The mountain patrol officially went on duty June 24 with the start of lift access for mountain bikers.
“We’re excited to be able to add this critical component of making Alyeska a four season resort,” said Brian Burnett, mountain services manager for Alyeska Resort.
There are 15 paid patrollers and 23 volunteer patrol members. There is now a patrol presence seven days a week.
For us to have the potential to provide this level of service, to have trained staff on call to respond to incidents within our resort boundaries, is such a plus to the community,” said Burnett. “It’s also an added bonus being able to keep our very best patrollers on staff year round.”
Patrollers are trained on all equipment, as well as basic first aid and rescue techniques. On the days when chair lifts are running, Friday through Sundays, and the occasional Monday holiday, there are five paid patrollers and from two to five volunteers on watch. According to Habecker, there is at least one person on duty till 9:30 p.m. each night during the rest of the week.
Patrol members often concentrate on an area of expertise, hiking or biking the trails, or monitoring mountain activities via an ATV or Jeep. The ATV is equipped with a Stokes litter and wheel attachment for transporting an injured person securely on a backboard. The litter also detaches from the ATV and can be walked uphill or down by rescuers.
“Transport is a bit different in the summer than in winter,” said Habecker. “In winter we can pick whatever line we want to travel over snow, but in summer it’s a bit more challenging due to changes in terrain.”
One other difference, noted Habecker, is keeping people on the right trail for their activity. “The melding of hiking and biking has been interesting,” he said. “We’ve been working hard on signage to advise those on foot to keep to hiking trails, and mountain bikers to stay off any hiker only paths.”
While on the mountain, hikers and bikers can identify patrollers by their black biking jerseys or rain jackets, each with white patrol crosses. Also, any patroller on a bike will be wearing a black helmet with the same white insignia. To reach mountain patrol, call 754-2500. Calls to this number are routed directly to a cell phone carried by the lead patroller.
Based on his experiences so far on the mountain, Habecker highly recommends that bikers wear all the safety gear. “The most common injuries we see are abrasions to areas that were not protected with gear made specifically for that purpose,” he said.
All mountain bikers are required to wear a helmet. However, not everyone dons the protective padding. Helmets and padded gear are included in the package price for those renting bikes from Alyeska’s rental shop.
Mountain biking with lift access remains open until Oct. 10. No word yet on whether the daily patrols will continue after this date and until ski season. To check on lift operations and trail conditions go to www.alyeskaresort.com/summer-report.aspx.Source: Julie St. Louis, Turnagian Times