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Concern: Vail Ski Patrol

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

So I had a little run in with the Vail Ski Patrol today and it brought up a major concern to me. (Side note: everything turned out okay and civilities were kept on both sides.)

 

Background: Today me and some friends, 6 of us total, were skiing Siberian Bowl just before it closed and went to ski orient express. We decided to drop one of the cliffs and in the process we had one member lost a pole and another lost a ski. It snowed a considerable amount today and the powder was around 12"-18" and the lost equipment was buried. It took us about 20 mins to find the buried equipment and in that time frame Ski Patrol had begun their sweep of the bowl. As we skied down a patroller flagged us over began telling us we were all having our passes pulled. When we asked why she said it was for ducking ropes since the bowl was closed. We told her what happened and she insisted that was not possible as she had just traversed under where we claimed to be.( she had not she was in the process of traversing the bottom of the run when she flagged us down). Eventually after some discussion she let us go with out penalty.

 

This brought up a concern to me about how they were sweeping the bowl. I realize the bowls represent a huge amount of area and that it is not feasible for them to ski every run but it seems like an area where they know high risk activity is taking place should be better swept. I am not even sure she could see where we had been from where she was. we had 6 people in our group, so it's not like it was a single person who would be easy to miss. Also I don't understand why she claimed to have been somewhere she clearly had not been.          

post #2 of 19
Thread Starter 

O just to add. I had no problem with the ski patroller flagging us down she was just doing her job, my concern was with how a group of 6 people where missed in a high risk terrain area. 

post #3 of 19
It's a good question, LoneWolf. I've often wondered how patrols are able to thoroughly sweep large areas too, where there are not such distinct runs--especially when there are trees and glades involved. I've participated in Patrol sweeps, too, and I still marvel at it, because ultimately, they seem to be quite effective.

You can, of course, see a very long way in the Back Bowls of Vail. I know that they do have sweep routes carefully planned to maximize their effectiveness. On the other hand, there is obviously no way to look behind every rock and into every tree well every time. Skiers do take some risk when going into such places, especially when they are alone. If you are injured but still conscious and able to speak, it is likely that the Patroller will hear your call. But if you knock yourself out, you may get left behind. Of course, if someone files a missing person report, the resort will scour the mountain with a fine-toothed comb if necessary. I've participated in those searches too, and I know just how thorough they can be when they need to be.

For that reason, if you ever find a buddy missing, do not hesitate to tell the patrol. I know of an incident in which employees were out night skiing and failed to report a missing person until the next day. It's easy to assume that they "probably just went down a different run, or ran into a hot chick and headed to the hot tub," or something. They found the body several yards off the trail in the woods, where the victim had apparently knocked himself unconscious.

Doesn't happen very often, fortunately, but it's an unnecessary tragedy whenever it does.

Best regards,
Bob
post #4 of 19

Whistles are a good thing to carry.

post #5 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by tetonpwdrjunkie View Post

Whistles are a good thing to carry.



And cell phones, even if service isn't always the best. Wear bright clothing. Don't go into trees and remote areas near the end of the day.

 

Not that I follow all of these suggestions, but I've been on sweeps with my brother, esp in gladed areas, where I was pretty uneasy. I am not nor have ever been trained, so take with the grain of salt, but yes, it seems like it would be easy to not see someone. Sweeps seem to work pretty well, though, as Bob said, so ...

 

Of course, there was that guy they couldn't find at Jackson a few weeks back.  Not sure what the story was there, but our friend showed us where they found him, and it was right in the middle of everything. Stuff happens.

post #6 of 19

plus one for taking a cautious last run, a run you can do without falling or getting into trouble. take care of self rule. And we always say it here, always wear a whistle, so easy to do, shouting is confusing.

 

sweeps are mostly successful at clearing the hill, but the buddy system (reporting someone overdue) is a required back up. A lady was missed at Squaw, skiing intoxicated late in the day, no one reported her missing, assuming as ^^^^she had met a guy and taken off somewhere else, and the coyotes got her before morning.

post #7 of 19

Patrol can't look in every tree well or behind every rock.  If you ski alone, you take a chance.  Skiing is dangerous.  

 

Every now and then the patrol mgmt. where I work will, without telling the patrollers, stash a dummy somewhere unexpected as a test before sweep.  

 

Fairly often we've stayed late looking for someone reported missing that we didn't see on sweep and they turn up in town or way OB.  Skiing trees by headlamp is an experience.  

 

As far as the OP goes, I wasn't there, I don't know, but sometimes patrollers miss a pattern or a section.  It happens.  

post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 

Yeah I understand that patrol can't look behind every rock and in every tree well but we were sitting in the middle of the run, granted it was near the top of it but we weren't in some obscure side area or anything. And above all  what bothered me the most was that patroller insisted she had been somewhere she hadn't.

 

I have an immense respect for ski patrol and their patience in dealing with often uncooperative people who think they have a right to do whatever they want or puting themsleves in dangerous situations to help a complete stranger. I guess it was just an eye opener for me.

 

Davluri you're right we should probably reconsider doing that type of run near the end of day next time. It was just that the snow was absolutely amazing and that run was essentially unskied but ti's that type of thinking that gets us in trouble. 

post #9 of 19

Initially I was thinking it was pretty bogus for her to lie about being where you claimed to have been, but maybe that was an attempt to get you to admit you had done what she suspected you of doing (ducking the rope). If you had not been where you had claimed to be, you would have assumed she was telling the truth and likely would have changed your story. You stuck to your guns, convincing her your story was true. Deceitful but it enabled her to better assess your credibility. I know how it feels to be called a liar when you are telling the truth, but I guess she did what she felt was best and in the end she let you go. 

