Mountain Update #5 2019-2020

From Mark:

Hi folks…here is a brief update for you.

Ø  Safety:  On our Deputies conference call tonight we will be discussing how we can all work together to achieve zero injures this season. “What is the worst that can happen?” is a question you should commit to memory, and ask it often.

Ø  Fall Refresher:  It’s great to have another Fall Refresher under our skis. And thanks to Wendy and the instructors, it was a success and we accomplished our goals. Thanks also to Eric Osgood for putting on an amazing display and feast. Now it’s time to start thinking about the On-the-Hill Refresher which will be January 4 and 5, 2020. Please start coming up with donations for the fund-raising raffle.

Ø  Something Special from Annabel:   “Hi there: I have a great opportunity to get folks into a nice synthetic puffy jacket at a great price. It is recycle, breathable and looks nice. I assume we could get it embroidered by Bill’s contact. I can get it for $62.50 (regular price is $250).  Here is a link to see it – it is only on REI website as it is an exclusive but I am allowed to offer it to you.  Please contact me directly  if you want one. I have until next Wednesday to place the order. Annabel Heinemann / / cell (650) 863-5540.” 

Thanks Annabel!


Ø  Vest / Fanny Pack First Aid Contents:  With input from a few others I have compiled the attached list of just about everything one could consider carrying in their vests or fanny packs. I am working with Will to see if Squaw Valley will supply each of us with two clotting sponges, and a tourniquet. A number of us believe having these on each patroller is a good idea even with our typical fast response and ALS available. These items are not that expensive so I hope they do provide for us.

Ø  #94 ALS Support:  As our role on The Mountain continues to grow and evolve, the ALS Program is in full motion. We as the NSP need to find a way to keep up.  Steve Shepp read some great statistics from last season’s responses at the Refresher meeting, so it is clear there will be lots of opportunities going forward for the NSP to provide support to scenes requiring ALS.  It is therefore imperative that we all become intimately familiar with the contents of the Green, Blue and Orange medic bags. A good portion of this will need to happen through “independent study” where in the Outpost you can spend time developing that wonderful intimate relationship with the bags. We do of course do not want to willy-nilly disassemble and render them not rescue-ready, so lots of looking and some touching in the independent study mode.  J  There will also be ongoing training sessions 2x/wk 10:30 a.m. at the Outpost as was done last year and we will be plugged into that schedule.

Ø  One Last Item from Tony Boggis: I have a couple of older friends (in their 70’s) looking for a ski lease. They’re a nice, retired, couple (I’ve known them for over 25 years). They are mostly mid-week skiers and are wine-lovers (you will not be disappointed when you share wine with them). They are also awesome chef’s so you’ll never be short of a good meal. Get ahold of Tony if you ca help.

Many thanks everyone get your best snow dances going…

Mark A. Piersante

Assistant Patrol Leader

Squaw Valley National Ski Patrol

Mountain Update #4 2019-2020

From Mark,


Ø  Safety:  my quick safety thought today is to remind you of the five keys in the Smith Driving System I discussed in my last update. This is to ensure you always have safe travels.

  1. Aim High in Steering
  2. Get the Big Picture
  3. Keep Your Eyes Moving
  4. Leave Yourself an Out
  5. Make sure They See You

Ø  “Dependent Activity Pass” and “Arbitration Agreement” forms:  At this time I have only received forms from 28 patrollers. That’s 40% of the Patrol and not good. Please take care of this right now. My previous email is attached with the instructions please follow them exactly. And just to be clear, please send me your forms no later than 5 pm Thursday October 17th since that’s when I am leaving for the Refresher. I will not be accepting hard copy forms at the Refresher.    However, I will have a short conversation with anyone who has not sent me the forms. Thank you.

Ø ICS-100 Certification: If you think this topic is getting old for you…at this time I still only have 44 ICS certificates.  In my update on Sept. 29th I pleaded with you to get me these forms before the Refresher. My original request was in February 2019. Need I say more? I should not have to. Please take care of this. Everyone who has turned in their forms thank you.

