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Ski Patrol in your area?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

First and foremost, let me say that I completely respect the job these men and women do.  They make the mountain safer for everyone and work long, hard hours.  I don't think I'd ever want to do that job.

 

Having said that, I had a small incident yesterday with a patroller at Alta.  If you know the area, my buddy and I hiked the ridge line up from the top of Wildcat lift, as far as we could go before it was closed.  Just as we were getting towards the top, a patroller skied down from the upper part of the ridge and it looked like he was going to open it to go farther up the ridgeline, but he was just adjusting the rope line.  The area was still closed.  No biggie.

 

As we got to the top, he skied down just a bit to adjust more of the rope line.  I said something lighthearted like "we were hoping you were gonna open it for us"  He replied with "What does the sign say?  Does the sign say closed"?  I was totally cool....I'm not there to make trouble, so I just said "no worries....we're cool", to which he replied with something about how it's closed for a reason, do we understand....then he skied away.

 

Now, I could just chalk this up to one guy being a dick, but then it occurred to me, that more often than not, the ski patrollers that I run across seem to be pretty humorless people.  Maybe it's just the nature of the job, or maybe it's the fact that they have to deal with idiots who don't know what they're doing all day long, or maybe they get the same stupid questions all the time, or people cutting rope lines....I dunno.  Of course, it's not everyone...I've had some very pleasant conversations with one or two Alta patrollers, but that seems to be the exception, not the rule.

 

What are your thoughts on the ski patrol at your home mountain?

post #2 of 20

They are great here from my experience.  

post #3 of 20

Mixed bag at Squaw.  Most cool.  Some very cool.  Then there was this guy...

 

I asked him how conditions were in the area just behind the shack he was sitting in front of.  He says "firm".  Given the day, this wasn't a big surprise.  So, I asked if there was anything bad I should avoid.  His response was, "If it were bad, it would be closed."  Man of few words, and not very helpful ones at that.

post #4 of 20

Most I've known are cool all the time.  Some are jerks all the time.  Some have good days and bad days, just like people in general.  They are people aren't they?

post #5 of 20

Most of Aspen's are really cool and I consider a bunch, good friends.   I just got a call from the gondi and they told me they opened, Silver queen Dump and Silver queen Ridge, which have never been open before!

post #6 of 20

They're cool 'round these parts.

All the ones I've met travelling were cool too.

Guess I'm just fortunate.

post #7 of 20

As a patroller you would not believe how many times a patroller encounters a customer that is completely not cool.  If a patroller encounters one of these uncool customers and then encounters you the cool customer well he may treat you like an uncool customer.  

 

Just to give you a picture of an uncool customer.   4:00pm mountain sweep I encounter a father with 10YO son.  I ask him if he intends to ski the closed trail and he says yes.  I tell him we don't sweep closed trails and if he gets hurt he and his son may spend the night in the cold.  Father says, F__k You,  says come on son and skis off with son in toe down the closed trail.  This is the kind of A Holes patrollers have to often deal with.  The bad part is I know if there is a lost father and son at the end of sweep or in the middle of the night I will be back up the mountain searching for him and his son in the dark to provide medical care and transport him off the mountain.   The not cool customers have a negative affect  on the patrollers personality.  

 

Many years ago I had a patient die on me in the morning.  I was first on the the scene and it was the first time I had lost a patient.  This hits you pretty hard.   A few hours later a 6YO boy needed a toboggan taxi ride down a steep section of a trail.  I came down help in the toboggan and gave him ride down.  Seeing that little guy in the toboggan really helped me get over the lost  I had a few hours earlier. 

post #8 of 20

On the first big dump of the season (mid January) I was offloading with a couple of friends at the top of Mercury chair at Breck. Completely unsolicited a patrol says there was a gate open to the runs under E-Chair. I had a fabulous run in untracked that I would have otherwise missed.

 

Just a few days ago, after another snow event, a buddy and I were hoping for the Doors to be open but, as you may know, the Doors are out at the end of a long traverse. The only other way down is Mineshaft and it was looking pretty bumpy and un-fun. So we rolled over to the patrol HQ at Mercury (conincidence?) and some patrol were clearing the snow of the sleds. We asked if the doors were open and they said not yet. Another patrol comes over, having heard our question and asks the other patrollers if it would be ok to open the doors. Sure, they said and our friend says to follow him and he'll let us in. Fresh tracks again.

 

I often say thanks to the patrol when they are working the mountain. They make it all possible for us to enjoy.

 

Thank you patrol!

