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Backcountry Ski Entry From Resorts Reconsidered After Deaths

gate The exit gate on the ridge above the Ninety-Nine 90 lift at Park City Mountain Resort in Salt Lake City remains closed Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, since two men died in January in avalanches in the adjacent unmaintained backcountry areas after leaving the resort through that point. (Rick Egan/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

The stairway to heaven may actually be a bootpack.

Just a 15-minute hike in ski boots up through the snow from the Ninety-Nine 90 lift on The Canyons side of Park City Mountain Resort delivers skiers and snowboarders a view from the clouds, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. Cobalt blue peaks blanketed in brilliant white snow and shaded with crystalized conifers huddle around the ridge line. Below, wide open aprons of nearly untouched powder unfurl, ushering riders into their own semi-private Shangri-la.

But those who accept the invitation into the unmaintained backcountry terrain may be making a deal with the devil. A stark black-and-white sign at the resort exit point cautions as much. It is not inappropriately marked with a skull and crossbones and the words “YOU CAN DIE.”

People have. Nearly half of the 37 skiers and snowboarders in Utah who have died in avalanches in the past 20 years have perished in backcountry terrain accessed via a ski resort lift. And more than half of those — including two men who died in separate avalanches in January — left through the exit point above the Ninety-Nine 90 lift.

 Read the full story at APNews.com

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