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The coldest job?

  • Crotched Mountain ski patrol workers Steve Marcoullier and Ken Koehlert share a word before Koehler heads down the hill Saturday, when summit temperatures were in the negative 20s with wind chill. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • Ski patrol at Crotched Mountain is one of the region's coldest jobs. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Ski patrol at Crotched Mountain is one of the region's coldest jobs. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • Ski patrol at Crotched Mountain is one of the region's coldest jobs. Staff photo by Ben Conant—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, January 08, 2018 6:3PM

As the Northeast’s historic cold snap came to a climax this weekend, there may not have been a colder spot in the Monadnock region than the summit of Crotched Mountain. Despite the howling winds and sub-zero temperatures that followed last week’s “bomb cyclone” blizzard, the ski resort’s slopes were buzzing this weekend. Up in the heated ski patrol hut, Crotched’s safety crew waited for a call.

“We try to send out one or two people an hour to make sure no one's hurt,” said ski patroller Ted Ede. “On days like today it's kind of tough. Nobody really wants to be out in this weather.”

Saturday’s low atop the mountain was -11, with winds gusting over 20 miles per hour. Not quite the -97 reported atop Mount Washington, but still well out of the comfort zone.

By midday Saturday, the winds were relatively calm, and it was a balmy 2 degrees up top. Still, the

patrol crew kept their eyes peeled as skiers slid off the Rocket chairlift and past the hut windows. Frostbite was their biggest concern.

“You’ve just got to cover every part of your body,” said Len Buckland, a 31-year ski patrol veteran and the elder statesman of the crew (“His first patient was on a cross,” one of his fellow patrollers needled in). “You look for people that don’t have their faces covered. We see a lot of variations. Sometimes we’ll have a beach day up here and they’ll go by with bathing suits on. Not today.”

Crotched canceled Friday and Saturday’s Midnight Madness sessions due to the extreme cold and wind, but daytime skiing went off without a hitch. The ultimate decision to shut the mountain down is out of ski patrol’s mittened hands — otherwise, the weekend might have been a wash.

“I’d recommend quitting right now and heading for the bar,” joked Ede. Kidding aside, Ede pointed out a common mistake that can lead to overexposure on a cold day.

“Don’t drink alcohol in weather like this,” Ede said. “You’d be surprised — people say ‘Oh, I’ll have a drink to warm up.’ Really not a good idea.”

Editor Ben Conant can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 226 or bconant@ledgertranscript.com.