The Shortest Straw – Search and Rescue in the High Sierra
by Dean Rosnau
Posted August 2017
Longtime SRCFC Member, Dean Rosnau, has recently written a memoir of sorts called “The Shortest Straw – Search and Rescue in the High Sierra.” It's a compilation of stories over the course of his forty-three years of climbing and thirty-three years of search and rescue. He has graciously agreed to answer a few questions about himself and the book.
How did you first get connected with SRCFC?
When I moved to the eastern Sierra in 1989, I sought out Doug Nidever as a climbing partner. He was President of Solid Rock at the time, after the death of Dan Freeman (SRCFC Founder). Very quickly, I became a Regional Coordinator for Solid Rock, and along with my wife Leah, we were blessed to serve for many years before being called into foreign missions.
Without giving too much away, how did you get into climbing and SAR?
I started climbing in 1974, as a 14 year old. It was simply inside me....something I knew I had to do after many trips to Yosemite in my youth, and seeing climbers on those walls. I also had an aunt and uncle who lived in Joshua Tree, so climbing became an addiction very quickly. I got involved in SAR in 1984, when a little girl went missing from a campground in Joshua Tree.
There aren’t many climbing books written from a Christian perspective. Why did you include your faith perspective in it?
My life's adventures have been a great look into how God's guardian angels have been by my side throughout my life. I wanted to write a book that gave evidence of that, and to give God the glory for that, but I wanted to do it in a way that would not make the non-believer not want to read it. In reality, that became the biggest challenge of the book....to share my faith, without making those non-believers turn the book into a doorstop. I hope and pray I've achieved that.
What did you like and not like about the writing process?
I've kept a climbing journal for 43 years. And I've had to write reports for the Sheriff for every SAR mission. For as long as I can remember, I've REALLY enjoyed writing! But there were two things that were a real challenge. Sitting still is NOT normal for me, so being disciplined to stay at the keyboard was a REAL challenge for someone like me. And frankly, a number of the incidents I share in the book were not easy to go back to. Many of the things I've witnessed in my career were not very pleasant, so having to relive them was an emotional and, at times, painful journey.
What will someone gain from reading “The Shortest Straw?”
There is much to glean for anyone reading this book, from the beginner to the advanced user of the backcountry. Many of us that have been at it for most of our lives can get complacent, or automatic, in our habits. In certain instances, this can become a real danger. Along with assessing one's own behavior in the high and wild places, it was my intention to school the reader in how SAR teams work and the kinds of risk they take to do their jobs. With this knowledge, hopefully people will be more self-aware, and take steps to mitigate their own situations before calling for assistance.
Would you like a copy to read?
The Shortest Straw is our current Grade VI Giver donation ($250 or more) thank-you gift. Go to our giving page, to give and request.