The LCSTARs page was established to recognize the achievements of team members who have gone above and beyond the necessary requirements to be a professional search and rescue person. They are truly an inspiration to other team members. It is also about getting to know our fellow team members and getting a peek at what makes them tick and some insight into the diverse kinds of people that join the SAR community and what they find so captivating about their experience.

Ethan Gannett

by Julie Rasmussen -- Published Summer 1994

{The Editors of LCSTAR disavow any knowledge of the following article's veracity. It is rumored that Ethan was out of town at the time of this interview and that his evil twin brother Elbert was the source of the following lies and innuendo. It's true, Mom, really! -Editor}

Once upon a time, in a land so far, far away, a 12 lb. bouncing baby boy was born. Raised by a pack of hairy-nosed wombats in the Australian outback, the wild boy-child now claims Davenport, Iowa as his land of origin. (Personally I'd rather claim Australia but, parts of Iowa are real nice too!) Oh, by the way, we're talking about Ethan in this edition. Is the story starting to make sense now?

At the tail end of a clan of eight, Ethan says the four eldest kids are the symphony musicians and the younger half are the scientists. His mother is a singer and dad was a mechanical engineer.

As kids growing up in Iowa, Ethan fondly recalls swimming and hiking at sand pits near Muscatine, Iowa; lots of sun, sand and water. It was an idy !lie setting where the kids spent time swimming or paddling behind dad in the canoe as he swam around the lake just ahead of them.

Fun times were bad inside the Gannett house too. The older brothers had their own club and his brother Joe (who apparently started working on his PhD in electrical engineering early in life) wired microphones throughout the household duct work to listen in on conversations. they were headquartered in the attic where they'd also print money with their father's face on it. Ethan was excluded. But, did that stop him from joining a club? Heck no! He joined G.A.B.! His sister's formed their own club, Girls Against Boys and let Ethan in. One pre-meeting activity of G.A.B. was to pile stuffed animals against the air vents to assure privacy from those who might be listening in from the other side. Ethan credits G.A.B. as his first social organization experience; however, he never was an elected official.

Search and Rescue training started as a kid as well. One of his best childhood friends was a dwarf with whom he'd play two-man hide and go seek. 11le use of all senses to find his small friend was essential; listening for a slight giggle or the snap of a twig would give him away. He'd hide in crazy places like the tip tops of trees or in the laundry chute. It was the kind of game where you search until you find!

High school and college interests were concentrated in science, physics and chemistry. Astronomy was his first love and be earned a double bachelor's in physics and astronomy at the University of Iowa. There he studied under James Van Allen, discoverer of the Earth 's radiation belts. The experiments performed by the Explorer I satellite in detecting cosmic rays was devised by Van Allen. Having enough of physics for awhile, Ethan became more interested in computer science so he went back to school and earned his Masters degree at Iowa State. In 1988 Hewlett Packard interviewed him for a graphics position. That job offer led him to Colorado. Once in F\. Collins he picked up skiing, kayaking, hiking and became entrapped in the morass of SAR. He joined the team in 1989. Kim Wagner and Kevin Keilbach started the same year.

As for SAR goals, Ethan has recently earned a snow rating and is getting better at those "tele" runs. Rescue rating SAR manager training are coming one bite at a time since he feels strongly about being good at what be's rated. He's been a SAR manager on two practice missions though already and claims, "When I'm SAR manager there will never be a donut in my trailer, only muffins, and healthy ones, dammit"

Personal goals include, finish climbing the fourteeners" in Colorado and to travel more extensively in Europe as well as explore New Zealand, Australia, Asia and India. Mt. Whitney's been conquered and he's looking forward to climbing Denali someday. "I've always wanted to write about travel too. My perception of the world is slightly slanted though so, it might be fiction or …it might not!

Travel to India is of interest since the meditation style be practices bas its roots in Indian culture. He's been involved with Siddha Yoga for about 12 years. It keeps him "on an even keel". Ethan became interested through brothers and sisters who also meditate.

