How to Beg Forgiveness from a Ski Patroller

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Ski Patroller, Crystal Mountain

He's a pretty nice guy, as long as he doesn't find you in a closed area.*

If you’ve ever spent a season in a ski town, you know what I’m talking about. Somewhere, somehow you’ve pissed off a ski patroller. I’m not saying we’re a difficult lot to get along with. We’re usually fairly nice people. Like you, we’ve chosen this lifestyle not for the fame, or the glory, or the fabulous accommodations. Like you, we’re here to ski.

But sometimes we butt heads. Sometimes your enthusiasm and proprietariness gets the better of you. You know those voices in your head? The ones that tell you you’re special, you’re different, the closures are to keep out the schmoes. And you, certainly are not a schmo. You’re a local and you practically own this place. Dang, the ski area should put you on their freeride team, hook you up with free gear and early ups. The ski area should be glad you chose to park your van here, to slice perfect lemon wedges down its pristine slopes, to grace it with your turns at the shot ski.

There’s dream world and there’s reality, and that’s just about when you spot the red parka with the white cross and you know the gig is up.

I’m not saying it’s okay to find yourself on the wrong side of the ropeline. I’ve written ad nauseum on this topic, trying to spell it out from my side. A ropeline is a ropeline. We’ve been over all that.

Ski_Patrol_Skiing

See? We smile. Sometimes.

But invariably, I’ve found some of you in closed areas. I’ve taken your passes and listened to your sob stories. I’ve watched you spit in your beer at the local bar, as you drunkenly tried to explain how you’re different from the schmoes. How you didn’t see the ropeline. How you thought the closure was for someone else.

Like anything, there’s a right way to beg forgiveness from a ski patroller. So here it is. If you find yourself in need of a little begging, take it from me. There’s a right way and a wrong way.

Wrong Way

  • Getting angry. This never works. Nor does getting all uppity about how long you’ve been skiing at this ski area. Just because you’ve been skiing Crystal for 20 years (which, is the most-often quoted number of all complainers) means very little.
  • Asking to speak to my supervisor. Maybe this works on some patrollers, but not on me. My supervisor will side with me. However, if the offender really wants to take it to the next level, I ask him (always a him, I’ve never had to say this to a woman) if he’d like to speak to the owner of the ski area. I even offer to accompany him to my husband’s office to chat about the situation. No one has ever taken me up on that offer, however.
  • Telling me that he “went in” the way he “always goes in”, which means by ducking the rope. Reading between the lines I know this means he thought the gates were open and he’d just avoid the crowds, duck the rope in his own spot and get first tracks. This doesn’t win me over, either. Gates are the only access points. No crying about that.

Right Way

  • Being contrite. As a ski patroller, finding someone on the wrong side of the rope sucks. If you make it easier on us, by saying that yes, you did wrong and are really, really sorry, it goes a long way. You will still get your pass pulled, but maybe for a shorter duration.
  • Find us later. Tell us again how sorry you are.
  • Bring a case of beer with a friendly note and leave it in the patrol room: “Just a little note to say how sorry I am for breaking your closure. Hope we can still be friends. Sincerely, Joe Schmoe”.
  • Offer to tune our skis. A friend of mine recently told me about how he once tuned 30 pairs of skis in a weekend, begging forgiveness. That’s a lot of tuning. I hated to ask what he’d done, and since it wasn’t at Crystal, I just let that one slide.
  • Don’t give us the cold shoulder. We’re human. We’re doing our job. We’re trying to live the dream, just like you are. Respect that.
  • Get the word out. The best thing you can do is warn your friends. “Dude, the patrol around here is no joke. Don’t go under the ropes if you want to keep your pass. Just don’t do it.” We hear you’ve put that message out there and it scores you big points. Huge.

More than anything ski patrollers want respect. You give us that and you’ll be on our good side. Without it, you’re doomed.

I recently read Powder Magazine’s latest edition. In the ski test section, members of the team each shared their dream trip. Derek Taylor, editor at Powder, said his dream trip was more like a dream job. He wrote that if he had to do it all over again, he’s “always been intrigued with ski patrolling.” See? We’re not so bad.

*And as long as you don’t post photos of him on the internet. Oops.

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79 responses

  1. I have a ton of respect for you patrollers. You keep us safe and have our best interests in mind.

    I was half tempted to make a Sunshine Village reference, but thought better of it.

    • I’m not above making a Sunshine reference – if these simple guidelines hadd been followed that particular shit storm would never have erupted. Good, sound advice.

      • its funny;” would you like to go talk to my husband” and ”do you know who my dad is” sound alot alike, dont they craig. and the case of beer for the patrollers? isnt that what got some patrollers fired from sunshine? not so good, sound advice is it.

  2. I was once “pulled over” for ….basically, straight lining Siberia Bowl at Squaw Valley USA. I was preparing for the McKinney Speed Challenge that was to be held a few weeks later, at a nearby resort.
    I was on brand new racing carvers and wanted to test them out. I patiently waited for the run to clear of any other skiers/riders, and dropped in..
    I got into my tuck, and let ‘em rip. I did a couple of weight shifts from side to side, just to feel them track like an Audi Quattro…
    At the bottom, I slowly came up and out of the tuck, and admiringly looked back at my tracks, only to see a Patroller making quick turns directly toward me.
    First, she said hello, and I responded, and then she asked me if I had seen the sign at the top of the run?
    “What sign?” I asked.
    “The one that says, “Ski Fast, Lose Pass”, she explained.
    I honestly told her I had not, since there were quite a few people standing around on top. I humbly explained what I was doing, and she commented that she DID notice that I waited until the run was clear before dropping in, so she let me off with a warning, and advised I not do it again.
    She also wished me luck in the Challenge.

