Whistlers First Aid Ski Patrol, 1965-1979By Pina Belperio
Prayer for the First Run of the Season
Oh Lord, theres just one thing. I hope youll remember.
Im not really in shape yet its only November.
My lungs wont inflate and my hearts barely pumping.
I should have been busier jogging and jumping.
Now Im facing this mountain with weak-kneed contrition.
Mea Culpa. I know but Im out of condition.
So Lord, let no tree stumps, no uncovered patches,
No rock, root or boulder on which my tip catches.
No hazard unseen in this snowfrosted valley
Make the seasons premiere
Its grand finale.
Whistlers First Aid Ski Patrol, 1965-1979
Adjacent to the Whistler Mountain Ski Club cabin in Creekside, behind a cluster of trees, a boarded-up building seems to have been forgotten in the race to modernize the area. The abandoned structure is easily overlooked as you drive past the new Legends building, the First Tracks Lodge, Franzs Trail and the relocated club cabin.
Back in the 1960s however, this seemingly ordinary structure was at the centre of mountain life in Whistler, acting as home base to a group of dedicated mountain patrollers known as the Whistler First Aid Ski Patrol, or FASP.
The First Aid Ski Patrol was a self-sustaining, volunteer organization responsible for avalanche control, run markings, trail maintenance and First Aid on Whistler Mountain. The FASP was a national non-profit organization, with the local chapter comprised of patrollers from Grouse Mountain, Mount Seymour and Mount Baker in Washington State. The tight-knit group was around long before there was ever a ski resort in Whistler. And from Whistler Mountains opening day in December 1965 until May of 1979 the FASP ensured safety on the mountain. In its heyday, the volunteer patrol numbered over 80 members.
When Garibaldi Lifts Ltd. began mountain operations in 1965 the only ski lifts were the gondola out of Creekside, the Red Chair and two T-bars one in the alpine and one at Creekside.
The Creekside area was the "hub" of Whistler and housed a doctors trailer, LApres bar, a cafeteria, the generals managers house (home to Jack Bright, Alan Turner and Sandy Boyd over the years), and the mountain managers office.
In the lean, and somewhat remote, operation that Garibaldi Lifts Ltd. was in the 1960s, the volunteer FASP played a critical role on a huge mountain. Being a member of the volunteer ski patrol was a big deal in those days. The FASP was a unique group, many of whose members shared similar qualities, namely their love of the outdoors and mountains, and the camaraderie that went along with those experiences.
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