Thursday, February 28, 2008

"that others may live"

..or so goes the motto of some of the search and rescue (SAR) and mountain rescue teams we work and train with.... Sometimes, I think it should read "THAT WE MAY PLAY!" .. based on the enthusiastic zeal with which the SMG staff approaches "training" opportunities.
This past Tuesday sucked... and it sucked really good, bordering on GREAT! The conditions were full on, late winter-early spring melt down.. temps about 32-38, intermittent downpours of rain, slippery rocks, melting snow, ice and mud. What more could you ask for from a training day?
We were out with the Shenandoah National Park technical high angle rescue team getting in some late season ice work.. oh and did I mention that the day was really wet and cold? It was.
The goal for the day was to do some advance planning for rescues in difficult access areas that receive an increasing amount of winter use... and to do a little ice climbing training for the team.

We all had a ball! Well, at least the SMG side of the group anyway... I think most of the rest of the team found the day "memorable".. (except for maybe Alan... who, even though he has a "real" job in the Park, probably ought to be named an honorary member of the SMG team.)

The ice was rapidly eroding and delaminating. Of course for the first time ice climbers in the group, you could hardly ask for better conditions with which to get acquainted with the sport!

The first ledge was only about 20 feet off the deck, but the spray made that first 20 feet the longest, coldest shower you'd ever want to take. That's only my opinion.

At the end of the day, as the park roads were getting closed for the ice and snow that was forecast, we had a chance to remind ourselves that working at the higher elevations, even in the mid-Atlantic, beats the the lowlands... and that we'd take a windburned face and chapped hands any day over cube-life.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Where am I?? Where are you??

This morning started out at 4 above zero.. just the way we like our February mornings!
And I dare not say it, but there is s-n-o-w in the forecast. YES!!!
Well, let me clarify, in keeping with this year, there is also rain and freezing rain in the forecast.. but if I ignore those maybe they won't happen... come on snow!

This week we start our midweek class series with the popular Land Navigation course...Being the luddites that we are, we think there is a real elegance in being able to use a map and compass to navigate our way into, thru and out of the backcountry.
To know, with confidence, where you are, where you want to go, and how you're going to get there.. well, it's a very powerful feeling. Navigation is a 1,000 year old art that can never fully be replaced by GPS technology.
The day begins with compass / map theory and practical application and ends on a trail-less, roadless mountainside... but you will know exactly where you are and how you got there, and most importantly, how to get back! The cutoff for registration is Tuesday 12 Feb at noon!

Oh, and there are still seats in March's Wilderness First Aid weekend, so if you have not signed up the time is now! call the Trail House for more information 301.694.8448