Originally Posted by Mom
I know you are a sensitive guy and I agree that the whole thing is F<>ked and tragic. And it gives me as a WC skier some pause. (hence the beacon in bounds even it makes me look like a wanna-be schmuck :-O...)
BTW, the report said, "Three of the charges say Pitcher was not permitted to conduct avalanche work beyond the resort boundary and two of the charges involve unauthorized use of explosives, on days not involved with the accident." It does not indicate that they used explosives at that site on that day. Pitcher did on the other site, but it does not appear that they did.
Wait. You are again showing your reading comprehension is better than mine. The CAIC report clearly shows the "Mountain Manager" [Almost certain Pitcher by inference given the position and the fact that he's the guy that got charged] placed charges the day of the accident.
However, If all the reporting is correct, he is not drawing a criminal charge for those specific charges. Why not?
The answers I can come up with are...
1. The FS approved him to throw charges there, despite apparently not approving avalanche mitigation.
2. For some reason explosive use is ok at that site, but not at other areas that he threw bombs on different days. He wasn't cleared to "mitigate" terrain on a random mountain deep in the San Juans, and they are charging him for that, but maybe you aren't prohibited from detonating explosives there.
This whole situation is loony. I was floored reading about this this morning. I let what I know about Mr. Pitcher fill in a lot of the blanks, and maybe that wasn't warranted.
I am inferring a lot from the fact that the Forest Service was so pissed off about this incident that they decided to charge the owner of the ski area- that kind of thing tends to poison a relationship, and either the missing details of this story explain why they were pissed enough to do that, or maybe this was all on the up and up, they had gotten approval from the Forest Service to go and study whatever they were attempting to study (getting some helicopter-assist descents as a definite bonus- one doesn't automatically preclude the other), and then things got screwed up and somebody with an axe to grind decided to come after Davey.
The more I look into this, the more I realize that I am lacking a lot more knowledge than I thought. My father died February 27. I read the initial news report that this had happened, but wasn't really following the story. I thought there wasn't a lot of information released about the nature of why they were back there- I was wrong.
This article from the time of the incident provides a lot more information.
Colin Sutton, 38, died Tuesday while conducting exploration and snow science research via helicopter just outside Wolf Creek Ski Area on Conejos Peak in the South San Juan Mountains. Wolf Creek had been working on a development plan with the San Juan National Forest, which granted permission to explore adjacent terrain.
“At one time, Wolf Creek had applied for helicopter skiing permits in different areas,” ski area owner Rosanne Pitcher said. “We try to stay in areas where the good snow is, and Conejos Peak is one of those. They were just kind of checking it out for the day.”
She said a group of six skiers was on the mountain at the time of the avalanche, with a two-passenger helicopter in the air.
So, that is why they were out there- Wolf Creek was thinking about a heli-ski operation, and ski patrol was figuring out what the terrain risks were. It seems a lot more warranted that part of scouting for a future heli-op would involve both snow science and descending to be picked up by helicopter. Again, just because that was fun does not mean it wasn't reasonable.
So, according to WC, they had permission to be out there- apparently the contention is a misunderstanding. The Forest Service doesn't think they were cleared to throw explosives, I assume WC thought they were. Why this misunderstanding is leading to criminal charges against a guy not at the site where the patroller was killed relies on missing parts of the story.
Finally- My earlier comments were ignorant of the situation. I will be editing them out until more information becomes available.