Austrian Local Arrested and Cuffed for Skiing Uphill at Jackson, Wyoming

Post by blogger | February 9, 2011      

In what could become a public relations disaster on par with Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s harassment of Doug Coombs, this past Saturday sheriff deputies assisted by ski patrol arrested and handcuffed Jackson area longtime local Roland Fleck for a variety of charges stemming from him skiing (with climbing skins) up the resort slopes.

According to Jackson Hole News and Guide:

“Fleck, 78, a longtime Jackson doctor, fitness buff and one of the original investors in Teton Village, was arrested on misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass, interference with an officer, unsafe skiing and theft of services. His extrication from the mountain came after up to seven ski patrollers spent 3.5 hours trying to stop him…”

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152 Responses to “Austrian Local Arrested and Cuffed for Skiing Uphill at Jackson, Wyoming”

  1. Jason February 9th, 2011 12:21 pm

    “Skinning is not a Crime!”

  2. Smokey February 9th, 2011 12:24 pm

    Just read this story in the JH News and Guide…Uphill travel needs a revolution akin to Eygpt. Revolt! Even if you are 78…awsome.

  3. Tuck February 9th, 2011 12:33 pm

    “…refused an offer of a free day pass…”? That sounds pretty accomodating… Why did it turn from that into an arrest?

    And the notion that skinning up a hill is less safe than skiing down it is pretty idiotic. Do they allow snowshoes on the slopes?

    But good for Mr. Fleck! Nice to see he’s still having fun at 78.

  4. Lou February 9th, 2011 12:35 pm

    When I’m 78, I hope I get arrested for skiing uphill!

  5. johnkareoke February 9th, 2011 12:41 pm

    wtf?!!? He needs a medal, not a record

  6. Lou February 9th, 2011 12:51 pm

    I love the Jackson Hole News use of word “extrication.” Makes you think they needed the jaws of life to get that pesky 78 year old Tyrolean off their slopes.

  7. mikerussell February 9th, 2011 12:55 pm

    :In the” Land of the Free” shame on them

  8. Macharza February 9th, 2011 1:16 pm

    Hope this kind of never land to Europe

  9. Patrick Odenbeck February 9th, 2011 1:24 pm

    Jason agreed!

    Skinning is not a crime!

  10. mtnrunner2 February 9th, 2011 1:25 pm

    >”unsafe skiing”

    lol. Well, actually that’s not funny it’s sad. Obviously you don’t want people skinning up the middle of a busy trail, but you’d think they could come up with some kind of solution.

    One time before first chair on a powder day at Mary Jane, I asked the info guy at Mary Jane lodge about skinning before hours (to catch some fresh tracks). I got kind of a vague answer about well, it’s forest land so you can do what you want, but it didn’t leave me convinced that ski patrol wouldn’t stop me. In a valley full of backcountry skiers (i.e. at Berthoud Pass and elsewhere) I have never seen anyone skinning at the resort.

  11. tiroler February 9th, 2011 1:30 pm

    To “ski properly”?!! Ridiculous.

    I have to say it is kind of a strange coincidence, because here in Austria, on the very same day (yesterday), a guy skinning up a slope got a fine for doing it, which was something unheard of in Austria, at least to me… Although it must be said he was climbing after the resort closed, which is the main source of conflict between ski resorts and ski tourers here, as the resorts claim the ski tourers drinking and eating at the mountain refuges in the evening and then skiing down the freshly groomed slopes leave tracks that freeze up during the night (which is true), making the slopes less fun to ski on the next morning. Even if there’s no open refuge in the resort, a lot of people still climb for fun/fitness in the evening after work.

    Climbing inbounds during the day is no problem as it’s something that has been done for years and both sides act respectfully and get along quite well.

    If you understand german:

  12. JOhn Dough February 9th, 2011 1:35 pm

    I’ve always wondered how skinning uphill is really any different than standing still in the middle of a run. You are not moving at a pace much faster than the trees on the side of the run or the skiers stopped on the run. Realistically, if someone were to run into you, they would be just as likely to run into an inanimate object. Unless of course the uphill skier was some sort of rand racer hauling ass at max heart rate.

    Therefore, the argument that it is unsafe doesn’t really hold water. Skiing downhill is much more unsafe than walking uphill.

    I’m sure Fleck just wanted to prove a point. It sounds like he has the money to do it too.

  13. Lou February 9th, 2011 1:35 pm

    As I’ve written about before, the explosion in popularity of skinning uphill at resorts is going to result in all sorts of interesting developments. These are just the tip of the iceberg.

  14. tiroler February 9th, 2011 1:41 pm

    … actually, another thing the resorts don’t like is ski tourers using the resort parking lots. Around Innsbruck, on sunny weekend days, when the snow in the backcountry isn’t that good, there can easily be 50+ cars taking up space in the sometimes tiny parking lots…

    Is skinning up inbounds (as training) something that unusual in the US?

  15. Josh February 9th, 2011 1:49 pm

    I realize this a blog about backcountry skiing, but I’m shocked that everyone here is taking the side of Mr Fleck. Why is it ok for him to skin up the mountain to see his granddaughter’s ski race when anyone else would need a season pass or lift ticket to be on the mountain? Seems to me like Mr Fleck feels that b/c he’s been in the valley for 50 yrs he’s entitled to do whatever he wants. And that is just plain wrong. Those patrollers were doing their job and enforcing the rules of the mountain. We’re not talking about skiing outside the boundaries here, he was on their mountain without a pass. And then to boot he copped a major attitude with the them and the sheriff’s, even after they offered him a free day pass (which he refused???).

    Yes, I’m ALL for backcountry access and earning your turns. but this is something drastically different here. This man felt that he had paid his dues to the area and deserved some sort of special treatment. That is the very attitude (entitlement) that has put this great country in the toilet.

    Just b/c he was using his own power to go up the hill you guys think this is somehow OK? I can’t think of 1 instance where skinning up private property without permission from the owner/leaseholder is anything other then trespassing. How anyone thinks what this clown did is accpetable is beyond me.

  16. tiroler February 9th, 2011 2:03 pm

    @Josh: By reading the article, I didn’t get the impression Mr. Fleck was acting like a diva and asking for some special treatment, he was really just making a point. Like John said earlier, the “unsafe” argument holds no ground. Maybe it’s against the official “rules”, but I think it might me necessary to rethink those rules if skinning should become popular.

    And how is that “different” from earning your turns in the backcountry? I don’t know how many visitors Jackson gets on a day, but I’m pretty sure the ski tourers are just a very, very small minority. The economic argument isn’t valid either. And seriously, if you’re organising a ski race and don’t allow relatives and other people to go watch that race….

  17. John Dough February 9th, 2011 2:03 pm

    “That is the very attitude (entitlement) that has put this great country in the toilet.”

    I would argue that people willing to give up the right to access their public lands in the interest of a private entity would be a large cause this country going down the proverbial toilet. AFAIK JHMR is on NFS land and buying a lift ticket gains you the right to use the lifts. By choosing not to ride the lifts you are just accessing your public lands as you see fit.

    Walking onto land that is leased by a resort does not constitute trespassing.

  18. Christian Buss February 9th, 2011 2:11 pm

    This has become a much bigger issue in Europe recently given the increasing popularity of touring.

    Spitzingsee and Brauneck in Germany both recently banned uphill skinning within resort boundaries. The German Alpine Organisation (DAV) is actively lobbying against these bans. Their justification is that there is higher risk of a collision, and the resorts hold legal liability for any injuries, and have to pay insurance for the risk. The touring skiers don’t buy lift tickets so they haven’t contributed to cover that insurance risk.

    Interestingly, three ski areas have actually opened up dedicated uphill tracks in Germany: Bad Kohlgrub, Unternberg in Ruhpolding and Kolben in Oberammergau.

    An article worth google translating:

  19. Tuck February 9th, 2011 2:15 pm

    Mr. Fleck should move East. Sugarbush, where I ski, is a skinning-friendly resort. They even post on their lift report that a lift is closed, but hiking up is allowed. Once I heard them say skinning up was not allowed while a lift was on wind hold. Five minutes later they corrected, and said it was allowed, but please do it up the following trail. 🙂

    The mountain even runs a backcountry team for kids that competes in the local randonee race.

    Of course Mad River Glen (where the people are mad and they ski next to a river) is right next door, and that’s the “earn your turns” resort capital of the East. Many of their early-season snow reports depend on the skinners going up and checking things out.

  20. mtmoran February 9th, 2011 2:22 pm

    I agree with Josh. Mr. Fleck strikes me as a crazy old coot. He’s entitled to his eccentricities, but JHMR is entitled to make their rules and enforce them.

  21. Andy February 9th, 2011 2:33 pm

    I think the mountain has the right to make regulations to protect other skiers, but it sounds a little drastic that they don’t allow ANY uphill skinning. I’m sure the resort could find at least one trail (groomed or not) where they could allow this. If its a money issue, why not charge a nominal fee to cover insurance and grooming for those who choose to make use of the mountain’s services but not use a lift. And if the operators don’t have the sense or inclination to cater to backcountry skiers, it seems the solution would be for the public to insist on including provisions to allow backcountry access when the lease is renewed.

  22. D February 9th, 2011 3:04 pm

    So if I ski uphill I can be offered a free day pass? Sounds like a plan.

  23. Paul S. February 9th, 2011 3:07 pm

    As a former patroller, I think that the JHSP went out of their way to try to implement resort policy in the friendliest way they could. If the narrative of the article is true, he asked them to call the deputies, so he really did talk himself into the arrest. Knowing the way ski areas usually think, I would be shocked if they press charges. Hopefully JHMR will modify (or create) an up-hill travel policy which allows traffic on wide green-circle terrain, but I do think the resort employees were trying to “do the right thing.”

  24. mtnrunner2 February 9th, 2011 3:09 pm

    Josh said:
    >Those patrollers were doing their job and enforcing the rules of the mountain

    That may be, and resorts have the right to develop and enforce rules, but that does not mean that skinning up a mountain to ski is necessarily inherently wrong, illegal, “stealing”, etc. He’s not stealing a pass on the lift, he’s ascending on his own power.

