Handcuffed for Skiing Uphill — Political Action Required

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | August 24, 2011      

Roland Fleck

Land use issues for backcountry skiers.

(Editor’s note: This incident happened last winter, and Roland’s first-person story has been published elsewhere so this subject may look familiar. He wrote this special for us, figuring doing so would help get the word out on taking some political action. See bottom of page for action link.)

On February 21, 2011, on my way back to my home in Jackson Hole, Shepard Smith on FOX News was winding down his newscast. Just before going to commercial, he gave a tease: “A 78 year old physician was arrested for skiing uphill at Jackson Hole Ski Resort” .

Well, that got my attention, because the guy was me.

When the news continued, Smith related the story of my arrest for skiing uphill. He explained that the reason for this drastic action was twofold: Uphill skiing was interfering with grooming equipment and ongoing avalanche control.

Only one problem with this explanation: None of it was true. The grooming equipment had been pulled off the mountain at daybreak and any avalanche control was miles away from where I was skiing. I simply wanted to see the ski race of my 9 year old granddaughter, so as people do all over the world, I’d headed up the mountain on foot to watch the action.

I was heading up the absolute margin of the groomed area when a ski patroller stopped near and told me doing so was against regulations.

Then, two more patrollers came. I told them that I was simply headed up to watch and film my granddaughter’s race. Some time before, I had been told by a local attorney that the Jackson Hole Ski Corp received some sales tax exemption from the State of Wyoming. Their argument for the exemption was based on their allegation that they provided free public access on their leased land. Apparently it was time to find out if this was true.

A few more ski patrollers gathered around. One of them said something about going down to get a complimentary ticket and take the lift up. Somehow, the fact that I would have a ticket would change the scenario. Thing was I already had a ticket as I’d received a lifetime pass as part of the purchase of a commercial lot.

The crowd of patrollers around me suddenly left and I enjoyed my walk up to the ski race. I watched and I filmed the race for some 30 minutes, then 7 patrollers came down the mountain with two non-skiing deputies in their toboggan. I was handcuffed, forced into a toboggan and taken down. After some 400 feet I screamed I could not get my air, because the guiding ski patroller’s skis were throwing buckets of snow in my face. My hands had been shackled behind my back and could not help protect my airway. They stopped for a few seconds and the deputy sitting behind me in the toboggan made a token rearrangement around my collar. Then they hauled me down and threw me in jail.

Well, I never got my day in court. After all this charade the Ski Corp “dropped the charges.” Turned out there were several potential charges: Uphill skiing was prohibited under the influence: I don’t drink. Uphill skiing was prohibited when taking illicit drugs: I don’t take any. Then there was the charge of “criminal trespassing,” which is absurd, having bought a life time pass. And the final one, was really cute: “Theft of services.” So what theft of services had I committed?

As has been covered here before on WildSnow.com, the time has come for ski resort operators who are granted the privilege to carry out a money making business on the People’s Land, to use common sense when it comes to uphill skiing. At the least, pass holders who desire to ski uphill should be accommodated in some fashion other than being banned. More, as has been covered here on Wildsnow, it seems that most of not all resorts on public land could and should allow uphill skiers at no charge or minimal charge, perhaps on designated routes.

Senator John Barrasso from Wyoming was cosponsor of the Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2011. He had written me a letter dated August 8, 2011, after I had made my point to him that uphill skiing tracks should be established by Ski Area Operators for the privilege of getting a lease of public lands. He said: “I appreciate hearing your views, Roland, on how you think this bill could be improved and will keep these suggestions in mind should there be an opportunity to amend the bill before the full Senate.”

Take a few minutes to write a note on the Senator’s web site. Just write something like “I am in favor of uphill ski tracks on Public Lands leased to Ski Resort Operators” or something to this effect.

Previous WildSnow.com report with numerous comments.

Newspaper report.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


115 Responses to “Handcuffed for Skiing Uphill — Political Action Required”

  1. Hojo August 24th, 2011 11:02 am

    I chose to write that, while not a Wyoming constituent, I am a potential economic constituent who would decide to not visit Jackson Hole with respect to their stance on public access.

  2. Susan travers August 24th, 2011 11:05 am

    I am in favor of uphill ski tracks on Public Lands Leases to Ski Reort Operators.

  3. Lou August 24th, 2011 11:06 am

    HoJo, the Ski Resort act is a national deal, not state, so anyone is a constituent. I should have made that clearer, will see if I can throw in an edit to do so.

  4. Lou August 24th, 2011 11:09 am

    Susan, be sure to write your comment to the Senator.

    All, Senator Mark Udall (Colorado) is a co-sponsor of the bill. You can leave comments on his website as well. Mark is a backcountry skier and alpinist, so I’m sure he is listening.

    All, as far as I know the Act has nothing about uphill skiing in it at this point. So comments to that effect are important.