    I have several Ski Patrol friends now, and have the utmost respect for the work they/you do, and often call on the Ski Patrol when I come across an accident, or a skier that is “out of their element”.
    Keep up the good work.
    KT

    http://www.nytimes.com/1991/02/28/sports/outdoors-speed-skiing-is-making-strong-strides-on-international-front.html?pagewanted=2

    • Thanks for sharing your story KT. I agree that laying down high-speed turns is glorious and thrilling. Finding the right time and place is always the key. Also, thanks for the link to the speed skiing story.

  3. I appreciate that Ski Patrol are doing their job, by making sure that everyone is safe. They save lives. They’re the experts. It’s unfortunate that there is always a few who think the rules are made up just to put a kink in their style and therefore disregard them.

    I’m not perfect, and am guilty of breaking the rules at times. But, I’ve tried to consider following them when my life, and/or the life of someone else is at risk. Thanks for doing what you do!

  4. I was once stopped in Jackson by a patroller for straight- lining Laramie Bowl with nobody around. . . when I was stopped, the patroller went off for a few minutes about how they (patrollers) are the cops of the mountain. . . I’ve never forgot this moment and now utilize the inverse of said patroller’s douche-baggery when I have to talk to people for going too fast. Great article– thanks for sharing.

  5. Last season the snow was so deep, I accidentally skied OVER a rope in an area I was not familiar with. Not a joke. There was so much snow, it buried a section of a boundary rope. Luckily, I didn’t go far, hiked back up, and went to patrol to tell them ropes were getting buried and where I ended up. Appreciative group for sure! I don’t think people realize what a LONG day patrollers have. We show up at 8:30am, but you’ve been there since 4:30am…and you’re going to be there till at least 4:30pm. FYI: Rumour has it if you show up with baked goods (legal in all 50 states) for patrollers and the lifties, it gets you some fabulous mountain karma. Also, dog biscuits for the avalanche dogs are always a hit…and then keep a few of those in your backpack cuz when some jackwagon cuts above you in a closed area and releases loads of snow down upon you in an open area or on a road, my theory is the dogs are going to find us…but the dogs are going to find the nice one with the biscuits and homemade peanut butter cookies first! Thanks for all you do!

  6. Not that I have ever been stopped by a troll-er or had any negative contact with the the guy’s in red, that usually hold the rope up for me and say have a good run as I slide under into a closed area. I think the part about respect must be earned not given and rightfully so. Some less experienced troller’s give other’s a bad name by being power corrupted ninnies who were probably beaten up in ski school for being sissified. They should be relegated to packing powder (and giving free toboggan ride’s) in the terrain park’s. I try to ask the right people the right question’s and get a head’s up “before” just shredding a rope. I have a ton of respect for the red coats that work hard to keep this sport alive and safe for the inexperienced and drunken masses that swarm the inbound run’s, spending their money to keep the lift’s turning. I would like to thank the cool troller’s that reward the local/ backcountry enthusiast a little more lee way or an occasional test opening of a run or two and a warning instead of a heavy handed pass scalping !!! I promise to help out in times of need and to share powder stash’s with the cool one’s !!! PS I have given every dog a treat or two and then put the open package in my pack and pocket’s for year’s now “just in case”, just common “sense” I think !!!

    • That’s funny about the dog treats. We actually train our dogs NOT to work for food, so I’m not sure that strategy will help you much. Those dogs look for human scent though, so skip a few loads of laundry and you might increase your chances of being found!

  7. What’s a ski patroller doing in a closed area? It’s closed. Double standard.

    And what if it’s private property and you have permission to ski it? America is a population of equals. Forgiveness happens at a level with your creator, not a bitter patroller who drinks coffee most of the day at PHQ.

    You’re not free unless you have access to it.

    What a hokey and campy ego stroking article. Journalism rotting from the core of mountain ski towns….

    • Dear univershul,
      Thanks for the comment. I always love a little controversy. To answer your first question: areas are usually closed because patrollers are working in there; sometimes marking things off, other times using explosives. On Forest Service land, ski areas are allowed to close terrain as they see fit. I’ve written about that a lot. Check the archives for more details. Not sure what you mean about journalism rotting from the core…but hey. Take a chill pill.

      • Kim,

        We have nothing better to write about in our mountains? How about a weekly snow studies perspective; how about opening up closed terrain; the efforts we should take, and the freedoms we promote as Americans. You ask your creator for forgiveness, not your equal.

        I assume your intentions to write this were more slight of hand entertainment than an agenda to corral rope-duckers. But you must realize that this article doesn’t improve the image of patrol, rather it is stirring more divisions amongst people.

        Generally speaking, they’re a hard working group of individuals that can get a bad wrap for locking up good terrain. It’s still a job to them. And they pass their judgements on others from time to time. Nobody’s perfect, certainly not a patroller. So why anyone would ask an imperfect person for forgiveness is unjust.

        I’ve bagged a lot of closed terrain with patrollers. They are in the mix with the rest of us looking for untapped stashes. If it’s in a National Forest, it belongs to everyone.

        You are a good writer, but your content is awful.

        • Sorry if my content doesn’t work for you. While I write about a variety of topics, ranging from skiing, patrolling, fighting disease, managing stress, finding inspiration, or just humorous topics that hit my funny bone, obviously it isn’t for everyone. I wish you all the best.

  8. Pathetic!!!

    Patrol for the most part are the same as cops in my book. I know a small percent of patrol that are my heros, friends and partners that I would share a beer with at the end of the day and could speak with as a human being. If you want respect and for us to bow and kiss your ass for our pass, well sounds like you represent the cops that were beat up in school, had no friends growing up and became cops because they like to flex their chest and have abusive power over others. Mostly been my experience with about 98% of the patrol in the lower 48.

    Your article is a waste of internet space. Your solutions for how to talk to the patrol if caught sounds like bribery and a bunch of ass kissing so we can admit that you are God and recognize your power trip.

    Our mountains are not free in America and as Americans we are not free to use them as free thinking individuals. Basically if you live in America you are not as free as you think and our mountains are closed for the most part.

    If you want respect you need to give it as well. You need to stop your arrogant, holier then though behavior. You need to respect valid questions with valid answers, You need to educate more in this day and age instead of scare tactics.

