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Old 02-16-2006   #11
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 108
Originally Posted by Salto
It is illegal to duck a rope into an area deemed CLOSED by thte ski area. It is not illegal to duck a rope from an open area in a resort to public lands. Its our right, we own the lands. It is illegal to re-enter a resort by ducking a rope, returns must be done through a gate, or at the base area of the resort. Monarch has told me that once you leave their permitted ski area you are not allowed to return at all.
do you have a source for this? I know public lands proponents always claim this, but I am not sure it is true, I believe you can be fined for ducking a rope, period. Remember, just because it is public lands doesn't mean that there isn't the ability to regulate it, including closing an area altogether.

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Old 02-16-2006   #12
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Eagle County, Colorado
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From Vail Daily:

Rope-ducking fine could increase to $1,000

Bill to increase fine for skiing or snowboarding in areas closed by ski resorts has support

J.K. Perry
February 15, 2006

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EAGLE COUNTY — Skiers and snowboarders riding in areas closed by ski resorts could be fined $1000 if a bill to increase penalties is approved by the state Legislature.

The bill has the support of some law enforcement agencies in the mountains and not surprisingly, some locals are unhappy with the current $300 fine and don’t like the prospect of an increase.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” said a Vail Resorts employee who admitted to frequently skirting the law but asked his name be withheld for fear of recriminations from his employer. “It’s ridiculous because if you get stuck in there it’s your own fault. If it’s in the ski area, you should be able to ski it.”

Vail closes two areas to discourage skiers and snowboarders from riding in areas where snowshoe hare, elk and lynx are more common. One is near Simba run and the other is in Blue Sky Basin. Beaver Creek closes four areas, two where avalanche danger is higher and two on private property.

The fine for riding through closed areas is $300. The backcountry is not covered under the law. The new bill unanimously passed the House Local Government Committee on Tuesday.

High Country sheriffs, including Summit County’s John Minor, said some riders are not deterred by the $300 ticket.

“I believe it’s just a blatant disregard,” said Minor, who expects to cite 80 skiers for violations this year. “We’ve done so much education on this that I believe people know that it’s a crime.”

But in Eagle County, Sheriff Joe Hoy said deputies have not fined anyone for riding in closed areas. The reason may be the restricted terrain at Summit County’s resorts is more challenging and attractive to skiers than restricted areas at Vail and Beaver Creek, he said.

“We don’t have a lot of that terrain that is still inbounds,” Hoy said. “There’s not as much terrain that would be too good to resist.”

An increased fine is likely to prevent rope ducking, Hoy said.

“For some people the temptation to duck a rope is a big deal,” Hoy said. “Now all of a sudden we slap a $1,000 fine on it and they’ll start to think.”

Summit County — home of Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin and Copper Mountain — has had seven search-and-rescue operations for missing skiers and snowboarders this year. One snowboarder spent two nights in the Jones Gulch area at Keystone and the sheriff’s office is trying to recoup the costs of that search, which included $1,000 for a helicopter transport to a hospital.

Minor’s concerned about how busy his county’s volunteer search-and-rescue team has been, he said. The group has gone with ski patrollers into areas covered by deep snow and dotted with sinkholes and downed trees.

The searches costs taxpayers too because the sheriff’s office pays for the workman’s compensation insurance for the volunteers, Minor said.

However, teams statewide aren’t seeing a similar trend, said Howard Paul, executive director of the Colorado Search and Rescue Board.

Rescues of skiers and snowboarders — both in closed areas and in the backcountry — accounted for 5 percent of missions in 2004. Hikers, meanwhile, accounted for 30 percent of that year’s 1,427 operations, Paul said.

Winter rescues can be more labor intensive and require volunteers who are skilled skiers and trained in avalanche danger, Paul said.

“The people who are doing the searching this weekend are very frequently out doing backcountry skiing themselves the next weekend, sometimes near the same area,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Vail, Colorado

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Old 02-16-2006   #13
Poison Slingin'
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 48
As crazy as it sounds, Saltos right! This information was new to me as well until a couple of weeks ago when my director at certain ski area got out of a meeting with certain Colorado Ski Country USA lawyer. Apparently the topic came up and to all you poachers out there Salto hit the nail on the head. No patroller will ever tell you this and I would be willing to bet that most don't even no the actual law and probably go by whatever their superiors tell them. I know it sounds crazy, but just make sure you know where your going and be safe.

