FAIR WARNING

I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to read Kim’s previous entries CLOSURE POACHING on March 30th and RESPONSE TO COMMENTS ABOUT CLOSURES on April 1st, but if you haven’t, this will make more sense if you take a moment to do so now.  (dum-dee-dum-dee-dum)

 

After repeated unfortunate encounters with guests not exercising common sense, we’ve come to the conclusion we need to amp-up our enforcement of terrain closures and penalties for violators.  This isn’t anybody’s favorite part of the job, but after this past week or so, we all want to make sure we’re sending a clear message to people whose actions put us, and others, in danger!

Line-duckers we catch will lose the privilege of entering Boyne USA resorts like Alpental, Brighton, and Big Sky, as well as Crystal, for the rest of this season for sure, and possibly some of next season.  That’s for a 1st offense.  People we’ve caught before should plan on getting trespassed, and dealing with a Sheriff anytime they return.  And the way we’re feeling now, there’s very little to discourage us from sharing names and photos with our buddies at White Pass, Steven’s Pass, Whistler/Blackcomb, Mt. Baker, Mount Hood, etc.

 

What I’m trying to convey here, is that we’re serious!  From my own selfish point of view, I need to be able to come to work each day with some measure of confidence that I won’t be blamed for blowing up or burying someone who skis/boards in under an explosive charge I’ve deployed.  Poachers always claim "I’d never sue for anything like that", but I know from experience that the kinds of people who don’t respect ski area closures come from the kinds of families that certainly WILL find someone else to blame for the bonehead decisions of their injured or perished loved-one.

 

We LIKE to get terrain open quickly.  We enjoy seeing our hard work result in our customers having fun, and skiers and boarders tracks help mitigate future avalanche hazard.  Yesterday, we "cut it close" when we opened Northway.   The sun was coming out and we wanted to get track compaction into the avalanche starting zones before the warmth of radiation caused post-control releases.  

So the 4 poachers who ducked into Paradise only a couple minutes ahead of the ropes being dropped were lucky they didn’t head slightly to the left into the path of our lit shots.  The scary thing was that the dumb girl (with the 3 dumb guys) didn’t even really understand that it was a close call. 

 

OK, sorry to be a downer!  Back to happy skiing and riding stuff!

 

 

12 thoughts on “FAIR WARNING

  1. spruce

    i for one certainly appreciate everything that you guys do. terrain is opened fairly timely and the clinic has helped out quite a few friends extremely well. surely i know and have seen alot of poachers this week, skiing northway on wednesday with lots of barely covered tracks from tuesday(when it was closed), waiting for the ropes to drop on saturday into northway and watching person and after person drop in while i helped an offduty patrolmen open first the spookhill gate and then niagras. the one thing i hope you all do take into consideration is listening a little more to some of us locals and at least hearing what we have to say about some issues. i do agree that anyone crossing a rope while you guys are still bombing is completely in the wrong and should be treated as so, but there has been some situations this past week that easily could have been prevented by both parties. hopefully there can be constructive dialog about this so these problems do not occur again, instead of an instant blame game on both of our parts. a letter will follow about my particular situation and from others and once again this is to help out in the future and clear the air about policies.

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  2. Andy Martin

    Thanks for the comments on this contentious subject. Personally, as a 20 year Crystal Mountain skier I’ve had plenty of frustration with terrain closures over the years. However, patrol did a GREAT job on Saturday, April 3rd after a good dump. I think a lot of skier frustration in the past has been caused by the apparent emphasis on closing and policing terrain, rather than doing what seems like an easier job of controlling and opening it.
    I read the discuusion on rope lines and gates and will just have to agree to disagree with you on some of those. There are threee in particular which just don’t seem to make sense:
    1. Avalanche Basin ropeline from the Throne all the way down to chair 6. Why not just control the slide paths off the Throne into Avalanche basin and open up? I have never seen evidence of slides in the lower, heavily treed portion of the area. Alternatively, move the rope line to the Avalanche Basin side of the trees.
    2. The weird rope line skiers right of Niagaras has nerver made the least sense to me (or anyone else I ski with).
    3. The front side rope closure lookers right of Chair 6 near the top. Once the area has filled in some why not just post a few “Caution, Cliff” signs? That will keep the gapers out and allow the rest of us to hit those great fall lines. There are dozens of similar areas all over the mountain with the same hazards which are open, so why pick on this one?
    I will say that I think patrol is doing a better (and earlier) job recently of opening terrain and it is noticed and appreciated. Once everything is open there is no need for poaching, policing or griping, as well as less work for you.
    Thanks for listening.
    Corey Responds:
    Thanks for your comments, Andy.
    YOUR #2 is easiest to start with. That ropeline isn’t put there to enhance skiing. It’s put there to enhance safety. It keeps people out of avalanche terrain when we haven’t had a chance to control it adequately, and to keep people from skiing in under (or into) lit explosives. Yeah, we know it’s wierd and don’t really like it, but it’s necessary.
    YOUR #3: Imagine you’re us. It’s tricky finding the fine line between letting the right people into an area and keeping the wrong people out. By that, I mean letting-in those who will have a good experience there, who will take responsibility for the risks they take to get that good experience, and have the knowledge & experience (like knowing where the rocks & stumps are and knowing what to do if they hit ’em) to provide for their own safety.
    So this season, the snow hasn’t pasted in quite like it typically does along High Campbell, and those chutes are bonier. Contrast that with Penny Dawgs cliffs which were closed due to lack of filling-in LAST year, but are almost all open THIS year! It’s just a temporary thing.
    Yeah, we hear from people who think we’re too conservative, but we also hear from people who blame us for their owwies and broken equipment when they go into similar terrain that was “just fine last year” because it’s different this year.
    Those cliffs are just so easily accessible–tracks in them are so visilbe–that it seems most prudent to keep them closed until there’s a better base…..but it’s just a temporary thing. Crystal has better places to ski this year.
    UPDATE 4/7/10: We just opened more chutes!
    YOUR #1 is hard to answer without sounding kinda arrogant and rude. (Sorry!) Basically, it sounds like you’re suggesting you’re entitled to understand what’s taken others years to learn on the job. If you’re serious, come work with us and we’ll explain it all!
    The A-Basin ropeline is on the downhill side of the heavily tree’d portion” so we can see that its in place and doing it’s job, keeping people out of CLOSED avalanche terrain. Take out your probe and poke around the bottom of the trees on the UPHILL side, and you’ll find your evidence of avalanche activity. Putting the ropeline though the middle of the tight trees would be difficult to manage, and not that many people would be served by opening up a little skiing in tight trees, right? Let me know if this doesn’t make sense!.

