Telluride Colorado — GHD Opens Private Land to Skiing — Proposes Resort


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

Leave it to Gold Hill Development, they’ll keep you guessing. After creating quite a stir by demanding that skiers not trespass on their land near Telluride ski resort, the Gold Hill Owners are now allowing skiers and other winter recreators to cross any part of their land (not just a possibly public trail route) — provided they sign a waiver available on GKD’s website. This is very good news that should defuse the winter access issue for anyone but the most diehard opponents to the concept of private property.

What is more, the land owners (operating as “Bear Creek at Telluride Ski Resort”) are proposing they obtain a special use permit and operate a lift-free resort with both helicopter and human powered use of the beautiful terrain that’s easily accessed from their land.

GHD had previously been exploring options such as building a mountain hut/lodge on their property for use by backcountry skiers in winter and other human powered recreators in summer. As far as I could tell in speaking with locals, this excellent idea was met by a cold shoulder due to residents having trouble getting past their dislike for Thomas Chapman, one of the GHD owners who is known for helping with a few land deals that riled up the mountain folk. Well, I can only chuckle as that opportunity is now behind us and we’re talking full-on heli skiing.

The proposed new ski area is called “Bear Creek at Telluride.” On the whole, getting past our general bias (also known as human powered elitist agenda) here at WildSnow.com against heli skiing, it seems like a fine idea. Though as we all know, operating heli skiing in the Colorado Rocky Mountains is an iffy endeavor due to frequently poor snowpack, low-density high altitude air and other challenges. Nonetheless, Telluride Helitrax has been able to stay in business over the years. An operation with limited terrain and a base camp might perhaps be a good call, as the terrain could be heavily avalanche controlled and perhaps even ski compacted. Human powered options could work as well, though co-existing with heli skiing in limited terrain can be difficult. Whatever the case, I applaud these guys for sticking with mountain recreation as their “highest and best” use of their Bear Creek property.

Another thought: With the continuation and possible acceleration of global warming, wouldn’t it be ironic if the only viable resorts in Colorado ended up being those around timberline and above, and no resorts of this type are added to what we already have in the state? That’ll be sad if it happens.

As always, we’ll be interested in the outcome. Gold Hill Development does have a use-by-right for some kind of building up there. My understanding is that as stated in the press release below this could simply be a private residence. Such would be disappointing, considering these guys keep coming up with ideas that include the public. Comments welcome, but please no childish personal attacks.

Press Release follows:

Date: January 17, 2013

Bear Creek at Telluride Ski Resort, L.P.
“The Creek” Associates, L.P., General Partner

INTRODUCING BEAR CREEK AT TELLURIDE SKI RESORT

THE HIGHEST SKI AREA IN NORTH AMERICA!

Colorado’s newest ski area, subject to federal permits. See attached photo map. Human powered and optional heli-lift skiing on avalanche controlled snow. Deep powder snow, no grooming, no trees, no clear-cut trails. No lift towers, no permanent structures, no trace of winter time skiing to the summer time user of Bear Creek. The warming yurt, on private lands as shown, would be removed every June 10th.

The ski area permit application boundary will include approximately 1,300 acres, as shown on the attached photo map by the red helicopter disembarkation points circumscribing the upper Bear Creek Basin ridge line and will exclude any upper basin private lands not owned, leased, or licensed by Bear Creek at Telluride Ski Resort, L.P., “The Creek” Associates, L.P., General Partner. Co-investors will be considered and could include local commercial ski outfitters, other interested local investors, or out of state investors.

Nearly 2,000 feet of vertical elevation. The highest point is 13,555 feet on Wasatch Mountain, and the lowest point is 11,562 feet on the private lands in West Fork of Bear Creek. Because of the short quick lifts, a dedicated skier could rip 15,000 vertical feet a day on dramatic sweeping lines, steep and deep couloirs, cliffs and bowls.

All levels of expert, advanced, and even intermediate skiing, in deep reliable powder snow that always occurs on this, the leeward side of Palmyra Peak/Gold Hill Ridge. Here you will be able to ski in early November, through the normal season, and on through April and May! This will shorten Telluride’s shoulder seasons and provide significant economic benefit to Telluride, recently voted the No. 1 ski resort in North America by Conde Nast Traveler.

Take a fast-moving down and close helicopter tour of this astonishing ski terrain! Go to the website www.bearcreekattellurideskiresort.com and link to the GoogleEarth video helicopter tour.

