was too old to download info was well…embarrassing. The blessing was that there were some interesting aspects of their team getting out the door that made mine seem trivial.

Nevertheless, once Tony showed up, we headed off into the dark night, our snomobiles racing. We had his GPS coordinates. However, the snow was deep and although I had ridden that area many of times, the landmarks were all changed by snow laden trees and drooping branches. Things hide in the snow that can grab your sled as you pick your way through darkened woods. Nevada County’s team had the jump on us and their CAT arrived just shy of us getting to the MP. 

Sometimes I feel as it is a competition. Who doesn't want to be the hero? To get there first. Truth is we met some great members on their team that night.This member thinks our teams should try to work more closely together to ensure the safety of those lost in the Sierras. Especially since they could benefit from our strong Nordic team and the fact they are limited in their snowmobile capabilities. Ah the smell of 2 stroke!   

Of course the most important thing is that the subject was found in time. He was very cold but extremely grateful. His GPS had died and he opted to stay put instead of getting more lost. He jumped into the CAT and was brought back to IC safe and sound.

Now about Tony’s sled on the other hand…

4th Grade Winter Awareness

Winter survival training for the kids is in full swing. And for the first time in a while there is actually snow! Like real snow caves and no sneakers. If you haven’t taken part in this as a team member, you don’t know the joy of corralling pre teens. Like herding kittens some time. There are still more schools to go so jump on in and help out.

Here are the happy kinders at Kings Beach Elementary. Thanks Bernie for your unwavering commitment to the children.

 


Challenge Coins

So..I have been carrying around in my wallet faithfully a small round object. Just in case I need it. For that special moment. When the time is right. I wanted to be prepared.  I wanted to be safe.


So imagine my surprise when I finally have the opportunity to actually use it and it backfires on me. Of course I am talking about the challenge coin. I had missed the initial meeting so I did not know all the rules it seems.

For one, I challenged someone who had been caught before and lo and behold he had learned his lesson. What I learned to my dismay is that it is a gamble. Seems if he has his (or her) coin, I, as in me the challenger, owe them a beer. What? Come again. I don’t want to get Myred in the details but that cost me an IPA.

The other 2 individuals I did catch without their coin simply denied the challenge. One, because he apparently did not even have a farthing or pound  on him and the other because and I quote “That is not how it is done at the firehouse”. Well guess what? We are not a firehouse but a SAR team. It Pangs my heart to even report these atrocities. Don’t they know I write this rag and am the one to fill their pitchers at the GSR.  Hmmm..maybe some clarification is in order. Check the link below so that you know:

http://www.coinforce.com/challenge-coin-rules.htm

 

Avalanche Warning Alpine

Due to the big impending storm this month, the team was deployed to Alpine to warn home owners of potential avalanches during the last big storm. I imagine some homeowners breakfasts were somewhat unsettled by the fact that their homes might be buried should the mountains slide. However, if you ask me, if they lived there, they should have been out skiing.

Here is our own SARah cruising about with a Placer County Sheriff Department chauffeur.

Rohm appears to be chilling in the back. Truthfully, he does not look very happy. Hmmm..maybe this picture was taken much later in the day and…


 

Devin

Speaking of avalanches, our own VP Devin was caught in one at the chutes at Mount Rose. According to Devin, he felt it go and had the presence of mind to deploy his airbag. Even Lel Tone has said she has hesitated in that situation. People wait because they don’t want to look stupid.

From there on out it was tumbling and chaos. At some point he hit something. He is very lucky as to only be working the crutches now and having suffered a slight concussion. It could have been far worse as we too well now. Ask Devin for more details when you see him or perhaps he will enlighten us at the meeting. It would be good to know what advice he might have for the team. Not everyone in a slide has that opportunity.

Joe

I like the rule to always leave them laughing but unfortunately this time it is not the case. As everyone knows, on 1/24/2017 we lost one of the patrollers at Squaw in a tragic accident. Many think of the patrollers as the people with the cool chairlift riding dogs and the ones waving their arms to slow you down. The ones you see bundling up hurt skiers into the uncomfortable toboggan (been there/done that) for the ride down to the infirmary.

What many forget is what they do above and beyond. They put their lives on the line to ensure that the skiers and riders at the resort are safe from avalanche danger.  In the past series of storms, there have been a couple of times I have been dismayed at Alpine because parts of the mountain weren’t open. I knew it was because of AVI danger but I still wanted to get out to the Pow.

This accident has been a paradygn shift and put it all back into perspective. Someone, a father , a son, a brother, a husband has had to go up onto treacherous terrain ahead of time with explosives to make it safe for those who have come to play. In this case, a veteran patroller was killed doing the job he loved for the mountains he loved. Joe Zuiches was that son, husband and father .

In a tribute to Joe, Squaw and Alpine patrol did a last sweep on Friday for Joe that culminated outside of Bar One.

   

There were also patrollers there from other resorts such as Kirkwood, Northsater and even Colorado and Utah I believe. The patrollers all clustered together and read aloud a touching remembrance to their fallen colleague. 

His wife was there for the tribute with their infant son. It was truly a heart wrenching moment to see the grief on her face.

Afterwards there was a celebration in the Bar in his honor. All proceeds went to Joe’s family. They dragged bartenders out of the woodwork it would seem.


For those wanting to help out Joe’s family, a GOFUNDME site has been set up. Go to :

https://www.gofundme.com/squaw-patrol-funeral-fund

In a show of solidarity, our team as well as others showed up to show support. We too go out and risk our lives at times to help those in need. Most often we search in storms, at night, in less than ideal settings. I looked around and realized how easy it is to take all of you jokers for granted. And I truly hope I always can.

Parting thoughts

So be safe. Be careful. Look out for your team. Love on your family.

Be prepared for a long meeting. The GSR is right around the corner!

Oh..and get out your shovels. Snow’s on the way. Again. Or rain. Just not the Unicorns please.

Cheers,

Hoyt


* I done pilfered this from our website!

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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