Friday, September 30, 2011

Tingey Family Reunion

The Tingey Family

Our father, Ralph Lee Tingey, M.D., the patriarch of our clan, died June 6, 2003. Our mother, Margaret Anne Hurst Tingey, went to live with our sister, Judy, on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. Judy and husband Grant are saints to have taken on the task of caring for her. For twenty years until dad's death, I had visited my parents a half dozen times a year on my trips from Alaska to the "Lower 48". Now that dad was gone, Judy invited us all to have an annual family reunion at her place with our mother.

It made sense, since Mom couldn't travel, and Judy had the condos for us to stay in. Party, party, party. We would arrive Thursday and Friday, have a big day on the beach, then each family would take turns preparing a meal. Judy had it all on a schedule, emailed in advance, but posted on her door. It became a tradition to gather Saturday night on the east shore beach boulders to watch the sunset and take family photos. Then on Saturday, some would go shopping in Truckee or South Tahoe, while others would rent mountain bikes or hike to the top of a peak.

The reunion idea took off, and we enjoyed each other so much, that it has become an annual event, with the cast changing slightly as new grand-children come into the picture, or students, missionaries, or newlyweds miss the event for a year.

I had flown to Portland where I joined my son Thor and wife Sarah on a long mountain-bike and road trip to Lake Tahoe. I posted photos and told the story in my previous post.

This year our niece, Liz, married Jason, who brought his children to meet all the new relatives.
Jason strides by Sarah

Jason and Liz are world travelers: rumor has it that Jason proposed on a hospital bed after a ski accident; then a second time (when not on drugs) in Singapore at a candle-light dinner. Liz has traveled around the world, visiting Nepal, the Far East, and points beyond. Jason works internationally, so they are among the wanderers in the tribe. Our family has two kinds of members: those that bought a home and settled down, and those who wander. Each of my brothers and sisters has a daughter who wanders; my own Daphne is the wanderer in my family. I'm caught in the middle, owning a house in Alaska, but wandering half the year.

I had flown from Anchorage to Portland to visit my son Thor and daughter-in-law Sarah; together we would slowly make our way south, riding the extensive mountain bike trails durning the day, and camping at night. Thor and Sarah were excited to see John and Erica, fellow mountain bike racers and spend a day with them on the trails. On Saturday, Erica had planned to quietly escape for a couple of hours and do a race at the local ski area. Thor and Sarah wanted to watch, so I tagged along for the adventure.
The bike racers: Erica & John

I had no idea that downhill mountain bike riding was so popular. Hundreds of people were dressed in what looked like protective hockey gear, barreling down the mountain trails at high speed. The winter skiing had become summer mountain biking; the movements were the same, only the the toys were different.
John, Kirkham, and Erica at the end of the race

At noon we had planned to meet my cousin, Linda, and her husband Garry at "Burger Me" in Truckee. We were late, so the cousins wandered for an hour. "Burger Me" is a fine establishment, and I'm a connoisseur of fine burgers. I of course selected the basic burger; Thor the most extreme one.
Garry, Linda, Sarah, Thor at Burger Me

On the beach! The sand was warm; the kids were in pig heaven; the adults were like kids. I, with my Alaska tan, sat under an umbrella.
The beach scene

The kids played in the lake, where nephew Will took them crawdad hunting. They came back with a bucket full of the wiggly creatures. Some wanted to eat them for dinner; common sense prevailed, and the little crustaceans were returned to the water and swam back under the rocks.
Kids in the water

Adults mostly talked, but then Tony produced 'Men's Journal' and 'Outside' magazines which made the rounds on the beach.
Sarah into "Men's Journal"

Jim's wife, Teri, brought her daughter Auri and her children. You'd think a family would know all its members, but I hadn't met Auri all these years, so it was such a treat to finally connect.
Auri, Teri's daughter

As we talked, Auri's daughter discovered how to bury the boat pump nozzle in the sand and blow dust into the air. Totally cool!
Kate and Kirkham blow up the sand

Grant had to work on Saturday, hosting the zoning folks. I couldn't believe they hypocrisy of the local zoning commission, which came to visit taking Grant's time to insist on various painting to the buildings and special bushes to screen the condos from the folks recreating on the lake. What I saw was a giant speedboat, painted with flames, powered with two 600 HP engines rocketing across the water in excess of 70 MPH in an ear-piercing motor-head orgasm. I'm not sure the pilot of the boat cared whether a bush was growing in front of my feet.
Our host, Grant
Brother Jim is the continuing athlete in the family. A former BYU swimming champion, now working at Los Alamos, still swims, runs and skis. His wife Teri seems to run from marathon to marathon, recently the NY marathon, so she's in the big time. Everything Jim says makes me laugh; some folks just have the knack of it. His son Will came, but daughter Annie was having a baby; daughter Lucy is an LDS missionary in Japan, and son Sam was working. Families seem to grow, and the kids just get a life of their own.

