Steamboat skiers may come to face a fine for rescue missions caused by their not following the rules and markings.
Winter has come, and with it, its sports. Skiing, snowboarding, and sled riding are amongst the most loved winter activities. But Steamboat skiers will have to be more careful.
Resorts have long since taken to creating marked trails. Signs and maps of the skiable region have also been made available. Now, local authorities have come with a new way of ensuring that they are followed.
The Steamboat Ski Area will be imposing a new fine. It addresses skiers that do not follow the marked path. Such a fine could come to a $500 value.
As such, trail maps and backcountry access gates include a new warning. Those that chose to disobey it may, as such, be fined.
Rescued skiers will be the target of the tax. According to official statements, the fee is more of a safety measure.
John Kohnke, the Ski Patrol Director, released a statement. According to him, a serious deterrent is needed. He advised skier not to follow unmarked trails. They should also not venture in areas that they do not know.
Kohnke explained the need for such a fine. According to him, backcountry skiing has been on the rise. The practice has seen an increase in recent years. Part of its attraction comes from the equipment improvements.
Backcountry sport practices are different from alpine skiing. It involves skiing in the backcountry. It can be carried out either inside or outside of a skiing resort. However, it mostly involves unmarked or unpatrolled regions.
This increases its potential risks. Perhaps the most serious deterrent should be that it is unpatrolled. As such, if a skier gets lost, their chance of being found is lower than usual. It can turn into a dangerous practice for those that do not know the area. Also for those that are not confident in their skiing skills.
The United States Forest Service requires skiable domain limitations. However, these boundaries are trespassed more often than before.
Kohnke estimated that about 500 Steamboat skiers go through the out-of-bounds gates each day. Some 40 years ago, the number potentially reached 20 a day.
Such practices are also dangerous because they can be unknowingly followed by others. Rescue missions could, as such, become more difficult.
Estimates show that ski patrollers go on about 2 to 3 such rescues each week. This is the statistic for the busy season.
The Steamboat ski area authorities discussed about their fine policy. Routt County Search and Rescue and Forest Service authorities were involved. Most do not seem to mind the possible tax.
Most consider that it could come to be a deterrent. It could help convince skier to follow the marked path. It should also discourage backcountry skiing.
However, some do not find it as useful. The Search and Rescue organization is such a party. Search and Rescue sometimes contribute to rescue missions.
During such missions, they hike up the mountain. State laws offer such rescue services for free. The local Search and Rescue organization feels that a tax would do more harm. They believe that it might discourage people from requesting help.
However, they also understand the skiing domain authorities’ situation. Search and Rescue volunteers are a second rescue resource.
Ski patrollers, in contrast, ensure the full-time Steamboat skiers safety. The fine has been both contested and acknowledged.
Still, skiers should not fear it. According to Kohnke, the potential fine should not make an impact on all skiers. He considers that experienced backcountry skiers should have no problem.
He also expects different situations. A rule that would be fast and hard to apply to all is difficult to find. As such, the Steamboat skiers fine should is set up to be a deterrent.
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