While federal permit applications are in process, skiers may enter the private lands shown by the red lines on the attached photo map, provided each skier registers and signs a liability release form. You must register and sign a liability release form to have permission to enter the private lands. All non-authorized entry will be considered trespass. Go to the website to review the liability release form.

An alternative to the removable yurt would be a zoning-allowed 1,000 sq.ft. single family luxury log home, hand-adzed, dovetailed corner, with a potable water system and state of the art micro-hydro power — Telluride’s ultimate ski-in ski-out homesite.

The Modena Parcel is Bear Creek’s sole certifiable avalanche-free home building site. As such, it essentially makes upper Bear Creek a private ski area for the home owner’s family, guests & friends, with human powered skiing to any point on the basin ridgeline, as well as private land to private land helicopter skiing on owned private lands, leased private lands, or licensed private lands within Bear Creek. The private property lines shown on the attached photo map would be patrolled and enforced. Current public skiing through these private lands would end. Certainly, the public skier could still ski the federal lands within the upper basin, but those skiers would have to be prepared to egress by skiing uphill to the Forest Service release gate on Palmyra Peak.

As San Miguel County Sheriff Masters correctly points out in his February 14, 2012 NOTICE FROM THE SHERIFF REGARDING BEAR CREEK, as long as it remains the policy of the Forest Service and Telski to, on the one hand, authorize and enable Bear Creek side-country skiing via Forest Service promotion of the Palmyra Peak release gate and Telski’s promotion of Lifts 12, 14, 15, Hillary Steps, Chutes 1-10, and then on the other hand walk away and disclaim any responsibility for the safety or rescue of persons who are seriously injured or killed due to the lack of safety measures and avalanche control in this dynamic environment, then Bear Creek will indeed continue to be a dangerous place to ski. These policies and actions, whether intended or not, enable trespass on private property, unfairly dumping unwanted liability onto Bear Creek private lands – lands that were there long before skiing became fashionable in Telluride, long before there was a Telski ski area, and long before there was a National Forest Service.

Bear Creek at Telluride Ski Resort, L.P.

As mentioned in comments following this post, here is a copy of the COLORADO LAW LIMITING LIABILITY OF LAND OWNERS IN CERTAIN SITUATIONS

33-41-101. Legislative declaration.

The purpose of this article is to encourage owners of land to make land and water areas available for recreational purposes by limiting their liability toward persons entering thereon for such purposes.

33-41-102. Definitions.

As used in this article, unless the context otherwise requires:

(1) “Charge” means a consideration paid for entry upon or use of the land or any facilities thereon or adjacent thereto; except that, in a case of land leased to a public entity or in which a public entity has been granted an easement or other rights to use land for recreational purposes, any consideration received by the owner for such lease, easement, or other right shall not be deemed a charge within the meaning of this article nor shall any consideration received by an owner from any federal governmental agency for the purposes of admitting any person constitute such a charge.

(2) “Land” also means roads, water, watercourses, private ways, and buildings, structures, and machinery or equipment thereon, when attached to real property.

(3) “Owner” includes, but is not limited to, the possessor of a fee interest, a tenant, lessee, occupant, the possessor of any other interest in land, or any person having a right to grant permission to use the land, or any public entity as defined in the “Colorado Governmental Immunity Act”, article 10 of title24, C.R.S., which has an interest in land.

(4) “Person” includes any individual, regardless of age, maturity, or experience, or any corporation, government or governmental subdivision or agency, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, or association, or any other legal entity.

(4.5) “Public entity” means the same as defined in section 24-10-103 (5), C.R.S.

(5) “Recreational purpose” includes, but is not limited to, any sports or other recreational activity of whatever nature undertaken by a person while using the land, including ponds, lakes, reservoirs, streams, paths, and trails appurtenant thereto, of another and includes, but is not limited to, any hobby, diversion, or other sports or other recreational activity such as: Hunting, fishing, camping, picnicking, hiking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, bicycling, riding or driving motorized recreational vehicles, swimming, tubing, diving, spelunking, sight-seeing, exploring, hang gliding, rock climbing, kite flying, roller skating, bird watching, gold panning, target shooting, ice skating, ice fishing, photography, or engaging in any other form of sports or other recreational activity.

33-41-103. Limitation on landowner’s liability.

