For the week of January 20, 1999   thru January 26, 1999  

Predawn Baldy hikers in danger

Express Staff Writer

Early morning hikers and snowshoers on Bald Mountain are being asked to wear reflective clothing or take other measures to make sure that mountain operations employees can see them in the dark.

Recent situations have occured in which people were encountered unexpectedly by ski area personnel operating motorized equipment, according to a Forest Service press release.

"There is a lot of work taking place on Baldy throughout the night and early morning hours," said Ketchum District ranger Kurt Nelson. "The mountain is a beehive of activity involving snowmaking and grooming; snowmobiles are being used to get ski area employees to their work. In addition, ski patrol personnel are out, especially during early morning hours, doing avalanche control work."

Sun Valley Company mountain operations director Denzel Rowland said there have not been any incidents resulting in injuries or serious problems, but he did recall a recent morning when a dog ran in front of his snowmobile in the dark.

The lights on the snowmobiles only shine 20 feet ahead and it is difficult to see someone in the pre-dawn hours, Rowland said. He suggests wearing a light high on a pack or reflective clothing when climbing Baldy at night or early in the morning.

"I like to see all the activity that is going on—hiking in the morning, skiing, skinning, snowshoeing—these activities are great. It’s a good form of recreation for people," Rowland said.

"We don’t mind you hiking," he continued. "But when you hike up, we want to see you please. We don’t want any negatives to come from the great situation up there."

Hikers and snowshoers are also asked to avoid hiking on the mountain on big-snow days so that ski patrollers are not hindered as they conduct avalanche-control activities.


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