I often get asked, “what do ski patrollers do in the off-season?” I respond with the usual answers. We patrollers fill our summers with other seasonal work. Some patrollers guide clients up mountains or down rivers, others fight wildland fires or build trails, still others put their EMT skills to work on a contract basis. But by far, Anna has the coolest job. She flies floatplanes for Kenmore Airlines.
Anna DeArrieta started patrolling here a few years ago. I had gotten an email from Warren Miller, the iconic ski filmmaker and a friend of the family, recommending her to the patrol. Laurie and Warren Miller live in the San Juan Islands, and often fly in one of Kenmore’s Beavers to their home. Their dock is a little tricky, sporting two large pilings on the end. With a large wingspan and strong currents and often stiff winds, landing a floatplane amidst pilings is difficult business. I know this because my husband flies floats, and I’ve always been in awe of those double-black diamond dockings.
Ruined by Warren Miller
One day a few years ago, Anna got the job to fly Warren to his house. She must have been excited about the chance. She’d grown up skiing and admiring Warren’s films. In fact, she told him during the flight that he was to blame for her lifestyle. “You ruined me,” she told him. Between watching Top Gun and Warren Miller movies, Anna’s trajectory was set in motion. On the flight to his house, Anna told him her dream. She wanted to ski in the winter and fly in the summer, and what she really wanted to do was ski patrol at Crystal Mountain. She’s a smart gal.
Warren told her she was in luck. He knew the owner of Crystal and would put in a good word for her. She must have grinned from ear to ear. Can you imagine Warren Miller offering to put in a good word for you? And he did. So did his wife. I received two emails the week before training, lauding Anna’s passion for skiing and her coolness-under-pressure demonstrated by landing at their dock. Here was a woman that could handle stress. I immediately passed on the information to my husband, John. Of course, he doesn’t hire the patrollers himself, but his endorsement doesn’t hurt.
Now a few years later Anna is living the dream. She just completed another season with Kenmore, flying Beavers around the Puget Sound and up to the San Juans. She recently flew with Jason Paur, a journalist, and by another strange connection, an old friend of mine. He grew up across the street from me.
So if you ever wonder about what we patrollers do in the summertime, you can assume the work is as varied as we are.
Check out this video Jason took of Anna flying 66Zulu this summer. It’s all in a day’s work.