(1) Subject to the provision of section 33-41-105, an owner of land who either directly or indirectly invites or permits, without charge, any person to use such property for recreational purposes does not thereby:

(a) Extend any assurance that the premises are safe for any purpose;

(b) Confer upon such person the legal status of an invitee or licensee to whom a duty of care is owed;

(c) Assume responsibility or incur liability for any injury to person or property or for the death of any person caused by an act or omission of such person.

(2) (a) To the extent liability is found, notwithstanding subsection (1) of this section, the total amount of damages that may be recovered from a private landowner who leases land or a portion thereof to a public entity for recreational purposes or who grants an easement or other rights to use land or a portion thereof to a public entity for recreational purposes for injuries resulting from the use of the land by invited guests for recreational purposes shall be:

(I) For any injury to one person in any single occurrence, the amount specified in section 24-10-114 (1) (a), C.R.S.;

(II) For an injury to two or more persons in any single occurrence, the amount specified in section 24-10-114 (1) (b), C.R.S.

(b) The limitations in this subsection (2) shall apply only when access to the property is limited, to the extent practicable, to invited guests, when the person injured is an invited guest of the public entity, when such use of the land by the injured person is for recreational purposes, and only during the term of such lease, easement, or other grant.

(c) Nothing in this subsection (2) shall limit, enlarge, or otherwise affect the liability of a public entity.

(d) In order to ensure the independence of public entities in the management of their recreational programs and to protect private landowners of land used for public recreational purposes from liability therefor, except as otherwise agreed by the public entity and a private landowner, a private landowner shall not be liable for a public entity’s management of the land or portion thereof which is used for recreational purposes.

(e) For purposes of this subsection (2) only, unless the context otherwise requires:

(I) “Invited guests” means all persons or guests of persons present on the land for recreational purposes, at the invitation or consent of the public entity, and with or without permit or license to enter the land, and all persons present on the land at the invitation or consent of the public entity or the landowner for business or other purposes relating to or arising from the use of the land for recreational purposes if the public entity receives all of the revenues, if any, which are collected for entry onto the land. “Invited guests” does not include any such persons or guests of any person present on the land for recreational purposes at the invitation or consent of the public entity or the landowner if the landowner retains all or a portion of the revenue collected for entry onto the land or if the landowner shares the revenue collected for entry onto the land with the public entity. For the purposes of this subparagraph (I), “revenue collected for entry” does not include lease payments, lease-purchase payments, or rental payments.

(II) “Land” means real property, or a body of water and the real property appurtenant thereto, or real property that was subject to mining operations under state or federal law and that has been abandoned or left in an inadequate reclamation status prior to August 3, 1977, for coal mining operations, or July 1, 1976, for hard rock mining operations, which is leased to a public entity or for which an easement or other right is granted to a public entity for recreational purposes or for which the landowner has acquiesced to public use of existing trails that have historically been used by the public for recreational purposes. “Land”, as used in this subsection (2), does not include real property, buildings, or portions thereof which are not the subject of a lease, easement, or other right of use granted to a public entity; except that land on which a landowner has acquiesced to public use of existing trails that have historically been used by the public for recreational purposes need not be subject to a lease, easement, or other right of use granted to a public entity. Nothing in this subparagraph (II) shall be construed to create a prescriptive easement on lands on which a landowner has acquiesced to public use of existing trails that have historically been used by the public for recreational purposes. The incidental use of such private property for recreational purposes shall not establish or presume facts to support land use classification or zoning.

(II.5) “Lease” or “leased” includes a lease-purchase agreement containing an option to purchase the property. Any lease in which a private landowner leases land or a portion thereof to a public entity for recreational purposes shall contain a disclosure advising the private landowner of the right to bargain for indemnification from liability for injury resulting from use of the land by invited guests for recreational purposes.

(II.7) “Management” means the entire range of activities, whether undertaken or not by the public entity, associated with controlling, directing, allowing, and administering the use, operation, protection, development, repair, and maintenance of private land for public recreational purposes.

(III) “Recreational purposes” includes, but is not limited to, any sports or other recreational activity of whatever nature undertaken by an invited guest while using the land, including ponds, lakes, reservoirs, streams, paths, and trails appurtenant to, of another and includes, but is not limited to, any hobby, diversion, or other sports or other recreational activity such as: Fishing, picnicking, hiking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, bicycling, swimming, tubing, diving, sight-seeing, exploring, kite flying, bird watching, gold panning, ice skating, ice fishing, photography, or engaging in any other form of sports or other recreational activity, as well as any activities related to such sports or recreational activities, and any activities directly or indirectly resulting from such sports or recreational activity.

