The visitors, who are members of the Sichuan Mountaineering Association (SMA), will visit with Boulder-based Rocky Mountain Rescue Group (RMRG) and the Summit County Rescue Group (SCRG) for an exchange of skills and experience in responding to mountain rescue emergencies.
The Sichuan province contains a vast alpine region with many peaks rising over 7000 meters. SMA was the initial mountain rescue team that responded to the 2009 search and rescue attempt for Boulder climbers Jonny Copp, Micah Dash and Wade Johnson in the Mt Edgar region of the Sichuan Province.
In addition to mountain rescue response in the popular tourist region of China, SMA has used their SAR skills to save countless lives during recent earthquakes in the province.
The current exchange was initiated by the Department of State consulate in Chengdu, China and is supported by the family of Wade Johnson, who perished along with Copp and Dash on Mt Edgar. The Johnson family directed a portion of the left over funds raised during the rescue effort in 2009 to support the travel of the SMA rescuers. The Johnson family said, "This rescue and training program is the perfect way to spend the funds that were raised through the generosity of many wonderful people and organizations; those who understand the spirit of the mountains and of those who seek to climb."
The US Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program is sponsoring the Chinese team during their visit to both Colorado and Washington State. State Department representative Chris Mrozowski said, "We know the SMA mountaineers are already doing heroic work in mountain and earthquake rescue in western China. This exchange is all about exposing them to more formal emergency preparedness, crisis management and initial response protocols, which are somewhat limited in Sichuan Province. The response from American rescue teams has been enthusiastic and their generosity will give the Chinese visitors a rapid immersion into mountain rescue response as it occurs in the U.S."
While in Colorado the SMA visitors will meet with local climbers who went to assist in the rescue attempt last year, and with the families of the deceased. The visitors will also meet with mission leaders from RMRG and SCRG to discuss and observe initial rescue response methods, research rescue equipment and techniques and participate in multiple rescue scenarios. While in Boulder SMA will participate in a mock high-angle rock climbing rescue in Boulder Canyon with RMRG, after which they will travel to Summit County to participate in a mock alpine mountaineering rescue on Quandary Peak with SCRG.
Dan Lack, secretary/treasurer of the Rocky Mountain Region of the Mountain Rescue Association, and mission leader with RMRG said, "We think the Sichuan rescuers will learn a lot from observing our initial response and technical systems for mountain rescue here in Colorado. However we are also excited to learn from our Chinese colleagues. Elegant solutions to big problems always come from areas with limited resources, so we are excited to learn as much as we can from their experiences. Most importantly the Colorado SAR community believes we can form a lasting and beneficial collaboration with the SMA through an exchange such as this."
Directors of the Colorado Search and Rescue Board and the Rocky Mountain Region of the Mountain Rescue Association will also participate in this exchange.
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The most recent issue of the MRA Meridian newsletter is now available! Read about how the oldest mountain rescue organization in the nation got its start; about coordination efforts made by MRA teams in the field; and how to disinfect your search and rescue equipment. There is also a recap of the Winter Meeting Report and much much more!