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Author Topic: Ski areas limiting access to terrain  (Read 29915 times)
Eli3
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Ski areas limiting access to terrain
« on: 02/06/17, 11:07 PM »

With many Washington ski areas publishing uphill policies, sometimes limiting or eliminating access to areas - and after being accosted by the staff at the stevens pass nordic center while trying to access some terrain, I started to wonder what kind of deal these places really have with the forest service.  I filed a FOIA request for the stevens pass special use permit to see what control over federal land ski areas really have.  It took a year, but the forest service did send it to me - not nearly as interesting of a read as I had hoped, but I can find no language giving ski areas any ability to limit access to anything within the special permit area without additional permission from the forest service.  I would love a lawyer's opinion if anyone is so inclined.

Part 1: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/9144387/Stevens%20Pass%20SPU%20permit%20part%201.PDF
Part 2: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/9144387/Stevens%20Pass%20SPU%20permit%20part%202.PDF

The only relevant section of the permit I can find is:
"Except for any restrictions that the holder and the authorized officer agree are necessary to protect the installation and operation of authorized improvements, the permit area shall remain open to the public for all lawful purposes."

My FOIA requests was for all related documentation, and there were no other documents detailing any restrictions the authorized officer and the permit holder agreed to.  Does forcing someone to buy a lift ticket 'protect the installation and operation of authorized improvements'?  This seems pretty vague, I'm not sure what 'protect' means here.  I would hope this means the ski area has to get forest service approval in order to limit access to anything every time, and that limitation should be documented and easily accessible to the public.

The only thing I know of giving ski areas the ability to limit access is there is a Washington statute that says it's a misdemeanor to ski on a closed run, with no other caveats (i.e a ski area can't close a run to some people, a la keep it open for paying customers and block skinning).

RCW 79A.45.070
"A person is guilty of a misdemeanor if the person knowingly skis in an area or on a ski trail, owned or controlled by a ski area operator, that is closed to the public and that has signs posted indicating the closure."

I just submitted requests for the summit, mt. baker & crystal, it will be interesting to see if there is anything different.
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snojones
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Re: Ski areas limiting access to terrain
« Reply #1 on: 02/07/17, 09:22 AM »

Restricting access seems to be all the rage for ski areas these days.  There are basically 2 reasons for this.  The first is conman sense safety.  NOBODY IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WILL OBJECT TO REAL CONCERNS IN THIS REGARD!  The second reason is trumpish greed, high on freebasing money. 


Do the math.... If you have 4,000 people laying down $100 a pop for a ticket and then buying food, beer, lessons, repair work, very high priced gear, etc... Somebody is raking in close to half a mill that day.  Then add to it the lust for building condo cities, that they sell over, and over, and over again, in watersheds that would be better off not disturbed. This is what greed is jonesing about when they cry for "Mine, Mine, Mine." 

If not for climbing skiers, there would never have been any ski areas.  The only bastion protecting climbing access, is people refusing to allow greed to steal everything in sight!  No freebaser, high on money, is ever going to quit of their own accord.  Safety is one thing, greed is quite another.  Just remember.... Downhill skiers are required to avoid people and obstacles below them and only idiots play in an avi zone. 

People should refuse to allow long standing safe access to be closed to the public.  The only thing that can save that access for future backcountry skiers is current backcounty skiers refusing to allow historic access to be stolen!

Powder to the People!
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gravitymk
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Re: Ski areas limiting access to terrain
« Reply #2 on: 02/08/17, 05:29 PM »

Do the math.... If you have 4,000 people laying down $100 a pop for a ticket and then buying food, beer, lessons, repair work, very high priced gear, etc... Somebody is raking in close to half a mill that day.  Then add to it the lust for building condo cities, that they sell over, and over, and over again, in watersheds that would be better off not disturbed. This is what greed is jonesing about when they cry for "Mine, Mine, Mine." 

