Adventures in Uncertain Times

Adventures in Uncertain Timesby Allison Perry On Sunday, March 15th, I walked into the Patrol Room for morning meeting unsure...
Adventures in Uncertain Timesby Allison Perry On Sunday, March 15th, I walked into the Patrol Room for morning meeting unsure of only one thing: whether or not we were booting up or not. Pip, our patrol director arrived when there were a handful of us milling about.  "Good morning! What are you waiting for, get dressed!" The force of the collective sigh in the room could have blown up an entire bundle of balloons. Normalcy was restored. That morning we...
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Spring Skiing is the Best Skiing - Change my Mind -...

The changing of the season means some of the best skiing of the season is finally here.  Spring skiing is...
The changing of the season means some of the best skiing of the season is finally here.  Spring skiing is all about the timing. With longer days and sunshine, conditions can change by the hour but with a little planning you can find some of the best lines on the mountain.  Warm days and cool nights send the snowpack in the mountains back and forth between freezing and thawing. Choosing the right elevation, wind, aspect and time of day can...
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Worth It?

Words by Alison Perry Photo courtesy of National Ski Patrol  There’s a bomb between my legs. It’s 7:30 am, the wind...
Words by Alison Perry Photo courtesy of National Ski Patrol  There’s a bomb between my legs. It’s 7:30 am, the wind is unfurling its frantic tentacles along the ridgeline I’m standing on with Devon, hurling little blasts of snow in my not covered enough face and there’s a bomb between my legs. The bomb is not active, but as soon as I’m done fumbling with numb fingers and crimpers, placing and seating two ignitor caps on the two fuses I’m about to trim, mittens gripped...
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Ski Town Dive bars

Ski Town Dive BarsBy Patrol Shack    The ski industry has changed but there are still ski bums among us....
Ski Town Dive BarsBy Patrol Shack    The ski industry has changed but there are still ski bums among us. For those of us who don’t call it Apres but enjoy a few cheap beers after skiing, here is a list of the best ski town dive bars.  They all serve beer and some even have nachos and all of them are worth a visit after slamming laps all day.  “Pub Down Under”  (Arapahoe Cafe and Pub)DillonEnter from the side...
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The Things They Carry - By Allison Perry

“Can you write a piece about a piece of ski patrol gear?”   “Like my Avy bag?” “Whatever you want.”...
“Can you write a piece about a piece of ski patrol gear?”   “Like my Avy bag?” “Whatever you want.” When my former co-worker/Colorado Ski Patrol buddy gave me a writing assignment (that I begged for, to be honest)  I immediately accepted thinking “Wow, this will be easy.” How many pieces of gear do we wear, carry, ski on, depend upon, after-all? When you factor in the clothes we wear under our uniforms, the possibilities are endless. I could write...
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Uphill Zen

Uphill Zen-John Cameronthecameroncontemporary.comThere was no wind above tree line. It is rare to see the continental divide in central Colorado...
Uphill Zen-John Cameronthecameroncontemporary.comThere was no wind above tree line. It is rare to see the continental divide in central Colorado so silent and still. To reach the top of the divide we used my favorite method, skiing uphill on backcountry ski gear. The motion is repetitive but at times meditative.Choosing a route uphill is arguably more important than the route you will be taking downhill since more time is spent traveling uphill than down. Maximizing an efficient route that gains...
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Dawn Patrol 4 Gone Missing

Hours after the lifts had stopped turning for the day patrol lined up in the locker room. The director stood...
Hours after the lifts had stopped turning for the day patrol lined up in the locker room. The director stood in front of the line and handed out headlamps from a box as they trudged back out the door with their skis into the snowy dark. Their day was not over.It was Christmas Eve several years ago at a ski area far bigger and much farther from the ones we know here in central Colorado. Patrol had swept the mountain...
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Black Hawk Down

Monarch Mountain was packed with skiers enjoying the fresh snowfall when a Black Hawk helicopter burst through the clouds overhead....
Monarch Mountain was packed with skiers enjoying the fresh snowfall when a Black Hawk helicopter burst through the clouds overhead. The rotor slashed uncontrollably before the aircraft fell silent in a dense stand of trees leaving only the smell of jet fuel in the air. An inky sky dumped heavy snow that obscured the mountains along the Continental Divide on a Spring day in 2009. Nick Sylvester, was in his third season as a patroller at Monarch when “Black Hawk...
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Tools of the Trade

The Sun Valley Rescue Toboggan revolutionized mountain rescue when they were first used in 1947. The toboggans were hand crafted...
The Sun Valley Rescue Toboggan revolutionized mountain rescue when they were first used in 1947. The toboggans were hand crafted from steel with carefully shaped hickory staves. While the Sun Valley toboggan originated in Sun Valley, Idaho their iconic shape, proven design and practicality was familiar to patrollers in Colorado who used them on a regular basis. Nelson Bennett, a former Sun Valley Ski Patrol director, created an early version of the toboggan used to transport patients down the mountain....
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Monarch’s first female patroller

Uncle Poncho forced the car through freshly fallen snow, only sliding a little bit as he carefully negotiated the mountain...
Uncle Poncho forced the car through freshly fallen snow, only sliding a little bit as he carefully negotiated the mountain curves. From the back seat Deb Davies watched as they drove deeper into the mountains that would define her life. She was only 15 years old, her love of skiing still new. In just a few years though, the white-knuckle drives through the twisted walls of Bighorn Sheep Canyon would lead her to become Monarch Mountain’s first female ski patroller....
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Highway Snow Mitigation

It is almost dark. Packs are loaded with explosives and the route teams clicks into their skis. They would have...
It is almost dark. Packs are loaded with explosives and the route teams clicks into their skis. They would have preferred to have left by now but some things never go as quickly as planned. Four ski patrollers skate up and grab tow ropes behind two snowmobiles already idling, the driver ready to rip back up the mountain. Two skiers behind each snowmobile. Through the darkening skies and the falling snow they look at each other and then nod to...
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