  5. Hojo August 24th, 2011 11:10 am

    Right.. well.. the economic angle is always worthwhile when talking to a politician 😉 I had no idea there was even such a thing at the national level. Thanks for point that out.

  6. Lou August 24th, 2011 11:21 am

    Yeah, it’s been under the radar because, you know “it’s the economy…” and so forth. But helping the resorts operate year around will do nothing but good for local economies, in my view. And perhaps those guys can amend the bill to include something about providing uphill opportunities. I’ve not read the bill. I tried to find on Udall’s website but his website is chugged down, (probably from folks at WildSnow hitting it in massive numbers?)

    Been meaning to get more on the case with this for a while. Thanks to Roland, I’m a bit more on it…

  7. Lou August 24th, 2011 11:27 am

    Here is a link to info about Ski Area Recreational…Enhancement Act


    Not sure how they would fit uphill skiing in there… but it’s worth getting this on the radar with Mark. I’m sick of it being ignored, as it’s become quite a big thing at many resorts.

  8. naginalf August 24th, 2011 11:32 am

    Done and done. I also put in a little extra to the effect of, I will not be going to Wyoming for skiing if this is the way you treat people.

  9. Kirk Turner August 24th, 2011 11:37 am

    Support note sent. I’ve been thrown off a mtn here in Washington in a very similar situation to Roland’s, its not fair…..(thankfully there were no cuffs involved)

  10. BK August 24th, 2011 12:21 pm

    Message sent to Udall, as a CO resident interested in uphill access at Eldora (which is partly on USFS land and does not allow any uphill skiing whatsoever).

  11. Chris Kipfer August 24th, 2011 1:02 pm

    Here in Steamboat Springs there is no uphill skiing prohibition on the “in bounds”Mountain. Uphill skiers do use reasonable caution and stay out of the middle of high traffic areas. However,we do have ample backcountry away from the noise and traffic on the Mountain. This is a fairly recent developement and probably is in response to the growing community of AT and Telemark skiers. The numbers and bottom line would be affected by alienating so many people. A dozen or so years ago I lost a mitten off my pack on a last run down “Heavenly Daze” here,so I put my skins on to climb back up from halfway down. I was soon surrounded by patrol and asked if I had a pass. They told me that if I did not have a pass they had no authority over me and that I could continue, since I was on public land. Unfortunately,my season pass was hanging around my neck. Rather than have the hassle on an otherwise fine day I complied and skied on down.

  12. gonzoskijohnny August 24th, 2011 4:42 pm

    chris K:
    It would be nice if it was true that no pass = free and open access at steamboat (or any other public land ski area in the region), but just try to access something that is not officially open and you will find the opposite is true.
    The ski area gets to deciede who/what/ where you can go, tickee or no tickee. Steamboat Ski patrol commonly uses the “take your pass” line, until you tell them you didn’t waste your $ on a pass, then the “legally closed area- sherrif escort” line comes in.
    Not such a big deal, until on a lean year you see patrol and friends skiing the only untracked areas that are “closed” or roped off for a week or so before they open them to the rest of the world….That is my experience touring in on hogan park, then descending (or attempting to descend) closets-valley view in december
    Solution, save $1000, and after opening day, just ski BC, and never cross any tracks…

  13. James Moss August 24th, 2011 7:14 pm

    So when you are moving uphill and get hit by a snowmobile operated by the resort you won’t sue correct. What about the idea of me walking into your apartment any time I want. You don’t own it so I should be able to right. Same argument you are making for the land the Ski Area has a concession to run. You don’t own the land, the US Government owns the land and as the tenant they have the right to do with the land what they want pursuant to the concession agreement.

    There are a million acres of land you can access, go there. Don’t create liability nightmares for the resorts.

  14. Mark August 24th, 2011 7:21 pm

    My opinion is that there is both a business and public interest for ski area safety personnel to be able to define areas where uphill traffic is prohibited, either for grooming, skier traffic, avalanche control, or temporal closures of groomed or other managed areas. But permitting uphill traffic in wooded areas, on the margin of quiet runs, or on designated uphill tracks is not a lot to ask for. The situation above is especially bizarre because they had a valued customer (I assume) that was already exercising reasonable caution in his route selection.

  15. Lou August 24th, 2011 8:11 pm

    Aha Jame, the lone voice of dissent. kudos.

    Let me just say that USFS permits ski resorts on public land for the _benefit of the public_. That is very different than private property. Sure, there is a boundary between what’s appropriate on those resorts and what is not. They also are indeed allowed to dictate what people do on the permit area. But.

    I think what most of us are advocating is that the USFS require resorts to accommodate uphill skiing, in the same way they require them to do other things for the benefit of the public.

    Thing is, they can make money off the uphilling with restaurant business, as is done in Europe, so this whole thing is not a reach, it’s basic business and is skiing, so it fits. What’s not to love?

