Babies in Backpacks

We got asked to put something on this here ski patrol blog to spread the word about babies in backpacks on chairlifts.

 

I figgered "Well that’s easy." 

"Ya’ can’t take babies in backpacks on chairlifts." 

Pretty concise article, huh?

 

OK, here’s a little more: 

Apparently it’s a long-standing company-wide policy at all Boyne Resorts, just like it is at many other resorts.  In fact, according to Beaver Creek’s website, taking babies in backpacks on chairlifts violates Colorado’s State Tramway Law.  (I bet you didn’t even know Colorado HAD a Tramway Law, did you?)

And my ski buddy Laura who works in Switzerland a lot, says it’s illegal in that ENTIRE COUNTRY!

 

So backpackin’ babies are welcome to lap the gondola all they want–they just can’t go on the open CHAIR lifts.  If you’ve ever paid attention to how often people bullwheel their packs and drop stuff off chairlifts, you’ll understand why–at least from a safety standpoint–it’s something a company might not be excited to be in-the-business of facilitating.   I assume that’s the reason behind the rule.

 

Safety Point #2: If you choose to ski with a baby in a backpack, make sure they’re secured so they don’t go shooting out the top if you fall.  I read on the internet that that happened someplace.  Also, if you fall, try to avoid squishing ’em!  Babies make a lot of loud unpleasant noises when squished.

 

Safety Point #3:  If you choose to ski with a baby in a backpack, keep ’em warm.  I read of a tragic case of parents who took their baby cross country skiing.  The parents were kept warm by all their exercise…but not the baby.  Even though they had it bundled up, it died of hypothermia.  They thought it had just fallen asleep.  And apparently Switzerland’s law comes partially from amputated baby-limbs caused by both frostbite and the constriction of blood flow from the way the babies hang in packs.

 

If what I read elsewhere on the internet holds true here, some of you reading this will say "how dare you threaten the welfare of babies by allowing parents to take them into the harsh mountain environment", and others will say "how dare you threaten my freedom by limiting what adventures I choose to expose my family to".  

Either way, please be nice to the Lift Operators who have to enforce the rules.

 

 

17 thoughts on “Babies in Backpacks

  1. John D.

    Thanks for the post. Spoken I’m guessing from a non parent. As a parent actively raising three little rippers, carrying babies in backpacks has been an important family tradition in order to get the whole family out. Crystal has always had a gracious policy with children letting them ski free until age 10. Thank you! And for years we have carried our kids in backpacks on your open lifts. What upset me recently was once the new gondola showed up, suddenly the no kids on lifts policy was enforced, and we had to pay $16 for our two young ‘ens to use the gondola. 5 year old on skis, 2 year old in the pack. Do you REALLY want these age kids skiing off mountain top? IN theory its safe, but our terrain at Crystal just doesn’t work well for a gondola only policy, so I think you guys need to think this through a little more still. Fortunately, I am an expert skier and very comfortable skiing with a kid pack, and my 5 year old can manage fine on most those upper mountain runs, so we are fine. But is that really where you want families skiing with young kids and not on Forest Queen?
    LIsten…for the record, your no kids in packs on open lifts policy is fine, and if you want to take Colorados position fine, but is that really what you want to do? The only beef I had was that you suddenly changed a decades old tradition with no warning. I’m glad my wife didn’t buy a season pass this winter (based on other unrelated circumstances) or she’d have never gotten out since we can no longer take the little one. SInce Crystal is kid-friendly, My suggestion is something similar to what Alpental has with their backcountry cards. A special liability waiver that we sign, special “safe lift loading clearance,” a special inspection of the pack to make sure there are not loose straps that would snag. Parents could carry a clearance card all season long, and you could limit kid packs to Chinook and Forest Queen six packs which are so easy and safe to load and unload with plenty of space.
    Anyway, I’d say think it through some more. Maybe interview a family like us who does this responsibly rather than read horror stories about Swiss knucklehead parents on the internet. I know a ton of patrollers and ski with you guys often and know you’re concerned about safety but this is not the answer. And keep in mind the timing of the “safety policy” is awful suspicious that it started being strictly enforced this year once the $8 per kid gondola opened up.
    Bottom line: our family is safe, we love Crystal, kid packs work great when used correctly and safely to get kids out on the slopes and comfortable with the sport.

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  2. Robert H

    It is all fun and games until someone gets hurt
    than it is the ski areas fault.
    If you love your child you want to share adventure with them. If you ski with them you will fall with them.
    If you fall on them you may hurt them. Risk vs. Reward.
    Is the skiing for you or the baby?
    Selfish actions that put others at risk are questionable at best. Have Fun dont hurt anyone.

