Welcome to the 2023/24 ski season! While we wait for the real snow to fall, I’d like to take this opportunity to review last year’s activities and talk about the exciting plans for the future. 

First of all – to those who participated in the On the Hill Refresher earlier this month – thank you all for kicking our season off right! It was a great turnout: we were jammed into the meeting room at Pacific Ranger District on December 2 with around 25 members. It was a fun filled day, and while we didn’t have the main event – a helicopter rescue demonstration from CHP H20 – it was still a huge success. In fact, a real treat was that members of the Helicopter Rescue Technician team from El Dorado County Fire shared with us their roles and some incredible rescue stories. The rest of the day was rounded out with a general meeting, excellent radio training, a review of the 10+ winter essentials, ski and other gear demonstrations, navigation exercises and avalanche beacon search practice. Whew! It was a busy, productive, and fun day and it wouldn’t have happened without the contributions of our members – literally a dozen members prepared for the day and delivered. As your new (and slightly anxious) president, I can’t thank those members enough. Big thanks also go to the many members of our great partners in the forest service. Without all that cooperation upfront, our day doesn’t happen. 

Year in Review
One of the things that I shared at the general meeting was that each year the Patrol must supply a detailed report of volunteer hours – and a plan for next year – to the forest supervisor. I’m proud to report that in our over 40 years of service, last year was our largest year in terms of hours. Our total was 3054 hours, which is a seven percent (7%) increase from the year before. Incredible! Patrol/trail maintenance time was the largest area of time, 840 hours, which was by far the largest category. However, given that we loaded up on our training opportunities and offered three big public trainings – a navigation class, winter backcountry skills, and avalanche awareness – it’s no surprise that last year was our biggest year. Another highlight of the year was our 40th anniversary celebration in October at the Old Pollock School. It was a real treat to celebrate and to visit with current and former members, including some of our founding members. The celebration was a great reminder of the great history of the patrol and its importance to the community. 

Looking forward
With such an intensive training year last year, let’s take the opportunity to get back to basics: patrolling and education to the public. Your board of directors supports a plan this year for resuming our public talks at local REI stores and a number of Open Ski and Snowshoes. This is, of course, in addition to our core mission of patrolling (with some trail maintenance), which I will gratefully point out, is already under way. Several members have already been hard at work patrolling and improving trails. We are fortunate to have such dedicated members engaging and advancing our organization. 

Which brings me to this: a challenge. I’m asking you to take a few minutes and reflect on why you joined the patrol: To become a better skier? For the camaraderie? To serve the public? Whatever the reason, I challenge you to identify what it is and then spend time doing exactly that. Want to be a better skier? Get out there more and be sure to attend the ski skills day coming soon. Want to connect more with our members, attend more meetings and be sure to engage this summer when we plan the summer camp out. Want to serve the public more? Patrol and educate, or volunteer to attend an upcoming REI workshop. Whatever your reason, I encourage you to rise to the challenge. When you stop and think about it, belonging to a public service volunteer organization that has been around for over 40 years and – helping to make it better– is pretty incredible! 
We are off to a great start. I hope you share my enthusiasm for another great year of service in the winter backcountry. Think snow!

Yours in service, 

Dave Thesell
EBSP President 2023-24