  16. Hojo August 24th, 2011 9:39 pm

    What I find interesting is that an uphill skier, usually rare and to the side of the hill, presents no more of a hazard than any given number of downhill skiers. They are plentiful, stopped in the middle, below a roll, dodging out of/into the trees, and generally strewn all over the place, tips over tea kettle. The idea that facing uphill and making (for me anyhow) a very slow ascent is somehow overly dangerous is just plain silly.

  17. Kevin S August 24th, 2011 9:52 pm

    As a parent of two ski racers, I (along with many parents) skin up to many of the races whether I have a pass or not. To Lou’s point I do buy concessions but my bet is most folks skinning uphill in the US are not buying the overpriced concessions on the hill. Regarding James Moss, Esq comments, I believe his black and white stance provides both environmentalists and closet environmentalists with a rallying cry to prevent future ski resort development. Further, I am sure Mr Moss realizes that out west we love our guns and if you walk in an apartment (not on public land) you might get shot as tenants have rights under make my day statutes. (grin) Lets hope the ski areas don’t arm their patrollers, lifties and snowmakers with guns (grin again) There is a middle ground on this matter!

  18. Matt August 24th, 2011 10:35 pm

    I (and three other skiers) were once stopped by an employee of Lookout Pass Ski Area for attempting to skin uphill during the early season to access higher terrain in the Montana/Idaho backcountry. When we tried to comply and head to where we thought he was directing us, he called another fellow who hopped in a groomer and raced it toward us barely stopping in time to avoid a collision! D-bag move in my opinion. They proceeded to yell at us and tell us we were trespassing…on public land. The area wasn’t even open nor would it be for another month and a half! I haven’t been back to the area since…4 years and counting.

    I now patrol at my local area and our policy is to stop any uphill skier and call mountain management. But if they are on the other side of the boundary, nothing we can do. So, I tell any uphill skier I see to move to the off-area side of the boundary to save themselves a hassle.

  19. Dostie August 24th, 2011 11:10 pm

    @ James Moss. Two thumbs up.

    @ Lou et al. Whatsamatter with letting the resort decide? Why do you feel it is necessary to force them to accept uphill skinning? Why not force local backcountry skiers to band together, act like professionals, meet with local resort management and see if they can come to an agreement? If they can’t…so be it. There’s plenty of terrain outside the boundary.

    Seems to me that people working directly with people, not through gubmint agencies, ought to be able to create far better results. Look at your example at Aspen. Would they open the restaurant at the top of the hill if they were forced by law to allow uphill skinning? I doubt it. But when natural “market” forces come to play, it’s a win-win for both sides. You can’t legislate win-win. Not really.

  20. Eric Steig August 25th, 2011 12:53 am

    Oh come off it Dostie. Resort management needs regulation — and is already regulated — just like every other industry. All that’s being asked here is that the regulations change to better represent the people it serves.

  21. Pablo August 25th, 2011 1:50 am

    Lou, as you know I’m from spain, but I’d like to collaborate and send also a letter to this senator.
    Do you think a potential tourist letter will be usefully?

    Here in Spain if the terrain is property od the government (public) you can ski uphill in every ski resort. Most of them are placed on public mountains so here doesn’t exist that problem.

  22. dmr August 25th, 2011 1:52 am

    After reading the guest blog post as well as the comes, I personally think that there are two different issues:
    1) Uphill skiing at a ski area
    2) The way Jacskon Hole patrol manhanlded Ronald Fleck.

    For #1 commenters from both sides have put forth respectable arguments.

    For #2, there’s no excuse for the poor way Patrol and the Sheriff’s deputies handled the situation. The irony is that Jackson Hole prides itself on guest service and hospitality (I’ve even interviewed one of their department directors in the past with regard to quality of service). I can certainly understand the potential safety issue, so why not simply escort Mr. Fleck (up or down the hill) and then take the incident as an opportunity to think about how to improve access for parents / family who want to want to watch their kid race?

  23. Lou August 25th, 2011 6:07 am

    Good point DMR. I guess what happened is that the incident brought renewed attention to many folk’s desire to have resorts provide for uphilling.

    When they dropped the charges, it defused the issue of how Roland was treated. If he was still charged, we’d be supporting the “Free Roland” campaign with bumper stickers “Uphill Skiing is Not a Crime.”

  24. Lou August 25th, 2011 6:09 am

    Pablo, I’m sure communication from you to the Senator would be valuable. Go to his website, click the “Contact” option at the top, and fire away.

  25. Mark W August 25th, 2011 9:14 am

    Remember when Doug Coombs was banned for skiing out of bounds at Jackson Hole ski area? Well, this is similar in what it could produce. Really sounds like the authorities stepped in it with both feet on this one. With the re-emergence of this topic, I think we’ll see more ski areas addressing the issue in practical ways that can benefit the public.

