US Senate Honors Search and Rescue Personnel

May 27th-Memorial Day Weekend

Winter still rules at Mt Rainier!!

We hope to see folks on the mountain psyched to climb and camp but please be prepared! GPS, map and compass, cell phone and a completed wilderness permit are all great tools that allow both climbers and rescuers a greater safety margin when the weather turns poor. Pack your Gore-tex and skis and have a good time with great winter conditions this weekend.

On Friday May 14, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed Resolution 526, which honors the men and women who perform Search and Rescue (SAR) throughout the United States. The Resolution specifically acknowledges the role that professionals and volunteers provide to our country, and sets aside the week of May 16 to May 22, 2010 as National Search and Rescue week. Also, it encourages the people of the United States to observe and hold ceremonies and activities that promote awareness and appreciation of the role SAR personnel provide for their communities.

The Mount Rainier climbing community had a hand in making this possible, as our former Mountaineering and SAR Program Manager, Mike Gauthier, was one of the driving forces behind the Resolution. As you may recall, Mike left Mount Rainier to work in the US Senate last year. While at Mount Rainier, he participated in over 200 SAR incidents and had this to say about the Resolution, “This is a very personal story for me as my friends and fellow rangers, Sean Ryan and Phil Otis, died during a mountain rescue high on Mt. Rainier in 1995. Finding them on the glacier that day changed the trajectory of my life and career, and steeled my resolve to change the way we worked as climbing rangers. Being able to help with this resolution is part of my commitment to honor and remember them and their spirit.”

Mike and Central Mountain Rescue Volunteer Marty Lentsch have aspirations to eventually create a National Museum and Memorial for SAR. Said Mike, “some of the hardest, most valuable and rewarding moments of my time as a park ranger have been during search and rescue missions. I worked with many incredible people who gave their time and energy, sometimes risking their lives, in order to help others in emergencies. At Mount Rainier, the volunteers from the Mountain Rescue Association were very notable because they trained and prepared on their own in order to help the climbing, hiking, skiing and outdoor recreation community. So it is very appropriate that the US Senate, through our good friend Senator Maria Cantwell, acknowledge and set aside a week to recognize the work they, and the professionals from local, state and federal agencies, do in order to help people throughout the nation.”

Please pass this good news along and look for more information on how you can help. It will take time to organize and achieve a National Museum and Memorial, but it would be a fitting honor for those who have lost their lives in the line of duty and also for those who unselfishly give so much to help others in need.

More can be found about Sean Ryan and Phil Otis through books, and here is a link to the text of the Senate Resolution. Photo by Mike Gauthier.

~ DG