Volunteer Ski Patrol

Voluntary Patrol Programme 2016

Pre-season meeting15th of June at 6:00 pm, 14b Leslie Hills Drive, Christchurch (Murray Allot Chartered Account office).

If you are interested please come along to the pre-season meeting. We will discuss the programme, Cheeseman’s expectations and what Cheeseman can offer you. There will be a contract that you can sign or take away with you. We will talk about the system to book in for the days you wish to volunteer.

The following message is from Cait Hall our Senior Patroller who is running the programme:

Thank you to everyone for your interest  and or past service volunteering on the Mt Cheeseman ski patrol.  We are looking forward to another great season, and with the recent snowfalls, are even more eager to dust off the gear and get up on the hill.  As our opening date of 2 July creeps closer, we are going to have a pre-season meeting for all new and returning volunteers in Christchurch (details above) and won’t run longer than 1 hour.  This will present the opportunity to lay out how our volunteer programme runs, the type of commitment we are looking for, complete initial paperwork, and well as allow you to network and meet with each other  

We would greatly a Yes/No response in regards to attendance (please use my caithall18@nullgmail.com address since I don’t have access to the patrol computer yet).  As much as I’d like to say this meeting is mandatory, that is a hard word to use in this day and age with all that people have going on in their lives.  Your attendance at this meeting would be greatly appreciated as finding additional time for a formal orientation once we are operational at the ski field is challenging.  Again, thank you all for your interest and I look forward to seeing everyone on the 15th.  

Pray for Snow!

Cait Hall


The programme is open to people 14 years and older, who have a good ability of skiing and are committed to learning and assisting the patrol on rostered days.

There are 3 levels that you can join which is dependent on age, patrol skills and qualifications.
The Junior level is for young people, 14 years and over, keen to join at the beginner level and attend the training sessions.
The Trainee level is for people 16 years and older who have basic skills and first aid qualifications
The Volunteer Patrol level is for people who have PHEC qualification (first aid) and patrol experience equivalent to Avalanche One qualification.

If you have any questions or cannot make this session contact Al on 022 604 0894 or email on chat@nullmtcheeseman.co.nz

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The Cheeseman Voluntary Patrol programme is highly successful in both training volunteers and providing valuable experience on the mountain.

Cheeseman welcomes new volunteers to the programme.

Cheeseman has an excellent reputation of snow safety thanks to a staff of qualified Patrollers and long term volunteers. The Voluntary Patrol programme has been in existence for many years now. Cheeseman is proud that many of the volunteer patrollers have gained skills and experience that have helped them get their dream jobs overseas.

The Voluntary Patrol programme has levels related to age, experience and qualifications. You need to be an advanced skier or boarder, have your own gear, be 14 yrs for a junior and 16 yrs plus for a trainee. You do not need to be a club member to participate.

If you are interested in joining the programme please Contact Us

Read the stories of three of our volunteer patrollers below:

Catherine Kircher –

My first introduction to Ski Patrol was when I was on family ski weeks at Mt Cheeseman in the late 90’s. I expressed an interest and the next thing I knew I had a jacket and radio, and was being shown how to use a toboggan. I only did the odd day over the following years and it wasn’t until I was studying Outdoor Education in 2001 that I became a more permanent part of the Volunteer Patrol team. As part of my Outdoor Ed studies I gained PHEC and Avalanche 1, and these contributed hugely to my ability to be a competent volunteer and pro-patroller. I continued to volunteer when I was able, with my most active years being 2005-2007, when I was volunteer patrolling about 30 days a year. It was at the end of this period that I went to Canada to work as Pro Patrol at Big White, originally for only a season, but because I loved it so much I ended up staying for two!

My time volunteering at Mt Cheeseman set me up really well for my job at Big White. Kiwis are really well regarded due to their positive attitudes, good work ethic and ingenuity, and these were traits that were fostered in me during my time at Mt Cheeseman. What I loved about patrolling at Mt Cheeseman was that you did everything, from first aid and snow safety, through to fixing broken groomers and lifts. Patrolling at Big White was a much more specific role, with most of my time spent on slope safety, first aid, and snow safety, across the 116 named runs on the field! But the experiences gained from both ski areas were pretty similar – being part of a fantastic team, making the customer experience the best possible and appreciating any day when you get to be outside skiing.

Since returning from Canada I have done the odd bit of volunteer patrolling at Mt Cheeseman but I would love to return to it more consistently. I think the volunteer patrol programme is a fantastic scheme, whether you think you are going to pursue patrolling as a career or not. The skills learnt are invaluable and it is a great way to contribute to the club. I would feel fortunate to assist with training up the next generation of volunteers, as a way of repaying my gratitude to those who trained me.

Dan Lewis –

I started volunteering as a patroller at Cheeseman in 2005, when I was looking for a new challenge.
I learnt heaps of hands on first aid skills, how to operate the lifts, trained in snow safety and avalanche rescue, and gained heaps of confidence with skiing in general.
What I learnt from the staff and other volunteers put me in an awesome position for when I finished Uni. I decided to hold off going into engineering and head to Canada to patrol for the winter.
Finding a patrol job isn’t easy, not many jobs come us as everyone loves it too much to leave.
My experience at Cheeseman was what got me my job as Ski Patrol and avalanche control at Mt Norquay in Banff, Alberta.
We skied every day, did heaps of first aid, skied, set up and shut down the mountain, skied, rode snowmobiles, skied, monitored snow stability, skied, did avalanche control (blew stuff up), skied, got to know everyone on the mountain, and skied!
It was awesome.
You should definitely join.

Wendy Lewis –

My family became members of Mt Cheeseman over ten years ago and I’ve grown up, and learnt to love skiing there. I became more involved in the club when a group of friends and myself began to volunteer ski patrol in 2008. We were trained to help run the mountain by the full time patrollers and experienced volunteer patrollers who have worked at Cheeseman for many years. We were involved in the day-to-day mountain operations, from running the lifts to assisting racecourse set up. Over the years we have had a lot of training in first aid and emergency scenarios, which involves assessing patients for injuries, administering first aid and transporting the patient off the slopes using toboggans. In the most recent few years I’ve also learned how to assess snowpack stability through digging snow pits, identifying snow crystals and the processes that formed them.

What began as something interesting and fun to do on the weekends has now become what I do every day. I’ve been working as a full time ski patroller at Marmot Basin in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada for the last 7 months. Volunteering for Mt Cheeseman over those 5 years gave me a definite advantage in patrolling overseas, as I had a solid background and experience in patrolling. My job at Marmot Basin today involves all the base skills I learnt at Cheeseman. We spend the day responding to accidents and giving first aid, doing avalanche control and snow safety work, and managing general mountain safety. It is a job that I love and hope to return to a second season.