  26. Hojo August 25th, 2011 9:47 am

    @Dotsie: “But when natural “market” forces come to play”

    I really would love to think that the market did work this way.

    Natural Market forces tend towards monopoly, and that’s a lose-lose for everyone. The thought that uphill skiers somehow negatively impact area revenues has little bearing. In fact, restricting uphill skiers has a negative impact as you’re discouraging a potential customer form your retail & food vendors. Imagine if the resort started saying “You can’t bring food on the mountain because we have food vendors here.” It’s this sort of greed that drives the idea that this public mountain is only for paying customers. “Market forces” would love to see every parent required to buy a “viewing pass” just to stand at the bottom of the magic carpet so they can take pictures of their progeny snow plowing about.

    They don’t own the mountain, they own the infrastructure. The only argument that can be reasonably made is that they expended resources to groom the track and we didn’t contribute any to ski on it. Well, we’re not asking for a groomed track necessarily, and allowing an access path doesn’t constitute an unnecessary burden on their finances.

    When the ski areas start to restrict access to a public place then we open the door for “market forces” that would take away any given public place. Hell, we have a douche here by the name of Douglas Bruce who is an ardent advocate that ALL public lands should be sold off. That would significantly reduce the “plenty of terrain outside the boundary.”

  27. Dostie August 25th, 2011 9:52 am

    Eric Steig,

    On principle I respectfully disagree. We have become an over regulated society and when things go wrong, instead of people dealing with those who have wronged them, we run to the government to solve our problems. We should be running to a court system for justice, but instead we run to a bureaucracy that attempts to control every facet of our lives with restrictions and permits to everything they can foresee. Sorry, I’m WAY over that. That wasn’t what the principle this country was founded upon.

    The lack of that nanny-state perspective is a huge part of the appeal of backcountry skiing because in the backcountry you don’t have to deal with all those bureaucratic restrictions. We still have to deal with the laws of nature. I’m just fine with those. They are much simpler, though when you cross them, more severe.

  28. Lou August 25th, 2011 10:05 am

    I’d add that the “Nanny State” bugaboo is real. Around here, they have realized that plastic grocery bags are unnecessary and eliminating them would be good. I agree. But do they eliminate them? No. Instead, they’ll be charging a fee for each bag, which then supports more government and more bureaucracy. In my few a super example of bad government due to the “Nanny State” mentality.

    In other words, if we’re going to eliminate plastic grocery bags, just BAN the danged things! Put your money where your mouth is, instead of just extracting money from an already strapped populace. Allowing continued use and taxing us (or them, folks who don’t bring their own bag) doesn’t solve the problem of grocery bags blowing around, it just creates a regressive tax and more danged government. It just stinks.

    Ban the bags and the grocers actually save money, the environment benefits, government doesn’t increase in size. Such an easy and logical solution. Instead, we get Mrs. Nanny taxing us yet again.

    Circling back to uphilling at resorts, no reason this has to be a “Nanny State” problem or solution. Laws already exist that regulate special use permits for ski resorts on USFS public land. If those laws are amended to force resorts to do something that’s within the realm of “skiing” and really could actually increase the resort’s revenue, to me that’s not Nanny stuff, just normal interaction of government and private enterprise, influenced by the public’s evolving desires and the rule of law.

    P.S., I’d add that while I’m not against grocery bag bans, it’s somewhat indicative of our mentally challenged politicians that in this area they think banning bags will make any significant environmental difference. Compared to the incredible amount of bags you see discarded in city areas, you just don’t see them as litter that much around here (other than abandoned after being filled with dog poo, but that’s another story). The volume they contribute to our landfills is negligible in comparison to many other categories of waste. For example, up in Aspen, how about they ban construction, or lawn mowing? That stuff makes so much more landfill volume and pollution than grocery bags do that the logical thought results in stunned laughter when you really think about it… And the carbon from all those wealthy folks private jets is simply a bad joke that no one in Aspen appears willing to even talk about.

  29. DAN August 25th, 2011 10:30 am


  30. slave.to.turns August 25th, 2011 10:55 am

    Couple of thoughts.

    1. Everything about this was seemingly handled piss poor, from the Sheriff’s to the Patrol. And maybe Roland.

    2. This quote:
    “Then, two more patrollers came. I told them that I was simply headed up to watch and film my granddaughter’s race. Some time before, I had been told by a local attorney that the Jackson Hole Ski Corp received some sales tax exemption from the State of Wyoming. Their argument for the exemption was based on their allegation that they provided free public access on their leased land. Apparently it was time to find out if this was true.”

    Shows that Roland is not simply skinning up to see the race without any bias. He already has a bone to pick and an angle…he also feels justified.

    I still don’t get why people are so insistent on skinning uphill at an open ski area. There’s alot of land out there, folks. Not to mention that uphill ski trafffic can AND DOES interfere plenty with patrollers on routine explosive and cornice missions by being where they shouldn’t be when they decide to waddle around on a pre-dawn mission.

