04 March 2007

Ski Day 17: Sled-Drivin' For Real @ T-Line

Most of the morning, Hood looked like a ghost peak, shrouded in fog.

Heading up to the mountain on Saturday, I wondered what was in store weather-wise. I hadn't looked at the forecast (idiot), but I figured it would be warmer and maybe rain on us. It rained most of the way up to Government Camp, where I stopped off to meet the hill captain for the day at Timberline. When I got there, some sun was breaking through the clouds, and I thought maybe, just maybe, being high up would keep us out of any weather.

Turns out I was correct. It was sorta cool but clear up there, and I got to thinking it would be a sunscreen day. Sweet. Too bad I didn't keep my sunglasses above dog level Friday night. Pheebs put a nice gouge in one of the lenses. Good thing they're changeable. Bad thing I only have the one set.

At the patrol building, I met with some of the other patrollers dispatched for Timberline, as well as a couple fellow apprentices still in sled training. Also there was one of my spring OEC classmates, Daniel, and we decided to carpool. I drove him up there, but not back, as he skied the Glade trail down with several other patrollers. One of these days I'm going to do the same.

Anyway, we got up there, booted up, and headed out. I was more or less treated as a full patroller, taking on an opening assignment with a couple other patrollers, given a bump shift, and so on. I hooked up with Larry and Craig to open up Norman, and the task was pretty much to clear tower pads. We had some associate patrollers help out, tightening rope lines and checking signs.

Mt. Jefferson, jutting up from the clouds to the south.

It wasn't long after we finished that we had our first case. I didn't get to respond first, as an associate and associate apprentice were closer. I did run the sled down there when they requested it, and assisted with treatment and prep for transport before running the loaded sled to the bottom of Norman for uploading. Larry and I and a couple others loaded the sled on the chair, took the patient up, then I drove the sled to the aid room. We were a little short-staffed, and since the associate patrollers responded first, they took care of the paperwork and continuing treatment. We were taking the sled back out when we got another call.

Could be a busy day, I thought. This will be good for me. FRT will be a breeze if I get to respond first to something.

The second case was another snowboarder with a wrist injury, that another patroller had responded to first. Treatment was all but wrapped up by the time we arrived with the sled, but I did get to drive a loaded sled again. No challenging terrain on either case, and I flew solo both times, with Larry observing. Again, we had to get the sled back into service quickly, and again someone else had responded first, so no paperwork or follow-up for me. On the chair on the way up, we saw another kind on a snowboard take a pretty hard beater, so we watched intently to see if we'd have to go check him out. By the time we were almost at the top, he'd gotten back on his feet and took off.

Fellow spring OEC classmates Jenn and Izzy, about to take off from the top of Mile.

Lifties working on the Palmer lift. Sounds like they want to have it ready to run before Spring Break.

After lunch, we were on bump again, this time at the top of the Mile, since it had opened towards the end of our first bump shift. We took turns making runs, but things were pretty quiet. I met up with another spring OEC classmate who was up with his wife, and the three of us took a run together down Otto Lang. Later, I took a similar run with carpool-mate Daniel. We saw a little girl crash down near the lodge, but she turned out to be fine. Another near-miss. As we got close to the bottom of the Mile, a call came in requesting a sled near the top of Molly's Express. I'm close, I thought, I can get this one.

I had just unzipped my jacket to key my radio when I heard another patroller who was closer to the case radio in that he could respond. I saw him grab a sled, and decided to follow him to the case and see if I could help anyway. Turned out to be a good decision, as they ended up needing a backboard. I went over to the top shack of Molly's and grabbed the board and assisted with the case, putting a J-splint on the patient's injured leg and helping get the patient on the board and prepped for transport.

Top of the Stormin' Norman lift. High-speed quad, or alien spacecraft hidden in plain sight?

That would pretty much end my day. I participated in the Norman sweep, clearing the 'bone zone' and that was it. We de-briefed, and headed down to the patrol building for a chili feed with just about the whole rest of the patrol. I hung out with Barkernews and NoPoGirl, chatted with a bunch of other patrollers and apprentices, ate some chili, and drank some beer. It was a good day.

Avalanche training field sessions await next weekend, then a free-ski day on Monday, then FRT the following weekend. I can make out the archway at the end of the tunnel now, not just the light.