Name: Jaime Tibbo
Job Title: Ski Patroller
Department: Palisades Ski Patrol
How many seasons have you been at Palisades Tahoe?
This is my sixth season at Palisades Tahoe.
How did you end up in the Lake Tahoe area?
I am originally from Plymouth, New Hampshire. In 2015, I was living in my Subaru with my dog, headed for Bend, Oregon to start the process of finding housing. Lucky for me, I wound up only making it as far as North Lake Tahoe. It was just by chance that I stopped here and ended up staying.
Why did you want to become a ski patroller?
When I was a kid, my family stayed and skied at Loon Mountain in Lincoln, New Hampshire on weekends. Both of my folks worked as instructors within the ski school program. I was always envious of ski patrol. I wanted to wear a big red jacket and be a hero, too!
That pipe dream kind of came full circle for me in 2016 when the opportunity presented itself here at Palisades Tahoe. I’m still blown away that this is what I get to do every day, I feel really lucky to be here.
What was your training like?
The training I received for ski patrol was extensive. For starters, we are required to obtain some form of medical certification, specifically an Outdoor Emergency Care certification. It is also expected that we have at least an AIARE 1 on our resume. (AIARE stands for American Institute for Avalanche Research & Education. An AIARE 1 focuses on the basics of avalanche terrain and backcountry travel).
As for the on-hill training provided by the Palisades Tahoe Ski Patrol team, this entails sled running, high-angle rescue, blasters license prep, and how to turn on a grill for a Shirley Lake barbecue.
What does an average shift look like for you this winter?
This winter gave me the opportunity to really dial in my avalanche control mornings! I’m typically up at 4am to allot enough time to prep food for the day and clear the driveway for my morning exit. Our show-up time is 6am on Avalanche Control (AC) mornings. This allows us to be unloading chair lifts and troop carriers (snowcats designed to carry a large number of people) by first light, with the goal of opening lifts at 9am.
After completing avalanche control, we immediately begin hill safety methods such as bumping up bamboo lines and tower pads. (This means physically moving these items up; after a significant snowfall, for example, the padding on a lift tower will need to be adjusted to a new height.) This, in addition to avalanche mitigation work, allows us to provide a ski area that we warrant as safe for members of the public.
Once the resort is open, we stay pretty busy dealing with collisions, aiding with skier assists, and sometimes even performing cliff rescues. Our day ends whenever sweep is in, meaning we’ve checked behind every rock and in every gully to ensure that every single member of the public is off of the hill.
What’s the best part of your job?
Two things immediately come up for me. The first is skiing, obviously. The second would be working alongside some of my favorite people in the world. Skiing is the heartbeat of our operation, but the community is what brings me back every season. I get the privilege of working alongside some of the most selfless people in the world. We are trained to assist folks in extremely dynamic and difficult scenarios, even outside of the resort.
I know that I could call any one of them if I needed help and they would be there at the drop of a hat, and, come to think of it, they would do that for you as well…
What is the hardest part of your job?
The hardest part of my job, especially this season, was just physically making it to the resort on Avalanche Control mornings. You’re often hitting the roads before the plows do. I broke trail with my Outback more times than I can count this season. It was wild!
What do you do in the summer months?
In 2020, I started my small business, All Mountain Metal Works. Making jewelry in my shop keeps me pretty busy. But in addition to that, this past summer, I worked at the Tahoe Donner Ranch caretaking for a whole herd of horses, and I really enjoyed it.
Why do you love working at Palisades Tahoe?
This is the first job I’ve ever had that I genuinely look forward to doing on a day-to-day basis. Between the support of my coworkers and the unique demands of the day’s work that keep it interesting, I feel as though I’m able to constantly evolve as not only a human being, but as a Ski Patroller and that is something I really value.
What advice would you give to someone (not just women) who wants to be in the industry?
If this industry appeals to you, get involved! There are so many ways to start. I was a Ski Instructor for a long time, and that really aided in paving the way for me to try out for Ski Patrol. Start where you can, and with your goal in mind, the odds are that you’ll get there and we would love to have you!