Ever work at a ski area in a management capacity where you were responsible for the operations budget and PL reporting?
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BCSchonwald
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Re: Ski areas limiting access to terrain
« Reply #3 on: 02/08/17, 08:34 PM »

The vague language is intentional by the Forest Service to allow ski areas to determine what constitutes a safety issue. Washington law has nothing to do with Federal land permitting.  Listening to ski area(ski patrol) concerns and respecting them will keep what limited access you have.

Right now several reasons for limiting uphill traffic:
Avalanche Control;
Danger to paying public due to uphill traffic not staying off to one side;
Not respecting inbounds closures.

For everyone who ignores the policies of the ski areas, dozens of other skiers pay for the restrictions that follow. Seth Waterfall tried to warn people of impending restrictions @Crystal and was ignored.Now they have a stricter policy with limited access. People ignored Alpental's request and now there is no uphill traffic when the area is closed.

I am volunteering to set an uphill route to Source Lake so we can avoid future conflict with paying riders coming down inbounds runs. Come join me next Tues.

I also think it is time to cut the umbilical cord actually tour away from the ski areas and stop whining about how a business manages their lease. The lease/permit is an agreement made after a significant investment by the ski company to meet the policies of the USFS. That gives them the right to their vague language to manage their ski area. This means making policies that keep libertarian, your land is my land think folks out and be inline with the law.

Make good choices!

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snoqpass
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Re: Ski areas limiting access to terrain
« Reply #4 on: 02/09/17, 10:05 AM »

The vague language is intentional by the Forest Service to allow ski areas to determine what constitutes a safety issue. Washington law has nothing to do with Federal land permitting.  Listening to ski area(ski patrol) concerns and respecting them will keep what limited access you have.

Right now several reasons for limiting uphill traffic:
Avalanche Control;
Danger to paying public due to uphill traffic not staying off to one side;
Not respecting inbounds closures.

For everyone who ignores the policies of the ski areas, dozens of other skiers pay for the restrictions that follow. Seth Waterfall tried to warn people of impending restrictions @Crystal and was ignored.Now they have a stricter policy with limited access. People ignored Alpental's request and now there is no uphill traffic when the area is closed.

I am volunteering to set an uphill route to Source Lake so we can avoid future conflict with paying riders coming down inbounds runs. Come join me next Tues.

I also think it is time to cut the umbilical cord actually tour away from the ski areas and stop whining about how a business manages their lease. The lease/permit is an agreement made after a significant investment by the ski company to meet the policies of the USFS. That gives them the right to their vague language to manage their ski area. This means making policies that keep libertarian, your land is my land think folks out and be inline with the law.

Make good choices!


Thank you
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freeski
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Re: Ski areas limiting access to terrain
« Reply #5 on: 02/09/17, 10:50 AM »

The vague language is intentional by the Forest Service to allow ski areas to determine what constitutes a safety issue. Washington law has nothing to do with Federal land permitting.  Listening to ski area(ski patrol) concerns and respecting them will keep what limited access you have.

Right now several reasons for limiting uphill traffic:
Avalanche Control;
Danger to paying public due to uphill traffic not staying off to one side;
Not respecting inbounds closures.

For everyone who ignores the policies of the ski areas, dozens of other skiers pay for the restrictions that follow. Seth Waterfall tried to warn people of impending restrictions @Crystal and was ignored.Now they have a stricter policy with limited access. People ignored Alpental's request and now there is no uphill traffic when the area is closed.

I am volunteering to set an uphill route to Source Lake so we can avoid future conflict with paying riders coming down inbounds runs. Come join me next Tues.

I also think it is time to cut the umbilical cord actually tour away from the ski areas and stop whining about how a business manages their lease. The lease/permit is an agreement made after a significant investment by the ski company to meet the policies of the USFS. That gives them the right to their vague language to manage their ski area. This means making policies that keep libertarian, your land is my land think folks out and be inline with the law.

Make good choices!


could you quote your source where you state as fact that the forest service uses vague language in their permits for the reason you stated.

Ambiguity in a contract benefits no one.

 I agree that the ski areas should be closed while avy control work is underway. This is easy to do in a confined area like a ski area and it's a valid safety concern that uphill traffic should respect.