Tony and Shelly live in Salt Lake City, where we all originated. Our Great-great grandfather, John Tingey immigrated from England in the 1840's and was a Mormon pioneer. I was born living in the same house he built at 245 W. North Temple, a block from the Mormon Temple. Now, Tony & Shelly are the only remaining members of the family to still live in Utah. I love to return home, so after the reunion I would ride with them the 700+ miles back 'home'. Tony makes me laugh, too, and when Jim and Tony get together, the humor never stops.
Tony and Will's torso

Their kids were scattered to the four winds: Spencer and wife Amy live in West Virginia, where he is going to medical school. Son Alex is in school in Provo, Utah, while their daughter is engaged and working as a geologist in Salt Lake City. None could make the reunion this year. My daughter, Daphne, couldn't make it either, although she had planned to come. She had just moved from Mancos, Colorado, where she had been working for her mother at Alpacka Raft Co., to Philadelphia to discover the East Coast and attend business school. Shelly complained of 'Empty Nest Syndrome'.
Shelly in contemplation

Also, my sister Mardie's kids, Katie, Mark, and Allie were now grown up; my baby sister is now 50??? Her kids are out of the nest??? How did this happen? Anyway, the are all in school around the country. Even her husband Mark had to work, just separating from his law firm and establishing his own practice. What a landmark! Anyway, Mardie couldn't miss the fun, so she showed up alone. None of us siblings have ever missed the reunion. Mardie was actually the greatest athlete in the family. Now, after the soccer mom years are over, I expect to see her once again rise like a Phoenix and get back in shape.
Mardie: Love that pink hat!

Beach life: Kate, Auri & Teri

The evenings were a continuation of the fun, but condensed into a small condo. There were only 29 of us this year, but we still ended up in fairly close quarters during dinner. But, it was a time for talk and stories.
Teri prepares our dinner

My cousin Linda, sister Judy, and I grew up together, but I hadn't spent much time with her in the past 50 years until our reunions started. Now we email each other regularly and have made the reunion an annual adventure. Her father, Hal Rumel, was a master photographer of the West; I have two of his giant photographs in my bedroom of the Teton range, my prize possessions.

Linda's husband, Garry, is an engineer and told us about his latest project to make refrigeration pipe from extruded aluminum, coupled with mechanical couplings to get around the copper and solder problems of the past. It was the most fascinating discussion of the event.
Garry, Thor, Linda

I'm always sad to leave; it's the only time during the year that we are all together. I'm the oldest, the one who grew up first, the one who lives far away in Alaska, the only non-religious one, the wanderer. Judy and I were 'War Babies'. The rest of the kids were 'Baby Boomers' and didn't come till 9, 11, 13, and 15 years afterwards, so I've had very little face time with my brothers and sisters. Thus, the reunion has become the most prized time of the year for me to re-unite, rejoice, and learn the news of the clan. I think we are now closer than I've ever been in my life.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Up the Volcano

Lemolo Lake at sunrise
Sunlight irradiated the mist covering Lemolo Lake as I popped my head out of the tent. Not a ripple, not a puff. Thor again fired up the 3-burner camp stove for our Promethian breakfast. I packed up my sleeping bag, tent, and gear, then joined Sarah on the beach to soak up the BTU's in the morning sun.
Sarah on the beach

The plan was for me to shuttle the truck, so Thor and Sarah pedaled off down the road for a long mountain bike ride along the Umpqua River. I drove to the lodge, gassed the truck and headed for the Toketee Falls rendezvous. The lodge, a beautiful 'mom and pop' operation reminded me of rural Alaska; I felt right at home as I talked to the owner about the season and the four species of fish in the lake: Brown trout, rainbows, lake trout, and the 'fishwitch', a hybrid from the Mowitch Lake and another species. "They grow really huge and are big predators", the fellow told me. "Keeps the rainbows in check!"

