25 November 2007

Ski Days 1 & 2: Beauty, Boredom, Backboards

My view of the summit, from my 'guard post'. Turned out I wasn't where they really wanted, but this is a better view than where I was supposed to be.

Friday and Sunday were spent up on Mt. Hood, my first two days skiing this season, both of which were with the patrol. Friday, I carpooled with OEC classmates Bob and Terry. I think it was Terry's idea, and he's really got his mind set on pushing carpooling within the patrol. I'm totally on board with that, as the company was certainly welcomed, and then there's the whole environment thing.

Both days, we were operating in a rather strange mode on the hill, since the skiing terrain served by the Magic Mile lift was closed. There were cat-tracks that could be skied down, but the mountain had them closed, since they were far too narrow and probably too thinly-covered to safely support any significant amount of skier/boarder traffic. However, the Pucci lift was running, so there was some lower mountain skiing in addition to the stuff on Palmer. We had to operate two 'bumps', since we couldn't just have everybody bump off of Palmer due to the 'no-man's-land' in between.

More standing around. Friday morning, waiting for the Palmer chair to start running.

Also, we had to station patrollers at key access points to keep the general public off of the cat-tracks on the Mile. This wasn't fun duty. I don't mind talking to people, but having to bum them out by telling them they have to take the chairlift down (wasn't somebody telling them this when they bought their tickets?) instead of skiing/boarding down kinda sucked. And standing around waiting for something to happen is boring.

Kinda cool how the clouds were rolling over the hills below...

More of the guys on 'guard duty'.

was an absolutely gorgeous day, sunny, warmer than you might expect, and the visibility was awesome. It was a pretty quiet day, and I missed basically all the cases, due to bad timing - someone else always seemed closer. I did get a lot of turns in, since my bump shifts were on Palmer and I had my lunch in my pack. It . Sweep was pretty simple, and we had plenty of patrollers to cover the snowfield and pull the 'SLOW' signs on the way down. Since we'd had some issues with 'poachers' on the cat-tracks, we got to ski them down after we swept Palmer.

There were loads of climbers out on Friday.

I got down near the bottom and decided to hop off the cat track into a little of the wind-packed snow to see how that was. Bad idea. My ski tip submarined into the snow and pitched me forward. I went ass-over-teacup into the snow. Fortunately, I fell such that I was able to tuck my head and roll - no faceplant for me. Just a bruised ego.

Friday night, we linked up with pals Ryan & Kelly at the Mash Tun. We hadn't hung out with them in a while, so it was great to see them again. We had a great time chatting over dinner and drinks, and the always-superb hummus plate. I was pretty beat, and it showed, but I kind of got a second wind after a little bit.

Sunday was looking to be a re-run of Friday, minus the carpooling (different set of folks on the hill, nobody really nearby for me, that I knew of). Same clear skies as Friday, same great visibility. A little cooler, but I got warm in a hurry, having to haul a sled over to the lift and upload with it first thing. I had to stand around the bottom of the Mile lift to wait for a sled-carrier bracket, since there were only two and they'd both been taken ahead of me.

That wouldn't be all the standing around I'd do that morning, since my first assignment was to man the cat-track access point at the base of the Palmer lift. I think a couple people snuck through on me whilst I was helping re-set the speed-control fence that had been run into. Oh well.

The afternoon got a whole lot more interesting. I spotted some more 'poachers' snowboarding in one of the canyons off to the west of the Mile lift and called it in. I later heard that they were intercepted by one of the pro patrollers. I didn't hear what came of that.

A little later on, I got my first case of the season, a young skier who'd crashed. His dad was with him, but didn't see the fall, and they'd walked down to the mid-station at Palmer from wherever it was the kid had fallen. It had gotten very windy and seemed lots colder by then, so examining the poor kid was challenging. I tried to shield him from the wind as best I could. I found he had some pain in his neck and back, so I called for a sled, backboard, and an extra patroller. I didn't want to put him on that cold plastic board, but I knew I had to. We did finally get him all bundled up and transported down. Poor kid was pretty cold. We got him into the aid room, warmed him up, and the ambulance crew did some further examination to confirm my findings and get him ready to go to the hospital. I think we had 3 other backboard cases on Sunday.

After that, I had to replace that sled, as we'd found the middle patient strap had broken en route. So I grabbed an apprentice to help me take the sled over to the lift and took it, with a backboard and an oxygen tank to replace the one at the Mile, on up. The plan was to take the sled back up to the top of Palmer, but I got up to the top of Mile too late to make the last chair on Palmer. So, into the top shack of the Mile it went, and we waited for last chair, then closed up shop. I got to ski down the cat-track again, this time no crashes.


Broken Camera Guy said...

I hope we get good snowfall this year, unlike the pitiful 2004-2005 year. Great photos too.

Barkernews said...

Shit. Sorry I missed it!