Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Schweitzer's volunteer cleanup machine

Posted By on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 3:26 PM

click to enlarge larrycroppedresized.jpg

Everyone has their own personal reason for skiing or snowboarding — exercise, fresh air, excitement, adventure. In addition to all of those, one Spokane man has another reason: Collecting trash. 

If you have spent any time at Schweitzer Mountain Resort, you have seen him. His name is Larry West. He frequently skis under the chairlifts, the Hollywood line, with that one focus in mind.

I had the opportunity to ski one morning with him and got a firsthand glimpse of what he does every day he is on skis, which coincidentally, is every day of the ski season, logging as many days per year as Schweitzer is open. The mountain's awarded him for this feat with a free season pass.

On the chairlift recently, I jokingly said, as if I was on a two-way radio, “Larry West, do you copy? There is a piece of trash located between the 5th and 6th tower on the Great Escape Quad.”

Larry responded, “I do get text messages from people alerting me of the location of trash.”

As the day progressed, and as we rode more lifts, he would talk about his different finds under the chair. Gloves, cash, candy wrappers. Later that morning, he noted a glove under the chairlift. As we got off the lift, he asked the snowboarder in front of us if it was his glove. The snowboarder said, “Yeah.” Larry offered to pick up a glove for him and the snowboarder responded, “No, it’s okay. I have an extra pair.” Larry made the mental note of the location of the glove, mumbling something about going back to pick it up anyway.

Later that morning, we rode the Great Escape Quad. As we made our way up the mountain, he pointed out the tracks under the lift and spoke about a recent successful gathering adventure. Chairlift rides, for some, are about scoping out their next run, or playful banter amongst friends and strangers. But for West, it is about checking out possible conquests for keeping the mountain free and clear of unwanted trash, or helping skiers and boarders reunite with their fallen gear.

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