The Greatest Time For A New Opportunity Is When All Other Things Have Failed

Written By: Lance Piatt

My life is about to change

The year is 1983 and we all felt super-powered. Each of had an itch to climb something big. We had a few days in our schedule so we figured, like many Portlandia people… hey!, let’s hike up Mt. Hood and ski down. Should be fun and we’d be back for lunch and a beer.

Walking into “the climber hut”, we see these “mountain locator units” (MLUs) sitting there… “hey, should we grab a couple”? No, replied Bob. We’ll be fine.

Well, things didn’t go fine.  In fact, our lives changes drastically because of this event.  The short story is that “we were descending the hogsback. Due to the stinging ice particles, we could only glance at our route. Although very familiar with the route, everything looked like a cliff looking down. On an avalanche slope looking up, we couldn’t find the wands. We made a group decision to call by cellular telephone for advice and keep warm on the hot rocks. We found out there was a rescue party already just 1000 feet below us and we were advised to stay put and await their assistance.”

Well, we did make it down with the assistance of Portland Mountain Rescue and as a side note, the “hot rocks”, was actually a cave created by a fumeral (steam vent) on the side of the mountain.  The conditions in the vent were, well… nice!  The sulphur smell was negligible, room for 6… and I remember there being a view (KIDDING!!!).

In our own words

“We heard there was incoming weather, but underestimated its ferocity. We avoid winter climbs and always try to climb in good weather but have had to use a compass several times. Still, none of us had ever felt a blizzard like this before. Another group had placed the wands but they didn’t go high enough and weren’t placed close enough together for us to find them.

“We were directly responsible for creating this hazardous situation. The rescue was the responsibility of a highly professional and cohesive group of people who went beyond being on duty, mustering exceptional strength and bravery and putting our welfare in front of theirs.

“While cellular technology can help provide safety in almost any situation, we were lacking in the ability to spend the night on the mountain and did not carry a Mountain Locater Unit, which sends an alert and pinpoints climbers’ location. This device can be rented for a token fee, and should be valuable for climbs in any conditions.” (Source: Robert J. McQueen and Jeff Scheetz, Portland Mountain Rescue)


This party did not have adequate equipment to bivouac, was unable to navigate in the whiteout conditions, and did not accept the free use of an MLU (Mountain Location Unit—a radio beacon device).

So unbeknownst to me, this created a massive slide in my own makeup. Payback or… paying-it-forward was something I never really considered as a lifestyle. In fact, it has become more of a calling card now. Becoming a SAR member and redesigning Rescue Response Gear was Act 1… establishing the characters and the storyline.

Act 2 (the rising action) has been a 20 year adventure into finding my own person, purpose and meaning. Often times, the stairs that lead us to one place have to be burned in order to walk into something else and so for the next 20 something years, stairs and stairwells continued to burn and literally block avenues of “fun” instead of “purpose”.  Necessity is the beginning place for creativity.  Think tomorrow as today unfolds.

So we are now in Act 3… the resolve or reveal.  Rigging Lab Academy and more fully, Red Ibex Solutions (which own both Rescue Response Gear and Rigging Lab Academy) are in this place now (spoiler alert!.. There a second play already being written).  Act 3 is where the main tensions of your story are brought to their most intense point and the dramatic question must be answered, leaving the protagonist and other characters with a new sense of who they really are.

Rigging Lab Academy isn’t so much a place of “how to”, but more of “who and what”.  The WHO is you!  See, you are so vastly important to us (me and the entire rigging and rescue community) that dedicating an entire business model to this one objective is what we are doing… To completely disrupt both learner and teacher to such a degree that a New Opportunity is better than a simple Improvement. The Blueprint is a huge part of this.

So let’s do this thing!

Peace on your days…


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