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  1. #1
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    Oct 2003
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    Joining Patrol - The French way

    After 20+ years of skibum profesions I am finally working my way towards what here is considered a real and sensible profession (My 3 winters in Japan was consided a very real and highly profesional job there, but the way it was run would not be allowed whatsoever in Europe).

    Over the years I've skied a bit, probably 2000+ days, Since first learning on plastic artificial slopes (a bit like whte astroturf) in '78. I made it as far as Junior national squad in ski racing in the late '80's and raced a bit at University. I qualified as an Electronic and Electrical engineer but became a skibum. I've done most skibum jobs over the years and mad a few 100 pairs of skis (For my own company and others). In Canada I have worked alongside patrol in Sunshine Village allthough never officially (Didn't have the time or qualifications back then).

    I passed my WFR more than a decade ago, along with AAIRE Avie 2 while working my way through the American Guides Scheme (That came to nothing in the End) . Here I am an International Mountain Leader - Middle mountain guide/Trekking guide.

    BUT in France I have to start form square 1. There is also no Voly patrol system, pro patrol only. I have done a few days shadowing friends on Patrol here, which the resort couldn't understan why I wanted to, bt they were happy with an extra pair of hands.

    Pre requesit

    First aid - Premiere Securist 1 + 2. This is run by the Fire department and is the defacto first, first aid scheme for anyone becoming a Firefighter, Ambulance service, Lifeguard, Police, Mountain Rescue and others. A tough two week course that is more about procedures than first aid, although there is a fair bit of first aid in it. The reason for all of the procedures and rules is, France is a very integrated country when it comes to Emergency Services and everyone read form the same book. Yes it can be a PIA, but in many ways it means a Patroller get the same profesional respect as Firefighter. This also means that in a large imergency there are more Securist (first responders) who can be called upon who know how the system works.

    Ski Test - 2 parts - First speed - you need to get a Vermillion level in a Ski school race - sounds easy, but if you don't bash gates it will take you many goes to get near enough to the instructor (most be an ex FIS racer) s time to pass.....Most of the weekend amateur races were not posting times fast enough. Took me 2 goes, 2nd time on borrowed race skis, not just piste carvers.....25 years since I'd raced.

    The Technical test - 400m vertical of mixed off piste, don't look like a numpty, juged.... Need to get 12 out of possible 20, Speed, Control, Choice of line, Technique. Sounds easy - Took me 4 attempts. All but 1 of my tests were just bump fields on a black run. 2nd go the guy in front was ex FIS the guy following was ex FRWT, we all got 9.75!
    To pass I did a weeks preparation course. Turns out I had been doing 2 things wrong. 1st I was skiing the terrain in a normal fashion. Instead of making it look like there were almost no bumps out there. And making GS turns, just resturning to short radius turns at the change of slope to re-asses my line. 2rd I was skiing too slow - Requied speed 20-50kph (12-30mph).
    I finaly passed on the last but one 1 before they shut down France! I got lucky, not only had I practiced (I say practiced, I mean I was beasted for a week) on the same ski hill. We had fresh snow overnight and no freeze - Upper part 20cm (8") Fresh on not frozen, middle just soft, lower section had been rained on, so 1m (3') bumps but soft enough that I was going in 50cm (1'6") on 100+ underfoot. 30% or more coudn't stand up, less than 10% passed (some tests have sub 5% pass rate).

    I was supposed to start a 5 week patrol course the next weekend but as the world has become a bit of a mess I had to wait until November . But at least I am allowed to do the course.

    From friends whove done the course and from the literature it's all the things you would learn as through the volly system in other parts of the world. Difference being this is a goverment run course to a very specific sillabus. And unlike other parts of the world most people starting the course have never touched a snowmobile let alone a rescue taboggan!. In that respect I am lucky, procedures I will have to learn, radio calls in French I will struggle with, but the rest, I've not just done, I've taught!
    Knowledge is Powder

  2. #2
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    Jan 2017
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    on the banks of Fish Creek
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    sounds like it would way be easier for you to get hired on as an electrician...

  3. #3
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    Feb 2005
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    Holy shit, where have you been all these years?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
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    33 years of paid ski patrolling would lead me to wonder if patrolling is indeed a "a real and sensible profession".

    I retired 2 years ago and miss my team members a lot. I enjoyed my time in the trenches and have a lot of great memories. Too bad in the US a patroller must eat so much shit over the years before they can start to come close to making a living wage and even that involves having a good summer gig.

    Best of luck to you.

    The sunrises and sunsets were the best part of the job.
    I have been in this State for 30 years and I am willing to admit that I am part of the problem.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Salida, CO
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    1,275
    5am "lets go blow some shit up"! 5pm solo run down thru the alpenglow...somebodies gotta do it

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by m2711c View Post
    sounds like it would way be easier for you to get hired on as an electrician...
    No, would never pass the 2 years of courses (shortend by 3 years as I have an appropriate degree), but more importantly I already have a substational summer job.
    Knowledge is Powder

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
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    I’m amazed by the skiing test.

    Wtf does fast gate skiing have to do with ski patrol?
    Sure, you want good skills. And yes, you want a good pace to get to the crash. But if you’re hauling ass and straightlining to a wreck, you’re not being safe.