    For example, in the summer ski resorts in CO allow you to hike and run, but charge *only for taking the lift*. This issue needs to be taken on a resort-by-resort basis.

    And I might add that Wyoming should not have laws telling people what they can do on resort property, beyond the usual criminal, violent behavior. Resort policy should be 100% up to the resort.

  25. Paul S. February 9th, 2011 3:26 pm

    >And I might add that Wyoming should not have laws telling people what they can do on resort property, beyond the usual criminal, violent behavior. Resort policy should be 100% up to the resort.

    These laws are there so that the resort can implement their policies. For a very small minority of trouble makers, they have to be able to swing a heavier hammer than pulling someone’s pass.

  26. Brian H. February 9th, 2011 4:16 pm

    I think its funny that this happened in Jackson (of course!). They had to deal with all the Air Force/Coombs stuff. Now they’re getting the business from the senior side…Tough job, being on patrol at J.H., in so many ways… Free Fleck!

  27. Njord February 9th, 2011 4:25 pm

    Folks, please remember that this occured on USFS lands, in other words: Our Lands. Funny how we are not allowed to use “our lands” anymore. I’m glad to know that the resorts in my neck of the woods (Aspen, Sunlight, etc…) has embraced up-hilling and worked towards making it safe and enjoyable for everyone!

    My new bumper sticker: “FREE ROLAND FLECK!”

    (which is right next to my “NO HIDDEN GEMS” sticker)

  28. brian p. harder February 9th, 2011 4:31 pm

    I’ve known Roland for years and he still gets after it. Yes, he’s entitled, a bit, and opinionated and definitely Austrian, with all that implies. It has chapped my ass for years that skinning is banned by JHMR but since it’s way over “there” from town, I don’t really care. Snow King allows it so I’m covered.

    But John Dough’s point is the one I always gravitate to. The risk is fabricated by close-minded managers and their paranoia. Yes, the legal liability theoretically exists but I wonder if there is really any precedent for this. There is certainly not enough of one to force many resorts into enacting equally draconian regulations. Even a huge ski corp like Sun Valley is totally cool with it.

    T-shirt anyone? Free Fleck – skinning is not a crime!

  29. DC February 9th, 2011 4:33 pm

    I presume Mr. Fleck was instigating a test case, given the Keystone Cops type behavior. Good for him.

    I think it’s fine and proper for resorts to regulate uphill traffic. It is not ok for them to impose a blanket ban on public lands. Hopefully we’ll get some more momentum and precedent built towards enforcing that against greedy companies.

  30. Hamish February 9th, 2011 4:40 pm

    I find this incredulous. US access laws seem ridiculous when compared to European countries. Where I live you have the right to responsible access anywhere regardless of ownership (obvious exceptions apply e.g. around homes). Over here, the idea of being arrested or fined for skinning up a piste is laughable. I hope this situation brings change to some reasonable access for skinning.

  31. Lou February 9th, 2011 4:46 pm

    Brian, you should make some stickers to promote your website. Just have them say “Skinning Is Not a Crime” with your website in small letters down below. That would be cool, one might even end up on the WildSnow mega-truck.

  32. David K. February 9th, 2011 5:03 pm

    This is always a tough argument where each side’s opinion is shaped by the beliefs of those making the argument. My belief is that people should be allowed to skin uphill on our public lands, resorts and otherwise. However, I can see arguments that could be made against this. For instance, there are many nordic centers that charge fees even though they operate on public lands. There are no lifts but they groom and prepare trails which carries a significant cost. Technically, how different is this from a groomed ski trail that someone is able to skin up? My answer would be that the number of uphill skiers who don’t buy lift tickets do not materially reduce revenues that are associated with grooming costs so the situations are not comparable. But I think you could debate this (and we will) forever.

    I think the solution is common sense on the part of resorts and skiers who choose to skin and ski inbounds instead of the backcountry. If someone like Fleck is skinning uphill on the side of a trail, is out of everyone’s way, and isn’t endangering himself (like skinning underneath avi control work) then common sense IMHO would be to leave him alone.

  33. Greg Moellmer February 9th, 2011 5:15 pm

    I rarely ski up or down at ski resorts anymore, but when I did, I was often a little frustrated with patrollers. Some seem to think they are cops on skis. It looks like Mr. Fleck met up with a few of that variety. Like my dad always told me, “Give a man a radio, and he thinks he owns the mountain”.

  34. Lou February 9th, 2011 5:30 pm

    Check out what Sunlight Resort in Colorado did with their hiking pass:

    Also, I don’t see any reason why a resort should not charge a small fee for uphilling on their groom. Yet better still, perhaps they should just figure they’ll make some money from the restaurant on top when those hungry uphillers stop in.

    Main thing, as I’ve written here before, the resorts embraced snowboarding when they realized they could increase their user numbers by hugging snowboarders. Some resorts have a lot of uphillers (hundreds a day at Buttermilk near Aspen, for example). It’s only a matter of time before such resorts hug those uphillers — if the resort management has their heads anywhere but in a certain contorted position.

  35. Jonathan Shefftz February 9th, 2011 5:36 pm

    “Sugarbush, where I ski, is a skinning-friendly resort. They even post on their lift report that a lift is closed, but hiking up is allowed. Once I heard them say skinning up was not allowed while a lift was on wind hold. Five minutes later they corrected, and said it was allowed, but please do it up the following trail.”
    – Maybe the resort has recently changed, but until recently Sugarbush was actually among the worst ANTI-skinning resorts in the East (despite hosting a rando race, although note that the ascent routes use none of the resort trails, except for a short portion of a nearly horizontal trail). I can send you specific dates of skiers being kicked out preseason, even though they were on trails with no mtn ops at all.
    – And here’s an example of Sugarbush attitude toward skinning during wind hold:
    On Mon, 17 Dec 2007 19:28:21 -0500, Jonathan S. Shefftz wrote:
    >Original plan had been Sugarbush North / Mt Ellen for Monday, but see prior
    >message for newly implemented ban on pre-season skinning.
    >Fortunately though, as we pulled into Sugarbush South / Lincoln Peak this
    >morning, an employee was stopping each car –
    >Greeter: “Just wanted to let you know that all lifts are on wind hold.”
    >Me: “YESSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
    >Greeter: “No, no, that means the lifts aren’t open.”
    >Me: “I know, we’re skinning — this is great!”
    >Took some runs up in Heavens Gate pod — wind affected, but still very nice.
    >When we started, temperatures had to have been close to zero (snow phone
    >said summit high was going to be 4), and winds were vicious.
    >Didn’t see anyone skinning, but did see a few hikers, including that same
    >post holer from November at North who claims that New England mountains a
    >are too small to merit climbing skins.
    >Patrol at mid-mtn lodge informed all the hikers/skinners that they were
    >supposed to have paid $15 at the base for a hiking ticket. I can understand
    >if they wanted to ban all skiing during a wind hold, but if skiing is going
    >to be allowed, I would think that a ski area would be better off encouraging
    >the few skiers able/willing to do this rather than try to raise a trivial
    >amount of revenue at the expense of upsetting skiers already upset (well,
    >except for me) at a wind hold.

  36. Tom Gos February 9th, 2011 5:50 pm

    I believe it is ridiculous to say that people traveling uphill within a resort is such a hazard that the resort operators should be allowed to ban it outright. But, resort operators should be allowed to put certain rules in place, like you must be to the side of the trail, etc. I have no problem with there being restrictions on certain activities within resorts – I don’t think many of us would want to see recreational snowmobile use in a ski resort. Laws and rules should be created to punish the idiots, not the innocent. As for resort operators charging a fee for uphilling, I disagree. The resort operators are already stealing us blind with the ridiculous lease payments they make to the federal government, and the way they are allowed to oeprate monopolies in terms of on mountain restaurants, ski school, etc. Their profit margins are huge, they don’t need any more user fees.

  37. Scott February 9th, 2011 5:56 pm

    What liability? Doesn’t Wyoming pretty much idemnify ski areas for risks inherent to skiing, like in Colorado?

    Hitting other skiers would seem to fall under that idemnification, so I doubt they are too worried about that. Mostly, I suspect the resorts just don’t want to deal with any hassles people who can move uphill might create for them.

  38. Dave Hojo February 9th, 2011 6:21 pm

    Does this mean, that if you lose a ski and hike uphill to get it that you’re violating the uphill ski policy? I’ve seen people freak out when I’m facing up hill and not freak out at the guy stopped below me who is not facing uphill. It has always been a way to prevent actual or perceived use of lifts without a lift ticket.

  39. ac February 9th, 2011 6:35 pm

    2 things:

    1. john dough has it right:
    “AFAIK JHMR is on NFS land and buying a lift ticket gains you the right to use the lifts. By choosing not to ride the lifts you are just accessing your public lands as you see fit.

    Walking onto land that is leased by a resort does not constitute trespassing.”

    2. resort liability?
    what’s all that small text on the back of the ticket for? they assume zero liability.

  40. Ben W February 9th, 2011 6:57 pm

    “Sugarbush, where I ski, is a skinning-friendly resort.”

    Something must have changed.

    Magic Mountain, MRG and Plattekill are skinning friendly. Other East coast resorts tolerate it at times. Sugarbush has always been quite restrictive in all manners of access. If that has changed, that’s great.

  41. Paul S. February 9th, 2011 7:15 pm

    Skiers sue ski areas several times per season. Sometimes they take the ski area to the cleaner, sometimes they get nothing. Liability is a funny issue. Every state with a ski area in it has laws saying the ski area has no liability, but it doesn’t work that way in court. A paranoid lawyer might say that by charging $1 for a “Skinning” ticket, the ski area offloads a significant amount of liability vs the case of a skier who has no lift ticket of any sort. (When you purchase the ticket you have created a contract.) I maintain my stance that JHMR really ought to update their policy to allow uphill traffic. On the other hand, I have been on the other side where resort guests act like they have a right to do anything they want to and even *suggesting* that might not be the case is grounds for them to ream you a new hole.

