There weren’t too many snowy evenings last week when members of the all-volunteer Douglas County Sheriff’s Search & Rescue Team wasn’t up around Heavenly looking for a skier or snowboarder.
We counted four or five tone-outs for the team to go up to retrieve an out-of-bound skier or someone who just got lost or too exhausted to get themselves out of trouble.
Thankfully, no one was reported to be seriously injured, and the team made it onto the mountain and back off again safely.
But every time someone puts their own life in danger and calls for help, the people on the other end of the line send someone to the rescue. And those rescuers are taking their lives in their hands.
It has been just over a year since a member of the Heavenly Ski Patrol was killed on the mountain.
Christopher Nicholson was an accomplished skier, but the mountain claimed his life nonetheless.
We love the mountains that loom over Carson Valley and love that people are able to have fun on them.
But the Sierra are not to be trifled with, and after a big snow like last week’s, can pose a danger to even the most experienced shooshers.
That’s why Douglas County has had some sort of search team since the first days of the Sheriff’s Posse back in 1955.
Posse members were among the first to climb Genoa Peak when a Paradise Airlines Constellation crashed, killing all 85 people on board, during a blizzard in March 1964.
As search and rescue became more specialized, so did the searchers, eventually splitting off from the posse.
Today, the search and rescue team aids the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office whenever there’s a fire or flood, and even in investigations, when a lot of sharp eyes are required to cover a large area.
To find out more about the search team and how to volunteer, visit www.douglassar.org.