    I’ve read about the euro guiding rules. Didn’t know about patrol requirements.
    ďLife has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.Ē
    Hunter S. Thompson

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    northern BC
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    21,646
    hoops to jump thru

    I've seen people join a ski patrol who had to be trained in side slipping

    course slippers at a WC DH who couldn't really ski worth a shit let alone push a huge berm of smoo

    but they did show up
    Last edited by XXX-er; 11-21-2020 at 03:47 PM.
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    77
    Quote Originally Posted by Core Shot View Post
    Iím amazed by the skiing test.

    Wtf does fast gate skiing have to do with ski patrol?
    Sure, you want good skills. And yes, you want a good pace to get to the crash. But if youíre hauling ass and straightlining to a wreck, youíre not being safe.

    Iíve read about the euro guiding rules. Didnít know about patrol requirements.
    Ski test keeps jobs for locals and makes it harder for Parisians with no racing background to qualify.

    Suspect Idris will be one of the last British ski professionals to qualify in the French system. Best of luck.

  10. #10
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    Sep 2001
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    No Japan? Back to Cham!
    Congrats and good luck!
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2002
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    Norte del rŪo
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    Good to hear from you Tom. Stick at it. As Buster says, you'll be one of the last.
    _____________________________________

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Missoula, MT
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    20,956
    Wasn't it you that was guiding at a cat skiing op on the main island? Anyway, good luck.
    Curious what you mean by things that were cool in Japan that aren't in Europe. Anything genuinely dangerous?
    No longer stuck.

    Quote Originally Posted by stuckathuntermtn View Post
    Just an uneducated guess.

  13. #13
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    Nov 2003
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    Best of luck, have a good season!
    Hope to make turns again someday.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by stuckathuntermtn View Post
    Wasn't it you that was guiding at a cat skiing op on the main island? Anyway, good luck.
    Curious what you mean by things that were cool in Japan that aren't in Europe. Anything genuinely dangerous?
    Judging from my armchair I would say they are pushing the limits because they have a more stable snowpack than in Europe?
    It's a war of the mind and we're armed to the teeth.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by subtle plague View Post
    Judging from my armchair I would say they are pushing the limits because they have a more stable snowpack than in Europe?
    More stable snow in Japan maybe, but flying solo ain't safe.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buster Highmen View Post
    No Japan? Back to Cham!
    Congrats and good luck!
    Quote Originally Posted by stuckathuntermtn View Post
    Wasn't it you that was guiding at a cat skiing op on the main island? Anyway, good luck.
    Curious what you mean by things that were cool in Japan that aren't in Europe. Anything genuinely dangerous?
    When I arrived in Japan I was given the keys to the Cat and told it's general location told it's general location (It had not run in 2 years), a photo copy of the area we were using and the rest I had to make up. I am good at winging it, but Avalanche mitigation plans and Pisten Bully passenger cabin construction with no instruction is a bit much sometimes.

    In France the polar opposite. There are more laws governing the patrol use of a snowmobile, than a Semi Truck in the USA!

  17. #17
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    Dec 2005
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    STL
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    Iím envious. Just do it!


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums

  18. #18
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    Jan 2004
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    lakeside
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    Or you could get on patrol in the U.S. and do the exchange programs. I know Aspen/Snowmass does exchange with Chamonix every year. I've had a couple friends do it. As far as I know they didn't have to get any additional credentials and over there they were full on patrol.......and my guide!

  19. #19
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    Nov 2002
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    6,341
    How many maggots have had some of the best runs of their life with Tom? I'm guessing it's a pretty long list.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by Foggy_Goggles View Post
    How many maggots have had some of the best runs of their life with Tom? I'm guessing it's a pretty long list.
    Seriously. Blast from the past. I think it was only 19 or so years ago we skied off the Midi a few times. Hope your well Tom!
    He who has the most fun wins!

  21. #21
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    Oct 2003
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    Comming to the end of week 2. A few things that may be different in other parts of the world.
    There are quite specific about the difference between simple (knee, ankle, lower leg, forearm, wrist, elbow, ilness, shoulder (without deformation) none with serious pain/swelling) and serious rescues, all of which need medical intervention and or extraction, which means doctor and or helicopter. We are somewhat spoiled in that all the alpine departments have 2 or more medical helicopters and normaly 3 or more private ones that can also be called in.
    Official text says simple needs 2 and serious requires 4-5 patrolers, but also our instructors are explaining that post exam reality is 1 and 3, but hitting the help/panic/advice (we have a sysytem in place to ask for direct medical advice) button is still set at the same level.
    We did a whole day of psychology - what clients/management/patrol wants for their perspective, what definds a persons perspetive and dealing with emergency situations form a patroler and from a patient standpoint and the conflict advoidance/mitigation.
    I think our day with an emergency room doctor giving us his view of our world (he is one of the mountain specialists that jumps in a heli and comes to help) should be familiar to alt least some others?
    Now we are getting into Avie procedures, Beacons etc.....but for many, because of their background/age is quite unfamailiar ground.....luck for me I have tought this stuff, just not in French.
    Knowledge is Powder

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Nov 2020
    Posts
    3

    credit card

    At what point do they teach you how to use the credit card machine?

    While I've never skied in France, I've heard that if you get injured, you better pony up some plastic BEFORE they rescue you.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    North Vancouver
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    6,270
    Tom you're a legend. Look forward to following your updates. This reminds me I think I missed some of the later Japan posts I need to go back and find.

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