Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Life and Death on Mount Rainier

Few people realize what an important role volunteers play in Search and Rescue efforts at Mount Rainier National Park. In fact, every time there's a major incident, one that lasts more than the initial few hours, a veritable batallion of volunteer rescuers show up to help. Our own Nordic Patrol volunteers, members of the Washington Ski Touring Club, who patrol the Paradise area on skis every weekend, are almost always some of the first to respond. They're followed by Tacoma Mountain Rescue, Olympia Mountain Rescue, Seattle Mountain Rescue, volunteer bloodhound teams, and more.

Even fewer people know that volunteers are part of an innovative effort by Lead Climbing Ranger Stefan Lofgren to prevent search and rescue events from happening in the first place. These volunteer "PSAR" -- Preventative Search and Rescue -- rangers patrol the upper meadows and lower climbing routes, talking to people on their way up the Mountain, and making sure they have good information about what they're getting into. It often doesn't stop people from walking further into danger -- but when those first signs of trouble come up, they're more likely to think back on the ranger's advice and turn back.

There was a great article in the News Tribune on Sunday about Carrie Tomlinson, our current PSAR volunteer.

For $20 per day, lodging at Longmire and 16 college credits, she spends weekdays at Paradise splitting her time between snowshoes and her desk, answering questions and relaying information, among other duties.... "You have the people who are 'Go big or go home,'" Tomlinson said. "But sometimes it's better to not go big so you can go home."

Read the whole article on the website of The News Tribune. And if this sounds like a great job to you, we hope to hire more PSAR rangers this summer. You can also volunteer with the Washington Ski Touring Club's Nordic Patrol or with a local Mountain Rescue unit!

No comments: