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do patrollers/instructors stay in bounds?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Just curious:

 

With all the clearly marked boundaries and warnings at our resorts (some with notices of numbers of pulled passes); apparently - one instructor from Sugar Bowl decided to take off outside the resort to get down - and hasn't been seen since.  According to news reports, he was well known for going this route by his friends.  It was mentioned in the news as "back country"; but it would appear - at least from my local knowledge of that mountain to be a case of skiing out of bounds/in a closed area - plain and simple.  He wasn't working that day.

 

Over 400 people, and dog teams, looked for 4-5 days and found nothing.   Early on, there were a few "pings" from his cell phone in an avalanche area but not enough to specify location.  There was several feet of new snow on the day he disappeared and more since.   The search has been suspended indefinitely.

 

Do patrollers and instructors go out of bounds more, or less, than the average skier?  Before this, I would have thought they never do unless chasing someone down, but now I'm not so sure.

post #2 of 17
You're asking where the cool kids ski. Here, the terrain beyond the ropes. It's not illegal here. There is an open boundary policy. Don't know the policy at other places.
post #3 of 17

Patrollers often ski on closed trails and go out of bounds. They do this much more than the average skier. We should thank them for doing this. Someone has to do the control work on dangerous terrain (this includes fixing pads to lift towers, setting bamboo, ski packing , testing the snow, throwing bombs, etc.). They can be much more effective doing rescue work if they are familiar with the terrain. Some resorts have open boundaries and allow instructors to free ski or take guests out of bounds. Many instructors are more experienced with back country skiing than the average skier, but resorts consider an instructor going into closed terrain (either in uniform or not) to be a fireable offense (unless they are assisting patrol).. My opinion is that instructors go into closed terrain less often than the average skier.

post #4 of 17

Somebody has to check the closed trails to be sure they need to be closed. 

 

You know there may be hazards lurking in that powder. 

 

Better to have patrol find them before some poacher who may sue because they got hurt.

post #5 of 17

Ski instructors aren't likely to do anything while wearing their jacket and name tag that would be against the rules for a regular resort patron to do.  Instructors aren't likely to duck a rope or do anything else against the rules even without the jacket because most of the time patrols and instructors know each other pretty well.  When I worked at a ski hill the instructors and patrols shared the locker room, private lodge, and ski tuning gear.

 

The only thing I'd question to some degree is this.  I get the concept that ski patrols need to be out on the mountain so they are closer and faster to respond to any and all emergencies out there, but I'd like to see their presence IN the lift lines sometimes too.  Patrols seem to ALWAYS hop in at the front where lessons also get the justifiable cut ins.  Crap (fights, people showing signs of inebriation, people with improper gear)  happens in the lift line too that the occasional patrol presence could prevent.  Perhaps, on a busy day when the number of patrols out there is good, one or two could occasionally work their way through the regular lift line with the rest of us? 

post #6 of 17

I took a powder clinic at Jay Peak one time and was surprised when our group headed straight out of bounds and stayed there for much of the morning.  There were only 2 of us in the clinic with 3 instructors as the more senior guy was showing the other instructors the side country.  I had skied it many times but wanted to rip some trees on this powder with a foot of fresh snow and would not have felt comfortable out in the woods by myself.

 

I guess it depends on a particular mountain's policy.

post #7 of 17

The LURE of skiing the best snow, in the best terrain, under the best conditions is absolutely the siren song of dedicated and passionate skiers just as it was for the mariners  of ancient 
Greece.

post #8 of 17

There are times when I will go through the liftline to gauge the wait times as well as the mood of that days guests.

 

But at all the areas I have worked the gate up front says Ski Patrol and Ski School only for a reason. We need to be up top to respond.

 

I always make it a point to ride with guests rather than other patrollers and try to engage them in conversation. You never know what you can learn.

 

As for OB/Closed areas. Depends on the operation. At my first patrol in Park City, OB was strictly off limits. Other places not so much. Some areas encourage research and development.

 

The OPs example was a good one about "no doing dumb stuff".

post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post
 

Perhaps, on a busy day when the number of patrols out there is good, one or two could occasionally work their way through the regular lift line with the rest of us? 

 

Interesting. Because we tend to spend MORE time in lines than the average person. We are actually encouraged to let guests go ahead of us if there's a line.

post #10 of 17

Each resort has it's own policies. Guests tend to see fresh tracks as "permission" to explore. Patrollers then have to "sweep"/check out the tracks. Most of us know where to ski and where not to ski. H8 having to trash my bases to follow tracks in less than optimal areas. That being said, kids will be kids. Adults should know better.

post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post
 

The only thing I'd question to some degree is this.  I get the concept that ski patrols need to be out on the mountain so they are closer and faster to respond to any and all emergencies out there, but I'd like to see their presence IN the lift lines sometimes too.  Patrols seem to ALWAYS hop in at the front where lessons also get the justifiable cut ins.  Crap (fights, people showing signs of inebriation, people with improper gear)  happens in the lift line too that the occasional patrol presence could prevent.  Perhaps, on a busy day when the number of patrols out there is good, one or two could occasionally work their way through the regular lift line with the rest of us? 