(f) Nothing in this subsection (2) shall limit the protections provided, as applicable, to a landowner under section 13-21-115, C.R.S.

33-41-104. When liability is not limited.

(1) Nothing in this article limits in any way any liability which would otherwise exist:

(a) For willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a known dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity likely to cause harm;

(b) For injury suffered by any person in any case where the owner of land charges the person who enters or goes on the land for the recreational use thereof; except that, in case of land leased to a public entity or in which a public entity has been granted an easement or other rights to use land for recreational purposes any consideration received by the owner for such lease, easement, or other right shall not be deemed a charge within the meaning of this article nor shall any consideration received by an owner from any federal governmental agency for the purpose of admitting any person constitute such a charge;

(c) For maintaining an attractive nuisance; except that, if the property used for public recreational purposes contains mining operations that were abandoned or left in an inadequate reclamation status as provided in section 33-41-103 (2) (e) (II) or was constructed or is used for or in connection with the diversion, storage, conveyance, or use of water, the property and the water or abandoned mining operations within such property shall not constitute an attractive nuisance;

(d) For injury received on land incidental to the use of land on which a commercial or business enterprise of any description is being carried on; except that in the case of land leased to a public entity for recreational purposes or in which a public entity has been granted an easement or other rights to use land for recreational purposes, such land shall not be considered to be land upon which a business or commercial enterprise is being carried on.

33-41-105. Article not to create liability or relieve obligation.

(1) Nothing in this article shall be construed to:

(a) Create, enlarge, or affect in any manner any liability for willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a known dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity likely to cause harm, or for injury suffered by any person in any case where the owner of land charges for that person to enter or go on the land for the recreational use thereof;

(b) Relieve any person using the land of another for recreational purposes from any obligation which he may have in the absence of this article to exercise care in his use of such land and in his activities thereon or from the legal consequences of failure to employ such care;

(c) Limit any liability of any owner to any person for damages resulting from any occurrence which took place prior to January 1, 1970.

24-10-114. Limitations on judgments.

(1) The maximum amount that may be recovered under this article in any single occurrence, whether from one or more public entities and public employees, shall be:

(a) For any injury to one person in any single occurrence, the sum of one hundred fifty thousand dollars;

(b) For an injury to two or more persons in any single occurrence, the sum of six hundred thousand dollars; except that, in such instance, no person may recover in excess of one hundred fifty thousand dollars.

(1.5) For purposes of subsection (1) of this section, an assignment or subrogation to recover damages paid or payable for an injury shall not be deemed to be a separate occurrence.

(2) The governing body of a public entity, by resolution, may increase any maximum amount set out in subsection (1) of this section that may be recovered from the public entity for the type of injury described in the resolution. The amount of the recovery that may be had shall not exceed the amount set out in such resolution for the type of injury described therein. Any such increase may be reduced, increased, or repealed by the governing body by resolution. A resolution adopted pursuant to this subsection (2) shall apply only to injuries occurring subsequent to the adoption of such resolution.

(3) Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit the recovery of damages for types of actions authorized under part 2 of article 21 of title 13, C.R.S., in an amount in excess of the amounts specified in said article.

(4) (a) A public entity shall not be liable either directly or by indemnification for punitive or exemplary damages or for damages for outrageous conduct, except as otherwise determined by a public entity pursuant to section 24-10-118 (5).

(b) A railroad operating in interstate commerce that sells to a public entity, or allows the public entity to use, such railroad’s property or tracks for the provision of public passenger rail service shall not be liable either directly or by indemnification for punitive or exemplary damages or for damages for outrageous conduct to any person for any accident or injury arising out of the operation and maintenance of the public passenger rail service by a public entity.

(5) Notwithstanding the maximum amounts that may be recovered from a public entity set forth in subsection (1) of this section, a judgment or judgments may be claimed and rendered against the state in excess of the maximum amounts only if the general assembly acting by bill authorizes payment of all or a portion of the judgment which exceeds the maximum amount. Any claimant may present proof of judgment to the general assembly and request payment of that portion of the judgment which exceeds the maximum amount. Any portion of a judgment approved for payment by the general assembly shall be paid from the general fund.

