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


April 2017

Great Ski Race

Wow. Where to begin? After so many years of shoveling snow on to the trail the day before the race, who would have thought we would be shoveling just to get to the race! 

I barely got out of my driveway.

89 was surreal as ghost vehicles appeared and disappeared in the swirling snow. I said to myself…”Self…at what point do we cancel this event because of too MUCH snow”.  Obviously not this year!! Through a tremendous amount of effort and one hell of a team, we pulled off an amazing event!

What a difference a day makes!!


I did hear that there were a few complaints regarding the conditions the racers experienced. Not the actual trail, as there was an awesome snow cat grooming the trail.

Wait. Bernie? Is that the beast that bested you?

The complaints I believe were in the conditions themselves. How could we have run the race? It was snowing! It was cold! It was windy! It was……WINTER!!!!!!

My response would be that:

A)     It is a fundraiser…you don’t have to actually race it

B)      Our team was on the trail assisting those who needed any help.

C)      Welcome to our world. Try doing that in the woods, in the dark, on Castle Peak, at night with 60MPH winds with NO groomed trail and someone’s potential life in your hands.

Besides….it doesn’t look that bad!



Now....I have never been to the Soups but I have heard rumors!!




The Winners of the 2017 GSR

Congratulations again to Matthew Gelso and Lenka Sterling for 1st place this year!


Thanks again to Cottonwood for allowing us to have the best finish line ever!!!

GPS Searches

Is it me or have things been getting easier. Better clohting, better beacons, better radios and improved GPS. GPS is awesome. Not always, but it seems like a lot of the searches we get these days come along with handy little coordinates. Which makes it very convenient. Almost all phones today have a GPS capability. If you can’t use it to find your way out, you can at least “drop” a pin to relay your location.  If they call for help, dispatch can get them to relay their coordinates directly. There is also the ability to “ping” a phone. I am not saying that it takes all the adventure out of being on a search but with the huge, vast area of our Sierra playground, it doesn’t hurt to know where to look. Still got to get in there and get out!! But not all searches mind you.

Northstar Search

So back in 2004 when I was still relatively new to the team it seemed we always got called out late at night. The calls from dispatch almost always woke me up from a deep sleep. So I was quite surprised to get a call one night at dinnertime for a search at Northstar. My wife picked up the call, looked at me gravely  and said “It’s Search and Rescue”. She told me you can’t go. I was really sick and so was our 5 month old baby boy. Neither of us had slept much the previous couple nights.  I took the call to say I could not make it but first asked what the search pertained to. Turns out it was 2 young girls lost at Northstar. I looked outside and it was dark and I knew it was cold. I looked to my left and saw my 5 year old daughter safe and warm. There was not a choice. I said I was on my way. When my wife looked at me incredulously, I told her the situation and she told me to hurry.

I arrived on site at the Northstar parking lot and met up with the truck and the team. We were briefed by the Sherriff as to what they knew. The only caveat was that the girls were part of a custody battle and it was possible that the Dad had come and taken them off the mountain. Nonetheless, until that was confirmed, we were to assume they were lost and in need of rescue.

Now here is where things went South. I was the only snowmobile to respond. Not a big deal as it was for the most part an inbound search. Typically, we never send anyone out in the field alone. Especially sleds. They are heavy and if they get stuck, can become a liability to the team as resources need to be diverted to help them.  I was already unloaded when a senior team member came up to me and told me to instead load my sled up and proceed to Truckee and come in on the 06 road. This made no sense whatsoever. I did not know the 06 for one, I was riding solo and it makes no rationale sense that a 7 and a 9 year old girl would walk mile up the 06. But as I said, I had the flu and maybe wasn’t thinking clearly and again was told that this is what I was supposed to do. I wasn’t going to challenge a senior team member.  I actually thought of all those reasons as I was driving away.

