THE ’09-’10 SEASON IS OFFICIALLY HERE! Last week was annual ‘training refresher’ week that the Ski Patrol does each year. We were sitting in ‘class’ in the chapel concentrating on avalanche safety and infectious disease, occasionally distracted by ski-tourers skinning and snowboarders booting up the hills around us. At one point one of the grooming cats flew by the windows in a cloud of powder snow. Everybody’s spirits lifted because we knew (General Manager) John was out checking to see how much snow was accumulating.
He must have liked what he saw because late that afternoon, the whispering started: Why are plans were being made to cut the length of Sunday morning lectures. Can we shorten the talk at the afternoon Lift Evac practice? Why is the office door shut….the General Manager is in talking with the Patrol Director.
Finally, the official call got made: Plan to hustle home Sunday to get your gear in order. Unless the weather deteriorates, expect to start back to work setting-up Monday morning! Smiles all around and cell phones come out: "Can I change to an earlier flight? I gotta get home to get my gear then get back!" "Can anyone give me a ride to my storage locker?" "Mom, it looks like I won’t be home for Thanksgiving this year."
We’ve had 2 pretty nice days of setting up. Today was sunny and the skiing was sweet, though mostly we were carrying heavy bundles of bamboo or rope, and with low snow conditions, ya’ had to be cautious. Let me say a little bit more about that……
"EARLY SEASON CONDITIONS" means just that! Ungroomed slopes are like skiing the true backcountry. Contrary to what most people believe, thin snowpacks can actually be more unstable than deep ones. (More about that in a later post!) Keep this in mind if you venture off the groomed runs. Groomed or not, be extra careful and treat every place you ski like you’ve never been there before. Don’t go ripping over that rise you enjoyed so much last March, because there was about 6 feet more snow then. You might dive right into a creek, a rock, or over a drop-off. Generally, you’ll be better off if you just SLOW DOWN a little!
And remember, UNMARKED HAZARDS EXIST! and we don’t want anybody getting hurt!