Skiing or boarding competency
Candidates need to be competent skiers or riders on ungroomed trails and in crummy conditions with a pack on. Perfect style is not necessary. Being able to stay upright under most conditions and to look professional is. Our members include people who prefer ungroomed trails, some like classic nordic groomed trails, others go for the steep and deep backcounty. Most of us like a mix of all three.
Public service commitment
Ski patrolling is a volunteer public service and as such, patrollers need to have an inherent need to serve. Often the skiing conditions are grim and the time commitments can be onerous, so it is important for patrollers to be able find reward in public service.
The time commitment to become a patroller is significant. The first aid and CPR class is close to 100 hours of training, and the Level 1 Avalanche and Mountain Travel and Rescue courses are usually 15 hours each in the classroom, plus a full weekend. Each year there is an 8-hour first aid refresher, an 8-hour on-the-hill refresher, and a 2-hour CPR refresher, all of which are mandatory. The first year is typically the most time consuming, however. Field training days and on-the-hill refreshers count towards the 10 duty days expected of all patrollers.
The people who enjoy patrolling and are most successful at it typically have a good deal of outdoor experience — hiking, climbing, skiing or camping. Knowledge of basic outdoor survival — i.e., keeping warm, staying found, and traveling safely — is probably the most important skill. Along with some experience, it is necessary to have basic outdoor gear for winter travel.
Requirements to become a candidate
- Have basic cross country skiing, backcountry skiing, or backcountry snowboarding skills.
- Own or have access to basic equipment including skis or boards, boots, poles, pack, suitable clothing and gear.
- Be interested in public service, first aid, and winter travel.
- Have a sense of humor and tolerance for bad snow/weather conditions.
- Pay the annual dues and complete the registration form.
Requirements to become a patroller
- Complete the Outdoor Emergency Care class and CPR for the Professional Rescuer. This class is taught by alpine patrols. Contact the Patrol Director to find out the schedule for this season’s OEC classes.
- Complete the Avalanche Level 1 and Mountain Travel and Rescue Level 1 classes. Cascade Backcountry typically conducts the classes each year. Contact the Patrol Director to find out when this season’s classes will be held.
- Sign up to patrol at Snoqualmie, Stevens, Blewet Pass, and/or the North Cascades for a total of 10 days (the on-the-hill training counts as one). As a candidate, you need to ski with another patroller at all times. Patrol day sign-ups are usually done on the patrol’s web site calendar (http://cascadebackcountryskipatrol.org/). Check the web site to find out who is patrolling and sign on to the “duty day” they’ve entered. Or, send an email to the patrol and ask who’s going out in the next week or two, and arrange to go with them. This way, you can be sure that there will be a patroller to ski with and they will know to expect you.
- Learn the ins and outs of patrolling, which is best done by actually doing it. This includes knowing the daily sign-in procedures at Snoqualmie and Stevens Pass, finding where the equipment is kept and how to use it, learning the proper radio procedures and handling, becoming familiar with the trails and areas, and of course, perfecting the art of lunching. Ask questions, look around, and introduce yourself.
- Get voted into the patrol after having completed all of the above. This entitles you to fame, fortune, more training, equipment, and even more fun.
Qualified patrollers from other patrols are welcome to join Cascade Backcountry. Please contact our Patrol Director and Registrar (see contacts).