    BTW, I want to make it clear I am not an expert on JHMR or ski area operations. My patrol experience is from New England, and I’m sure the calculus of risk for people on trails and open/closed areas is very different.

  42. Scott Nelson February 9th, 2011 7:25 pm

    Glad to be in the Roaring Fork Valley. Skinned Tiehack (@ Buttermilk) this morning after a good dump yesterday and near the top of where I was going I saw some orange disks marked “Uphill route” where a snowmobile had already broken trail for me. Now thats customer service! And it made since for the ski area to route the uphillers this particular way because it moved them out of a potentially very busy spot (aka lots of downhillers). Packing out this part of the uphill track was a nice touch.

    Around here, it seems that the resorts do a great job of accomodating skinners. Yeah there’s some time restrictions at a couple of the local hills (as far as when you can and can’t head up), but if you work then you’re gonna be heading up early AM or late afternoon anyways so no big deal. And when I go up I try to be as low key as possible, like sticking to the sides of runs and generally heading up slopes that don’t have much traffic. Bottom line, I am real appreciative of how the local hills around here free skinners to do our thing, and trying to respect their guidelines (which are relatively minimal here) is pretty easy to do for what we get in return.

  43. Woods Hippie February 9th, 2011 7:30 pm

    Sounds like a case of hard-headedness on the behalf of the patrol and Mr. Fleck. The patrol seemed to perpetuate the authoritarian stance of police figures while Mr. Fleck claimed entitlement to something that may or may not have been his to claim. Hopefully calm heads will prevail in the future.

  44. Bruno February 9th, 2011 7:43 pm

    I am a season pass holder at all the areas that I skin, so I feel justified in using a parking space and skinning up before or after hours. If I didn’t have a pass, I would really see no reason the resort couldn’t charge a fee similar to a nordic center. They are providing snowmaking, cut runs, and grooming.

    Even if you skin up before/after hours keep in mind that lift maintenance staff are running around the mountain on sleds, and several have told me it scares the hell out of them to come over a blind spot and nearly take out a skinner that they were completely not expecting to encounter. This is the main reason a couple areas I know of have a no uphill policy as lift maintenance does have a lot of influence.

  45. skidmark February 9th, 2011 7:44 pm

    Mr. Fleck was obviously disgusted by the fact that he could not skin up to the slalom course to watch his grand-daughter race. He wanted to get exercise and not pay to ride the chairlift once. In fact, you have to take the gondola all the way up and then ski down to the Casper area to get to the slalom course.

    Skinning up was the most direct, most efficient, most exerting way for him to do it and his actions hopefully will set a precedent for more relaxed attitude on the resort slopes.
    Jackson Hole raised the bar on allowing out of bounds access from their slopes. One could argue that if they did not restrict skinning in bounds, then many might start to skin to the out of bounds access at the resort’s expense (or lack of profit). In the end it is about freedom vs. money and money has the upper hand (or lease). Bottom line: backcountry is where it is at if you want your freedom. They won’t prosecute.
    I was on the mountain Saturday and missed all the action, but then for a good reason. I was having the time of my life.

  46. Lou February 9th, 2011 7:54 pm

    Such as simple solution. Areas can mark an uphill route, and require skinners to use it. What’s so tough about that?

    As for hiking up to watch races, that’s as trad a part of ski culture as skis and ski boots. To deny that for a race is nauseatingly naive and really shows how backward American ski culture still is, despite contributions such as Blizzard of Ahhhs.

  47. chris February 9th, 2011 8:04 pm

    I lived in jackson for 5 years and worked there for the two. And this is typical Jackson hole corp bs. This company has no respect for the locals.

  48. Lou February 9th, 2011 8:28 pm

    All sorts of thoughts this brings up. For example, are they now going to train Jackson area law enforcement officials on how to remove all the different types of randonnee bindings?

  49. gtrantow February 9th, 2011 9:05 pm

    Agreed an uphill route solves the problem, BUT we need parking too.
    Locally I am concerned that Ajax limits uphill skinning, Highlands limits skinning past Merry-Go-Round and what happens when Tiehack gets a HS lift?
    I believe ASC is more enlightened, but will Tiehack parking (paying ticket buyers/customers) push aside skinning up at lunch?
    Remember Highlands in 1997? We could park for free and skin up the mountain from the base, but not today. As many downvalley locals know, skinning up Snowmass is now either a pay-to-park proposition or take a shuttle and waste 45 minutes of your day. Snowmass has become a hassle due to parking and I am concerned Tiehack is next.

  50. mc February 9th, 2011 9:19 pm

    Methinks you’ve had one too many Pabst Blue Ribbons there Stalin. :mrgreen:

  51. Lou February 9th, 2011 9:23 pm

    Grant, I would agree, Tiehack is next. It is so bloody important to provide parking at the base of the family/lunchtime slope, but of course those of us who need that are the only ones who understand it…. I just don’t know how to go about waking up the USFS and their permitees to the need for safe, inbounds uphilling. If anyone has any ideas, we’re all ears.

    As for Stalin, he’s most certainly part of the problem, not part of the solution. Weird, as I just checked a biography of Stalin out of the library. I guess I was subconsciously trying to gain an understanding of Jackson Hole Resort management (grin).

  52. Esq. February 9th, 2011 9:41 pm

    It appears that some think that people are banging down the door to skin up the hill in Teton Village. This is not the case.

    I understand that JHMR doesn’t allow uphill travel within it’s boundaries for safety. Although uphill travel may be slow, a reasonable person would not anticipate this activity on a crowded and narrow traverse. Flecks actions endangered himself and others. Weren’t they more than courteous in attempting to ask him to stop? They OFFERED HIM A FREE PASS for the day. What kind of inhumane monsters run that place? His belligerence was kindly ignored for hours and only after he insisted on being arrested was he taken down the hill. The horror.

    Resorts on FS land have the right to prohibit uphill travel and this is reflected in their permit. If an individual leases property from a person or entity, and they make improvements on the leased area (or do not), the “leasor” cannot just make entry and go through the fridge. Tickets aren’t executed contracts for releases of liability in WY or any other state, and resorts have a duty to take some steps to provide safety. Otherwise I guess they could allow the uphill crowd and perhaps some slednecks as well. Maybe you could put some tracks on the SUV and take that up there too. Just keep it slow, and but a ticket. Or not. It’s your land, right? Cut down a tree, build a house.

    JHMR as you know, is not located in the East, and avalanche mitigation and slope maintenance are quite common. Best access for high and low speed as well as big and small types of slope vehicles occurs on the same cat tracks and traverses that appeal to skinners. I will submit that’s a bad mix in low light situations or before opening. Certainly it is a silly prospect when patrol is throwing bombs.

    Fleck has the opportunity to skin a wide variety of terrain in Jackson Hole but seemed to feel entitled to make a statement. If people wanted to skin up OB and access the resort, although seemingly counter-intuitive, this appears lawful. I invite the line to form tomorrow. Perhaps Fleck and his supporters needs to better understand the law or at least peruse a more worthy cause.

    I wonder if there was a real demand for this activity by a meaningful number of people, and the resort was approached, could accommodations be made? Why bother, let’s just stomp up the hill. Flecks actions were ridiculous. How would you view the story if some kid from Jersey wiped him out on South Pass Traverse after the patrolers said “Sure, go ahead”?

  53. Randonnee February 9th, 2011 9:57 pm

    Lou, I wonder, do have a slight anarchist tendency? Simple solution- ski areas should as Lou suggests put in uphill routes, and I would think charge something and then allow skiing down in the area. There seems to be a market for that. I personally would enjoy a route up out of sight of the crowds- in the trees or around the hill from the ski runs.

    This discussion is a bit sensationalized as was the incident.

    Ski area operators have authority over the leased area, as it should be. Do some here think also that snowmobiles should be ridden up operating ski hills since it public land? That is of equal logic to advocating free-for-all skinning up an operating ski area.

    On the other hand, I would support more public access/ use of public land around or through ski areas, especially ski areas that dominate entire mountain passes.

    Lou I think that you are enjoying this!

  54. TOPDAWG February 9th, 2011 9:12 pm

    I am a patroller at snowmass, Colorado. If you skin up my mountain in a manner that is a concern to me, you are going down. If you disrespect me by not acknowledging my authority on my mountain, you are going down. People respect us at snowmass. Sure , we get the occassional yahoo skiing a closed area or fast in a slow zone. They just don’t do it twice. Sounds like my comrades up at Jackson are getting soft.

  55. Scott February 9th, 2011 10:27 pm

    Fleck IS entitled to make a statement. He may get a fine out of it, but the bad publicity will bring some pressure to bear on jhmr to review their policies.

    I don’t necessarily support in bounds skinning, but I am pleased to see someone take a stand on something with a little civil disobedience, if that is what really happened (as opposed to a gom being cantankerous). I just wish people would get more excited about more important issues.

  56. Bob February 9th, 2011 10:29 pm

    I’ve been kicked off Copper Mtn for skinning up in the fall before they opened. We were not being reckless in any way or getting in their way. I don’t think they should have the right to do that. It really seemed like a power trip on the part of the patroller. A call to the Forest Service confirmed they have the right to close the terrain to uphill travel if the resort thinks there is a safety issue, but it needs to be well marked at the bottom. It was not. Nor was there a safety issue. Just BS.

    I hope this ends up being a PR nightmare for JH.

  57. Patrick February 9th, 2011 11:10 pm

    I haven’t skinned up a resort run for years now. Nearly all my skiing’s been in the B/C the past 3 decades,,,, often in the company of guys in their 70s. But in the past, I ascended a few ski areas on waxed tele-boards. Maybe next time Dr. Fleck can try waxing up to his granddaughter’s race. This whole Fleck fiasco is just incredible. Hey JHMR, get a life! Roland, keep on turning out at you granddaughter’s races. She must be pretty proud of her gramps.

  58. Jack February 9th, 2011 10:44 pm

    Esq, have you no heart?

