25 February 2007

Ski Day 15: Steep-N-Deep @ Bowl

Since I passed my sled test last week, I wasn't entirely sure what I could expect from this Saturday at the Bowl. Sure, I've shadowed plenty of times already, but this would be the first day with the Patrol where I could run a sled on a case. I knew it'd been snowing all week, so we could expect the landscape to be much different than last weekend, and perhaps some slow twisting falls to have to treat.

I carpooled with fellow Spring OEC classmate Alex, who is still going through sled training. We arrived at the Bowl parking lot and it was snowing pretty heavily. We trudged up to the "Palace" and started gearing up for the day. Given the recent snowfall and what it had fallen on, that meant adding avalanche transceivers to the mix, since the danger was high. I chatted with my fellow apprentices and other patrollers, getting some congratulatory remarks regarding passing the sled test last week, and headed out the door with the patroller I got paired up with for opening assignment - NoPoGirl.

She and I headed over to the Lower Bowl, to start clearing the snow and ice from the sleds, call in the equipment from the top of the lift, and start clearing ropelines and dealing with lift tower and light pole pads. When we got to the sled at the Warming Hut, I stepped on the snow about 6" from the side of the hut and went in just about to my hip. It was going to be that kind of day. NoPoGirl had to get her avy shovel out to dig out the bottom of the sled, but we managed to get it cleared and checked without getting stuck in all the snow.

After that, we started leapfrogging down the Lower Bowl area to clear and tighten the ropelines and clear/adjust the tower pads. I found another deep spot next to one of the light poles as I was working to clear and raise the pad. I went in hip-deep again, and had NoPoGirl take this shot:

Here I am, buried waist-deep next to one of the light poles on Lower Bowl.

We continued on, and had most of the work done by the time the apprentice group showed up to start helping. But it wasn't long before NoPoGirl got herself a little stuck in one of the lift-tower wells:

NoPoGirl stuck in a lift-tower well. She got out by herself. I think that's Peter behind her, getting back into his skis.

Yes, I offered to help her up.

After we finished the opening assignment, it was time to head up to the Rescue Center at the top of the Upper Bowl. We had time to take a run first, so we headed down Banfield and over towards the West Wall. The snow was deep and fairly heavy, so it was fun skiing but also a little bit of work. I, uh, didn't see anybody on tele skis take any face plants at all. Nope. Not a one.

After getting back to RC, I tried to dry out a little bit both from the sweat and from the snow. My gloves were almost dry by the time a call came in from one of the pros to see if anyone could gather the bamboo left down the sides of Bob Strand's Downhill by the race folks from last weekend. I figured the apprentice group coaches wouldn't want to waste training time doing that - even though it had been suggested they do it - and since I'm a newbie, I might get volunteered to do it anyway, so I decided to go take care of it.

Which, of course, makes me an idiot. I've skied with a bunch of bamboo on my shoulder back in my racing days, and carried RapidGates and all that, but I'd never had to do it in shin-deep snow before. Nor all alone. I must have picked up 25-30 sticks of bamboo by the time I finished. I had to stop after the first 15 or so to tape them together because they were unwieldy. I still had a decent ways to ski after I'd collected it all, since I had to deposit it near the race course finish shack at the bottom of Dog Leg. I fell a few times because I didn't have the 'boo balanced well on my shoulder and the snow just isn't the kind of snow you want to wedge through.

After finishing that rather grueling task, I started back up the mountain. I was just getting off the Lower Bowl lift when I heard something about a 'medical emergency' at RC and that they'd need a some help at the bottom of the Upper Bowl chair to help take a sled across the flats there. I radioed in that I was in position to help out, but the head pro was already on top of things, arriving with a snowmobile to help out. I found out later what the deal was, and long story short, one of our own had a problem and had to be taken off the hill. We found out later that he was okay after getting to a hospital and receiving treatment.

After things had settled down a bit,
I got to take a run with Barkernews and NoPoGirl. B-news had been stuck over on the Cascade lift all morning, due in part to his assignment and then because of the emergency I mentioned above. The three of us headed over to Scotty's Way and had a great run over there just enjoying the snow and making turns.

Later, I made a run down Cliffhanger to take a look at some of the light pole pads that I'd seen from the lift and didn't like the looks of. The visibility had gotten terrible at that point, so I ended up traversing over to Upper Canyon so I wouldn't drop off one of the cliffs under the lift without being ready for it. I timed my traverse back towards the lift pretty well, as I was only 15 or so feet above the first light pole. The pad on it was buried pretty deep - there was maybe only a foot or so of it visible. So, I dug it out and rasied it up. I skied down a ways and found the other one and adjusted it, too.

B-news and I got to take a free run over on West Wall a little later on, and we managed to find a rock the hard way. Not sure how bad he nicked his ski up, but I managed to miss it when I skied through that area. However, I lost control a little bit and took a bit of a tumble. B-news saw me crash and said he felt better about his own tumble since I bit it. Anyway, we shook it off and finished the run making some hero turns and looking cool.

At some point during the afternoon, NoPoGirl and I went on the peak hike with some of her friends that were up that day - a tele skier and 3 'boarders. The hike was good, even if I slowed up towards the end, but there was little to see as the visibility wasn't great. After borrowing some rub-on wax from NoPoGirl (snow was sticking to my bases most of the day, which SUCKED), we were on our way down. I had a little crash early and came out of a ski, but didn't lose it in the deep, and we had a decent run down West Boundary to Black Label and out the Log Road.

Well, the Log Road wasn't all that decent. There were still some sketchy parts, and I mis-timed a hop over a 'pothole' and popped out of a ski. Determined not to let the hassle of the log road dampen my spirits from the great snow leading down to it, I pressed on. We gathered near the end and said our 'see-ya' to the group and got back up the hill to RC.

I hooked up with the apprentice group for a little bit, since they got tasked to go get a spool of wire and the metal stand it was on and take it down the hill. They were doing some more sled training on the way there, so I was going to watch the guys and gals do their thing. I noticed that both of the coaches were about to get into the sleds as passengers, so I volunteered to be cargo for one of the sleds to give one of the coaches the opportunity to observe from outside the sled. Trainer Peter (in the background of this photo) gratefully accepted my offer and traded places with me. Laura (pictured in the handles here) was driving, and Russ was on the tail rope. I had a nice ride down upper Bob Strand's Downhill.

We got down and met Jim, the head pro patroller, at the wire spool, and started disassembling it for sled transport. Both the spool and the stand were heavy and awkward, but we got them strapped into the sleds and headed down the hill. I watched, mostly, as the still-in-sled-training apprentices should get the chance to run the sleds. I did get in the handles after the one apprentice on a snowboard got stuck on a flat area and needed some help pulling the sled.

I took the sled the rest of the way down, and that was the only sled-running I would do all day. No cases came up that I could respond to. We had a near-miss earlier when someone reported something on lower Skyline (I think), and I stood by at RC ready to take a sled down as NoPoGirl responded. Nothing came of it, however, so I didn't get the chance to help any injured people.

I did manage to take and pass the Ski Bowl map test, however, so the only hurdles left to clear on the way to becoming a full-fledged patroller is First Responder Training and Avalanche Training. I'll be done with that before the end of March. Sweet.