Search And Rescue Mission #3

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Kaptain Safe T
Posts: 316
Joined: October 30th, 2010, 8:57 am

Search And Rescue Mission #3

Postby Kaptain Safe T » January 30th, 2011, 9:49 am

3 Snowboarders were reported missing last night on 11-29-11. Last seen riding down into Hart Prairie outside of the ski area.......A team of 4 Snowmobilers from ASB including myself were requested by USFS And CCSO SAR to search for the missing party at 6:00 pm.....As dark approached contact was made by cellphone with the missing party.....They indicated they were traveling north from road 9007T. We were unable to locate them in that area and recontacted them by cell phone. They descibed a corral and cattle guard which triggered our gut feelings that they were headed in the opposite direction on 151.....We made contact with the indivuals on 151 south of Camp Colton and transported them back to the USFS Law Enforcement Officer and cancelled COCO SAR. There is very little snow down on the lower mountain and the snowmobiles took quite a beating but no one was injured or needed medical attention. As you might have guessed they were male snowboarders 17 to 18 years old with no permits or survival gear looking for adventure.......Common sense ain't common Mark Twain

DomZ
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Joined: November 26th, 2010, 10:50 am

Re: Search And Rescue Mission #3

Postby DomZ » January 30th, 2011, 2:25 pm

It's a shame we didn't have a few Cascade Mountain Rescue Machines to help with the search!

Image

Willy
Posts: 47
Joined: October 24th, 2010, 6:27 pm

Re: Search And Rescue Mission #3

Postby Willy » January 30th, 2011, 8:33 pm

Aren't these rescue missions a problem of the ski area's own making? Didn't virtually everyone who was rescued this and last season access the back country from Snowbowl's boundary? And wouldn't Snowbowl be out of business today but for the masses of young shredders now filling its slopes and ducking its ropes?

Let's get real: Until the Snowbowl and USFS improve boundary policies, management and enforcement to better contend with the masses they attract and depend on, the rescue missions will continue. The paper permit will never get that job done; the last two years' rescues show its failure.

While I appreciate and respect Snowbowl, SAR and USFS staff risking their own well-being on behalf of others', let's not forget that (1) the rescue problem on the Peaks is a Snowbowl boundary management problem, not a backcountry skier and snowboarder problem, and (2) heroism at the hand of bad policy is really just needless cost and risk.

I pray we don't someday see a real back-country emergency compromised by already-deployed resources for lost rope-duckers... Rope duckers who would never have been with better policies and management. Ultimately, that's the choice we face here.

Uglyhat
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Joined: December 24th, 2010, 8:53 pm
Location: Flagstaff

Re: Search And Rescue Mission #3

Postby Uglyhat » January 30th, 2011, 11:44 pm

No, Willy. No, no, no. The problem is not of the ski area's making. You could attempt the same faulty logic on, say, Beartooth pass or Crater Lake or Grand Gulch or any one of a million place in the western US, regardless of season, sport, or specific terrain. You believe its the agencies and vendors responsibility to ensure the safety of boneheads who don't/won't/can't learn to care for themselves in the backcountry? READ THE CONTRACT YOU ENTER INTO WHEN YOU BUY A LIFT TICKET. "Let's get real: Until ... blah blah" Excuse me??? What's happened to self sufficiency and responsibility?

"let's not forget that (1) the rescue problem on the Peaks is a Snowbowl boundary management problem, not a backcountry skier and snowboarder problem"

NONSENSE - try playing that card anywhere but in the litigious USA. It IS a backcountry skier and snowboarder problem. Send the punks a bill for their rescue.

Respectfully, Uglyhat

raisingarizona
Posts: 172
Joined: November 28th, 2010, 8:01 am

Re: Search And Rescue Mission #3

Postby raisingarizona » January 31st, 2011, 5:49 am

Willy wrote:Aren't these rescue missions a problem of the ski area's own making? Didn't virtually everyone who was rescued this and last season access the back country from Snowbowl's boundary? And wouldn't Snowbowl be out of business today but for the masses of young shredders now filling its slopes and ducking its ropes?

