Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nordic Patrol Volunteers train with NPS Rangers

One of the few volunteer opportunities available at Mount Rainier in the winter is the volunteer ski patrol, which we operate in partnership with the Washington Ski Touring Club. Volunteer Phil Hertzog recently sent me this report of their activities last month. Doesn't it just make you want to run out and join them?! You can still do so, of course. Visit their website for information about how to get involved. Thanks, Phil, for the report!

Members of the Washington Ski Touring Club’s (WSTC) Nordic Patrol spent two days training with Mount Rainier National Park Service Rangers on December 19 and 20. The Nordic Patrol consists of a group of Mount Rainier National Park volunteers who set poles to mark ski trails from Paradise to Narada Falls and on to Reflection Lakes. Patrol members also contact snowshoers, snow campers, and skiers out on the trails to provide directions, educate visitors on park regulations, and serve as first point of contact for emergency situations.
Ten members of the WSTC showed up for the Saturday training at Longmire led by Mount Rainier Ranger Dan Camiccia. Ranger Camiccia, the Park’s liaison with Nordic Patrol, trained the volunteers on the new radio system, visitor interactions, winter road travel and Paradise fox encounters.

Nordic Patrol members practiced using the new radio procedures and learned how the Paradise foxes have started to sleep in snow caves and curl up by the feet of tired campers. Unfortunately the foxes seem to enjoy hauling out the sleeping campers’ gear into the snow and at least one boot disappeared. The Park Service is working on new methods to discourage human/fox interactions. The Patrol will assist in educating the public on the need to not feed the foxes.

In the afternoon, the volunteers drove up to Paradise and continued training on avalanche transceiver skills. Ranger Camiccia would bury a transceiver in the snow behind Paradise Inn and the trainees would go search for it and improve their locating skills.
On Sunday, Nordic Patrol members Phil and Lisa Hertzog and Randy Nikolai joined the Winter Park Rangers' rescue training led by Ranger Camiccia up at Paradise. Despite the pouring rain, the group went out to the base of the snow play area where they learned how to load a “victim” into a rescue litter and haul it as a team through knee-deep wet snow across side slopes. The training continued inside the Paradise Ranger Station where Camiccia and Ranger Jordan Mammel gave instructions on how to immobilize, backboard, and package a victim onto a rescue sled. Lisa Hertzog volunteered as the victim and got wrapped up as tight as a burrito. Despite not being able to talk due to an immobilizing neck brace, Lisa at least did get a head massage from Ranger Mammel as a consolation for being a good victim.

Overall the training proved beneficial to Nordic Patrol volunteer members and they made a lot of great contacts with National Park Service staff. Anyone interested in joining Nordic Patrol should check out WSTC’s website at For more information on the Park’s role contact Ranger Daniel Camiccia at 360 569-2211 ext. 3419.

1 comment:

Paul Frolov said...

That's a great report ! People should know all the ( exciting ! ) details and what to expect before volunteering. I posted an article about this position on my blog ( hope they don't mind), and would want to try it myself.