Ø  Refresher Preparedness:  At the Instructor’s Refresher and planning session yesterday, we discussed the importance of everyone understanding what will be excepted of them during the Refresher.

  • Please arrive early with a positive attitude and be ready to go full on with stocked vest/fanny pack
  • Be prepared to actively participate in each station and skills practice.
  • Review the attached OEC 2019 Skills Checklist (also included in the OEC workbook). Everyone will be expected to demonstrate every skill listed. I encourage you to review the list and ask yourself if there are any items that you feel deficient on. If so, please review the OEC text book to build your confidence on that item.  When was the last time you applied a traction splint?
  • If you have not registered for the Refresher, per Wendy’s email earlier today, please do so IMMEDIATELY. This is necessary for planning purposes and we are down to the wire. This is another item that makes me wonder why there are still people who have not yet taken care of this responsibility. Can someone please explain this to me? See next item.

Ø  Commentary:  I apologize for feeling the need to include this last topic. You should notice a common theme in this communication. I am chasing people for three items that have been requested several times. In the case of the ICS, outstanding since February 2019. In the case of the Refresher registration outstanding since Wendy’s email of May 29th, and in the case of the  ROL/Pass forms outstanding since October 7. Although not the subject of this email, I guessing not everyone has sent their registration fee to Tom yet. The delays for these items are flat out unacceptable. We do this stuff every year. I am convinced that some people either don’t read the emails, they ignore them, or they really do not care. In any case, I have do the bad cop thing and piss people off with an email like this (and a cop is last thing on the planet I would ever want to be). Sorry. It’s in my freaking job description. I don’t have a lot of options to make these things happen other than these emails that probably no one reads but seems to piss people off. I will have a bullet item in my talk at the Refresher meeting on Sunday morning to raise this issue with everyone in person. Like I said, this situation is completely unacceptable and very disappointing.

Safe travels to the Refresher. I look forward to seeing everyone.

Mark A. Piersante

Assistant Patrol Leader

Squaw Valley National Ski Patrol

Mountain Update #3 2019-2020

From Mark:


Hi everyone…I hope you are doing well and kids and family are all happy and healthy. Here is an important update for you.\

Ø  Safety:  I want to introduce you to the Smith Driving System to you if you don’t know about it already. It is the de facto driving standard in industry. It can save your life. Tell everyone you know about it. Consider taking the class. At a minimum commit to memory the 5 Keys…they all make total sense. Thanks.

  1. Aim High in Steering
    Look 15 seconds into your future. (Don’t just look at the vehicle in front of you)
  2. Get the Big Picture
    Look for Hazards. (Other Motorists, Pedestrians, Vehicle doors opening)
  3. Keep Your Eyes Moving
    Don’t stare. (Use your peripheral vision)(Stop the fixed habit stare)
  4. Leave Yourself an Out
    Monitor the space cushion around you and your vehicle
  5. Make sure They See You
    Use your signals (directional, 4-Way Flashers, Head Lights, Brake Lights, Horn, Hand Signals) Make Eye Contact.

More to come on this topic of safe driving, defensive driving practices, and how you can apply these same 5 Keys when on your skis.

Ø  “Dependent Activity Pass” and “Arbitration Agreement” forms:  Attached are the forms for this season. Please carefully read the following instructions. It amazed me how many people did not follow the instructions last year and it made a lot of unnecessary work for me and the tickets folks. I am confident you can all figure it out this year. I should not have to chase people down for this we have been doing it for years.  I wasted a lot of time on this last year and the year before, and the year before…do you get my reality on this? So PLEASE help me with this.

