Encore Post – Gold in Thar Hills! Finding Stuff On Ski Slopes

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | May 30, 2013      

Carl Pelletier

During the winter it’s all about the hunt for deepest, softest and whitest treasure we can find. Then, as temperatures rise and snow levels fall, other treasures are unveiled.

Treasure is there for the picking.

Treasure is there for the picking.

One year I hiked Teton Pass for some 4th of July novelty skiing. I was amazed at the amount of booty I found as I hiked and skinned towards the top. At the end of the day my pack was a bit heavier. I now had a working digital camera, one doggie paw mitten, a pair of sunglasses and a glove. And they said that there was only dog poop in the boot pack!

My personal history involving finding ski booty goes back to my early days when I worked at Ski Snowstar in Andalusia, Illinois. (Have you not heard of Ski Snowstar before? Shame!) With runs called The Comet, Shooting Star, The Big Dipper and The North Star it is where a majority of my formative years were spent. Being a ski area in the Mid-West it’s no coincidence that the amount of treasure on this hill in the spring was plentiful as skiing treasure is directly related to ski carnage — and believe me there was a good deal of carnage taking place at Ski Snowstar. Tangled blurs of denim, camo and Carharts were a common occurrence.

In spring I’d drive to the ski area and troll the lift’s drop zone looking for change. I’m not ashamed about this. I used the money to put me through college. It was a state school. One day I actually found a pair of ski poles crossed in the proverbial “X” and directly underneath was a watch – still ticking.

Over the years I have found cameras, poles, hats, gloves and even a ski in the backcountry.

So here are the questions for you loyal WildSnowers:

1. What is the best backcountry treasure that you’ve found while skiing or trolling after the season?

2. What’s the protocol on finding this stuff? Morally and ethically?

Happy Hunting!

(WildSnow guest blogger Carl Pelletier has done everything from boiler fitting to school teaching — along with a life devoted to skiing. He has lots of gear, and not all of it was purchased. This post was first published here at Wildsnow.com in 2011.)



60 Responses to “Encore Post – Gold in Thar Hills! Finding Stuff On Ski Slopes”

  1. Ed C July 11th, 2011 9:55 am

    Definitely return the camera. The other stuff is booty.

  2. Pete Anzalone July 11th, 2011 10:00 am

    My brother and I, on our first day ever on Aspen Mountain, in February of 1988, found a crisp C-note. I invested my half wisely and am still here, while my brother, who squandered his half, had to return home. $100 was really worth something back then.

    Then, as now, cash is king – finders keepers – all other booty, unless immediately needed and used should probably go to lost and found.

  3. Carl Pelletier July 11th, 2011 10:31 am

    Unfortunately , there was no name to be found on the camera. I didn’t reconize any of the people in the photos. I’ve called and left “Found” info at local ski shops in Jackson, Wilson and Driggs.

    A little lesson….put your name and phone number on things. The ink adds very little in weight, but Lou might contend that.

  4. Andrea July 11th, 2011 10:32 am

    My best find was a camera. While I was intrigued by the contents, I felt guilt and turned it in. My strange finds were a pair of men’s briefs inside the leg of a pair of shorts. Both of which were – ummm – soiled.

  5. Jonathan Shefftz July 11th, 2011 10:59 am

    My favorite was a badly damaged $20 bill. I looked up the U.S. Treasury rules, and decided I might just barely have the requisite >50% intact. I mailed it in, and a few months later received a $20 check!

  6. Brian July 11th, 2011 11:07 am

    Picked up a $100 bill under the lift at WP last year. Serious groundscore.

  7. Hunter July 11th, 2011 11:10 am

    While working summer trail crew on Vail Mountain, my crew and I found $700 in $100 bills. We found $200 more the next day. The bills were pretty beat up, but all had enough left to trade in. My share paid for my part of that month’s rent, no small thing in pricey Vail.

  8. Jason July 11th, 2011 11:31 am

    I found a wallet with over $300 in it. I tried to contact the guy with no response. I found my wedding ring, a tiffany and co platinum ring, we turned it in and gave it to the cops for 90 days to see if anyone claimed it… nada! you can make cash out there if you are into walking around a little.

