Skiing first tracks. Hucking bombs. Swooping to the rescue. As far as cool jobs go, ski patrol checks all the right boxes. But the day-to-day reality of what many patrollers readily call “a dream job” is not all blue skies and powder days. There’s real work involved (and, OK, a hearty dose of good times, too).

“A lot of people think that ski patrol is glamorous: you’re just out there skiing around, waiting for somebody to need you,” says Deer Valley Resort’s Ski Patrol Director Chris Erkkila with a good-natured chuckle. “But that is not the case. It is the grunt work and the behind-the-scenes work that takes up the majority of the time.” Each patroller wears a slew of hats, from first responder and avalanche mitigator to enforcer and educator to guest liaison and, in a handful of cases, dog handler.

At Deer Valley Resort, a team of 76 patrollers—most of whom are fueled by plentiful coffee—don the traditional red and prepare and secure six peaks and 2,026 acres of skiable terrain from early December to early April. On average, they handle 1,000 to 1,300 incidents—from stubbed toes to serious accidents—each year. While there are standard procedures to the job, every day is different.

Here, we follow patrol’s behind-the-scenes tracks, meet a few members of the team, and deliver tips from the slope-safety experts as Deer Valley enters its 40th season.

In This Feature:

Swish Behind the Scenes with Deer Valley Ski Patrol

What it takes to keep the mountain safe

12/23/2020 By Jane Gendron Photography by Eric Schramm

Meet the People Who Keep the Slopes Safe

Behind the scenes with Deer Valley’s men and women in red

12/23/2020 By Jane Gendron Photography by Eric Schramm

Julie Hygon Balances RN Work with Patrol Duty

The full-time ICU nurse cares for people on the mountain in her spare time.

12/23/2020 By Jane Gendron

Danny Stern Is Living the Dream

Meet the Deer Valley ski patroller and grandnephew of the resort’s founder.

12/23/2020 By Jane Gendron

Go-to Gear, Spots, and Runs

Insider tips from the Patrol pros

12/23/2020 By Jane Gendron Photography by Eric Schramm

Patrol Tips for Staying Safe

Expect this year’s on-slope experience to be a little different than usual.

12/23/2020 By Jane Gendron Photography by Eric Schramm