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Winter Park Patrol. Attitude could be better.

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
My friend and I were at Winter Park Saturday. It was my friend's first time at WP and only tenth day of skiing. I talked him into buying the Rocky Mountain Super Pass this year as he is now hooked on the sport. We had been to Copper four days this year, but I have been telling him how great a place WP is, especially the Jane side.

This brings us to Saturday. After a little exploring, we decided to check out Rainbow Cut under the Pony Express lift. To our delight we found great snow and no crowds. Our second trip down my friend was quite a ways behind me and took what he thought was a run through the trees to the right about 2/3 of the way down. The path dumped him out on a run that was closed (the one that comes down right in front of the Pony Express lift.)

He did not realize this was a closed run until he looked back up the hill and saw the rope. He skied the 300 yards down to the bottom, and was met by ski patrol. The patroller was very terse and abrupt with him. My friend apologized for being on a closed run, and explained to him that there was, what looked like a run, that led him to the closed section. My friend suggested that the entrance should be marked "closed" and even offered to ride up and show the patroller the spot in question. The patroller told him that he didn't care about how he got onto the run, but that he needed to know the run was closed.

My friend again apologized and told the patroller that it was his first time here, and that he did not realize there was nothing open to the right of Rainbow Cut. The Patroller dismissed this and continued to threaten to fine him $1,000 and yank his pass.

I was watching this from the loading area of the Pony Express and while it was going on, there were about ten more skiers and snowboarders that came down the hill. In fact, the run was skied out to the point it almost looked open.

I understand warning people for being OB or on closed runs, but please use a little common sense and courtesy. My friend (52, on 140cm skis, old teal and black spyder jacket) is not going to duck the ropes just for kicks. He acknowledged the warning, accepted the reprimand, and tried to engage the Patroller in a discussion about how he ended up on the run so that it would not happen to anybody else. The Patroller did not, in my opinion, act very professionally.

There is such a thing as being firm, and yet remaining professional.

By the way, about two laps later, the entrance was marked "closed".
post #2 of 20
Yeah, I have had a similar experience with winterpark ski patrol. Much the same situation, I was in the trees and got flushed onto a run that was closed. Dumb luck ski patrol was just going going by on Corona way at the bottom of the run. I got much of the same attitude, even though I had come out maybe 20 yards up the hill on the closed run and he had seen me come out of the trees. It wasn't like I had poached the whole thing.
I admire the job ski patrol does, but since this incident I have become backcountry savy and understand a lot more about snow science. The conclusion I have come about Winterpark ski patrol is that they are too lazy, or (more likely) too understaffed by Intrafag to do their job correctly. So situations like what your friend went through are likely to happen. I think they are overworked and overstressed with the lack of man power they need. Best to just avoid the lobster backs at all costs.
post #3 of 20
It's still a young season...give the patroller a chance to grow into his ego; tragically, we all see this much too often from newbies and experienced patrollers alike. Not sure which is the bigger offender.

Also, I keep hearing about patrollers threatening all sorts of legal as well as financial repercussions for various and assundry perceived transgressions.

Other than pulling my ticket and perhaps banning me for life, does this "fine you $1000" and "we'll have you arrested" language actually float in the real world?

Seriously, aside from kicking me out (and off of their private property), where is it written that my purchasing of a ticket is acquiescence to abuse and idle threats...or are these threats backed by the power of some law or something?

P.S. I'm a newbie patroller, having first patrolled 25 years ago during college. All of these "patroller a-hole" posts really help remind me that the reason I got into patrolling in the first place was to help people enjoy themselves and stay safe. All of this "power ego" junk is good to hear and it'll keep me in the right frame of mind. Thanks to all for sharing!
post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by airshowguy View Post
All of these "patroller a-hole" posts really help remind me that the reason I got into patrolling in the first place was to help people enjoy themselves and stay safe. All of this "power ego" junk is good to hear and it'll keep me in the right frame of mind. Thanks to all for sharing!
I did not want this to be a "patroller a-hole" post. Believe me, I chastised my friend for not checking out the open runs and realizing that he could not go right from where we were at. I was just hoping that one of the WP patrollers would read this and remind their bretheren about professionalism.
post #5 of 20
I'd think that patrollers have to deal with people who cut through trees to poach closed runs all the time. I understand the lack of patience with people on closed runs whatever the reason.

