On the Memorial

Entries in Cave & Technical Rescue Team (16)


Search and Rescue and CAC Join Forces to Clean Canyons

Please applaud Bill Loenhorst from the San Gorgonio Search and Rescue Team  and Hydrotek for once again stepping in to help with community cleanup projects. Two years ago, the Coalition of American Canyoneers (CAC) and the Cave and Technical Rescue Team created a plan to remove graffiti from waterfalls. We needed a relatively lightweight pressure washer to blast the graffiti off the rock. Bill, along with Hydrotek, stepped up and helped us build such a device. The CAC raised $1300 to pay for the wholesale cost of the machine.   Here is an article about its maiden voyage. Over the past two years, Bill has periodically thought of various ways to improve on the device. Not only has he spent time on the improvements, he was also able to cover the costs (over $500) through generous donations from various companies. The Coalition of American Canyoneers has now used the pressure washer to remove graffiti in California and Arizona canyons. The next graffiti cleanup is slated for the end of July in Southern California. 


Cave Team and Canyoneers Clean Local Canyon

The Cave and Technical Rescue Team, in conjunction with the Coalition of American Canyoneers, Altadena Mountain Rescue Team, and the Angeles National Forest performed a canyon cleanup event on August 23. More than 60 volunteers from as far away as Arizona, picked up trash and cleaned graffiti from the canyon walls. Using hammers and chisels, the graffiti was painstakingly chipped from the rock surface. Afterwards, the rock was painted with a thin coating of mud, and a dusting of fine sand from the nearby stream bed using a technique that has proven successful in other outdoor areas. In this way, the tagger's "canvas" was made less attractive, hopefully decreasing the graffiti in the future. Since the mud will last only a couple years, the team will be at it again to help preserve this jewel of the San Gabriels.

Cave Team Fundraiser 4/23/2014



Cave Team and West Valley SAR Complete Snow/Ice MRA Reaccreditation

On March 2nd, the California Region of the MRA came together in June Lake, CA to re-accredit member teams in alpine rescue (snow and ice). This year the event was hosted by Montrose SAR on the slopes of the closed-for-the-season June Lake ski area. West Valley SAR and the Cave Team successfully completed their reaccreditation that included an avalanche beacon search and technical litter evactuation of an injured person.

Each year the Califonia region of the Mountain Rescue Association meets to complete the re-accreditation of its member teams. A fully-accredited MRA member team has completed an accreditation test in each of three disciplines: search and tracking, snow and ice rescue, and technical rope rescue. To maintain accredited status, each team must successfully re-accredit every five years in each of these disciplines. The California Region re-accredits member teams every three years. That is, every year there is an accreditation in one of the disciplines, and this continues in a rotating manner. This allows for events such as those last year where there wasn't enough snow to complete the snow and ice test, but still enables teams to maintain their five year accreditation.

Associate member status is also available. As an associate member, a team must complete and maintain accreditation in at least one discipline. For example, the Cave Team was an associate member in technical rope rescue for nearly a decade before pursuing full accreditation. The only differentiation between associate and full membership is the patch and the ability to vote. I highly recommend that every team pursue accreditation in at least one discipline, as my team greatly improved as part of this process. I think the search management and tracking accreditation is the best first step for most SAR teams.


Cave Team to Host NCRC Level I Seminar

The Cave and Technial Rescue Team is hosting a National Cave Rescue Commission Level I cave rescue seminar in a modular format [July 16-17, July 28-31, August 13-14, 2011]. The cost is $350 for the 8 day class, and this covers meals on 6 of the 8 days, camping, and course materials. Details, and a registration form can be found at This is NOT a fundraiser for the Cave Team; all money goes to the NCRC, food, and course materials.


TRBC 2011 Weekend #1

!2 SAR members representing SB Mountain SAR, West Valley Posse, West Valley SAR, Wrightwood/Phelan SAR, and the Cave Team spent the first of two weekends deeply entrenched in the art and science of technical rope rescue. The next weekend session includes plenty of rescue scenarios followed by a written and practical exam. During the interim weeks, the students are busy studying and practicing for these events.



