27 May 2007

Ski Day 28: Breezing At Timberline

Day 2 of the race. I thought it was cool how they built themselves some windbreaks.

Back up to T-line today for another day of patrolling. With fewer patrollers and no apprentices, it was looking like it could be one of those days where I don't get to make a lot of turns. Weather-wise, I was expecting it to suck. It looked like it might rain - and it was most of the drive up - and it was definitely colder and windier than Saturday.

Right off the bat, I got to patch somebody up - the lift operator at the top of the Mile lift. He immediately flagged me down and I saw blood on his face and neck. Some piece of the mechanism that helps open and close the massive doors on the top lift building had broken and nicked him in the jaw. Facial cuts tend to bleed a lot, so it looked much worse than it was. I cleaned him up and put a bandage on him and headed off to check the west Mile boundary, then back up to the top of Palmer.

Getting to the top got me out of the clouds, but it was colder and windier still up top. I drew the assignment to go check the east boundary, which turned out to be a hard, chattery excursion into ungroomed frozen-over Cascade Cement. I saw and chatted with some climbers who had apparently summited at around 5am. Crazy. Took a shot of the summit from out east there, as well as one looking to the west, and continued down.

Looking up at the summit from the east boundary of the area, across from about halfway down the Palmer lift.

Clouds were moving around like crazy all day, but kept mostly below the bottom of Palmer.

Back up top for a bit, a call came in for a 'boarder crashed in the park. The head pro patroller was already on-scene and one of the other pros responded with a sled and backboard. I was asked to help with scene safety. While important, it felt kinda lame not to be down there helping more directly. I waved a handful of people off the terrain feature above the crash site, and then helped run interference for the sled-driver.

I got back on the Mile lift right after that, and as I approached the top, I saw a woman and a kid off to the side of the East Mile run. I figured they wouldn't hear me if I yelled, due to the wind, so I'd go check it out. Worst case, I waste a run and some time if they get up and take off. Turns out the kid was indeed hurt (knee), and required transport. I called for and got a sled, and we splinted him and took him down. I got to drive this one, since JG (who brought the sled) asked if I wanted to.

We get him into the aid room and find out his brother's friend was the kid who crashed in the terrain park not 30 minutes earlier. Certainly not a happy coincidence, by any means. Anyway, after we got done re-splinting him, doing the paperwork, and getting him some ice, I ask the kid how the sled ride was. "Okay. Kinda fun, actually." Then JG asks the kid if he had a choice, would he have wanted a snowboarder drive the sled or a skier. Almost without hesitation, the kid answers, "a snowboarder."

Great, thanks. I'll try not to take that personally, kiddo. Despite a pretty swollen knee, the kid's still got a sense of humor. I think. Anyway, he's smiling, so that's good.

Back on the hill we go, JG and I each taking a sled back up the hill. No botched uploads for me today. By then, it seemed even colder than earlier, and the wind was howling so much that it was pushing the nose of the sled to the side. The nice thing about the high-speed quads is the slowdown in the unloading area - plenty of time to straighten up the sled before landing.

John and Mark chatting up at the top of Palmer. Check out the cloud billowing up behind the skiers to the left. Neat stuff like that was happening all the time.

Saw Phil Mahre again up top, waved to him, he waved back. The rest of the day went uneventfully, and we got to take off a little earlier today. It was nice to get off the hill on time, and I had a beer with Mark, JG, and the doc on call down at the Ice Axe Grill. Mt. Hood Brewing Co.'s Hogsback Oatmeal Stout was on nitro today, which was the perfect capper to a good weekend of patrolling.

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