January 15, 2022 – High Pressure & Helicopters

After over a week of high pressure, I headed up to the Pass for what I was hoping would be a fun day of patrolling in the sun. As usual, I left the house early, and arrived in the parking lot around 7:20 am, in hopes of snapping a few photos with my fisheye lens prior to taking care of the morning activities. I snapped the below shot of the base area, and then headed to find Tim to discuss plans for the day.

Early morning fisheye view of the Pass

A bit later, it was time for the morning meeting, and after discussing the day’s activities, Laurie led a discussion on the medical minute, which included a discussion on assessments, as well as seizures. Having Laurie take over the discussion for a few minutes allowed me to step back and shoot a few pictures, including the one below…

Patrol 2 morning meeting

After the morning meeting, we headed out to open the hill, and a number of us (including the OEC candidates who were up to train) made our way to the top of EPA to open the upper mountain. Before we headed out to open runs, Jim England was nice enough to grab my camera and shoot a picture of us at the summit.

The crew up top

I opened Timburr, which wasn’t really friendly right out of the gate, but then headed over to Eagle’s with Anna to ski some better snow for a second lap…

Anna on Eagle’s

After spinning a couple of laps off EPA, I decided to check in on the OEC training. Laurie, Hannah and Matthew were leading the OEC candidates just off the top of EPA where we typically do avalanche training, and it looked like they were starting out with lower extremity injuries.

Jenn working through a lower extremity OEC scenario
Loading the “patient” into the sled

After the OEC check-in, I headed back to the top of EPA, and noticed Dan, Doug and Tyler working on a sled and getting some of our signage from the base up to the top shack, so I snapped a photo of them as well…

Dan, Doug & Tyler sorting through gear

The morning was going quite well, so I took another lap, enjoying the snow which was just starting to soften up on the south facing runs. Once back up to the top, I pulled out the camera for a few more pics, including the one below of Anna and Jon.

Anna & Jon up top

By this point, the temperature was really starting to warm up, and as I poked my head back over to see what the OEC group was doing, I had to laugh (and snap a picture) when I noticed Matthew with just his vest on and no shirt!

Hannah leading an OEC discussion

Next up, it was time for a couple laps on RTS before heading to the car for lunch, and although the snow wasn’t soft, it wasn’t too hard either, and it was nice to get some technical turns in on the steepest run on the hill.

Patrick & Tyler on RTS
Hannah & Laurie enjoying a break before lunch

Back at the base, I enjoyed a well-earned lunch at the car, and headed back out on the hill for what would become a somewhat tumultuous afternoon. At the base before I loaded the lift, we got a call from dispatch of an potential injured snowboarder on Peekaboo. I deployed Anna, who was in the area to check it out, and then worked my way to EPA to load. A few minutes later she replied that she needed a sled, backboard, a BLS pack, and three additional patrollers, and I knew it didn’t sound good.

Laurie watching the approaching helicopter
Tim surveying the chopper coming in to land

With other patrollers behind me on the chair, I responded as backup, and requested 3 others for additional assistance. I headed down RTS to the top of Twilight, got the sled and equipment, and headed out. Without getting into detail, we ended up making the call for a helicopter, and readied the landing zone at Sleepy. SPY, hosts and candidates did an awesome job of clearing patrons from the lift and bunny hill, and a short time later, we had the patient to the base area, at which time another incident occurred that required an ambulance ride. With shit getting real in a hurry, I was super happy to see the Life Flight helicopter as it arrived.

Life Flight dropping in
Laurie heading to greet the medics

The paramedics headed over to our aid room to care for the patient, and ultimately transport them to a higher level of care. I headed back out to run the hill, and worked my way back up to the top of EPA.

The heli on Sleepy

Ultimately, the helicopter crew got the patient loaded and off the hill, with the assistance of several patrollers, and things settled down for the rest of the afternoon. The candidates went back to training, and beyond a wild goose chase trying to locate a set of keys for a car that belonged to the family of a patient in the aid room, the rest of the day went smoothly.

More OEC Training
Hannah & Matthew at closing

When it was time to close the hill for the day, nobody was happier than I was to be done. Just before everyone headed out to sweep the upper mountain runs, I snapped the below pic of Kerstin and Joe basking in the evening light….

Kerstin and Joe at sweep

Dan was running sweep, and I stayed up top with him while patrol called in the runs one by one. I always get a kick out of staying up top to end the day, and it reminds me a lot of spring missions to the Pass after they are closed — with the only thing missing being the beer!

Matt at closing
Dan running upper mountain sweep

Once upper mountain sweep was over, we swept Twilight without a hitch, and then headed down for a lengthy debrief of the day’s incidents and activities. Finally, it was time for some well deserved beers, and I pulled out a Pray for Pow stout from 10 Barrel Brewing, which I was hoping might help turn the tide against the stubborn high pressure ridge that seems to be planted firmly in place off the west coast.

Evening meeting
10 Barrel Pray for Pow

Unfortunately, my Pray for Pow beer didn’t bring any pow back to us (as I’d learn in the coming several weeks), but it sure did hit the spot, and made for really nice ending to an otherwise stressful day. Drinking a good beer in the company of my ski patrol family at the end of the day reminded me of what I really enjoy most about patrolling, and soon the stress of the day was washed away with the laughter of the parking lot crowd hanging out by the campfire. All in all, I’d have to say it was a pretty good day on the mountain.