Category Archives: Ski Resorts

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Ski Patrol Pioneer, Nelson Bennett, Dies at 102

Ski Patrol pioneer, rescue toboggan inventor and 10th Mountain Division skiing skills trainer, Nelson Bennett, passed away just a few months after his 101st birthday. Sun Valley, Idaho, Ski-Patrol 1940-41 Bennett was the recipient of a National Ski Patrol (NSP) National Appointment, #1304, in the 1950s.

Bennett, a native of Lancaster, New Hampshire, graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1940 with a degree in Forestry. He was also an early member of the UNH Ski Team, and during school breaks worked at Peckett’s Inn on Sugar Hill in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, one of America’s first resorts and ski schools. During World War II, Bennett was drafted in 1942 and served as a skiing skills trainer for the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division and in Italy, as a member of this US alpine infantry Continue reading Ski Patrol Pioneer, Nelson Bennett, Dies at 102

Patroller and Avalanche Expert, Darren Johnson, Triggers Slide that Kills Him

Yellowstone Club ski patroller and avalanche expert, Darren Johnson, triggered an avalanche near Cedar Basin that swept him to his death. Johnson was in a 4-member group doing avalanche research on 19 January in the southwestern Montana area near Big Sky. Having concluded 23 stability tests over 4 hours of research that late morning and early afternoon, Johnson was well aware of the risk of jumping onto what the group had determined was an unstable wind-loaded slope with a “Considerable” rating for avalanche risk, but Continue reading Patroller and Avalanche Expert, Darren Johnson, Triggers Slide that Kills Him

Vail’s Park City Resort Ski Patrol Votes-in Union

Members of the full-time paid ski patrols at the recently-combined Canyons and Park City resorts voted to unionize on 14 December. (Listen-in on interview with Ski-Patrol.net Cofounder, Mark O’Connor, and Park City Mountain Resort COO, Bill Rock, on local NPR affiliate KPCW). The vote was close, with 97 voting in favor and 94 opposed to joining Local 7781 of the United Professional Ski Patrols of America (UPSPA) union within the AFL-CIO’s Communications Workers of America (CWA). Park City Opening Day 2015-

The Park City and Canyons resorts were officially combined at the end of July to form what is now the largest US ski resort. Fifty-million dollars has been committed to capital improvements for joining the resorts and upgrading the associated infrastructure. The combined resort has been re-branded as “Park City” (PCMR) with new tagline “There is only one. Park City.”

The question now is whether Vail Continue reading Vail’s Park City Resort Ski Patrol Votes-in Union

Obituary: Ski Patrol Inc. Cofounder, David Lawler

Ski Patrol Inc. Cofounder, David Lawler. J.D., died at 64 in April. Lawler grew up on a farm in Iowa, and that work ethic continued throughout his years of service as an attorney and through his volunteer efforts, where he passionately represented the interests of patrollers, farmers and consumers. David Lawler

Lawler was an attorney in private practice in Iowa, where he was admitted to practice law in 1975, and at the federal district level in 1978. In addition to his non-profit contributions at Ski Patrol Inc. and its Ski-Patrol.net publication, Lawler dedicated much of his time over the years as a volunteer to many worthy causes.

Lawler held a number of positions as an attorney during his 40 year Continue reading Obituary: Ski Patrol Inc. Cofounder, David Lawler

Ski Patrol Unions: Isolated Occurrences or the Latest Trend for Ski Patrol Organizations?

Patrollers at Telluride are the latest to organize a union, bringing the count of unionized “Pro Patrols” at large resorts around the US to eight. Telluride patrollers, in a 47 to 1 vote, joined the ranks of Colorado’s Crested Butte and Steamboat, and Utah’s Canyons Resort in February of 2015. Those resorts are represented by the United Professional Ski Patrols of America (UPSPA), operating as Local 7781 of the AFL-CIO’s Communications Workers of America (COA) union. 2015 Unionized North American Ski Patrols

Patrollers at Aspen SkiCo’s four resorts, Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk, have been separately unionized since 1986 as the Aspen Professional Ski Patrol Association (APSPA). The Steamboat Professional Ski Patrol Association voted in a union in a December 1999, 44 to 12 vote. Canyons patrollers unionized in April of Continue reading Ski Patrol Unions: Isolated Occurrences or the Latest Trend for Ski Patrol Organizations?

