by Rick Church, Powder Mills Ski Patrol
December 23, 2015
On a sunny Sunday October 4 morning, this Powder Mills Park patroller gathered with representatives of the lift evac teams from several of the areas in the region to share, review, and practice techniques, tools and methods for what to do when the power and backup power systems fail. As much of the action is a lot higher off the ground than what happens at the Powder Mills ropetow, this elective training was a new experience for this patroller. Cool things I learned are; ladders are pretty handy, but footing can be tricky, and sitting down in a chair that pivots from high up on a ladder requires a bit of care. There are several tools available to help get a haul rope over the lift cable. Most involved a beanbag weight on a string, with which the haul rope is then hoisted. A good and careful toss, when practiced, can accomplish the objective on the first or second try. Or, you can use Bristol's giant wrist-rocket-on-a-pole slingshot to put the beanbag practically in the lap of any target. A few smooth stones were launched from below Quad 4 Tower 2, one landing in the front yard of the neighbors past the tubing park. Thought I'd better aim where I knew what was downrange from my intended target before I got in big trouble.
As an adaptive ski instructor working with the Shared Ski Adventures (http://sharedskiadventures.org/) program, we work with different types of adaptive ski equipment, including sit-ski chairs. Past attempts at adaptive equipment evacuations have resulted in unintended inverted “aerials”. I brought one of our Tessier chairs along, and we strapped Joe Menichino in it, rigged him up & pushed him out of the chairlift. He stayed in an upright position, and our belayers were able to bring him safely to the ground. The Swain Lift Evac Team and any other teams that have an adaptive ski program at their area should take careful note of the equipment used and the attachment points and methods.
Some low-angle rope work was also set up. We topped it off with a cookout & beverages shared during our debriefing, where it was discussed how to make the next region-wide get-together even more successful. All-in-all, it was a fun, greatly educational half-day.