A costly rescue

Man faces at least $1,900 bill after boarding out of bounds, getting lost

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— A 23-year-old California man will have to pay the $1,900 it cost a search-and-rescue team to come to his aid Tuesday after he skied out of bounds and got lost in the Steamboat Ski Area.

Chris Dicicco of California City was cited for violation of a ski area closure, a misdemeanor punishable by a $300 fine.

Dicicco was reported missing by his brother, who lives in Steamboat Springs, at about 5 p.m. Tuesday.

A 10-member search crew, a majority of them from the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. ski patrol, found a wet and cold Dicicco at about 11:40 p.m. in the Beaver Creek drainage area on Mount Werner.

Dicicco was not injured, officials said.

Dicicco, who is in the Air Force, was snowboarding with relatives when he apparently decided to leave the ski area's boundaries, said Mike Lane, a ski area spokesman.

Dicicco reportedly ducked under a rope in the resort's South Peak area and got lost and trapped south of the resort.

Lane said Dicicco will be billed for the six-hour search and rescue, which was conducted primarily on snowmobile.

"He skied into a drainage area," Lane said. "He was trying to get back to the South Peak lift."

"He ended up a long way from where he thought he was," said Doug Allen, the ski area's director of mountain operations. "He dug himself into a tree well. It was easy to find him. We followed his tracks."

Resort and U.S. Forest Service officials said it is important for skiers to stay out of areas of the mountain that are closed by ropes.

"A lot of people don't understand that skiing out of bounds is a violation of state law," said Janet Faller, a snow ranger with the Forest Service.

Faller said accessing the backcountry through ski resorts is illegal and the ropes are there because the terrain poses a threat to skiers who venture into the area.

"We have access to the backcountry through the national forest," Faller said.

"There are reasons for the ropes at ski areas."

Lane said the resort has had problems with skiers going out of bounds.

"We want people to follow the rules," he said. "The ropes are up to prevent people from getting out of bounds and prevent a night search."

Allen said the searches can also be a strain on the ski patrol.

"We don't want to spend all night looking for someone who might be in trouble," Allen said. "We also don't want to put our employees in jeopardy."

Local skiers who have season passes face punishment for skiing out of bounds.

The first and second violations result in suspensions.

A third violation results in expulsion for the season.

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