    Bottom line: this whole story seems like a clusterf**k.

  31. Geoff August 25th, 2011 12:42 pm

    Here’s a question. If JHMR actually *had* a designated route for uphill travel, but that route went nowhere near the race course where Roland wanted to go–to the extent that it wouldn’t even be possible to access the race course by skinning up and skiing down, would that have changed anything here? Is it enough that a resort allow some uphill traffic or must they grant enough routes to allow complete access to anywhere within the resort boundaries? What are people really asking for and why?

    Truthfully, I’m not sure how I feel about this issue. On one hand, I occassionally skin my local resort (where such activity is allowed), but I do it after hours. The only reason I personally skin there is because I don’t have to worry about avalanche danger or setting a track. Since I have a pass, I’ve already paid for those services anyway, so I don’t feel bad about using them.

    On the other hand, I don’t love uphill traffic when I’m skiing. As courteous as our locals are, there are times when you encounter uphill skiers in completely unexpected places. In order for them to stay out the way, they often end up in places where sightlines aren’t the best; sort of the reverse of the skier’s responsibility code. At least when a snowmobile is charging up the slope, they’ve got a siren on and I can hear them. With small numbers it isn’t a big deal, but what would it look like if skinning were popular? A pack of skinners travelling uphill could easily ruin the experience for people travelling downhill. Should that be allowed when the purpose of ski resorts is to serve the people who prefer the downhill experience?

    I guess at the end of the day, I don’t understand the outcry. Public land is not synonymous with “do whatever you feel like”. Managing public land has always been about balancing interests and in some cases, regulating how land can be used. Just because the land in my back yard is public doesn’t mean I can ride a motorcycle there. As others have said, the vast majority of North America’s mountains don’t have ski lifts on them, so why is there a compelling need to open up resorts to uphill travel?

  32. Lou August 25th, 2011 1:13 pm

    Geoff, I for one do support the special use permit process and system of regulations. Without it, our public lands would be an unregulated mess or else 100% restricted to all human activity or use.

    On the other hand, I feel all special use permits need to be adjusted for the public good, be they for timber cutting, coal mining, hut building, or yes, uphilling at resorts.

    I don’t see that as an outcry, just due process and evolution of outdoor recreation.

    If we sound a bit shrill here, it’s because we see uphilling as an incredibly viable and suitable, and appropriate, recreational activity for ski resorts. And, many of us enjoy doing it. So we are adamant about pushing it to be an included activity, just as snowboarding was banned in many places and then recognized and accommodated for.

    Again, I don’t thing that is unreasonable, shrill, or strange in any way.

    With respect to you, I’d agree there are two sides to every story, and yes, perhaps uphilling is simply not practical everywhere, or even on every ski hill. But my view and that of others here is that uphilling will work, and we want it. Again, just as snowboarders wanted “it.”


  33. tim August 25th, 2011 3:48 pm

    Uphill inbounds during hours of operation/maintenance = bad idea (generally), notwithstanding seeing it tolerated at Crested Butte, Steamboat, Teluuride and others. It’s no secret, safety and liability issues abound with uphill traffic at almost all times of year — just try riding your mountian bike uphill at lift-served resorts in the summer — that make the minor infringement on personal liberties worth the one-way ordering of the masses. Heck, I’d like to drive my car 125 miles an hour on the wrong side of the highway (I have a valid driver’s license, insurance, lots of driving experience and can do so safely) but that doesn’t make sense now does it?!?

    Further, don’t be naive or oblivious to the incredibly slippery slope here. There are lots of stakeholders (i.e., inholders, mining claimants, loggers,…) itching to make and making similar arguments that would fundamentally change — and frankly ruin — the way we know and love many of our public lands. If you need a current illustration of this, look no further than the controversy that has been brewing in Bear Creek Canyon (the traditional side county hiking and skiing access on the southeast side of Telluride) for some time now where real estate spectulators and developers cloaked in the skin of mining claim holders (didn’t we go through this with Cameron et al before making the Grand Canyon a National Park?) claim historic access rights to travel uphill (and through the operating ski area) to access their claims and development sites. Indeed, be very careful what you you ask for and how you as for it.

  34. brian h August 25th, 2011 3:58 pm

    Dan- I’d consider going with at least one other person. I’d consider looking into some “side country” stuff at one of the resorts. From where you are, maybe Jackson or something in Summit county? A concern would be heading out without the basics being understood (snow safety etc). There are also guiding companies that can instruct in a semi controlled environment.

  35. Frank K August 25th, 2011 5:04 pm

    Sorry, but I don’t think uphill skiing is compatible with all ski areas, nor do I think it is at all appropriate during operating hours. The guest blogger might consider volunteering for the race next time as a gatekeeper or sweeper- that’s what my dad always did when he went to my races. That way you’re giving something back, too.

