Thirty-six Scouts and Dads from Simsbury Boy Scout Troop 175 spent the weekend of March 13-15 doing their annual winter climb in the White Mountains. The Troop does Junior Leader Training every year and uses the White Mountains as the basis for the coursework.
“We take our older guys, our Leaders Group, and put them through a series of challenges on the way up the mountain. Starting before dawn, two of senior Scouts Alex Stine and Chris Reilly, accompanied by Assistant Scoutmaster Zack Zikovich prepared the challenges by planting various obstacles on the trail including acoustical mines (trip the wire and a siren goes off), river bridges that are “closed” and buried dummies in snow fields that are ‘victims’ of avalanches” said Jack Brinegar, Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 175.
The Scouts were divided into three teams – Red, White and Blue – and had to get their gear, sleds and full packs 4 miles up the mountain while avoiding the pitfalls, getting their teams across rivers, and rescuing the “avalanche victims”. Finally with a mile to go to the top, the Scouts are attacked by a “pack of wolves” (the senior Scouts, Alex and Chris). In response to the attack the teams must immediately conduct First Aid and then get their casualties one mile up the mountain in the deep snow to reach the top for a mock “helicopter evacuation”.
“Most First Aid practice occurs in warm easy environments. We like to practice in the snow and the cold where it really counts” said Scoutmaster Brad Mead, a nationally certified Wilderness EMT. “It’s a lot tougher to do the right thing when you are dealing with an injury, the cold, numb hands and deep snow all at once. Transporting wounded victims uphill in deep snow for a mile is also a tremendous challenge and the Scouts must work together to be successful”.
That night at the top of the mountain in Carter Notch Hut the Scouts participated in a seminar program developed by the US Army Rangers called “No Excuses Leadership”. They learned how the Rangers operate in extreme environments and what skills they use to complete their missions.
Finally, the Scouts competed in the annual Plank competition inside the hut where the Scouts held the Plank (A push up position) for as long as possible. Third place was Carson Boyko (26 minutes), second place was Will Sickinger (27 minutes) and first place went to Andrew Gutierrez – who set a new Troop record of 30 minutes. Sleep came easy that night as the scouts retired to their cabins high up in the White Mountains.