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Looking for a little guidance

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hey all,

     I am taking a year or two off from college to work and build some character. Living in Vermont I have been skiing and racing since I was three. I have been doing a fair amount of thinking and I decided that I would like to try and do ski patrol out west. I have done a little research about joining ski patrol but I would like to hear from some individuals with hands on experience. If someone could kinda give me some clues on where to get started and what to keep in mind as I try and figure this out I would really appreciate it.




post #2 of 6

If you head west....


1. Prepare for expenses in advance.


2. Stay in your parents medical insurance as long as possible.


3. Plan on sharing a dirty apartment with at least five others.  Probably all dirty.


4. Have a fallback plan - or two/three.


5. Ski Patrolling out west is a job, not a party.  They start early and end late.  Rarely do they get to ski with poles since they are always carrying something.  Foot/boot packing is common in the early season.  Toboggan runs are numerous and long.  Getting to sit down and eat lunch with your buds only happens on your day off.  You will get to ski but you get very little choice of when and where.  If you already patrol in the east, make a few calls now.  Most job openings are filled in the springtime and there is lots of competition.  You got to be good, trained, and ready for minimum pay.


6. If I was going west, taking a few years off school, I'd look into the resort services.  Bell-hops, room service, front desk, janitor/cleaning, anything where you can work nights and ski days.  Any experience with horses?  Resorts have sleigh rides.  Where there are horses there are always shovels needed.


7. Bulletproof Items 1 and 4 before you go.  I was lucky, Items 1,2,3 and 4 were provided by my rich uncle.


8. Enjoy spending your money.  Catsup, hot water, and crackers aren't as free as some think.

post #3 of 6
Since you want to work somewhere that you don't live yet, there are a few things to do to prepare.

If you haven't already, get your National Registry EMT (NREMT), or at least Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) and Basic Life Support (BLS) CPR. Have that nailed down when you show up. It wouldn't hurt to have an avalanche course. It may help to have a climbing background - where I work that's favored because of rescue rope handling.

Directly contact the Patrol Directors, like ASAP, and find out, when, where, how, etc. It would have been better to meet them and ski with them last season, but... I can't over-emphasize the importance of this contact.

Lots of places you will have to spend a certain (or significant) amount of time on try-out/training status (it's called safety team where I work) before you become a full patroller. One year is a pretty short commitment if this is the case. This is much more likely if you don't have any patrol experience. Just warning you.

Be ready to be there for early training/try out, and do not miss any of that, even if it isn't paid.

Have your gear in order - boots that you can wear 8-10 hours a day, skis that you're okay with getting trashed, gloves that you're okay with getting trashed, lots of good socks and base layers, functional goggles, reliable transportation that will get you there when the weather is brutal.

If you get hired, listen to the patrol director, but do what the senior patrollers tell you to do. Be early for everything. Talk less, listen more. Be happy to do the shitty jobs. Don't think that you're going to be doing anything but working on weekends, holidays, and school vacation times.

Be in good shape and able to ski stuff that you would normally pass on. You often don't get to choose where you ski as a patroller and it often isn't pretty at all. You're a strong skier, right?

1 through 5 in the post above is fairly good advice. You'll be poor, and housing could be sketchy.
post #4 of 6

Regarding #6 in ali pine's post;  Many decades ago (but I bet it's still relevant) I planed to do something similar at Mammoth Mt. in Ca.  Thru a quirk of fate I ended up working (temporarily I thought) as a bus boy at a local lodge.  Turned out to be the greatest ski job imaginable.  Free room and board (co-ed employee dorm, 2 to a room - lots of great memories there), minimum pay but daily lift tickets were $7 with "special discount" worked out by the owner/head of the high school race team. Pay check covered gas and beer.   We worked something like 5am - 9am then 5pm to about 10pm and skied all day.  Couldn't have been nicer.  So, unless you're set on patrolling I'd at least look at that possibility.  Though still follow all the advice above so you have more options.

post #5 of 6

The biggest challenge in becoming a patroller is getting OEC certification. Courses in my area start mid-July, so you may want to hurry up. Majority of patrols are fine with OEC + BLS CPR, some will require EMT certification (I believe pro patrollers are mostly required to have it). Contact your closest ski patrol and inquire about OEC. In my case OEC was far far cheaper than taking EMT course! 

post #6 of 6
Originally Posted by thenoob View Post

In my case OEC was far far cheaper than taking EMT course! 

In my case, I took EMT at the local community college, very cheaply. EMTs can challenge the OEC test, but not the other way around. And the only thing you can use OEC for is ski patrol. So that's why I recommended EMT.
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