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Stowe Mountain Rescue discusses safety following busy week

Four rescues in just over 24 hours and a small avalanche in Smugglers Notch, all in the last week.
Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 8:57 AM EST
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STOWE, Vt. (WCAX) - Stowe Mountain Rescue crews have had a busy week and are gearing up for another winter weekend of dangerous, sub-zero temperatures.

“All our stuff is unusually dirty right now. We have been so extremely busy,” said Tom Rodgers, a team member with Stowe Mountain Rescue.

Crews had four rescues in just over 24 hours and a small avalanche in Smugglers’ Notch last week. “Basically, a lot of snow happened -- and this is typically the really first big snow of the year -- We tend to get a bunch of call-outs,” said Rodgers. He says he loves the job but would prefer if people were being safer. “Just to remember that every time you are entering the wilderness you are taking your life in your hands.”

Rodgers says like much of his team, they too like to venture out. But if recent trends are any indication, people need to be doing it safer. “We are seeing more and more people out recreating in the backcountry and with that more people that are getting injured or lost,” said Rodgers.

He says they typically get about 35 calls a year for rescues. In 2020, they had 45. Last year it was 57, which smashed previous records. “Spend a little time reading about it online and then talk to someone who knows a little bit more about it than you,” said Rodgers.

But Rodgers says the team of volunteers will continue to be there when called on and they will be ready. “Being a member of this team is a really big commitment. We are training at least once or twice a month and sometimes even more than that,” said Rodgers.

They are prepped for vertical rescues on ice walls and pulling skiers out with a broken bone. “We find it fun, we really enjoy the training. We enjoy the rescues. It’s nice to get out there and help someone in their time of need,” said Rodgers.

They recently have been in Smugglers’ Notch a lot or finding skiers chasing untouched powder out of bounds at resorts. He recommends extra layers, extra food, and something as simple as a headlamp. “Otherwise, they would have made it safely back to their car, and they end up having to call us. That’s a significant portion of our calls,” said Rodgers.

He urges folks to get out there and chase the fresh snow but be smart about it. “Play in the snow. It’s what we all live for here in Vermont, but there are ways we can do it that are just safer and smarter,” said Rodgers.

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