Chapter 02: Patroller Responsibilities

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Patroller Responsibilities

Registration, dues and manual

Each patroller or candidate must have paid all NSP dues, including patrol dues, in a timely manner. Each candidate must read and be knowledgeable with this patrol manual; updates are free. The latest version will be available online at:

Patrol commitment

  • Patrollers are required to patrol a minimum of eight patrol days, plus attend an annual OEC Refresher in the fall and maintain annual CPR certification.
  • Candidates are required to patrol a minimum of 4 patrol days per season while they are candidates, in addition to the 12 days of Candidate Training (MTRF/2 = 6 days, Avy1 = 3 days, Intro to Ski Patrol = 1 day, OEC Field Day = 1 day, and Candidate Final Exam = 1 day).

Patrol days are assigned by lottery in November around the Operations refresher.

  1. Each day you patrol counts as one day
    • Patrol credit is not given for patrollers not on the Mountain Manager report
    • Patrols cancelled because of road closure or lack of snow count as one day
  2. Two Refresher days, in addition to the OEC refresher
    • Operations Refresher
    • On-the-Hill Refresher
    • If you miss either/both the Operations or On-The-Hill Refresher, you can make-up by attending either of the MTR Field Days, Avy Field Days, or Intro to Ski Patrol as a student.
  3. Each patrol instructor day counts as one day
    • You must have permission of the Patrol Director or Instructor of Record to act as a patrol instructor.

Changes in patrolling or training dates must be requested at least one week in advance from the Mountain Manager. Patrollers must find a replacement of comparable status, i.e., patroller for patroller, map & compass instructor for map & compass instructor.

Attitude and Appearance

Candidates and patrollers are expected to maintain a good attitude when patrolling or attending patrol activities. This includes your interaction with other patrollers and the public.

Candidates and patrollers are expected to be clean, well groomed and appropriately dressed for patrol activities. Patrollers are expected to wear NSP parkas or suitable NSP identification approved by the Patrol Director. NSP does not permit candidates to wear NSP parkas or other NSP logo. All members should dress in clothing suitable for backcountry skiing.

Personal survival

Patrollers are expected to be familiar with all aspects of winter survival, including emergency shelter construction, fire building, use of map and compass and other essential knowledge. Much of this information can be found in this manual and in such publications as Mountaineering, The Freedom of the Hills, published by The Mountaineers. Since patrollers may need to unexpectedly spend the night outside, they should carry all the necessary gear. Candidates and patrollers will receive training in these skills throughout the season. This information could mean the difference between life and death for you or a lost or injured skier in your care.

Early in 1992, two skiers perished in the Incline Creek drainage (just south of our patrol area at Tahoe Meadows) because they were poorly equipped and unfamiliar with winter survival skills. In January 1994 we rescued two lost and hypothermic snowmobilers at Tahoe Meadows. In January 1996 we participated in the rescue of a severely hypothermic snowboarder at Castle Peak. In December 1997 an experienced skier perished in the Castle Peak area because he was poorly equipped for conditions, and ignored an imminent storm.


Patrolling involves strenuous exercise. Candidates and patrollers are expected to be in reasonably good physical condition. You should be able to ski all day with a full patrol pack without much rest. Snowboard patrollers must be in good to excellent physical condition, as they must be capable of keeping reasonable pace on climbs and flats while wearing snowshoes. We do take breaks, but situations may arise where we won't have time to rest.


Candidates and patrollers are expected to provide appropriate skis or snowboard, poles and boots, and a backpack containing the items listed in PatrolManual/Appendix_A and capable of carrying a fair share of the modular pack units described in PatrolManual/Appendix_B. In addition, snowboard patrollers must provide snowshoes or short skis for uphill and flatland travel.


In order to qualify as a patroller, candidates must demonstrate proficiency in the skills listed in PatrolManual/Appendix_E. It is hoped (but not required) that patrollers will continue to improve skills and knowledge by becoming senior or certified patrollers, OEC instructors, patrol instructors, mountaineering or avalanche instructors and patrol, section, region or division officers.

Patrol Dues

Annual patrol dues are used for administrative expenses. All NSP dues are payable by a date assigned by the Patrol Director, typically in late September, but never later than October 1.

2009 Dues for Active patrollers was $90.00.

  • Active Patrollers and Returning Candidates:
    • National Ski Patrol Dues
    • NSP Far West Division Dues
    • NSP Eastern Sierra Region Dues
    • Tahoe Backcountry Ski Patrol Dues

Patrol candidates are responsible for the above dues, in addition to candidate fees which cover training expenses.

Corporate Sponsors

Our patrol relies on grants to provide funds for the purchase of expensive equipment such as tents, radios, avalanche transceivers, etc. Be familiar with the organizations which provide grant money. They are great friends of the patrol!

Numerous manufacturers and retailers give special discounts to members of our patrol. Consider recommending and patronizing these companies, as they produce quality equipment and have gone out of their way to support our efforts.

  • 2014 Clif Bar Grant ($5,000 for gear garage)
  • 2008 Grants
    • Chevron Corporation
    • VF Outdoors/The North Face
  • 1995 Grantors
    • Alpine Winter Foundation ($7,632 for equipment)
  • 1994 Grantors
    • Alpine Winter Foundation ($5,000 for equipment)
  • 1993 Grantors
    • Alpine Winter Foundation ($5,000 for equipment)
  • 1992 Grantors
    • Alpine Winter Foundation ($6,584.26 for equipment)
    • Anonymous ($1,000 for equipment)
    • REI Citrus Heights ($100 in merchandise)
    • REI Berkeley ($100 in merchandise)

Patroller Benefits

Patroller (and candidate) benefits include worker's compensation medical benefits provided by the Forest Service as part of our volunteer agreements. Such benefits are normally not available to NSP volunteers who patrol at Alpine resorts. Benefits also include membership in the National Ski Patrol, which includes the Patroller magazine, and ability to enroll in NSP course at membership rates. Patrollers who have paid dues for the current season and have fulfilled their eight-day patrolling commitment for the previous season are also eligible for pro-deal equipment discounts.

Candidates are eligible for pro-deal discounts after completion of their initial season provided they complete all of their candidate responsibilities, including all training and patrolling dates. Patrollers or candidates who choose to participate in search and rescue operations under the auspices of county sheriffs or other agencies affiliated with the California Office of Emergency Services (OES) are eligible for certain insurance benefits provided by OES. Tahoe Backcountry Ski Patrol Manual

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