History of Falls Creek Ski Patrol
The first ski patroller in Falls Creek was Brian Caddy with two casual ski patrollers Rob Sarroff and David Crooke, and this was in the early 1960’s. Up until this point, Bob Howe as president of the Albury Ski Club, and a few competent skiers from his club and Myrtleford Ski Club, successfully completed the St Johns Ambulance first aid certificate in the hope that the management committee of the day would roster on two patrollers a day in return for free ski lift tickets. This plan fell through, but the year after Brian Caddy was employed as head of Ski Patrol.
In 1972 the “official” Falls Creek Ski Patrol was created under the advisement of Dr Rodney Moss with the support of the Management Committee. At that time, there was one or two patrollers on staff, increasing to five members at peak times. By 1977 there were six or seven patrollers, and currently there are around 40 patrollers on the team with 13-14 rostered on each day during peak season.
In 1974 the Australian Ski Patrol Association (ASPA) was formed with the purpose of service to the skiing public in areas of skier safety and rescue work. The objectives of the organisation were to establish minimum proficiency levels for Ski Patrols and the education of the public in mountain safety. On the 14th of March, 1975, the Falls Creek Tourist Area Management Committee applied for membership to ASPA. At that time, Falls Creek Ski Patrol was known as Falls Creek Ski Rescue. As part of the acceptance into ASPA, Falls Creek patrollers started to wear the recommended uniform of a white cross on a red parka.
Alex Warrender Memorial Ski Patrol Base
Alexander Simon Victor Shaftsbury Warrender14.6.1955 – 26.8.1976
From Russian and British heritage, Alexander Warrender was born in Melbourne and educated at Melbourne Grammar and Geelong Grammar School. He was one of four children of The Honourable Simon and Mrs Pamela Warrender – a member of Melbourne’s retailing Myer family. Having grown up on skis at Falls Creek, starting aged 2, Alex was known for his gentle but strong nature and ability to care for people.
Alex was much-loved and known for his infectious sense of humour, quiet voice, spirit, long blond hair, sense of humour and kindness; he had a quiet voice but people listened. Other than motorbikes, Alex’s first love was the sport of skiing at which he excelled – it was said he was naturally gifted. He was devoted to Falls Creek, where his mother Pamela first visited in 1951 and later took her family up all year round and where they ski to this day.
After leaving school in 1973, Alex decided to live at Falls Creek and went on to join the Falls Creek Ski Patrol under the leadership of Jack Heberle – these are said to be the halcyon days of Falls Creek. Alex was quickly promoted to second in charge of the Patrol aged 20 and was of the first fulltime paid patrollers on the mountain. He and his good friend Simon Allen, who is currently a ski patroller, and other identities including Denis Maloney formed a close-knit group undertaking the important first-aid role at the resort.
Alex played in the band at the Frying Pan in the Bowl and spent summers tickling trout on the race line – Falls Creek was his home. Tragically Alex died in a car accident on the Oxley Road leaving the mountain on 23rd of August 1976 during one of the worst storms in the valley for many years – the road was badly flooded. His death came as a shock to the village and to all who knew him as he was such spirited and unique individual.
His funeral was a St John’s church in Toorak, and ashes were scattered on The Summit in a ski formation of the letter A by his young brother Simon and members of the Patrol.
After Alex’s death, a small hut was constructed at the top of the Summit in 1980 which houses first-aid equipment used by Ski Patrol for call-outs in the Summit and Maze areas, and where a plaque was placed by Ski Patrol. Each year since Alex’s death, at 5pm on the 23rd of August, Falls Creek Ski Patrol gathers at this hut along with members of the Falls Creek community to remember Alex and other patrollers no longer here. This annual event is referred to as the Warrender Night, and celebrates the spirit of the Ski Patrol and village; a party is hosted afterwards by Simon Allen and Janine Randall.
Together fellow ski patroller Simon Allen, younger brother Simon and members of the Patrol raised funds and materials to build The Alexander Warrender Memorial Ski Patrol Base located on the ridge to the left at the top of Eagle Chair. The building of the Base was managed by Dennis Maloney with the help of other members of Ski Patrol. Opened by Alex’s mother Pamela on August 23rd 1990, the Base is a state of the art on-snow operations centre for Falls Creek Ski Patrol to carry out their day-to-day activities.
The Falls Creek Museum at the bottom of Halley’s Chair has a display of Ski Patrol memorabilia, including Alex’s Ski Patrol jacket.
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