At Breck there's one Blue run in particular that has a road across it. The road blows in with snow and you can't see it. More than one poacher has died on it as they hit the deep blown in snow above the road and then face plant directly on the road. Runs are closed for a reason. And if you're on one, just because you didn't duck a rope doesn't mean you deserve understanding from a patroller.
post #6 of 20
Some areas have a "smile school" where they train patrollers in how to deal with public. Some areas must not.

I sure hate to hear about bad attitudes. Poachers can be a real problem, and don't seem to realize that we just want to keep them alive, but stories like yours don't make the job any easier. Sorry, we aren't all like that.
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by breckview View Post
I'd think that patrollers have to deal with people who cut through trees to poach closed runs all the time. I understand the lack of patience with people on closed runs whatever the reason.

At Breck there's one Blue run in particular that has a road across it. The road blows in with snow and you can't see it. More than one poacher has died on it as they hit the deep blown in snow above the road and then face plant directly on the road. Runs are closed for a reason. And if you're on one, just because you didn't duck a rope doesn't mean you deserve understanding from a patroller.
I agree with almost everything you said. I also agree that my buddy needed to be givin a stern warning to put the fear of god into him. Maybe that way he will pay attention next time.

That being said, the patroller could have at least acknowledged the fact that he thought he was on an open run and offered to go check it out. He did not just duck into the trees on a deer trail, it was a large opening that looked like the access road. I went and looked at it. All across the rest of the resort, and at Copper the previous days, the access roads that led to closed runs were blocked off.
post #8 of 20
I will give your friend AND the Patroller the benefit of the doubt.

Skiers have the obligation to know where they are going and what is open and closed. You simply can not rope everything.

Patrollers have the obligation to mark as much as possible and to educate not berate.
post #9 of 20
Sounds like a lot of whining from you and your friend instead of owning up to the mistake.

Your friend was 2/3 down a run and then turned into a closed area to the right. My guess is that you both went by numerous CLOSED signs on the right side of the run. Did he see them? If not, who's fault is that? Is it not his responsibility to pay attention to posted signs? You say he didn't see signs, but then you say he could see a rope line when looking up hill? So does that mean he went around signage and a rope line in order to enter the closed area?

When the patroller explained to your friend that he was in a closed area his response was to come back with some excuse. Sorry, but that does not change the fact that he was in a closed area. The fact that he failed to see the posted signs does not excuse his action, it only explains how he ended up breaking the rules and skiing in the closed area.

That mean patroller did what?
Did he pull you friend's pass - apparently not.
Did he have your friend arrested? - apparently not.
Did he listen to your friend's explanation - apparently so as a sign was added later (likely due to there now being ski tracks leading into the trees at that spot).
Did he smile and tell your friend "OK, you didn't see the signs so you're fine being in a closed area? apparently not - so he MUST somehow be "non-professional".

You need to understand that the patroller was doing his job. If he did not repremand your friend for being in a closed area he would not be doing his job. If you and your friend don't pay attention and see posted closures you are not being responsible.

Did your friend (and you) learn to pay more attention in order to avoid closed areas? If so, then the patroller was professional and did his job. He educated you both in the importance of being responsible, paying attention to all posted signs, and staying out of closed areas. To me it sounds like he did the right thing.
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinecone View Post
Sounds like a lot of whining from you and your friend instead of owning up to the mistake.

Your friend was 2/3 down a run and then turned into a closed area to the right. My guess is that you both went by numerous CLOSED signs on the right side of the run. Did he see them? If not, who's fault is that? Is it not his responsibility to pay attention to posted signs? You say he didn't see signs, but then you say he could see a rope line when looking up hill? So does that mean he went around signage and a rope line in order to enter the closed area?

When the patroller explained to your friend that he was in a closed area his response was to come back with some excuse. Sorry, but that does not change the fact that he was in a closed area. The fact that he failed to see the posted signs does not excuse his action, it only explains how he ended up breaking the rules and skiing in the closed area.

That mean patroller did what?
Did he pull you friend's pass - apparently not.
Did he have your friend arrested? - apparently not.
Did he listen to your friend's explanation - apparently so as a sign was added later (likely due to there now being ski tracks leading into the trees at that spot).
Did he smile and tell your friend "OK, you didn't see the signs so you're fine being in a closed area? apparently not - so he MUST somehow be "non-professional".

You need to understand that the patroller was doing his job. If he did not repremand your friend for being in a closed area he would not be doing his job. If you and your friend don't pay attention and see posted closures you are not being responsible.