Of the team Ethan says that "the people on LCSAR are the finest people I've met. There's a strong fellowship in the team and it takes a unique set of characteristics to be a long term member. I'm proud to be among that group."

Many of the team members feel the same about Ethan. This past December be was awarded "Team Member of the year" for 1994. He's been president since 1992 and will have to remain so for several years to provide the leadership to finish the ambitious projects we've started! If anything should happen to him while he's president though and duties are passed on, Ethan wills the policies and procedures to Mike Fink along with the little bell. To Kristi is bequeathed the remaining SAR files. "Have fun filing! She's a great little secretary who, by the way, will be turning into a yuppie within two years". {It's a joke Kristi ha, ha, please don't sick Don on me! Damn that Elbert! -Editor}

Thanks Ethan for volunteering for this edition of LCSTARS.

If you happen to be over at Ethan's anytime this summer have him give you a tour of the greenhouse and garden. As an avid gardener be takes pride in the plants he nurtures and knows them well. At the time of this interview sweet floral fragrances wafted through the house. Gloxinia, bogenvilla, roses, columbine, peonies, lilies, honeysuckle and other flowering plants were in bloom. Strawberries and raspberries were flourishing too. Can we expect jars of jam or pie at an upcoming meeting!?

ENTERTAINMENT - Shocking News: President Gets High! Summer '93

Now that I got your attention, I thought that you might enjoy hearing a recount of my hike to Mount Whitney, California, highest point in the lower 48 (14,494 ft.).

First, some background. Mt.Whitney is located in central California, north of Edwards Air Force Base and west of Lone Pine and the "Alabama Hills" which is a well known movie production setting (Lone Ranger, Bonanza, Gunga Din, High Sierra). The mountain is covered by two SAR teams: China Lake and Lone Pine. Impressive photos of a Chinook rescue off of the top of Mt. Whitney can be viewed at the general store at the trailhead. They have many lightning deaths and injuries each year.

A production company was filming a Jeep commercial in the Alabama Hills during my stay. They had an elaborate set, including a completely constructed 40's vintage gas station with all the accoutrements of signs and knick-knacks to make it appear as if it were completely real. Keep an eye open for this commercial.

I met up with my hiking partners at the Whitney Portal Campground, trailhead for the 10.7 mile hike. The crew of 4 members of the Orange County Sheriff's Department Crime Lab, Mark, Dennis, Don, and Carolyn (m~ sister), all fore.nsic chemists (yeah, scintillating campfire conversaiinll this lot!).

We spent the night at the campground so that the flatlanders could get acclimated. Having just come from Mt. Rainier and the MRA crevasse rescue practice, my skin was sufficiently baked (well done) and I welcomed an afternoon out of the sun secluded in the vanilla- scented pines.

Mark had brought a fishing pole, so he spent the rest of the afternoon angling for trout in a nearby stream. Come dinner time he had managed to catch four handsome corn-fed Rainbow Trout, but there were 5 in our party. So I did what any graduate of Papa Bear's Survival Class would have done and went out and caught a trout with my bare hands, no fooling! Needless to say we all had a delectable meal that night and slept well dreaming sweet dreams of ripping the still functioning guts out of innocent doe-eyed trout.

The next day we hit the trail at the eye-rubbing California time of 9:30am. Our objective was Trail Camp, six miles up the trail at elevation 12,000 feet (a 3700 foot climb). My hiking partners all had backcountry experience and/or were Sierra Club members, so they came well prepared. However, I was appalled to see other ill-prepared California hikers on the trail or lolly-gagging in the parking lot. The following is a definition, pay attention, you will be tested:

