November 19, 2022 – Patrol Room Cleanup

After enjoying a great week in Hawaii, I returned to Oregon and the colder weather. Soon, the weekend rolled around and it was time to head up to the Pass for the Patrol Room Cleanup. I met Dan at his house early and we made our way to the Pass in time for an 8am start. A few inches of snow greeted us as we rolled in to the parking lot, and it was refreshing to see the snow guns working for the first time in several years.

Early morning at the Pass
Running snow gun at the Pass

As usual, Dan and I set to work first thing by checking the avalanche beacons and installing them with batteries. Once that task was complete, we worked through the evacuation gear and ropes to check for damage and make sure everything was in working order. Usually everything is in good shape, but this year a mouse had chewed through the EPA evac tote and into one of the ropes rendering it damaged and unusable. Good thing we check the gear at the start of every season…..

Checking the evac ropes

Once the evac gear was fully checked and put away, we moved to the sled garage and took all the sleds out to do a once over and cleaned out the garage as well. After we had all the sleds lined up, I snapped the below picture of Dan for perspective….

Dan with the sleds outside the garage

Around 11:30 am, a representative from Life Flight joined us and we did a half hour training session in preparation for a helicopter visit a short time later. After discussing logistics of calling for a helicopter, landing procedures, etc. we headed out to Sleepy a few minutes before the team arrived.

Coming in for the landing
Aerial shot of the Life Flight helicopter

The refresher on helicopter protocols was timely, given our incident last year where I had to call for one due to a patient with a serious injuries. It’s always fun watching the pilot land the helicopter in the area, and he did it perfectly as we all stood by and watched…

Touching down on Sleepy
Brian and the crew shortly after landing

The next several minutes were kind of a blur, and we discussed numerous things associated with landing, loading a patient, etc. We also checked out the helicopter, including the loading area at the back of the bird.

Checking out the chopper
Kyron listening about how to load a patient

The crew, which consists of a pilot and two medical personnel gave us detailed instructions about how to load a patient at the back of the helicopter and how to make sure to avoid the rotors while doing so.

Listening to an overview from the crew

After that, we got to climb up and check out the view firsthand, which was pretty cool. After climbing in the bird and looking around, I do think being able to pilot one of these things would be pretty darn cool.

Jodie up in the cab
My turn in the bird

After checking things out, we brought out a backboard to do a couple of practice scenarios and load a patient into the helicopter. Brian volunteered to be the patient, and several patrollers worked swiftly to get him strapped up and ready to go.

Discussing how to load a patient
The crew backboarding Brian

Once he was securely strapped to the board, he was lifted up and carried around to the rear of the helicopter in preparation of loading through the small entry port. Everyone crouched as they approached the helicopter to avoid the rotors…

Loading Brian in the chopper

They got him loaded securely in the back of the helicopter and I was able to get a few pictures of him snug up in the bird from both the front and the rear of where was….

Brian snug as a bug inside the helicopter
Another view of Brian inside the helicopter

A few minutes later, we got Brian out of the helicopter and then it was time to do it again for a second run. This time Sarah was the patient and a different group of patrollers loaded her up, going through the same motions as before. I caught one picture of that scenario, as well as the below picture of Laurie with the pilot in front of the helicopter….

Laurie and the pilot
Running through a second scenario for loading a patient

Eventually, we wrapped up the training and got ready to take care of the remaining tasks at the patrol room. Prior to bidding the Life Flight crew farewell, we took a group shot of everyone (below)….

The cleanup crew and the Life Flight crew

The crew took off and headed back to Cottage Grove, and we headed back to the patrol room. After another half hour or so of work, Dan, Kyron and I finished up what we were doing and donned skis, skins and packs and headed out, hoping to find enough snow to eek out a few turns. Given the hour, we only had enough time to find something to ski on Twilight, and chose to skin up Swoosh which, generally speaking, is the smoothest run worth skiing on the lower mountain.

Kyron and Dan skinning up Swoosh

The snow started out crusty, but soon turned soft in the shade. We were unsure how it would ski, being only 8-10 inches deep, and soon we arrived at the top of Twilight. As usual, the first order of business was to put the beer on ice, and my offering on this afternoon was an excellent tasting Nut Brown from Alesmith Brewing Company.

Alesmith Nut Brown Ale
Kyron at the top of Twilight

A few minutes later, my beer was cold, and it hit the spot as we sat up top and enjoyed the afternoon and the sunshine. We took our time drinking our beer and removing our skins, but soon it was time to strap into the bindings and see how the snow would ski…

At the top of Twilight
Kyron heading down

None of us were expecting the conditions to provide much, but after our first couple of turns we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the snow. It was soft and surfy, and immediately I wished we had a bit more daylight left so we could make another lap.

Dan cruising down Swoosh
Kyron getting some air off the roller

We worked our way down the run, enjoying the soft snow as we skied. I setup a couple of times to shoot shots of the skiers as they came down, and Kyron even managed to get a little air off one of the rollers on the run.

Kyron enjoying early season conditions on Swoosh
Dan skiing in the sun

Somehow we managed to make our way to the bottom without hitting a rock or going down, and the three of us were all smiles as we rolled up back to the patrol room.

Skiing lower Swoosh

The rest of the crew was just wrapping up with a few tasks in the aid room as we arrived, and everyone hit the road, happy to have another Patrol Room Cleanup in the books. Dan and I stopped off at Gold Lake to cook up some brats as well as enjoy another cold beverage, and it felt nice to sit back and enjoy a good meal after the long day…

A Total Domination by Ninkasi
Enjoying brats and a beer at Gold Lake

Over the years, I’ve come to enjoy the Patrol Room Cleanup day more and more. No matter the year and conditions, it’s always a fun day, be it making turns if there’s snow or cutting trees on the runs if there isn’t. This year in particular was quite enjoyable, both because of the helicopter tour and because of the quality turns afterwards. At any rate, another Cleanup was in the books, and now it’s time for the season to begin as soon as the snow flies!