12 cited for skiing, riding closed terrain on Snowmass
While powder days are a reason to celebrate, they can also be dangerous, and law enforcement and Aspen Skiing Co. officials are currently treating violations of safety rules seriously in light of the current snowpack conditions.
The Snowmass Village Police Department has issued 12 citations over the past week to skiers and snowboarders entering closed in-bounds terrain on Snowmass ski area, according to Chief Brian Olson. Since it’s a violation of the Skier Safety Act, which has been incorporated into the town code, the Snowmass police can issue a $150 fine to first-time offenders.
The first citations were issued Feb. 23 to two men caught in Garrett’s Gulch, which was closed that day. On Feb. 27, five teenagers entered closed terrain on the skier’s right side of Sheer Bliss, near KT Gully. One, a 17-year-old female, skied off a cliff and got stuck part of the way down. Patrollers had to repel down the cliff to rescue her, Olson said. The chief wasn’t aware of any injuries she sustained.
Then, on March 2, three Pennsylvania residents ducked a rope into Garrett’s Gulch. Later in the day, two seasonal residents of Snowmass Village entered the same run while the Ski Patrol was conducting avalanche control. They were in the gulch when one of the charges went off.
The snowpack is fragile now after a long, dry period followed by heavy snowfall, said Jeff Hanle, spokesman for Aspen Skiing Co.
“It’s extremely important when we have this type of snowpack and snowfall in a short period of time that people obey all in-bounds closures,” he said.
On Feb. 23, an Aspen man skiing outside the western Aspen Mountain boundary was killed in an avalanche. Skico doesn’t prevent people from leaving its terrain and skiing out of bounds, Hanle said. But avalanche danger can exist in-bounds, and Snowmass has more runs that open and close depending on conditions than the other Aspen ski areas, Olson said.
If Ski Patrol closes a run, it’s for a reason, Hanle said.
“Use common sense,” Hanle said. “Don’t get carried away with powder fever. And those runs open when they’re ready. Go get ’em then.”
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