The Natives are Restless.

On the night of March 5, 1770, American colonists angry at unjust taxes imposed by colonial authorities began throwing snowballs at British troops guarding the Customs House in Boston. In the commotion, British troops opened fire on the mob, killing three immediately. Two more colonists died a short time later from their wounds. The American Revolution was set in action.

Skiers at Red Mountain have a history of expressing their dissatisfaction with a snowballs. As I recall it, on a powder day in December 1992 , the new ski school director attempted to assert lift-line priority on the Granite Chair for a group of ski instructors, before the public loaded. The large powder hungry crowd grumbled and jeered. The lift operator clearly expressed his sympathy with the waiting crowd and demanded authorization from above. When this was not forthcoming, the emboldened crowd errupted in celebration and pelted the ski instructors with a continuous hail of snowballs as they retreated down the hill. One of my room-mates, who was amongst the instructors, quit that very day.

And so to the events of yesterday morning. As on just about every other powder day this season, we waited until after 10.30am for the Motherlode chair to open (Red opened at 9.30am). As we waited to ski the largest overnight dump (30cm) since January 2009, patrollers skied run after run, culminating in the whole lift-line watching in palpable resentment as three patrollers simultaneously ripped tracks under the chairlift while hooting in satisfaction. As the patrollers entered the lift-line there was widespread booing, then a hail of snowballs and jeers that snowballed (if you’ll excuse the pun), with every subsequent patroller a target.

I’m not suggesting that this sort of mob justice is reasonable, but the skiing public is pissed. While there are undoubtedly valid reasons for each and every delay (apparently wind and challenging snowmobiling today), rather than emotional personal attacks from staff, might I humbly suggest that what is needed are periodic updates while we stand waiting, a more sensitive approach to the flaunting of powder skiing privileges, explanations and apologies where appropriate, and obviously a more effective strategy developed to ensure that more often than not we spend the mornings we’ve paid and planned for skiing powder rather than standing around.

First tracks down Needles was a candidate for the run of my season!


Filed under Red Mountain

10 responses to “The Natives are Restless.

  1. kel

    Yah I was their in 1992 when that happened, and wasn’t impressed by Ski Patrols behaviour, I’ve also had the pissed off feeling of having some of my
    favourite run pooched out by Patrollers being the first on the lift, you would of thought of leaving it for the public????? But early starts, wind delays,
    exceptionally big powder, maybe they should start earlier, lets say 5’oclock
    in the morning to get going by 9’oclock start ups

  2. Gideon

    Great write up Stew. Yep, would have loved to have been there to be on the other end of the snow balling this time! (-:

  3. vern

    I found Potts thin skinned reply to mild criticism representative of the the overall attitude of the Red Mtn. ski patrol…immature and unprofessional.

    • Bri

      Your way out of line buddy, Red Mountain ski patrol has nothing but your
      Well being on the top of their minds to make things safe for not just the experts you claim you are, but for the general public, could you imagine some general public skiing with kids in an avalanche prone area and getting killed, what do you think of that scenario oh wise one?.????????

  4. Bash

    Having experienced both sides of this story I feel a need to comment. I understand how frustrating it can be to watch others enjoying their jobs while you suffer with powder fever, agreed patrolshould not be “shralping” CentreStar in front of a crowd.. This past tuesday was the biggest dump I have had to control in many years, those of you bitching will just have to get over it. We loaded the lift at 6:15, we cannot throw bombs before daylight (WCB regulations)barely got up with the lift running on slow due to extreme winds, we got the bombs built and had a call from lift maintenance expressing their concern regarding wind. We were unable to run the chair for bombing runs for about 30 minutes. Once we got out it was extremely twitchy, everything was running full path, did you notice the tree at the bottom of Lynx? First bombing runs coplete there was a lot of hangfire which needed to be ski cut. Ski cutting is a very necessary part of avalanche control, it is for your safety. Do we enjoy our job on days like that? Absolutely!! If you would like to put yourself at risk for the safety of the pulic, for $13.00/hr go out get your tickets and join the patrol. Do not bitch about us enjoying one of the few perks of our job, while trying to keep public safe.

    • Bash

      Oh and yes communications from the powers that be could and should have been better, but don’t blame that on patrol doing their job.

      • Stewart Spooner

        Thanks for the patroller’s perspective Mike. I know it was difficult morning for you guys, certainly more complicated than I understand, but I hope we both agree that patrollers being booed and snowballed is absurd, and that a reassessment of “business as usual” is called for.

    • Darryl

      I saw the “damage” from the avy work the past two days, and I fully understand why we opened late on Tuesday, as do most people I would like to think. From most people I talk to, “our” problem is with those patrollers who skied Center Star while we all waited somewhat patiently at the bottom. We all know what you’re doing up there, we just don’t need to have it blatantly thrown in our faces after waiting for up to two hours to ski. It’s all about appearances, you know?

      All that aside – loaded mum this morning at 9am. Very nice. got my fix before everything got too sloppy. Gotta love March.

  5. Ski Bum Fan

    Good point Bash.
    Sadly the “powers that be” were dooing the same thing on Red:
    Eric and Friends jumping on the lift and riding down the face in front of a crowd while the patrollers were working to open the “little” mountain (post 9:00).
    The message from Red mountain management was pretty clear.
    Tough to believe they had our safety in their heads.

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