In response to a recent flurry of questions regarding the new Skier Safety Law currently in effect, I thought I’d go over a few basics.
At Crystal, like many ski areas, we use ropelines to delineate areas we don’t want you to ski. We currently have a ropeline across the lower part of Mel’s Madness (under Tower 3 of REX), not because the terrain is “closed” per se, but because the creeks make the slope impassable. Instead, the grooming machines have pushed snow into the creek on the skier’s left side, making that a skiable throughway while we wait for more snow to fill in the rest. We often mark hazards with a single piece of bamboo, or two sticks crossed and sometimes we attach a yellow Caution disc to further elucidate the danger. When the area is too hazardous, we rope it off and usher traffic into an alternative route.
We also have permanent ropelines around Bear Pits, Northway and the ski area side of Southback. These ropes have Enter Thru Gates disks on them, asking skiers and riders to always enter that terrain through the gates in order to a) determine that in fact the terrain is open and b) to be sure to read the signs and warnings. In these areas, we do not want skiers to duck the ropes, even when the terrain is open for the aforementioned reasons. I think we’re pretty clear on this.
If these or other areas are closed and a skier ducks the ropeline, he or she will be breaking the new Skier Safety Law, which makes it a misdemeanor to enter a closed area within a ski area boundary. This does not effect the backside to 410 or the true backcountry surrounding Crystal. However, even if you skin up and want to access a closed area, you will still be breaking this new law.
Here’s where some of your questions come in. What if I duck the rope into Bear Pits when it’s open, because a) I couldn’t make the traverse to the gate, b) wanted to enter in a different spot so I could access my secret stash or c) missed the gate and decided to go in anyway. In these instances you won’t be breaking the new Skier Safety Law. However, if a ski patroller sees you duck a rope, even the one at the bottom of Mel’s, you could be stopped and put on The List (it’s kind of like Santa’s “naughty” list) and worse, if there are extenuating circumstances, you could even get your pass pulled.
If you want to enter into North or South
or Bear Pits to access your secret stash by ducking a rope, here’s my suggestion: enter at a higher gate, then ski down to your favorite spot. This way you won’t run the risk of losing skiing privileges and more importantly, you won’t reveal your secret spot to anyone else willing to simply duck the rope to follow a line of tracks to the goods.
Hopefully this answers some of your questions. Not only does this law save lives, it also saves powder. Now those law-abiding citizens out there don’t need to gnash their teeth while watching the poachers get the goods. Now those poachers simply won’t be out there, knowing that 90 days in jail and/or a fine of $1000 just isn’t worth it.