TRUCKEE, Calif. — The Nevada County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team will hold their winter “Fill the Pack” fundraiser Feb. 15, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Safeway and Deerfield shopping centers in Truckee. Volunteers will be on hand to answer questions along with the K-9s and handlers. Equipment will also be on display. The team is a federally registered 501 C3 nonprofit organization. All donations are tax deductible.
The Search and Rescue Team is made up of 106 active volunteers who are available 365 days a year to search for missing hikers, skiers, mountain bikers or injured persons in challenging Nevada County backcountry terrain in all weather conditions.
Dedicated volunteers put in an average of 20 to 50 hours per month, not including 60 plus hours of training to become mission ready. Specialty training requires additional hours. Volunteers are required to drive between 2,000 to 15,000 miles each year for search and rescue related activities which can run up to $4,000 in fuel costs.
Team members furnish their own personal equipment. All donations received pay for overall team equipment, supplies and training. With the county’s budget issues, maintaining team equipment cache is done almost entirely through public donations.
TO THE RESCUE
On Friday, Feb. 7 at 11:15 p.m. the team was called out to rescue four hikers who become lost trying to get to the Peter Grub Hut off the Pacific Crest Trail. The hikers called 911, so NCSSAR had the coordinates. They had sheltered, built a fire and would stay put. It was snowing heavily with strong winds.
NCSSAR based their command post at Boreal Ski Area and dispatched the Snow Cat. Due to the terrain and snow conditions, the Cat could not get close enough for the skiers to hear it. NCSSAR then assembled four snowshoe teams and carried them by Snow Cat close to the location. The hikers were finally located about 4 a.m. and brought out — all in good condition.
At the same time, another party of three skiers advised NCSSAR one of the group had left earlier to ski into the Peter Grubb hut. He was lost and about to hunker down until daylight. His last contact was at 11 p.m. The skier also had his 30-pound dog with him. The group tried to locate him, but snow conditions were hazardous and they abandoned their effort.
Some time during the early hours of Saturday the lost skier responded by text to his friends who encouraged him to call 911 for help. When he did, NCSSAR representatives were able get his coordinates. They dispatched a team of snowshoers from the earlier search who were waiting for transport to his location. A snowmobile team also left from the command center.
The snowmobile team got to the Castle Pass area then snowshoed to his location. The skier was taken to the snow cat’s location, where he was transported to the command post at about 9:30 a.m. He and his dog were in good condition.
Lessons learned are: Do not go into the backcountry in heavy stormy conditions or late in the day. Never go in alone. Have a means for traveling in snow conditions, i.e., backcountry shies or snowshoes. Always have a map, know how to use a GPS to navigate and carry a means of sheltering.
Beyond that, these individuals did carry appropriate gear and supplies for the intended trip.
A special thanks to the 22 team members who responded to this search.
Information from www.facebook.com/NCSSAR.