    Example. Skier: How are you today, I was checking out the upper face of gnar cirque today and it looks good, will it open today? Would it be cool if I head up there with my partner?

    Patrol: NOOOOOOOO!!!! It’s closed!

    Skier: Oh, why is it closed today?

    Patrol: It’s too dangerous!!!!

    Skier: Oh, why is it dangerous today?

    Patrol: I said so!!!!

    Skier: Oh, that’s strange, their are two sets of tracks there from yesterday and they look really good.

    Patrol: That was patrol!

    Skier: but if it’s dangerous and closed why would the patrol go there then?

    Patrol: They dug pits!!!!

    Skier: Oh wow, Why? I have been skiing the same aspects all around the pass and other side of Gnar cirque for about a month now, I don’t need to dig a pit right now because I can tell you what I am most likely to find there, and besides I would never use a pit to base my decision for my choice of terrain, but only to confirm what I am looking for. See I don’t like to dig unless I know what it is I am trying to find. I can sketch out a profile from the top of my head really quick for you in my field book if you would like me to speculate whats there based on what I know about the terrain, and similar data that I have collected in the area. Or if it’s cool with you I too will go up there and dig a pit if that means I can ski it too?

    Patrol: The patrol that skied that are experienced experts, and professionals. We had eyes on them and they had the appropriate equipment.

    Skier: Thanks for you time and wonderful piece of educational Spew of how rad you guys are, how much better then me you will always be and confirming that I don’t have a clue about being up there because I have not been granted the white cross of power and all encompassing knowledge.

    In closing, This article sucked about as bad as deep slab instability.

    Next time you catch me under your rope which you probably won’t because I chose freedom to choose and think for myself and now reside in the Alps, Spare me your holier then though presence and talk to me like a human being and maybe you too will get the ass kissing you are requesting.

    You can blow facets up your A$$ if you think I am gonna bow down to your pathetic failed existence in life. Tune your skis, Bring you treats, Your not worth the corn in my S#!+ if I may exercise my freedom to express my opinion on your interwebbing viral spew.

    • Skiclimber,
      Whoa. That was quite a rant. Maybe I’m going out on a limb here, but seems like you’ve had some bad experiences with patrollers. That’s unfortunate. Like I wrote in my post, we’re not that bad. We certainly aren’t God or mountain cops. At least that’s not how I see myself and my colleagues. But we’re all entitled to our own opinions now aren’t we. Ski season is just around the corner. Try keeping your blood pressure down just a little bit. You don’t want to blow a gasket before the snow flies.

  9. Your article suggests subservience and fear-based behavior, Kim. You should expect a lot of backlash from this.

    Unless it’s private or Indian territory, I’d say every damn one of you patrollers should go back and beg for forgiveness to every skier and boarder you’ve kicked off the mountain.

    What mountain do you patrol? Because I’ll never ski there again.

  10. correction: I won’t spend my money at the mountain you patrol. But I’ll definitely hike up and drop your closure in spite of your pompous article.

  11. “What a piece of crap article. We have nothing better to write about in our mountains. Fucking waste, how about a weekly snow studies perspective, how about opening up closed terrain, the efforts we should take, and the freedoms we promote as Americans. You ask your creator for forgiveness, not your equal.”

  12. And sometimes, “people” are too naive/ignorant for their own well being….
    If it’s in a National Park, like Yosemite, it belongs to everyone?
    Yet, “ducking the rope”, or in this case, climbing OVER a warning railing, that says, if you slip and fall, you could go over the falls, and you will DIE, that’s okay?

  13. Great article Kim. I’m not skilled enough to even attempt those restricted areas, but as the wife of a boarder who loves the steeps, I’m hugely appreciative that y’all are there working hard to make sure the slopes are safe and ready for the rippers (and to help stitch them up when they go down). Thanks!

  14. People die. It happens on every continent where people ski. Even ski patrollers die skiing on groomers. Your job is not delegated by the fear of death.

    We know the good ski patrollers do. But promoting pass holders to kiss your ass to access terrain is wrongest thing I’ve ever heard.

    • I don’t understand this. What do you mean by “not delegated by the fear of death”? That sentence doesn’t make sense. I’m not “promoting” ass kissing. I’m really not. Most of the readers that commented understood my post to be what it was–a little harmless fun. I just don’t think you get it.

  15. UNIVURSHUL said “. But promoting pass holders to kiss your ass to access terrain is wrongest thing I’ve ever heard”

    +1 UNIVURSHUL

    By the way, the dialogue I had written in my previous post between skier and patrol, True story based on my own conversation with a holier then thou ski patrol in a Summit County resort that acts like you and expects, praise, respect, and ass kissing.

    And yeah, Kim, my above rant was just that, much the way your article was a rant on the respect and ass kissery you think you deserve.

    Now Kim, I’m not worried about my blood pressure or blowing a head gasket. And as for ski season right around the corner, What continent are you on, or are you like all the other tool bags that think it’s winter in October because there is a ribbon of man made ice open that cost an arm and a leg to run, equipe, make, and staff. You like most must love the overcrowded ribbon because it keeps patrol busy carting retards off the slopes all day. Plus that must be where you get that false illusion that ski season is right around the corner. Or are you too fooled by the industry that releases movies, buyers guides and reviews 3 months prematurely. Is that your opinion of ski season around the corner. As far as I am concerned The ski season in these parts starts in January at best and ends in Late June, even July or later on some years, with the real meat of the winter in Later April and May after the lifts have closed and the snow is finally set and pushed into the good places. Most of the Pathetic and over worked Patrol are so sick of snow by then and just want summer, yet they are about to miss out on the best skiing of the season. They all bitch and wine in October and November that they are sick of summer and just want snow. I bet they are just not into making there own decisions without the use of history, established routes, routines and explosives, so they switch to summer mode so they don’t have to act as the programed lemmings that they were hired to be.

