It takes a lot of teamwork to get our four mountains open on a regular day — and a good deal more on a Colorado powder day. The work that Aspen Snowmass’ Ski Patrol performs allows employees and guests to get out there and keep safe everyday.
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Ski Patrol Team Profile
Chris HalseyNewton, Massachusetts, USA
Winter job title: Ski Patrol Director, Buttermilk Mountain
Summer job title: Lead Patroller for Snowmass Summer Patrol
Years at Aspen Skiing Company: 22 years
Hobbies: Kayaking, biking, skiing and family vacations to surf
How did you end up in Aspen?
During high school, I spent a lot of time in the mountains in the Northeast, so when I spoke to my career counselor about college she told me to look out West for schools. During 10th grade I came out to Aspen on a winter trip to ski and look at colleges, as I didn’t want to be in a big city for college. I ended up going to CMU in Grand Junction. When I was at CMU, I volunteered for the ski patrol at Powderhorn and eventually became a full-time patroller there. Then, in 1996, I looked for a patrol job elsewhere. Aspen Highlands was my first choice and I got the job.
What do your friends and family think you do at work?
My parents used to tell their friends that I was a full-time ski bum, but they are past that now as I've developed it into a career. I guess they saw how seriously we take the job, so now their son works on Ski Patrol.
What is your favorite part of the job?
This last winter I patrolled at all four mountains. It’s nice when I get to see how the other Ski Patrols operate, even though they are part of the same company. Helping people gives me the most job satisfaction; you can’t help but feel good when you help someone. I come to work excited because the comraderie here is strong and you become like family; I even met my wife here. Also my office, Buttermilk Patrol Headquarters, is one of the nicer PHQs [patrol headquarters] in the country.
What do you find most challenging about your job?
We are out there regardless of the weather, and it can certainly be challenging. Weather can change quickly so being prepared is very important; you can be out in Highland Bowl for hours in inclement weather.
What skills or characteristics do you think your job requires?
Good people skills — guest relations has become a huge part of our job. Yes, we help people from a medical perspective, but the people skills are key. We can train the technical skills and all the different aspects of patrolling, but you can’t train people skills.
What makes Aspen unique?
I was naturally drawn to this area because it offers activities like kayaking, biking and skiing. So the obvious answer is the incredible environment, but working for ASC [Aspen Skiing Company] is unique. The benefits and how ASC takes care of their employees is unmatched in the industry. I take full advantage of the health insurance offered, pretax dollars and the 401k match — the free money part is great. Now we offer eight weeks parental leave, too. My kids are in company daycare here in both summer and winter.
Getting established in the Aspen area can be difficult. how do you make it work?
I had several jobs when I first moved here, like delivering pizza and working as an EMT at polo events. I was eventually lucky enough to buy a small house down valley. I rented out rooms to roommates to make it work. Now it’s led to where I can live in a house where I don’t have roommates.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career in Ski Patrol?
Ski Patrol is a tight-knit community and we tend to hire from smaller ski areas. However, Buttermilk is a great place to start patrolling at Aspen Snowmass. We look for folks that already have their medical certs, like EMT, and we obviously want strong skiers. Each time we have an opening, it is very competitive. This is mainly due to the area, ownership of the resort and benefit package. Once you get to 22 years at the company like me, that equals four weeks of vacation, plus seven days of personal days. I’d challenge anyone to find better benefits.
What makes you proud to work at Aspen Skiing Company?
Our sustainability program and the efforts to make it meaningful to our employees. I like how the company engages with surrounding communities and has an ongoing partnership with Protect Our Winters. I like reading the sustainability department’s emails, The Green Letter, which talks about all the efforts we make in the space.
Anything else you’d like job-seekers to know?
It’s an awesome place to work and I’ve gotten to know and build relationships with people from so many other departments and across all four mountains. There’s a lot of opportunity to move around in the company, and it really allows employees to flourish. You have to make some sacrifices if it’s your dream, but it’s well worth it in the end.
Want more stories from our Ski Patrollers?
Read more via our partner Mountain Careers on Vicky Huergo's journey as a Ski Patroller here.