  36. Sb August 25th, 2011 6:04 pm

    I can see why people who live next to an area want to do this, but it seems like a bad idea to me. For others, i doubt there is any demand. However, many areas allow snowshoers, and this is about the same thing.

    Go into the backcountry, forget the resorts.

  37. Chad August 25th, 2011 10:48 pm

    I’ve worked at ski areas for 16 years now and have seen enough “close calls” with uphill travelers to know it’s not the best idea for all areas. Some ski areas it’s a great idea with designated routes up, and for after hours down. Ski areas have enough liability issues to deal with. Please don’t give them another one. I’m sure JHMR would provide access if it was safe and reasonable for users. Snow King across the Valley has a great skin track. I use it 2-3 times a week in the winter. JHMR, with all the crowds of a large resort, and after hours winch grooming over the majority of the mountain does not sound like a pleasant experience.

    BTW. JHMR sponsored an afters hours event this past winter (prior to the incident) allowing uphill travel (skinning) on a designated route to a mid mountain restaurant for food and drink and a pleasant ski back to the base area. it wasn’t very well advertised, but had a strong turn out.

  38. Hojo August 26th, 2011 9:06 am

    I propose a study:

    Stage uphill skiers along a run that would be ideal for uphill ascent. At the top of that run you enlist two groups of skiers. Group 1, the control, is just told to ski to the bottom. Group 2 is asked to ski to the bottom counting how many uphill skiers they see. You then ask those in group 1 how many uphill skiers they saw.

    Those in group 1 will identify significantly less uphill skiers than actually on the run. Group 1 will identify far more uphill skiers then were actually on the run owing to miscounting stopped skiers. The busier the hill, the less likely either group will produce an accurate count.

    To show that uphill traffic is no less ‘apparent’ than any other skier and that when looking, a stopped skier can be mistaken for an uphill skier.

  39. Hojo August 26th, 2011 9:07 am

    edit above: Group *2* will identify far more

  40. Geoff August 26th, 2011 3:57 pm

    @Lou, ultimately shouldn’t the market decide what constitutes a viable activity for ski resorts? It is interesting that you mention snowboarding since wasn’t it predominantly market forces that caused the acceptance of snowboarding at most resorts? Even Taos Ski Valley eventally chose to bow to the almighty dollar and embrace a demographic not of their choosing.

    There is no question that resorts *could* provide support for uphill travel in ways that would guarantee a great experience for all guests, but that would likely require investments be made. Uphill and downhill travel are fundamentally in opposition, so seperation would be the most logical course of action. The question is, are those who wish to travel uphill at resorts willing to pay for it, and is there enough demand to make uphill travel a viable business?

    If the answer to that is no, then why should resorts be forced into allowing an activity which is fundamentally at odds with the primary service that they provide? And why should the rest of us be forced to subsidize such an activity?

    Is this about access, or is it about avalanche control and grooming? Again, the question comes back to, “why do people want to skin inside resort boundaries?” If the answer has to do with the services that the resort provides, then turning this into a political issue that hinges on access seems wrong to me. Whether a resort happens to be on public land is a red herring. At the end of the day, this has nothing to do with access. Its about wanting to repurpose the services that the resort provides for other means. Which brings us back to letting the market dictate what services resorts offer.

    @Hojo, IMO, uphill skiers on a downhill slope are very similar to cyclists riding on the wrong side of the road. The fact that uphill skinners are moving opposite of traffic is what makes them seem unpredictable. Speed isn’t the issue, direction is. Once somebody starts moving, it changes the equation dramatically (at least for me).

  41. Lou August 26th, 2011 4:58 pm

    Geoff, sure, any free market capitalist fantasizes about the day everything works that way — and the day business owners can predict the future without some gentle prodding now and then from a possible market. Snowboarders were a market force, but they also shouted, loud. So why shouldn’t we? In my opinion uphillers can pay their way, and we’re shouting. Thanks to the snowboarders, they were a good model.

    As for logistics of all this, let’s not confuse that with the actual possibility and goal of doing it. At many areas, designating an uphill route is trivial, it doesn’t have to go up the groomed runs, for example. And sure, perhaps it’s not appropriate at some resorts.

    And yes, it would be dishonest to say that resort uphilling is not done there for the services that the resort offers. Nothing wrong with that and I have no problem stating it as fact. I thought it was assumed. So what’s that have to do with the argument? I don’t get it. Snowboarders were there for the resort services as well. Once the resorts decide to provide it, their special use permit allows them to charge for it if they want. In fact, they could charge for it right now if they wanted to.

    I don’t see anyone here shouting and crying that resort uphilling _has_ to be free. I’m sure some feel that way. I don’t. But I’d like to see it remain free and have the resort make money off restaurant. That’s the model in Europe that works in numerous places. It works. Again, I say, it works. But whatever works.