In a situation such as heli-sking on public land historically used first for human powered ascents and easily accessed by the public, the forest service allows the heli operation to do avy control work while ski touring groups are in the area.

The heli clients are even there while the guides ski cut avy terrain, ie, avalanche control work.

Could you imagine that happening at a lift served ski area to enable paying customers first tracks? Sure, just pay a little extra to go out with the patrol.

And now some areas are allowing paid guided groups to hit the side country. Do they get to jump the line?

In the wastach, the heli was even allowed to toss exposives to test slopes for snow instability which resulted in some near misses for touring groups.

 It's time to remove ambiguity from special use permits and that is one of our goals up here in the north cascades.

 
« Last Edit: 02/09/17, 11:16 AM by freeski » Logged

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Jason4
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Re: Ski areas limiting access to terrain
« Reply #6 on: 02/09/17, 11:16 AM »

I also think it is time to cut the umbilical cord actually tour away from the ski areas and stop whining about how a business manages their lease.

I fully support this line of thinking and encourage further developments in this direction.  Unfortunately in the 542 corridor the only road that is maintained above the snowline is the highway to the ski area which leads to competition for resources (parking).  The only other way to get up high is via snowmobile but the FS is trying to cut our access there too.  It would be great to get skier sourced and funded access to the alpine, places like Skyline Divide and Wells Creek Road come to mind.
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freeski
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Re: Ski areas limiting access to terrain
« Reply #7 on: 02/09/17, 11:26 AM »

I fully support this line of thinking and encourage further developments in this direction.  Unfortunately in the 542 corridor the only road that is maintained above the snowline is the highway to the ski area which leads to competition for resources (parking).  The only other way to get up high is via snowmobile but the FS is trying to cut our access there too.  It would be great to get skier sourced and funded access to the alpine, places like Skyline Divide and Wells Creek Road come to mind.
i would rather see people learn to ski first and venture into the side country in order to learn the ropes before getting into terrain that they don't understand.
« Last Edit: 02/09/17, 11:35 AM by freeski » Logged

two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege, it will always be at the expense of truth and justice
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gravitymk
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Re: Ski areas limiting access to terrain
« Reply #8 on: 02/09/17, 12:47 PM »

Thank you

X2

If I am available Tuesday morning, I will show up.
Assume top of lot 4?
Time?
Tools?
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AlpineRose
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Re: Ski areas limiting access to terrain
« Reply #9 on: 02/09/17, 12:49 PM »

Quote
I also think it is time to cut the umbilical cord actually tour away from the ski areas and stop whining about how a business manages their lease

A fine, but rhetorical, idea.  How exactly is the average ski tourer supposed to get to this terrain?  Most of us can't go heli skiing all winter.  Nor do we have snowmobiles - and the trailers and big rigs and the storage space they require.  As well, most of us are not macho supermen that can get to the more remote places in the winter.

The number of bc skiers is expanding, access is diminishing, do the math.      
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snoqpass
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Re: Ski areas limiting access to terrain
« Reply #10 on: 02/09/17, 01:01 PM »

I agree that the ski areas should be closed while avy control work is underway. This is easy to do in a confined area like a ski area

Could you imagine that happening at a lift served ski area to enable paying customers first tracks? Sure, just pay a little extra to go out with the patrol.

And yet Tuesday morning people walked right by posted signs an tried to uphill at Alpental prior to control work. Who wants to pay money to pick up rope lines and tower pads?
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pipedream
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Re: Ski areas limiting access to terrain
« Reply #11 on: 02/09/17, 01:15 PM »

In a situation such as heli-sking on public land historically used first for human powered ascents and easily accessed by the public, the forest service allows the heli operation to do avy control work while ski touring groups are in the area.

The heli clients are even there while the guides ski cut avy terrain, ie, avalanche control work.
I think it's a stretch to classify ski cutting as true avalanche mitigation. I'd say control work is defined as stressing the snowpack via means outside of what is available to the common person (e.g. skiing, hiking and dropping cornii). Of which, NCH does none.

