Snowmass ski patrollers ready for season |

Snowmass ski patrollers ready for season

Abby Margulis
Special to the Snowmass Sun
Snowmass ski patroller Dan Berg practices a gondola evacuation on the last day of a skills refresher course that took place Nov. 11 through 15.
Abby Margulis/Special to the Sun |

The mountain is opening early, and the Snowmass ski patrollers are ready to go. Starting Nov. 11, the Snowmass ski patrol began its five-day mandatory training review course to sharpen its skills before the season kicks off.

“We do an abundance of training throughout the year, but this scheduled week gives us time to really prepare,” Nick Springstead, a lift evacuation technician, said during the chair and gondola evacuation practice on Nov. 15, the final day of the refresher week.

During the practice, patrollers climbed up the towers to ride down the cables to the gondola cars to perform an evacuation drill. It is rare for a car to get stuck, but it is important for all patrollers to know what to do in any situation, Springstead said.

“You never know what could happen,” he said.

This weeklong review brings all the patrollers back to train with one another before the season starts. Throughout the week, patrollers practice how to respond to minor injuries they will face daily along with severe medical situations and what-if scenarios.

The ski patrol reviewed all medical situations and emergencies they could face during the winter months for three of the five days. During these days, various topics were covered, from basic first-aid training to reviewing certifications such as outdoor emergency care, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and emergency medical training. The patrollers had one day of snow-safety and rescue-technique training and one day of the lift and gondola evacuation training.

Lauren Wenzel has been a member of the Snowmass ski patrol for the past three years and still appreciates getting her hands back on the gear needed during medical situations.

Wenzel and other patrollers practiced various first-aid skills during the medical training. They reviewed splinting, using the automated external defibrillator machines and what to do if a skier gets a knee, shoulder or back injury, which are the most common on the mountain, Wenzel said.

After the 40-hour training week combined with all-year training, the Snowmass ski patrol is not in any crunch to catch up on skills with the early opening, Springstead said.

“(Everyone on staff) is prepared for anything, and we come to face whatever,” Wenzel said.

Abby Margulis is an editorial intern working at The Aspen Times this fall. She is a junior at DePauw University in Indiana.

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