Comments

14 Responses to “Telluride Colorado — GHD Opens Private Land to Skiing — Proposes Resort”

  1. Jon Miller January 19th, 2013 5:52 pm

    Lou,
    Thanks for keeping up with this issue. GHDC has continued to sling ideas on the wall to see what sticks. As usual they have made a big deal of this newest idea, full page ad in the local papers plus a big article in the Denver Post. All of this for an idea that hasn’t been floated past the Forest Service, County or anyone.

    The “cold shoulder” you have felt by the locals stems from our disbelief that GHDC has any motives other than getting someone to pay them big bucks for their land, and to be a pain in the rear until that happens.

    I do applaud their opening of the area for skiing with the wavier system. I hope that everything works out for everyone involved, in one way or another. Bear Creak is a special place.
    I just doubt it will.

  2. john carmola January 19th, 2013 6:25 pm

    I’m shocked that anyone with an interest in backcountry skiing in Colorado would put any kind of positive spin on this. I suggest you do some homework on how this whole thing got started. As for the “cold shoulder” , the obvious motives of GHDC would warrant the same in any ski community.

  3. mtnrunner2 January 19th, 2013 6:28 pm

    Glad they solved the liability thing, that’s what I figured the problem was.

    We need serious tort reform in the US so property owners are not held responsible for accidents that occur when others use the land, which is nuts. It prevents access purely for liability reasons (for example Mount Bross summit, where that is currently an issue).

  4. Lou Dawson January 19th, 2013 11:43 pm

    I totally understand you guy’s concerns, but what I don’t understand is why you would create a self fulfilling prophecy. By everyone road blocking and being totally negative about GHD’s projects, the result will indeed be the sale of their land, most likely to another developer who will also do what developers do. Or to the USFS for a bunch of money. If you think GHD is bluffing, why not call them on it? Support them doing something back there that they propose, with modifications per public opinion, then see if they do it. If not, what have you lost? And you get to keep your pride and feel puffed up about calling their bluff. And if If you do work with them and accomplish something wonderful, you’ll feel good as well. One thing I can guarantee is virtually anyone you’ll end up working with in this life isn’t perfect and won’t see the world exactly your way. But that doesn’t mean cool things are impossible.

  5. bill January 20th, 2013 2:29 am

    At any rate, my guess is that the whole fill-out-a-waiver thing seems in the end to be more of a process that will officially/legally log X-amount of user days for this particular parcel of land. That sort of thing is important to establishing type/amount of permitted uses with USFS for any sort of future business plan or private recreation permitting. Jon Miller is right: anyone who is process-savy with actually conducting business on public land puts in lots of time selling their ideas to the actual relevant permitting agencies before pitching an idea to the public in a full page ad to the local papers. (i.e. Vail Resorts has had their lawyers working-it with the Forest Service for years with Peak 6 rather than suddenly asking Summit County residents to get behind their plans in the newspaper)

    The whole liability argument for not letting anyone on your land is more of a blown-up/strawman defense (i.e. B-S, or, it exists as long as we all belive it exists and pay homage to it); I am guessing that it is very hard to dig up any definitive cases in Colorado or federal court where a landowner has been liable for a skier sustaining injuries during travel through/across an undeveloped inholding within USFS land. Maybe some attorney-skier-blog-followers can dig deep and inform, or maybe you already covered existing cases in another blog that I am missing?.

    “Human powered and optional heli-lift skiing on avalanche controlled snow” So how many seasons would you suppose the heli operation tolerates Telluride dirtbaggers tracking up their ‘product’ in upper Bear Creek before the human-powered access gets shuts down again? After all, what is the modern North American ski-business model about other than exclusivity? (Bachelor Gulch, Deer Valley, Yellowstone Club, Gilman/Battle Mtn, Tamarack…) Just ask the cat operations at Irwin, or Monarch how much they really enjoy the fact that people can skin into their avy-mitigated terrain and ski up their sell-able product. Not much.

    I’m not a San Juan local, and I hear ya Lou on the wait-and-see and maybe something new and good and cool for skiing may come about. But its also pretty easy to see the San Miguel county perspective: “If it looks like sh-t, smells like sh-t, and feels like sh-t, you don’t have to actually eat it to know it’s sh-t”

  6. Lou Dawson January 20th, 2013 6:11 am

    Bill, well stated. My main point is that even if you think someone is full of B.S., and you don’t have anything to loose by supporting something they propose, then why not just do it and call their bluff if you think it’s a bluff? More, can any of these guys hating on Chapman name one thing he has done that’s negatively affected them in any perceptible way, besides breaking a fingernail applying a hate Chapman sticker on their car? The whole thing just seems very weird to me, looking at it from the outside.