 

Primarily ski patrol are safety.  All have some degree of first-aid or medical training, and they manage the terrain for safety and enforce safety rules when necessary.  They are more like paramedics than police.  There are staff that manage the lift, and lines when needed (or should be).  Generally I would think it their responsibility to summon an appropriate response when things get out of hand waiting for lifts.

post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevescho View Post
 

Just curious:

 

With all the clearly marked boundaries and warnings at our resorts (some with notices of numbers of pulled passes); apparently - one instructor from Sugar Bowl decided to take off outside the resort to get down - and hasn't been seen since.  According to news reports, he was well known for going this route by his friends.  It was mentioned in the news as "back country"; but it would appear - at least from my local knowledge of that mountain to be a case of skiing out of bounds/in a closed area - plain and simple.  He wasn't working that day.

 

Over 400 people, and dog teams, looked for 4-5 days and found nothing.   Early on, there were a few "pings" from his cell phone in an avalanche area but not enough to specify location.  There was several feet of new snow on the day he disappeared and more since.   The search has been suspended indefinitely.

 

Do patrollers and instructors go out of bounds more, or less, than the average skier?  Before this, I would have thought they never do unless chasing someone down, but now I'm not so sure.

 

 

 

Sugar Bowl's ski area boundary's are not closed. They are open - if you go past them, you are on your own. There is remarkably fun terrain back there, but I've only skied it during the spring.

 

Sorry to hear about it.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post
 

...

 

The only thing I'd question to some degree is this.  I get the concept that ski patrols need to be out on the mountain so they are closer and faster to respond to any and all emergencies out there, but I'd like to see their presence IN the lift lines sometimes too.  Patrols seem to ALWAYS hop in at the front where lessons also get the justifiable cut ins.  Crap (fights, people showing signs of inebriation, people with improper gear)  happens in the lift line too that the occasional patrol presence could prevent.  Perhaps, on a busy day when the number of patrols out there is good, one or two could occasionally work their way through the regular lift line with the rest of us? 

 

 

Totally depends on the day. If it's busy and the director saw us standing in line, he would tell us not to wait in line. If it's not busy, he didn't care. I'd usually take the patrol entry regardless and - if I wasn't busy - wait till I found an opening or somebody I wanted to ride up with. If we were busy, I had no qualms about holding folks back and taking the next available chair. Like if the top shack just went to the minimum of available patrollers.

 

As far as fights, we would hardly be around to see one. Usually lift ops call it in. I've only witnessed one fight. As they got off the lift they started swinging away. Nice to get out on the snow and have fun.

 

When you say " work their way through the regular lift line with the rest of us", you need to understand that patrollers are not with the rest of you. They are working.

post #13 of 17

Where I patrol, our general guideline is we can give you information, but we cannot force you to do/not do something. The ski area boundary lines, we inform skiers that it is not patrolled and hazards and routes are not marked, you are on your own. We recommend they have beacons, shovels, probes, partners, but in the end it is up them. We have gates in the boundary lines for access to the backcountry. 

During final sweep if they do not want to ski down, we inform them that the mountain is closing, it will not be patrolled further, and the lights are being turned off. If they want to stay on the mountain at that point it is their call. We will ask for their names in case others come asking about them.

Skiing, even inbounds is risky, when you get on that chair lift you accept a certain amount of risk. Ski Patrol or the Ski area cannot remove all risks. There are unmarked hazards everywhere, and the options for bad decisions are endless regardless of which side of the rope you are on.

Do we ski out of bounds. Sure. Do we ski closed runs. Yes, when we have reason to (and we are not above creating a reason when needed). Do we also pay attention to the need to set a good example, absolutely. 

 

I generally like letting people be responsible for there own choices, but am concerned about liability issues. Of course those decisions are above my pay grade

 

PS, as for jumping the lift lines, that is one of my favorite perks! The pay is terrible (I am volunteer, it costs me money to be on ski patrol) and we spend more time than you know doing grunt work all over the mountain and ski area. we are required to be there regardless of conditions/weather, and when we do respond to an incident the amount of time spent inside on paperwork instead of being back out skiing, is well, like I said I do really like some of the perks like skipping the lift lines. (and on busy days with long lines, as long as we have enough patrollers already at the top, our policy is to let 20 or more skiers go ahead.)

post #14 of 17

What Libexec said;

 

"Sugar Bowl's ski area boundary's are not closed. They are open" (at specific gates)

 

See their web site re. Back Country Safety at:

 

http://www.sugarbowl.com/backcountry-safety

post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 

Well:

 

I know about gates, but I've also seen clearly marked closed borders (most of the resorts, actually) without such gates; and I don't believe skiers are supposed to cross these borders (usually just a flagged rope). 

 

I don't know the information of where - specifically - this missing ski instructor took off outside the resort, if a marked gate or otherwise, or even if that is known at this point.  There's been no news I'm aware of on any remains turning up since he went missing and its been warm this week.

post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevescho View Post
 

Well:

 

I know about gates, but I've also seen clearly marked closed borders (most of the resorts, actually) without such gates; and I don't believe skiers are supposed to cross these borders (usually just a flagged rope). 

 

I don't know the information of where - specifically - this missing ski instructor took off outside the resort, if a marked gate or otherwise, or even if that is known at this point.  There's been no news I'm aware of on any remains turning up since he went missing and its been warm this week.

Depends on the area. At Stowe, there are points which are clearly marked and roped, and say "Ski Area Boundary" on them. But you are certainly allowed to go beyond the boundary. Other places have signs that make it abundantly clear that leaving the area boundary just means you're responsible for your own rescue, and it is not prohibited. 

post #17 of 17

Ski Patrollers are working.  Yes they get time to ski "the line" but actually that is a small perk for the work they put in.  Depending on the ski area some work hard and somes hardly work.     BUT when  you need them, you need them NOW not waiting while they are  standing in a lift line.

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