    Now the real reason Your all bent and sick of winter when it really starts is because while I was still enjoying the best part of summer, Which is now if you ask me, or if you are a serious climber then the season is now and well into what your pathetic job calls fall, and what sounds like winter to you and most around my parts. While your all psyched for winter for the next two months even three, you will travel around your pathetic resort working for the man and bowing to the way it is that is set by some crusty old Patrol Director. You will be taking orders setting up Bamboo, and rope, Doing the same boring ass route you ran for 20 years, and doing it the same stubborn way because that’s how you do it. (I would love to go into details here and list some prime examples of routines biting patrol in the ass, but out of respect for folks that are not with us, I wont bring it up, but your a patrol, so I probably don’t have to explain, you know everything) Yeah, Local knowledge is something to be valued, but not in a redundant, repetitive cycle that is your job. The same way all the time, every year, because this is how we do it. So while your in that pathetic mind set , thinking its winter and your 30% open, yet I am still mountain biking and climbing all around the surrounding areas in a t shirt and enjoying summer, Camping in perfect temps by a fire, You can continue to burn yourself into a cycle of misery so that when the good snow flys in April and May, you can stay off the good lines and head out for summer so I don’t have to listen to you tell me where and when I should ski because you presumably know so much more then anyone that might buy a ticket to be abused by your pathetic better then you attitude.

    How’s that for a rant, are we ranting yet?

    • Actually, we got a huge dumping of snow in October, right before Halloween. I was skiing powder the first week of November with temperatures in the teens. Not sure what your definition of “winter” is though.

  16. @skiclimber– WOW. Rant? No, I don’t think so. Literary diarrhea? That’s more like it. When I read Kim’s blog, I didn’t take begging for forgiveness to heart. I really sensed some sarcasm there. I don’t think Kim’s intention was to convey a holier than thou attitude for ski patrollers– or more importantly– for herself. I’ve been on both sides. I lived in Jackson before the gates were open– and have been in a position where I could have been arrested for ducking a rope to head into Granite Canyon or into Four Shadows. Not only was I putting myself at risk by wanting to ski the goods– but I was putting the patrollers, rescuers, et al at risk. So as opposed to going to Teton County Jail or losing my $1800 pass you bet your ass I would “beg” for forgiveness! Now that I myself am a patroller– it definitely pisses me off when I have to go and pull someone out of the backcountry after the lifts are closed because some dumb ass decided not to abide by the rules and ignore not only their safety– but the safety of patrol, rescuers, et al.
    I contemplated not responding to your literary diarrhea– because most of your grammatical error filled diatribe is not even close to being true– at least not for me– nor for any other patroller that I know or work with. I patrol because not only do I love snow and love skiing; but I love helping people– even if they are people like you– the poster children of douche-baggery. So when you have to get pulled off a mountain someday from making a d-bag decision, I hope you think (not sure that’s possible) of your literary diarrhea that you have spewed on another fellow patroller’s blog and that you have to beg for forgiveness for being such an ill-informed and delusional d-bag.

  17. @JOSH

    For starters, I graduated from College with straight A’s and B’s except the only D on my transcript was in Creative Writing. Thanks for pointing out my grammatical handicap. Really I don’t give a shit, and I really could care less, but I do know I can’t write, and I love it when D bags like yourself have to point it out for me as if you are so much better then me because you can spell. The fact is I don’t care, I put my energy into learning about things I cared about and have since made my living off my interests which doesn’t happen to be writing.

    As for your defense of the article or for Kim because of my Diarrhea, I still stand by what I said, the Article is crap and you stick up for it because you too are a patrol and feel the need to defend your radness. Well I am not going to get into the details of accidents that involved your very squad you are sticking up for. But why not go back to the incidents of involved patrol and in bounds accidents at your very resort in Jackson, say about 2 years ago. Those were not douche bags that got themselves in trouble and yes others were put at risk to deal with those situations. I don’t mention those events because I have respect for the folks involved and new some that were lost.

    Except for your pathetic ass Josh, I have a bunch of respect for most of the Jackson patrol squad, not to mention the guides and boundary policy that exists in Jackson. I happen to probably most of the staff there and have worked along side or with most of the crews in your region. I have performed rescues on snow and in high angle environments that would make a chest beating punter like yourself lay down and cry. You can only assume that I am the guy you are risking your life for, you can assume that I am a poster child of douch-baggery because I have bad grammar. The fact is I would bet I have more knowledge about snow in my left nut then you have in your whole brain. I too love people and helping them. I have dedicated my life to education and helping people make there own decisions without the help of some pathetic I said so cop at the ski resort that thinks they know something because their Patrol Director called the shots.

    I still hate patrol, I have worked beside them for much of my career, I have nothing against them helping someone in need. I have nothing against helping a patroler that needs my help or guidance. I do however have a problem with not letting people think for themselves and your God like attitude that anyone that gets hurt in the Backcountry is a douche bag and you are risking your life to help them. I am sure I am in situations on a daily basis that you wouldn’t even know where to begin to make a decision because their is no manual or history of procedures for the route or a step by step of how to do it.

    I will tell you right now Josh, as far as I am concerned your an idiot if you spent 1800$ on a ski pass, your even more of an idiot if you did something to lose it, your even more a pathetic Douche if you kiss ass and suck C%#k to get it back

    Long story short Josh, I’d be willing to bet my right nut this time that I have significantly more training in the mountains, and on snow, and teach on a level that most of your staff still have not achieved and especially you since you found it neccessary to defend this pathetic article.

    It cracks me up that in Summit County, a level 1 avi isn’t even a prerequisite to be a ski patroler. As if your profession just is more so defined by that lack of knowledge alone. The Job is package and transport, Set up Boo and ropes, And be cops, give warnings, tickets, and pull passes, flex your chest and let the customers know you are GOD.

