Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Keep the Team Together at ALL Times

The word "team" implies a group of people working together for the benefit of the whole.  If you consider yourself part of a team and constantly stay aware of the other team members throughout your trip, especially in cases of extreme weather, accidents can be easily avoided. 

As with any team, a "team leader" should be chosen for all backcountry trips.  Your team leader must be perceptive of the individual abilities and experience of each team member.  This person must know that the only real goal for a backcountry adventure is the safe return of each party member.  The team leader need not be the most skilled mountaineer, but rather the most trusted and most respected backcountry user.

Of the hundreds of searches performed in the United States by mountain search and rescue teams each year, most are conducted for subjects who have been separated from a group of people and usually from shelter and survival equipment.  The rule is simple:  do not wander away from the team!  In Kansas, for example, roads are easily found just about everywhere.  Fly over western Colorado just once and you'll realize this is 
not true of mountainous states.

In the words of a now infamous young girl trying to find her way home, "Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore." If team members must separate from the rest of the team, they should always do so in groups of two or more.  In addition, they should carry and be skilled in the use of a map and compass.  This will reduce the risk of any individual becoming lost.  Also, make certain to mark on the map the precise location of the team. 

Be prepared, think before and stay safe!

For more information on backcountry safety, check out the Mountain Rescue Associations public education programs @

Courage - Commitment - Compassion
     Mountain Rescue Association 

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