It’s time for my mid-winter rant about backcountry (I should say sidecountry) behavior. I was inspired Saturday when I watch three people ski an avalanche chute just outside the Snowbowl boundary together……at the same time. This particular slope had a large skier-triggered avalanche on it this year. I doubt these three riders read the avalanche advisory, so I’m aiming my comments at Snow Bowl parents who may have kids, teenagers or older, ducking the ropes or skiing out-of-bounds. Once you leave the ski area; you’re on your own. The areas just outside the ropes are backcountry. There is no slope management or patrol. You should be prepared to deal with a burial or trauma. It would be a major operation to extract someone from the Rankin Lake basin just outside Snowbowl. Folks are treating this terrain as part of the ski area. It’s not. Do you think people who would ski three at a time down an avalanche chute know when the snow is stable and when it isn’t?
We just had a terrible incident in the sidecountry near Stevens Pass, Washington. Bozeman experienced a major avalanche on Saddle Peak (where everyone hikes) just outside Bridger’s boundary a couple of seasons ago (fortunately no one was hurt). Everyone wants to ski the gnarly terrain; the sidecountry is popular. Have you talked to your kids about drugs, avalanches and skiing out-of-bounds?