  9. roger July 11th, 2011 12:25 pm

    nice find(s)!

    this winter i was lucky to find 2 bd traverse poles where the lowers and baskets were still perfect. convenient since i ski with the same poles. interestingly enough, i found them melting up out of the snow where a skier got caught in a big avalanche right where i had been caught and fought my way out of one just weeks before his incident. whooo, lucky. 🙄


  10. JCoates July 11th, 2011 11:48 pm

    The strangest “find” I ever heard of was by the trail crew at RL mountain during summer work. They found a dead mouse and a vibrator inside a glass jar under the chairlifts when the snow melted out. I always wondered what the story behind that one was.

  11. Don July 12th, 2011 5:17 am

    Best picking?
    While hiking down under chair Two at Mount Sutton QC. I caught a glimmer in the grass. I wore the Tag Heuer for maybe ten years seeing no one reported it lost & the company couldn’t/wouldn’t trace the owner by the serial number.

  12. Lou July 12th, 2011 6:50 am

    My best score? I found a big diamond ring in the dirt of Camp 4 in Yosemite, when I was a climbing bum in the 1970s. A few weeks before, I’d seen a note on the bulletin board offering a $2,000 reward for a lost ring. Alas, the note had disappeared and the Park rangers didn’t know anything about it. I took the jewelry to San Francisco, where a gem buyer told me it looked much like a ring stolen during a murder. He said he or other gem buyers in the city wouldn’t buy it till I took it to the homicide department at SFPD and had a detective make sure it wasn’t the ring from the crime. So I met with a detective, who said no, it wasn’t the same ring and he had no reports of any rings being lost in Yosemite. I then took the ring to a couple of gem buyers in San Fran and got the best price I could, something around $2,000. Back then, that money financed nearly a whole summer of climbing. But I’ve always wondered what the story was behind the lost ring near the bathrooms at Camp 4.

  13. Jim S July 12th, 2011 8:49 am

    probably a long shot, but you can post some of the photos from the camera to http://www.ifoundyourcamera.net/

  14. Lou July 12th, 2011 9:09 am

    Jim, that looks like a cool website. Weird how all the example photos are such high quality, but perhaps the site admins process everything rather than just posting as-is. Wouldn’t hurt anything for Carl to put some photos up there. Better, we could just put a couple on this post, that is unless they’re ex rated or something… Carl?

  15. wyomingowen July 12th, 2011 10:10 am

    Your choice of ski terrain was the novel part. June 21 was the last day edelweiss skied great…………………next time you visit I would encourage a visit to one of our national parks . Skiing on slopes >30degrees has minimal suncups down to 8500′

  16. Carl Pelletier July 12th, 2011 11:12 am

    Lou – good news! The owners of the camera tracked me down thanks to your website! They are from Canada and lost the camera in March. It’s being shipped back today.

    @wyomingowen – thanks for the suggestion! I actually met some friends that very morning in Moose. We had planned to ski the East face of Static, but we were greeted by dark clouds and lightning to the South. We bagged those plans. I was still itching for a ski … and on the way out of town I was passing over the Pass … I was lured by the possibility of a really quick, impromptu ski.

  17. jezussdidn'tneedfatskis July 12th, 2011 2:17 pm

    sack of weed. swag though (must have been a midwestern tourist)

  18. Caleb Wray July 12th, 2011 3:57 pm

    I usually post a message on popular local web forums. I’ve returned a few items via mail at my expense including hiking boots, an ice axe, and helmet. If no one claims it after two weeks then it’s mine I guess. Found a brand new pair of snowshoes at a TH a few years ago. Couldn’t locate the owner. So I sold them and bought some rock skis. I speculate that after one day of snowshoeing the owner decided to cut bait and go buy skis themselves.

