Newspaper Archive of
Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
August 6, 2014     Feather River Bulletin
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August 6, 2014

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uu.etln, ~ecora, I~rogressive, Heporter Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014 1B Members of the Capitol Protection Services California Highway Patrol SWAT team cross Frazier Creek bridge July 29 on the way to their training area on the cliffs adjacent to Frazier Falls. The last three men are paramedics from the Clip Academy working on rough terrain access and high-angle apprehension skills. Photos by Laura Beaton mm mm "1 don't th, falling, it's th, sudden that l CHP SWAT team trains Austin Matulonis Quincy CHP Sgt. Lead Trainer on cliff: at Frazier Falls Laura Beaton Staff Writer appelling h fftt lred$ of f et down the slippery rock face of a flowing waterfall was perhaps the most technical of the many' activities that a Sacramento California Highway Patrol SWAT (special weapons and tactics) team conducted during a two-day training at Frazier Falls. The high-angle apprehension unit specializes in removing protesters from trees, potential suicides from bridges and terrorists from tall buildings, and dealing with others who, eRher willingly or unwillingly, must be removed from high places. When these subjects are armed, the situation becomes more dangerous and potentially volatile, making preparedness for such situations of paramount importance. The high-angle ropes team from the downtown Sacramento-based Capitol Protection Services took advantage of a rare opportunity away from their usual urban environment to train in the rugged wilderness outside of Graeagle. Quincy CHP Sgt. Austin Matulonis was the lead trainer of the Frazier Creek exercises. At the end of the i'n'st day of training, held Tuesday, July 29, Matulonis hefted a bag containing a 600-foot rope, weighing an estimated 60 - 70 pounds, onto his shoulders and began his descent down Frazier Falls. His rope was securely anchored to a giant pine tree above the falls and he began his rappel with confidence. He said that feeling safe while rappelling has a lot to do with having confidence in your equipment and your teammates. Matulonis has been part of the Capitol SWAT team for eight years and an obvious bond exists between the close-knit team of nine to 10 experienced men. "I don't fear the falling, it's the sudden stop that I fear," Matulonis said. Quincy California Highway Patrol sergeant and lead trainer Austin Matulonis begins his rappel down the 176-foot drop of Frazier Falls. Matulonis carries a 600-foot rope on his back, Norm Sells, left, gets instruction from Sgt. Jim O'Rourke before making his first rappel of the setting the line that the rest of the team will rappel down one two-day training, man at a time. granite cliffs over hundreds of millennia: Frazier Falls. The water from Frazier Creek collects in pools, tumbles over sheer drops and sweeps debris into narrow crevices, making the descent by rope even more challenging. The steep rappel down an active waterfall, in addition to precipitous cliffs, steep canyons and towering trees of the Frazier Creek area, offered prime wilderness for the ropes team to train in. That's why Matulonis, 41, chose it for the training exercise. Matulonis said he used to be afraid of heights. But soon after getting on the SWAT team, knowing that he would have to rappel, he started climbing. About a year later, he climbed Yosemite's E1 Capitan with world speed record holder Hans Florine and conquered his fear. Now he's a certified ropes trainer in high-angle See SWAT, page 14B As he descended Frazier Creek's 248-foot cascade with a vertical drop of 176 feet, Matulonis' occasional whoops and exclamations could be heard from the team's vantage point near the rope's anchor. Other team members followed his progress from the cliffnear the top of the waterfall and one member viewed Matulonis' rappel from across the canyon at the Frazier Falls observation deck. A signal system was in place to alert the next climber when Matulonis was off rope. Even in midsummer, water flows down the narrow chute of Frazier Falls, created some 170,000 - 190,000 years ago through a glacial process called "frost wedging," wherein, during warm periods, glacier ice melts and seeps into cracks in the bedrock. When temperatures fall and the water freezes, the rock splits apart, forming a series of steep steps through the ...}lOW featuring exquisite fine dining! Dinner Served Tues.-Sat. Starting at 4 p.m. Chef Chuck Romo r of Pioneer Saloon Home of the Brubeck Bar (from the historic Amedee Hotel) and featuring Custom Classic Cocktails Find us on Facebook