“People might well be able to figure out on their own from the former Killington lift car that’s behind us that we’re at the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum (in Stowe),” Mike Hoey said. “But what brings us here?”
“We’re going to be meeting with Brian Lindner, who’s going to talk to us about the history of the ski patrol here in Vermont — but also how that influenced ski patrolling nationwide,” Vermont Historical Society executive director Steve Perkins said.
“We are the oldest ski patrol in the United States, founded in 1934,” Lindner said. “The very first rescue at Stowe, nobody had any medical training whatsoever. By the second year of the Stowe ski patrol, you had to be certified by the American Red Cross with advanced first aid.
“And that has continually progressed (so) that today on the ski patrol, we have OEC — outdoor emergency care — EMTs as the general standard, all the way up to paramedics and MD’s. It was 100% volunteer in the early days.”
Perkins asked, “And when was the first professional ski patroller employed?”
“The first professional patroller at Stowe was Fritz Kramer, a naturalized American from Austria,” Lindner replied. “He lived on the summit in the winter of 1940-’41.”
Perkins verified, “On the summit?”
“He lived in the CCC stone hut on the summit for the winter,” Lindner answered. “And the state forester, Perry Merrill, offered to pay Fritz Kramer for that first season, so he was paid by the Vermont Department of Forests and Parks.”
“To live in Civilian Conservation Corps housing from the Depression years,” Hoey said.
“Yes! Exactly,” Lindner said. “The connection between Mt. Mansfield Ski Patrol, National Ski Patrol (and the U.S. Army) 10th Mountain Division is a guy named (Charles) Minot Dole, ‘Minnie’ Dole. He was a member of the Mt. Mansfield Ski Patrol, and he was asked in 1936 to create something on a national basis.
“That led him to create the National Ski Patrol system, and then with the invasion of Finland by the Russians in World War II…”
“The Winter War, yes,” Hoey added. “1939.”
“He realized we needed ski troops,” Lindner continued. “He influenced the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and President (Franklin) Roosevelt to then start the 10th Mountain Division. Stowe had at least 16 veterans of the 10th Mountain Division either work or volunteer at the mountain post-war, including my dad. I have been at the resort for 50 years; this is my 50th season.”
“So you’ve seen a lot of changes in equipment and practices,” Perkins noted. “And we can see some of that here.”
“Here in the museum, we have the oldest known ski patrol toboggan in the United States,” Lindner said. “It was built by the CCC here in Stowe, and it was actually recovered from a toboggan cache on the mountain in 1996. It’s made out of corrugated roofing tin.”
Perkins asked, “If somebody’s watching this and saying, ‘gosh, I want to become a ski patroller’, how do you do that? How do you get started?”
“Every ski patrol is always looking for new recruits,” Lindner answered. “We always welcome them, and if you’re interested, the thing to do is to call your local resort and ask to talk to the ski patrol director directly. It easily takes one full season for a new patroller to really understand the whole process. There isn’t a ski patrol that doesn’t do continual training all the time. You just have to, to stay sharp.”