Big Powderhorn Ski Patrol Training
Riding Lift 5 to the sky

Frequently asked questions

What IS A SKI PATROL? WHAT do ski patrollers do?

The Big Powderhorn Ski Patrol is a diverse collection of volunteers who share a common love of the outdoors, snow sports, and helping others in need at Big Powderhorn Mountain in the famous Big Snow Country on the Gogebic Range in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Our patrollers come from all walks of life – from medical professionals, firemen, teachers, lawyers, engineers, programmers, business people, accountants, builders – we have members from all stripes and all walks of life but we all have one thing in common: we are all brought together by a willingness to help the public spend time on the snow in a safe manner. Our patrollers work hard, play hard, and get the job done as a team.

Patroller responsibilities include preventing accidents by marking obstacles, safety education by enforcing the skier’s responsibility code and helping injured skiers with prompt transportation and skilled emergency care.

Members of the Big Powderhorn Ski Patrol are  responsible for opening the ski hill in the morning.  This is a time to prepare toboggans for easy access, watch for hill hazards, and notify management of any equipment issues that may have been found.  During ski area operational hours, patrollers are expected to cover the slopes and watch for skiers/riders in need of assistance and provide emergency care when needed.  At the end of the day, patrollers are responsible for closing the lifts, putting equipment away, and ‘sweeping’ the hill – being the last off the hill while checking for downed skiers.

How do I become a member of the ski patrol?


Patrolling at Big Powderhorn has several benefits including skiing for the patroller, guest passes, discounts and pro deals on the resort and from a variety of outdoor product vendors, as well as the camaraderie and friendship of a great team of ski patrollers to ski with. Click here for more information on our benefits.


Primary patrollers are required to patrol 10 days during the ski season – with the most flexible schedule in the area. Secondary patrollers are required to patrol five days during the season. Click here for more information on our requirements.

What is the National Ski Patrol?

A global organization of volunteers and professionals working for local ski areas to make skiing safe and enjoyable for all. The National Ski Patrol was founded by Charles Minot “Minnie” Dole in 1938 after the tragic loss of a friend due to injuries suffered in a ski related accident. He was also responsible for the establishment of the famed 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army. Applicants for this remarkable military unit were actually screened by the National Ski Patrol. Many individuals who were responsible for the establishment of ski areas in the United States served in the 10th Mountain Division and contributed significantly to the sport.

How good of a skier should I be to join the ski patrol? 

We accept skiers and snowboarders that are at an intermediate level and above, and also have a team of instructors that will help with your skiing/riding/tobogganing skills.  While you don’t have to perform skiing/riding skills at an expert level, you do need to be certified as an Outdoor Emergency Care technician, regardless of your medical training. To become a trained toboggan handler, your skill level at a strong intermediate level. 

Do ski patrollers get to ski for free?

Every ski area has different policies. We ski free at our own area. Generally, other ski areas do not grant privileges to non-area patrollers unless they have made arrangements. The Big Powderhorn Ski Patrol does welcome sign-on/guest patrollers who have made arrangements in advance or who have joined our Patrol Reserve program.

Do ski patrollers get paid?

With the exception of some of our snowmobile operators, ski patrollers at Big Powderhorn are volunteers and are not paid – however patrollers do ski for free, and get a variety of benefits including passes for guests, discounts and pro deals on the resort and at a number of outdoor retailers, etc.


The Big Powderhorn Ski Patrol trains to the standards of, and is a member of the National Ski Patrol. Each patrol has its own guest patroller policy. Some patrols encourage visiting patrollers, others are more restrictive. There are many patrols that will allow you to sign on, provided you have made arrangements in advance. You should contact the Patrol Representative of the patrol you are considering signing on with to find out their requirements. 

I don’t work in the healthcare field, can I still join the patrol?

Yes. There are many different professions represented on the patrol – and in fact, most of us do not come from a healthcare background. We require successful completion of the Outdoor Emergency Care course which provides you with the skills you will need to assist injured guests.