Sarah Schleper
Vail, CO, Colorado

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March 3, 2013
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Vail Daily letter: Resist the temptation

The snow may look good, fresh and untracked, but when there is a rope on the mountain, there is a purpose for the closure. Whether you are a tourist or an Olympic skier, it is wrong to ski under closures that the Vail patrol ropes off. The ropes are there for a reason: your safety.

Recently, I saw a line that looked good, but I had to duck some ropes to get there. The consequences of my decision could have been fatal. It was an area of the mountain with scraggy rocks and potential avalanche danger. My husband happened to hit one of those rocks, and had he hit his head, serious injuries or worse could have incurred. Had we started a slide, it might have ended fatally.

I want to caution the locals and visitors on the mountain of the consequences when you duck ropes. We cannot assume the outcome of what can happen in a closed area, especially an area that is disposed to avalanche danger. We are putting ourselves at risk to be buried or hurt, but what's more, the ski patrollers who come in to perform a rescue are also put in danger.

A couple of years ago, a few people cut the ropes in the same area and triggered an avalanche. When the patrollers came in to make sure everyone had gotten out safely, another slide was triggered and buried a patroller. It was a very close call due to the negligence of a few selfish people.

It's easy to let powder fever cloud your judgment, but you have to remember why the ropes are there and make good decisions. Ski patrollers work as hard as they can to open any terrain that they think is safe for locals, employees and visitors.

It's their job to keep the guests safe, so if it's closed, it's for good reason. We have to really respect the work the red jackets are doing on our mountains to keep us safe.

Skiing and riding Vail Mountain is not a right, but a privilege. Let us all regard the mountain, staff and rules with honor and keep our patrollers and ourselves safe out there.

Sarah Schleper


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The VailDaily Updated Mar 3, 2013 08:05PM Published Mar 3, 2013 08:03PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.