A gray area | AspenTimes.com

A gray area

Editor’s note: This letter was sent to The Aspen Times before Skico officials made the admission it calls for in the final paragraph.Dear Editor:I did not know Blake Davidson, the young man who died tragically last week at Snowmass. I do know that for the Aspen Skiing Co. to come out directly after the accident and paint him as a rope-ducker who paid the ultimate price to ski closed terrain is irresponsible and inappropriate.I have lived and skied here for over 20 years, spending many of my days on Snowmass and in the wall. I skied four laps in the wall on Wednesday, the day before Blake died. I skied Lower Ladder just minutes after they opened it. I skied to the top of the cliffs where Blake would die the next day. I saw the closed sign above me, right at the top of Rayburn’s next to the Rayburn’s sign. I considered the cliffs below me. They were buried in deep snow and quite inviting. I decided against a line through the cliffs because I wasn’t interested in digging for my skis on a powder day. I took a line to the left of the rocks, then cut right under the cliffs and made some fresh tracks. My ski partner took a similar line, cutting even higher under the cliffs between Rayburn’s and Lower Ladder.We are conscious skiers and are aware of closures. We saw the signs, we skied under the cliffs between Lower Ladder and Rayburn’s. Not once did we feel like we were bending, much less breaking the rules. There were ropes all over the wall that day marking off huge sections of terrain. There were no ropes at the top of those cliffs. Just a closed sign indicating that Rayburn’s was off limits.I returned to Snowmass on Saturday and got a good look at the slide. It sent chills up my spine to know that the day before it happened I had skied literally feet from its path, my partner likely in its path, with nothing more than open snow between us and where the slide would run. It could easily have been me, and I don’t ski in closed areas. I would not want to be remembered as having died in closed terrain. Not there. It wasn’t closed.Blake Davidson died tragically in a gray area between a closed and open run that many good skiers would have considered fair game. The Skico needs to admit that this tragic accident took everyone by surprise happening where it did, that the Ski Patrol did not explicitly close those cliffs, and that Blake jumped, and died, in terrain that could reasonably have been considered open.Ned LucksBlue Lake