  • There are two forms:
    • “DEPENDENTS ACTIVITIES PASS” (this is your season pass form and also for you dependents if you have any)
  • Print a copy of each form (2 pages each = 4 pages total…but keep each 2-page document separate)


  • Every patroller must complete this form, even if you have no dependents (kids you support up to age 26 but no mistresses, boy toys, extended family, etc.)
  • Page 1:  If you have no dependents complete only the “Employee or Volunteer Name,” “DOB,” “Email,” “City,” “State”
  • If you have dependents you want season passes for, write in their names and DOB where indicated
  • Page 2:  Sign where it says “SIGNATURE OF DEPENDENT OR VOLUNTEER” and put the date where it says “DATE”
  • Scan both pages into a single pdf and label it “your last name PASS FORM”
  • This is “pdf #1”


  • Every patroller must complete this form
  • Read page 1 and 2
  • On page 2, please print your name, provide signature, and date where indicated
  • Scan both pages into a single pdf and label it “your last name ARB FORM”
  • This is “pdf #2”

o   Submit Forms:

  • Send an email to me with pdf #1 and pdf #2 as two (2) separate files.
  • Please label the files as requested above.
  • Note that this is not a Refresher checkoff item so do not bring hard copies of your forms to the Fall Refresher or I will use them as kindling for the BBQ.  And besides…

Ø Fall Refresher:

o   If you have not yet registered for the Fall Refresher please do so ASAP per Wendy’s instructions.

o   As Barney requested earlier today, if you can help provide patients for the Refresher please let Barney know. That would be greatly appreciated. Every patient will get a lift ticket for helping

Thank you very much if you have any questions or things I might assist you with please let me know.

Thank you for your dedication and commitment to the Greatest Patrol in the World.

Mark A. Piersante

Assistant Patrol Leader

Squaw Valley National Ski Patrol

(510) 912-8667


Mountain Update #2 2019-2020

From Mark:

Greetings…I hope you had a great weekend and are ready to take on this week’s grind.  Time to provide a quick update for you.

  • Safety:  One concept I learned in my years in the Chevron refinery is that it always takes more time to do things safely. This time difference might only be a few seconds, or a few hours, depending on the task and circumstances. It’s the, do I just stand on the rocking swiveling office chair to change the light bulb or get the sturdy step stool from the garage? Just something to think about.
  • ICS Certification:  Thank you to those of you who have sent me the ICS certificates. For those of you who have not yet gone through the drill, please do so ASAP. This is NOT a refresher checkoff item so please send the certificates to me before the refresher. Do not send them to Wendy.  You recall the original request on this was sent in Feb. 2019 with a requested due date of May 2019. Everyone please take care of this right away thank you.
  • A question/request from Mr. Erik Knudson:  Erik sent me a message which reads as follows:  Hey Mark hope your well I’m back from Australia and homeless looking for year round housing could you put out an email to the crew and ask if they know of anything. You can text Erik at:  (530) 412-0544.
  • Housekeeping Items:
    • Fall Refresher:  Everyone including candidates and transfers are required to attend the Fall Refresher. Anyone who can cannot attend and has not already informed me please let me know ASAP.
    • Registration:  Please make sure to get your registration fee to Tom Werner per his request.
    • Schedule:  NSP Morning meeting 8:15 – out the door 8:25 (subject to change)
    • Transceivers: please think about practicing with your transceivers on dry land at home to get reacquainted with your best friend
    • Refresher: I know everyone understands that the Fall Refresher is not an optional event. This includes the Sunday morning meeting, which is the only group meeting we have for the season.
    • On-the-Hill Refresher:  This mandatory event will be January 4-5, 2020. For anyone who has not contacted me already I need to know as soon as possible if you will not attend. Details to follow but make sure it’s on your calendars.
    • ROL/Arbitration forms:  I expect to have these forms soon and will want to handle all of the submissions via email. I’ll be in touch on this.
  • Remember to…
  • Sign in no later than 8:00 am sharp
  • Check in with your Complex Deputy before leaving the Patrol Room
  • Check in on a regular and frequent basis at your Complex Patrol shack(s)
  • Have your transceiver, probe, shovel on all snow safety days
  • Practice at least one transceiver search every day you are in your jacket
  • Get your minimum two (2) continuing educations days
  • Review sweep routes on a regular basis and ask the Pros for help/clarification is needed
  • Get ready to make perfect radio calls. We know how to do it…let’s kill it this year
  • Complete all forms/paperwork/documentation completely which means black ink, legible, no blanks (use n/a)
  • Make sure monitoring and fixing hill safety is your highest priority other than your personal safety on The Mountain
  • Look for opportunities to help guests, be an ambassador for Squaw Valley, make new friends and help guests have a great time and leave with a positive impression
  • Practice your knots
  • Get your bindings checked before you ski on your skis.  All six or eight pairs whatever.
  • Make sure your first aid supplies are current and ready to use
  • Be in shape and rescue ready with a positive attitude on Day 1 when The Mountain opens.
  • Always let me know if you have any questions, issues, suggestions, complaints, or things I may help you with