Let's get real: Until the Snowbowl and USFS improve boundary policies, management and enforcement to better contend with the masses they attract and depend on, the rescue missions will continue. The paper permit will never get that job done; the last two years' rescues show its failure.

While I appreciate and respect Snowbowl, SAR and USFS staff risking their own well-being on behalf of others', let's not forget that (1) the rescue problem on the Peaks is a Snowbowl boundary management problem, not a backcountry skier and snowboarder problem, and (2) heroism at the hand of bad policy is really just needless cost and risk.

I pray we don't someday see a real back-country emergency compromised by already-deployed resources for lost rope-duckers... Rope duckers who would never have been with better policies and management. Ultimately, that's the choice we face here.


Im guessing and I really hope you are just suggesting a better run policy, maybe some real consequences for those rescued but not following permit guidelines? Something like this, but please don't tell me you think the open boundary policy is a bad thing. Closed ropes would lead to even more problems with a lot of us, without the bc and sidecountry skiing here I would have to give up skiing completely, Snowbowl just doesn't entertain me any more, never really did for more then a quick lap or two anyways.

A big part of the problem is ARIZONA. Lots of folks that have almost zero experience in cold snowy mountains are brought right into it all on the chairlift.

Does anyone remember the editorial that ran in the opinion section of the Daily Sun last winter. It was after Seth went for a ride? It was downright scary. I saved it and I'll post up some quotes in a new post later.

maadjurguer
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Re: Search And Rescue Mission #3

Postby maadjurguer » January 31st, 2011, 9:22 am

I really think this line of reasoning is dangerous in that a person or persons decided to leave the boundary of AZSB. At that point, the responsibility for their well-being lies in themselves....period. Unfortunately, stupid (young) is as stupid (young) does....and all of the good folks at SB, SAR and USFS have to sort this out sometimes.

Sure...AZSB could close the boundary....but do you then think that folks jumping the line would stop and the problem would go away? If the answer is yes, I would contend that the "yes" is an unreasonable answer to a realistic problem. I agree in part that the consequences for those rescued and not following permit guidelines should perhaps be increased beyond $50, however I don't know what shape of form that should take. However, closing the boundary to all users...even those who know how to take care of themselves beyond the ropes is draconian.

Willy wrote:While I appreciate and respect Snowbowl, SAR and USFS staff risking their own well-being on behalf of others', let's not forget that (1) the rescue problem on the Peaks is a Snowbowl boundary management problem, not a backcountry skier and snowboarder problem......


As for the above....item 1 is akin to saying that because there are drunk drivers causing accidents...the emergency response problem on the roads is a municipal problem, not a driver problem....ergo, it's the municipality that provides easy access to the roads for irresponsible users to use them.

Having said that...I do agree there is further need for more outreach, particularly to the population that needs it the most....17-25 yr old, male winter recreationalists.....I'll let others insert the preferred mode of transport and where they hail from....... ;)

So....how about we keep this constructive...how would you all propose KPAC, USFS, SAR, AZSB or others increase communication to the targeted demographic re: Backcountry risks and responsible use?
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WhiskeyTangoFox
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Joined: November 11th, 2010, 6:21 pm

Re: Search And Rescue Mission #3

Postby WhiskeyTangoFox » February 1st, 2011, 6:53 am

I'd imagine a lot of 17-25 yr olds are in school, so that may be a place to start, with university outdoor rec programs and such. I think an even bigger audience is to be had between all of the ski shops & retailers in Flag and the Valley. Maybe KPAC could put a neon-green copy of the 10+3 and a few facts about our backcountry on every sales counter???

David Lovejoy
Posts: 7
Joined: November 12th, 2010, 9:20 pm

Re: Search And Rescue Mission #3

Postby David Lovejoy » February 1st, 2011, 7:26 am

This is an interesting discussion. I seriously doubt a majority of backcountry skiers and snow boarders would favor a closed boundary policy, and as other have stated, closing the ski area boundary probably would not reduce search and rescue missions anyway.