But you keep digging at that chip on your shoulder... the rest of us are watching in anticipation
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Bronco
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Re: Ski areas limiting access to terrain
« Reply #12 on: 02/09/17, 03:35 PM »

Regarding the Stevens Pass Nordic center, it sounds like you might have grounds for filing a complaint with the Dept. Of Agriculture Office of the Inspector General. Roll Eyes
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Jason4
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Re: Ski areas limiting access to terrain
« Reply #13 on: 02/09/17, 03:54 PM »

i would rather see people learn to ski first and venture into the side country in order to learn the ropes before getting into terrain that they don't understand.

I didn't read that to mean people should snub ski areas entirely and learn to ski in the backcountry, I read it to mean people shouldn't be dependent on ski areas for their parking lots or grooming for the start of a tour.  I'd much rather start my tour somewhere away from other people competing for the same resource using different means. 

I dream of the days that I can go backcountry skiing in areas that are only accessed by other backcountry skiers and I can have a chunk of the backcountry where I can go ride my sled without worrying about bothering someone touring because they have to choose between a motorized snopark or the ski area parking lots or starting at the snowline to walk for miles up a logging road to get to the alpine.
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gravitymk
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Re: Ski areas limiting access to terrain
« Reply #14 on: 02/09/17, 04:04 PM »

http://unofficialnetworks.com/2017/02/crystal-skiers-fined-1000-after-poaching-avalanche-control-route
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andyski
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Re: Ski areas limiting access to terrain
« Reply #15 on: 02/09/17, 06:33 PM »

i would rather see people learn to ski first and venture into the side country in order to learn the ropes before getting into terrain that they don't understand.

Then buy a lift ticket.
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andyski
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Re: Ski areas limiting access to terrain
« Reply #16 on: 02/09/17, 06:41 PM »

A fine, but rhetorical, idea.  How exactly is the average ski tourer supposed to get to this terrain?  Most of us can't go heli skiing all winter.  Nor do we have snowmobiles - and the trailers and big rigs and the storage space they require.  As well, most of us are not macho supermen that can get to the more remote places in the winter.

The number of bc skiers is expanding, access is diminishing, do the math.      

If you mean parking, then sure, it's super hard and access is limited. But if there's parking, ski touring in a way that avoids grooming and downhill traffic is exceptionally easy. Kendall, Snoqualmie, yodelin, smithbrook, etc etc etc. Yet, almost every time I ski inbounds, which is thankfully little these days, you'll see someone skinning up groomed runs somewhere idiotic. You DO NOT need to use groomed ski runs to easily access tons of tours in the Cascades. Parking might be a problem at Baker, but hasn't never been for me anywhere else. Non-ski area access to touring isn't a huge problem. Sure, we'd all like more, but there are far more important things in life.
« Last Edit: 02/09/17, 06:48 PM by andyski » Logged
heinzsd
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Re: Ski areas limiting access to terrain
« Reply #17 on: 02/09/17, 06:54 PM »

If you mean parking, then sure, it's super hard and access is limited. But if there's parking, ski touring in a way that avoids grooming and downhill traffic is exceptionally easy. Kendall, Snoqualmie, yodelin, smithbrook, etc etc etc. Yet, almost every time I ski inbounds, which is thankfully little these days, you'll see someone skinning up groomed runs somewhere idiotic. You DO NOT need to use groomed ski runs to easily access tons of tours in the Cascades. Parking might be a problem at Baker, but hasn't never been for me anywhere else. Non-ski area access to touring isn't a huge problem. Sure, we'd all like more, but there are far more important things in life.

