Mt. Washington Avalanche Course

New Hampshire Region and Eastern Division NSP has opened registration for students looking for Level 1 Avalanche Rescuer certification.  Every year the two organization team up to take 18 students up to Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines for the three day intensive Avalanche Level 1 Rescuer course.  The lead instructor, Eric Zaharee, a longtime member of the Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, is joined by the Eastern Division Avalanche staff and given the mission to promote save travel over hazardous snow covered mountain terrain.  This course is meant for the general skiing public who frequent back country skiing terrain found around the White Mountains.  NSP members are offered a discount for attending.  The course runs from March 17th through the 19th, details can be found on the Calendar, or follow this link to: Mt. Washington Avalanche Level 1 Course…

MTR-Avalanche-Nordic Instructors on the move!

MTR-Avalanche-Nordic Instructors on the move!

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It was a darker than normal night as I headed out at 4am, what happened to the stars?  As I climbed into the boat for my water commute to the car, I realized what was going on.  The clear skies had led to radiational cooling of the earth and a ground fog had developed over the water.  Not a big deal, unless you live on an Island and have to cross open water to get to the car.  As I pushed off the dock, I noted its orientation, adjusted my course, and hoped to see the navigation buoys come into view, soon.

I was headed to an MTR program at the Mount Greylock Ski Club in Western MA where two NH MTR Instructors would work with Western MA candidate instructors to deliver an MTR enhancement program.  Subjects to taught included land navigation and2015-09-12 13.30.57 emergency shelters.  It was just shy of a 4 hour drive, but I was looking forward to the program and visiting the Mount Greylock Ski Club.  The ski club runs the area that is a nestled into the Greylock Mountain State Reservation.  Their tow ropes serve varied terrain and the narrow access “road” is one way.   Until 2:30pm, up only, and then downhill only after 2:30.  Coming from another small ski area, this would be a treat.

The buoys soon came into view, and I altered my course for the final leg of my water commute.  The fog was so thick, I could only see inside my boat.  No lights from the shore, no stars above, nothing but damp darkness.  My flashlight was useless.

The Mountain Travel and Rescue(MTR) program, is one of the disciplines that the National Ski Patrol offers its membership and the general public.  Expert volunteer
instructors teach 17 core topics that include Low Angle Rescue, Land Navigation, Search and Rescue techniques, and winter mountain travel   Soon, another set of navigation buoys came out of thIMG_2164-001e fog, but there shouldn’t be another set.  I should be on shore, at the landing dock.  Where am I?  That’s when I started to laugh.  Any other time, this could be a scary lost situation.  Fear is the usual emotion when lost, but training and experience provide me with a different emotion, annoyance.  Normally if this happens, I could just motor until I found shore and then follow it back to my dock, or pull out a cushion and take a nap, waiting for the fog to lift.  The laughter was because of what I had on board.  I’m headed to teach an MTR course, I have no less than 8 compasses and GPS units sitting right beside me.  All I need to do is unzip my bag and pull one out.  My annoyance is now amusement, and I decide to explore the fog a little further.

In mid-September every year, Avalanche, MTR, and Nordic Instructors from across the Eastern Division come together to refresh their skills and teaching methods.  This year the program is hosted by the Northfield Mountain Ski Patrol in Western, MA on September 19th.

A quick mental assessment of these new buoys, and I decide I could have done two things – gone in a big circle, or somehow turned due east and ended up heading away from the landing.  Figuring it was the latter, I turned again and hoped something would come into view.IMG_2172-001

With the new ski season coming into view, could you benefit from one of our programs?  Start checking Region, Division, and National program calendars.  What are you going to do to build your knowledge and experience this winter?  Are you ready to keep your party safe in avalanche terrain, do you know what avalanche terrain is?  Can you lead a search and rescue for a missing guest in your areas side country?  Navigate, travel, and search in the winter environment?  Overnight?  And, then extract a patient?  Join us for just such a program.  In NH, an MTR1 program is scheduled for November 21st and 22nd at Black Mountain in Jackson, NH.  An MTR 2 program is scheduled for two weekends, January and February, in the White Mountains.  Registration will be on NHNSP.org, all are welcome.  Look for additional programs on other Patrol websites.

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Finally, the light at the landing is visible through the fog.  But I’m coming at it from the completely wrong angle.  I must have turned to the east at the first navigation buoy.  Another adventure in navigation is over, what’s your next adventure?

Hope to see you at an NSP course, or in the backcountry!

Craig Garland
NH MTR Advisor

Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop — North Conway, NH

Our great state of New Hampshire is lucky enough to be a center for avalanche sciences on the east coast of North America.  For those interested in exploring snow sciences and additional training in avalanche awareness, this one day seminar is a must attend event.

Christopher Joosen, USFS Lead Snow Ranger at the Mount Washington Avalanche Center has once again teamed up with local sponsors to create the “Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop” in North  Conway, New Hampshire.  Sponsoring and participating organizations are U.S. Forest Service, the NH Fish and Game, several volunteer mountain Search And Rescue organizations from around New England, members of the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, American Avalanche Association (AAA), American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE), as well as corporate sponsors.

Last year’s event was a great success.  This year organizers have moved the venue to a larger facility at the John Fuller Elementary School on Pine Street in North Conway.  More space allows the event to offer more workshop topics and include additional room for vendor booths.  Join the workshop, follow this link to ESAW.ORG to register before the event fills up or go to the Region’s Calendar to read more. . .