Mountain Rescue Service Training

Recently we have responded to rescue requests from Fish & Game of injured hikers in less than 5th class terrain where proper belaying of a litter may be necessary. Last Thursday about 20 members of North Conway based Mountain Rescue Service met atop Cathedral Ledge to practice some twin-rope technique lowering on lower angle terrain, including passing knots through a re-direct.

Frank demonstrating the knot pass
Working the litter
Working the litter
Our “victims” during a practice session
Our “victims” during a practice session

To learn more about Mountain Rescue Service go to or and on Facebook

2012 Climb Convergence

If you don’t work for EMS you probably don’t know what the Climbing Convergence is. Technically, it’s staff training, but “staff training” does not begin to describe 160 employees from 60+ stores getting together in the heart of the White Mountains for 2 full days of climbing, clinics, training, hiking, cook-outs, camping, bonfires, slacking, and stuffing pockets with swag while perusing a vendor village.

Tent City at Great Glen, at the base of the Mount Washington Auto Road

My part in the event was limited to one day at Cathedral Ledge, but it was enough to sense the kind of camaraderie folks who work for EMS share.

Ethan and Sara setting up at “the classroom”
One of the anchor clinics I taught during the day- Photo by Dave Karl of
Keith and Ethan teaching belay escapes and some self-rescue skills…
Anyone know what kind of snake this is?
Lunch break at the base of the cliff
Keith being Keith

It is very cool to work with a company that takes authentic training like this so seriously. Sometimes I don’t think my own family understands. We LOVE what we do. It’s not just “retail”. It’s sharing a lifestyle, a healthy lifestyle, with our customers. Climbing, hiking, kayaking, biking, ice climbing, backcountry skiing… these are the sports we represent, and these are our own personal passions. And our company puts events like this together to help us outfit our customers so they can enjoy these pursuits as much as we do… It just doesn’t get any better!

AIARE Instructor Refresher Course

Yesterday I observed and assisted with a Level 1 Instructor Refresher course at the AMC Highland Center. AIARE requires current instructors partake in an IRC every three years to stay current with changes to the curriculum of AIARE courses and to improve their teaching skills through a facilitated open group discussion on a variety of topics. Tim Brown, an IFMGA guide and contributor to some of the recent changes in the curriculum facilitated the day.

This particular IRC was open to anyone interested in AIARE’s curriculum and mission. With 9 people in attendance we covered a lot of the new updates to the student manual, presentation ideas, new tools empower students with, and ideas about how to take ownership of your course in a professional way. This was a good warmup for me before I head to Silverton, CO in less than a month to observe a full Level 1 Instructor Training course along with a Level 2 IRC. For more information about AIARE please visit

Eastern Snow Avalanche Workshop 11-5-11

This past Saturday 80+ people attended the first annual Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop (ESAW). Members from organizations involved in avalanche education, snow science, and search and rescue from all over the greater New England area were in attendance.


Chris Joosen, Lead Snow Ranger for USFS on Mt. Washington gave a talk on Spatial Variability in the White Mountains. Later in the afternoon he discussed avalanche accidents on Mount Washington, the eastern dilemma, and the role of social media and innovation, past, present and future.

Jim Giglinto, a New York State Forest Ranger gave a presentation on Avalanches in the Adirondacks.  Of particular interest to the group were the pictures presented depicting how existing slide paths have grown, some by more than 50%, in the wake of Hurricane Irene. Looks like there might be some potential first descents available this season!

Kyle Tyler, the Eastern Representative of the American Avalanche Association gave a high speed informative talk on Propagation propensity of persistent weak layers.

Rebecca Scholand from the Mount Washington Observatory gave an graphically beautiful and informative talk on Upslope Snow and it’s development and effects upon the White Mountains of NH. I’ll be begging her for some of her slides to use in future avalanche courses.

After breaking for lunch Sam Colbeck, the former Senior Research Scientist at the Army’s Cold Region Research and Engineering Laboratory, gave a fascinating talk on Snow Physics, most notably how recent advances in technology have allowed us to get a better understanding of snow in relation to avalanches. His slides depicting different stages of metamorphism were very impressive.

Eric Siefer, the Northeast rep for Mammut gave a presentation on the technology of air bags and their effect on avalanche safety. The cumulation of which was the demonstration of the technology by one young audience member.

The last talk was given by Jonathan Shefftz, a member of the National Ski Patrol and passionate avalanche educator, who spoke about the benefits of giving Level 1 Avalanche Students pre-course homework. You can imagine that generated some entertaining discussion.

To wrap up the event most people retired to a social hour upstairs the nearby International Mountain Equipment store where there were vendor booths, raffles, and some graciously donated beer from Smuttynose.

Many folks headed over to Flatbread Co. to continue the snow talk over dinner. All in all it was a great 1st event and something the east coast community will undoubtedly benefit from. The proceeds from the event are going to the White Mountain Avalanche Education Fund.   The fund is set up primarily to educate kids about avalanches across the Northeast.  For more information on this fund check out: Special thanks to Chris Joosen and Kyle Tyler for putting it all together!

Ski Tech Training

Yesterday concluded a 2 day training program at the North Conway EMS organized by Ellen Moran, the Product Manager for AT and Telemark skis for Eastern Mountain Sports. In attendance were ski techs from 10 EMS stores and 2 Customer Service Reps.

Morning clinics

Product Reps from Black Diamond, G3, Scarpa, Dynafit, K2, 22 Designs, Marker, and Rossignol put on clinics through out the 1st day covering their current lines. On the 2nd day hands on training included custom boot fitting and binding mounting.

Towards the end I gave a short talk/slideshow on Backcountry Safety, Avalanche Courses, and Beacons.

Backcountry Safety discussion

It’s EMS’s commitment to training like this that helps us continue to be the most authentic, knowledgable outfitter out there! I know I walked away with a tremendous amount of information and some product manuals I’ll be referring to when need be!

Mountain Rescue Service Training 10-18-11

I haven’t had much outdoor time lately to blog about as I’ve been busy becoming a dad, so it was nice to get out  for a couple hours yesterday late afternoon for some high angle rescue training with Mountain Rescue Service. We spent a couple hours at Cathedral Ledge practicing how to package a victim on a cliff and either raise or lower them using a twin-tension system. High speed stuff for sure Frank Carus demonstrated than had us run through the drill with assistance from Kurt Winkler.

Prepping the litter
Rigging discussion
Starting demo as litter attendant
Frank demonstrates barrelman attachment to litter
Team runs through a scenario

The Mountain Rescue Service provides specialized technical teams comprised of world-class guides and climbers who volunteer their time and expertise in the service of hikers and climbers who need assistance, in and around the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

The team is ‘on call’ 24 hours per day, all seasons, with volunteers being mobilized for a full range of incidents: complicated multi-day and nighttime searches in the depth of winter throughout the White Mountain National Forest; technical rope rescues on the region’s many rock climbing cliffs; swift water rescue assistance; and lift evacuations at area ski resorts.

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