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Recognizing Jackson Hole Ski Patrol

Inn on the Creek Owner, Casey Morton, had the honor of recognizing the Jackson Hole Ski Patrol at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort this winter for their outstanding service to our mountain, locals, and visitors. Recognized by the local Rotary Club, the Jackson Hole Ski Patrol is one of the finest in the country. Here’s what Casey shared:

On behalf of our club and members I have the honor to recognize our Citizen of the Month Award. This recognition is awarded to an individual or groups of persons that exemplify Service Above Self. Service Above Self is the motto of over 1.2 millions Rotarians, representing 31000 clubs in more than 200 countries. In recognizing this group today we are honoring them for 50 years of Service Above Self. Congratulations to the Jackson Hole Ski Patrol!!!

Jackson-hole-ski-patrol-award-ceremony

The Jackson Hole Ski Patrol is a closely-knit group of individuals that totals 82 members; 65 men and 17 women. Their talents and expertise include obviously being expert skiers, highly trained in rescue techniques with pertinent knowledge of Emergency Medical Training. They are dedicated to the mountains and strive to make the mountain playground as safe as possible.

One of their most exciting and challenging tasks is Avalanche Control and the Reduction of Avalanche Risks. We have all heard the ominous sound of Boom, Boom, Boom reverberating about the valley in the early morning hour. Let’s take a closer look of the Patrollers duties on a powder day and what it takes to open the mountain on a timely basis. They arrive to duty very, very early in the darkness of winter. Let’s imagine the weather conditions; it’s 20 to 30 degrees below zero, the ridge top winds from the southwest are a ready 35 to 45 mph with gusts upwards of 50 to 60 mph. 15 new inches of snow is recorded at the Raymer plot at the base of Rendezvous Bowl. And the snow is falling at an inch per hour. Blizzard conditions prevail and visibility is minimal.

Within the boundaries of Rendezvous Mountain there are as many as 275 recognized avalanche paths. For the next couple of hours the entire Patrol will be dedicated to Avalanche Reduction. Their various routes are accessed via the Gondola, hiking the White Spider up the Headwall with each patroller carrying as much as 15 pounds of explosives, in one pound, 2 pound and 5 pounds increments. These explosives can be bundled together to make a 50 lb. bomb. They will wake you up.

The highest routes on the mountain are accessed from the Tram. Explosives are thrown from the Tram on the avalanche paths below. The patrollers are now spreading across the mountain bombing the avalanche paths. And let’s remember the conditions. With blinding conditions the patrollers are feeling their way across the extremely dangerous terrain.

Now let’s see what’s happening at the base of the village. Hundreds upon hundreds of skiers and boarders have been queuing up at the Tram Dock, Gondola and Teewinnot Lifts. The fevered anticipation of a big powder day is in the air, sometimes referred as Mad Pow Disease. Skiers and boarders can be very impatient on these powder days and want to rip their favorite powder stashes as soon as possible.

It is now 9am and the Ski hosts are now informing the anxious crowd that there will be a delayed opening. Disappointment is quietly sensed and yet the knowledgeable snow enthusiasts knows the situation above is extremely hazardous. The Patrollers are literally risking their lives to open the mountain. And yes, over the course of time 3 Patrollers have sacrificed themselves in the ultimate act of Service Above Self. May we take a silence moment to recognize these dedicated Patrollers, Paul Driscoll, Tom Raymer and Big Wally.

And now may I introduce you to the recipients of today’s award being received on behalf of all the Patrollers, Mike Rheam, Director of Avalanche Safety, Tom Barlett and Jen Calder, Asst. Patrol Directors and Drew Kneeland, The Director of one of the finest and most respected Patrol units in North America and around the World. Congratulations.

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