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  3. K

    Sorry, John D. I agree with the mountain and I’m a parent. Carrying kids in backpacks (or frontpacks) in my opinion is more for the parents bragging-rights/benefit than for the kids. A bad fall and you’ve caused damage to the child that you will regret for life Just wait a few years and take them when they can ride the lift on skis. It’s only a couple of years out of your long ski-career and you can probably find other safer ways to bond with the kids til then. My dad skiied til he was 80 — you’ll have a lot of good turns left after the kids turn maybe 5.

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  4. MC

    I think you guys are missing an important part of John’s comment. If he is skiing in the company of his 5 year old, he likely isn’t sking off the top of Chair 6 (although with 5 year olds nowadays you never know). Most likely they are skiing down Queens run, or should I say they were until this policy started to be enforced. Now it looks like they are forced to ski down the “safe” crowded trails from the top.

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  5. John D.

    Good discussion. But I would like to say that when I ski with a kid pack this has NOTHING, I REPEAT, NOTHING to do with my “bragging rights.” I actually laughed out loud when I read that. It has everything to do with getting the kids out there, having fun together as a family, and getting them comfortable with the mountain. Do you think it’s better that we put the 2 year old in some nasty public child care facility while we go ski as a family or just bring her along with us for the day? What’s better for the child in that case? I think it’s so sad to see all the families that dump their poor kids in day care facilities while they go ski. You guys think I’m the one being selfish ?!? No, it’s a labor of love. It often means giving up good days shredding the gnar on Southback to cruise around on green groomers at a safe pace for five year old.
    Watch the documentary film Steep. There is a scene where Doug Coombs skis with his toddler in a child carrier in Chamonix. It’s a great bonding time for dads and I really appreciate that the producers included that scene. For dedicated ski families, it’s just our way of life….or WAS our way of life before the policy change. ANd we ski safely so you don’t fall. Now I wouldn’t recommend a beginner or intermediate skier attempt to carry a kid pack, but I was raised on skis, raced for years, and skiing is as natural as walking so I don’t really think twice.
    And believe me, if I’m trying to earn “bragging rights” for skiing it’s gonna happen when I’m on the King or Niagaras with friends not on Tinkerbell with my two year old.

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  6. K

    Sorry, but I stand with my comment on bragging
    rights.
    No matter how good a skier you are, you can’t dodge an outta control boarder or skier charging down the mountain from behind. One of daughters friends (a racer by the way) got hit by one of those out-of-control-people as a 15 year old, and she was wearing a helmet. She ended up with a concussion and a ride down to Harborview in the ambulance. I’d hate to think what whould happen to a toddler whose dad got knocked down.
    Family bonding can happen anywhere. You’ve got years and years of skiing ahead of you with your children; the 2 year old won’t know she started at 5 or 2. Take the 5 year old skiing as a special day with Mom or Dad. Or consider cutting back on skiing for a few years, giving you the time to enjoy the outdoors some other way with the family. Better that than risk babies health and life. Even if the risk is low, the risk is too great. My daughter started at about 8 and at 24 she beats me down the hill, thru the trees every time. Despite time in the Crystal daycare. or at Grandma’s.

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  7. John D

    K I hear your point and appreciate the concern. Even regarding collisions though I am very defensive and constantly aware of my surroundings and watching very closely for maniacs. And we only ski with the little kids midweek and never on weekends for this very reason.
    But maybe I’ll just have to embrace your bragging terms by quoting from Ski Magazine’s November 2010 “The Family Issue.” The article is by former US Olympian Edith Thys Morgan. “when raising skiers, the problem isn’t the learning. It’s the loving. THe love for skiing is what we most wanted to pass down, out of selfishness and guilt. Selfishly, if our kids loved skiing, we could do it as a family forever.”
    I don’t subscribe to Ski but I bought this issue off a newsstand when I saw it. THe article actually includes a feature on skiing the King at Crystal Mountain (page 86) and what a big moment that is for a kid. A friend of mine had his own young daughter up there for the first time last week and she was glowing afterword. If that’s being selfish, seeing a child’s joy skiing, then yes, I’m a selfish braggart.
    I have really enjoyed this discussion. Getting kids enjoying outdoors is a passion of mine but I think too many parents are scared of it unfortunately. Check out Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods and I think you’ll see what I’m talking about. Reason I’m quoting from Ski, Steep film, etc is so you and whoever is reading this see I’m not the only one who thinks this way.

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  8. John D.