Did your friend (and you) learn to pay more attention in order to avoid closed areas? If so, then the patroller was professional and did his job. He educated you both in the importance of being responsible, paying attention to all posted signs, and staying out of closed areas. To me it sounds like he did the right thing.
Maybe you should read the previous posts before offering your opinion.

None of what you stated is the reason I thought the patroller acted un-professional. He was not 2/3 down a run and turned into a closed area. There were no ropes to the right, in fact, right above that opening the trees were open to the right. He thought he was taking a trail that was open. As I said before, he is 52 and has ten days skiing, and is not going duck ropes or take deer trails.

He also did not try and make excuses or beg forgiveness. He knew he had dumped out onto a closed run as soon as he looked up the hill and saw the ropes. This was after he came out of the tree run.

My buddy was not looking for an "aww, that's allright" or kind word. He was ok with getting his butt chewed. He also wanted to make sure other people didn't make the same mistake. However, the patroller was more interested in showing how much authority he had.

The patroller acted unprofessional because he refused to acknowledge that there might be an opening that looked like a trail leading to a closed run. Even when there were ten other persons coming down the run.

Yes, the opening was eventually roped off, an hour later. How many people had to go through it before it was closed? Maybe if the patroller had taken some time away from playing super-trooper and checked out the situation, it would have been closed earlier.

As I stated before. I respect patrollers and am glad they are on the job. I have never had contact with one, other than the occasional ride up on the lift together.
post #11 of 20
OK, I am a little confused. You said:

"...and took what he thought was a run through the trees to the right about 2/3 of the way down."

and now say:

"He was not 2/3 down a run and turned into a closed area."

But in any case I guess I miss just what was done that made you think he was playing "super-trooper".

You need to understand that almost without exception anyone stopped in a closed area is going to tell you why it was not their fault. The most common "excuse" of all is "I didn't see any signs" regardless of how many signs are actually out there. You also need to understand that part of the patroller's job is to educate guest in regards to the policies of the resort. Failing to do so can get the patroller in trouble. The easiest thing for the patroller to do is ignore it, but that is not an option his employer allows. Your friend was in a closed area, the patroller tells him that is against the rules. That's how it works.
post #12 of 20
As a note, it may have taken you an hour to see a new sign or rope installed. OK. That does not mean that the patroller did not get this done in response to your friend's input. At most resorts signage is carefully controlled and adding an additonal sign requires a supervisor's approval. Patrollers generally don't just add signs wherever they feel like. If a road or other obvious entry was missed, it was a mistake that got corrected. In many cases however, its just a gap in the trees that only becomes obvious after a dozen skiers have made their tracks into the opening. Then a judgement has to be made if another sign is required. Maybe your friends input helped the situation after all.
post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinecone View Post
As a note, it may have taken you an hour to see a new sign or rope installed. OK. That does not mean that the patroller did not get this done in response to your friend's input. At most resorts signage is carefully controlled and adding an additonal sign requires a supervisor's approval. Patrollers generally don't just add signs wherever they feel like. If a road or other obvious entry was missed, it was a mistake that got corrected. In many cases however, its just a gap in the trees that only becomes obvious after a dozen skiers have made their tracks into the opening. Then a judgement has to be made if another sign is required. Maybe your friends input helped the situation after all.

Pinecone; my way of thinking is this. If an area is closed and needs additional signage or needs to be closed, any one of my patrollers can make that decision. We can always re-assess.

Its the openings and removal of warning signage that involve a greater degree of supervision.

But that is at my area, all programs differ slightly.
post #14 of 20
also be aware, that at Winter Park/Mary Jane, all the trees are open for skiing, unless roped and signed.
post #15 of 20
Pine Cone, normally i'd side with your attitude and I've had nothing but the absolute BEST experiences with Winter Park Ski Patrol. Unfortunately some ending up at the clinic, but that's another story. Anyhow, i have always found them to be professional and caring.

That said, I think I am familiar with the area the original poster was talking about. It is now called the pony express trail. It starts though a track to skier's right about half way down Rainbow cut and is a slot in the trees that ends up directly under the pony express lift. If the skier had only ten days on snow, this is a very poor choice of run. It is rocky and has many, many small sapling trees and it takes a lot of snow to cover it. (My cousin torqued his knee on one of those hidden, buried saplings as late in the season as January.)

