January 28, 2024 – 1st shadow day of patrol for Carson

As hard as it was to believe, the end of January had already arrived the mountain had only been open for a couple of weeks. Needless to say, I was looking forward to getting out for a patrol day with the P2 crew, and was excited for this day because Carson was tagging along to shadow us for a school project. We hit the road early, and after a brief stop at LCC to pickup another SPY, we headed up highway 58 and made our way to the hill. After our morning meeting, we headed out early to open the mountain under partly sunny skies.

Anna ready to open a frontside run

The plan was to have Carson shadow Brian for the day, which would give him about 10 hours of his needed 20 hours for his school project, which was to find a mentor and spend 20 hours with them to learn about all the different elements of their job. Brian found a training bib for Carson and the two of them headed up to Twilight help open, while others in our crew headed up EPA to open the upper mountain.

Shaun ready to open Peak 2

After a lap, I caught up with Shaun at the top of EPA and we headed over to Peak 2 to make our first runs of the season back there. The groomers were in great shape and the turns were fast. After riding the chair back up, we were ready to pull the saddle closure and get the backside open. A bit later, I caught up with Brian and Carson at the top of Waldo, and made a run with them. Brian was giving Carson some skiing tips and Carson’s skiing was improving quickly.

Brian and Carson on Waldo
Skiing down Waldo

After a few runs on the backside, I headed down to check in on a few incidents that had occurred and make sure everything was good in the aid room. I found Brian and Carson checking things out near the ambulance bay and snapped a few photos of them on my way out, including the ones below.

Down at the Patrol Room
Checking out the Ambulance

On my way back out to the hill, I made a quick pit stop to chat with Quin and Matt in the parking lot, then snapped a few wide-angle photos of the ski area sign before heading back to EPA and making my way to the top.

Roadside view of the Pass

At the top of EPA, Hannah, Andy and Matthew were working with the OEC candidates on scenarios in preparation of the upcoming final the following week, so I stopped to observe and hang out for awhile.

The OEC crew
The crew practicing a scenario

After watching for a bit it was apparent they were working on a c-spine injury with the patient (Althea) wrapped around a tree which made for a difficult extrication. The crew did a great job working to get Althea into a supine position and then onto the backboard, and then applied a C-collar and moved her into the sled.

James & Emily working with Althea
Kerstin & Hannah observing

It was nice to see how far the candidates had come since their early training days in town during the fall, and it was clear they were all ready to tackle the upcoming final.

The crew posing after completing a scenario

After watching the OEC crew do their thing, I headed up to the top of EPA, affixed my telephoto lens to the camera, and snapped a few pictures of the peaks in the distance, including both Lakeview Peak and Mt Yoran.

Lakeview Peak
Mt Yoran

Satisfied with my quick photo sesh, I headed down for lunch in the patrol room and then got back out on the hill shortly thereafter. I found Shaun getting a couple of laps in with his good friend Tanner, and managed to get them to pose for a picture before they skied off.

Shaun and Tanner at the top of EPA

After making another run down to the base, I decided to take my first spin on the Midway chair in over a decade. It was fun to ride the chair and think about all the past laps I’d put in on it, and it definitely was cool that the mountain put the effort in to bring it back into action this season.

The view from the Midway Chair

The final chapter of my afternoon prior to sweep included catching up with Carson and Brian. They’d been spending the whole day together looking at all the various aspects of what ski patrollers do, and when Brian asked if Carson wanted to take a ride in a sled (we had one that needed to go back over to Peak 2), Carson was definitely game. With Carson in the sled, Brian in the handles and Shannon on the tail rope, they took off down Kris Kross headed for the base of Peak 2.

Carson getting a ride from Brian and Shannon
Heading down Kris Kross

I tagged along and snapped photos along the way, and I could tell Carson was enjoying the ride because he was videoing his journey with his phone.

Cruising down Boundary
Running down the Boundary Headwall

After a smooth ride, we arrived at the base of Peak 2 and set about repackaging the sled and loading it on the chair. Once the sled was stowed and ready to go, it was time for Peak 2 sweep, which went smoothly.

All smiles at the base of Peak 2

Once Peak 2 sweep was complete, we all made the hike back up to the top of EPA. James snapped a couple photos of Carson and I prior to upper mountain sweep beginning, and once I got the camera back I got a quick photo of the Patrol 2 closing crew as well.

Carson and I at EPA
Upper Mountain closing crew

Upper mountain sweep went smoothly, and then I headed in to the patrol room to heat up some freshly made queso, as well as sign duty cards and review the incident report forms while the rest of the crew worked on closing the lower mountain. I also had just enough time to snap a quick photo of a tasty beer from Little Beast Brewing before patrollers arrived at the patrol room.

Third Bird Stout

After clearing the area, we held our evening meeting and debriefed the day’s incidents. Shortly thereafter, everyone was enjoying some cold beverages and queso dip, and another patrol day was in the books. It wasn’t an all-time day by any means from the snow’s perspective, but being able to share it with both Shaun and Carson on the hill made it a great day for me and one I won’t soon forget.