Since this is a volunteer service, the primary benefit is the personal reward of serving the public. However, we have managed to obtain various benefits each year. These include opportunities to purchase equipment used while patrolling at pro deal prices. There are some major restrictions to this privilege, such as you have to be a full-fledged patroller, with at least 10 duty days in the year before, and the equipment is ONLY for the patroller.
The other benefits come in the form of additional training, opportunities to work with downhill patrollers and in their first aid room, teaching opportunities, leadership positions, and the ability to become involved in search and rescue (SAR). Cascade Backcountry patrollers are also members of the National Ski Patrol system, which provides additional training, travel and equipment opportunities.
Most people feel that the greatest benefit is getting outside, skiing around with some really nice people, and serving the public.
The training opportunities offered to patrollers are extensive. The primary classes (which are required for Cascade Backcountry Patrollers) are Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC), Level 1 Avalanche, and Level 1 Mountain Travel and Rescue (MTR).
The OEC class is comparable to an EMT level B first aid class and provides excellent training, with emphasis on outdoor care. The class is approximately 100 hours in length and includes professional level CPR. Certified first aid instructors and other patrollers teach the classes. Although MOFA provides a good grounding for this class, it is not a substitute.
The Level 1 Avalanche class teaches the fundamentals of avalanche awareness, evaluation, and rescue. The class includes about 8 hours of class time and a full day in the field.
The Level 1 Mountain Travel and Rescue (MTR) course teaches the fundamentals of weather, navigation, safety, survival and rescue. This class also includes 8 hours of class time and a full day in the field with an overnight. Typically the Avalanche and MTR classes are taught back-to-back with the field days combined into one weekend with an overnight in the snow.
Beyond these basic required classes, there are advanced versions of both the avalanche and MTR classes that are available to patrollers. The ski patrol has also offered support in attending other classes such as the National Avalanche School and Wilderness Medicine conferences and courses. Since Cascade Backcountry Ski patrol is part of the National Ski Patrol system, there are opportunities for working with the alpine patrols on toboggan handling, advanced first aid, first aid room skills, instructor training, and leadership.
Search and Rescue
Several patrol members are actively involved in volunteer search and rescue for King County and belong to the Ski Patrol Rescue Team (SPART). Once you are a patroller and have basic outdoor skills, you are encouraged to join if it interests you. SPART is active year around, with the King County Sheriff calling members through a paging system as they are needed.
At Stevens Pass we have the use of a U.S. Forest Service Bunkhouse in Skykomish, with kitchen and bath facilities.
At Snoqualmie Pass we have developed a good relationship with the Area Ski Patrol who graciously lets us stay in their patrol building when we are patrolling at the pass. Our equipment cache is at the Snoqualmie Pass Fire Department. Several CBSP members also belong to the Washington Alpine Club, which has a huge lodge along the Alpental Road where they spend the night. It sleeps 72 and has a full kitchen and shower. We also provide support to the U.S. Forest Service on Blewett Pass which provides the opportunity for snowmobile tow-ins to remote areas and use of their winter bunk house.
Patrolling with Friends and Family
With the recognition that we have lives beyond ski patrol, the patrol tries to be as accommodating as possible. Patrollers are welcome to bring along family and friends, with the understanding that in the event of aid being needed, guests may need to fend for themselves. We have had several patrollers tow their children around in toboggans while out patrolling. Pets can be a bit problematic, since they are not allowed on groomed trails or in the bunkhouse, though this doesn’t preclude bringing your well-behaved mutt into the ungroomed areas