30 April 2007

Ski Day 26: Reggae at Meadows

Mt Hood, in the afternoon.

Sunday was my first patrol day at Mt. Hood Meadows, and the weather and party atmosphere made it a good one. I partnered up with co-worker Jeff, who is responsible for getting me into this patrol mess to begin with. Since Meadows is quite a different animal than T-line or the Bowl, I'd talked to Jeff about getting a day in to get a little more familiar with the area and procedures. Bob Marley blared from the speakers in the base area as we headed up the Mt. Hood Express lift.

We started out by taking on some opening procedures off the Mt. Hood Express lift, then headed up to the "top of the world" (AKA Cascade Express), to await further instructions.

Jeff chats with some of the pro patrollers. Heads are down 'cause it's windy as hell and quite chilly up there.

It was mighty breezy up there, so much so that they put the lift on a wind standby somewhere around 11am or so. Our first mission was opening all the access control gates into Heather Canyon. That was kinda fun, but all the while I found myself hoping we'd get the chance to drop into the canyon and get some sweet turns in.

We didn't get the chance. Between making runs to get familiar with the rest of the area, we got a case to respond to at the bottom of the Cascade lift - a boarder with an ankle. After a quick assessment, Jeff let me drive the sled to take the him down to the clinic. After getting him checked out down there, we finished our paperwork and headed out.

We did some more work later on, re-setting some rope lines and such, then stopped by to check out the pond-skimming. We moved on after snapping some pictures and headed back up to the Q.

Some random 'boarder pond-skimming. I think he made it across. Several didn't.

At some point, I don't recall exactly when, I asked Jeff if I could try a lap-load of an empty sled, since that is how the patrol at Meadows transports the toboggans up the lift - no carrier brackets. I think I did an okay job, no real trouble at all. I'd been uncomfortable with the idea of doing it when I first heard that's what they did here, but once I'd seen Jeff do it earlier in the day, I thought I would give it a shot. I'm not so intimidated by it anymore. It's just a matter of getting the sled up to hip level and resting it in the right spot at the top of your thighs.

Also, in the early part of the afternoon, we started hearing complaints about flooding in the season-pass-holder locker room. A "more than significant amount" of water. So either the 'pond' had sprung a leak, or it was the dunk tank. More alarming is that the lodge basement is apparently leaky...

Afterward, we headed off to the south boundary to get familiar with the terrain out there. It's amazing how dirty the snow gets from all the wind-blown dust.

Jeff, grinning at the top of Vista.

The summit again. Look at all the dirty snow. Free stone-grinding!

The upper part of Ski Bowl, from somewhere along the south boundary.

Anyway, we did some more skiing around and got another call about a case at the bottom of the Buttercup lift. I went down and didn't see anyone hurt, so I called Jeff on the radio to signal that, and got a reply from the Q to talk to the liftie. Sure enough, he pointed out the injured party, who turned out to be a little kid on a snowboard. Poor little fella - turned out that he'd broken his leg. Bummer to see that happen to someone so young.

We'd gotten a little tied up down at the clinic, and I had a walk-in as I was finishing up the paperwork on the kid, so we ended up missing out on what was probably the most interesting incident of the day - a lift evacuation of the Heather Canyon lift. Apparently, it had become derailed somehow and the patrol had to help get some stranded guests down. We managed to catch most of the radio traffic, and learned a little more later on talking to the patrollers involved. Jeff and I were certainly glad no one was hurt, but a little bummed we didn't get to help out. We do evac training every year, but I think it's (fortunately for the guests) quite rare that the training gets put to use.

After concluding our fun in the clinic, we headed out to the top of the Vista Express to do sweep. We got a little held up by some snowboarders who thought it would be a good idea to take their bindings off their boards to move them to a different position on the board. Uh, guys? Yeah, we're trying to leave here. The mountain's closing.

Justin the rock star (left) joins Jeff and I for sweep.

After sweep, we headed in to the patrol room, de-geared, and headed off for a couple beers with the gang. Stopped at one of the nearby sno-parks to snap another pretty shot of the mountain (at the top of the post), and headed on home.

The only bummer of the day was that when I got home, it felt like the cold I'd been fighting off last week was starting to come back again. Bleh. Could be my allergies, too. Not sure.