05 May 2011

Ski Days 26 & 27: Last Chance Saloon, Closing Time @ Bowl

A view of Tom Dick Peak, from Outback 1

Another bout of blogslackery has me a couple ski days behind, so I'd best get back to it. Inching closer and closer to 30 days skied now, and this marks Day 55 on the repaired knee. That's one shy of equaling last season's with-brace total, now without the brace. I'm still skiing smart and focused, but it feels great.

Day 26 was Saturday, April 23rd. We still had a handful of ski patrol apprentices who needed to complete their toboggan-handling tests, so once again, we saddled up some evaluators and an advocate to do some testing.

It was a pretty freakin' awesome day at Ski Bowl that day. Some new snow had fallen during the week, but we had a bit of a melt-freeze situation the night before, so the snow was firm and fast in the morning. It softened up pretty quickly, though, so we had some pretty challenging conditions to test in. Things got awful mushy and sticky awful fast, but we managed to safely conduct our evaluations. Unfortunately, not everyone passed, so we'll have to give them another shot next season.

Day 27 was the last day of 'normal' winter operations at Ski Bowl. The announcement about that came via e-mail about a week beforehand, and I managed to snipe the Hill Captain slot for the day (May 1st). The dispatch was looking pretty woeful the first time I looked, so I sent out a plea to my fellow patrollers to come help me out.

The response was better than I'd expected, and we had a GREAT crew. We even had FIVE (!) of this year's hill apprentices come out to get a shadow day in, which was pretty special. I knew I would need to provide some refreshment at the end of the day, so I brought up a box each of Deschutes Brewing's Red Chair NWPA and Black Butte Porter. I figured a pale and a porter would cover the range of tastes pretty well, and the names were evocative of patrol colors, so it fit the theme of the day. Also, one of the chairlifts at Ski Bowl has red chairs on them, even the same style as the chair on the Red Chair label.

I know, I'm a dork.

The day was getting off to a decent start, and I was kind of moseying out the door of the Palace, just preparing myself mentally for what we'd have to do. Most of the mountain 'tear-down' was going to be done by the paid patrol, so we really only had to worry about getting our own equipment off the mountain. I was on my way to RC when a call came in from operations about someone with an injury near the Warming Hut.

I was closest (for a change!), so I jumped on the radio to respond, and sped up to get to the case. After a brief focused assessment, it was clear what we were dealing with, and pretty fortunate that we were standing not 10 feet away from a pair of toboggans. It's nice not to have to wait around for someone to bring one to you. With the help of another patroller and an apprentice, we got the patient's injury immobilized and I took the toboggan down the hill to the first aid room.

Mt. St. Helens. Gorgeous day.

That would end up being the only real busy part of my day, other than coordinating getting the toboggans and other equipment off the hill. Sweep was kind of weird, since we had to close and sweep the Outback a little early, then round back up to the top to close/sweep upper bowl, then Multorpor and lower bowl. We got it all done and it was off to the Palace for beer and de-brief. Mountain Ops was nice enough to tow us and our toboggans over to the Palace from the bottom of Multorpor. Definitely appreciated that, as it was getting pretty warm.

Mt. Hood, from Skyline Trail, as some apprentices towed toboggans down to Multorpor

Great way to end the season at Ski Bowl. They're still running a rope tow and a terrain park in the lower bowl, and they have so much snow there that I have to wonder how far past Memorial Day they will go...