Thank you for your commitment folks. It is not going unnoticed. I for one sincerely appreciate all of your efforts to make this the best volunteer Patrol anywhere, ever.

Best, Mark

Mark A. Piersante

Assistant Patrol Leader

Squaw Valley National Ski Patrol

Mountain Update #1 2019-2020

From Mark:

Greetings everyone…I hop[ you are enjoying the summer and starting to think about skiing and patrolling. I wanted to pass along a few items and start the season with this first Mountain Update.

  • Safety:  You know by now that safety will always be our Number 1 priority. I hope that you maintain that priority in everything you do. I also hope you maintain a sense of vulnerability, ask yourself “what is the worst that can happen?” and take steps to mitigate the risk before every task. I really hope no one has been injured this summer, especially if will impact your skiing.  Thank for always making safety your most important consideration.
  • Amy Holland’s Celebration of Life:  Christine and Jessica have arranged a Celebration of Life for Amy on September 22nd starting at 5:00 pm at High Camp with a service, followed by a reception at Plump Jack and continued fun at the Dubliner. Here is the Facebook post from Christina:
  • Fall Refresher:  Our great instructor group led by Wendy is well into planning what will be another excellent Fall Refresher which will happen October 19-20, 2019 at Squaw Valley. By now you should have received specific communications from Wendy with registration information, etc. I have attached the important email on this for your convenience.  We will again be doing the hands-on CPR on Sunday with Gael Williams. Remember you will need to complete the following prior to the Refresher:
  • On-the-Hill Refresher: The OTHR will happen on January 4-5, 2020. I would like to ask that you please do not schedule vacations or other travels such that you will miss the OTHR. Invariably, one or more people plan to be gone when they should plan to be here. Hence the reminder.  Thank you for understanding the importance of this.
  • Registration:  Tom tells me he will be sending out the registration information very soon. Please write your check and get it back to Tom right away so he doesn’t have to chase you down.  Thanks.
  • Adult Beverage List: I am pleased to not be the first person on the list like I was last year. This year I am passing the bottles to a certain Mr. May who lost his wallet while bike riding, and amazingly Craig Noble luckily found it. That led to texts and phone calls with me, Judy, Will, Steve Hurt and Craig. So, probably you get the picture. Involving the Pros in your own rescue when they are off duty (or maybe even if they are on duty) lands you right on the list, whatever time of year. Thanks Rob!!!  J

Okay folks that’s it for now. Please let me know at any time if you have questions or concerns, or if there is anything I can help you with.

Thank you very much. Sincerely, Mark

Mark A. Piersante

Assistant Patrol Leader

Squaw Valley National Ski Patrol

(510) 912-8667

Mountain Update #23 Season Wrap-up 2018-2019

From Mark,

Spring greetings everyone…first some real sad news…

  • Sad News:  For those of you who knew Jeff Cortopassi, he was an esteemed member of the Squaw Valley National Ski Patrol for nearly 20 years. He retired from patrolling about 10 years ago. On Monday I received a call from Cap’n Ned who has known Corto forever. Sadly, Ned reported that Corto passed away from what appears to be natural causes over last weekend. Corto was a great person, a great friend, and someone everyone always instantly liked. Please keep Corto and his family in your thoughts. He loved The Mountain and patrolling just like we all do…


Now my last official report for you this season for you. At least until I feel like sending another one…