I pulled into the parking lot to wait for Thor and Sarah and take a hike downstream. A twelve-foot diameter redwood stave penstock squirted jets of water onto the parking lot at the falls. The pipe, built in 1949 carries water from the reservoir to the North Umpqua Hydroelectric Project. I'm always fascinated by these reminders of America's great industry.
The 12 foot penstock squirts a shower on the road

After the mountain biking experience yesterday, I'm in great shape, and the half-mile walk down to see the falls is a breeze. I skipped along at high speed and stopped several times on the journey to marvel at the height and girth of the trees. The serene little stream suddenly drops 40 feet into a narrow cavity, then emerges and cascades another 80 feet into a large plunge pool. It's cold water from the mountains, otherwise it would surely invite me for a swim. tall Douglas fir trees hang over the cliffs. The Forest Service had built a solid wooden fenced viewing platform at the end of the trail.
Toketee Falls

Back at the truck, Thor and Sarah had finished their little ride, smiles on their faces. We were hot and dirty, so we used the jets emanating from the holes in the penstock to clean the bikes, shower, and in my case, shave.

Then we were off through the mountains; destination: Crater Lake National Park. Along the way Reynolds peak, a craggy volcanic 'plug' caught our attention and lured us off the highway to the scenic rest stop to read its story. It is one of the many peaks and buttes in the North Cascades formed within the past several hundred thousand years. The glaciers have worked them into various shapes and sizes. This peak, an older one has been worn down to the core, like the core of an apple, eaten away this time not by teeth, but by glaciers.
Reynolds Peak - an ancient volcanic plug

The road turned directly south and we began our ascent of Mount Mazama, the home of Crater Lake. The landscape soon had a barren moon quality to it, the remnants of huge eruptions within the past few thousand years that spread pulverized pea-sized gravel over many square miles. It reminded us of the Aniakchak Caldera in Alaska, surely fodder for another story.
The desert-like plain on the slopes of Crater Lake

We topped out at the rim of the crater and stopped to get the first view...and see the chipmunks, fattened for hibernation by a season of begging peanuts from tourists. We were all stunned by the clarity of the lake, the colors, the sheer verticality of the cliffs, and the general scene. No wonder it is a national treasure; even a jaded park ranger was impressed.
Sarah and Thor first view Crater Lake
It is one of the oldest parks, set aside from sale by the federal government by Grover Cleveland, then made a national park by president Theodore Roosevelt in 1902. It became the sixth national park. Mount Mazama, a huge volcano is part of the Cascade range and was violently active in very recent times. The lake was created 7,700 years ago by the collapse of the 5-mile wide crater due to loss of magma underneath. The floor dropped several thousand feet, then filling with snow and rain water and has no outlet. We commented on its deep blue color.
The happy tourists

If you are interested in Guinness-style facts, the lake is is 1,949 feet deep at its deepest point, making it the deepest lake in the United States, the second deepest in North America, and the ninth deepest lake in the world. Early explorers took a boat down the steep sides and lowered weights to measure the depth. Very cool!
Wizard Island in Crater Lake

Crater Lake Lodge is one of the premier national park lodges in the country, so we had to see it, also. Built a century ago but recently remodeled, it still looks the way it did long ago. The original copper roof and clapboard siding belie the beauty of the rustic interior.
Crater Lake Lodge
We oggled the interior like the tourists we were, along with a few thousand of our best new friends. I thought the fireplace was great, but instead of burning down the forest every night, a new gas log fixture had been installed. I asked the clerk the price of a room with a view and how far in advance to book. About $200 per night, depending on the room and a year in advance...hmmmm! Might just be worth it.
The lobby

The Fireplace
We stepped out on the terrace. What a great place to have a meal and a beer!
The view from the terrace
We ate lunch at the picnic tables across from the lodge, then hopped back in the truck heading for California as far as we could get before camping time in the evening. Thor found a small unused forest service road, so we pulled off out of sound and view of the highway and set up camp. A hatch of little yellow flies brought out the ninja woman in Sarah.
Ninja camper!
Again the sun rose clear. Granola, and a walk into the sunny meadow for morning coffee and goofiness. These are the best of times. I loved watching my Thor and Sarah enjoying each others company. I rolled up my sleeping bag and tent, helped Thor pack the truck for the final leg of the journey. Then we were off to Lake Tahoe and my sister Judy's place for the family reunion.
The lovely couple; Sarah brings Thor coffee

Big smiles!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

The older I get, the more fragile I become. You can only be young once, but you can be a child all your life. I must still be somewhat of a child, since I allowed my son Thor and daughter-in-law Sarah to talk me into going with them on a mountain biking vacation. They are neurotic mountain bike racers.

