Lynne Offret still remembers the first time she came to ski out West from her home state of Massachusetts. “I came to Utah with a group of friends, and it truly felt like I was home.” And so began her ongoing relationship with the Wasatch mountains, ski patrolling, and a place she first knew as Park West.
This year will mark Lynne’s 30th year working for the resort. She has held several leadership positions in various departments, but now, she’s back to her roots — her happy place — as ski patrol director, a job that has her overseeing hundreds of patrollers and dozens of safety staff.
“We are a group of very dedicated professionals that really care about safety and service for our guests,” explains Lynne. “The job is fun and people can see that. But it’s also super challenging. Mastering all of the components, from safety to hospitality, takes a lot of skill and years to master.”
No two days on the mountain are ever alike, which is part of the job’s appeal, but Lynne agreed to share a ski patroller’s typical day.
6 a.m. On an avalanche patrol morning, it’s time to get rolling. “It’s all about the coffee, or Red Bull, depending on who you ask,” Lynne laughs. This is when patrollers are getting geared up in the locker room: putting on boots, avalanche beacons, and gathering everything they will need for the day. Every snowpack is different, and there is tension in the air.
6:15 a.m. Park City Mountain Resort has two base villages, with patrol teams working out of each. Groups gather for a snow safety morning briefing.
The weather is described, along with the snowpack in order to formulate a plan for the day. Patrollers are sent to specific areas of the mountain in teams of two or three.
6:45 a.m. As first light appears on the mountain, each team is issued their explosives and head out on avalanche control routes to make sure the
slopes are safe to ski. Patrollers use a combination of terrain knowledge, forecasting skills, snow pits, ski cuts, and explosives to get the job done.
7:30 a.m. A second wave of patrollers arrives at each base area for a morning meeting. They head up the mountain to cover patrol stations so that the resort can open as soon as avalanche mitigation is finished.
9 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. The resort opens to the public, and each patrol station (located at the top of each chairlift) is staffed and ready. “We do ‘run checks’ to make sure the runs are set up and safe to open with rope lines and slow signs in place. We also look for any hazards that may have happened overnight.”
9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. “You’ll see us responding to medical incidents and helping guests however we can,” says Lynne. Patrollers will also be stationed around slow zones and beginner areas to help enforce on-mountain rules.
3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m. As chairlifts stop running, patrol skis the resort to make sure everyone from guests to food and beverage employees have
made it down safely. “We are shouting, calling into the trees, saying ‘the mountain’s closing’ and getting our eyes on as much [terrain] as possible,” explains Lynne.
5 p.m. It’s the end of the day for ski patrol, but the mountain never sleeps. Snowmakers are just starting their day, and groomers aren’t far behind.