A very clear, cold evening to usher in November. Since my last post we've had another stretch of wonderful fall weather; perfect sunny dry days good for biking, hiking, and getting back to the resort. As was the case a couple weeks ago, yesterday our fall was interrupted by another fast moving winter-like storm. This time though it just gave us a few inches of snow. Fortunately for us (the patrol), we managed to sneak in our annual training week during the warmer drier stretch last week.
Every year we gather in late October for a week of lift evacuation training; a week of 'hanging about on ropes' if you will. Day one (last Monday) just included the returning patrollers. While the intent is to refresh ourselves on our rope skills, evac' techniques, and safety protocols, we also use the day to catch up on the last 6 months of each other's lives. Don't get me wrong, we take this training very seriously, but we also enjoy a chance to get back on the mountain and renew relationships as coworkers and friends. Day two, and the rest of the week, involves our incoming rookie class. This season we have 17 of them; they seem to be good folks with a wide variety of backgrounds and experience. Regardless of where they came from, we need to get them trained in our protocols and procedures before they start work in about a month. We ended the week with a mock rescue; the new 'kids' had the chance to evac the rest of us off Bonanza Lift. I am pleased and proud to say the drill was a success.
How do we train you may wonder? Mimi and Andy spent that first Monday with us. Their fine photos and film attached to this post will show you how it's done. Even Steve, our resort recruiter hauled himself into and out of a chair after a crash course (no pun intended). Why do we train? Chairlifts, even modern high-speed computer-controlled detachables are complex mechanical and electronic beasts. Sometimes despite the best efforts of our Lift Maintenance Dept things just fail. Then of course there is the weather; grips and sheaves can freeze, or the wind may simply just blow too hard to run the lift. While it can be easy to forget on a glorious sunny spring day cruising perfect corduroy, ski areas operate in an alpine environment and anything can happen. While a major mechanical failure hasn't occurred in several years, we do tend to use our evac skills on some basis at least once a season. As a guest on our mountain you can find solace in our training when you get on a lift. The PCMR Patrol has developed some our own techniques and we have set the industry record for evacuating a fully loaded 6 passenger lift. In fact we train to maintain that record of just over 2 hours.
Until the lifts open for business, we'll continue to get ready for the season. There's ropes and pads to be put up and conferences to attend (remember USAW this weekend!) Enjoy your fall and I'll see you riding our lifts soon enough.
Originally from the Pocono’s of Pennsylvania, Travis found his way to Park City three years ago and is now our grooming manager. When not in snowcat you can find him skiing or snowmobiling in the Utah backcountry or enjoying the skiing here at Park City Mountain Resort.
Nicole Roundy is a world class snowboarder on the US Paralympic Team. She is a cancer survivor, inspiration seeker, crossfit training, Park City riding superpower blogger. Follow her adventures right here. You can also spy her on twitter (@nicoleroundy) and Instragram (@nroundy)