Each year we Tingeys, (and I'm now the oldest), have a family reunion at Judy and Grant's place on the shore of Lake Tahoe. Judy is the next oldest of our clan and the great organizer of the group. She also lives on a lake; a huge plus. So! I flew down to Portland where I joined Thor and Sarah, and together we would spend three days driving south to Tahoe while spending the days mountain biking and camping. They have a big truck, and the three of us and three bikes managed to fill the entire bed with gear.

After a 19-mile ride through the forests of Portland on Sunday, I thought I might be prepared for the week. Although an ominous fall in the parking lot at the end of the ride when I couldn't get my foot out of the pedal, portended more evil to come. Monday I bought food. Tuesday evening, we loaded the truck and grabbed dinner at "the Carts", a collection of little food carts tucked into a Portland neighborhood. Thor grabbed a burger at Lardo where they fry the potatoes in lard, of course. Check it out:
The "Lardo" food cart
A Lardo ham sandwich (courtesy of Lardo)

I had a lamb gyro from an adjacent cart; I couldn't eat the whole thing, but Thor and Sarah were kind enough to finish it for me. As the sky darkened we headed south to Oakridge, then up the Middle Fork of the Willamette river to "Secret Campground", a beautiful forest service site right on the river. Our tents sat on the bank of the stream which roared all night, drowned out all other sensations and thoughts, and lulled me to sleep. I was camping again.

In the morning Thor pulled out his three-burner professional propane stove, set up the breakfast bar with farm fresh eggs, bacon, and Gabriel's fried fresh chewy bagels. We were not roughing it.
Our forest camp on the bank of the Willamette

Chef Thorkild at the grill

Sarah a third of the way into 'Exodus'

After breakfast, we broke camp and drove up the Young's Canyon road to the top of the peaks, literally. A forest service fire lookout sits on the peak. We were dressed looking like bumble bees, at least I was. Then off along a single-track trail into the forest, my feet securely clipped into the pedals, so there was no chance of escaping my fate. It was a blast! Down and up, and I had little trouble keeping up; I think they were babying me.
Thor and Sarah head into the forest
After about a mile of riding, easy for them, harrowing for me, we came to an outcrop of rock with a view of the surrounding countryside. This is the cascade range, where most of the mountains are volcanoes, and most of the rock is volcanic. I was fascinated to look out in the distance and see how the landscape had been formed by such a huge amount of volcanic activity. Blue sky, few clouds, and smoke from a dozen forest fires in the distance.
Thor surveys his domain

Proof that I was actually there!

We climbed down from the peak and headed back a short distance to a junction where Thor and Sarah headed downhill on "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" to the bottom. Allowing my better judgement to rule, I volunteered to drive the truck to the bottom and pick them up. They beat me.

After a quick lunch, we headed across the river and down a narrow single-track bike trail that followed the river south. The forest was filled with huge Douglas fir trees, moss hanging from the lower branches. Ferns, poison oak, willows, and other ground vegetation slapped at our bare calves. I only fell off a few times, feet firmly affixed to the pedals. I'm tough; nothing broke.

The Middle Fork of the Willamette
I can see why they love the sport: we flew through the trees, around sharp corners, and down steep hills at high speed. The uphills were hard, and we walked a few of them, but even then it was a blast. The river raced along side us as we descended through the forest. Boulders, trees, and other obstacles kept me on my toes...literally.
At a bridge on the second leg of the day; along the river

At one point we saw a huge fir tree downed across the trail, but the forest service had sawed it into bite-sized chunks and cleared a path for the bikes. Looks like it would have been a fun job for a logger. I imagined the size chain saw they must have used and mused back to Norman MacLean's book, "A River Runs Through It" The first of three stories tells the tragedy of his younger brother, the great fly fisherman. However, there are two stories there about logging before chainsaws: "Logging and Pimping and 'Your Pal Jim'", and "USFS 1919: The Ranger, the Cook, and a Hole in the Sky", both autobiographical of the days he worked as a logger in the Northwest. This little book has my 4-star recommendation for anyone who loves the outdoors.