I'm only catching the tail end of this discussion, but I think skinning up the edge of a groomed run is totally fine if its allowed by the resort. Not sure exactly what you mean by "somewhere idiotic".  Not my preference, but I have done it in a pinch - if you go to the alps people do it all the time since there are way more Ronde racers over there who are looking to bang out some vert and condition, without the commitment of traveling into avalanche terrain. I think our sport should except a variety of touring disciplines and ways to condition.
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Scotsman
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Re: Ski areas limiting access to terrain
« Reply #18 on: 02/09/17, 08:24 PM »

To fully understand the issues at both Alpental and Crystal you have to understand the specific problems and geography that has caused these policies to change.
I can only comment on Crystal.
The issues there are.
The lift served and avy controlled area at Crystal includes Silver Basin up to 3 wayExit Chute
Crystal grooms a path from the top of Quicksilver chair to the runout at Silver Basin to facilitate lift riders return to the main ski area, the" airstrip" .
Ski tourers( mainly TAYERS..and very well known ones at that) have been using this easy access path to skin and tour in Silver Basin when active avalanche control work was happening. How is that defendable?
Apart from the idiocy of that, putting a skin track up Silver Basin while it is open to the lift accessed public from above shows a total disregard for other people. I have seen TAYERS skinning up Silver Basin while skiers waited above for them to get out of the way.
I have seen 3 TAYERS skinning up the center of Rolling Knolls ( one of the most popular blue runs at Crystal)...on a busy Saturday!!!

A week ago we saw a hero putting a skin track up Cambell Basin while the ski area and Chair 6  was open. After being shouted at by us he stopped.

Two weeks ago a person was photographed skinning up the Throne Bootpack.. While it was being used by lift skiers.

This blatant abuse by these morons has caused Crystal to change their policy.

When the red light is not flashing you can still used the edge of Quicksilver to access the Crystal BC...just not the Silver Basin to 3 way area.  Call patrol before you leave and just turn left at the top of Quicksilver and head towards Pickhandle Area or Bad Ass Shoulder but don't use the groomed "airstrip".
When the red light is flashing..sorry  but access up Quicksilver is not allowed... so go elsewhere such as Bullion Basin, East Peak , Norse Peak Wilderness area.
All can be accessed from Upper lot C.

Its got nothing to do with greed or Crystal trying to increase revenue...it's just common fucking  sense.
Nearly all the the patrollers and management at Crystal are avid ski tourers themselves.

Pretty easy.

If the attraction of skiing Silver Basin is that you want to ski tour (Huh?) in an avy controlled area....(please hand in your ski tourer badge) then buy a ticket like the rest of us and ski it from the top. Even in the Alps..if you want to ski the Valley Blanche...  you have buy a ticket to the top of the Aquille du Midi.( i guess you could skin up the Mer de Glace)
« Last Edit: 02/09/17, 09:22 PM by Scotsman » Logged

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gravitymk
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Re: Ski areas limiting access to terrain
« Reply #19 on: 02/09/17, 10:21 PM »

Wait, what?
There's a ski touring badge?
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Scotsman
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Re: Ski areas limiting access to terrain
« Reply #20 on: 02/09/17, 11:15 PM »

Wait, what?
There's a ski touring badge?

You don't have one?Huh Shit man... you'd better get with the program.
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Brandonee
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Re: Ski areas limiting access to terrain
« Reply #21 on: 02/09/17, 11:21 PM »

Occam's razor people.....
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gravitymk
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Re: Ski areas limiting access to terrain
« Reply #22 on: 02/10/17, 08:54 AM »

You don't have one?Huh Shit man... you'd better get with the program.

Well crap.
I didn't get the memo/fax/email/tweet/snapchat on this shit.
Where does one get said badge?
Do i have to take a class?
Is there a test?
Did they hand it out after the level 1 and I missed?
Does it come with perks?
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freeski
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Re: Ski areas limiting access to terrain
« Reply #23 on: 02/10/17, 09:09 AM »

To fully understand the issues at both Alpental and Crystal you have to understand the specific problems and geography that has caused these policies to change.
I can only comment on Crystal.
The issues there are.
The lift served and avy controlled area at Crystal includes Silver Basin up to 3 wayExit Chute
Crystal grooms a path from the top of Quicksilver chair to the runout at Silver Basin to facilitate lift riders return to the main ski area, the" airstrip" .
Ski tourers( mainly TAYERS..and very well known ones at that) have been using this easy access path to skin and tour in Silver Basin when active avalanche control work was happening. How is that defendable?
Apart from the idiocy of that, putting a skin track up Silver Basin while it is open to the lift accessed public from above shows a total disregard for other people. I have seen TAYERS skinning up Silver Basin while skiers waited above for them to get out of the way.
I have seen 3 TAYERS skinning up the center of Rolling Knolls ( one of the most popular blue runs at Crystal)...on a busy Saturday!!!

