Letters to the editor
Better avalanche education needed
To the editor:
Headlines scare me. Headlines remind me that we don’t learn our lessons. Too often, we sit back and watch as history repeats itself. For example:
Recently the headlines reported that a large avalanche nearly claimed the lives of three Alpine Meadows employees. Similar headlines back in March 1982 reported that seven employees were killed by a huge avalanche at Alpine. One employee was buried alive in the wreckage of the employee locker room and spent five days licking snow, praying that someone would find her. It was nothing short of a miracle that she survived.
Last winter, February 2001, the headlines reported that two young skiers traversed out of bounds and were lost somewhere between Alpine and Squaw. The two boys were local high school students and both excellent skiers. After a two-day search their bodies were found beneath 6 feet of avalanche debris. I can remember as far back as February 1976, when the headlines reported that two local skiers disappeared behind Northstar, and after a grueling three-day search only one of them was pulled out alive.
The stories go on and on but the lessons are hesitant to follow. Why is that? Why do we continue to read the headlines and watch as our young skiers and snowboarders fill the lines of the obituaries?
Accidents do happen, both in-bounds and out-of-bounds, but the majority of past wintertime injuries and fatalities could have been prevented. The key is education. The Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team (TNSAR) has been teaching kids about basic winter mountain safety for over 25 years. TNSAR’s Hug-A-Tree program for 4th graders has been tremendously successful, but we lack an education program for our older teenage students.
As a mountain community, we are far overdue for a comprehensive snow safety education program. Today our older kids are venturing further out into the backcountry, searching for bigger jumps, steeper chutes, and deeper powder. Skiing and snowboarding in the backcountry is incredibly exciting and rewarding, but it can be dangerous. Our kids must be prepared for responsible backcountry recreation. Their lives depend on it.
TNSAR is currently in the process of creating a winter mountain safety program designed for teenage backcountry explorers. The primary goal of this project is to protect our kids by formally incorporating winter mountain safety education into the curriculum of our local high schools. Basic winter mountain safety needs to be officially part of the coursework that we teach our kids. It is more important than any lesson in history, geography, or mathematics: Ultimately, this information has the potential to save lives.
For more information about this project, please contact the Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team. This project is entirely nonprofit. All contributions and donations are tax deductible and greatly appreciated.
For more information visit TNSAR’s Web site at http://www.tahoe nordicsar.com or call (530) 546-7273.
Locals lacked compassion in storm
To the editor:
When I was growing up my father used to give me advice all the time. One of them was that “the best time to know people is when you are faced with an emergency.” How correct he was. After living in Tahoe Donner for eight years I had the pleasure of knowing my neighbors one recent evening when I was faced with an emergency on Northwoods Boulevard.
I was stranded for more than an hour in freezing temperatures without a car and tried to get a ride to our home from one of my many neighbors, in vain. I was too cold to count the number of cars that went by me on this cold and dark evening. I am positive they were in hundreds returning home from work around 6 p.m. Not a single car stopped to help a lone woman in need. By the time I made it to the parking lot of Trout Creek, I was so cold and tired that I thought I was going to faint.
I want to thank the gentleman who was unloading his car when I approached him for putting his load back in his car and driving me up to our house. He was a total stranger to our community visiting Tahoe Donner for the first time.
I am thankful that there are kind people around, but I am so saddened that they don’t live in Tahoe Donner.