Crystal Mountain Ski Patrol is Hiring

avalanche_controlCrystal Mountain will be hiring full-time ski patrollers for the 2016-17 winter season. Responsibilities include providing emergency medical care and evacuation, actively participating in our extensive avalanche control program, conducting search and rescues and managing skier safety concerns. Ski patrolling can be an excellent profession to build off your background knowledge of first aid, snow science, technical rope skills, skiing and mountaineering.

We are looking for mature, responsible people to fill some key spots on our patrol. Applicants must be strong alpine skiers, at least 21 years old and possess current EMT-B, OEC or WFR certification. EMT-B is preferred. Prior patrol experience and mountaineering or climbing skills are a plus. Avalanche Level 1 and 2 are also a plus.

Wages start at $12.50. Benefits include a season’s pass, employee housing, and continuing education opportunities and, after the first year, possible 4O1-K benefits. Our season generally begins in late November and ends in April.

NOTE: For those interested in the Volunteer Patrol, please note that their hiring process is separate from the paid staff.

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15th Annual Dirtbag Ball on Saturday

It’s that time of year again when the Crystal community reaches into its collective costume bin, dons wigs and top hats, scarves and mini skirts, and dances the night. The 15th annual Dirtbag Ball is happening this Saturday at the Bullwheel. This year’s theme is “Under the Big Top.”

Tickets are $25. Raffle tickets are $5. On sale now in the patrol room at the base area. We have some really great prizes this year. All proceeds benefit the ski patrol, allowing us to further our education in avalanche training, avalanche dog training and medical training. Plus, it’s the party of the year. Don’t miss this one. DBB_Tic (1)

Lift Line Maintenance: Making 6s

On busy days at Crystal you might see ski patrollers doing “line maintenance” at the bottom of Forest Queen. Essentially we are trying to get groups of six onto each chair to help the line move faster. Forest Queen is an enormous chairlift with an uphill capacity of 3600 people per hour. That’s a lot of skiers and riders. But only if the chairs are full.

IMG_0499Our job on these busy Saturdays is to fill up every chair so that the line moves faster. Period. And it’s harder than it might seem. Well, because math.

It can also be like herding cats. First of all, there’s the counting thing. After fifteen minutes of “making 6s”, there’s bound to be a clerical error or two. Then, there’s the “side balancing” thing. If the line is quite long on the Broadway side, but short on the Queens side, part of our job is to balance it by letting more groups from the long side go than the short side. What we don’t want to see is people careening around the downhill side of the line maze, winging around small kids in lessons and snowboarders strapping in at the top of Tinkerbell in order to get to the “short side” of the line. In essence, we try to get rid of the short side by letting the long side move more quickly.

Here’s a few other considerations you can all help us with during those long queues:

  • be patient – the line maintainers are doing their best
  • make groups when you enter the maze, don’t wait until you get to the front of the line to get organized
  • when you get to the front of the line, verbally communicate to the line maintenance person how many are in your group (sometimes people hold up a number on their fingers. You’d think this would be easy, but it isn’t. Just holler out the number in your group.)
  • avoid texting or talking on your cell phone while getting onto the chairlift
  • step aside while waiting for other members of your group so you don’t clog the line
  • understand that lifties and / or patrollers have a rhyme and reason for how they alternate sides, for either efficiency or balancing crowds
  • take off backpacks and pole straps before you enter the ramp to load the chair
  • “bottom to bottom”, “back to back” for everyone
  • smile and be thankful to your line maintenance crew (*wink*)

I enjoy doing line maintenance because it gives me a chance to see guests and have a brief conversation. So if I’m in the middle of “making 6s” on a busy Saturday, give me a high-five as you slide by, but (because of math) don’t expect any higher level thinking. A smile and a wave are the very best form of appreciation.

Here’s a pro tip: whenever I see a group of 6 sliding into the turn, I almost always let them go ahead, even if I was planning on switching sides. It’s my way of saying thanks for making 6s.