  19. Carl Pelletier July 12th, 2011 8:12 pm

    It’s interesting Caleb, my fiance found a Tag Hauer watch one time in the backcountry….she turned it into the Jackson police department. Apparently there were no takers, but the police couldn’t / wouldn’t release it to her….apparently there is no law dealing with disposition so according to her, the Jackson police have rooms filled with bikes, watches, cameras, etc….. after x number of years they have a sale. She said that she’s not 100% sure on the technical details but she said that is what the town attorney told her. Maybe we should have a Wyoming attorney post….I wonder if any read this blog?

  20. Lou July 13th, 2011 6:20 am

    The law and ethics with this stuff are actually pretty interesting. (Who knew?)


    For example, the finder of “mislaid” property has a duty to find the rightful owner as the owner possibly knows where they left the property and are in the process of returning to retrieve it, or having someone else do so. For example, a wallet you found on a store counter, or car keys at a mountain hut.

    But “lost” property on the other hand is unknown to the owner as to location. “At common law, the finder of a lost item could claim the right to possess the item against any person except the true owner or any previous possessors.” In other words, the ethics seem to be that if you find something that was lost, you can keep it unless the owner claims it, and you have no duty to try and find the owner, though doing so is the ethical alternative, as Carl did with the camera.

    The main thing with Carl is that he makes extraordinary effort to get that glove back to the rightful owner. From what I hear that glove is actually a one-of prototype from Black Diamond of a solar powered heated glove made with a new fiber that is nearly indestructible as well as insulating to the equivalent of 3 inches of foam. The one-of proto cost BD at least $190,000 and is irreplaceable. Hence the black helicopter that’s been hovering over Carl’s house, and the obvious efforts to hack his cell phone.

  21. brian h July 13th, 2011 7:55 am

    I always knew Kinco was a front! I mean, why else would thousands of resort slaves be wearing them? The reason- hand/ mind control. The truly disturbing part of this conspiracy is B.D.s role in accepting the lucrative government contract…

  22. Lou July 13th, 2011 8:00 am

    Yeah, it’s the corporations! Root of all evil, especially when they’re in cahoots with the government, the other root of all evil!

  23. brian h July 13th, 2011 8:14 am

    Lou, I knew you were coming around. I’m sending you one, red, “I’m a closet Anarchist” t-shirt. These are printed on fabric liberated (at great peril) from the secret Nike sweatshop in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

  24. Lou July 13th, 2011 8:36 am

    Brian, is that the same location where PETA says they’re doing the live animal testing of new shoe sole rubber? If so, I’ll send my 1% for the planet money to PETA, so they can pay the travel expenses for some protestors to head over there.

  25. brian h July 13th, 2011 9:50 am

    Actually, PETA is another secret government entity who’s mission is to subvert our food supply and replace it with a gmo substance that contains (again) mind control drugs. Wait a minute, some ones knocking on my door…

  26. Lou July 13th, 2011 9:55 am


  27. XXX_er July 14th, 2011 2:18 pm

    last season riding the chair I spotted a seasons pass on the snow so I skied down, picked it up, called the name out loud and a guy riding on the chair above me yells ” its mine ! “

  28. gringo July 18th, 2011 2:53 am

    I have found a few pipes over the years, including one bag of OK weed. One spring i found a ziplock bag of quarters, which financed a burger and a Bloody Mary at the base area when I was done with my session on the hill.
    Of course the most meaningful ‘find’ was going into the BC one summer to retrive the backpack of a dear friend / ski parter who perished in a slide that previous winter…..that one was important.

  29. Gustav August 10th, 2011 7:03 am

    We were hiking up to a summit when all of a sudden I noticed something out of the ordinary among the rocks under my feet. I took a closer look, and it turned out to be a $100 multitool in decent condition. It had a lot of surface rust, so I think it must have been there since the previous season, but once I got home that was easy to scrape off.

    Since the area is fairly well travelled and it’d probably been a while since it was dropped, I never made any serious effort to return it, but I did keep an eye out in a couple of internet forums in case someone posted about “hey, I lost my mulittool at ___”, but that never happened.