 

 

post #9 of 20

Our family have had occasion to use patrol on several mountains and we have always found them to be great. I try to go out of my way to say thank you to them when I ride the chair with one.

 

Sure, they get first tracks and have a seemingly cool job. But as was pointed out, they also deal with a sometimes awful public, are responsible for our safety, spend powder days hauling around endless crap, diggint out equipment, padding lift poles, marking the rocks and side stepping hills all afternoon to stabalize snowpack, on mountain predawn when it's blowing and miserable, etc. etc. If one has a bad day once in a while, I say cut them some slack. There are probably a lot fewer jerk patrollers than jerk skiers cutting ropes and skiing recklessly in family zones and so on.

post #10 of 20

I know what you're talking about Alta Dude,

 

They have gotten very serious up there about going under ropes, they have had a few incidences from what I have heard, two Europeans completely ducked a rope back in December and skied down somewhere off the High T area which was closed. And with the foot and a half of fresh snow yesterday they knew it was dangerous conditions so they were probably being very protective. Sounds like the guy didn't take it in a "light" way.

 

One of the instructors stopped me after I ducked one of those ropes, I thought it was harmless because there were clearly skiers skiing no more than 15 feet from the rope on the other side. After some thought, I can see why they are like that, if they give in on leniancy, then people will just push the limits more and more.

post #11 of 20

Respect. My wife dropped off cupcakes for patrol today. just cause......

 

and Shredhead...the new terrain is great. Trainor's for the first time this year today too!

 

post #12 of 20

Here's the flip-side story to my previous one.  It happened the very next day, also at Squaw.

 

My wife and I are stopped at the top of Cushman's, an ungroomed run to skier's left of the Far East Express top station.  At this point in the season, it looks a bit more like a Christmas tree farm than a ski run.  This is the first day all season I've seen it open.  From this spot, there are two more conservative ways down.

 

Along skis a patroller, who asks if we're thinking of skiing "that".  I tell him it's pretty sketchy, but I've already done it twice that day.  At this point, he considers me a lost cause and turns toward my wife.  He asks her if she trusts me.  She starts giving me a questioning look.  Someone mentions marriage.  Someone else mentions divorce.  Lots of laughs all around.  Eventually my wife decides to go with me and the patroller skis off, wishing us good luck.  We agree he's pretty cool.

 

So, we ski the mix of bumps, trees and rocks to the bottom, where it meets up with one of the alternate routes.  The snow wasn't bad and the whole experience was better than it looked from the top.  As soon as we merge with the main trail, the same patroller skis up and asks us how it was.  We tell him not bad.  Then he proceeds to explain that to get the really good snow we need to veer right at the big clump of baby trees halfway down, not left as we had done.  We thanked him and parted ways.  Definitely a cool patroller.

post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xela View Post

Mixed bag at Squaw.  Most cool.  Some very cool.  Then there was this guy...

 

I asked him how conditions were in the area just behind the shack he was sitting in front of.  He says "firm".  Given the day, this wasn't a big surprise.  So, I asked if there was anything bad I should avoid.  His response was, "If it were bad, it would be closed."  Man of few words, and not very helpful ones at that.



He answered your question. Squaw opens stuff that would be unsafe for most skiers. It's up to you to figure out if it's unsafe for you.  Most of those places will have caution signs and/or arrows pointing out an easier route--you're on your own to figure out if you need to follow the arrows or can go straight through past the caution signs. The hard runs will have a sign that says expert only--take those signs seriously. (BTW this year Squaw did away with double black--but not with expert only signs.) The alternative would be to close off everything that is a little dicey, which is not what Squaw is about.  A patroller's job is not to tell you what to ski. He doesn't know how well you ski, although he can guess that if you're asking him you probably don't ski that well. If he tells you something is cool to ski and you get hurt you'll probably sue.

 

What does a squaw patroller call someone who ducks a rope and then calls them names and swears at them, or who runs down a little kid, or flips them off when they're doing speed control on the mountain run?  "Guest." For 12 bucks an hour, with no benefits (15 for snow safety and you get to play with explosives.)

 

As far as the OP--given the number of people who duck ropes and the risk they put patrollers in when they set something off--the patroller you talked to was just trying to make very certain that you knew not to cross that rope.  Given that you were hiking towards a closed area, from what it sounds like, he had reason to believe you were planning on ducking.

