Beauty, Bees, and Camaraderie Punctuate Training Day for Two Tech Rescue Teams

Thomas Norris of Southern Humboldt County Technical Rescue checks that the line is secured to the motorized hoist during ropes training.

Thomas Norris of Southern Humboldt County Technical Rescue checks that the line is secured to the motorized hoist during ropes training. [All photos by Kym Kemp]

Two rescue teams, Southern Humboldt County Technical Rescue and Eel Valley Technical Resource Team, drove to a remote and beautiful location on Sunday to practice their rope training.

Both crews are staffed with volunteers that must put in long hours learning rescue skills in order to belong to the elite teams. The teams practiced rappelling and other skills in a breathtaking setting.

“You have to know LARRO (Low Angle Rope Rescue Operations),” explained Southern Humboldt County Technical Rescue Public Information Officer Thomas Norris. “But today we practiced High Angle Rope Rescue training. That is a verticle rescue like off a cliff face or off a bridge.”

Crystal Grey, a SHCTR member, relaxes confidently into her ropes during a difficult descent.

Though their surroundings were serene as waterfalls tumbled beneath them into deep pools, the team members had to be extra alert as they practiced the important skills, Norris explained.

A member of EVTR dangles over a large waterfall.

A member of EVTR dangles over a large waterfall.

First, the teams started out warming up their rappelling skills. The two women members went first. Then, one of the youngest members of the team, Teamo Tenorio-gregori, began heading down a steep cliff face only to holler for the hoist to be reversed when he ran into a wasp nest. He was stung or bit around 12 times before he escaped the swarm.

Teamo Tenorio-gregori swatting wasps as he ascends the cliff face.

Teamo Tenorio-Gregori swatting wasps that were also buzzing around his head as he ascends the cliff face.

He got to spend the rest of the day relaxing in the cool water after that.

Rather than risk the wrath of the wasps, Norris explained, “We switched and did a lowering and raising system.” The object was to place the rescuer where he or she needed to be. “We need to be able to pinpoint where we want to rescue,” he said.

Kai Ostrow from the SHCTR climbed over to the far cliff and anchored one section of the ropes. He then tossed the rope back to his partner.

Kai Ostrow from SHCTR tosses a rope bag across to his partner on the other cliff

Kai Ostrow from SHCTR tosses a rope bag across to his partner on the other cliff.

The ropes were tied off to trees. After these tested steady, each climber secured their harness to the ropes and practiced getting to the spot they selected.

One of the team members from the EVRTR climbs down a steep cliff while securely anchored by ropes from both sides.

One of the team members from the EVRTR climbs down a steep cliff while securely anchored by ropes from both sides.

The climbers move slowly and pick their way down.

Another view of the same cliff being climbed.

Another view of the same cliff being climbed.

Beneath them is a pool of water but the climb is still dangerous.

A top-down view of the descent.

“These climbs give us a chance to figure out what works and what doesn’t,” Norris explained.

A member of the EVRTR

A member of the EVRTR team guides his own descent with the help of teammates above.

The team members are tired but obviously exhilarated when they complete their difficult task.

Thomas Norris raises his hands in the air showing how much he trusts the ropes and his teammates.

The team members occasionally shout teasing comments to those climbing– reminding each other of past mistakes and ways they could slip up but their eyes watch the ropes alert for anything that might go wrong. And, when each climber arrives back at the top, they are greeted with a strong hand reaching out for them and pats on the shoulder.

The words are joking but the support is real.

When the climb is over, the two teams move quickly and smoothly together to put away equipment that each purchased with money they raised side by side at fundraisers. They are used to depending on each other. Their teammates are people who have steadied the ropes, reached out a helping hand, and made sure that the work that was needed was done.

Today though, their task is over and they leave knowing that when someone needs them next, they’ll be ready.

 

  • Laytonville Rock
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8 comments

  • Excellent article about some excellent individuals!!!

  • Where is this spot?

    • If I told you, I’d have to kill you…[Only slightly exaggerating]

      • Good answer Kym!

      • Ha ha, I know where it is.
        It is now someones private backyard swimming hole. It was a leftover Hollywood movie set. Those are not real rocks, they are made out of fiberglass. The moss and grasses are actually plastic that was painstakingly glued into place by 43 laborers, that took 23 days, The waterfall is powered by a 25 hp. pump with a variable speed motor to make the waterfall seem to change with the seasons.

        Chris McCoy in the photo of the tech rescue member climbing down the bluff is actually a kid with gray make-up in his beard.

        The only thing real in this whole scene is our real hometown heros of the technical rescue team.
        Huzzah! (as they say in Hollywood.

  • Beatiful photographs of interesting people.

  • Very cool pics. Looks like a blast and some great PR exposure on a team(s) that deserves some publicity. Great article kym!

  • This is so cool and these people are fantastic! You guys do a great job.

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