Author Topic: A Day on a Search Mission  (Read 1275 times)

Brian

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A Day on a Search Mission
« on: November 06, 2011, 06:20:34 PM »
I thought the readership might be interested in seeing a photo-montage entitled "A Day on a Search Mission" that my wife Kate put together for her SAR blog  http://tinyurl.com/laa99p.  (She and a couple of other Josephine County searchers took those pictures and others - see below - during a search conducted on Wednesday, 4 Oct.)

In short, on Saturday, 29 October, and after a week of elk hunting in the mountains of neighboring Douglas County, Oregon, two hunters separated in the early afternoon to hunt different areas.  Neither was going far from camp, both knew the country very well and each knew the location to which the other was headed.

One hunter failed to return to camp, and that evening the other set out looking for him.  The next day, his evening search having failed, the hunter reported his friend missing and the county's hasty teams were deployed. 

The missing hunter was 70 years old, had some health issues (including a bad knee), was dressed in camos and carried a rifle and a camo pack.  He was an experienced outdoorsman and had fire-making equipment.  No gunshots were reported.

Our county (Josephine) and I'd guess 2 - 3 other counties sent (mainly) dog teams on Monday (there were 6 dog teams working), and the overall search continued through Wednesday, when an incoming weather front forced operations to be drastically curtailed.

Alas, the subject still has not been found, and aside from a few (cadaver) dog alerts on Wednesday, we don't have a clue where he might be (the terrain is dense and impenetrable in large areas, so it would be really easy to miss him . . . unless a searcher stepped on him).

The weather Monday was downright nasty with heavy rain and temperatures in mid 40s F for a few hours in the morning, followed by a drop in temperature with fog and strong wind in the afternoon.  Our people were miserably cold, and if that weren't bad enough, large swaths of search areas were covered with vine maples which had yet to drop their leaves (mercifully, the leaves were down by Wednesday's search).

We who searched Wednesday went equipped for the worst, but the weather had turned good by then (clear and in the 50s through late afternoon).

This is gnarly and tough terrain in really big country.  The elevation isn't extraordinary, but the steeps are . . . well . . . very steep and sometimes long, and the slopes were very slippery.  In fact, there were many places where I'd have been on rope were we not side-hilling.  Fortunately, there were some vegetable belays which were sometimes helpful for safety, but were very dense and hard to move through or see through.

It can be difficult to navigate such areas without a GNSS (I LOVE my Garmin 60Cx's antenna), since all the ridges and valleys can look alike . . . that is, if you're fortunate enough to see ridges or valleys through the timber and/or fog.

Below, I've listed Kate's posts about how the search developed, where you can see more photos (click on the photos to enlarge them).  One of the posts includes a local TV channel's report of the search.  For sheer scale, I recommend clicking on the top left photo from the Nov-4B entry.  There are 3 searchers in the meadow.

Nov 1 blog entry http://tinyurl.com/7qwpjul
Nov 3-A blog entry http://tinyurl.com/82wtcjq
Nov 3-B blog entry http://tinyurl.com/7v6n7d9
Nov 3-C blog entry http://tinyurl.com/bo2f39x
Nov 4-A blog entry http://tinyurl.com/chta54j
Nov 4-B blog entry http://tinyurl.com/7kqooed

« Last Edit: November 06, 2011, 06:34:36 PM by Brian »

Brian

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Re: A Day on a Search Mission
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2011, 08:38:46 PM »
Well, thank you for the compliment and congratulations on your decision. 

There's a whole new world out there for you, and I'm sure you'll do yourself and your unit proud.

I happen to be a member of our MRU (actually, more a technical rope team), and I can assure you that putting your life in someone else's hands, or having them trust you with theirs, is a pretty humbling experience.

It can also be life-changing, as the posts from our 9 December 2009 rescue might suggest (I captained the mainline, and our MRU leader, Jim McNutt, was the rope team leader).   http://tinyurl.com/85oyul7

Again, congratulations and thank you for your decision.


dave

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Re: A Day on a Search Mission
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2011, 08:18:56 PM »

Callum well done on making the application and i have seen a couple of good books on MRT and there is one by Bob Sharpe called Mountain Rescue I think but will dig it out to check the correct title.

Dave