    Patrollers (Corey) – I was up there skiing today and thinking about the new spring skiing schedule and can’t believe my wife or I will have to sit out to watch baby.
    Can you just answer why Crystal has been okay with kid carriers for years (decades), but when the gondola got here the new “safety” policy was suddenly enforced? If it was really about safety don’t you think it would have been a policy long before the gondola got here ?
    Since you have allowed it for years, would you please consider my suggestion above about having families like us sign a waiver in guest services to allow kid carriers, releasing you of liability. ALpental does this with all sidecountry travelers. I was impressed with their form, they checked for beacons, etc, and two patrollers even showed me around the backcountry personally. Commitment to safety doesn’t mean just banning it. Why can’t we do something like that at Crystal ?
    Corey Responds
    It’s gotta be a ploy to make people have to wait longer in the line for the Gondola, right?
    But really, it’s the same reason that for years we allowed dogs to run around loose, and only now that we have the Sasquatch Jib Park are we finally stepping up our enforcement of leash & poop-scooping laws.
    (hint: they’re both kinda like “growing pains”. Part of Crystal’s getting bigger, more rules get made (or in this case enforced) to keep things sane and orderly and all that.)
    But this blog probably isn’t the most convenient forum for discussing this. For those feeling passionate about either side of this issue, (since it has to do with skiing) might I suggest picking up the discussion in the “Random Tracks” section over at http://www.turns-all-year.com. And please be civil…the TAY etiquette guys have enough work as it is!

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  9. John D.

    Patrollers (Corey) – I was up there skiing today and thinking about the new spring skiing schedule and can’t believe my wife or I will have to sit out to watch baby.
    Can you just answer why Crystal has been okay with kid carriers for years (decades), but when the gondola got here the new “safety” policy was suddenly enforced? If it was really about safety don’t you think it would have been a policy long before the gondola got here ?
    Since you have allowed it for years, would you please consider my suggestion above about having families like us sign a waiver in guest services to allow kid carriers, releasing you of liability. ALpental does this with all sidecountry travelers. I was impressed with their form, they checked for beacons, etc, and two patrollers even showed me around the backcountry personally. Commitment to safety doesn’t mean just banning it. Why can’t we do something like that at Crystal ?

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  10. Corey

    John,
    I wasn’t trying to ignore the first copy of your post, it’s just that as a ski patroller, I don’t really have a way to consider changing a company-wide policy. But you can bring your idea to the attention of somebody more appropriate.
    I understand your idea of a card like Alpental’s, but releasing liability to have the freedom to leave the business’s boundary is a whole different kind of situation than releasing liability to use the business’ facilities to do something the business doesn’t want to be condoning. (If the difference between these two things isn’t clear for those reading this, try to find an attorney-friend to explain it. It would be way too cumbersome for me to try to explain it here.)
    Yesterday I talked to a slightly miffed Dad who has skied packin’ a baby. He said this: Kids can ski starting when they’re about 2. Parents SHOULDN’T ski with kids on their back until the kids are about 1. So really, you’re only talkng about 1 season (per child) where you’d be inconvenienced by not skiing together as a family…or at least skiing in places other than the Forest Queen and Chinook chairlifts. He said he didn’t like the new rule enforcement, but realized it was inevitable. Unless you’re planning to have lots more kids, won’t this be a non-issue soon?

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  11. John D.

    Fair enough Corey. Thanks for the response. And I agree with whatever Dad you talked to about no younger than 1 and older than 2 they are skiing themselves anyway – I’ve been packin our two year old and might get her started as soon as this Spring when it starts warming up.
    We do appreciate our Crystal patrol and Crystals kid friendly policies. My son has several avie dog cards. For some reason he calls you guys Ski Rangers – its kinda funny.

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    1. Lisa,
      As far as I know, the trend in the industry is moving towards not allowing babies in backpacks of any kind. We do allow babies in the Gondola, as long as the parents are not planning on skiing down. We worry about skier collisions or accidents on the slopes, not just what happens on the chair.

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  12. Chad

    John, As a parent… I may be stupid, but never idiotic enough to take a toddler skiing with a backpack, or a frontpack. For you’re child’s sake I hope you never learn your lesson, for your sake I hope you do. If endangering your child is the only way to “get out” and enjoy the outdoors, then you should have never had children in the first place so you could enjoy the outdoors without them. It’s obvious that you care more about the excitement then you do about them. I take my kids to the park so they can have fun. My life no longer revolves around me and what I want to do. Things change when you have children, you are delusional in thinking that they don’t.

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  13. Sean Kelly

    I just became a parent and will be taking my 2y/o with me. Yes there are stupid people (like many of the posters here. I patrolled for years and the ONLY issue I ever had was a religious nut (homespun cloth) who’s baby was dressed the same way. The patron was adamant that he wasn’t cold so I had to remind him that his 14 month-old wasn’t generating body heat. I ensured the end of the issue by pulling the guy’s ticket.

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