07 September, 2012

a good dinner....

A note from the Chairman:

As the acting Chair of Everett Mountain Rescue I am happy to invite you to our fundraising dinner on September 30, 2012.  Our Unit answers to the Snohomish County Sheriff's Department, but provide our services free of charge to any place in the State where we are requested.  We help people in need !


Our organization depends on support from individuals and organizations. 


We are having a get together and would like to invite you to our fundraising dinner at Chantrelle's in Edmonds.  It is quite informal; a great dinner, some wine and good company, and a few auction items.  Check out more about the event and purchase tickets here:  http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/270372


If you don't have the opportunity to attend, but would like to make a donation follow this link: http://www.everettmountainrescue.org/DonatetoEMR/tabid/118/Default.aspx


We are also soliciting for a few more auction items………….Let me know if you would like to contribute.


-Oyvind Henningson

01 April, 2012

Knox Frank - as great a man as I know. May the next hill be as great as the Last.

Knox was my first friend at Sewanee.  We learned to climb together, we lived together, we moved to Montana, and we fell in love with snow together.  Knox was as much a brother as a friend.  We chose the same path, and we lived happy.
Knox just came through Seattle and met Anne.  Anne took both Knox and Kimberly skiing and out to Leavenworth to stay.
Kimberly also happens to be a recipient of the Monika Johnson Scholarship.

This loss has brought more tears out of me than any other.  Knox--you are loved.

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27 September, 2011

My Ten Essentials

The Ten Essentials

Organized by the Mountaineer Club in the 1930's, the Ten Essentials were designed to answer two questions:First, are you prepared to respond to an accident?  And second, are you prepared to safely spend a night outside?  The Ten Essentials have since become the standard pre-departure checklist for backcountry users.  However, there are different versions of the Essentials and I believe they can still be improved upon too remain relevant and the most useful tool for today's backcountry users to keep in the bottom of their packs.

The first known printing of the Ten Essentials was in "Freedom of the Hills", a seminal text on climbing fundamentals and backcountry techniques.  The original Ten Essentials are as follows:

1. Map
2. Compass
3. Sunglasses and sunscreen
4. Extra clothing
5. Headlamp/flashlight
6. First-aid supplies
7. Firestarter
8. Matches
9. Knife
10. Extra food

For a long time this list represented the current tools and thinking with regard to outdoor safety.  Recently though, the Essentials have been reorganized and altered using a systems approach.  The new list is in the updated 8th Edition of "Freedom of the Hills:"

1. Navigation (map & compass)
2. Sun protection (sunglasses & sunscreen)
3. Insulation (extra clothing)
4. Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
5. First-aid supplies
6. Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candle)
7. Repair kit and tools
8. Nutrition (extra food)
9. Hydration (extra water)
10. Emergency shelter (tent/plastic tube tent/garbage bag)

Some changes are subtle, eg-- navigation instead of map and compass; illumination instead of flashlight, fire instead of matches and firestarter. Maps and compasses belong together; matches, lighters, and firestarter belong together; these items need to be thought of together as a system.  And there is the addition of water (a glaring omission in the first list) and emergency shelter, the later wouldn't have been so light, portable, or affordable in the 1930's. 

This is as modern as the current Ten Essentials goes, but it needs to go farther.  The decades since the 1930's have proved the Ten Essential the standard ingredients to the prepared hiker's pack, but I will argue that they function in ways further reaching than answering those two questions of safety and emergency preparedness.  The Essentials represents "General Preparedness" for the outdoors--You should carry the Ten Essentials not for "fear-mongering", but for the pleasure of your hike as well as your responsibility as backcountry user.