  • Safety Recap:  A goal of mine for this season was to elevate safety awareness and make it an important part of everything we do to get to The Mountain, Patrol, and get home. I wanted everyone to return to the Patrol Room after sweep in the same condition as when they left in the morning. I encouraged everyone to assess the situation before starting any task, identify the risks, and take actions to mitigate that risk to an acceptable level. Remember, the goal is to eliminate all injuries.
    • Unfortunately we did experience the following injuries (at least that were reported to me):
      • Five injuries on The Mountain. Three knee injuries, two with lost ski/patrol time; one hip contusion but no lost ski/patrol time; one rib injury with lost ski/patrol time.
      • One injury (slip and fall) in the parking lot no significant injury and no lost ski/patrol time.
      • One patrollers were injured “off-the-job”  that cost them their seasons
  • Patrol Days Data:  Although we will count patrol days until May 15 towards the 14-day requirement, I have attached a listing of everyone’s patrol days as of April 28, 2019.  Patrol Days PDF
    • 1,370 days total (last season was 1,415 but thru end of May)
    • 72 patrollers = 19 days/patroller average
    • Top number of days patrolled was 64
    • 55 patrollers ? 14 days
    • 22 patrollers > 20 days
    • Seven (7) patrollers were injured and did not get all their days (they still patrolled 33 days)
    • 119 days from patrollers who get on airplanes [David Atkinson (OR), Glen Baker (OR), Greg Lawler (VA), Lars Pekay (MN), Jeff Rudolph (L.A.), Tim Weaver (Vegas), Greg Young (MI), Dave Zordell (WA)]
    • If you believe that your days count is not correct, please contact me and we’ll figure it out. Sorry for any inconvenience.
    • Anyone with less than 14 days, except medical situations, is required to make up the deficient days next season. If yo
  • Continuing Education Data:  I want to really thank Brian Platter for organizing and managing the CE program for the Patrol. He has really done an amazing job with the CE program, and this was an area we have struggled with a bit in the past. So thank you Brian for another great effort and making my job easy on the CE front. As you know the requirement is a minimum of two (2) CE days and we did great this year. The CE attendance list is attached.
    • Total CE Sessions: 28
    • Total Pro-Led CE Sessions: 14
    • Total CE Attendance: 233
    • Avg. CE per patroller: 3.3
    • Anyone with less than two CEs is required to make up the deficient sessions next season. For example, for those with one CE this year, the requirement is for three CEs next year, etc. I will notify those of you who are in that situation in a separate email.
  • Spring Mountain Operations:  My understanding is as follows:
    • The “KT-22 Ski Area” will operate 8:00 am – 4:00 pm
    • The “Squaw Valley Ski Area” (Funi, Gold Coast, Shirley, Big Blue) 8:00 am – 2:00 pm. My understanding last weekend was that Siberia and Granite were closing last Sunday but the Squaw app showed them operating today. Regardless, sign-in time for the NSP is still 8:00 am. Pros sign-in at 7:30 am.
    • Be ready for anything concerning schedule and lift operations.
  • ICS 100 Course:  Recall I sent information about a new requirement for the NSP and for Pros and NSP at Squaw Valley is valuable training on the Incident Command System (ICS). Completing the training early will make us more effective during MCI, avalanche response and other big resource events. It’s free and takes about 2 hours to complete.  Please complete this training so that you send me your completion certificates no later than May 1, 2019. Here’s the link: Thank you to those who have completed the training and emailed me their certificates.  Please complete this training by the Fall Refresher, which for your planning purposes should be assumed to be October 1, 2019.

I sincerely want to thank each and every one of you for you dedication and contributions to the Patrol.  This is not an easy thing we are doing. It takes commitment and lots of effort. Squaw is better for us being there. It’s a very well-oiled machine and it shows.

Thanks everyone have a great summer.

Mark A. Piersante

Assistant Patrol Leader

Squaw Valley National Ski Patrol

Mountain Update #22 2018-2019

From Mark,

Greetings…please let me know if you are planning to patrol, or not, and which days (F-S-S). Also let me know if you want C6 or C7 and which days.  Please everyone get back to me by 9:00 pm tomorrow, Thursday April 4th.  Many thanks.

