Employee Spotlight – As part of Ski Patrol week, we took the time to sit down with 16 year veteran Heavenly Ski Patrol Supervisor, Colton Terry.
We joined Colton and his four month old avalanche rescue pup in training, Peak, on their first assignment of the day, to get an idea of what their view of ski patrol is.
Let’s get to know Colton and Peak…
Q: What led you to Ski Patrol at Heavenly?
A: Many of my dad’s friends were ski patrol, so I grew up on the mountain hanging around with them in the patrol shack. When I got into the emergency medical field (pre-hospital care) it was a natural fit – Ski Patrol combined my love of skiing, snow, mountains with medical knowledge and helping people. Knowing that the Sierras get more snow, I chased the snow and moved to Tahoe, and that’s how I ended up at Heavenly.
Q: What keeps you coming back each season?
A: It’s a lot of FUN. There is so much associated with this job, and so many different types of challenges, which keeps it interesting. And of course my most favorite part – the dogs.
Q: What are three important pieces of gear that you carry with you every day?
A: Medical gear, warm clothes, and I’m glued to my helmet. Also of course is good equipment – the right gear for the right conditions makes a huge difference.
Q: Can you tell us about a favorite memory from this job?
A: It’s really the interactions with people and the interactions that people have with my dogs that stand out and stick with me over time. I clearly remember a handicap guest who came to the Top of Gondola and really bonded strongly with Summit. It was a moving event for me.
Q: Does Peak act different on vs. off the clock?
A: Peak is a young dog, and definitely very proud of himself and soon he will learn when it’s time to work and when it’s time to relax. My older dog, Summit, definitely knows when it’s time to go to work and when it’s time to relax. Our relationship doesn’t change much at home or at work, but they definitely live by a strict set of rules. Peak cannot get enough of his dad, Summit. He’s glued to him at work and off the clock. Peak also can’t get enough of Summit’s tail.
Q: What are three attributes that you look for in a teammate?
Confident skier – confident in their skiing ability and strong skier in all types of terrain.
Good decision makers – aptitude for thinking on your feet!
Good with people – giving directions, making sure the guest experience is excellent, and that they are having a good time!
Q: Are there any challenges to this mountain that are unique, compared to other mountains?
A: Sheer size. Heavenly is a big mountain. It can take more than a full day to ski everything and it’s easy to get turned around; you need to have a good sense of direction. As a ski patrol, it takes years to know all the ins and outs of the mountain.
Q: If you had one piece of advice for skiers and riders, what would it be?
A: Keep your distance – from other skiers, trees, and objects. Leaving space between you and other objects is very important and knowing your surroundings while you’re on the mountain.
Q: What is your favorite run at Heavenly?
A: Killebrew Canyon by far is my favorite place. I would live there if I could. Just the other day I was poking around in there, and the conditions are fantastic. I love the steep and aggressive terrain. It’s off the beaten path and is progressive. Really good snow coverage this year too.
If you’d like to take a deeper dive into the world of ski patrol, check out the ski patrol Instagram takeover, and follow our #PatrolChat on Twitter.