NOLS WOE Tetons Ski Mountaineering Expedition: Day 11 – Rescuing the Evacuation Team

When Jake left during the snowstorm, we sent a group after him to make sure he was safe. Today, I’m part of the team going to assist the evacuation team in getting back to camp with all of our supplies and cached rations. Notes:

  • This morning, volunteered to e part of team to go searching for evacuation team. Our goal was to find them in the field, and make sure they made to camp safely. Since they were also supposed to be picking up our cached rerations of food, we were to help get the food back to camp.
  • Day started as any other – skiing out of camp with basic daypacks.
  • We followed a drainage over the ridge, which we though would take us directly down to the valley floor right on top of where the evacuation team was camped.
  • As we skied further down the drainage, the terrain got increasingly steep and unstable. Since snow had been falling for the past 2 days, there was lots of new snow loaded up on top of old dry snow, on increasingly steep slopes. Avalanche conditions.
  • Progress down the drainage continued to slow as the terrain got steeper. We separated the group out along our pathway, so an avalanche couldn’t take out the entire group at once.
  • At one point, Elliott triggeref an avalanche on a slope he had just skied over, and which i was about to ski over. If we had not been maintaining separation, I would have been swept away.
  • Eventually we found our way out of the steep drainage. After a bit of routefinding, we met up with the evac group and helped lighten their loads.
  • The hike back to camp with heavy sleds full of food and fuel was very difficult, but eventually we made it.
  • Back at camp, Michael had carved a communal table out of snow, and we all gathered around it for dinner
  • Tonight I prepared my lesson plan for the class on Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics I’ll be teaching to the group tomorrow.