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Near Vermont Disaster Out-Of-Bounds; Rescues Could Be Costly

Know The Code

Skiers and riders only need to read the recent news stories from Killington and Pico to understand the impact of a wrong decision.

By ducking under the ropes of closed trails, a number of guests at those central Vermont resorts spoiled, for themselves and their families, what should have been an epic holiday of powder and packed powder cruising. 

They not only imperiled themselves and caused consternation for their loved ones, but they cost taxpayers (and sometimes themselves) precious cash as some rescue missions now come with a price tag. Vermont State Police have urged everyone to remain inside resort boundaries. 

"It’s unfortunate the offenders were not aware of Killington’s on-demand program into the sidecountry. Since mid December, The Beast has provided guided instruction into areas that are exhilarating, yet still in bounds". Killington’s Rob Megnin told SnoCountry.com, “Guests can ask on the spur of the moment and our instructional staff will give them a great experience in the sidecountry. In addition to the professional guidance and instruction, the ski patrol is wired in on this." 


The National Ski Areas Association, the trade association for ski area owners and operators, told SnoCountry.com, “Season after season ski areas go to great lengths to familiarize, or re-familiarize, skiers and snowboarders with the industry’s Responsibility Code, that includes the rule: Obey all signs and warnings and keep off closed trails.”


Mad River Glen’s Eric Friedman told us, “We had a very bad accident involving a ski patroller two seasons back caused by morons skiing out of bounds when the conditions were horrendous. While we’d love to charge those dopes, we haven’t seriously had that discussion.” 

The Killington Mountain Times chronicled the incidents. On Dec. 28, a group of five, ages 17 to 52, left Killington’s Glades trail at 2 p.m. and were recovered six hours later by a combination of the resort ski patrol, State Police and the Killington Fire Department. Over the same weekend, a 50-year-old, skiing with his 11-year-old son, slipped into the woods off the Giant Killer trail at nearby Pico. The call came to Rutland State Police at 2 p.m. 

The duo was located by State Police Search and Rescue, Fish and Wildlife Game Wardens, Killington Ski Patrol and Killington Search and Rescue. They collaborated to find the lost skiers at 10:15 p.m. in a snow cave they built for themselves. 

Two other similar incidents at Pico impacted four other guests in the same time frame. Luckily, the sum of all these rescues was just a few cases of hypothermia.The allure of intentional rule-breaking is a mystery, given the nectar conditions that exist on scores of groomed and powder runs. Some eastern areas have received three feet or more of natural snow recently; in general the entire east has been heavily blanketed in varying degrees. 

Just the thought of paying for rescue services should dissuade potential violators. At Cypress Mountain, outside Vancouver, BC, a snowboarder was lost for three days. Published reports indicate that he will be billed $10,000 for equipment and services as well as the 50 staff that were involved. ESPN.com reported recently that six states – N.H, Hawaii, Vermont, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, as well as several counties in Utah – charge at least $500 for search and rescue missions to unlimited amounts based on negligence and intentional disregard of safety.

Stay safe and save that rescue money for another trip to snow country. 


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