Kings and Queens of the HIll
Photography: Eric Kiel
(page 3 of 3)
Tim East, 51
From Fort Lauderdale, FL., lives in Hailey with Tryntje.
Years here: 30 Years on patrol:
20 Jobs on patrol: Stay out of trouble . . . Certified Outdoor Emergency Care Instructor, Avalanche Dog Handler
Jobs off patrol: Plays in the 812 Band, co-founder, backcountry ski patrol and selling advertising for Names and Numbers
Headgear: Yes, especially if “Richie (Bingham) or Arnold (Schwarzenegger) is wearing one.”
“I was incident coordinator in the search for Tom Wernig (the ski instructor killed while skiing on Bald Mountain in 2004). Even though it was a terrible tragedy, I liked how the community turned out in the hundreds to stomp through nasty timber and look for Tom. Most of them didn’t know Tom at all. That was the most incredible thing that ever happened to me on the job. Once, after closing time on Dollar, I saw this husky man climb up, jump on a European sled and fire down the hill centering on the Quarter Dollar lift. He turns at the last minute and blows past me at 40 miles an hour. I say, ‘Looks like fun’ and the man says in an unmistakable accent, ‘Now you’re talking!’ It was Arnold Schwarzenegger.”
Rich Bingham, 60
From Ogden, Utah, lives in Cold Springs with Barbara.
Years here: 40
Years on patrol: 39
Jobs on patrol: Assistant Director and Snow Safety Supervisor
Jobs off patrol: Carpenter
Headgear: Only if it’s snowing or 15 degrees or less.
“I came here on a whim and found a passion that I am really glad I got into. I like what I do and I feel very lucky that I got here in an era and put together a lifestyle where I could survive on meager wages. I love to ski and I work with a great bunch of people. We are family. The challenges are constant. Something new happens every day. When you get to the top of the mountain every morning and you are the first one out there, you can’t help but be humbled and grateful for having the best office in the world.”
Mike Lloyd, 57
Has lived here for so long he considers this home. Lives in Hailey with Simone.
Years here: 35
Years on patrol: 32
Jobs on patrol: Director (five years)
Jobs off patrol: Carpenter
“We have fewer accidents per 1,000 than the national average, but every day is an adventure and anything can happen. As a manager you have to deal with the company, the staff, the guests, stress and risk management. It is much more dynamic a job than anyone thinks. You are rarely just sitting around the station waiting for a call. Some are, the others are out checking the slopes, fixing fences, checking boundaries. We have one of the longest longevity patrols, which is amazing considering how expensive it is to live here and the financial burden. It takes a special person to do the job. Type A. They do it, they love it.”
Whiz McNeal, 57
From Annapolis, Md., lives in Ketchum with Beverly and two children.
Years here: 33
Years on patrol: 31 (less one drought year)
Jobs on patrol: Patrolman specializing in lift evacuation and cliff rescue
Jobs off patrol: Builder and commercial fisherman in Alaska
“I was involved in Outward Bound. I liked the West and my brother was here. When I graduated, I headed this way and never turned back. I was working an inside job and knew immediately it wasn’t for me. I enjoy working outdoors and the alpine environment. The most rewarding part of the job is helping people in need, whether they need first-aid or advice. A patroller is more than a first-aider. We are caregivers and are acquainted with most of the people who ski on the mountain. Some people see us as cops, and we really hate being identified as such. But we have to enforce rules for the good of all and that’s why we have one of the safest mountains and finest skiing mountains around.”