Day 1, Season 7

Preparations and Patrol Refresher aside, today was day 1 of my 7th season. The forecast was for sunny skies and a relatively warm day -- in the mid to low 30s. It was mostly cloudy from home all the way up the Mountain Road, until, near the Resort, there was a hole in the clouds just above Mt. Mansfield. I couldn't take a photo while I was driving, but here's the shot about 20 minutes later, followed by photo highlights of my day: Waiting to Line Check the Alpine Lift, 8:20 a.m. @ Stowe Mountain Resort

Top of the Alpine Lift at Stowe Mountain Resort

Top of the Alpine Lift at Stowe Mountain Resort

Spruce Camp / Mt. Mansfield at Dusk

Ski Patrol Refresher

My 7th Mt. Mansfield Ski Patrol Refresher ended late this afternoon. It was 2 days of management presentations, medical-skills reviews, lectures, and practicals together with a heavy concentration on lift-evacuation skills and practice.

Saturday Morning

Sunday Morning

Skis & boots we intend to use this season were to be checked and approved today. All equipment had to be signed in prior to our 8:00 a.m. start. My skis are now certified through May 2010.

This exercise mimicked an actual rescue in this same location at the top of Cardiac Hill behind the Mansfield Base Lodge

Oh, and by the way, in his annual state-of-the-resort presentation to the Patrol yesterday morning, SMR's CEO told us that, even with several offers on the table, the sale of the Resort (an AIG asset) is on hold.

And this year's winners are...

Our Mt. Mansfield Ski Patrol annual end-of-season "Prom" was held last night at Stowe's Commodores Inn. For the first time ever, the Stowe Mountain Resort's own Gary Gendimenico and his band, PB Jr. and The Blues Busters rocked us with their blues originals and covers!

For the 2008-2009 Ski Season just ended, we, the patrollers voted:
  • Langley Scherer, Rookie Patroller of the Year;
  • Robert Witsil, Volunteer Patroller of the Year; and,
  • Sebastian "Seb" Groskin, Patroller of the Year.
Props to all 3 of you!

End of Season #6

This week will be the last for part-time paid patrollers. I'll be on dispatch this Wednesday and Thursday. Friday, at the Spruce first-aid station, will mark the end of my 6th season. Our annual 'class' photo is scheduled for Saturday, after sweep.

The official end of the 2008-2009 ski season is scheduled for April 19th...

Mt. Mansfield Ski Patrol: 75 Years (a benefit for Gary Sudol)

Tomorrow night, at the Vermont Ski Museum, historian Brian Lindner will present the history of the Mt. Mansfield Ski Patrol, which is the oldest and probably the first ski patrol in the United States. This year the MMSP is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Lindner's presentation will cover the founding of the patrol and the often colorful story, with dozens of old photographs, of many of its legendary members. Proceeds will be applied to medical bills accrued by long-time Mt. Mansfield Ski Patroller, Gary Sudol, who has recently been diagnosed with a Glioblastoma grade 4 primary brain tumor. (Support for Gary and his family here.) When: Saturday, March 14

Time: 7 p.m. Where: Vermont Ski Museum - One South Main Street, Stowe Website: More Info: 802-253-9911

Donation: $10

Avoiding the Dreaded Knee 'Pop' (NYT)

KneeBinding You're skiing slowly on an intermediate trail and you suddenly slip. You're not out of control – you weren't going that fast – but you are off balance. One arm flails behind your head as you teeter and twist backward until your hips awkwardly sit down on the tails of your skis. Then you hear a loud pop in your knee. (NYT)

Read the complete article here.

  • The KneeBinding was developed in Vermont and is based in Stowe.
  • Dr. Bryan Huber, quoted in the article, is a member of the Mt. Mansfield Ski Patrol and a principal of Mansfield Orthopaedics.

The New Spruce Base First-Aid Station

Back on December 5th, I showed you our Spruce Peak base first-aid trailer undergoing renovation. The renovations were completed shortly before New Year's Eve, when we moved from our temporary yurt into our new home at Spruce Peak. The trailer is no longer a trailer, but rather, and more stylishly, a station. Its appearance is now a bit more consistent with the newness of everything Spruce Peak.

A Christmas Photo Recap, 2008

I haven't worked Christmas Eve and Christmas Day since my rookie year. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed being out and about with guests as well as my fellow patrollers and other Resort staff, exchanging an abundance of Christmas greetings and cheer. And, I know that had I not been at the mountain, I would have certainly missed this spectacular peek-of-the-sun over the Worcester Range on Christmas morning. This photo doesn't begin to do justice to the beauty of being there. Sun Rising over the Worcester Range on Christmas, 2008

A Christmas Patch of Blue over Spruce Peak

West Run was closed Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. I took this photo on Friday after having built this (bam)boo line across the trail's entrance -- three days of morning building and afternoon disassembling on sweep. If you're out early enough, you'll see us skiing around balancing boo, rope, and a drill!

Boo line across West Run at Stowe Mountain Resort

Almost all boo lines have to be pulled at the end of the day to accommodate the groomers who begin their work after we're long gone. I get a lot of satisfaction from these outdoor-in-all-kinds-of-weather work details.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas wherever you were...

