18 September 2006

Chair Assault And Other Weekend Fun

Sunday, I spent another action-packed day with the Mt. Hood Ski Patrol, at what I've been referring to as "Chair Assault School". Except for the people dangling from rope, it had little in common with Air Assault school, but it was pretty cool.

Earlier in the week, the training director - who can recognize a sucker - e-mailed me and asked if I'd man registration desk. He figured I'd do it, on top of figuring on me being there early anyway. I have a real problem estimating the travel time from home to Timberline, as I have been early for everything I've done for the patrol up there.

Anyway, running the registration was kinda cool. I got to see a bunch of my OEC classmates, met some of the fall class folks who I may end up doing sled training with, met a couple who transferred in from Wyoming, and met a ton of other patrollers.

About halfway thru the registration time, the patrol training director thrust a spanking-new red Mt. Hood Ski Patrol hat (pictured) in my face (not pictured - you're welcome). They handed out a bunch of these apprentice hats so people could pick out the apprentices. There were a lot of us newbies there. I like the red hat better than my black one, so I might have to have the "apprentice" stitching taken out when I get my cross - if they'll let me wear a red cap...

After registration, we had a detailed briefing on what was going to happen, and the groups all headed off for their stations. I was in the yellow group, with a bunch of my fellow OEC classmates, and we got to do the evacuation part first. The blue group went off to do avalanche beacon training, and red group went down to the bottom of the Pucci chair to get on and be our evacuees.

A lot of standing around ensued, as it took some time for red group to get to the chair, and seemingly longer for them to get up the lift into position for us to evacuate them.

Once things got started, I was pretty excited about getting my chance to be the belayer. That had to wait, however, since there were 3 stations to rotate through. So I had to be 'scribe' first - that meant talking to the folks stuck on the chair, making sure they didn't grab the rope or the evac 'chair' until instructed, making sure they had a clear area to drop any packs or other items, and talking them through getting into the evac chair. Then, once near the ground, orienting them so their skis would be perpendicular to the fall line and helping them off the seat, and finally taking down their information.

After that, was being the backup belayer - basically extra weight for the belayer, with a bit of webbing connecting us. I didn't have to provide any assistance, as my belayer was lowering a child, and had to work hard to get him down, since there was so much friction.

My turn at belayer went smoothly, and I was a bit surprised at how little force I needed to apply to brake. I was recalling Air Assault School where I was squeezing that rope pretty hard to do my 'bounds' coming off the tower and later the helicopter. The only thing that bothered me was Alex, my backup belayer - she's probably all of 115lbs - almost pulled me off my feet a couple times while I was getting my feet set before we started lowering our evacuee. I had to turn around and tell her to ease up. Once I was set, we got going, and a nice smooth descent of my evacuee got me signed off.

After that, we hiked down the Pucci liftline, to go do the avalanche transceiver training, which was pretty cool, too. We got some familiarization training, did a little practice, then went off to find some hidden avy transceivers. I did pretty well with that, as the concept is pretty simple, and I like using neat electronic things.

Once finished with the avy beacon stuff, we were originally supposed to hike the rest of the way down to the bottom of the Pucci lift, get on, ride up, and get evacuated. Unfortunately for my out-of-shape ass, plans were changed and I ended up hiking back up what I'd guess was the upper 2/3 of the lift to the lodge. It probably wasn't all that far, but it was uphill and a little slick from the melting snow. Oh well - it was a good workout, allowing me to skip a trip to the gym today.

There was a BBQ after, down at the ski patrol building in Government Camp, and after having a beer, a burger, some chips, and swapping shoulder surgery stories with Meg (an OEC classmate, who had the same procedure done as I did - Bankart reconstruction) & Bob (an experienced patroller, who had something else done on his shoulder), I rambled on home. Got a little sunburnt, but I had a good day. Last bit of stuff for the patrol for a few weeks. Next up is the OEC Refresher in October. Then, I wait for the snow to fall and Timberline to open up fully so I can start slinging sleds all over the mountain. I can't wait.

Rewind to Saturday, which started with me sleeping in whilst Rebecca went with her sisters to look at wedding dresses for recently-engaged middle sister Jenn. After that, we toddled off to a retirement party for R's soon-to-be former boss. I stayed for a bit, then headed off to pick up Ryan, grab some beer at Belmont Station, then head over to Casa de Snooks, where we thought we'd be smashing grapes, but ended up just having a smashing good time with good beer and good people. Ryan's other half, Kelly, showed up after class, and we had a grand time eating, drinking, and talking.

Of course, this wouldn't be a Ghost Dog weekend post without mentioning the beer, so here goes. I grabbed a couple things I hadn't tried before, as well as a pair of Adnams Broadsides. The new-to-me beers were:

Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing's Organic Dread Brown Ale. Yarr! This was a tasty organic brown ale, fairly smooth and full of dark roasty malty goodness. I liked it a lot, even if I didn't buy the story about how some brewer thwarted the burning of Santa Cruz by pirates.

Theakston Old Peculier. I'd write about it, but Jeff over at Beervana does it way more justice than I could. I have to agree with him on his assessment - it's a world classic.


Snooks said...

Thanks bunches for coming over. It was good to see you on the southeast side.

Ghost Dog said...

You guys have a really cool place. I liked the jungle out front. :)