31 December 2009

Ski Days 7, 8, and 9: On Patrol @ The Bowl

This one's going to be a little light on the details, since Day 7 was 11 days ago, and day 8 was 4 days ago. Day 9 was just the day before yesterday, though. Hey, I'm on vacation, what do you want from me? :)

Dec 20th was ski day #7 for me this season, and it was one of those days that used to typify patrol days for me - not terribly cold, but very wet. Definitely a pack-cover day. I don't remember exactly how the day started, but it did rain. Not as bad as I had come to expect from looking at the forecast, but it did rain. It being a Sunday before a major holiday, we had very few guests at Ski Bowl. I was counting people out of curiosity while on my assignment at Multorpor, and the patrollers did not actually outnumber the guests, although it may have seemed so.

I'd waxed and sharpened both my old K2 Escape 5500 Unlimited and Apache Outlaw skis - the 5500s just in case the coverage was thin. I decided to actually take the 5500s on the hill with me, and it seems I didn't need to do that. In fact, there were a couple runs on the upper bowl where I wished I had the fatter Apaches, especially since I got asked to tail-rope for one of the patrollers doing his annual 'check-ride'. I got a little caught up in the chunk and the ski dived a little on me. I went down, but as gracefully as one can when one's feet don't go where one expects. No re-injury to the knee.

Very little happened from a ski patrol standpoint, as far as I can recall. I ended up doing more skiing than anything else, and spent a good bit of time at Rescue Center at the top of the bowl. The groomers over on Multorpor were excellent, very skiable.

Day 8 - the 27th - was cold and overcast. That's really all I remember. I spent a bunch of time at RC again, checking the score of the Steelers game (23-20, good guys). I shot just one picture from the RC window, from my iPhone.

That was about the best visibility we had that day. The snow wasn't great, a lot of hard stuff out there mixed with some dusting, but the groomed stuff that wasn't scraped off was nice. With freshly sharpened and waxed skis, it was easy going for me. I think the sun tried to show itself a few times, and there were a couple holes in the clouds where I saw blue sky, but it never got sunny by any stretch. It was a nice day, though - no pack cover needed.

We had a pretty big crew on Sunday, so things got done quickly. This also usually means that when the injuries are few, it almost seems like nothing happened because there were so many of us. The story would be rather different on Tuesday.

Day 9 - the 29th - was a bit goofy. No Hill Captain was dispatched, and it was looking like we'd have only myself and one other hill patroller, plus one associate that I'd never met before. Without a Hill Captain, we effectively had no one whose official capacity was to do the paperwork, hand out radios, and interface with the paid patrol at the area. So, being the most senior of the hill patrollers that day, I took it upon myself to play Hill Captain.

Thankfully, we had a walk-on hill patroller, so there were 3 of us plus (Andrew, Jared, and I) the associate ("Raz", a pretty cool guy). There were 3 paid patrollers on duty as well, and they basically covered all the hill setup stuff, which was cool. I did find a couple things that needed doing on the hill, so I took care of those, but it was one of those mornings where it seemed like we might not have many guests and little to do.

That turned out not to be the case. It was sunny to start the day, which was a nice change from most of my patrol days. Definitely no need for the pack cover today, and it was worthy of actually hauling out the "real" camera and taking pictures outside.

But the time to just hang out up top and enjoy the view was short-lived. We got a call for a case - my first real patrolling action of the season! It was reported as a back injury, and responding from RC all the way over to the terrain park on Multorpor gave me a ton of time to imagine what I might have to deal with. Jared followed me out the door to wait at the top of Multorpor to bring the sled.

Turned out to be kind of an odd one. Obviously, I can't go into great detail, but we did backboard him - mostly just for ease-of-transport. I couldn't detect any fracture or anything that indicated a spinal injury. We got him into the aid room, did some more assessment, but found nothing that indicated anything other than perhaps a muscular injury. I ended up spending the bulk of the middle of the day in the aid room, keeping an eye on the injured guy until his dad was able to take him home, and then dealing with a walk-in case.

Meanwhile, people are out on the hill losing their children and dropping backpacks off the chairlift. Poor Jared got tagged to go grab a backpack that had been dropped off the lift near the rather treacherous (since the snow level is so low) cliff band underneath the lower bowl chair. Sounded like quite an adventure. We had a couple calls that came in from Lift Operations about injured people, but we could not locate them. Between that and the missing child reports, we were running pretty ragged trying to find people. Definitely a busy day.

Towards the latter part of the afternoon, though, things calmed down and it started to snow. A LOT. I pulled out the pack cover just for the trip down the mountain to the "palace" to de-boot and head home. Got all the radios signed back in and on their chargers, paperwork faxed off, keys put away, and headed off to a cabin in Govy where Andrew and his folks and some of their friends were staying for a quick beer and "de-brief", then headed home in the snow. Nice day.