Ski Patrols and Sustainability

Published as a feature in the Fall 2020 issue of Ski Patrol Magazine

he morning meeting runs smoothly. Tony Cammarata, the operations director/ski patrol director at Arapahoe Basin for the last 10 years, runs through the daily assignments of duties. He then covers the pass-on topics like first aid and safety discussions. The content, the commentary, and the heavily caffeinated audience are much like every other patrol meeting happening that January morning across the country.

There are, perhaps, a few differences. Behind him, for example, a large TV screen displays the information about updates from their physician adviser with a classic PowerPoint presentation, and instead of a clipboard, Cammarata holds a tablet. In fact, among the on-duty members of this 60-person patrol there is not a single piece of paper in the room. In the next room, there are also containers for both recycling and compost that many patrollers bring to the mountain from housing that does not include these options for waste disposal.

Once the morning meeting is completed, the patrollers file out into the wind, the rising sun, and the glittering hoarfrost. Behind them, the lights in patrol HQ turn off automatically, while the thermostat and humidity control do their best to balance out the damp funkiness left behind by a bunch of patrollers.
Cammarata checks in with mountain operations and then sits back down at his desk to work on ordering some new tower pad covers from a local provider.

The building above the patrol offices and locker rooms, including the Kids Center, is entirely off the grid, powered by a 14-kilowatt solar panel array and geothermal energy. Wherever one chooses to look at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area in Keystone, Colorado, or at any of hundreds of other mountains around the country, evidence of the ski industry’s commitment to sustainability is everywhere. From the carpooling to the solar panels, from the roadless construction of new lift lines to the proud membership in Protect Our Winters (POW), from the first-year patroller to the mountain operations director, changing the course of climate change and prioritizing the health of their mountain ecosystem is woven into their everyday routine.

For many, it is the sum of the details. Compost and recycling in the locker room. Boot warmers on a timer. Thermostats and humidity control in every station. A paperless patrol HQ. For others, it is the symbol of a national movement, the letters “POW” embroidered on a red and black uniform with a neatly restitched seam.

Continue reading… (Fall 2020, pg 44)

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