 A week ago we saw a hero putting a skin track up Cambell Basin while the ski area and Chair 6  was open. After being shouted at by us he stopped.

Two weeks ago a person was photographed skinning up the Throne Bootpack.. While it was being used by lift skiers.

This blatant abuse by these morons has caused Crystal to change their policy.

When the red light is not flashing you can still used the edge of Quicksilver to access the Crystal BC...just not the Silver Basin to 3 way area.  Call patrol before you leave and just turn left at the top of Quicksilver and head towards Pickhandle Area or Bad Ass Shoulder but don't use the groomed "airstrip".
When the red light is flashing..sorry  but access up Quicksilver is not allowed... so go elsewhere such as Bullion Basin, East Peak , Norse Peak Wilderness area.
All can be accessed from Upper lot C.

Its got nothing to do with greed or Crystal trying to increase revenue...it's just common fucking  sense.
Nearly all the the patrollers and management at Crystal are avid ski tourers themselves.

Pretty easy.

If the attraction of skiing Silver Basin is that you want to ski tour (Huh?) in an avy controlled area....(please hand in your ski tourer badge) then buy a ticket like the rest of us and ski it from the top. Even in the Alps..if you want to ski the Valley Blanche...  you have buy a ticket to the top of the Aquille du Midi.( i guess you could skin up the Mer de Glace)
So it's not ok to skin up a ski run during avy control work (i agree).

However,  it's still not ok to skin up a run when there's no avy control work going on, but it's ok to spend $1200 for heli-skiing and have your guide doing ski cut avy control work above touring skiers in our historical terrain.

 Is it the money that determines what's right?

You buy a lift ticket so you are right at the ski areas, and you buy a heli ride so you are right where i live and tour?

It's hard to believe that someone skinning up a run is viewed any different than a skier who resting and standing on a run.

Common sense says do both on the edge of the run.

You money guys want it all to yourselves and want me to pay for plowing the highway so you can get to the ski area.

 Powder to the highest bidder. Didn't your moma teach you to share?
« Last Edit: 02/10/17, 09:33 AM by freeski » Logged

two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege, it will always be at the expense of truth and justice
C Hedges
snojones
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Re: Ski areas limiting access to terrain
« Reply #24 on: 02/10/17, 10:03 AM »

I do not dispute that there are reasons to close a run for grooming, construction, or avi control.  However, much of what ski areas do is gobble up land so they can expand.  Be that expansion.... new runs, boutique fur shops, or condo cities.  To say that safety is the only reason this land grabbing takes place is to ignore the facts on the ground, not to mention the extensive history of human greed.  

I am not saying that all ski areas are acting on greed for land when they institute safety restrictions.  For example, Crystal sounds like they are doing the right thing.  However, many others (Bachelor for example) have used this tactic to simple throw the bums off of "THEIR MOUNTAIN". Bachelor used the avi safety argument to institute hill closures.   But they carried it WAY BEYOND that reasonable goal to include the entire mountain the entire year.  Now they got a new hill manager and those restrictions were removed.  Safety considerations did not change, just public access to public property, made possible by public roads paid for by.... you guessed it.... the public.
 
I don't have an argument with closing a ski run undergoing aiv work!  I support prosecuting people who are to dumb to respect their own peril... Duhhh!

I have an argument with people making blanket statements that ski area management is only looking out for public safety when they institute arbitrary, unilateral restrictions with no bearing on public safety.  Plain and simple, it is a land grab designed to make people pay more money.  Once in place, it is difficult to change! "YOU WANT TO CLIMB MY MOUNTAIN, YOU HAVE TO PAY ME TO DO SO, REGARDLESS OF WEATHER I PROVIDE YOU WITH ANY SERVICE OR NOT"
« Last Edit: 02/10/17, 10:07 AM by snojones » Logged
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