    Skin on, Dr. Fleck! I’m on your side.

  59. Skidmark February 10th, 2011 12:18 am

    Fleck skinning up the traverse alone is no safety issue, but if the resort does not enforce their rules against it, groups of skinners would be a safety problem. In this sense I understand their reaction and subsequent actions due to his behavior.
    No big deal. Bc is another world, as it should be.

  60. Matt Kinney February 10th, 2011 1:33 am

    The advantage Mr. Fleck has is numbers to support his cause. The BC skiers of the Tetons need to organize a “SKIN IN” at the JHMR.

    What a bunch of hookie cuffing a 70 year old skinning dude. They should be ashamed. 👿

    SKIN IN!

  61. Christian February 10th, 2011 2:01 am

    Seems that the discussion is too polarized:
    – Uphill skinning can be more dangerous than standing still, as nobody has seen you pass. I am thinking of this when I do uphill-skiing in the slopes. I have seen skinner traverse the slopes. That is just as stupid as the snowboarders that are resting in the blindspots. Thats said: as a downhill skier you should always expect there to be somebody in the blindspots. I always do, and I beleive that has saved a few persons from potential harm.
    – Parking lots can be a problem. I see that a lot at the local resort where there is a lot of xc skiers (which is free). Charging for parking is the easy solution…and maybe providing a parking pass with the ski pass.
    – If there is a lot of skinners…why not capitalize by having an uphillfriendly hut at the top? I would use it. Love the alm’s in Austria and the huts for xc skiers here in Norway.
    – See the problem with avalanche control…but then you would want skiers inbounds, even skinners…?
    (BTW: I am very happy I live in a country where there is free manpowered access to all undeveloped land…but there are people trying to restrict that to (especially skikiting and mtbing) )

  62. Ben February 10th, 2011 4:46 am

    Even I with minuscule ski experience have booted up from Tiehack, in little cross-country boots, to get to the XC ski trail toward Snowmass. Right under the nose of patrol, too. It’s a lucky thing TOPDAWG wasn’t there to clap me in the Pitkin County Jail.

    FS leases typically grant rights to make arbitrary rules in the name of safety. Question is whether enforcing an arbitrary rule (that undermines the legitimacy of the rule in the eyes of the public) is better than having a rule that is actually based on safety considerations. Banning all travel is different from banning travel in areas closed for maintenance/grooming/control.

  63. spudskier February 10th, 2011 5:27 am

    You’d think an uphill approved skin track is an answer, but it ain’t that simple. At JHMR’s upper mountain chairlifts, no one checks to see if you have a lift ticket. Back in the telly dirt bag days we’d skin up the “Hochi-Min Trail” for 45 minutes and ski the rest of the day for free on the Casper,Thunder, and Sublette chairs. I’m sure that JHMR is aware of that practice and would prefer to not have to place additional personnel to check for tix on those upper chairlifts. Any approved uphill track would put skinners at the bottom of chairlifts where tix are not checked and the resort would be giving free rides and have that issue. I skin up Snow king in town and there is no problem- groups of skinners on a narrow cat track during operation hours could be a problem, though. Anyone who sees these situations in black and white terms and with easy solutions ain’t living in reality, sorry to say. Best to skin up in the back-country and hope that a snowboarder or alpine skier has not bootpacked and post holed the skin track.

  64. Sam F February 10th, 2011 7:27 am

    Have any of you ever even been to Jackson? you couldn’t pay me to skin up to were that race was.Are you really going to get any enjoyment, skiining up crowded groomers?
    And no I would rather not add uphill travelers to the list of “characters” you weave through on your way to the tram.
    You can say what ever you want about it being NFS land but I bet you would change your tune if someone starting setting a boot pack on your skin track.
    It’s about common sence, what if Mr Fleck was arrested for snowmobiling to his pine marten trap line he set in Casper bowl. Both respectable activities in this part of Wyoming. And, they are both legal on NFS.
    Skining is a wonderful activity, but people like to do other things here to. For the most part we try to give each other a little space

  65. db February 10th, 2011 8:11 am

    ‘skiing uphill was a violation of Wyoming law’……Really? I’m not from Wyoming so is that true?

  66. Doug Goodwin February 10th, 2011 8:24 am


    This looks like a sad case of people who feel they have “power” exercising their warped sense of law onto others who are simply trying to live.

  67. Lou February 10th, 2011 8:39 am

    Spud, I agree these things are sometimes not easy to work out, but why should that be a barrier to working it out? Heck, building and operating a ski resort is not exactly a walk in the park…

  68. Steve February 10th, 2011 9:04 am
  69. Lou February 10th, 2011 9:25 am

    Rando, if nothing else, the thought of that old Austrian guy stirring the pot brings a smile to my face.

  70. Brian H. February 10th, 2011 10:24 am

    If anyone wants to see the “local” response to the Fleck fracas, check out Teton At (wildsnow has the link). Some one suggested a “skin In” ha!

  71. Mike B February 10th, 2011 10:44 am

    Best of luck to Mr. Fleck. The “safety” argument is BS. A skinner is no worse than a skier standing still or a snowboarder sitting down. The skinner is actually better than someone sitting down because they are easier to see. And the slow moving easily predicted skinner is MUCH better than a someone skiing/riding in an unpredictable random haphazard fashion, like about half the people “legally” on the mountain.

  72. MM February 10th, 2011 11:04 am

    This guy is a hero! Question authority. Fight the power. Grumpy old men (and women) unite!

  73. Ed February 10th, 2011 11:37 am

    Is it that:
    Ski Patrollers = First Aiders?
    Ski Patrollers = Peace Officer/ Officer of the Court/ Police?
    Big difference in standard of care required.
    There is a difference between resort rules and statute law.
    And “policy” does not equal statute law
    Ski Patrollers should be able to quote or provide on paper exactly what law Dr Fleck may have hypothetically been transgressing. Section, subsection, etc.
    As for the Patroller from Snowmass (Stalin was it?), professional police forces usually try and screen characters with this type of attitude out – get a job washing dishes until you get your issues sorted out son. Just as gun expert does not make cop, so it is that ski expert, maybe even credentialed skier, does not make ski patrol professional or peace officer. Not on my force.

  74. Cookie February 10th, 2011 12:39 pm

    The amount of support that people are giving this guy is disgusting. He was being a belligerent a-hole and those who have encountered him in the past know that this isn’t the first time he’s acted this way. (Like when he walked into the Jenny Lake Ranger Station and called them a “necessary evil” even after they had short-hauled his broken body off guides wall years ago and more recently offered him shelter in the saddle hut for two nights in an early September snow storm.) He doesn’t deserve to be glorified. He deserved to be arrested.

    I don’t care if he’s a long-time member of the community. Does that mean he shouldn’t be disciplined for breaking the rules? Does that mean if he blows through a few stop signs and speeds in the school zones that he shouldn’t be ticketed? If I decided to rip around on a 4-wheeler through the sagebrush flats in GTNP, just because it’s my public land, should I be allowed to do that?

    Don’t get me wrong, I love skinning and backcountry skiing. I patrol at Snow King and we have three designated uphill routes… it’s the town playground and it’s awesome. People can skin up anywhere they want before operating hours and even bring their dogs (please clean up after them so I don’t have to). There are a lot of blind rollers at the king and many times before we open I have been cruising a groomer and been unpleasantly surprised by a skinner right below a blind roller. JHMR had over 5500 skiers on the mountain that day.

    Furthermore, why would you really want to skin up at JHMR anyway? Snow King I can understand (I love being able to get some good exercise less than five minutes from my house). But don’t we have enough places around here to skin and ski where you won’t piss people off and don’t have to skin on crowded groomer?

  75. Jason February 10th, 2011 1:43 pm

    I believe the main point that is overlooked is that Mr. Fleck’s destination was to see his granddaughters NASTAR ski race. I would be upset too if I had to buy a ticket just to ride a chairlift to see my daughter race. If he walked from the bottom to the race would he have still been stopped for being dangerous?

    Bravo Mr. Fleck for exercising and making a stand to see the race.

  76. gs February 10th, 2011 1:48 pm

    i’m with Sam F on this one. I was there on Saturday and that area of the mountain was loaded with beginners/intermediates who definitely aren’t going to be expecting anyone one to come cruising up a ski run. This would have been like saying its ok to drive into oncoming traffic on the highway because you’re on your bike.

  77. Cookie February 10th, 2011 2:16 pm

    Hey Jason, since you apparently didn’t read the article, Mr. Fleck was offered a free ride up the gondi by patrol to watch his granddaughter race.

    And how on earth is safety not an issue? Everyone who has posted here has agreed that “it’s no more dangerous than someone stopped in the middle of a run.” Can’t we all agree that being stopped in the middle of a run IS in fact dangerous? How about the two people that just died at Hogadon ski area in a collision because of that very thing? The universal skier’s responsibility code states “do not stop in any area of a run where you cannot be seen from above”.

  78. Maki February 10th, 2011 2:40 pm

    This thing is getting widespread. A 2009 regional law in my region (Piemonte, Italy) forbids any skinning inbounds, even when the resort is closed. This is the result of at least ten years of fighting between uphillers and snowcat drivers.

    It’s a serious issue, because since resorts tend to take any safe slope certain mountains aren’t legally accessible anymore unless you are willing to risk a fine or an avalanche. To add insult to injury the same areas get a lot of publicity from ski-rando races…

    I think montaineering associations should lobby to estabilish the right to reach the top of the mountains. I have (almost) nothing against ski areas, but they cannot monopolize the mountain. Afterall we don’t need a lot of space to go up. Nobody wants to skin in the middle of a run but, if there is not a dedicated track on safe terrain, keeping a reasonable distance from the borders poses no problems whatsoever.

  79. gs February 10th, 2011 2:40 pm has a very good, level headed take on the issue.

