31 December 2006

Ski Day Seven: Shadowing @ Ski Bowl

Saturday's weather was even better than Friday's for skiing, so I knew I'd picked a good day to shadow with the patrol. I only got a short empty sled run in (500 feet maybe), but I did get to do 2 sled uploads on the chairlift, which is good practice. I took all kinds of photos the day before, so I left the camera in my pack for the most part.

I shadowed with a very experienced patroller named Mike who happens to be one of the assistant patrol chiefs for Ski Bowl, so we got to kind of 'float' all day. This is actually probably the best shadow gigs you can get, because you get all kinds of tips about the various assignments for opening, the rotations, and for closing. Also, Mike shared a handful of pointers about the challenges with uploading and offloading of the toboggans on the various lifts at Ski Bowl. I think the timing of my shadow day was perfect, as our scheduled sled training moves to Ski Bowl this coming weekend.

After assisting with some opening procedures (in our case, sled and equipment inventory at the top of the lower bowl chair, and adjusting some rope lines and stuff), we went up to the Rescue Center (RC) at the top of the upper bowl chair.
Pretty much all the action for the patrol funnels through the RC. Here's a shot of (what else?) Mt. Hood through the RC window.

Not a bad view from RC, huh? Also from here you can pretty much see most of what's happening at the west side of the bowl from up here. You get a great view down Pizzaz and most of Cliffhanger, and you can see the Lower Bowl run from the Warming Hut all the way down to the bottom.

After spending some time in RC, we did a few runs over on the Multorpor chair with Mike's family, then went back on duty over at the Upper and Lower Bowl. The runs were nicely groomed over on the east side of the bowl, as were a couple of the runs on the upper bowl.

Things were pretty quiet until something a little silly happened. We got a call about a kid who'd lost his snowboard getting on the chairlift. Turns out he decided to walk down to the bottom, but his board came up the lift with someone on the chair behind him. So for whatever reason, the ski patrol was asked to try and find the kid and bring his board to him. Mike and I decided we would traverse the east side of the upper bowl and drop in through the trees to get to the top of the lower bowl chair to get the kid's board and bring it to him. Our little adventure through the trees was a fun trip, despite the chunk 'n' junk left over from yesterday. We got there, hemmed and hawed about how we'd go about locating the 'walker' since we didn't have a description or a decent idea which run he decided to walk down. We finally saw him when we got to the bottom, and the plan at the time was to have him take the chair back up and get his board. Saga over...for now...

Mike and I got on the chair and started up when we heard a call about an injury on the terrain park under the lower bowl chair. We'd noticed someone sitting off to the side of the park, but didn't see any indication they were injured. We radioed in a little more detail about the location to fellow blogger NoPoGirl, who was responding first. Apparently, we didn't do that great a job of clarifying the location, because it turned out she skied past the injured boarder. Didn't matter much, though, as it didn't take long for her other half Barkernews to get to the case. By the time Mike and I were off the chair, they'd completed the assessment and called for a sled, backboard, and some help. I blazed down there as fast as I could without hitting anyone (most challenging slalom course ever - the 'gates' were all moving and I couldn't hit them!), to help out. I didn't get to do much except take pulse and respirations, and then help get the boarder on the backboard and stabilized for transport. We were in such a hurry to get the boarder down the hill that the J-splint and first aid pack from the sled got left on the hill. I grabbed that stuff, along with the sled-driver's (Mark, an OEC classmate and one of the 'inverts') ski poles and headed down the hill to see if I could help get the patient out of the sled and whatever else needed doing.

Since there were plenty of patrollers on duty, I didn't go into the aid room to help - too many cooks and all that. Besides, we needed to get the toboggan re-packed and back up to the top of the lower bowl chair. Mike and I re-packed it, put the backboard and a fresh backboard kit into the sled, and I volunteered to be the sled mule. I hauled the sled over to the chair, where Mike and I rigged it with a sled carrier bracket, and I uploaded with it. The dismount was smooth, in part because they slowed the chair down, but also because I remembered Mike's tip from earlier in the day to scooch the carrier forward a little bit on approach to the ramp. It worked great - got off the chair without any snags.

I got to do a second upload, as it wasn't long after I'd unhooked the sled carrier bracket and leaned the sled against the shack at the top of the lift that we got a call about needing the carrier bracket for another sled upload. Since the lift only has a couple chairs that are 'authorized' to carry the brackets down the hill, and we'd just missed one of them, I volunteered to ski it down to the bottom. Well, nobody was there with the sled, so we rigged it for upload and I took it up. Another smooth dismount at the top, this time with the lift at full speed - the liftie forgot to slow it down. She apologized, but I told her not to worry - I was actually hoping they wouldn't slow it down anyway.