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  3. Xtal Skier

    Corey,
    Good post…sorry to hear people ducked under the lines again on Sat… was a sick day.
    I hear what your saying… but I would really like to see xtal review their policies. I see a few issues. First people do not take, nor understand the seriousness of your ropes. I have previously posed about this with solutions (basically less closed signs used as warning indicators). Secondly, saying NO and NO LOUDLY will not always work. In stead I would like to see crystal double down on hiring more ski patrols like you and Kim to get areas open quicker… If the area is open there are no poachers.. problem solved. I look at it like the alcohol prohibition period in America, people went to great lengths to get their alcohol, even doing illegal things like poaching. Once alcohol was legal most of the illegal activity associated with it also went away.
    I do not know the finances of xtal… but in the end hiring more patrolers may be cheaper than spending hours after closure to look for somebody whom may have skied into a closed area.
    Next year… your problem is going to be a thousand times worse with the gondola.
    Getting mad at people having stiffer penalties is not a long term solution. Just think about it please.
    Oh… and I saw the ranger asking people if they had their backcountry gear on Sat. while they hiked into South… that could be the start of a good policy change to help smarten up your clientele. 🙂

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  4. DMG

    We really appreciate all your hard work on the mtn.
    Love to see the stiffer penalties for rope poachers, pretty simple for locals that follow the rules. There is always plenty of goods to ski on the hill when we are waiting on avy work to be completed.
    Can you post the data the Rainier Ranger was recording on Saturday? I am all in favor of the beacon/shovel/ partner policy for SB entry.
    Thanks again for a great week!!!
    Corey Responds:
    Days-off aren’t cooperating, but working on it. I heard about 1/3 heading South had transceivers. Some had them “in the car”(wtf?) though. Thanks for your comments!

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  5. JSL

    I’d like to reiterate all the priorly stated appreciation for the hard work the patrol puts in keeping the mountian safe and opening it in as timely a fashion as possible.
    I’m all for stiffer penalties for poachers as well as an increased effort to circulate knowledge among customers about the reasoning behind existing policies and any changing penalties or policies. Unfortunately the customer demographic that needs reaching isn’t the one reading the ski patrol blog.
    I’m also very curious what the official patrol stance is on enacting a mandatory backcountry gear policy for slackcountry/ backcountry areas. The increase in BC skiers and riders, relative ease of the traverse out to Joe’s BA shoulder to sparkle party, dogleg and beyond combined with the incident that occured out there this season has made me think that this must be something that is being actively discussed among patrol.
    I hate the gate to bearpits via forrest queen. It does not need to be so high on the high cambell face. This traverse is brutal for snowboarders (who often slow down traffic on days like Friday when upper mtn is closed). Why not move the gate down for more equitable access for those of us with 2 edges. What’s the ratioanle behing that gate location or the lack of gates into those trees that drop skiers left off the shoulder of downhill?
    You guys are awesome.
    Kim responds: You make a good point about the BP gate off of FQ. We’ve always put it there because it allows for a traverse into the far left hand side of BP. A gate placed a little lower would not allow a good traverse–and it might encourage a bad one across the lower gullies. However, it is something to consider. Thanks.
    Corey Responds too:
    Ditto what Kim says. I checked this out once just to see, and I’m pretty sure a “snowboard” traverse gate would bring you into tight trees in humpy little gullies. However, I was on skis so maybe my trajectory wasn’t perfect.
    In terms of “official patrol stance”, our signs say it all. A partner and equipment are recommended! We talk about requiring the gear from time to time, but remember that buying the equipment doesn’t prevent the avalanche, and suffocation is only one source of fatality–many avalanche deaths are due to trauma!. So safe skiing techniques:
    – travel one-at-a-time,
    – keep partners in sight,
    – stop only in safe zones,
    – ski cutting starting zones,
    – pole straps off wrists,
    – waist belt unbuckled unless you have a built-in avalung or Backcountry Access ABS, etc.) can help PREVENT the problem in the first place!