Before further explanation, look at the expanded list of the Ten Essentials, very similar to the above list, but with greater modernization and applicability:

My Ten Essentials:

1. Navigation--  Map and Compass or GPS.  Lost hikers are perhaps the number one cause of search and rescue missions.  A map and compass gives you a cheap and usable tool to prevent this mishap.  A GPS is a modern tool that accomplishes the same goal, though expensive and heavy.  Either option require that the user know how to use the tools prior to use.  As a user of the wilderness it is your responsibility to find your way home safely.  Stay oriented.
2. 911-  Cell phone, locator beacon (SPOT).  Everyone has a cell phone in his or her pocket all the time anyway.  Don't leave it in the car now when it can do you the most good.  It is surprising how many spots in the wilderness actually can provide a signal, and a cell phone has the ability to accomplish one of the essential elements of any emergency: early activation of a 911 response.  Time is crucial in a backcountry emergency.  The chance of  finding a signal somewhere in to initiate a rescue is a chance worth having.  The tool is in your pocket--Don't lock it in the glove for safe keeping.  It is a ready-made rescue devise.  Spot-type satellite locator beacons accomplish the same end--initiating a rescue--with the advantage of nearly global coverage.  But they come at extra cost and transmit only prerecorded information.   But a great tool. Not an "essential' like the cell phone, but in the same system of thought.  The cell phone is a tool currently NOT on the Mountaineers list of Ten Essentials, but will be soon.
3. Insulation Raingear-- extra layer, wool hat, and gloves (some combination of these).   These are essential items to prevent hypothermia  if the weather turns foul or you or your party become stationary due to accident.  This gear can be heavy and bulky, but rarely goes unused.  This is gear that will keep you comfortable as the daily temp fluctuates, and gear that will keep you safe when you can no longer walk because of a twisted ankle.
4. Nutrition and Hydration--Extra food and water and purification tablets.  Sugary snacks are portable and good energy.  The amount of water you carry should depend on the environment, your level of exertion, and your ability to replenish your supply.  Iodine tablets are cheap insurance and should permanently live in your First Aid Kit.  Lack of either food or water leads to fatigue and decreased mental function and increases susceptibility to hypothermia.
5. Sun protection-- sunscreen, chapstick, sunglasses, and a brimmed hat. These items protect from the extremes of sun and heat.  Heat exposure can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, the latter a life-threatening condition.  If in a snowy environment, sunglasses prevent snow blindness caused by the reflected light, which also increases the chances of severe sunburn.  Cover up.
6. Headlamp.  Today they are small, lightweight, and long-lasting.  There is no excuse for being caught without one.  A small pen light can live in your First Aid kit as a backup for forgetfulness.  A light in the dark is indispensable for safe travel.  However, a light is only as good as its battery power.  A set of spare batteries also belongs in your first aid kit.
7. First Aid kit.(or SURVIVAL KIT--discussed later).  You should never carry anything you don't know how to use.  Therefore,  take a Wilderness First Aid Course.  It is a weekend course that teaches the fundamentals of wilderness medicine--ie, how to use your first aid kit..  These procedures have greater implications for your ability to treat an accident victim than any tool in a first aid kit.  The Mountaineers in Seattle mandates that all members have this training before going on any trips with the club.  And they save lives.  Get  trained.  It is beyond the scope of this article to list or explain a good backcountry first aid kit, but even the most sparing kits contain:Pain medication, cloth tape, sterile pads, roller gauze, and cravats (bandanas).  Splinting material like a SAMSplint is nice as fall injuries are common, but trekking poles, ice axes, foam sleeping pads, and tent poles can serve just as well.  Know your gear.  A first Aid kit should also contain elements of the other essentials.  It is a convenient and permanent place to stow a pen light, spare batteries, a multi tool, a whistle, a compass, iodine tablets, a honey packet (for diabetics).. This "expanded" First Aid kit can be called a Survival Kit and will be discussed more later.
8. Repair Kit and tools.  On the original list, this was simply "a knife"  But as gear has expanded, so has our need to be able to repair it. The repair kit can be incorporated with the first aid kit as a Survival Kit  It should include: A tool--a multi tool is far more useful than a simple knife.  Heavy, but essential. They make small ones. Duct tape--wrap around a round object like a water bottle or hiking pole.  (This can be omitted for a good supply of cloth tape in the first aid kit.) Floss--thread, shoe laces, or cordage. Glue-- super glue or specific adhesive for air mattresses.  This list should be personalized to the gear you carry and depend on.  Should be small and versatile..
9. Emergency Shelter-- Emergency blanket, poncho, bivy, or garbage bag.  Ideally this needs to be waterproof and heat insulating.  Emergency blankets are cheap and small and effective.  Garbage bags are already in the kitchen drawer--waterproof, not insulating.  Bivies and ponchos can be more versatile, generally bulkier.  One of these should be in your pack.
10. Leave No Trace--toilet pager, trowel, lighter, hand sanitizer, blue bags, land stewardship.  As a user of any wild area YOU HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY not only to your own safety, but also to the public land.  Minimize your impact so it can continue to be a wild and pristine place.  Leave No Trace is a set of principles designed to help us recreate without destroying our playground.  (http://www.lnt.org/programs/principles.php)  Familiarizing yourself with this philosophy can effect where you choose to camp, wash the dishes or use the bathroom.  Anyone who has seen a beautiful trail marred with dirty paper trailing from underneath a rock should grasp the importance of this final Essential.  Be prepared.  Also, a high percentage of all backcountry illness is related to sanitation issues--use hand sanitizer.  Keep it with the tp, a lighter and the  trowel.

