Search and Rescue got called to come get me. Again.
Many years ago, I was a bit late coming home from a climb of Mt Hood. SAR got called to come find me. It was quite the production. And was a bit embarrassing considering I was trying to join mountain rescue and hadn’t had my interview yet. But, it all worked out in the end and I spent the next six years working for the same team. It goes without saying, I was the butt of a few jokes for the first few years.
During winter down here, if the weather warms up, you need to be on your guard. It warms up before it gets lousy. And it got really lousy this weekend. Friday night, as is our usual routine, we went down to the climbing wall. It’s basically on the far end of the station, away from pretty much everything else. It is in the Big Gym, next to the helo pad and that’s about it. At the start of the session, it was pretty warm. Warm enough that everyone remarked about how warm it was. It was probably just a few degrees below zero which, in winter down here, is balmy. But by the time we left, things had changed a bit.
I poked my head out the door to grab a beer (who needs a fridge? It’s Antarctica. Just leave the beers outside) and couldn’t help but notice the snow tornado happening at the bottom of the stairs. Everything is illuminated by streetlights this time of year, so there was a sickly yellow glowing snow column right in front of me. I could still see the street lamp, which was maybe 75ft in front of me, so that was a good sign. But it was windy. The kind of windy that can blow you up hill.
At the end of the session, maybe a half hour later, we packed up and put all our layers on and headed out into it. Things had become worse. Visibility was limited to 50ft or so, the wind was actually blowing three grown men up the hill back into town, but it wasn’t that cold. We had to drop the key to the climbing wall off at the firehouse. Almost as soon as we got into the firehouse, the radio started squawking. It was officially condition 1. Con1 means you have to stay put wherever you are. It’s too crappy outside to travel. Debris can come flying out of nowhere, which you’ll never see because the visibility is minimal. People get lost even going between close buildings. We were trapped at the firehouse for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, the most recent Star Wars was on. If you’ve ever been in a firehouse, they always have good televisions.
But, shortly after the movie ended, search and rescue (who I had been climbing with all night) showed up and escorted the two of us from the firehouse back to our dorm. The irony was not lost on the SAR team, the irony of them coming to get me. I’ve got a decade of SAR experience under my belt to their one or two years. But, once again, search and rescue had to come get me.
Fortunately for me, there were no news crews this time.
(pics and video will be coming shortly. hopefully I can track them down tonight. Check back in the next day or two. Should be some good action shots)