Also Salto their is now a BC Gate along the boundary of Mirkwood...it's at the bottom of S. Elation...probably where you've been skiing.
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Old 02-16-2006   #14
Poison Slingin'
Join Date: Dec 2004
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As I sit here and kick back a few more PBR's something else has come to mind about Saltos post. You might actually be breaking the law at a cetain ski area when you duck the rope into this certain ski areas "cat skiing " terrain. Why? Well you said it yourself. If you are ducking a rope that has been put in place within a ski areas permit then you would violating this rule. This certain ski areas permit includes all of the cat skiing terrain. So that would probably be violating the "you can't duck that rope rule." For example, before Monarch opened Mirkwood Basin you could access it though a "well hidden" gate. That would be legal. But say you were feeling a little lazy and just decided to cut the rope up high and make a sweet traverse out to Lodge View. Mirkwood Basin has been within the ski areas permit area at least since they started the cat skiiing operation back in 89'. Would it be then a "bad rope" to duck being that it was closing an area within the ski area permit? I don't know! Maybe their is some stipulation between the actual ski area and cat skiing area, but I do know that it all lies within Monarch ski areas permit with the forest service. Also for all you Monarch lovers out their, Monarch's permit area, regular ski area and cat skiing terrain, is a lot larger than what you may think. Just because it doesn't seem like it's being skied and lies just beyond the "boundary" doesn't mean that it's not within the permit area. I am sure the same could be true among many areas in Colorado. I guess you just need to make sure you are entering National Forest/BLM land that is not part of a ski areas permit. Otherwise you could be at risk of being slapped with $1000 fine. Bummer! Better know what kinda rope yer dukin'.
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Old 02-16-2006   #15
Join Date: Jun 2004
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The Couloir articles are old, but the precident in the law has not changed. The way the ski law is written, and the new "$1000 law" for that matter, is ripe for judicial review. As a lawyer, I love these debates.

Depending on the lawyer you talk to, interpretation of the Colorado ski law means a lot of things (duckin' or not to duck). An attempt to define the "boundaries" is (as stated above) a ripe area for a "test case;" I'll throw in a couple bucks for ones legal defense!

As for the lawyer the patroller talked to, it's all opinion in the legal realm.

Taking sides...(with focus on Monarch), BC is grand and there's great access to the cat area from Waterdogs. I have been reamed out by the cat operation for "using their terrain," I give 'em a big finger every time; they ONLY have a consession permit to use forest land for cat purposes. As Salto said this is "our" land (although access can be limited by preemption powers anytime), so ski it. With so much great BC around, I don't think about access from the resort much.

My intention is not to be to "heady" or change the course of discussion to Monarch, only to add a tad to the conversation. Even though I enjoy law, I live for blasting Black flag, driving FJ40's , putting in steep skin tracks & drinkin' whiskey; no lawyer jokes please.

Continue the debate.
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Old 02-17-2006   #16
Poison Slingin'
Join Date: Dec 2004
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Not a patroler...any more. Thanks for the info. Quit giving us the finger, your probably one of the guys who asks for a ride when we pass, but then again maybe you are not. Looks like another good weekend of skiing around here. Have fun, be safe.
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Old 02-17-2006   #17
Join Date: Jun 2004
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I try to limit my motorvehicle use when I am in the BC. I haven't asked for a ride yet, but when I get older and my knees are shot to hell I may. I strictly save my "bird" usage for when I am confronted with "you can't ski here;" if I am on the Divide or for Texans driving out-of-control on the pass.
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Old 02-17-2006   #18
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Golden, Colorado
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That said I think it's a large fine and there should either be more gates or less ropes, people should be responsible to make their own decisions... it works in Europe.
Agreed- Personal responsibility in the backcountry is paramount. I wish we could have Europe's 'open-door' policy to backcountry access. However, until tort law in the US is completely re-written, that ain't going to happen. And there's something to be said for the cost of backcountry rescue- helicopters aren't cheap & funding for Search and Rescue is always lean.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but maybe there's a way to alleviate the liability to the resorts while allowing responsible backcountry users access through that terrain. What about a specific liability waiver + rescue insurance purchased at the resort pre-season that allows you to use your resort pass to gain access to the backcountry via their lifts? They could even require avy gear (and probably an Avy I course) as part of the application process. Fines would apply to those who use resort lifts to access the backcountry without a permit. Yes, I know the Hiking Certificate covers rescue costs, but we're talking that tricky resort equipment (lifts) / public lands interaction.

Don't get me wrong- I'm not terribly excited about more regulation. But if you're not willing to skin / bootpack up above treeline to access that terrain and you want to use lifts, that might be a good option. And if they area has to send out patrollers / sleds to help get you out of there, they have at least some funds to pay for that. [The Sky couloir incident is a good case in point- worth a read on the CAIC website]

What would it be worth to you?

PS- I'm not a lawyer, so this might be de-bunked by someone with a JD.
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Old 02-17-2006   #19
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Just to keep the debate real, I know for a fact that the $300 fine has been dropped on people requiring S&R in summit county after ducking a closure from the ski resort into national forest land. Whether it's possible to legally challenge i do not know, but if you go through the closure you have a chance of sorting that out with a sheriff/lawyers when contacted by ski patrol. I'm all for more BC gates, but when I go out most gates I see people all over skiing 45 degree slopes solo or without avi skills/packs. Therefore, due to irresponsible users, i understand why the forrest service is reluctant to place more gates (the forrest service, not resorts determines the placement of gates). They end up with the S&R/helicopter bills.
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Old 02-20-2006   #20
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2004
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It was my understanding that in Summit County the closure ropes are placed 10 feet inside the actual ski area boundary. They do this since it's illegal to duck closure ropes but not illegal to duck boundary ropes (going from the ski area to the forest service land.) Other counties don't do this. So it's legal to duck boundary ropes in Vail and BC.

Can anyone confirm this?

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