Like anything in life, ski resorts have their own unique strengths and weaknesses, and the quality of a resort’s ski patrollers is no different; some resorts shine, some flop.
Any skier or snowboarder who has been injured before on the mountain can tell you that the last thing you want to be thinking about after injury on the slopes is wondering how soon you will receive proper rescue or treatment.
One of the resorts that has clearly mastered the top notch level of service among patrollers has got to be Squaw Valley USA. The Lake Tahoe resort has developed quite the reputation for producing quality patrollers, and frankly this isn’t just a luxury, but a necessity for any ski area like Squaw that can boast 4,000 acres of skiing and some of the most challenging inbounds terrain in North America.
What guests to the resort might not know however is that these patrollers involved in rescues and treatment among other things, are not always employees of Squaw – many of them are actually volunteers. And frankly the fact that this information has remained relatively unknown might have been the best compliment – up until now – for those highly-trained men and women who selflessly help their fellow winter sports enthusiasts. However, these dedicated individuals are now being recognized with some much-deserved hardware that applauds their efforts on a national level.
The Squaw Valley National Ski Patrol, the volunteer arm of the ski patrol at Squaw, has been bestowed with the award for National Outstanding Large Alpine Patrol by the National Ski Patrol. Squaw Valley’s volunteer patrollers were chosen for their high level of performance and their seamless integration with the resort’s paid patrollers. Given the sheer size, variety, and challenging nature of Squaw’s terrain, Squaw volunteers are trained on a higher level to perform advanced alpine skills and techniques including high angle belaying, cliff rescue and mountaineering skills.
“Over the years the volunteers have worked really closely with the professional patrollers to create a seamless and unified patrol,” said Squaw Valley’s head of National Ski Patrol, Wes Schimmelpfennig. “This feat primarily stems from dedication and experience. The average National Patroller at Squaw Valley has been patrolling at the mountain for 18+ years, while the national average for years worked by ski patrollers is 6 years.”
So next time you’re at Squaw Valley dropping that cliff under one of The Ski Channel’s favorite lifts, KT-22 , take solace in knowing that not only does the resort hold a world-class team of paid patrollers, but their volunteers are pretty top-notch too. And if you think you’ve got what it takes to join the ranks, check out the membership page on the Squaw Valley National Ski Patrol site.