30 November 2009

Ski Days 2 & 3: Ski Patrolling Again

Looking down the hill, from the top of Magic Mile. Clouds were starting to break up.

Black Friday found me on the mountain once again, this time in my familiar red patrol jacket. I was excited and nervous to be back patrolling again, as patrolling presents a different set of challenges than free-skiing does. Would I do fine pulling a sled? What about skiing off the groomed stuff? What if I have to kneel for a long time holding c-spine stabilization?

Friday at Timberline, I only got to answer one of the three, and that was the off-piste question. Well, one could say I pulled a sled...but it was empty, and I only had to drag it across the flats from the parking lot to the base of the Mile lift, then upload with it on the chair. Just like old times. For most of the morning, the weather seemed to be my usual fare for patrol days - bad visibility, high winds, heavy wet snow. But that changed towards noon, and most of the mountain was out of the clouds in the early afternoon, remaining so until I left.

As for skiing off-piste, this was more or less official business. I say 'more or less', because I don't think the search for the tracks of some folks who'd gotten themselves lost out-of-bounds was an officially-sanctioned activity. We weren't directed to do it, the other patroller and I, but we felt it was an appropriate bit of investigation. And it wasn't like we were out there just skiing around. It was almost all traversing, only a handful of turns. We weren't out there long, either, as we'd gotten recalled not long after we decided to try to find where the lost folks had exited the area boundary.

A lot of people ended up out of bounds on Friday. I'm not entirely sure why. And I think if I hadn't fielded the call from the lodge switchboard, I probably wouldn't have been so keenly interested in the family of four that had managed to lose themselves in one of the canyons to the west of the area. Long story short, they got out of there - tired, and thirsty, but safe.

I didn't pick up any cases on Friday. Everything happened nowhere near me, it seemed.

Love what the setting sun does to the mountain. Shot from the Jeff Flood Express chairlift.

After taking Saturday to just chill, I was back on duty Sunday at Ski Bowl. I think I found that one day's rest between ski days isn't going to cut it just yet. This has me wondering about next weekend, where I'm on the hill both days, but between the sled coaches' clinic and evaluating tryouts, I don't think it'll be high-stress skiing either day.

The view from Rescue Center, at the top of Ski Bowl. Freakin' Awesome.

But Sunday was gorgeous. Sunny, 30-something, not much wind. I started out the day expecting to open up RC. I hadn't been back to the Bowl since the knee injury, but I wasn't bothered by the fact that I was re-visiting the 'scene of the crime'. I was surrounded by good people, and it was a beautiful day.

I ended up not getting to open RC - Barkernews got to do that - but I got to help with a 'special project'. Basically, there were enough bare spots on the Lower Bowl main run that the area felt it should be closed off. So, pro patroller Brett and I started in on closing it off. We got some assistance from a couple other patrollers, so the task went quickly.

I rounded up to RC, chatted with B-news, and went out to check the Outback closures. This involved skiing some steeper stuff than I'd done to date since coming back, and on much firmer and more uneven snow. The chattery stuff wasn't comfy skiing, but I handled it fine. I wouldn't call it pretty, but it wasn't terrible. I made a handful more runs before lunch, then decided that I would take it easy the rest of the day. The knee was getting sore and I didn't want to risk the bad things that can happen when you ski tired. I made a few more runs in the afternoon as well, but spent the bulk of the middle of the day manning the radio at RC.

Probably a good move, too. The trip down the hill at the end of the day felt better than the earlier afternoon runs, and I was glad for that. I wanted to finish the day making good turns, and I did that on the cruisers down Multorpor on the way back to the Palace.

More of Mt. Hood's alpenglow awesomeness. Never gets old.

On the trip over 26 back to Govy, the traffic on 26 looked just brutal. So I joined the gang at Charlie's for a beer, checked the pass cam on my iPhone a few times, and left when it no longer looked like a string of taillights. Good day.


Joy P. said...

Given the subtitle to your blog, I thought you'd be amused to know that some random person off the internet enjoyed this post! I guess I'm a winter sport enthusiast and beer drinker, though...And I was raised in Portland. :)