Draft of article that I was requested to provide for the American Avalanche 
Association's The Avalanche Review follows below.

Silly pictures of Mark "searching" for an avalanche "victim" are at:


Eastern Ski Patrol Avalanche Instructor Event
by Jonathan S. Shefftz

The northeastern AAA ranks may be relatively sparse, but of its 23 members 
(Professional and Affiliate combined), the majority (12) are also National Ski 
Patrol ("NSP") members.  And the NSP's Eastern Division kicked off the 2008-09 
season with its annual fall event for instructors in avalanche, mountain 
travel/rescue, and nordic backcountry skiing on September 6-7 at the 
Northfield Mountain recreation facility in Western Massachusetts.  Previously a 
one-day administrative meeting with a small professional development 
component, the event expanded last year for the first time to focus more on 
skills refresher stations and continuing education.  

The weekend started with avalanche beacon practice using numerous decoy 
boxes in an open field for the primary and secondary search phases, then a 
tarp-covered cubbie hole case laid down on a floor for pinpointing.  Both were 
assisted by Marcus Peterson from Ortovox USA, complete with freshly updated 
2.0 versions of the S1 beacon.  Another avalanche station applied the Incident 
Command System to non-companion rescue.  Other refresher stations included 
ropework (both knots/hitches and mechanical advantage raising systems), a 
GPS field exercise, and emergency sled construction (featuring donated kits 
from Brooks-Range Mountaineering Equipment).  

And if the attendees needed any confirmation for the importance of avalanche 
assessment skills and rescue work, Chuck Boyd then delivered a presentation 
on his recent expedition to ski K2 (  The team was 
on neighboring Broad Peak when K2 added yet another 11 lives to its tragic 
tally, then quickly travelled to K2 to take charge of the rescue efforts.

Sunday morning featured a full Search and Rescue exercise for 
an "injured" "skier" suspected to be somewhere off trail in the steep woods.  
The search got off to a good start when a hasty team member found a 
returning real-life hiker who provided the general location of a rather 
conspicuous ski carrier.  Fortunately some additional challenge was provided 
when the "victim" called in precise GPS UTM coordinates, only to have his cell 
phone battery "die" before revealing that the map datum was set to Liberia 
1964.  Once the victim was (eventually) found, his leg was splinted, then a 
Brooks-Range emergency sled was constructed and hauled up to a nearby 
trail.  The exercise was overseen by officers from the Central Massachusetts 
Search and Rescue Team (following up on last year's guest presentation by 
the SAR coordinator for the Massachusetts State Police)

In addition to Ortovox and Brooks-Range, avalanche and ski industry sponsors 
providing raffle items included AIARE, BCA, CyberSpace Avalanche Center, 
Rossignol, and Voile.  Any non-patrollers interested in attending next year's 
event are welcome to contact the author at: [log in to unmask]

Caption:  Mark Renson (Mad River Glen and Mount Washington ski patrols) uses 
his beacon and the new Pieps iProbe to find a "victim."

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