  42. Chris Kipfer August 28th, 2011 12:03 am

    Another example of public land use here is the lease of land for powder cat skiing. If the rangers started to kick backcountry skiers out of the Buffalo Pass area here in favor of the commercial operation, havoc would ensue. It’s already enough of a hassle to observe new regulations there.
    I have yet to understand why the “free market” enthusiasts have accepted a monopoly operation on public land. Why aren’t competing restaurants, ski schools,guide services licensed on these parcels? In the so called “socialist” Alps where the land is almost all private this competition abounds.

  43. Chris Kipfer August 28th, 2011 12:18 am

    I should have added that personally I only skin up the resort mountain before and after season which was great last season here in Steamboat Springs. I don’t advocate uphill during the season except perhaps for a last run “out of bounds”. I just don’t see why any public land should be given at meager cost to a monopoly. But then I might defend sale and therefore regulation of grazing rights on BLM land. So maybe I’m not being consistent here.

  44. Hojo August 28th, 2011 10:50 am

    @Geoff: I concur that to many uphill skiers “seem” unpredictable. The same argument was used against snowboarders as being unsafe when in reality it was conservative skiers belly aching that kids were having more fun than they were.

    I seriously would love for someone to actually study uphill skiing as I firmly believe it’s a perception issue, not a safety issue. Granted, if you have 30 skiers coming down and 30 skiers going up and all were in any location on the hill the situation changes. 200 skiers coming down and 10 skiers going up doesn’t change the fact that out of those 200 coming down a large number will be causing far more safety issues then the 10, who can see all oncoming traffic, coming up. The fact that there are now assaults, arrests, and threats of law suits on the ski hill leads me to believe that our litigious nature is driving policy rather than common sense.

  45. Lou August 28th, 2011 11:06 am

    Hojo and all, it’s a simple matter of designating an uphill ski route, or at the least having some basic rules such as uphillers restricted to side of one series of runs. Also depends on the terrain. Again, this is all just logistics. Uphilling works, it’s possible to manage, it adds more users to the ski hill, and the people doing it are skiers (unless snowshoes and running shoes are used, as they are around here quite often). It’s all so easy to put together and manage (let me be a witness), I just don’t get why it’s such a big deal.

  46. JCoates August 28th, 2011 12:43 pm

    Lou is right, uphill skiing works. Go ski anywhere in Europe and you will see tons of uphill skiers on the resorts. In fact, many of the multiple-day ski tours (think Haute Route) start from the top of trams that also service downhill ski areas. Just like snowboarding, the only “special concessions” that the ski areas had to make in Europe was to stop being close-minded, and change their policy. No special signs, routes, ect., just stick to the very edge of the trail when skinning up. I suspect the problem here in the US is that the majority of the resort owners and CEOs have zero experience with touring, where in Europe it is a bigger part of the culture.

  47. Lou August 28th, 2011 12:45 pm

    Exactly , JC

  48. Chris Kipfer August 28th, 2011 1:21 pm

    I lived in Europe for 23 of my adult years and I really don’t see why this in-bounds uphill skiing is such a big deal. On the other hand, personal responsibilty is taken for granted there. It’s more of a cultlural difference. An example of this is that the number of stray dogs that have to be put down in Germany is practically zero in comparison with the huge number here. The first difference that a visiting European sees at a swimming pool or beach here are signs with long lists of prohibited activities and no diving boards. They would assume that this would be unnecessary where any degree of common sense prevailed. My sense is that the uphill backcountry equipped skier willing to sweat his way up is likely to have the common sense to chose a route not putting himself in harms way. I have never seen anyone climbing through the middle of a high traffic zone here.The ski patrol on their snowmobiles present a far greater hazard.

  49. Robert Mullins August 28th, 2011 4:07 pm

    Designated uphill skiing at ski areas on public lands seems to be in demand and would be a reasonable development.. As with any other activity at a ski area it must be planned and managed reasonably since the well being of the general public, or greater good, takes precedence over an individual. A ski area operator is required by agreement to manage the activities and also at risk from a liability consideration.

    The described situation was a problem created intentionally by a troublemaker who had no legitimate need to do so. I find this person’s behavior to be elitist behavior cloaked as some popular initiative.

    I am just a middle class guy who worked hard to find the wherewithal to ski for many years. When using a public facility with my family, eg a ski area, I assume that reasonable safety is assured by the planning and management/ enforcement of the ski area operator. I also expect that operator will exert their proper authority, and likewise any individual is required to follow such directive. Any decent citizen likewise would endeavor to follow direction and also consider others and the public good- safety- over their own selfish behavior.

    Roland Fleck, your behavior is not laudable. I regret that I do not live close enough to explain this to you in person.


