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Beaverhead Search and Rescue News

The Beaverhead Search and Rescue held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, March 3. The meeting was called to order at 7:00 PM by commander Lawrence Morrisroe. There were 24 members in personal attendance and 8 members in attendance via zoom. Social distancing is still being recognized although most of the membership has had both Covid19 vaccinations. The general meeting was very short.

One item of business was the introduction of the unit’s newest probationary member, Alex Dunn. Alex is a co-founder of the PMEF and an employee of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest who teaches avalanche safety. He holds a Pro 1 Level Avalanche certification and is a member of the American Avalanche Association. He has been a winter back-country skier, ski mountaineer, and snowmobiler for 20 years around the western U.S. We are very fortunate to have someone of his caliber as a member of the BVHS S&R. Please congratulate Alex and welcome him as the newest member of your Search and Rescue.

About the only other business were some housekeeping items and an explanation of upcoming training opportunities by the group’s training officer, Nathan Freeman. There will be trainings with the Ruby Valley Search and Rescue as well as training sponsored by the BVHD unit. We are trying to work and train more closely with neighboring SAR units.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:30. At that time the unit moved right into a training presentation by Alex Dunn. The presentation explained the triangle of avalanche awareness. The triangle represents the three components to be aware of in order to keep yourself and your party safe while enjoying the back country during the winter. The three elements of the triangle are: snow pack, weather, and terrain. Understanding the snow pack is critical. Determine how safe the snow is on the mountain by understanding its makeup. What do the layers of snow look like? Is there a good hard base or are the underlying layers crystalized or sugar like? Second, know what the weather is going to be doing while you are out playing. If it is going to be snowing hard or putting an additional load on the snow, this can increase the chance of avalanche. And last is the terrain. Be able to recognize the steepness of the mountain you are playing on. Slopes of 30 degrees or greater should normally be avoided.

If you head to the back country to play there are some essentials that you should have: an avalanche beacon, a probe pole, a shovel, helmet, an inflatable floatation pack, and common sense. Other things to be aware of:

  • Choose partners that have the proper gear and training

  • Discuss snow pack, weather conditions, and the terrain that you will head into

  • Do beacon checks and other equipment checks before leaving the trail head

  • Stick to your plan for the day but always be ready for change according to conditions

So, before going into the great Montana outdoors, be prepared. There are a lot of opportunities to enjoy and we want everyone to return home safely to your friends and families after each outing.

This comes from your Beaverhead Search and Rescue, “In the Business of Saving Lives"

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