  80. spudskier February 10th, 2011 3:14 pm

    I held season passes at JHMR for several years between 1984 and 2002 and also have backcountry skied 100’s of times on Teton Pass & Teton Park, especially since returning to JH last year from SW Colorado. JHMR ain’t just ski cuts thru the trees. There are big bowls and chutes- I’m aware of at least 3 maybe 4 patrollers who have died doing avy control at JHMR. Should skinners be up there when bombs and howlitzers are going off? Even with the lifts running an in-bounds customer was buried and died near Paintbrush a couple years ago-lawsuit pending. And in the 80’s a skier had an accidental death going over a massive cliff, in pea-soup conditions, skiers left of the tram. Sadly, a fast skier killed a hidden from above kid a few years ago. This resort seems to constantly have unusual fatalities and some of it is because the unique terrain and severe avy conditions.
    I skin up the JHMR after the seasonal closure and on Snow King –but way off to the side or when it is closed – its all great. But I can think of several narrow cat track traverses at both resorts where a skinner or two would really be an unexpected obstacle to downhillers, especially the way people ski fast at Jackson. An uphill skinner takes 10 minutes of time on a traverse compared to a person who skis down it in 30 seconds. Even if a downhiller stops on a traverse, it is usually for a few seconds break while going downhill. The most likely places to skin up at JHMR are the GV trail and Sundance gully. Both of these routes are the collector-funnel runs for 90% of people above, especially novices coming off Caper Bowl. I would not want to skin up those groomed surfaces with lots of novice-intermediate skier traffic coming at me. I’ve tried it and it cured me. Any other route uphill beside those runs would be through ungroomed crud or moguls. It would be often have crappier conditions than a backcountry type skin track. So those blue runs are easier ways down and avoid the steep ungroomed Lower faces that have crappy low elevation snowpack coverage with setup coral reef snow conditions-often as not. So you’d be skinning up down low for free on man-made snow until January and in late March in typical years. As I wrote earlier, tickets aren’t always checked on the mid and upper chairlifts, so the resort would have to pay someone to make sure us dirt bags didn’t want a ride for a little extra vertical. In summary, I think some mountains (like Snow King) are well suited to uphill travel,(with common sense conditions), while JHMR is a different animal during the open season. Can I take my rifle and pine marten trap up while I’m snow machining up to Corbets, btw?

  81. Big Chris February 10th, 2011 3:46 pm

    It’s just not a smart choice to skin at JHMR, especially on the weekends. If the mountain was filled with long time locals I could see it being O.K.
    There is no shortage of gapers, tourons and new locals who think they’re “rippers”. They aren’t! They are dangerous!

  82. Lou February 10th, 2011 4:57 pm

    Good thoughts you guys.

    Regarding safety: While I was skinning up a resort today, I came across a posse of snowboarders lying down across the ski run like it was a couch at a nightclub. Not sure who was creating more hazard, but my guess is it wasn’t me.

  83. jimmy February 10th, 2011 5:49 pm

    Reason one billon not to ski @a ski “resort”.

  84. Lou February 10th, 2011 5:54 pm

    Jimmy, you do have a point.

  85. Andy February 10th, 2011 6:04 pm

    Lou, it depends on where you or they were at the time. If they were spread out at a highly-visible spot, and you were under a roller, then possibly you (as unbelievably irritating as the behavior you describe is). I’ve been in situations where both scenarios (snowboarders sitting around and skinners coming uphill), in my opinion, have created unnecessary risk to others and themselves. Is one inherently worse than the other? Not in my mind. I don’t know enough about running a ski area to say whether it’s better to ban both or allow both.

  86. Andy February 10th, 2011 6:05 pm

    …and what Jimmy said! 😀

  87. Lou February 10th, 2011 6:15 pm

    I’d say we should ban napping in the middle of ski runs, or even deliberately lying down for any length of time. Common sense? But they’re snowboarders. They saved the industry. Lord forbid we would do anything to criticize or single them out. Skinners, on the other hand, wasn’t it Grand Targhee resort that in 1977 called telemark dirtbags “snow maggots” long before forum members at Powder Magazine came up with the term? (Wild Snow book, soft cover, page 151.)

  88. Scott Nelson February 10th, 2011 6:18 pm

    So Lou, were you skinning up the X Games superpipe?

  89. Lou February 10th, 2011 7:30 pm

    No one naps inside the pipe, that’s for sure. Perhaps I should skin up it as a protest for something. What that something is, I’ll have to think about for a while (grin), save the whales or something.

  90. Johnny February 10th, 2011 10:15 pm

    He was arrested because of greed, if the resort let him do that without a ticket, then they have to let anyone ski uphill without paying for the lifts. JH MR has shown they don’t care about people, pay or get out. Its public property and he has every right to be there! I am ashamed to say I am from JH after this.

  91. Ed Shred February 10th, 2011 10:42 pm

    He was arrested because of liability. All you need is some douche bag tourist from Texas suing JHMR because they plowed into an old guy skinning up a cat track and there go another few million bucks in legal fees and settlement charges.

    There were a lot of ways for everyone to handle this better, but I put more of the responsibility on the old skinner than the patrol and sheriff.

  92. CG February 10th, 2011 11:07 pm

    I believe the property at the Base of JHMR is 100% privately held. The land owners (JHMR does not own all of it) can close and control access to public lands if they so desire. This issues seems to come up frequently during hunting season.

  93. spudskier February 11th, 2011 1:18 am

    CG, the road into Teton Village is dedicated to the public as well as some others. The START bus goes there and there are access points and summer trailheads off public roads to Bridger -Teton NF.No one owner could close off access here. That situaton is more common with land owners who prevent short crossings from ski outs along private sections on Fish Creek road.
    JHMR does restrict parking but not everyone who parks skis- they shop, eat at restaurants, work, — it would be impractical to separate free-skinners from anyone else using the parking or riding the bus. There is no reason a regular skin track couldn’t be established going up Rock Springs Canyon,which is out of bounds- but even here a lot of upper gate skiers would encounter skinners in the narrows of the canyon. There are so many places to go around here , why fight the crowds on groomers? Its kinda selfish to use man-made snow, groomed snow and the patroller’s avy control, and then be an extra obstacle on a narrow cat track- going against the grain of travel in busy traverses with bind corners. I’ll wait till after 5:00 Pm or the April closing or go to Snow King for fitness laps.

  94. g February 11th, 2011 10:12 am

    EdShred’s comment:

    “All you need is some douche bag tourist from Texas suing JHMR because they plowed into an old guy skinning up a cat track and there go another few million bucks in legal fees and settlement charges.”

    Typical comment from someone with no understanding of the legalities. Wyoming’s recreational liability act would bar any such cause of action. I am not aware of JHMR ever losing or for that matter settling any lawsuit pertaining to any skier injury incurred on-mountain . As an example, JHMR was sued for a skier running into one of their worker’s snowmobiles, which was parked essentially on slope and left. the plaintiff lost, and got nothing. Noone from texas that runs into another person on skis at the area is going to get anything. Chances are they would be hard pressed to even find an attorney to take their case, since wyoming attorneys would no it is a loser.

    The law is a good one. Just think about it, if texans could sue JHMR for such things, it would not be worth JHMR to run its lifts. Same principal applies to most all other ski areas.

  95. Lou February 11th, 2011 10:20 am

    From what I understand, in many cases the “liability” excuse for not doing something is specious. For example, here in Colorado our ski resorts are protected by law from a certain amount of liability. They can of course still be sued, and sometimes people win, but only in very egregious cases. Ditto for private land, the owners of which are protected by lawsuits from people who cross or go on their land for recreational reasons. Hunting, for example.

    Basically, when a resort plays the legal liability card for not doing something, my BS meter pegs to the red zone. Reality is if they can make money from something and it’s not too crazy, they’ll try it. All the “extreme” terrain is a good example. Or perhaps terrain (broken bone) parks are a better one.

    By the way, in my opinion protecting industry from lawsuits is good to a degree, but can also be a consumer rip off. That holds true for ski resorts just as it does for the automobile industry. When you send your 6 year old kid up to the local ski resort for a day of fun, you don’t expect them to come home in a box — the resort has to be held accountable to making things safe, and there has to be consequences for them not doing so. It’s a question of balance, I guess.

  96. Wade February 11th, 2011 10:56 am

    Lou is right, in that this is only the beginning of these types of conflicts as the popularity of skinning escalates. What worries me is the attitude of some posters that we have a “right” to skin up any ski area we wish. Nothing could be further form the truth. Ski resorts are a profit making concern that have significant expenses and daunting liability concerns. If we have a “right” to skin up as we choose, why doesn’t a backcountry snowmobiler have the “right” to head up the mountain as he chooses??

    Part of the problem IMO, is this outmoded language of the phrase “lift ticket”. It sort of insinuates that you’re only paying to use the lifts, not ski at the area. In some people’s minds this creates the notion that if you’re not using the lifts, you don’t need to pay. Something like Daily Admission Pass is probably more in keeping with the truth.

    The more hostility and push back we BC skiers level at the area and it’s management, the more they are likely to return in kind. Like almost anything else we do, access to our favorite outdoor areas is a privilege so let’s treat it that way.

  97. Randonnee February 11th, 2011 11:01 am

    A ski area is not the same as other public land. It is operated under Permit and the operator is required to safely administer the area and is liable to do so. The ski area operator with USFS oversight decides what management is appropriate. The guy intended to cause a problem and according to the article his behavior was atrocious.

    If I were skiing with my young daughter and a fast skier dodges mr arrogant uphill skinner perhaps the fast skier will hit my daughter. This simple behavior that goes against the intended use, as designed, may have ripple effects on safety. Ski areas are dangerous enough, I have spent some years picking up busted folks and yes some from collisions and yes some kids. It is quite irresponsible and selfish in my view to demean safety considerations for the sake of selfish behavior.

    No, I will not intend to defend management, I have seen management elsewhere do the wrong thing plenty of times in outrageous examples. However, I will label much of this discussion as self indulgent, selfish, inconsiderate of others, and unrealistic. The guy as described is an arrogant jerk trying to cause problems.

