Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mountain Rescue Volunteers

If you've been watching the local news over the past 24 hours, you might have seen me wearing one of my other park service hats: that of Public Information Officer. Two days ago, a young man from Lynnwood was caught in a snow avalanche while snowshoeing with a friend about a mile above Paradise. The search for him reached a peak at mid-day yesterday, when a total of 17 people were out looking for him in the midst of a vigorous winter storm. Eight of those people were dedicated volunteers from Tacoma, Olympic, and Seattle Mountain Rescue, three of our most important partner organizations. (Uncharacteristically, these are volunteers that we'd prefer not to have to call!) They started showing up at 7am yesterday morning and worked hard until dark, in 20 degree weather plus high winds and sometimes whiteout conditions, finally heading for home about 5:00. (The Seattle Post Intelligencer has a great picture of the Olympic volunteers coming in from the field, thumbnailed and linked above, along with a detailed article about the search.)

The weather, unfortunately, did not cooperate for us to search further today. We got 15.5 inches of snow at Paradise last night, and the visibility and avalanche danger never improved enough to accomplish, safely, more than what we were already able to do yesterday. Tomorrow's weather looks better, and so we hope to be back out in the field searching, again with the help of our friends from Mountain Rescue. It's just another example of what we wouldn't be able to accomplish without the help of our volunteers.

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