One of Wolf Creek Ski Area’s Ski Patrollers has some particularly bad breath. I’ve just watched Rico execute a rescue of a buried avalanche victim in a training drill put on by Wolf Creek, and as I congratulate him on a job well done, Rico’s halitosis washes over me and I’m struggling for fresh air, much like the simulated avalanche victim he just rescued. I can’t help but wonder what he had for breakfast.
Having smelled Rico’s breath, my guess would be dog food. And I’d be right, because Rico is one of Wolf Creek Ski Area’s avalanche dogs.
I hop on the 8 o’clock chair with a few Ski Patrollers at Durango Mountain Resort (DMR). I ask one of the patrollers what he thought of a recent article that seemed to suggest Ski Patrollers across the state lack in training.
“That article made us sound like a bunch of un-trained monkeys!” exclaimed TJ, a veteran patroller at DMR. “I resent that. We’re highly trained monkeys.”
The vibe here is relaxed, even on dawn-patrol. The snow has already begun to soften up on this late-March day. Festivities at the base area, known to locals as “the Beach” will include snow bowling, a pig roast, and of course, beer. Did I mention it’s college day?
“That’ll bring the rabble out for sure.” remarks Scott Clements, director of the Patrol at DMR. I’ve seen closing day at DMR before. It usually means costumes, antics, and lots of fun, so I know it’s going to be a good day to shadow the patrollers.
Despite the chucklings about the laid-back vibe of spring skiing in Colorado, Ski Patrol is diligent about their job. It’s business-as-usual in the Patrol Shack. The morning meeting begins with grooming reports, station assignments, and the typical razzing of the rookie. The only think significantly different today is sitting on a table in front of me… (continue reading…)
Skiing is inherently silly. As stated by Dexter Rutecki in Aspen Extreme: “We’re not curing cancer here, we’re sliding down a mountain with sticks on our feet.” Skiing is fun, it’s silly, and it’s not to be taken too seriously.
Unless you’re a member of Colorado’s Ski Patrol.
For Ski Patrollers, skiing isn’t just a fun activity; it’s their job. Colorado’s Ski Patrol represent one of the most comprehensively trained groups in all of outdoor recreation. Medical training, mountain travel, search and rescue, evacuation, incident response and evidence gathering – you name it, the Ski Patrol is trained for it and ready to respond.
Colorado’s skiers and snowboarders were recently presented with a misleading article that stated:
“When someone dies or is seriously injured on a Colorado ski slope, it is ski patrollers — not trained police officers, sheriff’s deputies or forest rangers — who document and determine what happened.”
That’s true, and it’s exactly the way you, as a skier, should want it. Here’s why:
Allow me to extrapolate:
A quick bit of math: Take all the awesome ski and snowboard spots in Colorado, then find all the sweet terrain parks, halfpipes, and superpipes in Colorado. Add all the parks, pipes, superpipes, and jibs togehter. What do you get? About a jillion ways to catch air in the highest state in the union. Here are some highlights from one of ‘em:
OK, so I’ll admit that I didn’t get the job of Mountain Correspondent because of math skills, but hear me out…
Desert Island question: If you had to pick just one mountain, just one spot to ski or board for the rest of time, which one would it be?
It’s a tough question, and thankfully it’s one you can completely ignore because in Colorado, you simply don’t have that problem. Colorado has a mountain for everyone. With tons of resorts and ski areas, there’s something here for everyone – which begs the question: what’s your thing?
Are you a powder-hound? Park-rat? Mogul-gopher? Aprés-aardvark? We tried to cram as much of our glorious state as we could in to a 30-second video. So take a look: see if your thing made the cut:
Skiing with kids can be tough.
As a recovering ski instructor who seemed to always get stuck instructing about thirteen four-year-olds, I can tell you that skiing with kids can make the days stretch on forever, and not in a good way. And skiing with adults ain’t easy for the kids either, especially when they’re learning. Dad wants to rip turns, grom wants to chill on the magic carpet. So what do you do?