 The only item included on the other lists that is absent here is fire.  Where fire is important, I believe that is far simpler to include waterproof matches, a lighter, and a candle in the first aid kit, or survival kit, where you don't have to think about it.
The Survival Kit
The Survival Kit is a combination first aid and repair kit. It is a portable, accessible home for items already a part of the Ten Essentials, or that are small, light, versatile, or otherwise essential in the backcountry.  It can include the compass, iodine tablets, spare batteries, sun screen, chapstick, bug spray, a whistle, floss and a needle, toilet pager, lighter and matches, superglue, and an emergency blanket.

This can be tweaked by the season or by the trip.  In winter I would remove the insect repellant and add heat packets.  If I am camping I would add toothbrush and personal medication.

In this way, to pack for a trip into the woods, your checklist is simplified to your headlamp, sunglass, small sack of clothes, survival kit, a map or GPS, food and water, and a pocketknife.  Done.  Go have fun and know that you are prepared.

15 September, 2011

Worse-case Scenario

Worse Case Scenario:    

I get a phone call:  "What are you doing for the next couple of days?"  "Well, I've got some plans … why?"  "Miles has taken a fall near the summit of Mt Stuart and is hurt."

My good friend (and summer sub-letter), a strong climber, and an all-around great person was climbing the West Ridge of Mt Stuart.  500ft from the summit he pulls a rock free and falls 70ft over ledges, suffering a concussion, broken shoulder, lacerations, and broken ribs.  His partner, Matt, ties him off but is unable to climb down to him, not having enough rope.

What would you do?  You are three thousand feet up.  The weather is stable; you have no cell phone. Your only rope is now damaged and securing your injured partner below.  There is an easy descent route, but you have never traveled it and navigation on Stuart can be a bear.  If you are Matt Hoffman, you downclimb the West Ridge.  This, my friends, is incredible.

Once safely down and after scavenging a cell phone from a hiker, Matt initiated the rescue by calling 911.  Chelan County was notified, then, after much cajoling, Matt was able to get the operator to connect him to Snohomish County—our county, Miles' county, and thereby initiate our response.


I hung up the phone with Oyvind.  He told me to meet at Taylor's Landing (headquarters) for a possible helicopter insertion.  Luckily, I was already packed as I was planning a trip to Forbidden Peak the next day.  Anne made me the two biggest burritos in three minutes I've ever seen.  She was concerned for Miles, sad to not be able to go herself, and nervous for me.  At this point, there was no telling what would happen.

I drove the van to Taylor's and met with some familiar and concerned faces.  Information was slowly trickling in from Matt and Chelan.  An airforce helicopter was going to be launched.  Sandeep, Miles' roommate was there as well. 