    As for returning stuff, I say that if you know (or can easily find out) who the owner is, give it back. If it’s marked for later retrieval (like the crossed ski poles marking the watch), leave it until it’s obvious that no one is coming for it. If it was lost/abandoned due to an accident or rescue effort, make a serious effort in getting the stuff back to the owners.

  30. Greg May 30th, 2013 9:55 am

    I found a cell phone this winter at the Mt Mansfield Nordic Center. The front desk employee said it had been missing for about two weeks. No idea if the owner came back to pick it up. I also found a Goode carbon ski pole on a run well outside the ski area boundary at Cannon. No ID markings on it. I kept that one for myself. I’ve found a few kayak paddles on various rivers, too. I was able to track down the owners of all but one, which I gave to a friend who lost his paddle that same day.

    I mark most of my hardgoods with my name, email, and phone number in case it’s lost or misplaced. The inside of the battery compartment is a great place to mark electronics since it’s less likely to rub off.

    I forgot a pair of skis and poles at a trailhead once. I came back the next day and they were gone. All items were clearly marked with my contact info, but I never got them back. Poor form by whoever found them.

  31. Hendrickson May 30th, 2013 10:47 am

    Best find was a GoPro which I returned to the owner. Strangest find was a nice hat while I clean and became my favorite hat until I lost it BC ski several years later. I Guess what comes around goes around. Found many other items while ski touring including a boot, just a single boot and left it at the trail head on a sign post where it stayed most of the winter then it was gone.

  32. AJM May 30th, 2013 11:29 am

    Haven’t found anything of significance. But, this season my BC partner and I lost a significant amount of gear due to a slide ($1800 worth). We’ve been back this spring to try to locate, but haven’t had any luck yet. I sure hope another skier did not find it and assume it was booty for the taking. We we’re lucky to survive, but i’m hoping for a little more luck in finding the lost gear.

  33. mark May 30th, 2013 11:29 am

    I found a massive powder snowboard at the end of this season. As it was the last day of the season and it had quite a lot of surface rust I presumed that it must have been there a while. The next day there was the sale of all the lost property so I figured there was no point in handing it in as they opened up the selling area. Instead I gave it to one of my snowboarding mates. Didn’t quite feel right selling a super expensive board on ebay!!!!

    Apart from that I also found a pair of Oakley’s about ten years ago that no one claimed, they were slightly cracked though so pretty useless.

  34. Lou May 30th, 2013 2:09 pm

    Good stories you guys! If any of you want to leave specifics here to try and locate lost gear that was grabbed, otherwise, feel free to use the comments. Lot’s of people read these pages even this time of year.

    When I was a very young climber, during a wall climbing attempt we found a rope strung up with a ton of pro. For some strange reason we didn’t leave it, but rather harvested everything and took it home. We were not intending to steal, more like we just reationalized that it was booty from a rescue or something. Turned out it was a guy’s fixed pitch, man did we get an earful, and we returned all the gear. But in that guy’s eyes I was probably a jerk ever after…

    I still remember the feeling of plucking all that gear and thinking how good we’d scored!


  35. JJ May 30th, 2013 2:40 pm

    Some of my better finds: several high end multi-tools, goggles, dollars and pot. A pair of nice poles after a very late night in Gstaad (still have them), a Rolex (returned to owner) and scuba tanks (yes) no idea what they were doing in a parking lot but there they were. They were returned via the name on the tank but I never got the real scoop. When I was a kid one of the first hikes in the spring was up the lift lines looking for loose change. Mostly we found old chapstick.

  36. Dave Cramer May 30th, 2013 3:30 pm

    I lost a pair of Tua Excaliburs with the rubber-band Superloop bindings above Upper Lamarck Lake in April 1992. Curious if anyone ever found those skis and wondered what had happened.

  37. XXX_er May 30th, 2013 4:14 pm

    When the chair was operating I found a ski pass under the chair on the run, I read the guys name out loud and a person up on the chair said hey thats me… what are the odds!

