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In The News – The Birth of the Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue

January 15, 2024 | Member Submitted

Originally Published in Moonshine Ink 12/14/2023, Written by David Fenimore

It was February 29, 1976, and the biggest storm of the season was sweeping the Sierra. That day, 12-year-old Lance Sevison and his buddy Mike Kelly were skiing at Northstar. Sometime in the afternoon, they decided to cross the ski area boundary and look for fresh powder on the backside of Mt. Pluto. Witnesses reported that they had only one pair of skis between them, each boy skiing on a single ski. By the time the lifts shut down for the day, they hadn’t returned.

Doug Read, a close family friend, had taken Lance out on cross-country ski tours and admired the boy’s adventurous spirit. When his telephone rang with the news that the boys were missing, Read and a hastily gathered group of friends threw skis and packs into pickups and fought their way through the whiteout to Northstar. They geared up, hitched a ride to the summit, and set off into the wet and windy darkness.

Those were the days before smartphones, GoreTex, or GPS, when cross-country skis were made of wood with Lignostone edges and three-pin bindings. Nordic skiers used bamboo poles and wore woolen knickers, leather boots, and 60/40 parkas, which tended to soak the wearer in wet snow or rain. They carried no radios, headlamps, or avalanche beacons. None of them had ever organized a search, and few had participated in one. 


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