Be careful out of bounds

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Two rescues in as many days of out-of-bounds skiers and a snowboarder have the Steamboat Ski Area warning people to take precautions if they decide to ski past the ropes.

On Monday night, three ski patrollers had to use ropes to rescue two San Francisco skiers who were trapped on rocks outside the Pioneer Ridge area. The two eventually were brought down to Burgess Creek Road, Steamboat Ski Area spokesman Mike Lane said.

On Sunday evening, two ski patrollers were dispatched to search for a snowboarder who had gone too far and was stuck in a drainage ditch off the Broadway picnic bench area. The snowboarder climbed back to the Elkhead chairlift to end the search, Lane said.

Lane advised skiers and riders to be cautious and plan ahead before slipping past the out-of-bound gates and into the backcountry.

"If you are going into the backcountry, know what you are doing, know where you are going, go with someone and let someone know when you are supposed to be back," Lane said.

He also asked that out-of-bounds adventurers have the proper equipment in case they get stuck or have to spend the night outside: a shovel, extra food, matches and warm clothes.

The new snow Steamboat has received in the past few weeks has lured people into the backcountry. But if skiers and riders don't know what they are doing, it could be a costly, timely and potentially deadly experience, Lane said.

"Not only are you putting your life in jeopardy, but the lives of the people who have to come get you in jeopardy," he said.

Lane also reminds people that those who need to be rescued out of bounds end up paying a hefty fee. That fee, which is not covered by Routt County Search and Rescue cards, is based on how many people are rescued, the time of day the rescue is requested and the equipment used.

The San Francisco couple rescued Monday evening is facing a bill of more than $1,000, Lane said.

In that incident, the couple went through the out-of-bounds gate at the top of the Pony Express lift. They skied out of bounds, past the "Golf Course" area, beyond the boulder fields and then became stuck on an outcropping of rocks. Lane said the couple, both in their 20s, likely were headed for the "Granola Bowl" area.

The couple used a cellular phone to call Routt County dispatchers, who then notified the ski area.

The ski area got permission from the Routt County Sheriff's Office to do the out-of-bounds search at about 6 p.m. The couple reached Burgess Creek Road by 9:45 p.m.

To get the couple off the rocky area, Lane said, ski patrol used ropes. The couple then skied or snowshoed the rest of the way out.

"They thought they knew where they were going, and they did not, and ended up in a position where they couldn't move," Lane said. "It's pretty steep back there."


-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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