The Forest Service cuts a path through a fallen giant Douglas fir

I was sad to see the end. Thor and Sarah were energized, but we had another couple of hours to drive to the next campsite on the Umpqua river. Up, up, up we went over the mountain range on a single-lane dirt road. The sky came closer it seemed. We saw only one other vehicle that evening. We got lost twice, but by six o'clock we arrived at Lomolo Lake. Chef Thor went into action; Sarah went into "Exodus", and I puttered as best a father can when his son and daughter-in-law are so competent.

I had brought Charles Darwin's "The Voyage of the Beagle", a book that kept me energized long after my bedtime. Tomorrow I would play shuttle driver. More to follow!
End of the ride as we cross the bridge onto the roadway

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Filming "THE GRAND RESCUE" in the Tetons

The Teton Range from Blacktail Butte, 6:00 am

"The Grand Rescue: A True Story of the 1967 Teton Rangers" recreates three days in August, 1967, we spent on the North Face of the Grand Teton rescuing Gaylord Campbell and Lorraine Hough. The story has been told many times, but the best was by Pete Sinclair in his book "We Aspired: The Last Innocent Americans".

Jenny Wilson, the daughter of our fellow rescue ranger, Ted Wilson, approached three of us one winter evening at Ted's home in Salt Lake City, and proposed making a film of the North Face rescue. Not understanding that it would take a lot of money, we greeted this new adventure with the enthusiasm only geezers can muster. Jenny and her husband Trell jumped in with both feet. Somehow I envisioned an amateur photographer making home movies of us getting together some 40 odd years later. It turned out to be so much more.

That next summer of 2009, all of the remaining rescuers met at Lupine meadows for a rendezvous. Jenny had procured a photographer, our good friend, Peter Pilafian, who lives in Wilso, and was set to make a movie. What a treat for me. We arrived at Lupine Meadows where Jenny surprised us by bringing Lorrie Hough back. None of us had seen her since the rescue, so we hugged and talked while the cameras rolled. Over the next few days Peter filmed away as the director, Meredith Lavett interviewed each of us. The last day we hiked to the Teton Glacier, stared up at the face, and reminisced while Peter filmed. Each of these days merits its own story, but since I've written it previously, this is just a thumbnail.

Skip forward two years... It takes a lot of money to make a film, and Jenny had been working to find enough funding to do some re-enactments of the rescue. I flew down from Alaska to Salt Lake, met Bob Irvine, and the two of us drove to Jenny Lake for a week of camping. Bob and I had known each other since we were young and had worked together for years at Jenny Lake. Now we were re-living the rescue.

Day 1: The crew met at 5:20 am for the first day of filming at Blacktail Butte. It was a long way from the North Face, but it provided a great venue for setting up the rescue system as it would have been in 1967, working out the bugs, and getting the close-ups of the rigging, actors, and details. John Logan Pierson, the Line Producer, had breakfast, gear, and support personnel already at the scene; over the week, he was the main go-to guy for any question I had. Renny Jackson met us; the recently retired Jenny Lake ranger took charge of the rigging and safety.
Bill Kerig, Jenny Wilson, John Logan Pierson

I hiked up the cliff with him to help set up the Stokes litter and rescue rigging the way it would have been in 1967 for the shoot. Bill Kerig, the new writer/director met us and explained what he wanted to accomplish for the day. He had hand-drawn every scene of the shoot, so we could all see his vision. I'd never worked on a film before and was impressed by the level of detail Bill had drawn. Everything was new to me, except the rescue rigging; I'd done that hundreds of times.
Peter Pilafian drops over the edge as the crew prepares the stokes litter

Peter Pilafian and Ken Saul, the cinematographers, arrived with cameras and gear; a small team helped them carry the gear up the hill. Peter lowered over the cliff, hanging from ropes next to the litter for the close-ups. The hot sun made it a long day for an Alaskan.
Renny Jackson and Bob Irvine bemused at the anchor site