NSP and 10th Mountain Division Legend, Earl Clark, Dies at 95

Ski industry pioneer, Earl Ervin Clark, died on Sunday, 28 December, at his home in Littleton, Colorado. He was 95 years old. 10th Mountain Division

Clark, a Londonderry, Vermont native and long-time Colorado resident, became a member of the Rocky Mountain Division of the NSP after World War II. He served as volunteer Patrol Director at Arapahoe Basin on weekends after leaving active duty with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division. He also served as a patroller at Loveland, Berthoud Pass and Winter Park. He was inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame in 2001. Continue reading NSP and 10th Mountain Division Legend, Earl Clark, Dies at 95

Ski Patrol Legend, Curt Chase, Dies at 91

Longtime Aspen resident, Ski Patrol pioneer, 10th Mountain Division member and skiing instruction legend, Curt Chase, died in early June at 91 at his Colorado home. Chase, born on 3 October 1922 in Manchester, NH, lived and worked in Aspen for more than 40 years.

Curt Chase

Chase was a member of the University of New Hampshire ski team in the 1930s. He was also recruited by the National Ski Patrol in its early years to join the 10th Mountain Division and became a survival training instructor for the US Army in 1943. He later organized, trained and directed the Aspen Ski Patrol in 1946. Continue reading Ski Patrol Legend, Curt Chase, Dies at 91

10th Mountain First Aid Film: State of the NSP Art Circa 1942

A few short 10th Mountain Division “ski patrol” first aid films have recently been published to Shutterstock. The videos show state of the art procedures for treating freezing and frostbite, and knee and ankle sprains, circa 1942 before the US entered World War II.

1942 Ski Patrol Video - Frostbite

National Ski Patrol (NSP) Founder, Minnie Dole, was instrumental in founding the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division alpine fighting force, after founding the NSP in 1938 at the urging of NSAA (National Skier Association of America, not to be confused with NSP’s main partner 75 years later, the National Ski Areas Association) President, Roger Langley. During the height of the 10th Mountain Division’s build-up, its training grounds were located near what is now Continue reading 10th Mountain First Aid Film: State of the NSP Art Circa 1942

Patrollers from Around the World Convene in Canada

Patrollers from 13 or more countries are gathering at Big White resort in British Columbia, Canada from 29 March to 5 April 2014. This will be the 19th Congress or meeting of the Fédération Internationale des Patrouilles de Ski (FIPS) member patrollers.

FIPS Utah 2007

FIPS members gather biannually in member countries forming an international network of ski patrollers with the intent to discuss and disseminate information on new ski rescue techniques, avalanche rescue, medical management of ski injuries, search and rescue, legal issues, ski safety, alpine risk management and accident prevention, both on and off Continue reading Patrollers from Around the World Convene in Canada

Wolf Creek Patroller Colin Sutton Killed in Backcountry Avalanche

Wolf Creek Ski Area Patroller Colin Drew Sutton was killed in a backcountry avalanche incident on 4 March 2014.

March 2014 Conejos Peak Avalanche Scene

According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC), Sutton was in a group of four patrollers from Colorado’s Wolf Creek that were transported via helicopter to Pt. 12,505, which is approximately one mile west of Conejos Peak, and around 16 air miles SE of the Wolf Creek area where they typically Continue reading Wolf Creek Patroller Colin Sutton Killed in Backcountry Avalanche

Breckenridge Ski Patrol Blows Up “Leo’s Pot Shack” After Inside Edition Report on Colorado Stoners

The Breckenridge Ski Patrol obliterated “Leo’s Pot Shack” following an Inside Edition report pointed out some of the safety risks posed by the now quasi-legal use of marijuana on some Colorado ski slopes. This follows the legalization of marijuana by Colorado voters in late 2012. The video below shows the shack as it was reportedly being blown up by the Breckenridge Patrol.