    I hate ski patrol and what it stands for in most of the states, Summit County as a whole. I’m sorry , maybe a bit more respect for the patrolers in Jackson, but as stated before I spend my winters in the Alps now mostly because of Douch-Baggery Patrollers like you Josh and Kim. In doing so, I am free to ski into a crevasse at will, free to slide on black ice to a 1000 meter drop of certain death over seracs. Free to ski something stupid and unmarked, without a rope. Free to die and not come back. Free to start a slab and get burried because I didn’t do my homework. Free to ski off a cliff because I didn’t bring a rope. Free to do what ever I want as long as I dont hurt anyone else or put anyone else danger.

    Freedom is a beautiful thing Josh, Something we take for granted as American skiers and don’t have because of Douchbags like you that follow corporate rule and take orders in the chain of uniform wearing Douchebagary costumes and busting people. What ever happened to natural selection, Let it happen, Look the other way, Who gives a shit , why dont you just go set up some more bamboo and look the other way the next time you see someone duck a rope.

    SKI PATROL ARE COPS, Do you like Cops?

    SIncerely

    A Gramatically incorrect diaraheea ranting spew from

    SkiClimber

    • And we are all free to ignore another issue of pathetic drivel from a desperately conceited douche. Thanks for your input, maybe the seracs can teach you some respect.

    • SkiClimber… Freedom is what you make it- go tour and be free!

      You seem to think that once you die and no one else got hurt that it’s all over. You loose site of the fact that it’s patrol (and Mountain Rescue in the EU) that has to go in and drag your limp, broken and mangled body out… usually in technical and hazardous terrain… to give back to your folks. That puts the rescuers in danger. And your right… rules and rope lines are scarce in XXX place that you ski (insert France, Switzerland, Italy, BFM). In the states it’s not patrol that limits what skiers can/ can’t do, it’s liability, litigation and lawyers. When a ski area has to pay out $20 million for the death of a person that got caught in and avalanche/ skied off a 300′ cliff without a chute, chances are they are going to cover their A$$… and ski patrollers are expected to do it (it’s part of our job).

      And as far as your snow eval skills… spacial variability ring a bell? And tracks are NOT a sign of intelligence, read some avalanche accidents sometime and you will find that there are indeed accidents where the slope slide on the 8/10/20 person down the slope.

      Anyways your right, please go ski off a very high cliff and try to not take anyone else out on the way down… make sure you get insurance though… it costs an arm and a leg to get rescued/ recovered in Europe.

      Off-Piste

      • My, My Scott, how you failed to read my posts thoroughly. I know all to well about rescue, Did my fair share of it. As far as snow goes, are you trying to educate me

        You say,
        “And as far as your snow eval skills… spacial variability ring a bell? And tracks are NOT a sign of intelligence, read some avalanche accidents sometime and you will find that there are indeed accidents where the slope slide on the 8/10/20 person down the slope. ”

        Not news to me and at 36 I have still managed to stay out of an Avalanche, not to say that I am immune from it, but it has not been dumb luck that I am still here. Besides what the hell does your above statement have to do with anything we are talking about, It seems like a pathetic attempt at flexing your chest with some not so tech intelligence about snow that you can assume I don’t have. I would bet my left nut once again that I have probably read more avalanche reports, filled out more crown profiles, and studied and evaluated more accidents then you. Your above mentioned scenario I have probably witnessed more then you could imagine. If you want to call me out on my skill sets, I will gladly do it over a beer or in another thread. I don’t think hijacking this thread with that info is productive in any way. The start of this thread was how to kiss ass to get your pass back, that fired me up and now here we are. Worthless.

        You also say

        “You seem to think that once you die and no one else got hurt that it’s all over. You loose site of the fact that it’s patrol (and Mountain Rescue in the EU) that has to go in and drag your limp, broken and mangled body out… usually in technical and hazardous terrain. ”

        I don’t know how you interpret my words to assume I believe that.
        I still mourn the loss of my mentors, friends and loved ones that I have lost in the mountains, it doesn’t go away, so don’t pretend to know me or assume anything you stated about me. In fact as I read this I am drinking one for my boy and one of my best partners ever who died in La Grave. Today just happens to be his birthday, so yeah, I still feel his loss and he is still there in my eyes. There were no lawsuits or blame for his tragic departure. A loss of life hurts for a long time, don’t pretend that I don’t know this or care about it.

        You still think it’s all about Mountain Rescue, Patrol, and Eu folks, Get over it! They choose that job, they make the choice to put themselves in those situations, if you can’t except the risk and are gonna be bitter about it, Change your job. The real victims are the friends and the families, so quit acting like you don’t have a choice to take that risk.

        You also go on with this worthless argument

        “When a ski area has to pay out $20 million for the death of a person that got caught in an d avalanche/ skied off a 300′ cliff without a chute, chances are they are going to cover their A$$… and ski patrollers are expected to do it (it’s part of our job). ”

        This still confuses the hell out of me in America. Your above mentioned case although rare but possible and documented in the states, is still an accepted risk from the lawyers, owners, operators, and insurance companies, yet in comparison to Park accidents is so small. I can go ski into a man made and resort placed rail or 60ft table top, land on my head and lights out. Somehow the insurance policies and resort is protected from the risk I take there, but your all worried about the above mentioned natural hazards. So why do the Insurance companies write policies and provide coverage for these man built and placed hazards yet we worry about the liability and lack of coverage from the insurance companies against natural hazards.

        I don’t break the rules my friend, I do however challenge them, but I feel I have a responsibility to respect what you are being hired to do and I obey, although I don’t always agree or get the answer I was looking for, I still respect the law. I don’t think you should expect folks to kiss your ass and praise the ground you walk on as the original post suggests in differently worded ways. Patrol have not always been right, and it’s proof that we are all human, all capable of making mistakes and no level of training or experience makes you invincible to nature.

        Just so you know, I am not a rope ducker, so quit assuming I am the guy you are gonna rescue in your one sided scenario. I have done my share of professional development, I still seek it out and I pass on and mentor where I can. I was fortunate enough to have had amazing mentors in my life and I do take every chance I can to pass on what I can. It is what I am payed to do and I love it, I love learning and all aspects of education. Maybe someday we will meet and you will bite your tongue for your assumptions of me.

