Skiers fined, lose passes following avalanche
Two local skiers have been fined $150 for poaching a closed run and setting off an avalanche at Snowmass Ski Area on Monday.The men have been identified as 19-year-old Sandro Kaelin of Aspen and Evan Campbell, 19, of Basalt. In addition to the fine, both had their passes pulled by the Aspen Skiing Co.”Right now they’ve been pulled for an undetermined amount of time,” Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle said. “We have no plans to give them back soon. We don’t know when or if they will get them back. We’re still evaluating.” Neither skier was buried nor injured by the slide, which set off a massive search from patrol and local residents. A total of 29 people and two avalanche rescue dogs assisted in the search. “All we have to say is we didn’t think we ducked any ropes, and we didn’t know we were in a closed area,” Campbell said Friday. “We took a beaten trail into the trees like many people had gone in before us.” Kaelin could not be reached for comment. Sgt. Brian Olson of the Snowmass Village Police Department said the area was obviously closed.”It was clearly marked and well within [the area of] a series of closed signs and ropes,” Olson said. The avalanche occurred in a permanently closed area near the Green Cabin cliffs between the Upper Green Cabin and Reidar’s runs at about 3 p.m. Patrol received a cell phone call at 3:09 p.m. that a pair of skis was protruding from what appeared to be a fresh avalanche. One of the men lost his skis in the slide. He reportedly grabbed onto a tree when the snow fractured and the force of the slide ripped his skis free, carrying them to the bottom of the run. The fracture was about a meter deep, 15 meters wide and ran about 100 meters. The search was called off shortly after two skiers appeared at the top of the Alpine Springs lift at 3:42 p.m. One of the skiers did not have his skis, and they eventually admitted to setting off the slide. The Skico handled the initial investigation before handing it over to the Snowmass Village Police Department. Olson said about 15 other $150 fines have been issued this season at Snowmass Ski Area for skiing in closed areas, but this was the first incident that involved an avalanche. Olson said he spoke with both men and they “expressed remorse” for their actions. “They went into an area, and they were not paying enough attention,” Olson said. “All the signs were there, but I think they went in there with blinders on. “They felt bad about how Skico and patrol had to respond to it and that they came close to their demise.” The avalanche danger was rated high on Monday. Steve Benson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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