As we started briefing, Sandeep made it known that he had just climbed Stuart in the last couple of weeks, and even a time or two before that in the last year.  He knew the mountain well.  The Cascadian Couloir is the easiest route up and down the mountain.  (This was the same descent route Matt Hoffman had considered.)  It was immediately evident that this was an extremely complicated (or challenging) mission.  There was simply no good way to lower him via man-power and riggin all the way down the mountain.  He was on the north side; first he'd have to be raised to the summit ridge and then lowered down "some" route.  What route I still don't know.

It was apparent that it had to be a heli rescue.  But counting on a helo is risky: there are so many things that can go wrong.  But helo at dawn was Plan A.

This was Sandeep's proposal:  Let's climb the Cascadian Couloir tonight, fast.  So if there is any problem with the helo we are already there; we can assist.  Our friend Kevin and myself were interested.  What could we accomplish?  I thought, first we can find Miles.  His exact location was still quite vague.  Second, we could give him 1st Aid and an examination.  Currently he had nothing but a puffy jacket, gloves and a hat.  It was strangely warm out, but there was no telling how much wind was at 88ooft, where he was currently crouching.

These were valuable tasks.  We knew that Plan A needed to work, and the helo didn't need us to do their job.  But … we could climb fast, we could find Miles and give him care until he arrived, and, if they didn't arrive, we were in position to do … something.


It was 10pm; it was me, Sandeep, and Kevin; and it was a plan.  While the rest of Everett Mtn Rescue ralleyed for a 5:30am mustering at a nearby helipad, the three of us loaded up my van and drove to Cle Elum and the Ingalls trailhead.  It was a two hour drive.  We needed Red Bull and food.  We packed and re-orged gear in the back as we drove.  We discussed options and possible responses.  We worried.

The airforce had made several passes and had been unable to find Miles until they picked up Matt Hoffman.  When they finally located Miles, he seemed to be lying in the snow and was unresponsive.  This was dreadful news.  It is inconsistent with self-preservation to lie in the snow without a pad because you will become hypothermic.  We didn't want to discuss the news.  We knew that Miles had had a concussion.  Matt had said that Miles would repeat, "where are we? … I have a broken shoulder" every twenty seconds.  Matt was forced to leave Miles before Miles ever regained mental clarity.  Perhaps he hadn't.

We reached the trailhead and hit the ground running at 1am.  We were light.  And it's not that we are fast, we just don't stop plodding along.  Even in the dark Sandeep's navigation was sound.  Kevin kept him to it on the map.  We ate; we drank; and we kept heading up. 

On any other day we may have grumbled about the shitty trail.  It certainly wasn't something you'd climb for pleasure.  Sand and scree and small rubble—we'd slide down as far as we'd step up.  By the time there was light in the sky we were getting to better rock, at least scrambling and rock hopping now.  The red light cam up behind Sherpa Peak and the Enchantments.  The going was much easier now and the anticipation of the hours before us outweighted the exhaustion of the hours past.  We made the summit without ropes, but didn't pause long for celebration.  We knew the helo was short on our tails and we still needed to descent the West Ridge to locate Miles. 

After several repels and some traversing we reached the West Ridge Notch and quickly saw Miles' blue rope made fast around a large boulder.  Sandeep was ahead while Kevin and I managed our rope.  "Miles … Miles" Sandeep yelled.  "Hey buddy."  Miles would later say that he was sure he was hallucinating.  After all, how could he possibly hear his roommates voice from the top of the ridge!  Our eyes were bright, smiles were broad, and our hearts were bounding.  We set up another anchor and lowered Sandeep down.

It was just that moment that we heard the "pup-pup-pup-pup" of the distant helicopter.  As it approached we saw SnoHawk 10—OUR helicopter (as opposed to the air force chopper of the night before).  That meant that Richard and Andy were up there.  And they were right over our head, hovering. The cable came down with a bag and it reached Miles and he detatched it.  SnowHawk 10 then flew off.

On the radio we heard the traffic:  "Miles, how you doing, buddy?"   "I've been better,' said with a happy tone.  Richard, the medic, checked Miles' consciousness to be sure he would be able to strap himself into the Screamer—a harness that can be tied directly into the hoist cable for evacuation.  SnoHawk 10 circled back around, lowered the hoist, Sandeep checked Miles' connections, and they lifted him off of the north face of Mt Stuart.