    The private land is there whether GHD owns it or not. If they don’t do something with it, someone else will, or else GHD will indeed make a huge profit in a land swap and piss everyone off, when if they’d been encouraged to provide something for the public, it perhaps could have happened.

    It’s an incredible hunk of real estate. Highest and best use in my opinion would be a ski-in ski-out lodge like the berg hotel huts in Europe, of which there are thousands. Or even a hut that was run for public use similar to other Colorado hut systems. Mr. Curry tried to float at least the idea of putting a Leap Factory hut up there and he essentially got laughed at. Meanwhile, they have one of those huts on Mount Blanc, and are installing several on Mount Elbrus. The chance for Telluride ski mountaineers to have that was incredible. Now I can only wonder what would have happened if Curry had been supported on doing that. We’d know by now if it was a bluff, or we’d actually be planning on using a hut up there in Bear Basin, since a Leap hut can be installed in a few hours.

    I know to you guys who literally hate GHD I appear like some kind of booster. All I’m doing is trying to be reasonable and give all sides a fair shake, while most of the media obsesses on one of the owners who’s done a few land deals that are really like blips on the radar screen of the big picture.

    In the sense of a mature point of view, it’s worth repeating that nearly anything that gets done involves people who are not perfect and whom one might disagree with in many ways. If we required people who thought exactly like us to do everything, well, obviously that would be ridiculous. But that’s exactly what some folks seem to want here. In other words, get over Thomas Chapman, call bluffs if you think they’re bluffs, and move along.

    As for the waivers, that is totally reasonable. You can come up with all sorts of theories about nefarious motives on the part of GHD when it comes to waiver. You can also find lots of proof that 9/11 never happened. I’ve done a lot of research on this subject since we own an inholding that’s skied on by the public. In fact, we even have a waiver for people using our property by permission. In some ways the owner of property is not liable for injuries people sustain while on their land, but in other ways they indeed are, and anyone can sue anyone of course. A well-off land owner is a very attractive target. Actually, for certain types of people and certain types of lawyers, anyone is an attractive target. For us, this is a VERY REAL concern and super difficult to deal with because we don’t have a pile of money for extra insurance and such. Even someone with money generally doesn’t have a big pile of cash just waiting for a lawsuit from some scammer lawyer…

    Along those lines, it’s good for everyone to know that Colorado does have a statute that limits land owner liability for people recreating on their land _with permission_ But it’s not a very strong law and still allows a lawsuits of up to $150,000. Point being that for this law to apply, people have to be “invited” on to the land in some fashion, for example by signing a waiver… If people go on to the land without permission, that’s a whole other issue in terms of liability, and quite complex, involving definitions of land owner negligence and such.

    According to an attorney who briefly researched this for me:

    1. Even if you have some commercial activity on the property, it doesn’t negate the application of the law to other uses. So if the general public can use parts of the property, then the law covers that use. If you run a commercial operation, the people participating in the commercial endeavor are outside of this law. It would be presumed that as a business owner, you would have insurance to cover the incidents that occur while operating.

    2. The liability of a landowner (with the $150,000 limit) applies when the landowner “invites” the public through some easement or lease with a public entity. It does not cover trespassing situations. If you do not invite the public, and someone trespasses and is injured, the court would use different standards. Also, this law does state that the landowner doesn’t guarantee a safe condition, so you would almost have to create a hazardous condition for liability to be assigned to you.

    For what it’s worth, I just added a copy of this statute to the bottom of the above blog post. Would appreciate comments from anyone with legal training, or otherwise as well.

  7. Lou Dawson January 20th, 2013 6:22 am

    P.S., regarding people tracking up the snow. If the USFS grants a special use permit for a ski area, as it perhaps would of if Telski had acquired that property and installed a lift, the owner of the permit can restrict who skis there if it’s that type of permit. In the case of GHD, it sound like that’s indeed what they’re after; a ski area permit with defined boundaries so they can operate avalanche control and control public access. In other words, the issue of people poaching their snow in a permit area could perhaps be no different than that for any other resort with a special use permit.

    Come to think of it, isn’t this ironic? At first, we’re just talking hut building, then next thing you know we’ve got someone proposing virtual ownership of the whole of Bear Basin. Sure, it could be B.S., but what if it isn’t? Sure would have been nice to just have a euro style berg hotel up there…

    And by the way, there is also the elephant in the room. Mining.