    Any found money I keep, people always drop gear and never pick it up which always makes me wonder how they could not realize they are missing a glove or a pole?

    how do you lose skis?I met a guy who had A framed skis together over his pack, he figures while bushwacking out the skis were plucked from the pack

  38. Erik Erikson May 30th, 2013 4:39 pm

    Impressed what all of you can find – I for myself have only storys off loss..
    e.g. on one steep tour I lost both a spyglass and a cell phone (both slipped out of my hands and I had to watch them slide down and disappear over a cliff). Bad thing: it was my officiall cell phone, provided by my employer, considered to be used only for work and with many important numbers storaged. I had taken off from work that day and just brought the phone for taking photos to tease through those my buddys who had to work. Served me right that I lost that thing…

  39. David B May 30th, 2013 5:57 pm

    I found a diamond encrusted gents gold watch once, handed it in to the police. The next day I was in a hurry to get home and overtook one too many cars in my haste. The last car being an unmarked police car.

    He let me off. Good Karma.

  40. Mac May 30th, 2013 9:21 pm

    Best Find = Brand spanking new(ish) Grivel Jorasses ice axe, complete with leash!

    Strangest Find = Ski — with (empty) boot attached!

    In NZ (valuable) found stuff gets listed on the NZAC website, classifed pages in the NZAC Climber magazine and/or local climbing blogs.

  41. Omr May 30th, 2013 10:54 pm

    I lost my wife’s wedding ring at Brighton about 20 years ago. (Kept snagging on her glove so put it my pocket.) When we realized it was missing, around midnight that same day, I drove back up and searched the rest of the night, but no luck. Unlike today, the cat driver was stunned that anyone would skin up a ski run. I figure someone found it in the parking lot where we bbq’ed, or someone found it using a metal detector, or it’s still up there in the grass where we took photos way back when my kids were still kids. Five Euros to anyone who finds it!! (We’re just home from Spain and néed to get rid of those funny bills.) Oh yeah, I bought her another diamond about five years ago, haven’t lost that one – yet.

  42. Erik Erikson May 31st, 2013 1:58 am

    Anyone else who lost the car-key in fresh powder? (Followed by waiting for 4 hours in the middle of nowhere for the breakdown-service to open the doors? At a place you almost could not get to though using snow-chains. And all your dry clothes INSIDE the car…) 😉

  43. TK May 31st, 2013 7:03 am

    A pipe and a bag of REALLY GOOD weed. I think there was something else with it, but don’t quite recall what….

  44. Lou May 31st, 2013 8:56 am

    Overtaking unmarked police cars, always a squeeze on the adrenals. On the way to Vegas once for a ski show, up ahead is a long line of traffic going kind of slow in the right lane. I pull left into the hammer lane and start passing everyone, just oblivious. I look over to the right and there is State gesturing with his thumb for me to pull over. He must of thought I was a moron, which was true. Classic!

  45. Erik Erikson May 31st, 2013 9:14 am

    As a non native speaker one of the good aspects here is that my bad english gets improved: Never heard of the word “moron” before, but since Lou used it in the last comment I looked it up in a dictionary. And know I know what to say should I feel the need to call someone something like that… 😉

  46. Lou May 31st, 2013 9:42 am

    The word is probably not PC (along with thousands of other words depending on syntax), so don’t use it in a mean way… (English lesson?)

  47. Erik Erikson May 31st, 2013 10:32 am

    Thanks, I will be cautios.
    Since this seems to be the blogpost for real life stories, I´ll give you an example for when I would have used the word if I were a native english speaker:
    This season, really critical avalanche situation. While skiing down, we came to a quite steep section and decided to do it one after another on the savest possible line and started to do so. Than a group of 5 appeared, we asked them politely to wait or at least go one after another too. They got quite aggressive, called us wimps and jumped as a bunch at the steepest possible point into the slope while one of my buddys was right in there. (luckily no avalanche was triggered).
    Could I have called them “morons”?!

  48. Lou Dawson May 31st, 2013 10:51 am

    Um, Yes! But you’d better have brushed up on your karate.

  49. Kevin May 31st, 2013 12:22 pm

    Ed’s comment is interesting, keep some stuff but return others, hmmmm.