Days 2 & 3: We head for the North Face of the Grand Teton. This was the hook that got me going: the chance to be out on the North Face again. The crew hiked up from Lupine Meadows to the Lower Saddle; it was a hot day, and being from the north, I suffered from the heat. Forrest McCarthy, an Exum guide, actor, and Jack-of-all-trades hiked up the trail with me. We have been great friends for years, so it was a special treat for me. Peter and I are similar in age, so we traveled at about the same rate. At the saddle, the crew rallied. Jane Jackson an Catherine Cullinane, Renny's family, had come to climb the Exum route, and Jane cooked the most excellent burritos and handed me one as I arrived. I couldn't be happier. All along the trail I had run into old friends, guides, and new folks. Here at the saddle, I knew most of the guides and it seemed like old home week. Among the folks there was Peter Metcalf, his son Hunter, and friend Ruth. Peter is the CEO of Black Diamond, Inc and had hosted the first gathering of the North Face gang when Pete Sinclair's book was published. What a treat!
Peter Metcalf, Hunter, Ruth at the Lower Saddle

Sunset and the shadow of the Tetons on Jackson Hole

We headed out at first light. Peter's photo crew climbed to the Enclosure which looks over at the West Face and North Faces; he could photograph the actors re-enacting the support team's gear carry across "the Belly Roll" on the Owen-Spaulding route, then across the West Face and onto the Second Ledge of the North Face, the site of the rescue.
Peter and crew on the Enclosure

We did a hundred takes on the belly roll, getting footage of the vintage gear that Rick, Bob, and I had brought from our basement of memories. Then Renny and Andy Barden climbed across the Belly Roll, down the ledges, and set up a handline for me and Ken Sauls. Climbing across those ledges brought back a million memories: some of former rescues, some of great climbs with friends, like the day Don Storjohann and I climbed the North Face, just two weeks before the rescue. It was coming back to life in my mind while Peter and Ken were recreating it for the future.Ken Sauls photograph's Andy Bardon soloing the 'Belly Roll'

Looking down the Second Ledge of the North Face brought back the gut-turning of 44 years ago when Pete Sinclair and I carried the two parts of the Stoke litter lashed to Kelty packframes on our backs solo down the ledge. I remember it scraping and being top-heavy; I called down to Pete, "It would be great to have a rope right now!". Two thirds of the way down the ledge lay Gaylord Campbell with his shattered leg. I had led the support team from the Lower Saddle up to this point where the Scott brothers, Larry and Hugh, Ed Mortensen, Dave Black, and Bill McKeel had brought up all the supplies. Now it had been left to the seven of us on the face to ferry the gear down to the accident site and lower Gaylord down the face.
Ken and his camera on the Second Ledge of the North Face

The memories came rushing back. At the ledge, Ken positioned me and filmed while Renny asked me questions about that day 44 years ago and the work of the rescue team on the ledge. I gazed at the panorama: the North Face fell vertically below me; Mount Owen straight across; Teewinot far below and across the glacier. The day was clear and warm, and I was in my element.

Looking down the Second Ledge of the North Face

Days 4 & 5: Renny had scouted out a location for the re-enactment of the actual lowering: the vertical north face of Disappointment Peak, almost a continuation of the North Face of the Grand Teton. It had a relatively easy access for the cameras and crew, and looked just like the real thing. It was an ingenious solution. Peter loved it and seemed to relish the idea of hanging out on the sheer wall shooting the action

Rick Reese, my life-long friend, climbing partner, and fellow rescuer drove down from Bozeman to join Bob and myself at Jenny Lake. In the morning, Rick and I hiked up to with the entourage to Amphitheater Lake at the base of Disappointment Peak for camp-out and photo shoot.

Rick and I on about the zillionth switchback of the Amphitheater Lake trail

At the lake, Renny and the crew set up the director's camp: a giant green tarp that sheltered the planning during a rain and hail storm during the afternoon. Rick and I huddled in under the fly of his new light-weight tent. In the evening, Renny gave a little talk on proper behavior at the lake, including the use of the RestStop 2 poop bag.