  • Safety: 
    • Unfortunately an earlier injury I mentioned is more serious than first expected and the patroller has lost at least one day on The Mountain as a result. I am still looking into the circumstances surrounding this injury.
    • In reviewing the Squaw Valley employee injuries, a significant percentage were from slips, trips, postholes, and falls on various surfaces…ice, slush, unconsolidated snow, wet floors, Funitel cars…the list goes on.  A good reminder to take every step with complete awareness, just like making perfect turns…be present, be aware…
  • Tahoe Sports Hub Customer Appreciation Party:  Greg Christian asked me to send you all the attached message concerning an event at Tahoe Sports Hub on April 6th.  The event will benefit our Amy Holland and her fight against that sinister cancer…

Spring Party:  Tom sent out a note earlier today with information about the Spring Party on April 20th at the Pfeifer House in Tahoe City. This is the same place we had the event last year. I really hope we have a giant turnout so please try to be there with your spouse/SO! Please reply to the Evite as soon as you receive it.  Sorry this is a bit last minute but Squaw was completely booked so it took a while to get this lined up (thanks Tom!).

That’s my very short report for you tonight. Thanks for your commitment and dedication to our Patrol. Please let me know if you have any questions or need assistance with anything.  Safe travels…Mark

Mark A. Piersante

Assistant Patrol Leader

Mountain Update #21 2018-2019

From Mark:

Hello everyone…

Sorry for the inconvenience of sending you an incomplete update earlier today. I accidently hit ‘send’ in my haste to get out the door this morning my apologies for the inconvenience.  If you read the earlier version it was still a draft so please re-read this one.

I hope you are doing well and getting ready to enjoy another few months of fantastic ski patrolling. I also assume you are enjoying the nice weather wherever you are in Northern Ca.

Please let me know if you are or are not planning to patrol this Friday-Saturday-Sunday…also if you want C6 or C7 and which days. Please everyone reply to me by 5:00 pm Thursday thank you.

Here is an update for you please let me know if you have any questions or concerns I might help you with.

  • Safety:  The path from the parking lot to the Patrol room is extremely treacherous!  Please make sure to use correspondingly extreme caution when coming and going to the Patrol room it’s a bit hazardous. We continue to put sand on the surface so beware and take action if necessary to make it safer.  Thank you.
  • Radio Calls:  We continue to get feedback on our radio calls.  In general they are just too wordy. So please let’s keep trying to improve. Also, please use a phone when possible, especially if you are near a SV phone.  For example, if you are in the Outpost and a walk-in happens, call Dispatch on the phone.  Then call the Complex Supervisor on the radio.
  • Daily Schedule:  As an update and reminder:
    • Sign-in time is 8:00 sharp.
    • If you have previously arranged Complex 6 then I will pull your card, sign you in, and place your card on the board. Report to the Outpost to see your assignments by noon.
    • Morning meeting will begin at 8:15 am and you should be in the main Patrol room suited up and ready to go when the meeting concludes no later than 8:30.
    • The Mountain will be opening at 9:00 am until further notice.
    • You are expected to participate in sweep and be on The Mountain all day until the Complex 4 or sometime Complex 3 Supervisor will cut the NSP loose.
    • Any need to deviate from the daily schedule should be cleared with me ahead of time.
  • Hill Safety:  There is a significant increase in the number and type of hill safety signs, bamboo, etc. There is no practical way that every NSP can be expected to know all of these set-ups.  However, some we are expected to know, like top of Emigrant and top of Siberia. But we all cruise by existing hill safety and perhaps we could all be better at observing what needs tidying up. We have received some heat from upstairs on this. Specifically NSP cruising by Pros setting up and/or tearing down.  So, please make sure you put on your hill safety sensors all the time. And always stop to help a Pro. No exceptions. Okay?
  • Incident Command system 100 Class:  A few updates ago (#17 02/13/19) I mentioned the new NSP requirement that we all take the online Incident Command System 100 on-line course. Completing the training early will make us more effective during MCI, avalanche response and other big resource events. It’s free and takes about 2 hours to complete.  Please complete this training so that you send me your completion certificates no later than May 1, 2019. Here’s the link:  Please send me your completion certificate when you complete the course.
  • Rope Lines for Low Chair Clearance:  Please study the three basic types of rope line configurations for locations where the chair clearance is low and/or the snow level is high. Or both.  Please see the attached diagram. Here are some guidelines:
    • Bamboo should be ~30-ft apart maximum.
    • Add orange flagging/visibility tape (10” pieces) in two locations equally spaced in each rope segment.
    • Make sure rope lines are straight and bamboo is perfectly vertical.
    • Make sure bamboo is placed outside the chair line to prevent guest impalement should someone fall from the chair. Then you can keep your doughnut stabilization cravat in your vest.
    • Use a clove hitch at each bamboo except on the ends – use a locking clove hitch.

