A Little More about Closed Areas and the New Skier Safety Law

Photo by Michelle Longstreth

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.

Enter roped area through gates only

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.

The ski area boundary is delineated by a ropeline with these disks.

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

Enter through gates so you can read the signs and warnings

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.


3 thoughts on “A Little More about Closed Areas and the New Skier Safety Law

  1. Policestate90

    You’re a moron and a corporate tool, Kim.  Also, I think that your blog sucks. Crystal Pro Patrol needs to back off with their sticks, signs, rope lines, and legislative wonkery.  We don’t want to be regulated; we want to ski.  Throw your damn charges then go sit in the shack and pick up the bodies as needed.  Quit trying to play Safety Marshel on the slopes.  It’s getting old.


  2. Policestate90

    What do you expect when Crystal taps one of it’s own volunteer patrollers on the state legislature in order to push through a law designed to control in-bounds boundary restrictions?

        Aside from the permeant closures, does Crystal really need to make it a criminal offense for ducking a rope?  Can’t you guys get your act together and do your control work before 9:00 in the morning?  Can’t you keep the lifts closed or close the upper mountain if your control work is taking longer than you expected?  There’s no good excuse for doing control work in the afternoon.  This is the only ski area that I have spent any time at that does such a thing, and guess what?  It can be dangerous… people are almost impossible to control.

       Another thing I don’t understand about your in-bounds backcountry policy is the lack of a requirement for avie gear at the gates.  Why don’t you enforce a partner and pack policy, or have a transceiver check station at a main gate for North and South each?  Put a couple of patrollers there, and if someone tries to dodge them, they pick the goons up at the bottom and pull their pass. Have your lawyers whip up a few liability clauses if someone ducks a rope and gets buried alone or without their gear.  Do you really have to criminalize skiing, for Christs’ sake?  Really?  Is that what the industry is coming to?  So lame, corporate wonks, so, so, lame.

      Think I’ll take up surfing full-time next winter, so I don’t have to fret over whether I’m going to have to explain to a sheriff why I skied the fall line or traversed under one of your numerous and practically useless rope lines into an in-bounds area that may or may not be open on any given day.  I ski in-bounds for the benefits of convenience, skier compaction, the explosive control work that you do (when you do it). Skiing in-bounds can be a lot safer and more fun for me when the snowpack is touchy in the backcountry.  However, I don’t want to get popped with a b.s. misdemeanor charge for trying to nab a little powder on a good day. Get a grip Pro Patrol.  You are not appreciated unless you are practicing the medical aspects of your job.  Let the cops chase bad guys in town instead writing tickets to bunch of people trying to practice a sport they probably love.  We’re not out there to disrupt society: we’re simply trying to enjoy and enrich our lives.

    P.S. Now you jerks are going to have the sheriff patrolling Hwy 410 more often.  So much, for an enjoyable cruise up to the mountain.


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