The first joint OCSS, Ski Mountaineer's Ski Leader Training was a resounding success. Ski Leaders from OCSS, Wilderness Adventures and Ski Mountaineers took advantage of the annual program which previously had been hosted solely by the Orange County Sierra Singles. Management of both OCSS and SMS are to be lauded for their support of this program including their contribution of free lift tickets to active leaders to help defray the individual cost of the training.
Ski mountaineering leaders and members who participated included Keith Martin, Reiner Stenzel, Paulette Landers, Michael Dodson, Nonie DeSurra and Bob Meador. OCSS members included Ernie Hockenstein, Barbara Wolak, Gary Landers, Phyllis Reimann-Dodson, Cyndee Pappas, Donna Specht, and Joann Sarachman. Rosemary Campbell from Wilderness Adventures also joined.
To avoid Iron Boot in the morning and to appease the snow god, we stayed at the Ullr Lodge in Mammoth, a favorite of OCSS's and other groups that go to Mammoth. The lodge has reasonable comfort, accommodations and cost.
Saturday was set aside for a field exercise. Each year a different subject is chosen for the field exercise, this years subject was EMERGENCY SNOW SLEDS! An evening meeting had been held at Michael Dodson's earlier in the month to work out the bugs. As participants woke on Saturday morning, a minor rebellion took place. Several of the participants had gone up a day earlier and had already tested the snow conditions. The report: the snow was the best they had seen for a long time! The group was impatient with the plan to go out a short distance from Mammoth Lodge and spend the day doing sled building. A compromise was swiftly worked out. A morning exercise was conducted building sleds in the snow-covered golf course just south of the Ullr Lodge with the promise of an afternoon ski tour along the Minaret Crest.
All participants industriously constructed sleds and then gave them a test run. The first group ready to run was headed by Michael and Reiner with Bob as the victim. Bob was securely tied and wrapped up with a tarp on top of the sled.
To guard against the cold, he braced himself with a couple of swigs of medicinal Schnapps. A second sled constructed by Keith, Cyndee and Ernie was used to haul Gary around for a couple of laps. All found the exercise stimulating and informative. Pulling those sleds was hard work in the fresh powder conditions.
Reiner conducted a brief beacon refresher exercise and then we all returned to the Ullr for a snack and preparation for the afternoon tour. Michael led the group on a beautiful tour along the Minaret Crest, starting and returning to the Mammoth Lodge Parking area. The snow conditions were excellent, the weather was ideal and all had great fun. Reiner and Keith tested out some walkie talkies which Reiner had brought to the exercise and found them to be a great aid in keeping the two ends of the group informed. Definitely something which might become standard equipment on future tours both from a safety as well as a convenience point of view.
Saturday night we feasted on dinner catered by Matsu. After dinner we conducted a leadership exercise. A scenario was presented with various problems and safety concerns. Everyone gave input as to what kinds of issues the trip leader needed to confront and what criteria should be used in his choice of solutions. Many of the suggestions were novel and informative, and the group participation was invaluable to all.
Sunday the group went to the Mountain for a half day clinic. Those with advanced skills skied with Urmas Franosch while the intermediate level skiers worked with Bob Meador with some assistance from Owen Maloy. A storm came slopes the whole day with only minimal crowds. Perfecto!
Planning for next year's Ski Leader Training will take place in May. We need input from OCSS and SMS leaders (and future leaders) as to what skills they would like to see taught and what changes they might like to see in the format of the program. Thanks to all the participants for their enthusiasm and support in making this year's program a success.
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