        I stay and work in France because I can afford liability insurance over there. I can make a decent living making my own decisions. I know the difference between the states and the alps. I don’t think you have much to offer that I don’t already know about the differences, If you do, enlighten me, I am in the never ending search for knowledge and professional development.

        You also say

        “make sure you get insurance though… it costs an arm and a leg to get rescued/ recovered in Europe.”

        This marks my 10th winter living in France and I have carried Carte Neige with me the whole time and never needed it , knock on wood. I have seen many rescues, helped with more then a handful and even dug two folks out of slide that I witnessed. I was able to respond because of my position on the mountain at the time. In all my years there I am yet to see any of the first hand rescues I’ve witnessed charge the victim. At least that goes for where I reside and what I have scene. By the way, rescue in a National Park is covered in France.

        So Scott,
        Anything else you would like to know about me or educate me about, please feel free to email me personally and for the love winter and folks own personal pleasures, Let this thread die!

        PS. I still won’t kiss your ass, beg for forgiveness, tune your skis, or bring you beer!

  18. Pingback: What Haters Can Teach Us | Kim Kircher

  19. Kim – wow. As a fellow writer I am always excited to see what people say and upset when they really say it. Guess you stirred a pot here – largely with people who seemed to just be waiting to get stuff off their chests they have been carrying around for a looooong time. I always thought writing was good therapy!!! Easy, funny article here….nope – not ward winning content or quality but it wasn’t meant to be. That is the joy of blogging — we get to share our thoughts in a forum that belongs to us. Good for you for not deleting the tirades of the above writers… though I am sure it makes you cringe a bit. I always read your blog … keep it up!!!

  20. Wow. Just wow. That kind of anger makes for some dangerous energy. It must be exhausting.

    I really hope that if you find yourself in an emergency situation there’s a ski patroller on duty to help you out.

  21. @proinmorethanpatrol – I’m not worried about the seracs, I do my homework and know where I am in the mountains, I don’t need a patrol to put boo and a rope around them to tell me they are dangerous.

    @Mary, I’m not angry, but if your gonna throw this kind of dribble on the internet, especially in a coummunity where it will catch my eye due to my profession, then your running the gauntlet. And needing a patroller, in an emergency most likely is not gonna happen where I ski and play, because they don’t work in or regulate where I play. So if something happens to me, I unlike you and your pathetic clients will not rely on assistance and will either self rescue or perish. It’s a choice I make and am willing to live with and accept the consequences without your decision making process of closed or open telling me if I should or not.

    It’s amazing that I can actually duck a rope into National Forest and go to jail and pathetic patrol nazis can’t wait to catch me doing it, much the same cops catching people breaking laws that they break on a daily basis themselves

    Mary, Ski patrol won’t be able to find me or have the training to get to me if I get messed up, And to your pathetic knowledge, I actually have more training and in most cases jurisdiction over a patrol if I happen to see them where I now reside and play.

    This article still sucks, Take the critiscism, like I said because of what I do and my profession, I had to read this crap, Not angry, just don’t like patrol that think they can get away with being pathetic douches with attitudes, as this article suggests.

    • Come on now. I don’t have an attitude. I really don’t. Some of your writing is a little hard to follow, so I’m not sure if I’m getting your true intent. But I sense the anger. That comes through loud and clear. You don’t “have to read this crap”, as you put it. You could simply move on. That is, unless you’re actually chained to your desk or something.

  22. @mary

    Mary said “I really hope that if you find yourself in an emergency situation there’s a ski patroller on duty to help you out.”

    Wow, as much of a ranter I may be because of the topic that hits a nerve. I still don’t and would never wish that upon anyone, Seeing people get hurt sucks, but if it is because of a decision they made so be it, What is wrong with natural selection. I unlike your comment, would never hope to see someone in an emergency situation.

    The fact is , I have been on the helping and more times then not the saving end of emergency more then you will ever know. But because I know what it is that patrol do, and more about the industry, rescue, and education then you could ever know, doesn’t make the OP valid in my book. Still a bunch of pathetic attention getting spew, and if not, then a terrible attempt at humor, but since it was from a patrol, I will assume it was sincere and that it is really what the patrol expect of the public and how they expect to be bowed too.

  23. Haha. This is a fun article. Always cracks me up when people freak out on the internet.

    Dear Haters: Have fun walking your busted self off the mountain with a broken femur after you straight lined Gnarbar Bowl right into a looming death cookie. Hope you don’t bleed out on the way down.

    @univershul @skiclimber – DUDES. You guys need to chill out before you have heart attacks.

    @skiclimber I am curious what you do that you’ve worked beside ski patrollers your entire career and have grown to hate them so much?

    • Ragan,
      It’s probably not kosher for me to give away skiclimber’s location (via his IP address), but let’s just say, he doesn’t live in someplace really gnarly, like Chamonix.

      • Chamonix is actually pretty close Kim, I am just in the states for 3 months right now, IP is Summit county, Silverthorne to be exact. The land of Nazi patrol that are for the most part exactly what I said. I am only in the states right now to get my summer renters out and my winter renters in and then back to the Alps, been spending most of my year there now and I now have residency in France, hope to have citizen ship in the future so people like you can’t tell me what to do.

