Monday, November 19, 2012

Winter Safety Tips

From the Tacoma News Tribune (article) about winter safety in Mt Rainier NP this winter.

"Mt Rainier Rangers remind visitors of winter safety tips"

"Following the rescue of two stranded snowboarders last week, Mount Rainier National Park officials are reminding winter visitors about the dangerous condititions they might face.

Winter at Mount Rainier is a dynamic and extreme environment that can become hazardous if you're not prepared.

When planning a trip to the park's backcountry in the winter, park rangers recommend following these tips:

1. Before you leave home, check and heed local weather forecasts, realizing weather can change for the worse in a very short period of time.

2. Know your experience and ability to survive in an alpine environment and don't exceed your abilities.

3. Always carry survival gear with you, including the 10 essentials. Take extra clothing and food in case you have to spend the night out.

4. Always leave word with someone on the specifics of where you're going and when you expect to be home. It is always the safest to not travel alone.

5. While electronic locators and communication can be helpful, they cannot always be relied upon in the backcountry.

6. Remember you need to be responsible for your own safety."

Let's be clear here, the snow young snowboarders were extremely lucky for one reason, their cellphone worked in the cold and there was cellphone coverage in the Paradise area (they were on the Muir Snowfield), otherwise, they had no overnight  or emergency gear, meaning no sleeping bags, no food, no stove, no clothes, nothing to survive beyond a few days.

Had the NP rangers not been able to talk to them on their cellphone to determine where they were dug in overnight, it would have been days longer before they were located and rescued, and probably longer than they could have survived without food against the cold. The young men can talk now about survival, but it wasn't them, it was the NP rangers and luck in spite of their failures to be prepared.

As for the recommendations, I can personally add this applies to any trip signficantly far enough away from the Paradise Visitors Center or any trailhead. I would also suggest leaving a note on the dash of your vehicle about your trip, meaning the route, destination and return time.

No comments: