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Don’t blame your foolishness on others

Many thanks to the Aspen Skiing Co. and the Snowmass Ski Patrol for opening the east wall of The Cirque earlier this week. The skiing/riding there is exceptional, and rarely do we get the chance to access that terrain.

Thanks also to Doug Mackenzie and Mike Kaplan for sticking by their decision to open that area and keep it open.

For the people who got in there and got themselves hurt, it’s truly shameful that there are a few of you attempting to blame your foolishness on others, namely the patrollers here who are wonderfully able to keep us out of avalanche danger, but strong willed enough to open hazardous terrain to us so we can more fully enjoy the entire experience of lift-serviced, in-bounds skiing.

If you are not willing to assume the inherent risk of skiing that type of terrain and carefully assess the options for descent, particularly when it is first opened, then we ask you to be intelligent enough not to go there at all.

Maybe instead of whining about the danger of this area and demanding a “bamboo farm out there,” our friend from Denver, Mr. Wood who was “unfamiliar with the terrain” should have stayed to skier’s left with his partner from Minneapolis “where the terrain looked less daunting.”

Or maybe this self-described “expert” skier should have just observed the warning signs before entering and skied the green track Rocky Mountain High down to a zone that better suited his abilities … like Elk Camp. Or maybe, just maybe, for his next adventure travel plans, he might remain in the metro area and opt for the safety of the Teacup Coaster at Elitch Gardens.

As for you Brent Gardner-hyphen-Smith, your statements are truly pathetic. You are a local and should know better.

What do you see up there in The Cirque in the summertime? A big grassy field mowed to PGA golf course standards? No, you see rocky, rugged terrain that is wind swept, exposed and barren year round. You’ve been here long enough to know that’s no “promised land.”

What it can provide is some of the best lift-accessed skiing that Colorado has to offer during the rare times we get enough snow, and the patrol is generous enough to work to slide control it and then open it to the public. What it isn’t is groomed for your power-wedging comfort.

You might remember that the Skico and the patrol are in no way obligated to open hazardous terrain, and your weak-minded comments foster a sentiment of resentment among them toward making the effort to do so.

What we need is appreciation for the opportunity to ride in mentally and physically challenging terrain, where the risk is lessened by ski patrol’s knowledge and experience in controlling the avalanche danger, but not every inherent risk is removed that gives the sport life and makes it exciting.

As my friend C.P. said after tumbling through the very same rocks as you, coming up bruised and bloody with a blown edge on one ski, but smiling as wide as your last name is long, “Well … that was my own damn fault but sh*t that was fun!”

To close, let me emphasize that I don’t fault either of you for getting over-amped and getting yourself hurt. I broke my collarbone in December throwing 360s on my tele-skis in the Assay Hill terrain park without having gone through the proper learning progression on telemarks. It was also late in the day, the snow was hard and icy, I was tired, and I was showing off for friends.

The difference that I understand and you apparently do not, is that it was my own stupid fault for ignoring all the indicators of potential trouble that I just listed, and my own knuckleheaded learning experience to go through. It was not the patrol’s fault for “dropping the rope” on the wildly dangerous Kiddie Terrain Park …

Scott Calliham

Snowmass Village

Editor’s note: It must be pointed out that Brent Gardner-Smith made no statements in the article blaming the ski patrol for his accident.


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