After time to process what was a very successful completion to our mission, we ate, drank up, and contemplated our descent—which would be long.  We reclimbed the West Ridge, which was fun as these things go, stood on the summit of Stuart—again—with slightly more joyousness, and then began our long plod down the long mountain.

It is worth mentioning that the route to the mountain from the trailhead is not a direct one.  Once we made the bottom of Stuart, we had to cross Ingall's Creek and then reclimb Long's Pass, which was sort of a funny add-on to a long day.  The river wasn't as refreshing as I thought it should have been.  We skipped food on the ride home for fear of becoming to drowsy to drive.  Traffic on the 405 and 522 was awful, but we said heartfelt goodbyes at the park-n-ride all headed home to big meals.  Mine was a monstrous pile of pasta.  I slept.  End of story.


Miles is recovering well.  He is out of the hospital with minor surgeries to his leg and bleeding in a lung.  All else is beyond the scope of this story.






06 September, 2011




Wow what a summer. I've got a story to tell; I'll tell it soon.  Anne and I had an incredible summer.  We had great trips to the Enchantments, North Cascades, Montana, Bugaboos, Leavenworth, Lake Michigan, and home again.  We had some great climbing for sure, but a lot else as well.

We've decided NOT to have a traditional wedding.  We will hopefully be married in the next week by Berg, our landlord, at home.  Haha.  I know.  We'll still have a party this next summer and a letter will come out eventually explaining all this.  But if you are reading this, then you are getting it first.

So it is back to a normal life for a time, happily.  It is great to be home.  We've had a handful of missions already, and sadly, there was a fatality on a route that we had climbed just the day before, the S.E. Ridge of Kaleetan Peak.  It was a hike up, super mellow--I am still baffled that such an accident could have happened there.

I've had a sinus infection, so I'm currently taking it easy, but otherwise the body feels good.  I've had some downtime in Michigan to heal any ailments.  No particualar goals at the moment.  Just hope to get some more climbs in before winter weather comes back 'round.

I hope to post a story of our climbing trip soon.  it is written, but long.  A link to the photos is on the right tool bar under GALLERY.  Also now posted above.  Enjoy.

26 July, 2011

to the bugs

Hello all,

Sittig in a cafĂ© in Banff watching a light drizzle outside.  We've had a great time thus far.  Yesterday we climbed the Cardiac Arete (5.10d, 4p sport) on the Grand Sentinal Spire in Banff National Park.  Probably the best sport route I've ever done.  Hard to compare; it is an alpine climb on a spire not so different in aspect from Castleton Tower and the size of a walk-in closet at the summit.  And not a soul around.  We saw lynx (if not cougar) tracks on the approach.  A fine, fine day.

Ironically, perhaps the best pitch of the day was on a neighboring trad route.  We were rapping down in it and I couldn't find the 60meter rap anchors, so Anne was going to belay me back up to the 25m anchors.  But the climbing was so superb that I climbed all the way back to the summit.  It was stellar.  The only reason we didn't go down and climb the entire route was lack of BIG gear to protect an easy off-width section and the possibility of weather on the horizon.

Otherwise the climbing at Lake louise was fantastic, if crowded.  The quartzite is truly wonderful.  Good mix of sport and trad.    The van has been a joy.  Weather has been better than expected.  Some good runs and swims.

To look back, no climbing in Glacier, a rainy hike and a run.  Helena was fun seeing Stu and family.

Missoula was fantastic:  Gillian Welsh with B, Stu, Mariah, free ticket, and, of course, Shoshone Spire in Blodgett.


Good times thus far indeed.

Tomorrow we head into the Bugaboos with the hope of fair weather for at least a few days—best "looking" window of the summer, we've heard.  Good news.

When we come out, we'll head up to Mt Sir Donald and look at conditions and wx..  Then south to Skaha and homeward bound. 


Wish us luck.