Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Skiers duck ropes, barely duck trouble

Family of four gets stuck on Baldy after hours

Express Staff Writer

A family of four from Twin Falls was caught on Bald Mountain much later than they should have been Wednesday, Dec. 27.

"They came out of the Mistletoe area behind the sweep," Sun Valley Ski Patrol Director Mike Lloyd said. "They went down Cold Springs, and we (the first sweep) had already left. The super sweep went by and heard them crashing around."

Access to Seattle Ridge and the bowls closes at 2:45 p.m. and the two Seattle Ridge-area lifts (Seattle Ridge and Mayday) close around 3 p.m. Ski patrol authorizes closing of the Cold Springs lift, the lowest lift of the three, after it completes its sweeps.

Lloyd said the family had crossed ski area boundaries and was in the out-of-bounds area near Lower Broadway Run, which was especially risky given the stormy weather conditions.

"People go out late and get stuck. We sweep the mountain and close the lift, and they can't get out of there," Lloyd said. "We advise people not to go out of bounds because it's an uncontrolled area. You can't go through a closed area to get to an out-of-area boundary. It's against the law. You also can't go out and back into a closed area."

Lloyd cautioned if people are going to take chances in uncontrolled areas they should be thoroughly prepared for not only the conditions, but the consequences.

"People need to realize the time, the terrain, have the proper avalanche equipment and be prepared to rescue themselves," he said. "If you go out late and you get hurt, it's going to get cold and dark and you're not giving yourself any chance for a rescue."

At the time of the incident, snow conditions on the hills and mountains throughout the Wood River Valley had been deemed highly unstable.

According to Lloyd, a skier last week triggered a slide on the Warm Springs boundary of Bald Mountain down Bruce's Chute.

"People need to pay attention to (avalanche) advisories," Lloyd said. "The backside of Baldy is no different from (the backcountry)."

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