30 December 2008

Ski Days 4 and 5: This Is Heavy @ Ski Bowl

Upper Bowl, on Saturday - during the brief period of no precipitation.

So a week had passed, and with it, a colossal dumping of snow. Sunday was a return trip to Ski Bowl, and as often happens during the early part of the season, things weren't exactly normal. Both of the west side chairlifts had some sort of issue - upper bowl on a wind hold, lower with a mechanical issue - and on top of that, it was raining. A LOT.

I got to open up Rescue Center, which meant a snowmobile ride all the way up, since the upper chair wasn't running. I got the logbook started and took care of what I could up there, then the decision was made that we would operate with the Multorpor chair as the dispatch, since it was the highest running lift. This meant I got to pack a sled up with a pair of backboards, the oxygen/BLS pack, the AED, and the logbook, and ski it down from the top.

It had been since last summer that I'd pulled a toboggan, and the only thing I'd done since the shoulder repair was tail-roping at the coaches' clinic a couple weeks ago, so I was excited to see how it would go. Granted, there wasn't a patient in it, but it was heavier than an empty sled, what with all the stuff I packed in it. It went well, and even pulling it along the flats in some spots wasn't uncomfortable at all. I mentally thanked my ortho surgeon and my PT when I arrived at Multy and set about unpacking and getting on with the day.

One of my OEC classmates was on the hill with me, and after the decision was made to open upper bowl, he and I got to set a nice long rope line from the Warming Hut over to the Low Road entrance, so people could get over to Multorpor but not down to the bottom of lower bowl, since that lift was still running. They did get lower running later on.

I had the Cascade assignment from 12 to 2, and so I was trying to keep dry-ish and warm-ish by using the tree we had the sled leaned against up top as shelter. This didn't work terribly well, so I just started making laps. Wet and warm (and getting turns in) is better than wet and cold. One run, I decided to see how things were going over at the handle tow. I got over there, and saw racer kids getting on the tow about 1/4 the way up instead of at the loading area at the bottom. I decided to talk to the lift operator at the top about it, and while we were discussing it, a 'boarder fell off the tow about 20 feet from the top. Lucky for the 'boarder, I was right there. My first real case of the season - a shoulder injury. Creepy or fitting? I dunno. Anyway, sounded like it was just a subluxation, and upon assessment, I could tell it was definitely back in the socket. We got her all taken care of, but I didn't get to drive the sled. Oh well.

I was rounded back up to take a break in RC and get warm/dry, and just around the time we were turning things over to the night crew, another shoulder injury happened. By the end of the day, though, things had cooled enough for the rain to switch to snow. We had some brief moments of no precipitation, but everyone was well soaked most of the day. Thankfully, we didn't open the Outback, because the heavy wet stuff on the ungroomed runs of upper bowl wasn't much fun to ski.

Afterward, most of the crew got together at Charlie's for beer. I just had one - bought by one of last year's trainees. In fact, about 70% of the crew we had on the hill today were folks that were apprentices last season. They did great.

Monday was another interesting day. High winds delayed the opening of upper bowl, and the epic dumpage of snow overnight meant avalanche control work for the paid patrollers. There was a lot of work to be done on the rest of the hill as well, and we got kind of a later start than we'd planned. I got to clear all the tower pads on Multorpor, which was somewhat time-consuming, and then cleared off a handful of fences/ropelines that needed it. The snow that was falling was quite heavy and wet on the lower hill, so it was a little sticky. Probably should have waxed the skis Sunday night.

Once I got my chores done, it was off to lower bowl, since upper was still on hold for high winds and avy control. I did some more opening-type work, then went down to the aid room to dry off and warm up. Back up to RC after that, now that the lift was at least taking patrollers up, for a couple runs and then lunch.

After lunch, we were going to do some sled refreshers, but we got a call about an injury, so we stood by with a sled to respond. When it became apparent that it was going to take more of a search to locate the injured party, we headed down so we could respond from top of lower bowl instead of all the way up top. Then, we ended up joining the search, but nobody ever found anyone matching the description of the injured person, so we went back up top after re-setting a fenceline.

I got asked to go out and re-set some of the area boundary signs on the west edge of the area, which meant a hike out to Tom Dick Peak. I was excited about doing it, but also a little worried about toting bamboo and disks down some of those steep pitches in the deep and slightly wind-packed snow. I'd already broken trail on the east wall, where if it's flat enough, you couldn't move forward even if you pointed your skis straight down the fall line. So I knew it would be tough going, as once you let your tips dive a little, you're going down.

I was pretty tired from the hike (so out-of-shape), so I took a little break up top before slogging through hip-deep snow to re-set the upper signage. After that, I took in what little of the view I had, and started down. I made long traversing turns, and got down to below the chutes where I neede to re-set a couple of the boundary markers. Unfortunately, setting those boundary markers means you don't have the vertical needed to make the flats below without skating/poling/hiking. Having to cut trail in knee-deep heavy snow slowed things down even more.

The trail-cutting sucked, but the turns I got on the steeps in between the flats were fantastic and well worth it. The only bummer was that I was so gassed from the trail-cutting that I could only string together maybe 5 turns at a time before having to stop and take a rest. The other good thing about the trail-cutting was the profuse thanks from the guys who had to sweep the west boundary behind me. My tracks made it a pretty easy run for them on the flats.

I got home, had dinner with the missus, and then we went off to Safeway to get cat food and some other stuff. We watched a little TV and crashed. I had originally planned to get some gaming in - either Team Fortress 2 or Left 4 Dead, but once I got settled in and got all my stuff set up to dry out, I was too damn tired.

The best kind of too damn tired.