However, it is hard to get to that trail except through the entrance to it. Either that trail was not roped off as it should have been or else the skier was not going into some place that "looked like a trail." In my recollection, there is no place besides the regular entrance to that trail (which is partially hidden) that looks remotely like one. So it would seem, without having been there of course, that the rope to that trail was indeed missing. If it wasn't then the patroller had every reason to disregard the skier's contention that he got there by mistake.
post #16 of 20
I would tend to side with Patrolers on this one. It is early season, and I was up on Saturday and conditions were pretty sketchy on most of the WP side and much worse than the week before, and I would think the same held true for MJ. In the 12 years that I have skied WP/MJ, I have never had a negative experience with any patollers.

In addition, at the top of the Zepher lift, was a sign clearly stating that accessing closed runs, even via the trees could result in a $1000 fine. I assumed the same sign would have been on the MJ side as well. I have never seen them with that sign before, so I assume that it is a new initiative for them to crack down on such things at this time. I do think that as more snow flies and the mountian opens up, they would loosen up on this considerably.
post #17 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom View Post
That said, I think I am familiar with the area the original poster was talking about. It is now called the pony express trail. It starts though a track to skier's right about half way down Rainbow cut and is a slot in the trees that ends up directly under the pony express lift. If the skier had only ten days on snow, this is a very poor choice of run. It is rocky and has many, many small sapling trees and it takes a lot of snow to cover it. (My cousin torqued his knee on one of those hidden, buried saplings as late in the season as January.)
.
Mom,

You are close. The run he was caught on was Rainbow cut. They had both Lower arrowhead, and Rainbow Cut open off of the Pony lift. However, Rainbow Cut was closed for the last 400yards or so (from the access road to the bottom). When coming down Rainbow, you had to take the access road left through the trees and it dumped you onto Lower Arrowhead. Immediatly below where the access road dumped you out, there was what looked like another access road going back into the trees. This is what dumped the skiers out onto the closed section.

The first time down we skied Lower Arrowhead, but noticed there was another run open to the skier's right (Rainbow). The second time down we were again on Lower Arrowhead when he took what he thought was the access road thinking he was going to the other run. If we would have went down rainbow Cut the first time, he would have known it was closed at that point.
post #18 of 20
OK. I know where you are talking about and can see how he could've made the mistake. Still, when he saw lower Rainbow Cut was untracked, he could have easily cut back to Arrowhead Loop at that point and obviously should have. Maybe because of his age, the patroller assumed (i know one should never) that he ought to know better. Can understand the irritation at being yelled at but still think benefit of the doubt for the patroller is in order - and, really, every encounter i've had at WP with patrol has been very good and I've been going there many years. So, tho it is easier to say than do, your friend ought to let it roll off and try not to let it color his future good times at the Jane.
post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by bunion View Post
Pinecone; my way of thinking is this. If an area is closed and needs additional signage or needs to be closed, any one of my patrollers can make that decision. We can always re-assess.

Its the openings and removal of warning signage that involve a greater degree of supervision.

But that is at my area, all programs differ slightly.
yup, that's pretty much at my area also.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pinecone
You need to understand that almost without exception anyone stopped in a closed area is going to tell you why it was not their fault.
Don't forget, just like cops, we've heard it all, and most of us hate having to play cop. Also, in that situation, how much impact would his message to "pay attention while skiing" have carried if he was smiling and laughing it off while delivering it. Don't forget, he was caught in something that could possibly result in serious injury or death, and the patroller needed to convey that.

If I were the patroller in that situation, I would not believe the opening was not signed, but that he skied right passed it without noticing the signage. Of course, being on the east coast, we have a limited number of entrances to trails, we all know where signs are needed to close a trail, and that rarely gets screwed up. I've seen skiers pass by within 5 feet of a closed sign and not seen it, so odds are, a warning to pay more attention while skiing would be called for. I would also radio in to get a patroller to double check on the signage, and that patroller would have to call in that it wasn't signed, and possibly have a sign skied down, so that could take a bit of time.
post #20 of 20
Hey all, just throwing in my 2 cents cause I like to

Mom & No Pain - Thanks for the props, it's nice to be appreciated

AirShow - in response to your question, the Colorado Ski Safety Act was updated in '06 to increase fines for closed trail violations from $300 to $1000 if the resort chooses to press charges. For closed trail violations in Avalanche areas the resort can press criminal charges for endangering rescuers.

And as far as closing trails, the Ski Safety Act stipulates that the resort only has to place a sign at the top of the run, no ropes are further signage is required. We usually put up more, but don't have to.


cheers
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