 

 

 

post #14 of 20

I tend to think that the guests are the bigger dicks of the patroller-customer equation and that many patrollers that are curt or rude are just sick of watching guests do stupid sh*t and act like entitled pricks. That'd sand my patience down to nothing within a couple months, too. Not to say that some patrollers aren't dicks on their own, but it seems like the type of thankless job that wears on you. I also think that most of their job is done behind the scenes, so a lot of ski patrollers may not be equipped with the best customer relations skills.

 

Personally I've never had anything but good experiences with patrollers. Like the Pow Mow patrollers that let me board Lightning Ridge cat at the end of the day (for free) and join them on sweep. I knew the terrain pretty well already, but I know it better now.

post #15 of 20

so these ski patrollers actually ski the mountain telling you where you can and cant go? and pull you up for going to fast?

post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldgoat View Post

He answered your question. 

 

 

 

 

Well, sorta.  It wouldn't have hurt him to be a tad more detailed, by saying that one side was softer than the other, or the bottom was bumpy, or whatever.  None of that would be telling the Poster to ski it or not, and it would have taken all of another 20 seconds or so.

 

A couple years ago, I was inside the gate at the top of an expert run trying to decide to whether to take it or not.  I freely admit it was at the limit of my ability, and due to a slight cornice at the top, I couldn't see any of the slope itself.  A Patroller skied up next me and stopped with a grin.  I asked him what the slope conditions were, and he replied that it was a consistent pitch of boot-top crud, but it was soft.  He must have sensed I was about to go for it, because as he turned to head down the ridge, he said in an enthusiastic and cheerful way, "You can do it; just keep your hands forward!"  He must've seen my oh-so-cool "inside-hand dropping back" skiing already!  eek.gif  

At any rate, I survived to tell the tale....

 

There are other cool examples, but my Ski Patrol contacts have all been positive.

 


 

 

post #17 of 20

^^^ some folks are men of few words.  He probably thought he had told you all you wanted to know when he said "firm".

post #18 of 20

Heard a guy talking about asking patrol if KT west face was open, this before our last storm.  Patroller said yes. Guy asked how it was. Patrol said "open." As in--yeah it's open, if you're desperate, have your rock skis, and your insurance is paid up.  But one word said it all.  One time I asked a patroller how National chute was. "Edgeable." One word said it all again. Chances are if the patroller the OP talked to knew more he would have said it. When a patroller says "firm" he means don't go in there if you're not prepared to deal with firm. And remember these guys don't do patrol because they love to deal with the public.  Most patrollers will tell you the best part of the job is explosives. But if you feel like they're not being friendly enough you don't have to leave them a tip. (And if you do leave a tip don't make the mistake I made after I dislocated my shoulder in Alpine Palisades--I left bottles of wine for the patroller and for the nurse who relocated my shoulder in the patrol shack--obviously beer would have been more appropriate.)

 

 

post #19 of 20

oldgoat, I appreciate your perspective.  You're pretty much preaching to the choir.  In this case, however, I proceeded to the area in question and found that the first chute I tried was icy and not very edgeable.  I traversed over to the right and found decent snow.  A night and day difference.  I would have loved to have known that in advance, not that the patroller necessarily knew it.

 

I talk to patrollers not because I don't ski very well (which may be the case), but because I find that I often learn interesting and/or valuable stuff from conversations with patrollers and their ilk.

 

By the way, at Squaw, my impression is that ducking a rope gets you written up, not sucked up to.  I once skied past a bamboo pole that was supposed to have a closed sign on it, but didn't.  The response was swift and serious, although they understood what had happened and were polite and reasonable about it.

post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xela View Post

oldgoat, I appreciate your perspective.  You're pretty much preaching to the choir.  In this case, however, I proceeded to the area in question and found that the first chute I tried was icy and not very edgeable.  I traversed over to the right and found decent snow.  A night and day difference.  I would have loved to have known that in advance, not that the patroller necessarily knew it.

 

I talk to patrollers not because I don't ski very well (which may be the case), but because I find that I often learn interesting and/or valuable stuff from conversations with patrollers and their ilk.

 

By the way, at Squaw, my impression is that ducking a rope gets you written up, not sucked up to.  I once skied past a bamboo pole that was supposed to have a closed sign on it, but didn't.  The response was swift and serious, although they understood what had happened and were polite and reasonable about it.


Ducking a rope usually gets a warning if the offender is polite, pass pulled if repeat offender or attitude, but they're still a "guest". And you can't expect patrol to tell you where the good snow is can you? If they told everyone it wouldn't be the good snow, would it?  Not that I don't ask too, I just don't expect much of an answer.  I do try to follow patrol to see what they're skiing although that can get you into trouble obviously but it's usually where the snow is good.

 

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