At the start of every season, we patrollers carry emergency equipment to the top of the King (Crystal’s Southback peak), tie it to a tree and hope no one ever needs it. The toboggan is propped on its end in plain view, along with a backboard, sled pack and several probe poles as a constant reminder that this is dangerous business out here. While Southback isn’t true backcountry, much of the adjacent terrain is, and when rescue is possible, it could be long and even costly.
Last weekend was busy for ski patrollers, and the King’s toboggan got more use in one weekend than it normally does in an entire season. The weekend started with a backside rescue in Crystal Lake’s Basin, when a skier didn’t arrive home that evening. Several patrollers scoured the boundary that night, finally finding the missing and injured skier early Saturday morning far off the backside of the ski area. The sled at the top of the King was used to bring him out the heavily-treed drainage to the closed highway below.
The weather and wind didn’t allow us to bring the toboggan back up on Saturday. Only an hour after South had reopened Sunday morning, even before we’d had the chance to hike all that equipment back to the top, we received a cell phone call–a skier was injured on the North side of the King, and the only way to get to her was up and over.
Seven of us headed towards the King, each carrying a piece of the bulky and heavy equipment, listening for radio updates from the first patroller on the scene. Two patrollers battled with the toboggan, each carrying a part of it up the 1st and 2nd steps of the hike. In order to be more efficient, patroller Paul left his skis beside the trail, figuring he’d come back for them once the sled reached the top.
At one point on the hike, with a mental clock ticking in my head, wondering about the condition of our patient, a skier looked at Shannon and I with–dare I say it–a look of awe. He said he was impressed by how quickly we were getting the equipment out there. I nodded and continued on.
I suspect it is to this man that my weekly high-five goes to. Because someone, I’m not sure who, picked up Paul’s pair of skis and carried them to the top of the King. When Paul arrived at the top with the toboggan, his skis did as well, and he was able to bring the sled to the injured skier more quickly.
Shannon posted a note on Facebook, applauding the “unknown skier”:
Yesterday’s serious injury on the North side of the king required at least 7 patrollers to hike from chair 6 and arrive on scene with backboard, oxygen, belay equipment and a sled. The two patrollers with the sled, in their haste, left a pair of skis at the base of the hike to be retrieved after the sled made it to the summit…
Cheers to the unknown skier that pitched in and hiked those skis to the summit for us. That’s why we all love Crystal.
So here’s a shout-out to the “unknown skier” that helped out on Sunday. Bravo man. Thanks for pitching in. So, if you want to be like the unknown skier and start spreading kindness around, please do. Then the whole world would be a better place.
Oh, and later that day, the toboggan made it back to the top of the King, thanks to patroller Rich. Let’s hope it stays there.