 

As noted the back bowls of Vail are so wide, it's impossible to sweep it thoroughly, so the patrol will try very hard to discourage folks from entering that area after it has been roped off at the end of the day. Maybe better to question your veracity than to accept your story at face value and leave the members of your party thinking they can get away with breaking the rules.

 

The fact that you were not sighted by the patrol on their sweep should be a valuable lesson to you and everybody reading this thread. We can't assume there will be help on the way when things go bad.

post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by telerod15 View Post

Initially I was thinking it was pretty bogus for her to lie about being where you claimed to have been, but maybe that was an attempt to get you to admit you had done what she suspected you of doing (ducking the rope). If you had not been where you had claimed to be, you would have assumed she was telling the truth and likely would have changed your story. You stuck to your guns, convincing her your story was true. Deceitful but it enabled her to better assess your credibility. I know how it feels to be called a liar when you are telling the truth, but I guess she did what she felt was best and in the end she let you go. 

 

As noted the back bowls of Vail are so wide, it's impossible to sweep it thoroughly, so the patrol will try very hard to discourage folks from entering that area after it has been roped off at the end of the day. Maybe better to question your veracity than to accept your story at face value and leave the members of your party thinking they can get away with breaking the rules.

 

The fact that you were not sighted by the patrol on their sweep should be a valuable lesson to you and everybody reading this thread. We can't assume there will be help on the way when things go bad.



That's actually a really good point that I had not thought about and yes if the experience taught me anything it's that the buddy system is absolutely essential in that type of terrain. In our case the worse case scenario would have been someone losing a piece of equipment and having to slowly work their way down. Had someone gotten hurt things would have had a much higher consequence.

 

I also felt kinda bad that we ended creating that extra stress for her and any other possible complications but I guess things like this happen and that's why they do sweeps.    

post #11 of 19

I look at ski patrol as a gift horse.  It's nice to have, but I don't rely on it.  I'm self-reliant.  I expect no help.  I am responsible for me.  I'll still be mighty grateful if I do get help some day.

 

Telerod beat me to it.  She lied to catch a liar.  You, not being a liar couldn't see it.  Police lie all the time to trap criminals. I would have a hard time doing that.

post #12 of 19
davluri makes a good point. I am usually skiing alone and will often make the trek out to a remote area as the last run of the day. I usually have the entire area to myself. Peaceful but prolly not smart.

Though funny story - a few weeks ago I was out on my end of day trek and decided to answer the call of nature. Was way out there on a very remote tree shot with no one around. So I stopped and um... Answered. As I was finishing I hear this voice above me say, "you need to drink more water". Lo and behold a patroller wad perched on top of basically a rock point. Had to climb up there. Prolly provides a birds eye view of third bowl and well, my activities...
post #13 of 19

As a ski patroller, I will take a different semi-edjumacated guess on her "lie":  From her standpoint, she closed the ropes and swept the bowl.  If you came down after her then she has two possible scenarios to pick from - that you ducked a rope after she closed it, or she missed you during her sweep.  She had chosen the former as the more likely event (or had simply assumed it), and may not have been lying.

 

Some great points of view and advice posted here that anyone skiing a big resort should heed.

post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by eblackwelder View Post

As a ski patroller, I will take a different semi-edjumacated guess on her "lie":  From her standpoint, she closed the ropes and swept the bowl.  If you came down after her then she has two possible scenarios to pick from - that you ducked a rope after she closed it, or she missed you during her sweep.  She had chosen the former as the more likely event (or had simply assumed it), and may not have been lying.

 

Some great points of view and advice posted here that anyone skiing a big resort should heed.


The thing is I was watching down the bowl the whole time( I was further down the hill already and people were already helping look for the lost equipment so I didn't climb up) and no one traversed in at point that was any where near the top of the run or the middle from what I could see. They would have been able to see us from the very bottom but I don't think she could have seen us if she had traversed in mid way which I'm not sure is even possible to due. 

post #15 of 19

Another piece of corroborating evidence for your story, if your pass had been pulled, was the Epic Mix record of your last lift ride.  If the timing of that ride put you in reasonable position to be skiing the run before the ropes were dropped, it would certainly lend strengthto your argument, especially if you had a history throughout the day of skiing from lift to lift fairly quickly.

post #16 of 19

And as a side note to the post above, any resort with ticket scanning can pull the exact same information.  Epic Mix just exposes the access control data collected via RTP to the web.

post #17 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post

 

Telerod beat me to it.  She lied to catch a liar.  You, not being a liar couldn't see it.  Police lie all the time to trap criminals. I would have a hard time doing that.

 

I prefer the term, "Bluffing."  wink.gif

 

...or to quote Elwood in The Blues Brothers, "It wasn't a lie; it was...bullshit."

post #18 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skierish View Post

 

I prefer the term, "Bluffing."  wink.gif

 

...or to quote Elwood in The Blues Brothers, "It wasn't a lie; it was...bullshit."


post #19 of 19

This is why so many Risk Managers hate the term sweep and instead use terminology like Trail Closing Procedures.

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