Friday morning recap

I'm finished patrolling for the week. It snowed almost all day long, every other day! Yesterday was very long and crazy busy from start to finish. We had a good team at Spruce, with 2 rookies supporting us and learning the ropes. Days like this confirm that everything for which we constantly prepare and train kicks in the instant we need those skills. The first time most of us were able to stop and relax was about 10 minutes before the lifts closed at 4:00 p.m. I have a few photos from the last couple of days that I'll post later today. Next week I'm on the schedule Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the day after Christmas! If you're at the resort, be sure to look me up.

Wait until you see this finished

This trailer has been the base first-aid station at Spruce Peak ever since construction began on Stowe Mountain Lodge. It's on skier's right at the base of Slalom Hill – you can see it from the Spruce Camp Rotunda. Now that it and Spruce Camp (the base lodge) are open, we're getting spiffed up. It'll have a peaked roof and will be clad in stained cedar shingles or clapboards to match. And, it will have a prominent red cross so you can find us if you need to.

Spruce Peak Base First Aid & Ski Patrol Station

It Still Blows My Mind

Every year, as I'm about to start another season patrolling (this will be my 6th,) it blows my mind that I'm up here doing this. My family on the hill is a bunch of guys who either have 20 or more years of patrolling under their belts, or are fresh out of college and have been skiing since they were toddlers. Many of the older guys are into 40+ years -- one is a retired airline captain who's beginning his 42nd year on patrol -- longer than he flew! I, on the other hand, was a California beach bum of sorts, who had never skied until I moved to New England back in 1980! And, even then, I didn't start skiing until I was 40! Yikes!

Xtreme Sports ID

Vermont Sports Magazine - September 2008

Stowe, VT, and Maui, HI -- Everyone has seen Lance Armstrong's "Live Strong" yellow rubber bracelets. XTreme Sports ID takes the bracelet to a whole other level, by turning the simple piece of silicon rubber into a lifesaving piece of information. Each bracelet bears a medical symbol, a toll-free phone number, and the wearer's unique ID number. If, say, while on a bike ride you are hit by a car and left unconscious, whoever comes to the rescue can call the toll- free number embossed on the band. The voice system prompts the caller to enter the ID number, also embossed on the band. Once the wearer's ID is located, the caller is prompted to enter #1 for medical alerts, #2 for emergency contacts, and so on. You can even record "in case of death directives," "do not resuscitate instructions," and "organ donor" information. When you purchase the band, all you need to do is log onto the Xtreme Sports web site and create your ID record. The band is $8 for the first year and coverage can be renewed online for $5/year.

The bands are available in a variety of colors and are sized for small children as well as adults. The bracelets are attractive, comfortable, and virtually impossible to destroy. Anyone who does outdoor sports, and especially anyone who embarks on solo adventures, would be wise to wear this ID bracelet. Xtreme Sports ID national sales director Bryan Gillam of Stowe says, –Why carry your identification when you can simply wear it?– Xtreme Sports ID is headquartered in Maui.

For more information, visit www.

I'm already wearing one. Many of my fellow ski patrollers at Stowe Mountain Resort will be wearing one. They'll also know to look for them on guests who need help. Buy yours at the new Spruce Base Camp up at the Mountain, set to open on November 22nd; or, if you're not local, send me an eMail.

How Did I Get Here?

My wife and I never saw our major life change coming. I was a casualty of the 2001 high-tech collapse; after an almost 20-year software industry marketing career at a number of established companies and startups, I was laid off. I struggled for the next two years to find suitable permanent employment while trying to support us with consulting and project work. Never mind the health insurance worries. Almost two years later, in July 2003, during a visit to northern Vermont, we stumbled across a beautiful old colonial-revival house for sale in one of the many idyllic areas surrounding Stowe. Coming from the Boston area, with its explosive property values, our first reaction to the listing price was that it was missing a leading "1" – it wasn't. We'd been going to Vermont for years; I had always wanted to move there (or should that be "here"?). After spending close to eight hours going through the house repeatedly over the next two days, we looked at each other, shrugged, and asked, "Why not!"

We returned to Boston's South Shore, listed our home, had our offer accepted on the Vermont house, and began planning our huge lifestyle change. We cashed out of Massachusetts the week before Thanksgiving 2003, paid cash for our new home, and eliminated the chronic worry and challenge of making monthly mortgage payments. We arrived in Vermont the day before the 2003-2004 ski season began at Stowe Mountain Resort.

Given the state of the high-tech industry, I was more than ready for this change, figuring that if I continued as a marketing consultant or contractor, I could do it from anywhere. And, since I didn't currently have any assignments, I might even give myself the winter off to pursue one of my passions.

In August 2003, because I'm a passionate skier, I had begun to think about how to best pursue every avid skier's dream: to ski full time. If I could join the Mt. Mansfield Ski Patrol (MMSP), I might even get paid to ski. With what was probably an unrealistic and romantic notion about what that entailed, I enthusiastically, and with great determination, began making the serious job-hunter's cold calls. In less than two weeks, I'll begin my sixth season on Patrol.