Clear and present danger on the hill | VailDaily.com
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Clear and present danger on the hill

Don Rogers

This was not inevitable. And we mean no disrespect by stating frankly that this was a dumb mistake, having only through dumb luck survived our dumb mistakes, so far. We’re sure she’d tell you the same if she could. It just ain’t worth it.

Skiing should not kill more people than serving in military operations. But more people died skiing in Colorado than in combat in Afghanistan over the duration of last ski season. Vacation, fun is more deadly than taking up arms? Come on!

The difference might be that soldiers understand they are in danger and act accordingly. They have rules and, knowing death is a likely penalty for violation, follow them strictly. Same with firefighters.

Skiers and snowboarders too often forget, obviously. The orthopedic surgeons are happy enough for the resulting business. But fatal misadventures on beginner slopes are intolerable.

The skier code of responsibility doesn’t seem especially effective, given the annual toll. Yellow Jackets haven’t made an appreciable dent in the fatal accident rate. Perhaps the emphasis on helmets will help, but Tracy was wearing one.

Personal responsibility while participating in the sport really is the main factor. There are inherent dangers. But nearly all deadly spills on the mountain are the consequence of human decisions.

So how do the resorts inculcate responsibility for self without scaring the hell out of the millions and millions of skiers who survive this most exhilerating of recreational activities?

We don’t know. We only know that what has been tried so far isn’t working very well. The message is not getting through. At least not completely enough.

We’d like to sugarcoat the problem, we really would. Then again, we’d like Tracy to be alive.

There’s a lesson here. How many more deaths in ski country will it take to get it through?

Thanks for asking

A gesture appreciated by the town most affected by a Red Mountain Wilderness Area – Gypsum – speaks well of Rep. Scott McInnis’ legislation that would enable a slimmer wilderness area than environmental groups want or the White River National Forest’s overseers suggested in somewhat of a surprise in the final forest plan.

McInnis bothered to ask the town leaders about their views and concerns with a new wilderness area in their back yard before writing a bill.

The roads cutting through the tact are a bit much, but the town’s concerns about water rights and water are legitimate and deserve full consideration, too. Good for McInnis on this one.

D.R.


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