I feel like KPAC is attempting to reach this demographic through the free avalanche awareness clinics "Introduction to Avalanches", however these have primarily been confined to Flagstaff area residents. We attempted to present several of these in Phoenix at the R.E.I. stores, but attendance was sparse and the effort substantial. I would welcome any suggestions for improved outreach to young boarders and skiers.

One area where improvement could be made might be in signage at boundary exit points. Large RED signs with the following information could help. Signs cost money, but money can be raised.

-STOP - you are leaving the ski area boundary
-Winter Backcountry Permit Required (a fine will be imposed for not having one)
-Outside the ski area, you are taking full responsibility for your own actions and safety
-Proper avalanche and survival equipment (and the knowledge of there use) is essential (including extra clothing, food, water, emergency equipment, avalanche beacon, rescue shovel, and probe)
In a rescue becomes necessary, you or you family will be financially responsibility for the cost.

This sort of signage would provide an intimidating reality check. These kid are just trying to have fun, they are not bad people. They just don't understand the potential consequences of the winter environment. We all did stupid things when we were young. I am in favor of compassion and education, not boundary closures. Everyone's experience is improved if we develop a culture of educated backcountry winter recreational users.

Willy
Posts: 47
Joined: October 24th, 2010, 6:27 pm

Re: Search And Rescue Mission #3

Postby Willy » February 1st, 2011, 8:49 am

I agree: this is an interesting discussion. And just to be clear, nobody has proposed a boundary closure.

I maintain that, despite the good work of many, (1) the ongoing problem of boundary-access rescues evidences the need for improving the current system, and (2) the onus for that falls in large part on the shoulders of the ski area (and USFS) whose customers are consistently those being rescued. Toward that end, my vague proposal, which prompted much of this discussion, was to "improve boundary policies, management and enforcement to better contend with the masses."

I think David's boundary suggestions are good ones. In addition to those, I think it's time for the Snowbowl and USFS to consider:

(1) staffing those exit points on busy weekends to check for permits and interact with users, if they're not already (I don't know, I don't often use the ski area)
(2) requiring (rather than just urging people to have) avy gear at exit points alongside permits
(3) more securely closing obvious duck points (plastic snowfences?), including the bottom of Hart Prairie
(4) monitoring obvious duck points on busy weekends
(5) jacking up fines and more aggressively publicizing busts of the bad apples
(6) more obviously and ominously signing the ski area's southern boundary and at Hart Prairie

KPAC, Snowbowl, SAR and USFS have done a great job educating northern Arizona about winter back-country travel. As Raising Arizona suggests, the big challenge is educating snowbowl's masses--the hundreds of thousands of users who do not live in northern Arizona, who are thus difficult to reach, and who will not become entrained within in a local back country culture and ethic. As much as I want to believe we can educate our way out of the current situation, I have to admit that I'm skeptical of our ability to do so outside the confines of northern Arizona.

Other specific ideas?

Kaptain Safe T
Posts: 316
Joined: October 30th, 2010, 8:57 am

Re: Search And Rescue Mission #3

Postby Kaptain Safe T » February 1st, 2011, 9:18 am

Interesting indeed.....Some good ideas however these are the facts

First of all.......People do not read signs...There are several already in place as well as the register for USFS
Second ..........The entire boundary is an open boundary by USFS management policy, mostly nationwide. The Southside gate is only a recommendation.
Third.............The boundary is roped and signed by literally miles of rope and hundreds of signs.
Fourth............Outreach has been going on since 1996 and most of it free throughout the winter, including SAR posting at the gate on weekends
5..................Public land is for the publice no matter what the IQ
6..................If Snowbowl was not operating there would no be road or lift access
7..................Backcountry use has increased significantly over the years
8..................KPAC is nonprofit and doing what it can...feel free to step up and join the effort anytime
9.................."Thirst is the mother of Desire"...the excitement for adventure will always be there
10................A rope can be ducked at any point on the 777 acrea perimeter.....You would need an army to staff the boundary

Keep the ideas coming

jakegaventa
Posts: 2
Joined: February 1st, 2011, 9:49 am

Re: Search And Rescue Mission #3

Postby jakegaventa » February 1st, 2011, 10:21 am

Having just spent the past few weeks enjoying the freedom of lift access backcountry in France, I fully believe in keeping access as free as possible in US ski area's. I do understand the frustration of ski patrollers and SAR workers being called upon to assist in acts of stupidity. So here's an idea, stolen from Europe.