I believe it’s likely that each Supervisor prefers their favorite rope line, so I would clarify things if asked to set something up. I think most rope lines are up now so tidying them up is definitely an ongoing need.

  • Patrol Days:  Squaw received its first recorded snowfall on November 22. So thru today that is about 116 days that have been available to Patrol not counting the days The Mountain was closed. Thru Saturday March 16 we had a total of 994 patrol days (8.6 patrollers/day average, which doesn’t mean much actually…). We have 35 patrollers with 14 or more days; 7 with 30 or more days; 18 with less than 10 days although that number is more like 10 patrollers when I back out the injuries.  I think these are excellent numbers.  Thank you for achieving this. I will be sharing these numbers with Will soon.

My message here is that this is a perfect season to get a lot of days in. There are many new procedures, protocols, and equipment.  It is very hard for the NSP as a unit to keep up. Assuming the season lasts until April 30, that would be a 160-day season and the minimum 14 days would be less than 10% of those days.  Contracts the Pros who are here 5 out of 7 days or 72% of the time.  This is our challenge folks.  Continually improving our knowledge, training and proficiency. So I want to really encourage all of you to get as many days in as possible, only so you can help us try and keep pace with the Pros. Get as many CEs as possible too. We are doing great in that area as well.

Hey Don B. tells me that next week is a dog handlers class that will suck all the Squaw dogs and handlers off the hill.  It would be very helpful if the NSP could put some patrollers on The Mountain during mid-week next week. The folks upstairs would greatly appreciate it.

  • Important Places and Numbers:  Here are a few important numbers you should memorize or have readily available:

o   Dispatch:  7145

o   Clinic/TTMG:  4181

o   Security:  7180

o   Lost & Found/Security (on second floor of Rental Shop which is right next to the ticket office): 4316

o   Rental Shop:  4175

o   Uniforms (Melissa):  7203

o   NSP Patrol Room:  7262

o   Pro Patrol Room:  7260

  • American Avalanche Association (AAA):  I don’t know how many of you are members of the AAA. I suggest you consider joining. The Avalanche Review magazine is worth the annual dues by itself in my opinion. Here is a link to the membership page:

I hope this is a useful update. Please let me know if you have any questions or need anything.

Thanks and safe travels…

Mark A. Piersante

Assistant Patrol Leader

Squaw Valley National Ski Patrol

Mountain Update #20 2018-2019

From Mark:

Greetings…I hope you are all doing well.  Sorry I was unable to get this out last night.

  • Please let me know if you are planning to patrol Friday, Saturday, and/or Sunday and if you would like C6 or C7.  Please get back to me by 9:00 pm tonight if at all possible.  Sorry for the late request. Thanks!
  • Safety:  Based on the information reported to me, we have had six (6) injuries that have resulted in patrollers losing days on The Mountain. It is encouraging that none of the injuries were serious and with one exception all patrollers are back in action.   What is your biggest risk today?  What will you do to prevent it? Remember that safety is no accident…we must keep injury prevention in the front of our consciousness.
  • Got Snow?  The weather and storms and snow totals speak for themselves.
    • There was 313” recorded at 8,000’ in February
    • There were 21 out of 28 days with recorded snowfall (DWRS)
    • There were 8 days with 20” or more snow overnight.