    • The bottom line on this is the issue of liability. Closures are for the protection of the resort, as well as the protection of the public who rides the resorts. Unfortunately, US liability laws are such that resorts are responsible for the people who ride on them. This is not Europe, so if you really want to go somewhere to duck lines, the airlines are open. The sense of entitlement is probably the most frustrating thing to deal with when confronting someone who has ducked closures. Ducking lines is akin to bringing outside alcohol to your local bar, you know you can’t, and when you do, you should not be surprised to get kicked out of the bar.
      If you want to ride the lifts, you have to play by the rules. If you don’t play by the rules then patrol will enforce them. For most patrollers this is our least favorite aspect of our job, I don’t like busting people, but the fact remains that you are putting my job at risk and you are putting my home mountain at risk. If you don’t have the patience to wait for patrol to determine that the lowest common denominator of skier is going to be safe on the closed terrain, well, too bad because I will bust your ass every time. However, the backcountry, as in public land not leased from the forest service, is always open. Go get some backcountry gear, some avy training, and you will never have to deal with this issue again, you will never have to fight the bluebird powder frenzy or get busted for skiing somewhere dangerous, you and your party will be entirely responsible for yourselves and your decisions.
      The point of this article is to point out that when you duck lines, you know you did something wrong, recognize that and accept it gracefully when you get busted by patrol. Show some responsibility for your decisions and I am much less likely to bring the full weight of punishment down on you; this goes double for pass holders who know the rules, if you have been skiing at the same mountain for 20+ years, you really don’t have any excuse to get irate when you get caught. I am not promoting bribery with beer or cookies, these will not get you out of breaking a closure, they do however get you bonus points and may get you some inside info on closure status so you can be ahead of the crowd. I do not feel a sense of entitlement to respect from the guests just because I have a white cross on my back, that is earned by keeping the mountain safe, helping people when they need it, and treating everyone respectfully. Take responsibility for your actions and you will have a much better experience with ski patrol.

    • Kims the one that came in with the rant in the first place on how she expects to be treated and respected. Pathetic. If I duck your ropes and get caught I expect to get my pass pulled, and because that sucks and I did it, I will deal with it, I probably won’t have much too say, won’t want to here what you have to say either, it was a law, and a rule with consequences so if I get caught I accept responsiblity. The reality is I won’t get caught because I wont do it, because it’s not worth my time to deal with patrol if I get caught for a small piece of terrain with a sketchy and most likely upside down snowpack.

      That is why I choose to ski in Europe and probably will for life or until I can’t make my living doing it anymore.

  24. This is funny. Ah, the interweb, home of the ultimate cases of “man behind the curtain” syndrome; where people who would never go beyond muttering under their breath in real life get to rant as if they weren’t cowards. Well, anyone with objectivity knows that 99.9% of people out there aren’t (objective). Sure, there are some patrollers out there on a power trip, most aren’t. However, the anti- rants here are a really good example of the arrogance often encountered. One of them almost actually said it – “I’m SOOOOO good, I should be able to go wherever I want, whenever I want”. But the REALITY is that this is the United States, where no one wants to take responsibility for their own actions; and even if the person is that good (they almost never are when they claim it), when the guy who follows those tracks gets hurt and decides to sue… Well, that maybe a reason why the closure is there. The guy who claims to be so good is the same person who will go into a closed area and then upon losing lift privileges or getting hurt will then attempt to sue claiming the resort didn’t adequately mark the closed area. The guy who claims to be in search of freedom is then the same person who is horror-struck and incensed by patrollers who don’t wear helmets (or aren’t required to have an avie cert as a prerequisite for hiring even though it’s not necessary at a lot of resorts and where it is patrols do their own training). Contrary to the apparent belief of some here, taking a 3 day crash course from some fly by night organization that gives you a level 9 avalanche certificate is no substitute for hands on experience. Consider that to date 23 patrollers have lost their lives in this country while attempting to provide a level of safety for the public so that you can buy a lift ticket and ride all day without worrying about avalanches. Consider giving the patroller the benefit of the doubt even if they’re a bit rough with you, because you never know, maybe the last person whose pass they attempted to revoke for blatantly poaching just got their pass back because they happen to be a friend of some higher up in the resort. But I’m sure no one reading this has ever let their mood or something going on in their personal life influence their decision making…

  25. Ok, I have remained calm in the face of all the ranting……I’ve even laughed at the obsurdity of it, but I have had it now. If my daughter is injured in any way saving someone’s life who ignores all the rules of safety, I will hunt you down like the dirty dog that you are. Never underestimate the wrath of a mother.

    • Rule #1 of rescue, Don’t become another victim!

      If your daughter chooses to rescue that is her right to do so and her decision to make. Rescue is risky business, so if you choose to help, you also choose to accept the risks that come with it. My hat is off to people that take risks to help, I have been on more rescues then I ever have wanted to be on, most turned into recoveries and not rescue. But your threat to hunt someone down for your daughters actions if that ever became the case is ludicrous. You can’t blame someone else for your daughters actions if she chooses to take a risk based on someone’s stupidity. As Americans it’s all too common to blame someone else for your own actions, probably the biggest problem with this country. It’s always the fault of someone else for your actions? This is the biggest contributor to all the red tape and rules in the outdoors.

      I hope your daughter never gets hurt trying to help someone else, but that is the life she chose and you need to accept it.

      Everything has inherent risks, including waking up in the morning, driving your car, cooking with gas, and attempting to save lives. Live with it and take responsibility for you own actions and if we can do that as a nation, we will enjoy more freedoms and the mountains of American might someday be open for all to enjoy at there own risk. Wow, what a free country it might be .

      • Skiclimber,
        Let’s call a truce. Maybe we can meet in Chamonix next season (that is unless the La Nina wreaks havoc on the Alps snowpack again!) over a beer. No ass-kissing required. Pinky swear.
        Kim

  26. Hi KIm,

    What nice blog. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I agree that being a bit contrite goes a long way in redeeming ones “bad” by ducking the ropes. I ski at a midsized resort in central California. – lots of side and back country access. Our ski patrol has taken unique steps to curb the occurrences of going out of bounds under the ropes by holding a couple of “seminars” each year on side/back country travel. It’s less seminar but more of a film night – show some avalanches, some good ski clips and have a beer with us type thing; complete with raffle and such. It has created an atmosphere of respect for the patrollers work and developed a positive relationship between the patrol staff and the regular skiers/boarders that frequent the out of bounds areas. Furthermore; it has created a sort of self policing of the skiers to the point that skiers themselves are discouraging others from breaking the rules of ducking boundary ropes. Example; I may share a lift with someone that speaks of “let’s go do Horse Canyon” on a day that it is closed. I would discourage that on the basis of the relationship I have with patrol and tell this person, “Naw, it’s closed today. I don’t want to make Mattly’s (head patrol) job any harder”. “let’s go do this…” and suggest an area that is open. The additional benefit to the outreach between patroller and skier is that we all practice safe back country practices; morning check of the Avi report, buddy, beacon, probe, shovel. The results of these seminars has been fantastic. It has created a positive respect for the patrollers and the work and safety they provide. Besides, we all know Mattly would wants to ski the boundaries as bad as we do, so it will open as soon as it’s safe!