    I’ve never found any thing, but in the wild days we would always stash beers under various trees and then forget about them.

  50. Erik Erikson May 31st, 2013 2:12 pm

    Karate on Skitours? Brings me to another story from this season, this one was quite big on the news in germany and austria: Two guys got seriously into fighting each other with their skipoles (cops had to step in), because the one who reached the summit second was riding first into the fresh, untracked powder slope… the one who summited first obviously didn´t like that too much…

  51. joseph.szasz May 31st, 2013 2:51 pm

    i found ski slope treasure hunting is more lucrative than bike touring treasure hunting.

    while riding my bike in Montana once i found a red vine candy in the highway about every mile for about 35 miles.

    someone was really bored or knew a good way to mess with cyclist!

  52. telemike May 31st, 2013 5:49 pm

    Hiking the tower lines can be very rewarding…

    Over the last few years I have found quite a few items in my regular spring backcountry haunt: multiple water bottles, several gloves, a sandwich in a baggy, a bag of chips, beers, a Gatorade, an unopened can of Copenhagen, 2 dead horses, several piles of MRE packages from the Pickle Mdw MMWTC, a baggy of some sorta green herb, 2 camera batteries, a row boat, a hand rolled cigarette with some sorta green herb in it, a deer hunting platform in a tree, etc.

    Today I found a water bottle in a suncup, a PB&J on a stump, and a tire gauge in it’s original (soggy) package in the middle of no where.

  53. Patrick May 31st, 2013 6:26 pm

    With this particular post-ski-season find, I didn’t score.
    BUT, someone else did.
    I’ve skied Kimberly BC numerous times over the years. My sister lives nearby, so I get there on occasion. One time, in mid-May, we were just hiking the side-country adjacent to the ski runs. In a shady area, we came came across a used condom, knotted off. It was on a patch of snow maybe 500 square feet in size. I think a couple scored during the winter. I didn’t try to return the passion package. But I had a bit of glow while thinking about two people getting lucky and powder humping. Mmmmm.

  54. Brian June 1st, 2013 8:26 pm

    I second that one, Gringo. Zahan and I retrieved Chris Onufer’s pack after he and Steve were killed last year. It was somber, of course, but actually cool sharing his snacks and trading stories with our group of friends at the base of the slide as each item seemed to bring up memory after memory. I miss those guys.

  55. Lou Dawson June 1st, 2013 8:54 pm

    Telemike, two dead horses!?

  56. Mike Holm June 2nd, 2013 6:38 am

    I was snowboarding at vail this winter in knee deep pow. Pulled over to take a leak in the trees and my iPhone, unknowingly fell out of my unzipped pocket when I bent under a branch. After coming out of the trees my blue tooth cut out. I knew what this meant. I took off my board and retraced my track.
    I waded upslope trying to stay on branches, slipping off into chest deep pow. Bluetooth, on again–close. After several minutes I got back to where I bent over.
    Out of breath (flat lander) I carefully started sifting through the pow diligently avoiding the golden funnel hole close by. Success! Really lucky to have found it relatively on top.

  57. telemike June 5th, 2013 1:17 pm

    Two dead horses. On the same day very close to each other. Not my usual haunt. Heavily used pack trail in the summer. Not many people ski there. I put the skulls way up in tress to freak out the riders and hikers.

    The tire gauge was stranger than the horses.

    Patrolling I’ve seen some amazing finds of lost items.

  58. Erik Erikson June 5th, 2013 1:30 pm

    Dead horses!!.. maybe those who say that everything is bigger in America than over here in the alps are right indeed: What I can find in springtime regarding perished animals are mountaingoats at the max…

  59. telemike June 5th, 2013 10:37 pm

    maybe I should clarify

    horse skeletons – not carcasses

    no meat or skins – just bones

  60. Snow Blowers July 5th, 2013 4:26 am

    Funny how people find such things like camera and bills. While working with our team, we have found lost money many a times. Bless you money, so that wherever it goes, it grows.

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