Continue reading Breckenridge Ski Patrol Blows Up “Leo’s Pot Shack” After Inside Edition Report on Colorado Stoners

Vail Founder’s Grandson Killed in Chutes Avalanche

The grandson of Vail’s Founder was killed in an avalanche in out-of-bounds terrain at the East Vail Chutes. Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) investigators were diverted from their study of a 2 January slide at Breckenridge, where there were no injuries, to the Vail scene.

Tony Seibert, 24, was killed in the Vail incident. He was the grandson of Vail founder Pete Seibert, and the son of Terry and Pete Seibert Jr. There were four others skiing with Seibert, one of whom was also injured. Continue reading Vail Founder’s Grandson Killed in Chutes Avalanche

Santiam Pass Patroller Killed in Solo Mount Hood Ascent

Long-time Santiam Pass ski patroller, Dr. Kinley K. Adams, was killed in a solo ascent of Mount Hood on 22 June 2013. Adams went missing on the mountain at some point after leaving Mount Hood’s Timberline Lodge at around 12:30 am that day. Mount Hood Leuthold Couloir Summit Route

He had previously made the ascent of Hood a number of times and was expected back in Salem, Oregon, that day by 4 pm, where he lived and worked as a dentist. A search began when he did not return. His body was not discovered until Saturday, 29 June, and his remains were transported down the mountain by rescuers that Sunday evening. Continue reading Santiam Pass Patroller Killed in Solo Mount Hood Ascent

SkiCo Cleared by OSHA in Snowmass Patroller’s Death

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has cleared the Aspen Skiing Company (SkiCo) of any wrongdoing in its inquiry into the death of ski patroller, Patsy Hileman. Snowmass Ski Patrol SkiCo sources said in an Aspen Daily News report that they have no plans to change any policies in response to the incident.

Patsy Hileman, a 26-year veteran of the Aspen Ski Patrol, died in an avalanche on 30 December 2012 in the Ship’s Prow Glade, a permanently closed Snowmass backcountry skiing area. Hileman appears to have been skiing alone and inadvertently triggered a portion of the “crown” from a previous avalanche that pushed her off Continue reading SkiCo Cleared by OSHA in Snowmass Patroller’s Death

Colorado’s Worst Avalanche in 50 Years Claims Lives of 5 Industry Pros

Highlighting the danger inherent to backcountry boarding and skiing, five industry professionals were killed in an avalanche at Loveland, the most tragic Colorado incident in 50 years. All were part of the Rocky Mountain High Backcountry Bash, an event that was put-on to help fund avalanche safety and the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC).

2012 Loveland Avalanche Incident

According to a report from the CAIC, a backcountry touring party of six, on splitboards and skis, was caught in an avalanche in the Sheep Creek area near Loveland Pass. According to the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Department (CCC SD), the avalanche occurred on Saturday, 20 April 2013 at 1pm, on the north-northeast aspect of the Sheep Creek drainage of Loveland Pass, along US 6.

Four of the riders and one skier were killed. Each of those fatally injured was an expert boarder or skier, and was using the latest avalanche gear. Ski-Patrol.net analysis of CAIC data has found that 50% more people have been killed in the 2012-2013 season than the average of the preceding 3 seasons in Colorado. We have also found an alarming statistic that may be emerging in CAIC fatality data. While only 19.1% of skiers died (14 of 73) after being caught in an avalanche over the last 4 seasons, 37.93% of boarders died (11 of 29) after getting caught in an avalanche. Continue reading Colorado’s Worst Avalanche in 50 Years Claims Lives of 5 Industry Pros

NSP Responds to Denver Post Report on Resort Accident Investigation Conflict of Interest

The NSP has endorsed a response to the series of articles published by Denver Post reporter Karen E. Crummy. An NSP member news release on its Web site directs patrollers to a response by Dan Whiting, Chief Accident Investigator at Wolf Creek Ski Area, and NSP Executive Director Tim White has released an official NSP response. Both are posted on the “Club Colorado” blog. The YouTube video that accompanied the Whiting response is included here. The NSP and Wolf Creek responses, however, appear to miss the “conflict of interest” point of the Post series.

