Friday, December 5, 2014

Winter Operations Training, December 13, 2014

Winter Operations Training will be held in the Community Building at Longmire on Saturday, December 13 beginning at 9:00 a.m. This training, for both full-time staff and intermittent volunteers, will cover the basics of winter travel, emergency response, and "Snow Roving."

Volunteers who are interested in helping out as "Snow Rovers," or with guided snowshoe walks, should plan to attend this training if possible. Alternative orientation opportunities will be available for those who can't make it, but this will be the most thorough option. Returning and new volunteers are both welcome. The training will cover volunteer logistics, safety, road conditions, emergency response, radio use, snow avalanches, winter driving, and hiking, snowshoeing, and skiing routes.

"Snow Rovers," like "Meadow Rovers" in the summer, patrol the meadows above the Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise, contacting visitors and assisting them with their experience. During the winter, of course, the meadows and trails are covered by snow, so Snow Rovers focus less on resource protection and more on visitor safety, informing people about current conditions and making sure they are prepared before they head out. The work is done on snowshoes or skis, and focuses on lower-elevation routes near the visitor center. Those who are interested in more extensive patrols, deeper into the wilderness and higher up the mountain, should consider joining the Nordic Patrol, operated by the Washington Ski Touring Club ( Snow Rovers also often help with guided snowshoe walks, especially serving as a "sweep" at the end of a line of visitors to assist those who are having trouble with their snowshoes and to make sure the group stays together.

The Winter Operations Training will begin at the Longmire Community Building, across the suspension bridge from the rest of Longmire, at 9:00 a.m. After a break for lunch, the training will move to the Wilderness Information Center, and then, weather permitting, up the road to the Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise. Note that state law requires all vehicles to carry tire chains, and depending on road conditions, chains or 4WD may be required to get to Paradise. At the conclusion of the training, about 2:45 p.m., participants may join an optional snowshoe walk.

Volunteers are needed to make short 5-minute presentations on safety topics during the training. We did this last year and it was very successful. Topics may include hypothermia, frostbite, route finding by GPS or map and compass, the 10 essentials, shoe traction, putting on tire chains, dehydration and sun exposure, winter weather, or any other subject related to staying safe during the winter at Mount Rainier. A PowerPoint projector will be available if you choose to use it, but presentations of any kind are welcome. Please reply to this message ASAP to let us know what you'd like to contribute.

Please RSVP if you plan to participate in Winter Operations Training so that we can get a sense for how many will be attending. You may reply to this message, or write to the general Meadow Rover mailbox at, which will be the standard contact address for correspondence throughout the winter. We are pleased to welcome Taryn O'Connell, who has served with our education staff during the summer, as a winter interpreter and coordinator of the Snow Rover program. She can be reached at the e-mail address.

Bring a sack lunch and warm clothes, and we'll see you on Saturday the 13th!

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