26 May 2007

Ski Day 27: Sun, Clouds, And A Guy Named Phil

Early morning summit shot. The clouds were just amazing all day - volume, variety, movement. Super nifty.

Finally back patrolling again today - at Timberline - and it felt nice to ski and help people.

And run into a boyhood hero. More on that later.

Today was day one of the Golden Rose Classic ski race, so the lot was a hell of a lot more full than I usually see when I arrived. The sum was rising, the skies looked like they were clearing up, and a light breeze whistled through the trees. Grabbed my stuff out of the Sorento, with The Toasters' "Night Train to Moscow" still rolling around in my head, and headed into the patrol room for the morning meeting.

At 6:15. Summer hours. Brutal.

We were understaffed, as is often the case in the "summer", so the prospects of getting lots of turns in seemed bleak. However, Timberline only had the Mile and Palmer lifts running, so we didn't have a ton of area to cover. Opening assignment for me was the west boundary, and my feet started hurting about halfway down. Crap, it's like they forgot how ski boots work or something. Stupid feet! Fortunately, they settled into the routine as I did, and no further discomfort.

From the 'My Bad' Dept: I can't remember ever having a sled-loading mishap during my apprenticeship with the patrol. What bitter irony that the first patrolling day after the banquet - where I'm finally patrolling with a shield, cross, and nametag on my vest - would be the day I mis-load (and drop) a sled. The damn thing got caught on a piece of metal on the bottom of the chair and I couldn't pull it back to get the carrier on the chair. Idiot. That'll learn ya to keep the damn nose up. At least I'll have a current example (and personal experience) for new apprentices...

Trainer JG schooling some apprentices. Glad they're getting up and shadowing during OEC. They'll have a leg up, like I did.

I managed to make a handful of runs in the morning, and it was probably 10 or so when I had my first case - a walk-up (really a limp-up) as I was on bump at the top of Palmer. A climber was complaining of ankle pain and didn't think she could make the rest of the hike down. I immediately jumped on the case, as I wanted to see how I'd handle a top-of-Palmer-to-the-lodge sled run with a patient. After a very brief assessment, I had her sit in the sled, strap in, and I headed down.

Great Scott, that's a long-ass sled haul. I got a SAMPLE from her while I ran the sled down, as that was all I could think to do to keep it from being boring for my patient. Asked a handful of other questions about her climb and stuff, and then finally helped her into a wheelchair at the bottom. "Thank you for flying Clipper airways flight 1523 with non-stop service to the day lodge. We know you have a choice when you decide to come down the mountain, and we're pleased you chose us."

Some random ski racer pounding the plastic. I snagged only a few decent shots.

Anyway, after lunching and taking the sled back over to the Mile, I headed back up to Palmer for bump. I took a few runs throughout the day to go over and check on the race, snap some photos, and make sure the race folks knew we were around for them, if needed. I talked with a course worker who mentioned that Phil Mahre was skiing in the race.

No effing way! That guy was my hero growing up. I wanted to be a World Cup/Olympic ski racer just like him. I skied and raced on K2 skis because of him and his brother Steve. I'm not sure my own brother, Jim, had the same dream of being a dominant pair of ski racing twin brothers just like Phil and Steve, but we pushed each other just like they did. 'Course, Jim had to screw it all up and ski on Rossignols. Punk. At least Jim got to race outside the country. My racing career ended without much in the way of newsworthy experiences or dramatic finishes or whatever. But I did get to meet both Phil and Steve Mahre on separate occasions, and get both their autographs. So that was cool.

Fast forward to today, and I'm standing around the top area of the Palmer lift when this guy I sorta recognize, wearing a red race suit and bib number 1, skis out of the lift building. "Phil? Phil Mahre? Oh my gosh, wow! [handshake and 'hey howya doin' - cool!] I - you probably don't remember me, but I met you back in the late '80s when I was just a kid, at a ski race in Vermont."

Some smalltalk ensued, and Nate (friend of Barkernews and NoPoGirl, BTW, and a new MHSP apprentice) volunteered to snap a photo of us together. Phil agreed, and here you are:

Proud of myself for keeping my cool somewhat and not having the biggest, dopiest grin in the history of big dopey grins.

Wow, cool. I could tell he wasn't up for just shooting the shit all afternoon with some patroller/fan/dork. Thanks for the photo-op, another handshake.

Me: "Nice to see you again, Phil - good luck tomorrow!"
Him: "You, too. Take care."

I was so geeked up that I didn't care that we had to stay well past the original end time of our patrol day due to the race. We were supposed to sweep at 1:30.

Apprentice Nate taking a break. A super guy, learns quickly. I'm sure he'll be a great patroller.

We didn't get off the hill until 4. Fine by me. Kinda hope tomorrow isn't like that, though. Summer patrol days are supposed to be up early, off the hill early, have a beer outside at Charlie's, and still get home before 5.


Kelly V. said...

That's so cool Mike! :) It's always sort of intimidating to meet our hero's as we tend to think we act like goofballs, but really we're just thrilled at the opportunity. I'm sure Phil was flattered. ;)

Glad you made it to your patrol day, thanks so much for staying out with us in honor of my day. It's always a treat to see you. WE definitely missed the wife but we'll have to plan dinner together here soon.

Big Hugs.


Barkernews said...

Pretty cool dude!
Nice to see Nate too.
I'm starting to seriously jones to patrol again... but we're booked till mid July!

Ghost Dog said...

Glad I could come out, Kel - thanks tons for inviting us. You guys rule, and Wild Abandon is now on my 'take Becky there' list. :)

B-news: So no Nuts & Bolts, then? Well, if you do come up this summer and I'm there, first pitcher after patrolling is on me! Y'know, I woulda bought you both a drink at the banquet...

Anonymous said...

We load with the tail of the sled out to the side so the chair doesn't hook it like that. It straightens up nicely when the hanger gets scooped.

Ghost Dog said...

Aw, anonymous, if you're part of the patrol family, don't be shy - who are ya? Welcome to the blog, anyway.

Nice tip. I like to have it closer to parallel with the direction of the chair so if the tail drags a little, it doesn't cause the chair to swing on takeoff, but I can see how having the tail off to the side could help.

Of course, now that I think about it, on the Mile chair with that metal piece under the middle of the chair, the problem is just as easily solved by not having the sled centered on the chair...