How the Eldorado Nordic Backcountry Ski Patrol Began

The Ski Patrol in 1984; Pictured are the 1982 founding members: David Bakke, Carol Bonser, Dave Buel, Roger Chappell, Tom Eckhardt, Karen Kessler, Nancy O'Brien, Ron Parker, Mike Peart, Rich Platt, Mark Stanley, Robin Stanley, Rudy Stauffer, and John Van Sant.

A Brief History of the Patrol

In 1982 a group of mostly Forest Service employees and others saw a need for a ski patrol within the Eldorado National Forest (ENF).  This need stemmed from the emerging growth and use of the public lands during the winter months. At first, the newly formed patrol was a member of the National Ski Patrol (NSP). It was designated as a “Nordic” patrol as the NSP only had alpine resort or cross-country ski patroller designations. The newly formed patrol would be titled the El Dorado Nordic Ski Patrol (EDNSP).

This patrol would perform Search And Rescue (SAR) operations within the Eldorado National Forest and patrolled popular backcountry ski and snowshoe areas. As time went on, the patrol evolved and discovered a need for a winter trail system. The trail system was created and maintained. To this day those trails remain in the Crystal Basin and Carson Pass areas.  The trails were instrumental in repairing, maintaining, and opening Robb’s Hut and the Van Vleck bunkhouse for the public.  The Patrol continued the Echo-To-Kirkwood race for many years after Kirkwood Cross-Country center stopped managing the race. The race started at the Echo Sno-Park southside and ended at the Kirkwood Cross-Country center, at about 13 miles. This event was a back-country race in which required a large support role from the patrol to ensure the safety of the participants and staff.

As members of the NSP the patrollers were required to take the NSP training. The EDNSP realized the training from the NSP at that time did not fulfill their needs, so the Patrol incorporated and began in-house training which included Winter Back-Country Skills, Avalanche Awareness, Navigation, Mountain Travel, and more. Some of which are still open to the public. Medical training was through El Dorado Country and was an Urban First Responder as a minimum.

Today the El Dorado Nordic Ski Patrol is known as the Eldorado Back-Country Ski Patrol (EBSP).  Our mission is of public safety and education. The Patrol still maintains trails and lite maintenance on the hut and bunkhouse. Medical training has evolved into wilderness medicine along with the aforementioned training.

The Patrol is now made up of many types of patrollers and supporting members who utilize either skis, snowshoes, or a split-board.  With more than 40 years of volunteering in the ENF, the Patrol is the longest running volunteer group in the ENF.