Our dear friend and fellow Park City Mountain Resort patroller Keith Bates passed away at the age of 79 in his home on October 14, 2013. Keith was an original member of Park City Mountain Resort’s mountain patrol since its first season in 1963 (then known as Treasure Mountain). He was the longest tenured patroller at Park City Mountain Resort and made many lifelong friends with a half century of continuous patrolling.
Keith was born in Park City, Utah and spent his childhood learning to ski jump on Creole Hill with friends. He had a passion for the outdoors and loved camping, hunting and skiing, but ski patrol was a special part of his life. Keith was a great mentor to all patrollers sharing stories and pictures. He would often entertain patrollers with stories of patrolling during the early years of our ski area. Days when skiers would ride coal fired trains up Thaynes Canyon, climb into mine shaft elevators and emerge at elevations of 9,000’ to ski untracked slopes. Keith would help new patrollers understand the original meaning of area names like “Blue Slip Bowl” or why runs have changed names, like “Ford Country” to “Fool’s Gold”. At other times Keith would talk of the years when they couldn’t give away real estate in Park City (hard to imagine today). Many of us special enough to know Keith received his hand-made beaded leather zipper pulls that we proudly keep with us today.
Keith remained an active patroller responding to incidents until the year of his passing. One of many stories we recall occurred in 1997 when Keith saved the life of a 14 year old guest. Keith watched this young skier lose control on an advanced run and launch herself approximately 30 feet into a tree, landing in a tree well over six feet deep. Upon witnessing the event Keith entered the tree well, assessed the unconscious patient, opened her airway, stabilized her C-spine, and radioed for equipment, additional patrollers and an air ambulance. As additional support arrived Keith managed the scene efficiently and with confidence. Approximately eight minutes later the patient was extricated and in route to a landing zone. Keith’s swift reaction, confidence, experience and leadership gave this girl a second chance to live the rest of her life with her family and loved ones.
It is for reasons like the story above that Keith has received numerous national, division and patrol awards over his 50 years of patrolling at Park City Mountain Resort. His most significant accolades include; receiving the national Distinguished Service Award in 1995 for giving extraordinary service to the National Ski Patrol for 32 years, the national Outstanding Alpine Ski Patroller award in 1965, and a Purple Merit Star in 1998 for saving a life. Keith received his National Appointment Number 4374 in 1974. In 1993 Keith was the Outstanding Alpine Patroller for the Intermountain Division. He held numerous leadership roles including Patrol Director, Patrol Ski & Toboggan Advisor, and Patrol OEC Instructor. He patrolled at international ski and snowboard events including the 1985 World Cup and 2002 Winter Olympics. During the winter of 2012-2013 Park City Mountain Resort dedicated its patrol headquarters to Keith Bates.
Dozens of patrollers attended his memorial service on October 19, 2013 in their patrol coats. Keith is survived by his life-long wife Carol, two sons, three daughters, 15 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.