Most of us have heard the saying “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” For those of us fortunate enough to be ski patrollers, we live that saying almost every day.
But there’s a lot more to our job than most people ever get to see. Just because we love our job doesn’t mean it’s all fun and games. Sure, we get to be the first ones on the mountain every day, but once we’re out the door and on our skis, our responsibilities include:
That booming sound that’s heard in ski towns early in the morning after a storm? That’s us, using high-explosives to start avalanches. That’s right, when the big storms hit, we head out onto the mountain at the crack of dawn to start avalanches and knock the snow down so that the resorts can be safely opened for you, our guests.
BACKCOUNTRY SEARCH & RESCUE
Whenever skiers or snowboarders get into trouble outside the resort boundaries, the local authorities call on the ski patrol to bring those folks back home safely. Our expertise allows us to coordinate the search from the ground and from helicopters in the air.
SKIING AND TOBOGGAN SKILLS
Skiing is one thing. Skiing with an injured customer in a toboggan behind you is another. We constantly hone our skills to make sure we can get you safely down the mountain when you can’t get yourself there.
That’s why we wear the cross on our uniforms. From skiers thumb to more serious emergencies, one of our most essential skills is to be able to manage medical situations.
Our number one priority – From providing medical care and transportation in adverse weather, to going into avalanche terrain at the crack of dawn carrying high-explosives, to entering the back-country on search and rescue operations, everything we do is to help make skiing and snowboarding safe for you, our guests.
To provide these services, we have a number of outdoor medical and rescue certifications—which we often have to pay for out of our own pockets. And while it might look fun “throwing bombs,” avalanche mitigation is one of the most hazardous occupations in North America, right up there with commercial fishing and logging.
And, in many places, we can’t even afford to live in the mountain towns that we work in. The average wage for a ski patroller is around $13 an hour. That’s right, while we have specialized training and work in what can be very dangerous conditions, the resorts often pay us like unskilled teenagers in a first job.
Ski Patrollers are tasked with one of the most rewarding, but dangerous, jobs in North America. From the high-profile to the ordinary—from avalanche mitigation to evacuating a chairlift to answering questions about the mountain—we do it all.
Like many of you, we feel that we should be treated with the respect and dignity that professionals deserve.