  8. Tim January 20th, 2013 1:32 pm

    Hi Tom and Ron, good luck with your ski area. I like Lou’s idea of incorporating bluffs or bluff into the name of it — Bluffs at Bear Creek, say.

    Now can we talk about Bear Creek access? San Miguel County says it’s OK for me to use the Wasatch Trail, that it’s a public right-of-way. But you’re asking to me sign a waiver, you say it’s a trespass situation without one. I’m confused. How can it be both ways?

    Best regards,
    Tim

  9. Lou Dawson January 20th, 2013 3:37 pm

    Tim, sophomoric sarcasm aside, just think it through. The trail is possibly a public right of way, but just because the rest of the land is there and has been crossed by people over the years doesn’t make the whole chunk of property open for legal access by the public. If that was so, the same would apply to millions of acres of private land all over the state, and country for that matter.

    Presumably, people recreating in Bear Basin will want to cross more of the land than just the trail route, hence, permission to do so and a waiver. Same as any chunk of land with a right-of-way through it. Such parcels of land exist all over the place, thousands and thousands of pieces of private property exist with public roads and trails crossing them.

    In other words, it works both ways.

    Beyond that, why is it up to me to explain something so basic?

  10. Tim January 21st, 2013 9:00 am

    new to BC, not new to life, or the outdoors…. currently live on the East Coast, north of Boston…
    Vt, Nh and Me have long long history/standing laws of public access/use of privately held lands …. much of the land is held by forestry/paper companies for timber use… millions of acres….. when inevitably, the land changes ownership there is the usual hand wringing from the local population that some how feels they have “rights” to how the land is managed accessed (the latest was the founder of Burts Bees buying a huge tract and effectively stopping access, for a period of time)…. my take… it’s private property and as of date the gobernment hasn’t changed that via EO’s….
    your much better off supporting the devil you know,, then the one you don’t
    have positive input rather than put up so many “road blocks” that from a “profitability” perspective (and that is why companies exist, to make profit, or at least not spend $$ defending themselves , even if they are altruistic) the company just dumps the holding to some other company, who’s intentions could easily be far far worse….

  11. Seth January 24th, 2013 10:20 pm

    We will see.

    In the meantime, the Telluride Mountain Club has advised that one should NOT sign the Waiver:

    “Requesting access and signing a waiver basically gives up one’s right to prescriptive access, a legal tool that could be the basis for restoring access in the area, according to the club. In addition, the Wasatch Trail is a federally recognized public trail that the public has a right to access in any season. And many of ski routes from the ski area’s access gates don’t cross GHDC property, so they don’t require permission according to the club.”

    And as it stands right now, there ain’t nothin’ going on up there. The Waiver includes standard ski industry language regarding machinery, equipment, assorted other hazards, etc. etc., which DO NOT EXIST in Bear Creek; waiving one’s rights (as “invited”) seem to be a fairly weak attempt at legitimizing post hoc ergo propter hoc. In other words since you waive your rights (in this case, to sue) absent any facility or improvement or anything else, Chapman et al. are hoping to nullify any future claims (legit or not).

    It’s fair to say that this is a bit of a legal and public lands quagmire. And it should be noted that the USFS has not received anything close to a formal application for Special Use… they haven’t even got anything on paper.

  12. Poach Ninja March 26th, 2013 5:53 pm

    Chapman has a long track record of public land extortion. They are all bluffs in order to drive up the price of his land investment. A (non-permitted) human powered ski “resort”? With a only a yurt on baron alpine tundra, surrounded by deadly avalanche slopes? I’m not buying it!
    Just last year, he was telling everyone that he purchased the land in order to start up a gold mine!
    The land he purchased was obviously meant to block skier access to the entire drainage.
    Just because he slapped together a website with stock images (not even pictures of Bear Creek!), draws lines all over bad google earth images, telling people where they are NOT allowed to even cross!?
    This whole thing is a sham. It’s sad that some on here are defending that guy.

    DO NOT SIGN THE WAIVER! You give up your rights and only help him show that people actually want this stupid scam!

  13. Lou Dawson March 26th, 2013 7:43 pm

    Poach, how is the deadly avy terrain skiing these days? Lou

  14. Poach Ninja March 26th, 2013 8:35 pm

    I often find myself skiing in deadly avy terrain…
    Sometimes owned by a public land extorter…

    … Don’t judge me.

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