Recent PVS Graduates Demonstrate Rope Prowess

SB Mountain SAR , along with members of the Cave and Technical Rescue Team, and Wirghtwood/Phelan SAR, hosted a 6 evening personal vertical skills course. members from Rim of the World SAR, West Valley SAR, West Valley Mounted Posse,  and Dave Nicolet himself, also attended the course. 

Belay Workshops: Catching a Live Fall

From Photos
An important skill, a life saving one at that, is a rope belay. It is a skill emphasized and taught in SAR. However it is skill that thankfully is rarely used. Cognitively, it is a perishable skill. Teach a person to belay. A year later, he/she may or may not recall the details of how to do it. Have the person actually catch a fall, the learning goes much deeper.

Click to read more ...


West Valley SAR and The Cave Team Successfully Complete Recert

On Saturday, March 6, all MRA-accredited rope rescue teams in California converged on the Alabama Hills, near Lone Pine to demonstrate their rope rescue skills. The Cave Team and West Valley SAR participated in the event as part of their annual MRA recertification. Fully-accredited MRA teams must pass an annual recertification in one of the three disciplines: technical rope rescue, search and tracking, and winter/alpine rescue. This year's event was hosted by Ventura County SAR.

View CRMRA 2011 Recert in a larger map

Each team provides two evaluators and a victim, who are used in the evaluation of other teams. For example, one of our evaluators proctored the Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit's test, while the other evaluated Sierra Madre SAR. After an hour-long evaluator training session, there was a short briefing, and the teams made their way to the testing locations.

The typical scenario involves a patient raise and lower with careful attention to the medical care provided. Due to the terrain in the region, it was necessary to perform a number of operations to move the victim to an appropriate location. The evaluators assess 6 areas: Leadership, Operational Plan, Communications, Safety, Medical, and Technical. Each of these areas are assigned a score of 1-3, and a minimum passing score is 12. At the conclusion of the scenario, the evaluators debrief the team, and provide the score. If a passing score is not received, then the team must re-test at a later date.

Ventura County SAR finished the day with a barbeque of tri tip and chicken, which tasted great after a day in the field. Organizing such an event is a lot of work, and they did a great job. I am continually amazed at the number of well-trained, dedicated, SAR resources that are available to the residents of California. It is truly a sight to behold.


Two Missions on Baldy

West Valley SAR received a call Friday night for some overdue hikers in the Baldy area whose family said that they were going to "walk the creek". The missing 21 and 13 year old were to return at dark, and when they failed to show, their family notified authorities. Sheriff's Aviation was also on scene and was successful in locating the missing hikers in Stead Canyon. Throughout the night, a ground team attempted to locate the hikers, but due to the brush, and lack of response to their shouts and whistles, the searchers were not able to establish contact. At first light, Sheriff's Aviation launched a rescue ship which was successful in hoisting the two hikers and their dogs. After a chilly night, and a short helicopter ride, the two hikers were released to their family.

View Two Baldy Missions on 11/27/2010 in a larger map

Just as the air crew was gathering their gear, Baldy Fire caught a call for an unconscious hiker on the hut trail. The report said that by-standers were administering CPR, and that the patient was not responsive. Members of Baldy Fire, San Bernardino County Fire, and AMR made their way up the trail, while members of the Cave Rescue Team and San Bernardino Mountain Rescue Team quickly joined them after gathering a litter, litter wheel, backboard, and oxygen bottle. 
Rescuers continued CPR and employed an AED, but the collapsed hiker never regained a heartbeat. Sheriff's Aviation returned to the Baldy area after fueling, and lowered a medic and litter. One member of San Bernardino Mountain Rescue Team and one Baldy Fire crew member walked the deceased hiker's girlfriend down the trail, while the remaining SAR members and fire crew packaged the hiker, and assisted in the hoist.