You're about to dive into the often exhilarating, sometimes dangerous world of ski patrolling at Whistler Blackcomb, North America's largest ski resort. Discover what it's like to work the slopes here, guided by one of the resort's long-time ski patrollers, Sarah Reade.
Meet Sarah Reade, Ski Patroller Extraordinaire
Born and raised in British Columbia, Sarah Reade was skiing almost as soon as she could walk, hitting the slopes at age three. After competing in mogul skiing and coaching for several years, she hung up her competition bib and joined the ranks of Whistler Blackcomb's ski patrol.
A Day in the Life of a Ski Patroller
Each morning, Sarah and her fellow patrollers gather for a briefing, discussing the day's snow conditions and the operational plans to be implemented. After that, it's on to the slopes, where they get the first tracks of the day as they ensure all markings and signs are in good order.
The job requires being prepared for almost any situation, from injuries to sudden shifts in weather. To aid in their duties, patrollers carry essential tools like first aid gear, a radio for communication, and an avalanche kit with a probe, shovel, and beacon.
The Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort
Spanning a massive 8,171 acres, Whistler Blackcomb offers 200 marked runs, 16 alpine bowls and three glaciers for skiers to explore. When it comes to size and quality, it holds the top spot in North America, an accolade awarded by the Wall Street Journal for the 2023-2024 season.
During the peak season, the resort can field up to 40 calls for help on a daily basis. When not attending to these emergencies, ski patrollers like Sarah use their time to train and master new skills.
Breaking the Ice Ceiling
Though women make up less than 30% of ski patrollers, their representation continues to rise. Whistler Blackcomb sets a positive example with its 30-strong ski patrol team, which includes 12 women.
International Ski Patrol Day
Every February, the hard work and dedication of ski patrollers like Sarah are celebrated during International Ski Patrol Day. This event receives support from outdoors brand Helly Hansen, further cementing its importance in the global ski community.