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Alta’s Ski Patrol – Early Mornings

“Nobody’s getting rich doing this job. They’re getting paid in powder.” – Dave “Grom” Richards, Alta Ski Area Avalanche Department Director


The National Ski Patrol was formed in 1938, the same year Alta Ski Area was founded. While the National Ski Patrol was formed in Stowe, Vermont as a way to care for injured skiers, Alta Ski Patrol formed in 1941 to assist skiers, but quickly became known as the birthplace of avalanche research in North America and home to one of the most respected snow safety departments in the industry.

Alta’s Ski Patrol consists of over 80 men and women, with 20-30 working on most days. On mornings with significant overnight snowfall, that number can double.

Ski Patrolling is serious work, starting as early as 3am, long before the most die-hard skiers start lining up for first chair. The job is both physically and mentally demanding. Members of the Alta Ski Patrol deal with some of the gnarliest weather imaginable while putting themselves in the most challenging and dangerous terrain on the mountain.

Once the ski area opens, they spend the ski day providing medical care and transportation to injured skiers. It’s a selfless, often, thankless job. One that doesn’t end until long after the last skier has made their way down the hill.

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