The Colorado ski season has officially ended – though snow was falling in the high country this weekend, and even last night!, the traditional hold-out, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area closed after the last day of skiing on June 8, 2008. Having opened in October, A-Basin provided eight months of skiing to the devoted adherents to old school ski hospitality.
It was a record setting year for snow fall for some Colorado resorts, and record numbers of skier visits to take advantage of the excellent conditions, see Another Record Year for Colorado Slopes.
But it was also a record setting year for the number of ski fatalities on the slopes. For a complete overview of the deaths, see Deadly Season on Colorado Slopes.
As awareness of the dangers posed by reckless skiing is increased, we hope the number of tragic accidents will decrease. To avoid bad outcomes, follow Jim Chalat’s safety tips – Ride B.I.G.
Always ski or ride with a buddy. If you are skiing alone and are in-area, do not go off-piste or into an area where you couldn’t be found if you were hurt. Carry a cell phone and a safety whistle. Children in particular should be instructed where to meet if they are separated from their companion or adult. Click here for tips on what to do if you are in a skier collision.
Always ski or ride with a buddy, and follow the “one at a time” rule. “Buddy” also means an electronic connection. Wear an AVI beacon, bring probes, shovel, and be ready to self-rescue. If you or your buddy are submersed in an avalanche you have about 5 to 10 minutes to locate and rescue. By the time the local authorities arrive it will be a “recovery,” not a “rescue” operation.
Learn to ski or snowboard from a fully certified professional instructor. Return regularly for lessons to further your technique. When on the mountain, know where you are and the limits of your conditioning and your ability. Carry a map. Plan your descent down runs within your ability. Keep an eye on the weather, and know the forecast.
Skiers and snowriders, you must follow the conditions, advisements and warnings at Colorado Avalanche Information Center. Take an avalanche course. Back-country snowmobilers: This year we see a new trend in back-country snowmobilers becoming lost, or getting in trouble. The same rules apply, know where you are going, what the conditions and weather will be, carry a map and make contingency plans.
Wear a helmet, make sure your skis and bindings are in tune, and that your bindings are properly set and functioning. Helmets reduce injury and prevent death. Helmets are recommended by the AMA and the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission. Also, carry a cell phone, a safety whistle, and a map.
We are not the experts, but certainly carry a beacon, probes, shovel, life-link avi kit, cell phone. Consider: water, space blanket, first aid kit, and small stove or primus, Avalung. And carry adequate communications gear. For snowmobilers, the best choice is to carry a PLB (personal locator beacon.)