The term ‘Dawn Patrol’ originally referred to surfer’s getting up extremely early - sometimes before sunrise (i.e, "dawn") to go surfing, a time when the waves are their purest, unaffected by wind, and when according to surfers, it feels most spiritual to surf. Surfing and skiing of course share many parallels (and enthusiasts). But for me, it was the the application of the concept to an early morning in the mountains that made for an extra special experience one February morning last winter. Reminiscent of a heli ski day, as close as I’m ever likely to experience in a resort.
Squaw Valley, in Northern Californian hosted the 1968 Olympics and is also famously known for being home to some of the best pro skiers on the planet- (Shane McKonkey, Kent Kreitler and other ‘soul’ skiers’ but more on that in another post).
Squaw followed suit of some other famous North American resorts and launched a Dawn Patrol programme. A select small group of skiers and boarders can ride the lifts 1 or 2 hours early, allowing them to ski the mountain in it’s most pristine state- either freshly groomed groomers, or powder laden off piste slopes first.