Early Season CLOSED Areas

The sun is out and the skiing’s GREAT!  I hope you aren’t missing it!

Brent, our Assistant Director, got an e-mail from Andre asking for clarification about how we indicate CLOSED areas in light of the new law authorizing $1,000 penalty for violating ski area closures. 

In the ski & snowboard biz, CLOSED is designated by:

  1. Rope lines (“halloween” rope suspended between sticks of bamboo, and sometimes tree branches.)
  2. Closed disks mounted on bamboo poles.  (We call this a “lollipop” closure.)
  3. Rope lines that have closed disks on either the poles, the rope, or both.
  4. Bamboo “X”s.

The exception at Crystal Mountain  is our western boundary with Mount Rainier National Park.  Other than at the Kemper’s avalanche path Permanently Closed Area–which is ALWAYS closed to EVERYONE whether they ride down, hike up, or traverse over–it’s OK to duck our boundary (that’s “b-o-u-n-d-a-r-y”, as opposed to “closure”)–as long as you realize that return to the ski area is arduous and you may be billed if you need rescue.   There’s a lot more to know if you plan to exit ski area boundaries; for more info see Crystal’s Safety Page.

So, if the rope line has disks that say “Ski Area Boundary”, you’re permitted to duck.  You may end up trudging through thick, un-navigable trees, or down a slope too steep to hike back up, but you won’t be “in trouble” with us.  Your family maybe, but not with us.  (Advice:  Keep your cell phone with you and call us directly [Ski Patrol Emergency Only # 360-663-3064]  if you’re struggling.  We’d much rather coach you out over-the-phone or come help you in the daylight, than have to stumble around looking for you in the dark!)

But if you duck other rope lines or closures, be prepared to have ski patrollers harsh your mellow, confiscate your lift pass without refund, and possibly take legal action which could result in a criminal charge, a $1,000 fine and being barred from returning here and other Boyne resorts like Alpental.  We don’t want that.  You don’t want that.  Best strategy:  Avoid it!

HOWEVER….Andre’s question REALLY was about some uncommon closures he noticed in our first couple weeks of operation. 

The thing to remember is that the early season snowpack is thinner, and some areas on smooth ground can be opened earlier than other areas with random rock outcroppings, fallen trees, abrupt road cuts, water bars (the little diagonal water-diversion channels put in across hiking trails and ski runs to reduce erosion) and the like.  

We treat these “temporary” closures as serious as any.  It may be that the area is in (or below) an avalanche path that we haven’t had a chance to control yet.  It may be an area where construction or earth-moving has occurred and rebar and shards of metal stick out of the ground, hiding in the snow, waiting to impale tresspassers.  

And occassionally, we have to close areas because the chance is so high we would injur OURSELVES if we had to enter to rescue the likely number of people we would anticipate would get injured there over a given period of time.  As a business, in America, there are rules & laws that obligate us to prevent situations where we’d injure ourselves, right?   You’re free to head out into the woods away from any resort and ski into stumps where the Search and Rescue folks would eventually find you, but I wouldn’t recommend it.  Inside the boundaries of a resort, ya’ gotta follow their rules!

Another thing we know sometimes befuddles people:  Early season we may be opening a broad area such as Double OO’s (upper Campbell Basin) or Left Angle Trees while simultaneously closing a portion of it that’s unusually hazardous.  In those cases, the correct answer to the question “Is it open?” is: “Part of it’s open, part of it’s closed”.   If you find this too confusing you can choose to wait ’til mid-season when everything’s open.  Or you can recognize that this is part of the chutzpah  it takes to be an early-season skier/rider.  Welcome to the club!

Andre also (kind of) asked about going around the ENDS of ropelines. 

Generally, we ski patrollers have simple, simple minds.  If you’re in a closed area, you’ll get treated like a closure violator.  If you hike UP into a closed area, you’ll get treated like a closure violator.  If you crawl  through the dense understory to access a closed area, you’ll get treated like a closure violator.   But if you do like thousands of other people do and just sorta stay out of sketchy places, you should be AOK!

We also use rope lines to prevent blind jumping (actually it’s the blind LANDING that most concerns us) and at some trail intersections to warn people of the need to merge.  The rule is that ducking these lines, like all others, is prohibited.  Does it chafe our hide when people stop, look both ways, and cautiously continue on the other side of the rope?  Not really.   But if there’s a collision, you’ll want to clear about how your behavior can be interpreted as “fault”.    Is it OK to approach these kinds of rope lines at speed, duck down and whiz on through?  Never! 

I hope that helps!  Let us know if you have other questions!

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