California Hiker: Pot-bellied 40 year old weekend hiker dressed as Indiana Jones or your Javorite PGA golfer, backpack reminiscent of the Towering Inferno (I gue.fOkay, maybe I exaggerate a little. Some of these hikers could be made to be friendly if prodded with a stick. The first couple miles of the trail is sun-exposed, but affords some nice views of falls and the valley below. The next four miles consists of serene lakes: Lone Pine, Mirror, Consultation, and marshy alpine meadows. We reached our marmot-ruled destination after a short snow traverSe. We watched the sun quietly set over the the cathedral spires south of Whitney while we set up camp and made dinner. Little tame red breasted birds the size of swallows would swoop into view, land, and cheerfully hop up to your hand requesting the least little tidbit to tide them over. I felt like the gruel-meister in Oliver Twist refusing these pleasant little fellows for fear that their dependency would be their downfall.

At sunset, the marmots (I prefer Whistle Pigs) squeaked in defiance of the intruders who so rudely had occupied their domain .. We had been warned that these high altitude ground hogs were particularly voracious and unrelenting when it came to food. We stowed our food in a safe place that night and rested, assured that we had outwitted the evil one.

The next day, with daypacks and ice axes, we set out for the final 4. 7 miles of the journey. But before leaving, we unzipped our tents with the knowledge that the tent eating marmots would only enter them and leave, rather than devour them in an attempt to see what was inside. Our hike up to the Trail Crest (the top of the ridge to walk to the summit), was the most demanding since it included a 1700 foot climb straight up the side of the mountain and concluded in a long snow traverse with an 800 foot exposed glissade down to the rocks.

The ridge walk afforded many "window" views of the valley below as we walked behind the spires to the summit. I was second to the summit, almost catching up with a Californian who had started an hour earlier. We chatted about his 7 ascents and dreams of climbing Denali as we soaked in the cloudless deep blue sky and endless vista.

Just then, the windless silence was assaulted by twin sonic booms and the whoosh of two FlS's flying in unison overhead. After a swift 360 around the mountain, they accelerated down the valley making high banked turns in perfect unison, first left, then right. And then they were but a dot in the sky.

My hiking partners caught up within an hour (slowed by the altitude) and we enjoyed lunch as the mountaintop slowly filled with latent hikers.

Our descent was fast, sped by the natural option of glissading on our butts down the 800 foot snow gully. What a ride! My _hesita.nt California friends where buoyed my rapid yet incident-free descent and the most adventurous soon followed. As we waited for the remainder, the snow dampened silence was punctuated by the whooshing overpass of one of the Thunderbirds on an obvious incentive tour of Mt Whitney. The colortul red, white, and blue jet stood out against the dark blue sky. As it circled off into the distance, I caught view of the remaining two members of our party, slowly self arresting down the gully; one pushing what must of been 20 feet of snow in front of him!

We finally all recollected at the bottom of the gully were I noticed some orange snow. It was in fact one of the crime lab guy's blood who had cut has hand while self arresting. Orange blood, figures he's from Orange County!

We returned to Trail Camp only to find that our lovely marmot friends had left presents in two of the tents (number one in one, number two in the other!). They had avoided my tent; I was assured that this was common marmot courtesy since I was from out of state. Later we caught one in the act of gnawing through a neighbors food bag. Buggers!

The next day we made a rapid descent to the trailhead, covering 6 miles in a little over two hours. As I rounded the final switchback, I caught glimpse of a beautiful red cactus bloom flirting in anticipation of a bee's approach and then a boom and a whoosh as a jet passed low overhead headed up the valley for an eagle's view of the summit. An interesting juxtaposition of man and nature, so apropos a symbol for this hike of Mt. Whitney.

Ethan Gannett

Postscript: The Crime Lab guys managed to lock their keys in their truck! After two hours of fishing with a Jimmy and a coat hanger like some cruel carnival game that you never could win, they managed to unlock the door. Way to go crime boys, pride of Orange County! Where's a convicted car thief when you need one? I will be climbing Colorado fourteeners this Summer. Feel free to join me if you are interested. I am in my teens working my way to all 52.