So I found the 06 20 minutes later, unloaded and immediately got lost. I called a friend to please come help me as I knew he had ridden it a lot. Another ½ hour or more passed before he showed. We then headed down the 06. The main trail was so incredibly bumpy that the going was slow. So bumpy  in fact that my knee ended up ripping through my seat of my snowmobile. By the time we got to the edge of Northstar, the girl’s tracks had been spotted and a snowmobile from Northstar dispatched. The girls were found cold, scared, but alive and brought back safe. Meanwhile, my friend and I turned around and had to ride the 06 back. It was then that a second call came out for a stuck snowmobiler on Rifle peak. By the time that search ended it was 3 AM and I was sick for a week.

When I approached the individual who had sent me that way he got extremely defensive. He told me “Hey, this is a volunteer group. You didn’t have to listen to me. Don’t try to blame this on me” At which point he turned around and walked away from me. I was speechless. If you know me, that is rare.

For years it bothered me. For the following reasons:

1)      I did something I knew was not right. I was an idiot to leave the search area to begin with. Especially to go alone to an area I did not know and become a secondary liability. Had I known in hindsight how far away I was going I would have been more adamant.

2)      Had I stayed inbounds and done a perimeter search, I most likely would have seen the girl’s tracks and been able to expedite the search. And I could have been the hero. Who doesn’t want to be a hero?  If I had truthfully been the one to rescue those 2 girls I could have been done. What could top saving kid’s lives?

3)      The way I was treated after the fact by the team member. He could have owned it and said it was a bad call. Instead he brushed me off.

Lessons learned:

1)      Trust your gut. Trust your instincts. If something feels wrong or unsafe, don’t do it. I am a big believer in intuition. Sometimes adrenaline can cloud it but always take the time to think with a clear head. The old haste makes waste theory applies especially to us.

2)      Know your limits. Don’t put yourself in a situation above what you are ready to handle. Train, Go on searches. Know your equipment. You don’t want to be in a scenario that you are suddenly in over your head. Not good for you or your teammates. Or the M.P. That being said, if you suddenly are overwhelmed, refer to lesson 1. Tell someone on the team or IC. Ultimately it is our team first and we all have each other s backs out there.

3)      Which brings me to number 3. We are all heroes in a search. It takes a team to do what we do. From dispatch to com van, to snowcat to snowmobilers, to our awesome Nordic ski team. No one person pulls it off. I will say some do pull it off a little more often than others and my helmet is off to you.

4)      We are volunteers. Do what you can, when you can. Only you know the things going on in your life. Family, jobs, etc. Anything you can do to help is appreciated. Don’t be bullied or badgered into something you are not comfortable with. If you are, tell someone on the team. No one is your boss. Nor your employee. We are a team.

Public Perception

Which brings me to another point. The perception of the team to the public. I love the fact we are constantly getting new members coming to the meetings. The more people looking for me if and when I get lost is ideal. That being said, I mentioned to someone my involvement with the team. They said they would love to join but don’t have any training. The fact that they are an extremely good back country skier, an experienced climber and extremely smart were facts the person did not take into consideration. I explained we had trainings all the time and that what is most important is just getting on board. Pass the word. I would hate to think there are other well qualified people out there who think we are some elitist group. Again, the more the merrier! Just gotta buy more beer for the meetings.


·         The following items are available now and will also be at the next general meeting on April 3rd. Prices shown are HALF or less of suggested retail:

·         — Salomon classic skis with bindings ($200 or make offer)


— 2 packs of high-fluor kick wax ($60 each)


— 2 packs of cross-country kick wax ($20 each)


— Women's Base Layer half-zip shirt; large violet ($25)


— 2 pair men's wind boxers; XL black ($15 each)


— Men's wind boxers; XXL black ($15)


— Women's jacket; small blue ($50)


Email cjstrand@sbcglobal.net if you want to reserve any items before the meeting!


Parting Shot

Team truck enroute to a Boreal Search. Safe Travels



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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