Every rescue is charged for. This is not a "fine" but essentially a transportation fee. In fact there are so many users (I heard once that a person a day dies in the hills of Chamonix) that they literally have pre-determined charges for different routes/zones. After rescue, if you are unable to pay, they will confiscate your equipment for collateral. Because "off piste" skiing is so popular when you buy your lift ticket you are offered to also purchase "ski insurance", this runs about 3 euro a day and covers your potential rescue costs. This is all clearly stated when you buy a lift pass, on signs, etc. Additionally there are informative signs recommending specific gear, i.e. avalanche beacon/ shovel/ probe, glacier rescue even BEFORE you get on a lift. Obviously, we're talking about drastically different terrain here, but my point is that public knowledge of risk is very informed. It's unclear to me if other rescue insurance policies, ie. membership with the American Mountaineering Club, cover skiing (I know the British Mountaineering Council does not).
It's my understanding that in the US, "fines" are based on land management agency, rescue agencies involved, and if the rescued where grossly negligent. I also suspect that the pity factor from the media plays a role. In the US the majority of our wilderness rescue operations are conducted by good willed volunteers, which I applaud. But I think they should be getting paid and treated as professionals. I am not an advocate of additional insurance policies or claims, but I do believe that we all make mistakes and we should be accountable for them. If I needed to call for rescue I would prefer to pay a fee for a professional, well trained and equipped responders, than argue after the fact if I was "adequately prepared, properly trained, or made a bad decision". If I needed rescue chances are that I did one of those things! I believe that going to a fee based system would actually increase some of our freedoms in the wild. Discussions like this would be just a headline and mute point I realize that completely changing systems just in Kachina Peaks is rather unpractical, but I would advocate support for a collaborative shift in policy from land manager, ski area managers, search and rescue personnel, and recreational users.

Uglyhat
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Joined: December 24th, 2010, 8:53 pm
Location: Flagstaff

Re: Search And Rescue Mission #3

Postby Uglyhat » February 1st, 2011, 11:12 am

First let me acknowledge that my initial response could have been more constructive. I admit I was quite annoyed by the suggestion that the responsibility lay largely with Snowbowl and the USFS. I still adamantly disagree with this stance for several reasons, a few of which BJ has outlined above.

raisingarizona wrote:A big part of the problem is ARIZONA. Lots of folks that have almost zero experience in cold snowy mountains are brought right into it all on the chairlift.


In retrospect this is pretty obvious, but having moved to AZ from mountains where it was cold and snowy more often than not, this hadn't really occurred to me. The SF Peaks really are an alpine island in the middle of a desert. Mt Hood may be similar, being so close to the Portland metro area and attracting many inexperienced users.

Can AZ Snowbowl set conditions for leaving the area boundary? Bridger Bowl used to require skiers accessing the ridge to have a partner, and each skier was required to have a beacon and shovel. There was a beacon receiver with a flashing light right in front of the patrol hut you had to set off before you could start the hike up.

Educating the local kids seems easier than educating the weekenders from Phoenix; maybe a presentation in the schools every year as the ski season approaches. Some sort of handout might help - Yellowstone NP hands out a sheet warning people not to approach wildlife, complete with a graphic of a human getting tossed by a Bison (YNP is one of the premier examples of an agency having to manage a public largely ignorant of the area's hazards).

Another aspect is fostering an attitude of self reliance and responsibility for one's own safety - this I fear is a larger and more difficult problem.