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  6. Level 3

    “Pole straps off wrists” is priceless advice. I used to be the first to show how to grip the straps correctly, but after breaking a thumb during a crash, I’m more likely to recommend removal of straps entirely. The CM ski patrol is among the most talented patrols in the world. Increasing the size of the patrol seems less pressing than the deep need to further educate the public – who the patrol is assigned to protect.

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  7. Andy Martin

    Corey,
    Thanks for your considered responses to my comments. I appreciate you reading them and taking the time to respond.
    Another stellar day today (April 8th) and kudos to patrol for getting as much open as possible and keeping things running in 64 mph wind gusts!
    Corey Responds:
    Thank YOU for stickin’ it out despite the cold. (Twice my jacket zipper froze shut and I couldn’t answer my radio!) Some ‘big weather’ days are a little scary for us because there aren’t enough people skiing the steep stuff to keep the avi starting zones cut up & stomped down. So we really appreciate it when people rally to tough it out and tear it up.
    Next time you’re up you’ll notice we have snazzy new “Caution Cliffs” signs in those chutes you asked about which we finally got opened up for the first time this year!

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  8. Stein

    you need more patrol. they showed up in the S back at 11am the other day, 2 people, then an hour later 2 more guys. they bombed until 2 or so and then didnt open it? Hire more patrollers to cover the newly expanded terrain. come on.
    Kim responds: Which day are you referring to here? If it was Friday, I can explain. Patrol was ready to open Southback before noon. However, right when we finished up our last route, the bottom terminal of chair 6 lost power. The people on the chair were safely off-loaded using the auxilliary motor, while our crack electricians troubleshooted the problem. Amazingly (in my opinion at least) they were able to figure out the problem and get the chair and Southback open in about an hour.

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  9. My humble opinion is for the skiers who are so eager to get into roped off areas is for them to get some back country gear and go find your own mountains to ski and be responsible for yourselves. Its pathetic to harass the Patrol for doing their jobs and then expecting those same guys to come rescue you when you eat it. You’re skiing on a private mountain by their rules. They do a great job. Have some patience or like I said go find your own mountain this state is filled with them. If you love back country that much take the next step – the vibe poachers create is taking the soul out of crystal. Just chill and enjoy the fact that you dont have to earn your ride by getting a lift to the top. If you want your cake and eat it to then respect their system. I bet 90% of the skiers complaining have never taken a first level avalanche safety course…

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  10. Erik

    you guys are so cool, all anyone has to do is just ask you.
    I like your Tattle Tale network for poachers, tell all the other ski areas in the world, extend your control issues nationwide (power trip much?). I’m sure once you gave them a call at the Grand Montets about the “bad” poachers you would get laughed out of the ski biz. You Americans are such gapers and your attitudes belong in a Nursery School.
    Be men , not faggoty little Tattle Tales.
    Kim responds: Hey Erik, if Crystal is bumming you out so much, maybe you should find another ski area.
    Corey responds too: Really? Grand Montets? Are you some kind of psychic or something? You had the entire EARTH of ski areas to choose from, and you picked Argentiere, the only place I’ve ever been scolded for skiing past the piste signs (off the groomers into the adjacent pow) without a “guide”, and told that violating boundaries would land us in JAIL! All we do here is pull your skiing priviliges. Sheesh! But yeah, things in France do seem generally more lax. (By the way, some of us are women. Not me personally, but welcome to the 1970’s!)

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  11. Andy Martin

    Corey,
    Thanks again. I LOVE those stormy days with fresh refills all over the mountain and all the wussies at home or in the lodge! We certainly noticed all the new snow instabilities and ski cut plenty of good sized sluffs. Top producers were first tracks in the Doors, just below Elk chutes and Niagaras. The storm snow was completely cohesionless and didn’t entrain much as it ran, but it was fun. My partner and I are more than willing to help you guys by ski cutting in closed areas, just let us know! Thanks for the new “00” chute signs as well. Cheers.

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  12. Sharon Peters

    Get gates open faster on good days and people won’t have to Poach.
    Corey responds:
    Gosh, why didn’t WE think of that?
    Sorry for the sarcasm. You’re right–though I’m not sure anyone HAS to poach; I think it’s a decision people make–but the naivety of your sentence is the kind of thinking that kills people.
    Remember, the ropes aren’t just there to warn you away from your own untrained decision making, but also to protect the people you’d hose, down below. Kinda like the hiker that got buried at Snoqualmie Pass last weekend. (4/10/10)
    On some days, explosives just don’t do the trick and ski cutting or allowing time for additional snow settlement is necessary. Sometimes we close gates mid-day for explosives work or because warming is causing avalanches in previously-stable terrain. There’s a bunch of other reasons too, explained other places on this blog. Please stay out of closed areas.

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