Here is some information I compiled from the Squaw website

  • 2012-13: 326” TOTAL snowfall 10/22/12 – 4/17/13 (49 DWRS)
  • 2013-14: 300” TOTAL snowfall 9/22/13 – 4/26/14 (46 DWRS)
  • 2014-15: 223” TOTAL snowfall 9/27/14 – 5/7/15 (37 DWRS)….shockingly low total!
  • 2015-16: 495” TOTAL snowfall 11/3/15 – 5/21/16 (67 DWRS)
  • 2016-17: 728” TOTAL snowfall 10/3/16 – 6/12/17 (74 DWRS)
  • 2017-18: 411” TOTAL snowfall 9/21/17 – 5/17/18 (59 DWRS)
  • 2018-19: 596” snowfall 11/22/18 – 3/6/18 (51 DWRS)


  • Calendar:  Note that we have Candidate training this weekend.  Also, the Senior Clinic is next Wed-Fri.  If there is any chance you can attend, please respond to Randy House now!


I have a number of other topics to get in front of you but I cannot do it now….safe travels!

Mark A. Piersante, Ch.E.

Sr. Environmental Specialist

Mountain Update #19 2018-2019

From Mark:

Greetings everyone…

Please let me know if you are planning to patrol on Friday, Saturday, and/or Sunday and if you want Complex 6 or 7. Please get back to me by 5:00 pm Thursday thank you.

  • Safety:   The ski conditions have rapidly gone from the best powder ever to some of the most challenging deep wet conditions I can remember. It was so unsafe today in my opinion and that of Tim Weaver’s that we came off The Mountain early. There was only KT – east at about 11:00 am and essentially no grooming and after 20” overnight Tuesday which followed 22” overnight on Monday. Major avalanche activity but stubborn snow so second passes let loose some big ones…the West Face ran across the creek to the Tower 10 side, for example. The East Face ripped almost the entire perimeter and created a huge debris zone in the gully. It was spooky and very hazardous for the Pros on snow safety that I talked with. I am pleased to report everyone is after and sound. But more to come and let’s hope everyone makes it through this cycle uninjured. That includes all of the NSP.
  • Long Forms for Ambulance Patients: Please review and comply with this request from Ben Leech.
    • Brian and Mark:  Can you help spread the message downstairs that we need the first responder to do a long form when we send a patient out in a ground or air ambulance. I think many times we get focused on the medical and we send a person off to Renown and all that we know is their  name is “Mike” and they  have a back injury.   The best way to obtain info is driver’s license or IKON pass is even better because all the info in on their pass profile.  I understand this can be hard with a severe injury,  but if we can only get a first and last name and a phone and email we can work with that. Unit 53 most times has very little contact with guests that leave via air or ground ambulance. Thanks…Ben
  • Radio Calls:  Another reminder that we need to tighten up our radio calls. It seems that many patrollers try to rush their calls and causes problems. Being succinct does not mean you have to talk fast. It is better to talk a little bit slower and with clarity. And, where are you? What is the mechanism of injury and chief complaint? What equipment so you need? That’s it. Keep it nice and simple. Be calm and professional.
  • Continuing Education: Brian Platter is doing a fantastic job managing the CE program. So good that we know those of you who have zero CE days, one CE day, etc. If you have zero or one it’s time to get more. And there is plenty of opportunity to do so. Please make it happen. Thanks.
  • Senior Clinic:  The Senior Clinic is coming up and it would be great to get more Squaw patrollers involved as students. Dates are March 13-15…Randy House is the contact and he will send out another reminder this week with the details.

Okay thanks everyone I greatly appreciate your contributions, especially in this crazy season. Please consider and mitigate the risks in everything you do, travel safely, give your kids and spouse or a friend an extra hug, and be thankful for our the amazing friendships we have and our privilege of patrolling at Squaw Valley.  All the best, Mark

Mark A. Piersante