Uglyhat

raisingarizona
Posts: 172
Joined: November 28th, 2010, 8:01 am

Re: Search And Rescue Mission #3

Postby raisingarizona » February 1st, 2011, 1:29 pm

Another aspect is fostering an attitude of self reliance and responsibility for one's own safety - this I fear is a larger and more difficult problem.

Uglyhat[/quote]

Yep that^^^^This unfortunately is not an attitude prevalent in our US and A culture and why would we accept the consequences of our own decisions when we have been taught it really PAYS to blame others?

Great discussion.

Seth Felder
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Joined: February 2nd, 2011, 8:40 am

Re: Search And Rescue Mission #3

Postby Seth Felder » February 2nd, 2011, 9:55 am

In this day of video games where the worst consequences of failure are restarting the game, it is hard to teach responsibility; couple this with a disrespect for authority, distrust of our elders, and a flippant attitude of "Whatever, dude" It might take a fatality to make a difference. As parents all we can do is teach our childeren respect and responsibility and hope others are doing the same.

Mgetchis
Posts: 2
Joined: February 8th, 2011, 10:33 am

Re: Search And Rescue Mission #3

Postby Mgetchis » February 8th, 2011, 11:29 am

Blame can not be put on snowbowl, but more sinage needs to be put up and awareness raised. A sign at ticket counters which describes conditions and the required bc pass might help. The USFS should step up enforcement of passes as well.

I am hesitant to suggest a rescue charge as this will have an impact on the decision to call for help.

People who grew up and lived in an area free of wilderness (Phoenix) have no concept of personal responsability, you address the festering fistula that is the valley, and we may see a change.

DomZ
Posts: 3
Joined: November 26th, 2010, 10:50 am

Re: Search And Rescue Mission #3

Postby DomZ » February 8th, 2011, 3:27 pm

Mgetchis wrote:A sign at ticket counters which describes conditions and the required bc pass might help.


The funny thing; there is a sign next to the trail map at the Agassiz lodge ticket line. Even people that want the signs can't see them.

Willy
Posts: 47
Joined: October 24th, 2010, 6:27 pm

Re: Search And Rescue Mission #3

Postby Willy » February 9th, 2011, 12:40 am

The bottom line is that ski area user rescues will continue to form the vast majority (if not all) of rescues, and those rescues will continue to happen. Period.

Seth Felder
Posts: 7
Joined: February 2nd, 2011, 8:40 am

Re: Search And Rescue Mission #3

Postby Seth Felder » February 9th, 2011, 9:52 am

Heres a thought, The Coco SAR is almost entirely volunteer, running on a shoestring budget in the largest county in the lower 48. Is there any wisdom in organizing a Snowbowl volunteer unit that works in conjunction with Patrol and SAR? We know the area, hazards, and most live in close proximity. By aleviating some of the preassure and reliance on CocoSAR could cool tensions. On the other hand what could be better for character building than a night in the wilderness? Take it from me, what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.

duderbomb
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Joined: October 7th, 2010, 2:39 pm

Re: Search And Rescue Mission #3

Postby duderbomb » February 9th, 2011, 10:55 am

I'd volunteer for that

raisingarizona
Posts: 172
Joined: November 28th, 2010, 8:01 am

Re: Search And Rescue Mission #3

Postby raisingarizona » February 9th, 2011, 7:13 pm

Seth Felder wrote:Heres a thought, The Coco SAR is almost entirely volunteer, running on a shoestring budget in the largest county in the lower 48. Is there any wisdom in organizing a Snowbowl volunteer unit that works in conjunction with Patrol and SAR? We know the area, hazards, and most live in close proximity. By aleviating some of the preassure and reliance on CocoSAR could cool tensions. On the other hand what could be better for character building than a night in the wilderness? Take it from me, what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.