The Denver Post report criticizes the practice of resort accident investigations becoming de facto legal findings, and the fact that Ski Patrol representatives Continue reading NSP Responds to Denver Post Report on Resort Accident Investigation Conflict of Interest

Denver Post Publishes Scathing Review of Skier Safety

The Denver Post has published a three-part series of articles offering a scathing review of the skiing industry, with a focus on Colorado ski areas and “ski law”. Breckenridge Patrol

The first article, “Colorado system for investigating ski accidents raises concerns“, highlights the high degree of control that ski patrol and mountain management have over accident investigations on resort-owned and leased property.

The second in the series, “Colorado ski industry enjoys protection from law, waivers“, attempts to demonstrate that through effective lobbying, particularly in Colorado, resorts have been able to focus on limiting their exposure to liability through legislation, reducing the need for resort operators to Continue reading Denver Post Publishes Scathing Review of Skier Safety

Happy 75th Birthday NSP: Mission Accomplished?

Seventy-five years ago this week, two guys from Massachusetts met at the National Ski Races on Stowe’s Nose Dive trail and the National Ski Patrol (NSP) was born. 1938 Stowe Mens Nationals Cover

As the NSP enters its 76th year and reflects upon its legacy, ski patrollers serve a very different skiing population and group of industry stakeholders. In this article we explore whether the National Ski Patrol System has accomplished its mission, and pose the question, “Has the U.S. network of ski and alpine touring resorts now evolved to the point where it can more effectively assume the NSP’s mission to prevent skiing accidents and assist those sustaining accidents?”

The past may inform the future on that point. Continue reading Happy 75th Birthday NSP: Mission Accomplished?

Last First Tracks: Snowmass Memorial Held for Patsy Hileman

A memorial was held on 5 January for Patricia Mae “Patsy” Hileman of Snowmass Village, Colorado. Patsy, a 26-year veteran of the Aspen Ski Patrol, died in an avalanche on 30 December in the Ship’s Prow Glade, a backcountry skiing spot at Aspen’s Snowmass area. The memorial service celebrating her life was held on at the Elk Camp restaurant at Snowmass Mountain. Snow Mass Ship's Prow Approach

Hileman appears to have inadvertently triggered a portion of the “crown” from a previous avalanche that pushed her off the edge. She was skiing in a section of the Snowmass backcountry that is not explicitly open to the skiing public due to its inherent dangers. A previous avalanche at that location had been triggered with explosives by the patrol on 27 December 2012, three days before Hileman’s incident. While the avalanche was very small, it appears to have been of sufficient size to sweep Hileman, an expert skier familiar with that area, off the cliff’s edge. Continue reading Last First Tracks: Snowmass Memorial Held for Patsy Hileman

Casper Ski Patrol Sued by Parents of 5-Year-Old Killed in 2010 Incident

CASPER, Wyo. – A lawsuit has been filed in Wyoming’s Natrona County District Court against the City of Casper and the Casper Mountain Ski Patrol by the parents of a 5-year-old that was killed on Christmas Eve in 2010. Wyoming’s Spence Law Firm is representing the family. Gerry Spence, the firm’s legendary founder, is a civil rights attorney with a reputation that is well-known nationally.

Hogadon Ski Area
Hogadon Ski Area

Elsie Johnson was killed two years ago by a snowboarder, Craig Shirley, who also died in the incident at Hogadon Ski Area. Elsie and her mom, Kelli Johnson, were reportedly skiing on Dreadnaught, an expert run, and had stopped in the center of the trail when Shirley collided with them. Kelli Johnson was also seriously injured in the accident, and reportedly has no memory of the incident. Elsie Johnson and Craig Shirley, 23 years old, both died of blunt force trauma. Continue reading Casper Ski Patrol Sued by Parents of 5-Year-Old Killed in 2010 Incident