Kodiak SAR Training

Last weekend I went down to work with Kodiak Island Search and Rescue (KISAR). This trip was through the Alaska Avalanche School. Good weather with a great group of folks. Here is what we did. 

Day one: Getting the wheeled litter out to the beach bluff in the super green mossy forest Kodiak, Alaska is known for. 

We spent some time finding a good location to set up our practice scenarios. This one worked well and had a good view. 

Radios with mic's make for good communication - good communication make solid rescue teams. 

Something new for me and the team was trying out dirt anchors. By driving 1 inch steal stakes into the ground connected in line in a particular way proved to hold our rescue loads no problem. Nick K. and John S. here managing the lowering of a rescuer to receive a patient who "fell off the bluff." The unweighted orange line is our burly backup anchor to two large trees. Lots of areas on Kodiak don't have any trees and the rock is often useless for building anchors. Learning these dirt anchors could be key to future KISAR missions.   

Securing the patient with an improvised harness and getting them into the system. 

The team on top hauling the patient and assistant up the bluff. The entire load is on the dirt anchor, backed up with the orange static line. I would want some more time building these dirt anchors in different ground types before I would trust it by itself. However of the three we built over the weekend they showed no sign of failing. 

More hauling with an edge attendant for proper communication. 

We did another scenario using the litter. More work to get the patient in but nice when being hauled up. 

Then we transferred the litter into a wheeled litter, all pretty smooth and fast work.  

Like you would have to do in real life we got the "patient" back to the trailhead. Instead of a person we loaded a bunch of packs and the group gear to take out, which was about the weight of a small person. A belay line was used on steep sections of the trail. 

Day two: Up on Pyramid Peak for practice on the snow. We hauled up a patient who had fallen down a steep gully, unable to self rescue. 

Once on lower angle terrain the patient was transferred off the anchor and a traverse was made backed up by a hip belay just in case. 

After traversing the team made quick work of getting the patient down the snow, rope length after rope length and all the way down the mountain...

I thought it would be good practice to get a patient all the way back to the road system. Turns out the SKED sled device work really well across grass, mud, bushes and the occasional rocks. Until now I have only used these on snow. It's easy to practice short transports and say "ok we did it." I wanted to see the whole thing, just like it would be in a real rescue. Practice for real and it will be that much easier when it is for real. 

Lots of Voile skis! Including myself there were 4 out of the 6 of us that had Voile's. The scaled "BC" versions are a favorite among the locals for spring skiing on Kodiak.

Kodiak Island powers its grid on 100% renewable energy, a great example how other places could do it too. Nice sunset taken with my iPhone and a little editing. Wish I had my new camera, I've still got a lot to learn about photography. See you next time Kodiak, thanks to KISAR it's always been a pleasure!

Thanks for viewing - Nick D. 

Kodiak. Crevasse Rescue. The Alaska Range!

Spring work this year for Remarkable Adventures consisted of a trip to Kodiak Island and a one day custom Crevasse Rescue Course. After that it was into the Alaska Range to teach a course for the Alaska Mountaineering School.

Kodiak Alaska

In May I went for a quick weekend trip to Kodiak to work with the KISAR team (Kodiak Island Search and Rescue). Here we got a heli bump right up to the new cabin KISAR built for their training missions.

Kodiak Alaska, backcountry skiing

This picture does not show how strong the winds were. Here we circled up real quick, shouting over the wind to make a group decision on what our plan was, where and how we were going to get there. Higher up the wind flapping on my jacket hood was so loud I wished I had ear plugs in. A funny thing about Kodiak is, to the locals, this was a really nice day to be out in the mountains. The weather is notoriously gnarly!

Kodiak Alaska, ski to sea

It's always a good time working with my friend and work partner Joe Stock of Stock Alpine, LLC. Joe and I keep in contact to discuss our businesses and learn from each other. As the only certified guides living and working in the Anchorage and Girdwood area we exclusively share our guest inquiries if we are already booked up. For larger groups we always hope to be able to work them together. 

Kodiak Alaska, skiing

Good times hiking through the woods with ski boots and skis on your pack. It is always (most times) worth a little mud and bushwhacking to end a good skiing trip.  photo by - Steve Weilebski.

Remarkable Adventures, rope ascention

Right after Kodiak I was back home to teach a one day crevasse rescue course to a local Girdwood group - father, son and their friend. It's always great to work with Alaskans. We started our day learning and practicing our rope ascension, a vital skill to know how to get yourself out of a crevasse. Tree limbs work great to sling a rope over and learn your ascension system.

Remarkable Adventures, crevasse rescue course

We chose Tincan in Turnagain Pass as our location for the day to be able to easily access the late May snow in order to maximize learning and minimize the time it would have taken to reach a glacier. We found a perfect safe spot to work on crevasse rescue skills. 

Remarkable Adventures, crevasse rescue course

Hauling with a basic 3:1 "Z-pully" system. We later went over having the ability to be able to rappel to your victim, help them, ascend out and then haul them up with a dropped loop 2:1 or 6:1. This is what every glacier travel partner should be able to quickly and competently do. It was a really nice spring day on the snow!

My final spring work was teaching a Denali Prep course for the Alaska Mountaineering School. These three photos are from our camp at the Kahiltna Base Camp. Stunning views of the big three peaks of the Alaska Range: Mt Hunter, Mt Foraker and Denali. We had two really nice days of weather to start the course and were able to cover the necessary skills to be able to move and progress through the rest of the week...

Whiteout on a glacier

...Then we woke at 3am to go for a peak ascent of Radio Control Tower. We woke to full-on whiteout conditions and it stayed like that for 5 days. This is an odd photo to post but that was our view for 5 days, our neighbors tent is not far away in this photo.

You just can't go out safely wandering around on a glacier in these conditions with hundreds of crevasses around you. I've had the motto of using whiteout navigation skills only to get you back home to safety, not to head out from safety, I will continue to try and live by this motto. Instead of our climbing ambitions we went over classes, re-practiced our crevasse rescue and worked a lot on patience waiting for the weather to change. Patience can be a really important skill to have for trips to Alaska. Most of the time the weather and conditions are good but sometimes you just have to sit there. 

Kahiltna Base Camp, Alaska Range

The Alaska Range is a special place. The grandeur of the mountains and glaciers cannot be explained, it must be witnessed in person. This trip logs my 30th expedition into the Alaska Range, it never gets old and I look forward to more. I also look forward to more return visits into the Wrangell-St. Elias, the inner Chugach, the Tordrillo Mountains and the Neacola's among the lifetimes of other places I've never been to in this great land of Alaska.