Haha! Yes and true but could also end in death. I have thought about this and have wondered if the ski patrol could be set free of any rescue service but if I were in BJ's place it sure would be hard to look away at an attempt to save someones life no matter how stupid the mistake that was made. How could they? I couldn't. This is a very interesting topic and complicated as well. BJ, Could you please let us in on what pressures you are under and the feelings you have to these situations? I think it would go a long way for all of us to understand things a little better.

raisingarizona
Posts: 172
Joined: November 28th, 2010, 8:01 am

Re: Search And Rescue Mission #3

Postby raisingarizona » February 9th, 2011, 7:15 pm

duderbomb wrote:I'd volunteer for that


I would like to say I could as well but if it's the day I'm at work or I'm spending with my daughter it would be very difficult.

Mgetchis
Posts: 2
Joined: February 8th, 2011, 10:33 am

Re: Search And Rescue Mission #3

Postby Mgetchis » February 11th, 2011, 1:00 pm

DomZ wrote:
Mgetchis wrote:A sign at ticket counters which describes conditions and the required bc pass might help.


The funny thing; there is a sign next to the trail map at the Agassiz lodge ticket line. Even people that want the signs can't see them.


I wouldn't have seen that sign as I have never bought a lift ticket. :) I was suggesting a more obvious sign maybe one pointed out by the attendant.

The idea about having patrol
members on the sar unit would be great. From what I understand, the patrollers who go ob do so voluntarily. Are they still on the clock?

SARCop
Posts: 6
Joined: December 17th, 2010, 2:01 pm

Re: Search And Rescue Mission #3

Postby SARCop » February 22nd, 2011, 10:09 am

jakegaventa wrote: If I needed to call for rescue I would prefer to pay a fee for a professional, well trained and equipped responders, than argue after the fact if I was "adequately prepared, properly trained, or made a bad decision".


I have to put a plug in for Coconino County Sheriff's Search and Rescue. While the majority of our unit are volunteers I prefer to think of them as highly dedicated unpaid professionals. They truly are a highly trained and well equipped unit. Right now we are in the process of becoming a fully accredited Mountain Rescue Association team which includes third party evaluation of the unit in Wilderness Search, Technical Rock Rescue, and Snow and Ice Rescue. The unit has passed the first two exams and will be testing on the Snow and Ice portion in the beginning of March.

We are constantly working on improving our training and response capabilities for all of different environments that we serve in this county.

SARCop
Posts: 6
Joined: December 17th, 2010, 2:01 pm

Re: Search And Rescue Mission #3

Postby SARCop » February 22nd, 2011, 10:16 am

Seth Felder wrote:Heres a thought, The Coco SAR is almost entirely volunteer, running on a shoestring budget in the largest county in the lower 48. Is there any wisdom in organizing a Snowbowl volunteer unit that works in conjunction with Patrol and SAR? We know the area, hazards, and most live in close proximity. By aleviating some of the preassure and reliance on CocoSAR could cool tensions. On the other hand what could be better for character building than a night in the wilderness? Take it from me, what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.


Coconino SAR is actually one of the better funded and supported SAR units in the state and probably in the southwest. We work closely with all of our public safety partners including the Arizona Snowbowl to provide efficient and appropriate response to backcountry incidents. By state law the County Sheriff is the Authority Having Jurisdiction for conducting and/or coordinating search and rescue incidents in that county. One of our missions in addition to responding to SAR emergencies is public education. In cooperation with KPAC and the USFS we have been working to educate backcountry users about the hazards that they could face in the winter backcountry.

If anyone is interested in joining our team we take applications year round but do our Basic Academy once a year in the fall. More information about our unit can be found at www.coconino.az.gov (under Sheriff in the Departments section) and at www.coconinosar.org.

Seth Felder
Posts: 7
Joined: February 2nd, 2011, 8:40 am

Re: Search And Rescue Mission #3

Postby Seth Felder » February 22nd, 2011, 4:44 pm

Don't get me wrong Aaron and co. I was not trying to knock your services; I was thinking more along the lines of personal responsibility of back country users. Having more like minded people in the area, ie.experienced backcountry users, available for duty might be a bennefit to everyone especially when resources are drawn thin. Education is very important, but what does one do when the education is not welcomed? Being proactive has really been a positive thing, the cat track out the 522rd is awesome, that alone has saved untold lost travelers. Keep up the good work, pray for snow!


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