MTR Land Navigation Event

A BIG THANK YOU to all who came up to Bridgton Maine to participate in the Mountain Travel and Rescue Enhancement Seminar on May 8th.  The Maine, New Hampshire and EMARI MTR staffs  got together to teach Land Navigation which is a perishable skill.  Many longtime MTR students came back for the refresher and a day of practice, however there was a sizable group of first-timers and at least five non-NSP members.

I know I can speak for all of the Instructors when I say that “we were quite impressed with everyone’s enthusiasm and team work in both the classroom sessions and the field work.”  In the classroom session, we reviewed a lot of material and had a great day outside in the field with the practical work.

I encourage everyone to keep practicing the skills that you learned, when out trekking/hiking or at your Mountain with fellow patrollers.  This is a great skill to have.  We also recognize that this it’s hard to meet everyone’s learning needs in just one short 8 hour day.  However,  in general,  it seems like everyone did benefit from this course based on your evaluations.  THANK YOU for completing the course feedback evaluations! We take these reviews seriously and will make appropriate changes to future courses.

Courses like these take a lot of effort and advanced preparation, and I wanted to officially thank my fellow instructors for their time and effort.   Most importantly, thank you to the Shawnee Peack Ski Patrol for hosting our event at your beautiful mountain.  Shawnee Peak is a great place to hold an event, although we did not see any bears!

I have included several photos from the events, and it is my hope that all NSP members come out and join us at a future MTR event.  As more mountain travelers get into the Back-Country, whether it be for skiing, boarding or just plain old hiking, NAVIGATION skills become more important than ever.  Remember that navigation makes it into the “ten essentials” for survival list.

Feel free to contact me, Deb Brown, if you have any questions, concerns, or comments.  Check the Eastern Division Web page and Regional Web pages for future MTR events,  because we look forward to seeing you at our next Mountain Travel and Rescue event, enjoy the pictures below.

The whole crew, patricipants and Instructors numbered 22.

The whole crew, participants and Instructors numbered 22.

Shawnee Peak, Maine

Shawnee Peak, Maine


Instructor Dana Gray reviewing the essentials of the analog compass


Instructor Sean Klaboe reviewing the fundamentals of how to navigate around an obstacle


Instructor Dana Gray setting up a compass course with participants


Instructors and Participants calibrating a pace count


Instructor Sean Klaboe explaining another compass challenge course


Instructor Craig Spear explaining the compass course challenge to the very enthusiastic younger members of the course!


Instructor Craig Spear and Sean Klaboe getting participants ready for the compass course challenge


More Calibration on the pace course with instructor Dana Gray


Looks like while attempting to navigate around our obstacle the alligator won!




MTR-Avalanche-Nordic Instructors on the move!

MTR-Avalanche-Nordic Instructors on the move!

2015-09-12 06.36.20

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, all are welcome.  Look for additional programs on other Patrol websites.


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

MTR Enrichment Program at Black Mountain

MTR Enrichment Program at Black Mountain

IMG_6962With a stiff breeze on my face and the smell of emerging earth, I arrived at Black Mountain Ski Area in Jackson NH for an MTR Enrichment Seminar.  This past week really reminded me of how long and cold a winter we’ve had.  Snow, sleet, freezing rain, finally melted away and was replaced by brilliant sunshine and a cloud clearing wind.  Can’t believe we’re in April. (more…)

MTR Courses Announced

The NH Region will hold two Mountain Travel and Rescue Courses this Fall and Winter.

MTR 1 will be held November 22nd and 23rd at Pat’s Peak in Henniker, NH.

MTR 2 consists of two weekends.  The first will be January 24th and 25th at Ragged Mountain.  The second is February 20-22, 2015, in the White Mountains on Mt. Moosilauke.

Registration information will appear soon.