  98. Lou February 11th, 2011 11:09 am

    Rando, point taken. What I’m asking is that resorts accommodate skinning, perhaps by designating an uphill route, and charging a small fee if necessary. I’m not advocating that folks can just skin straight up any ski run, any time. Heck, try that in Spar Gulch on Aspen Mountain at 2:00 pm on a groomer day, and you’d be killed — or as you say, a skier dodging you could kill someone else.

    As for our Tyrolean skinner, I think if he was trying to cause problems that’s a good thing for the above goal. Perhaps the exact location of his skin climb was inappropriate, but in my view most resorts will sooner or later need to accommodate uphilling just as they accommodated snowboarders.

  99. Matt Kinney February 11th, 2011 12:05 pm


    They tackled, handcuffed, and then strapped into a sled a 78-year old man using a bunch of patrollers and some town cops. He was skinning up to watch his
    Granddaughter’s ski race. Obviously, an over reaction by the patrollers no matter what the “policy” states. They could have just as easily kept an eye on the guy from a distance and let him do his little activist thing. The patrollers acted like thugs.

    I certainly can sympathize with activists and protesting. Been doing it since Vietnam. Some of us out here stand our ground in the face of what we perceive as wrong. Mr. Fleck is in a long line of activist who act on issues for all those who hide behind there desk so they do not “get involved”, yet support those who go out and fight for causes. It is about as American as it gets. Fleck took the hit for many who support his action. He deserves a break, not your ridicule. Geewhiz… the guy is nearly 80!

    Not everyone tucks his or her shirt in like you. I like to wear mine inside/out from time to time.

  100. Josh February 11th, 2011 12:09 pm

    I commented a couple of days ago on this and at the time i was the only person who thought what Mr Fleck did was moronic. Glad to see other BC skiers agreeing with me, but the amount of you that still are taking this man’s side amazes me.
    It’s not just about fighting establishment here guys and gals. Sure that is fun from time to time, but some people here really need to wake up. If you want to skin, ski, whatever in the mountains there are endless routes, trails, whatever in the US and abroad to do so. Why do people feel they have to do this at resorts? People, partnerships and such have invested great amounts of money and time in these places. If you think for one minute they are going to open themselves up to legal issues so people can skin up their mountain, you’ve been living in the woods for too long!
    The argument that JHMR is on federal land and they only lease it is even worse! Let me ask you this….if you rent/lease a house that is on state or federal land (low income housing, etc), is it ok for any citizen of the US to come and use your bathroom? How about your kitchen? I think the answer is NO.
    I think its time people who are taking Mr Fleck’s side forget their silly crusades for a few minutes and just use some common sense. My guess is you’ll all realize this guy was offered all sorts of concessions from the JHMR ski patrol (which they weren’t obligated to do) and still acted like a complete and utter A**hole. He got exactly what he deserved. This isnt like the stories from the 90’s of people getting tackled by patrollers in the backcountry and sherriff’s setting traps. This is 1 miserable, old bastard thinking he was entitled. Guess what Mr Fleck….you are no different then any of us.

  101. Bard February 11th, 2011 12:59 pm

    I was asked by ski patrol to leave Snowbasin, Utah a few years ago for “going the wrong way”; i.e. uphill. I politely acquiesced, but there was a sliver of Fleck-like resistance to authority in the back of my mind.
    If you’re skinning up a groomer at a resort, you deserve to get run into, and if you’re skiing so fast or out of control that you can’t avoid objects, you deserve to run into something.
    I like to oversimplify things.

  102. Stan February 11th, 2011 1:14 pm

    Top Dawg

    Little reminder, it is not “your mountain”. You are a snowmass employee. In other words you are their “bitch” little tough guy. 😉

  103. Peter K February 11th, 2011 2:34 pm

    Designated skinning trail with disclaimer/waiver at trail head = done.

    I’m not sure if I would trust the ski resorts to limit potential user fees to just a “nominal fee”. They will ding us for insurance, grooming maintenence fees, overhead even though we are not using the lifts, and ski less than a tenth of the vertical that regular lift skiers would use. They could set the price so high that it would deter anyone from skinning there!

  104. skidmark February 11th, 2011 3:21 pm

    This discussion has two fronts:

    One is that Fleck did or did not have the right to skin up to his granddaughter’s ski race. And to that end, was it an arrogant, selfish act or a heroic act. I do not know alleged law-breaker, but it seems that refused to cooperate and asked for it, despite the subsequent bad publicity it may cause the resort.

    The other discussion is whether resorts (JHMR) should consider accomodating skinning in the future. I would agree that systems could be put in place, but personally do not like the idea, mainly because we would have to rename BACKCOUNTRY skiing! Let’s get back there and leave the resorts to the masses.

  105. Lou February 11th, 2011 3:30 pm

    Good point Peter. Problem is, I see no other alternative under existing laws. Once the resort has special use permit or is on private land, they pretty much call the shots. I most certainly am one who advocates for our “rights to use our own public land,” but a long time ago the special use permit system was created, and it is law, no matter how crumby we think it is.

    FYI, the exact same law is used for things such as keeping snowmobiles away from 10th Mountain Huts in Colorado.

  106. Randy February 11th, 2011 5:09 pm

    My two cents; if the man was skinning up the middle of a busy run, he’s a dolt (I’m not familiar with Jackson Hole) and the ski patrol behaved correctly. If he was off to the side, or on the side of a wide cat track, what do they care? In my experience, if you give somebody power, sooner or later they will abuse it; it sounds like the Jackson Hole Ski Patrol way overreacted in this case, and especially with a man of his age.
    I’m sure we’ve all spent years dodging goofus, “tree-pig” ski patrollers in the old days when we were ducking ropes to get at the pow; ski patrollers are no better or no worse than anybody else, it’s all in how well they’re trained and managed. Yes, they have to rescue the occasional idiot who gets lost on the backside, but isn’t that what they get paid for? Ski areas are way over-managed sometimes because they basically cater to idiots who won’t take responsibility for their own actions. Seems like Jackson Hole needs to work on its image and patrol-training a little; if Fleck was in an unsafe area I would have escorted him -peacefully- to an area that was safer and then skinned up with him to make sure he stayed out of trouble (do the patrollers there even carry skins?); then had a long talk with him after he’d watched his daughter’s race. If he was in an area where skinning was safe then Jackson Hole needs to rethink its policies and its heavy-handed behavior, IMHO.

  107. Randonnee February 11th, 2011 8:50 pm

    Yes guys I would be for some designated uphill areas and if I were involved in a ski area as long ago I would be a proponent.

    The old guy got what he wanted, he taunted the authorities on several levels, he deserves to be subject to the legal system.

    In my time working at a ski area I recall one individual who wanted to push it. The guy had something to prove or an attitude some express here, rebellion and anarchy against reasonable and codified authority. So instead of a simple send away from a Patrol Director of Ski Area Security, that guy worked his way into handcuffs with the Sheriff and then a Court appearance. The result was that the guy was prohibited for four years not just from that ski area, but from all USFS lands within 100 miles of that ski area.

    Yes, skinning is a good thing, I hope allowances are made in many places for it.

    No, that dysfunctional rebellious sentiment and fuzzy feelings do not trump civility, law, authority, and especially do not trump the greater good over a single person’s selfish act.

  108. mc February 11th, 2011 9:20 pm

    Saw a picture of Mr. Fleck on Teton AT (now idea how old it is) but the guy certainly looks like he can handle himself. I’m in his corner on this one. Would have loved to have seen him stomp across the patroller’s skis.

  109. skier February 11th, 2011 9:42 pm

    Why is this persons age a concern? Why was his intent ( granddaughters race) a concern? Do these things change the facts? Tackled? Definitely not. Does avalanche hazard reduction fit into many posters scenarios?

  110. Adam Olson February 12th, 2011 8:44 am

    How funny? It isn’t surprising the chains of the patrolmen were so easily jerked. I’m sure JHMR makes these guys and gals wear “sharp necklaces” everyday. But the fact that any constituent can be barred or banned from National Forest is a very disturbing trend around the country. The sense of entitlement the operators work with borders on being a violation of the very leases they hold! Down here in Aspenland The SkiCo. has banned a ski instructor from “all Aspen Skiing Company property” for merely speaking his mind. There interpretation of “SkiCo. property” includes the leased land in there permit! They think they OWN the land. Preposterous!

    The example of a home lease was compared to the operating lease the ski areas have. Though this is a poor comparison, if the owner of the lease (the constituents) allowed access before you signed the lease agreement you do not have the right to stop access while you are the leaseholder. You may not like it but access has been granted. I find it difficult to understand all the empathy for JHMR. WE ARE THE LEASEHOLDERS!!!

    A Judge really needs to rule on this and put the ski areas in there place. You cant keep the people out of public land.

    p.s. I think “Top Dawg” is the face of Ski Patrol. Lets arm them too?

  111. Sam F February 12th, 2011 9:20 am

    For the last time Mr Olsen you can’t just do whatever you want at a ski resort because it’s national forest. Otherwise there would thousands of snowmobilers trying to high mark Casper bowl. Or can I carry a rifle for furharvesting while I’m skiing? I’ve skied some peaks in the Tetons, explored the backcountry around togwotee pass,and otherwise greatly enjoyed skiining but, there is a time and a place for anything.

    I worked as a snowmaker this year we were kinda suppose to stop people from skining. Thing is say early Oct. when there wasn’t mush snow, and the resort wasn’t open, people would skin up and ski down on the snow we were making.
    Guess what, noone really cared.
    What this crazy old loon was doing is just not smart. And yes I’m sure the police(it was not the mt patrol who restrained him) went way over the line but, it is pretty clear this guy just wanted to make a scene.

    And by the way this isn’t going to change ANYTHING about Jacksons uphill policy. There will never be a skin track to the nastar race course

  112. Lou February 12th, 2011 9:47 am

    Adam and Sam, you both make good points. In my opinion, yes, since the lease is on USFS land and it is intended for recreation, I’d imagine there are certain limits on just how restrictive or dictatorial the lease holder can be. More, we have an expectation that the lease holder would condone and support appropriate ski related activities, one of which is uphilling on skis.