After all that fun and excitement, I got to hang out in the RC for a little bit and take some runs with OEC classmate Mark on the upper bowl. We did a run over on Radical first, since he wasn't too sure about following me over to where I took a bunch of runs the day before.

Between runs, we found out somebody had to take that kid's snowboard down to the bottom since the liftie wouldn't let him on the chair without it. I assume the kid was reunited with his board, but once it was taken down, the saga was over for us. I still don't understand why mountain operations didn't handle something like that. A few of my colleagues were also puzzled. *Sigh*

I took a solo run after a quick break, going back over across the upper part of Cliffhanger, down the upper part of Bob Strand's Downhill, then down Calamity like I'd done so many times the day before. The snow over there was still pretty good for the most part, so I went back in and told Mark, to convince him to join me over there. He did, and we both had a good run on what was probably the best ungroomed snow on the upper bowl.

Wasn't all fun and games, though - just as we were mere feet from the ramp at the top of the lift, some guy in front of us with his backpack draped over the back of the chair had a problem getting off because he and his backpack got snagged on the chair and tripped the lift's stop bar. The liftie seemed to be having some trouble getting things going again, and we heard the call come to the RC for some assistance. Mark and I could have helped if the chair was just 6 feet farther forward, but as it was we were stuck. So we sat there as Patrick and John came out from RC to help out. They finally got things squared away and the lift started running again.

Things kind of mellowed out from there, and the day finished without incident. Mark and I helped NoPoGirl out with some closing procedures over on the Cascade chair and that was pretty much the end of the day on the hill. I won't say anything about the drill...

L to R: Barkernews, NoPoGirl, and Patrick, fellow patrollers and fellow local bloggers. Good bunch of folks to ski, patrol, and have a beer or several with. With my vast (ha!) readership, they'll all be famous now. I think B-news may actually charge you for his autograph.

After we packed it in for the day, I hung out briefly with the trio pictured above in the lot, while they dumped their ski gear. I got to meet Noah, Barkernews' and NoPoGirl's yellow lab, who is a sweet boy. Curious, too - he briefly hopped into the back of the Sorento while I had it open!

The four of us headed over to the relatively-newly-remodeled Ratskeller in Government Camp to have a couple beers and chill. Patrick volunteered to get the first pitcher, which was of Pipeline Porter. I'm pretty sure it is from Kona Brewing, although the description of it on the web page makes it sound roasty-er than it was. Whatever. It was tasty. I don't think Patrick ended up getting charged for the pitcher, apparently due to some computer problems or something.

Much enjoyable conversation ensued, and Brian got the next pitcher, this time of MHBC's Ice Axe IPA. (Both of) my regular readers may recall I'm not much on IPAs, but Ice Axe is one I'm very willing to drink. The hops aren't overpowering, and it's a nicely balanced ale.

The Ratskeller has these two large flat-panel TVs in the area we sat in, which had a pool table as well as a stage for live music. We sat at a table near the stage and wondered, at different points in our wandering conversations, when the hell somebody would start the Warren Miller film (Fifty) whose DVD menu was on the screens.

Anyway, after more beer and conversation, we were asked to move to a different table so the staff could stow the pool table (into this neat little 'garage' beneath the right-hand side of the stage) and have the live band set up. Half-jokingly, I told the waitress who asked us to move that if she gave us a pitcher, we'd move pretty much wherever she wanted us to. To my surprise, she said, "Sure. What do you want?" I decided I'd play it off as a joke to see if she was serious, and she was. "No, seriously - what would you guys like?"

Oh, this is effin' SWEET!
, I thought to myself. I never get away with stuff like this...

So I told her we'd like another pitcher of the Pipeline Porter, which arrived very shortly after we relocated. B-news was simultaneously impressed and a little peeved - he was the only one who actually paid for any beer.

If only I'd done that whilst drinking with some of the patrol trainers. I'd be a lock for Apprentice of the Year.

Anyway, after we finished off that pitcher, chatted more, and watched Warren Miller's Fifty (they finally started it!), we called it a night. I went down to the Mt. Hood Brewing Company down the street and grabbed a growler of their Hogsback Oatmeal Stout for the New Year's Eve party that the missus and I will be at tonight.

Couldn't think of a better way to wrap up my final ski day of the calendar year. Maybe 6" or so (or more) of fresh snow would have made it even more enjoyable.


Barkernews said...

That last pitcher was pretty awesome. Although it was better the first time. The second time I saw it it wasn't so great. Nevertheless, Sunday was a good opportunity to ski off the hangover.
Happy New Year!

Ghost Dog said...

Oh no...not the dreaded 'Unscheduled Review of Stomach Contents'. Bummer.

The Ratskeller said...

Thanks for the feedback on the movies...satellite should be on full time now, but if you ever have a thirst for some shred-action, let one of the staff know. We'd be happy to oblige!