Peter, John, Renny, and Rick: The poop bag talk

Alan and Renny had fixed ropes up to the shooting location overlooking the face, so all the crew had a safe ascent and descent route. Rick spent the morning climbing to the top of Disappointment Peak, then down to join his wife Mary Lee for the evening. I headed up to the action. Worried that I would be in the way, I tried to stay clear of the crew, but to my delight, the crew asked me questions all day about exact details of the rescue. Then, Renny asked me to lower the actual litter for the shoot. Well...I could do that! The first shots were of "Bob Irvine" dropping a rock over the face and timing the returning sound as it hit a ledge, a true scene from the actual rescue. We gathered rock after rock from my ledge to give to Forrest as he tossed the rocks for Peter and Ken.

Sunrise on the Grand from Amphitheater Lake

Andy Bardon, dressed in my original ranger shirt and Bob Irvine's original helmet, and wearing Rick Reese's original boots would play the part of Pete Sinclair. Jenny would ride the litter in the sleeping bag as the injured Gaylord Campbell. Forrest would belay the load. Alan Oram was the safety engineer. Renny supervised the entire affair. He had his hands full.

Renny & Jenny look over the edge as Andy prepares the litter

Finally in mid-afternoon, Andy took Jenny over the edge. Peter and Ken hung from ropes secured at the anchor and filmed as the litter lowered down the face. Radios went silent and the action started. Inch by inch, the load slipped through my fingers and down the face.

Jenny strapped in the Stokes litter; Andy as rescuer; Alan & Forrest advise

It was a success! Bill, Jenny, Peter, and Ken were pleased as I could hear from the radio traffic. I was worried they would want a second take, which would take hours. The next day Jenny had a fundraising event at the Center for the Arts in Jackson, so I hiked down in the late evening, called Bob who picked me up and fed me a baked chicken dinner from his dutch oven at Jenny Lake.

The next evening was special: Rick, Bob, Ted, and I spent the evening socializing at the fundraiser and meeting some of our favorite friends:
The Fundraiser at the Arts Center
Ted Wilson, Rick Reese, Ralph Tingey, Al Read, Yvon Chouinard, Mary Lee Reese, Bob Irvine

Day 6: The Helicopter scenes. Dr. Rich Sugden and Teton Aviation agreed to furnish a period helicopter, the Bell 47 for the shoot. How Jenny persuaded them, I'll never know, but it was the finale for the filming. Dr. Sugden had been a medical adviser to the rangers when I worked at Jenny Lake in the 70's. What a nice gesture! Bill and Jenny had a crew of actors who would play the wives and families of the returning rescue rangers as they returned from the mountain. Particularly, Pete, Connie, and Melanie Sinclair were in the spotlight.
Chris gives the young actors their cues

A short rehearsal and we were ready. The kids were the stars this time. We heard the thumping beat of the helicopter in the distance, and I couldn't wait to see it.

The Bell 47 Helicopter arrives

Peter Kline of Teton Aviation at the controls landed in the field and the action started. Lots of waving, lots of hugs, lots of action and kids ran everywhere. A cooler of beer for the returning rescuers was the only other prop. Peter filmed from the helicopter, and also had cameras set up on the perimeter to capture the joy. The heat cooked me, wearing my old 60's vintage shirt and Levis.
Trell Rohovit and Peter Kline confer

The next scene was a recreation of the "Morphine Toss" when District Ranger Doug McLaren tossed a package of the drug right into Leigh Ortenberger's lap while he was sitting in his sleeping bag on the Second Ledge, the second morning of the rescue.

"Doug McLaren" tosses the morphine package from the helicopter

A third member of the original team arrived: Ted Wilson, Jenny's father and inspiration for the film. We all dressed in our old uniforms and now played character actors as the "Superintendent" and "Chief Ranger". Peter, filming from the helicopter, also donned a uniform shirt to play Doug McLaren.

It had been quite a reunion and a memory movie for me. I'd had a week camping trip with Bob Irvine, a hike and camping trip up to Disappointment Peak with Rick Reese, and now a day with Ted Wilson.

Ted Wilson, "Pete Sinclair's double", Peter Pilafian, Ralph Tingey
In costume!

Director: Bill Kerig, Producer: Jenny Wilson, Director/Producer:Meredith Lavitt

A note from Producer, Jenny Wilson

We're halfway there. We still need to edit and produce the movie. The film has signed up for a KICKSTARTER grant. Pledges are pooled and if we reach our goal of $ 20,000 by mid October, your pledge will become a reality and the film will receive a huge boost. There are also some great rewards related to the film! Please take a look and see if this is something that might fit into your giving plans.