    Thanks again Kim,

    Bob

    • Bob,
      Thanks for your comment. I love the idea of offering a seminar. Any opportunity to get the message out works well. At Crystal we have a similar event (minus the beer, which is a good idea, actually). A few patrollers tell stories, explain the current snowpack and recent avalanche activity, etc. Promoting respect between patrollers and public is the key. And it goes both ways. To get respect, you have to give it. Sounds like your ski area has that figured out.

  27. At our hill we don’t have AC issues but like all hills we have closed runs. We used “Nitehawk Service Hours” as an option to losing your pass. Depending on your age and nature of the offence the service is 12 hours working with foodservices, snowmaking,trail crew, luge track or terrain park. The real “A” holes usually just give up their pass leave. The keepers apologize and/or cry and do the time! They have to be supervised by staff who buy in to the concept of education over punishment. They don’t get their pass until the time is complete. The word spreads and their buds get to see them doing the work. It gets some work done and reduces repeat offenders, even grows future staff.

    • Marty,
      Great idea! We’ve tried similar strategies with having violators dig holes for the avalanche dogs and then get buried in them. We’ve had mixed results. It takes a certain kind of zen confidence to be buried six feet under the snow and wait for a dog to dig you out. But a powerful lesson indeed.

  28. Or just Ski in Europe! Chamonix ski patrol will tell you which lines you should really avoid if you ask them nicely. There’s no ropes, and all the open steep terrain you could dream of.
    Just one thing though, you will actually need to take responsibility for yourself.

    • The European model is intriguing. Skiers must pay insurance for help from the ski patrol (but aren’t covered off-piste). I wonder how much of that personal responsibility is motivated by money. Perhaps there’s a happy medium.

      • For a little less then 50 Euros a year, you can buy full Carte Neige. There is not an insurance in America that would even come close to coverage like that for that price. If you choose to ski in Europe and skip on this option, you are as fullish as someone who thinks bringing the Patrol beer and treats will pay off in the long run.

        You can buy it on your day pass as well for 2.50 a day, another wise option. Rescue is actually covered in the National Park where I work, but if you are not sure exactly where the boundary is, you might be taking a gamble without it.

        Here is some alarming truth, 3 years ago I went into the ER in France, walked in as an American with Blue Cross insurance. , I had an ER visit, 5 x rays, and a consultation. They asked me if I would like to bill my US insurance, I asked how much was the visit. It was 80 Euros for an ER visit including the X rays. I paid cash and was on my way.

        Long story short, if you ski in Europe , you are not skiing in the states anymore, Patrol don’t hold your hand and tell you what you can and can’t do, where and when to ski. You decide. So if your knew to the game, you might consider hiring a UIAGM mountain guide while over there. If you don’t know what that is, Google it, It’s not an AMGA individually certified ski guide, not even close. Don’t be confused, a mountain guide over there is not some mom and pop Cat skiing operation in America. These are mountain guides, big difference compared to an American ski guide. Anyway it’s worth the investment to get your feet wet, and you won’t waste much time finding the goods. And take the carte neige, it costs nothing.

        And a note about ski patrol in Europe, they will tell you whats good and even if it’s under the rope or up on that big scary looking north facing glacier. The patrol there are a different educated breed and they are willing to educate and share info unlike the average American patroller. They are used to seeing a way more educated and experienced user group in there mountains. Big lines get dropped left and right, they don’t care if you want to go take a crack at something stupid. They will go so far as to help you get there by giving you the beta if you ask.

        I can’t believe this thread is still going, LMAO

  29. Kim – thanks for your site, writing and patrolling. An entertaining read – brought back some fond memories of my out of bounds riding at Crystal.

    And Skiclimber… what’s it like to be you?

    • Jolly since you asked, look me up in France and I will give you the best day of skiing you have ever had, guaranteed, but I don’t think you will agree with the methods or thought process of making all your own decisions and not having directed or controlled skiing with ropes. I think not having slopes that have been bombed and groomed to hell or Patrol doing all the work for you and taking the fun out of thinking for yourself might scare you. Truth is, you might not like the experience of freedom or what it’s like to truly be free while skiing, or to put the free in skiing. It’s probably best you stay on the slopes that the patrol manage for you, skiing in pristine, untouched mountain environments without ski patrol can get kind of boring.

  30. Wow… Does anyone else see the irony in pretty much everything skiclimber is saying? Ha. Fact of the matter is that if you don’t like something, either work to change it or leave and find somewhere you can be happy. Either way, wasting this much time and effort on telling people (repeatedly) how awesome you are and dumb they are is pretty sad.

    Have fun and stay safe.

    • Skiclimber,
      In my opinion, that ski patroller was out of line. He never even gave the snowboarder a chance to explain himself. Looks like the slope was pretty crowded and yes, sounds like there was a slow banner up above, but common courtesy should be a requirement of the job. Sheesh. Way to make patrollers look bad.

      • Agreed with follow up post 100% Kim, I was just having fun with you by posting.

        But because of the lack of full video or knowledge of what the Snowboarder at question was really doing prior to the confrontation, I take a neutral stance here. We don’t know how much of that video might of been edited in the snowboarders defense, but we do know that the Patrol was out of line in professionalism for the way he handled it regardless of the Snowboarders actions prior to the incident. I know I went off in previous posts, but not all patrol are bad and I do have respect for what you do,

        Merry New Year,

        It’s puking in the Alps :-)

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