    On the other hand, it is indeed important to acknowledge that controlling what activities occur on the ski slopes is a key part of operating a ski resort under a special use permit. We shouldn’t fault the resort for exerting reasonable control, however, I call foul on them not accommodating uphill skiing (I’m talking general view here, not Fleck specifically). In my view, this resistance to uphilling is the same thing as when many resorts banned snowboarding. They perhaps had the right to ban snowboarding, but did they do so at the risk of getting the USFS to review their special use permit, and in terms of ethics and culture, should they have banned snowboarding?

    As for the old guy doing what appears to be civil disobedience, if he was in Egypt would you naysayers be cheering him? I like what he did, even if it wasn’t perfect. Ask Gandhi; creating change through social action isn’t an exact science.

    Again, in my view, what some resorts need to do is designate an uphill trail, perhaps even off the ski runs up through the woods, and be done with it. Such a trail could be skied down and slipped once in the morning by a resort employee, and once at the end of the ski day by a resort employee. It would be for uphill only other than patrol checks. Just as they do at Sunlight, Colorado, all uphillers would be required to hold a free “hiking pass” that had the liability waiver and all that. Potential for charging too much money is there, and that could be the trouble with my idea, but I just don’t see any alternative if we want resort uphilling.

    Only “but” is that some resorts don’t check tickets on upper lifts, and depend on their policy of no uphilling to keep that viable. If they accommodate uphilling yet don’t check tickets at all lifts, they end up with the old “Ho Chi Min Trail” situation. Is that a big “but?” Absolutely not. All it takes to shut down bandit lift riding is to do random ticket checks and arrest anyone found stealing lift rides. After a few of those, no more bandits. Yeah, I’ve stolen a few rides myself. Because I could. But if I’d known I could end up in court I’d have skipped those little stunts. In other words, a resort doesn’t have to hire more employees or install more equipment to deter bandit lift riding. They just do some random ticket checks, and that’s that. So that issue is a red herring when it comes to this discussion.

  113. Matt Kinney February 12th, 2011 11:25 am

    Lou…Maybe its time for you to approach Fleck for an interview?

    If I look to the future, I would hope resorts accommodate old folks who need a safe place to skin and ski. Lets face it, someday I and most of us here will not want to deal with a big pack/avalanche issues because of various physical impediments. There are going to be 100’s of us. At 70, I am not going to be digging anyone out of avalanche debris very fast. There are other safety issues that we may not want to deal with in a BC setting. Many of will always want to skin up and ski down so we can maintain some level of fitness as we age. We will never lose our passion to skin/ski. Resorts need to respect that. (They should actually honor it.)

    When I get older just getting on and off a lift may be a liability. But maybe I can skin up the hill just fine, breath mountain air, hear others laughing as they ski, do a lap somewhere, wave at patrollers, and go sit in the pub and sip beer, then go do it again. Being able to stay connected to the mountain culture would be a great gift to many of us as we get older.

  114. brian p. harder February 12th, 2011 12:49 pm

    Well said, Matt. You know, I was getting tired of all the inbounds skinning bashing. All these a–holes too cool to be seen doing it. As Matt said it so well, sometimes you just want to get some aerobic exercise in our favorite form – skinning uphill – without the inherent distractions of being in the bc. And his point about the aging skier is another good one.

  115. Scott Nelson February 12th, 2011 2:32 pm

    Exactly. I think a lot of people fall into this category (that Brian/Matt described), especially as you get older, have less time, have health issues that would make it dangerous to be in the bc, etc….They’re are some uber fit people that do this that probably never even hit the bc. Being able to use the resorts provides a relatively safe place to test/excercise your aerobic mettle. Resort skinning is just getting more and more popular, so I doubt that this will be last time this whole issue comes up.

  116. Lou February 12th, 2011 4:50 pm

    In honor of this discussion, my wife and I just had a beautiful day doing skin laps at Tiehack near Aspen. We did three rounds, not huge as in Greg Hill huge, but a good day for us. It was beautiful. Super cardio, saw lots of friends, hung out on the sundeck at the restaurant, skied some groomers, parked 20 feet from where we put our skis on. Truly a worthy day that didn’t require a helmet cam and blog to make real.

    I’d add that we have in Tiehack the ideal place for inbounds uphilling. Even on a weekend the runs are practically deserted, it’s the perfect amount of vert at about 1,800 as you can do a quick time-trial type of lap, or do multiple laps if you want an endurance workout that mixes it up enough not to get boring. Having a restaurant at the top is also key. Oh, and having a parking area a few feet from where you start skiing is also part of what makes it work (rather than the endless parking hassles, paid parking, and transport mode changes required to access the base of most of our other resorts)

    What worries me is that the Aspen Skiing Company has permission in place to build the proverbial high speed quad on Tiehack. Presently, much of the reason Teihack is a skinners (and uphill walkers) paradise over there is that the lengthy lift ride scares lift skiers off. Once the quad is in, the place will be mobbed as the slightly steeper trails are much better for many skiers than the even flatter ones on the rest of the mountain, and the parking will be maxed or perhaps even eliminated since our local governments and the ski company basically do everything they can to make driving your own car (lord forbid) to the skiing as inconvenient or downright torturous as possible. In other words, once they build the high-speed lift, our little uphilling paradise will be no more. That’s when we really need to work with Skico to designate a cool uphill route through the beautiful aspen forests on that side of the mountain. I’m actually pretty confident we can get this done with a small amount of citizen activism. It would be great PR for Skico, and yet another neat thing to offer their guests.

  117. vanessa February 12th, 2011 6:45 pm

    I have never been harassed by anyone for skinning up at either Keystone or A basin…I can’t imagine why it would be a problem as long as you’re on the side of the trail, respectful to others, and staying on trails that aren’t so steep you’re trying to sidehill/switchbacking or anything silly like that.

  118. UltraApple February 12th, 2011 9:03 pm

    Not taking sides I think it would be nice if local ski area’s opened an uphill track for those who want to use it. They could charge $5 per day to use it and probably make money on it. If nothing else I’m pretty sure some of the people using the track would buy food and drink after a day of skiing. On the flip side, if avalanche conditions are bad and I’m feeling inbounds would be better I grab my x-country skis and have a fun day far far away from all the crazy people and kids that resorts attract at a snow-park. For me its getting out and having a fun day. X-C or Backcountry it doesn’t matter as long as I wake up the next day ready to do it again!

  119. TOPDAWG February 12th, 2011 8:54 pm

    Come to snowmass and act in a way that concerns me on my mountain and you will go down. The ski patrol is the reason that anyone can ski our steeps(home of the colorado freeride series.) We manage two zones that contain the most challenging terrain in the U. S. We also thanklessly keep the mountain safe for our guest (yahoos included.)
    Speaking of yahoos, I noticed a familar name crying about leaseheld land. When we hold the lease, we hold the lease. Play by our rules, period. It is ironic that I had words with this “blogger”/ foul ball about skiing in one of my closed areas. He felt his snowpack evaluation skills were on par with the “trollers” and decided to go O B. The result of his actions led to a class 3 avalanche and greater respect for the patrol.
    Lou is correct in commeting about not having someone end up in a box after a day of skiing. We are the ones that keep it that way.

  120. Greg Moellmer February 12th, 2011 10:24 pm

    When I read TOPDAWG’s comment a couple days ago, I got a good chuckle, because obviously he was just joking. The whole thing about “if you don’t respect my authority, you’re going down” just had me rolling. But then I read the post two above mine and now I’m not so sure. That’s the trouble with the internet is you never know when someone is just pulling your leg. Topdawg, please respond and let me know if you’re being serious or not. Wondering is just killing me. And if you are serious, please tell me you work in law enforcement during the off season. Then, this will all make sense.

  121. brian p. harder February 12th, 2011 10:32 pm

    Wow, Topdawg is awfully fond of himself. I have not seen that kind of hubris in awhile. I can’t get these images out of my mind of a guy in front of a mirror with all his ‘toller regalia on admiring how he looks like a bad-ass enforcer. All he needs is a Beretta 9mm side arm. Grrrr! This is MY area!! I almost shot milk out my nose reading that! Priceless. To quote Bill Murray….”lighten up, Francis”.

    On a more pertinent note… well said, Lou! My point exactly.

  122. mc February 12th, 2011 10:34 pm

    Topdawg? Top Gun? Maverick? This is getting blurry. Somebody cut this guy off, this shopping mall cop song and dance is amatuer at best. You’re not doing professional patrollers any favours either.
    Is it April 1st or are ya just gettin around to the other half of that six-pack? 😈

  123. Gringo February 13th, 2011 3:50 am

    Topdawg is taking advantage of an unusual occurance in JH to embarass himself. Strange.

  124. Lou February 13th, 2011 8:30 am

    I’ll leave Topdawg’s vague innuendos and overblown prose standing for the amusement value, but he’s a good example of how NOT to build a comment.

    What is more, I don’t think he realizes he’s preaching to the choir to a great extent. Which makes his comments double amusing.

    I’m sure I can speak for most of us in saying that we like having ski resorts and ski patrol, see the need for rules, and any point that sounds contrary to that is simply made because we feel uphilling can be part of that mix.

    As for the Fleck incident, we’re simply using that as a point of discussion, and from the media account the discussion had to have touched on whether the ski patrol was heavy handed or not. As a rule enforcer, I’m certain Topdawg must know that how you enforce rules may result in judgment calls and choices about how harsh you approach a rule breaker, or even exactly what enforcement behavior you choose to exhibit. For example, exactly when do you call the sheriff? What do you do if the person you contact becomes violent? Or the big one, how heavy do you enforce and interpret “safe” skiing rules? The latter is a huge gray area for ski patrol.

    As for people making poor judgment calls and getting caught in avalanches, ski patrol is not immune to that, so if I were him I’d look in the mirror on that one rather than indulging in petty finger pointing and innuendo.

