Vail Daily letter: Just don’t do it
Ryan Summerlin April 2, 2013
Skiing is an exciting sport for everyone, whether you’ve been skiing for two days or for your whole life. But skiing also comes with a lot dangers that may get you seriously injured or even killed.
Every year, about 40 people are killed in skiing or snowboarding accidents. Studies show that the majority of these deaths and injuries occur out of bounds or in closed areas. People may die or get injured from various different reasons, whether it’s inexperience, avalanche danger, trees, obstacles, collisions, hypothermia or even starvation.
Many people think that entering closed trails to get the untouched powder will do no harm, but they do not realize the potential dangers that come with ducking the rope. These areas are roped of because it may be a high traffic area, an avalanche area, unmarked obstacles, cliffs, equipment, or any other things that could hurt you. These ropes are meant for all skiers despite their skiing ability, and for many people each year, they do not realize that soon enough.
One example of this is with my own family member. My brother was skiing at Steamboat this past season in December in a roped-off area. It had recently snowed a total of 40 inches over the previous few days and the powder was nice all around.
Near the end of the day, the runs began to get skied out, and my brother decided to duck underneath a rope into the trees. The sign on the rope had read “Closed – thin conditions exist,” and my brother had not seen it.
He was skiing along in the trees and there were “rocks left and right.” So my brother continued to ski down, trying to get glimpses of powder, but eventually got going too fast.
Trying to avoid the rocks as well as the trees, my brother lost control and hit a tree dead on his side. Slamming down to the ground, my brother screamed in pain. He had broken his femur in half. His friend skiing behind him called patrol immediately and they arrived in 10 minutes with a stretcher.
Those 10 minutes were the worst pain he ever felt in his life, he told me. The ski patrol took him out of the woods and gave him morphine to ease the pain. He then went into emergency surgery to have a metal rod placed through the center of his femur to fix it.
My brother is still in pain today and he will not be able to ski until next season. My brother’s whole season was ruined due to one careless act of stupidity, ducking a rope.
I suffered the same fate as my brother this season. I had ducked a rope at Vail and got my pass suspended. I was lucky enough to not get hurt despite the fact that I had put myself, as well as the Vail Ski Patrol, in a lot of danger.
I am writing this letter to try and inform everyone that skiers, beginner or expert, should never cut a rope. Next time you want the untouched powder, think about the consequences of ducking the rope. They are drastic, and you could lose your pass for the season, as well as face a $1000 fine. So please, keep everyone safe, and never duck a rope.
Age 16, Highlands Ranch