On Monday March 7th at 4pm, after six long days of searching for our missing skier, we tired patrollers were looking forward to some much needed rest. We received a cell phone call from a skier lost somewhere in the Mt. Rainier National Park towards Hwy 410. Patrollers were dispatched to search the boundary for tracks. After a phone interview, patrollers narrowed it down to a track traversing into Kempers from Windy pass (back traverse) off of Mountain Top. The team of patrollers finally found the disoriented tired guest in the middle of one of our most notorious slide paths. While much of our boundary with the National Park is open, the Kempers slide path is permanently closed. Furthermore, for skiers venturing into the Park, only those with the proper gear and knowledge should ever try to attempt it. And even then, it should never be attempted at 4pm in the afternoon.
So what went wrong?
Marcus Price ducked a rope. As patrollers, we try to protect our guests. Simply put, we’re on your side. We pad towers, put up rope lines, mark hazards and even throw explosives in an effort to keep our guests safe. No matter what the visibility, if you honor our rope lines and boundary signs, it is very hard to find yourself mistakenly on the wrong side of a rope line. The incident Monday night was a clear case of someone ducking a rope without giving a second thought to his own safety and that of the rescuers that eventually found him.
Here is picture of Marcus’s track going under the rope line.
Like other ski areas, Crystal Mountain charges for out of ski area rescues. Before starting the rescue we clearly explained to Marcus that he would be responsible for the cost of the rescue. However, once back in the base area, Marcus Price decided to shirk his responsibility. This is not about the money or lost time; it is about taking responsibility for your actions and learning from them. I mean, come on here people. If you go under a rope for a few fresh turns at the end of the day, knowingly (or even unknowingly) entering a closed area, then call for someone to come and get you (and agreeing to pay the rescue fee), at least you should hold up your end of the bargain.
Perhaps Marcus didn’t learn his lesson. Or maybe he did. I will never know. But I do hope that others can learn not only from Marcus, but also from our recent tragedy with the disappearance of our friend Paul Melby. The bottom line is this: take responsibility for yourself.