INKOM, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - This weekend, many mountains around the region are opening or preparing to open. Pebble Creek isn't quite there yet, but the lifts were spinning Saturday.
Above the clouds in Inkom, members of Pebble Creek’s staff gathered for some preseason training. Prepping the lifts and watching safety videos kept the crews busy until the lifts started and then abruptly stopped running.
With dozens stuck in the air, ski patrol got to work.
“We’ve changed our training so all the other mountain employees are here with the ski patrol,” Pebble ski patrol director Stefan Berkel explained. “We’ve loaded non-patrollers on the lift and allowed our patrollers to get more hands-on and run a more efficient lift evacuation.”
In all his years at Pebble, Berkel’s never had to perform a real lift evacuation, but that doesn’t stop them from training for the possibility of the real thing.
“This is really important, especially with adverse weather, or lack of people to help get this down,” he said. “So we want to be really quick and efficient and safe when we do this procedure.”
It took four teams less than 50 minutes from the time the Aspen chair stopped to having the final rider back on the ground.
“I’m satisfied today. It seemed like the patrollers are happy with how they performed and the employees that were on the chair are happy to be on the ground again, and also quite impressed at the whole process,” Berkel said.
The patrols aren’t done yet, though. The plan is to do the same training again at night. Berkel said it’ll be the same, “just dark.”
“So if we had a lift fail or power outage, when all the lights go out, so we’ll be doing that one with headlamps and spotlights,” he explained of the hypothetical situation.
Seeing the procedure in action and having the results he saw, make Berkel confident for the upcoming season.
The patrol director said the weather may be changing soon and they’re hoping a potential Thanksgiving blizzard can get people sliding down the slopes very soon.