  125. stewspooner February 13th, 2011 10:05 am

    In my experience, ski patrollers in the US of A tend towards authoritarianism, demanding unqualified submission, and making and aggressively enforcing rules that need only be guidelines. This is not the place to examine the broader cultural context (militarism, eternal adolescence etc.), but it’s not necessarily the same way throughout the rest of the world, and is not acceptable. I find skiing under such circumstances to be oppressive, and that the only sane response is to head into the backcountry.

  126. Bobby February 13th, 2011 11:15 am

    Some folks look for answers, others look for fights. Some folks up in tree tops, just looking for their kites.

  127. HeavyD February 13th, 2011 11:20 am

    I need to give “spudskier’s” first comment a bump. Living in JH for fifteen years I see two main issues at play. 1. The resort does not check tickets at the upper lifts, and does not want to pay someone to do so. Skin up, ski the upper lifts for free all day. Unfortunate the resort does not have the cojones to admit this. Instead it is thinly veiled by an issue of “saftey”. BS! The bottom line is money. Period. 2. Patrol here has their occasional Mubarak moments. A little power in the wrong hands……..’nuff said.
    Also, uphill skiing is legal in Wyoming. Do it often at Snow King resort here in town, legal and safe don’t anyone tell you otherwise.

  128. Johnny February 13th, 2011 11:17 am

    He would be my hero… if he was trying to stop a gas fracking operation.
    They keep getting closer to the Valley. Otherwise, let’s see; his son
    works for Spence Law, he is an original investor at the Resort. Sounds like
    JH Royalty. His granddaughter’s race? No one else was racing?
    And if her racing was important, then why did he make himself MORE important?

  129. Sam February 13th, 2011 2:04 pm

    Just what I witnessed when I was a worker at JHMR:

    in my experience @ JH, skinning in bounds and uphill was and is usually done before sunrise/opening to public. Also, the person skinning uphill usually has good beta on what/where to go on the hill and has first hand knowledge. Simple things like winch cats – snow makers- night ops and various crew make up the night creatures. These are simple things to look out for when you do decide to take on a ski area uphill in the dark.

    I specifically remember back in the day when Chris Kroger and various JH patrol used to climb uphill before work. Usually meant they had already clocked in, dressed up and decided to skin to there respected stations rather than ride the chair. (this usually worked time wise when the patroller was working a south side station. (ie: AV or Casper). In fac,t this practice still goes on today….

    Mr. Fleck was probably at the hands of a patroller who was, in fact having a rough start to his/her day? No, maybe a manager who received a report about uphill traffic and a patroller who otherwise would have NOT bothered with the uphill vagrant had to step in and dictate policy? It could be many reasons. All i know is a 78 year old man is not going to listen to someone who is 40 +/- years younger than they are. (regardless of offering a ticket or not. Fleck has more time going uphill than most would be skiers have going downhill. He was in his right AND he is ALWAYS off the hill before opening to public.

    “half my cents”

    Sincerely Bummed-

  130. Lou February 13th, 2011 3:47 pm

    I heard the Jackson ski patrol has their own personal bar complete with beer on tap (for after work). Anyone know if that’s true or not? Just curious, since we’re on the subject of those guys.

  131. scottyb February 13th, 2011 5:35 pm

    Topdawg sounds like a holster sniffer to me, ie frustrated wanna be cop. That same attitude weekend patrollers have which gets them 0 respect.

    It would be nice if there could be trails for designated skinning at areas. There are days I want to ride lifts and days I want to get away from the crowds, the latter usually involves my skins.

    Duder should have just taken the free pass.

  132. Lou February 13th, 2011 6:16 pm

    Scotty, funny thing is, we went backcountry today and it was LESS peaceful than when we skinned the resort yesterday! Weird. But true.

  133. scottyb February 13th, 2011 6:50 pm

    That is weird, the least peaceful event on a recent outting was being topped out on the hill and watching a pair of F-18’s fly below us after doing mock bombing runs on a nearby power plant. Lasted less than 30 seconds but was still pretty kewl. 😉

  134. Dan February 13th, 2011 8:18 pm

    Simply truths;
    Resorts have rules,
    Skinning uphill in a resort in the USA is not considered normal. (i.e. proper)
    Patrollers are told to stop people from skinning uphill
    If you are asked politely seven times to stop breaking the rules and even offered a frees pass, and you treat the people who are simply trying to do their job like trash, and ask for a ticket, then refuse to receive the ticket, you should be dragged away.
    Patrollers have enough serious things to worry about, geriatric antics shouldn’t be one of them.

  135. Dan February 13th, 2011 8:25 pm

    The amount of support coming from the site loyals makes me question intelligence.
    I reckon that’s my opinion though.

  136. Jonathan Shefftz February 13th, 2011 8:35 pm

    I like how the behavior of the patrollers in question can be reduced to a four-second video:
    (I also like how I don’t have any colleagues like that at the two areas where I patrol.)

  137. Adam Olson February 13th, 2011 8:43 pm

    I love it TopDawg is said to be a “holster sniffer”! 😯

  138. John W February 13th, 2011 10:22 pm

    JH Ski Patrol headquarters with a keg (aka ‘The Boom Boom Room’) is long gone but the espirit de corps lives on. They maintain a big mountain. That said, I think JHMR should accommodate uphill use, Snowbird does so with no problems. 20 years ago the JH ski patrol were the cops busting out of bounds skiers, Now OB is a profit center for the resort. My guess is that in 5 years there will be mountain hosts at the base to guide hikers up (to the restaurants).

  139. Lou February 14th, 2011 7:14 am

    Rules are important, but not always perfect. Yes, resorts have rules. They’re not perfect. Events like this help refine the rules. As for being dragged away, does that include tasering, or just the use of a club? A better outcome would have been to just let the guy go on uphill, then bring him to court later. I mean, what would be so problematic about that? As for patrollers doing what they’re told, they do, and they don’t. I’ve got that on good authority.

  140. Jenell Hilderbrand February 14th, 2011 9:43 am

    I was recently in Telluride to watch my son compete in a mogul competition. I didn’t want to pay for a lift ticket to stand and watch all day so I put on my skins and started up to the bottome of Hermit, a blue run that is apx 20 minute easy skin up from the mountain village. About 5 minutes after the start a ski patroller yelled out to me to stop and come down. I skiied down to hiim, he said it was illegal in the state of colorado to hike and ski and said I was poaching runs. I informed him I didn’t want to pay to stand and watch all day, he understood and I took a gondola ride up where he met me on smowmobile to drive me to the bottom of the course. I didn’t fight or resist and was happy the patroller was willing to work with me. I am very interested in the laws in coloardo with hiking and skiing at resorts. I am an avid hiker/skinner, and have never out of all the resorts I have chosen to hike and ski, been threatened that it was against the law. I agree with Lou, laws need to be in place, but when your a spectator at an event where your spending money anyway, what is the trouble with that????

  141. Lou February 14th, 2011 9:48 am

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but in Colorado there is no specific law about hiking uphill at a ski resort. The laws that cover it are the ones that create the Special Use Permit system administered by the USFS, which allow the resort to make many of its own rules within its permit area. The skier’s safety act also applies, as probably do a few other laws… but I don’t know of anything specific to hiking uphill.

    Hiking uphill to spectate ski races is a huge tradition all over the planet. For this to be an issue is simply ludicrous.

  142. Jenell Hilderbrand February 14th, 2011 9:53 am

    Just for an FYI, I wasn’t hiking to ski, am aware of the safety risks and stay to the side of the run, am polite, and if I was on foot w/o skiis no one would have said “boo”, there were others hiking and snowshoeing. So in conclusion, they need to accomodate uphill hikers, like the Aspen/Sunlight area with a dayhiker free pass (it’s all about the liability). As a parent of a competitor I spend a lot of money at the resort, on lift tickets, lodging, food, gas, etc. So it’s not about the skiing for a parent of a competitor, it’s not about out of bounds (a big no no), it’s about a lil fresh air, exercise, and fun watching the kids compete…….your not skiing when your kid is competeing, your watching…I respect Patrol and they are a large part of the ski resort for safety, I just think with uphill skinning becoming more popular we need to mold the rules to accomodate everyone!

  143. Jonathan Shefftz February 14th, 2011 9:55 am

    re CO “law” check out the Breck policy on skinning — plenty of restrictions (all clearly written out), but all of them are very sensible. The resort even has a phone number to call, updated each day, with any special safety concerns for skinners (especially winch cat grooming),

  144. Jenell Hilderbrand February 14th, 2011 9:57 am

    I tried to check out the rules of uphill at Telluride and couldn’t find anything about this subject. I did see it was privately owned and operated, does this mean they own the land or lease it?

  145. Jenell Hilderbrand February 14th, 2011 10:04 am

    I find it interesting that Telluride has snow tubing at night, but, doesn’t allow uphill skinning, hmmm interesting.

  146. Jenell Hilderbrand February 14th, 2011 10:11 am

    I also find it interesting that Ski Patrolers and Ski Instructors are REQUIRED to wear helmets…

  147. Jenell Hilderbrand February 14th, 2011 10:11 am

    I meant ARE NOT required to wear helmets…

  148. Lou February 14th, 2011 10:50 am

    Are they not required to wear at some areas, and not at others?

    As always, it’s always weird to me that helmets are such an issue, while blown knees are the actual problem…

  149. Lou February 14th, 2011 10:52 am

    snow tubing at night, good example of why the ‘liability’ argument is specious. If a resort wants an activity, they figure out a way to do it. Lots of examples.

  150. Jenell Hilderbrand February 14th, 2011 7:12 pm

    I don’t think there is any requirement for patrollers or instructors to wear helmets, but, if they preach safety they need to practice what they preach. I think people who rent equipment are required to wear a helmet or at least rent one. I don’t wear a helmet when hiking or backcountry, but, when skiing fast inbounds I do…….

  151. colin February 15th, 2011 2:30 pm

    It sounds like Mr. Fleck found what he was looking for. It’s always nice to get arrested in front of your Granddaughter.

  152. jerimy August 2nd, 2011 9:53 am

    Looks like Roland is pushing for change to allow uphill access on USFS lands. Take a few minutes and contact your Congressman!

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