There’s a group of people you need to know about in the Truckee-North Lake Tahoe area: the Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue Team (TNSAR). In their 38-year history, this dedicated collective of highly skilled volunteers have rescued over 500 lost, injured, or missing people. Without the expert help of the 150+ members of TNSAR, many of the people who went off-trail, or got injured while skiing, snowboarding, hiking, or biking, would have perished. Do you want to know more about this giving organization?
You may not know their names; but we do. People like Larry Sevenson, who founded TNSAR, along other long-term members that include Doug Reid and Gerald Rockwell, have put their talents, skills, and lives on the line to rescue visitors, tourists, and residents alike.
TNSAR’s members are divided into two teams: the A Team and the B Team. While every member of the group has several skills, and many have decades of experience under their belts, the one thing that distinguishes members of the A Team is that they are the “anywhere, anytime, any conditions” people. They often find themselves out in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night, and in the middle of a storm. Yet, they have the presence to still know where they are. This is difficult to do. If their GPS equipment malfunctions, they have proficiency with map and compass to be able to navigate.
The group is centered around the ski industry, though certainly, accidents happen even in the summer months. Many think the Sherriff’s office provides all search and rescue efforts, and certainly it does provide some. But as a 501c3 Nonprofit, TNSAR is a stand-alone organization whose members are extremely proud of their expertise and independence. In the words of one long-standing member’s words, our “independence affords us a freedom that has allowed us to be super effective.” The main thing is, TNSAR wants you to know that they operate from a different culture than the Sherriff’s office. While each group of searchers has their place, protocols, and methodology, one of the main differences between this group and the Sherriff’s is in real response time. In some cases, 20 or 30 or more members of TNSAR are mobilized and searching within a half hour of a call. They know that the longer you wait to begin your search, the exponentially larger the search area gets. Their members – take firefighter and hero Dirk Schoonmaker for example – are local heroes and in many cases have been involved in helping the community and search efforts for decades. The team is super proud of people like Dirk.
So what are some of the skills or abilities team members need?
- Navigational skills.
- Snowcat skills.
- Rescue techniques.
- Healthy and safety awareness and training.
- Great physical conditioning.
- Skiing, snowboarding, and hiking.
- Familiarity with the back country.
Really, the list extends far beyond these skills.
Like any other non-profit, TSNAR relies on donations. They occasionally get community or private contributions, but their big event every year is The Great Ski Race. This year’s race marks their 39th anniversary; something the team is enormously proud of. This fundraiser manages to cover the team’s expenses each year. Yet, that isn’t enough to upgrade equipment or perhaps purchase new vehicles or technology. Do you want to help? You can! Please visit the Race’s website, or if you’d like to help in other ways, send your message to the organizers by visiting this page: http://thegreatskirace.com/contact/. This year’s Race takes place on March 1, 2015.