Last updated: 2 Feb 2023
With the trial period complete, we want to extend an open invitation to all Washington teams for the WAMRA Rainier Patrol Program
WAMRA Teams; If your members are looking for more high mountain rescue experience, a scheduled day out with a good probability of an incident and are interested in working the Rainier Patrol – invite them to sign up today.
Due to unexpected consequences of federal hiring rules, Mount Rainier (MORA) National Park is extremely short staffed this year. You may already be aware of the impacts; for example, the gate above Longmire is now only open on the weekends for the entire winter season.
To assist the National Park Service (NPS) and for public safety, WAMRA teams have been invited to the park on weekends as a new WAMRA Mountain Rescue Patrol, working alongside NPS Wilderness SAR Technicians in their rescue operations. For Washington MRA teams this offers great opportunities for high alpine mountain missions, team building, unit training, interagency ops, public awareness and much more.
Patrol Program Development
Since December, Tacoma Mountain Rescue has been stationing team members in the Park every Saturday. The program has been hugely popular within the unit and greatly appreciated by the park. The predictable schedule, the high likelihood of a mission and just being part of Mountain Rescue at Mt Rainier all probably play a part in its popularity.
An experienced MRA OL/STL or Senior member is assigned in advance as the “Duty Patrol Leader” (DPL) for each Patrol day at Rainier. They contact and coordinate the attending MRA members in the days leading up to the Patrol and lead the MRA team on the day.
Mission Command & Control
In the event of a mission, the NPS will designate the IC from their staff. The NPS may also assign NPS SAR rangers to lead the field teams.
However, sometimes there will not be a NPS SAR Technician – or the MRA team may be out on the mountain and respond directly to an incident. In this case the MRA DPL will be asked if they can lead the MRA team on that mission. This is why it is important that the DPL be an experienced MRA leader.
For TMR, the Patrol days are covered by a DEM Training Number. These Patrol days are meant for units to gain experience and practice skills, i.e. training. TMR DEM# is “23-T-1105-MORA Patrol”.
If there is an incident then MORA immediately obtains a DEM Mission Number that then covers MRA involvement on any rescue.
MORA is well stocked with rescue equipment. MRA Units are not required to bring their own unit gear if they want to keep that available at their home bases for other missions.
If a team does not bring its own unit vehicle then members will be expected to use their POVs for transport in the park.
The biggest MORA cache is at the EOC at Longmire. The Old Station at Paradise is also well equipped with all of the most commonly used rescue equipment.
MRA Operations Base – Paradise Ranger Station
The MRA Patrol will operate from the Old Ranger Station at Paradise. This famous historic building is a Mountain Rescue landmark.
MRA has accommodation available for Friday and Saturday nights at Longmire in cabin L123. L123 can be booked online through https://mountrainierclimbing.us/ (ask your MORA representative for the user/pass). This cabin is warm, comfortable, well appointed and equipped with a full kitchen. Just bring a sleeping bag and pillow.
If L123 is full, additional space may be available but must be arranged prior to the weekend of the patrol through the MORA Committee. Contact your units’ own MORA representative or contact Mark Cooksley (email@example.com) at TMR for assistance.
Park Entry Waiver
At entrance gates, at climbing registration, and during all activities:
- Members must identify themselves as mountain Rescue Association volunteers
- Members shall provide a current MRA membership card and a government issued photo iD.
- Individuals must possess a copy of the park entry waiver at entrance stations and during their visit.
An electronic copy of the 2023 waiver can be downloaded at MORA Waiver 9500-23-031_MRA_SW
Example Patrol Schedule
- 0800 Arrive Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Longmire
- 0810 Team meeting with NPS & Nordic Patrol
- 0830 Convoy with NPS to Paradise (before gate opens to the public)
- 0915 Assist with Paradise setup for public if needed (buffing rope lines, digging out Old Station)
- 0945 Check SAR gear available at Old Station
- 1000 DPL briefs MRA on objectives for the day* e.g.
- Morning AT ski patrol to assess snow conditions on avalanche prone slopes
- Moderate angle litter rigging on snow
- Litter tobogganing practice
- 1400 Send patrollers up toward Pebble Creek in anticipation of an afternoon Muir Snow Field incident
- 1500 Uphill gate closes to public
- 1600 Downhill gate closes to public
- 1700 If no ongoing SAR, patrol day ends.
*most SARs happen in the later afternoon, so we are mindful not to over-train in the morning
2023 Duty Patrol Rota
Last updated 2 Feb 2023
General Information for Patrolling
- Sign up as a Rainier Patroller at https://tinyurl.com/mrarainierpatrol . We are currently operating every Saturday.
- A text group will be set up for the people who registered on each patrol. Follow the texts for updates & changes from the Thursday before the patrol date.
- The DPL will talk to the NPS on the Friday. If the park is not planning to open the Longmire Gate because of weather/logistics, then the DPL may choose to cancel the Patrol. Check your texts for updates.
- Meet 0600 at the TMR Cache (https://goo.gl/maps/VTpJ763LihbHGSiq8) if you want to convoy or rideshare from Tacoma – or just drive direct and meet at MORA at 0800.
- Show an MRA ID for free entry at the MORA Nisqually gate and have a copy of the NPS waiver on your phone or paper if required.
- Meet 0750 at Longmire (https://goo.gl/maps/7AQ33UyoCuWEdTMQ6). Park in the area marked on the Longmire map. Come to the EOC building for 0800 prompt. EOC is in the far SE of the map.
- Brief with the NPS SAR Techs, Rangers and Law Enforcement
- At ~ 0830 we convoy with NPS up to Paradise (https://goo.gl/maps/HGF7mQhhneyc81Hd7) before the public gate opens.
- If you miss the NPS convoy then meet at Paradise Old Ranger Station. You can also call your DPL from Paradise where there is cell service
- Flotation (snowshoes/skis) essential. If you bring skis you should ALSO bring snowshoes
- Avy gear essential including beacon
- Harness, helmet etc essential
- Bring personal gear/calories to cover everything from an easy day on foot patrol in the sun to surviving 24 hours on the snowfield in a storm.
- Check the weather and NWAC for conditions, pack appropriately
- Patrol Day typically ends 1700 if there are no incidents