Vail Daily letter: Dangerous mistake
Vail, CO, Colorado
Vail. Blue Sky Basin. For those of you who don’t know, this is some of the best terrain Vail has to offer, also among the most dangerous.
It was our second day back from vacation. We woke up early to hit the slopes and beat the crowds. Our destination: Blue Sky Basin.
We just reached our favorite run, Lovers Leap, to discover many ropes high and low blocking off the entrance. A decision needed to be made to get over this obvious obstacle. Little did we know that this decision was life threatening.
As we arrived to the sweet spot we dreamed of all morning, we then came to know why the run was closed. As I rode over charcoal colored, dynamite blasted snow, I thought to myself, “This better not cave in on me.”
While Ski Patrol was taking down our season pass information, we looked back up the run we just took and realized how treacherous it was. As we stood there in awe, they informed us that we just committed a Class 2 petty offense under Colorado state law, punishable by a $1,000 fine and loss of season pass.
As the laws we broke were being told to us, we were also informed that we were lucky to not have encountered an avalanche or a slide, resulting in being buried and possible death.
On the previous day, a skier ducked the ropes at the same location. He fell and was partially buried. Luckily other skiers heard his screams and a ski patroller known to many as the best skier on the mountain came to his rescue. Being as dangerous as this spot was, the patroller got stuck also, requiring additional rescue.
All those people’s lives were put in danger because of one person’s actions, leading to the uncontrolled consequence of being buried for dead.
No matter what level you ski or ride, there are always variables that you cannot control. We have been skiing our whole lives, and before this experience, we knew nothing of the dangers of ducking a rope, or entering a closed area. We were just looking for that sweet spot, not knowing the extreme dangers that lied ahead.
As I nervously called my mom telling her my season was over, she responded, “I’m glad that you’re calling me, saying you lost your pass, rather than Ski Patrol calling me, saying your son was buried and killed in an avalanche.”
After that I realized the importance of life, and to never risk others or mine by going into a closed boundary. You can always control your actions, but you can never control the consequences.
The 2009-10 season has had the most slides this year to date than any other year.
For those CU students, many avalanche courses are offered at the recreational center on campus: http://www.colorado.edu/rec-center.
Alex Miller and Christine Cayot
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Vail’s updated plans regarding the state guidelines and isolation housing requirements is one of several pieces of information guests are waiting on heading into the 2020-21 season.