    Robert Mullins
    Leavenworth, WA

  50. Lou August 28th, 2011 6:56 pm

    Rob, thanks for presenting a contrarian view. Good to get everyone speaking… I’d think Roland’s behavior might have been intentional, but I don’t see it as elitist. At least what he did brings the issue to the front. Perhaps you’re looking at it from the resort management point of view? Totally legitimate to do so, of course, and in that sense I see your point more clearly. We’re kinda biased around here (grin) so I’m on Roland’s side on this one.

  51. Jason August 28th, 2011 11:17 pm

    Good to hear it from the actual “victim” here. What a joke. I’m sorry you were harassed by them. Skiing Uphill isn’t a Crime. Plus, doesn’t your ‘ticket’ to the resort say the person in front of you has the right away or something to that effect? Like Lou said, nice to hear the contrarian view, but I too believe it is not correct. I hope you watch where you are going cause a bear, badger, coyote, fox, jackalope, etc… could be walking up the hill.

  52. Michael Werner August 29th, 2011 3:33 pm

    Dear Lou, It is funny how you guys down in Colorado are making a bigger deal out of Fleck’s incident. It seems most people have moved on here in Jackson. First of all if you act like an a*** you usually get treated like an a***. Fleck was not nice (personal attack edited). Straight up. He was asked with respect to turn around. He turned a simple situation into a belligerent act and bad things happened. I am a long time ski patroller, and a huge fan of randonee skiing. I have always brought up uphill skiing policy with my superiors with thoughts and hopes of it in the future. But Fleck really destroyed all that work. Now they think we are all a bunch of entitled arrogant jerks. First we are always fighting uphill skiers poaching while we are doing avalanche control. Makes are job more difficult and dangerous. It costs the ski area a ton of money to groom the trails. Did Fleck support that cost, maybe he should put in his own skin track in the woods and hide from the ski patrol like the real ski bums? It’s funny how there is more blab about this incident from people who do not even live here or even really know the true story. (crude profanity redacted) Sincerely, Mike Werner

  53. Lou August 29th, 2011 4:02 pm

    Hmmm. Well, in that case Michael it’s funny how you enlightened beings in Jackson are finally getting around to educating us ignorant Coloradans. But thanks for setting us straight. As for all of you guys moving on, apparently that hasn’t happened, because one guy from Jackson just dropped in here and ripped us a new one.

    P.S., who are these guys down in Colorado? Last time I looked, many if not most people who read and contribute to WildSnow are not from Colorado…though quite a few indeed are from the John Denver state.


  54. gentle sasquatch August 29th, 2011 9:15 pm

    I am late to this powwow so I will just add my imaginary reality:

    Thw resorts are leasing the public land for the genefit of the public. Their business is to entice patrons to the mountain, to ski downhil on public land. They do so by building a ski lift and charging money for the transportation uphill. They may efen elect to groom the ski trails to be competitive with other resorts. Whether some citizens choose to skin up the hill should be none of the resort’s business. 😉

  55. Chad August 30th, 2011 7:53 pm

    It’s none of the resorts business until the resort gets sued because an uphill skier gets hurt by regular mountain operations. I know of other ski area who have the same policy of NOT allowing uphill traffic while in operation (Alta, Snowbird). It’s doable at these ski areas, but it requires a sit down between all parties to find an solution. Flek’s approach to this problem (made worse since he has access to resort management) was child like.

  56. Mitch August 30th, 2011 9:14 pm

    It is disappointing that you have promoted a biased once sided view by allowing Mr. Fleck’s guest blog. What happened to Backcountry skiing? There is nothing backcountry about skinning up a groomed trail at a ski resort. But I guess news is news, the juicier the better, and anything to get a few more hits on the site…I bit, hook line and sinker. What is so confusing to me is why this is such a big deal to people. Even more perplexing is why anyone wants to skin uphill against thousands of skiers descending on them. I understand the free access to public lands issue. But the fact of the matter is that once government land is leased by an operator, that Lessee can restrict access. Love it or hate it it is written in the contract. I realize ski resorts are providing a recreational service but don’t forget it is costing them millions to do so. And sadly, thousands of lawsuits against ski area operators have caused them to clinch up tight.
    Try riding your mountain bike around the hundreds of oil and gas platforms that litter our state (leased public land). See where that gets you.
    The topic of safety. So many comments argue that it is no more unsafe then (pick one)….really? Going against the general flow of traffic seems smart? And what if there is a collision involving an uphill skinner? Who’s to blame? The lawsuit will no doubt name the ski area operator…again! Designated routes you say. For every one person who adheres another will not. Upper mountain lifts, for every honest person there will be another who just wants to scam a free ride. Now lift checkers will be hired, costing the resort even more. Pre-opening perhaps…Yea right. If one person is discovered on the mountain during avalanche reduction efforts, operations must be put on hold till things get sorted out. A nightmare for everyone. Not to mention the snowcat winch cables strewn over lower mountain groomers.
    The Jackson Hole Mountain resort is a mere postage stamp compared to the billions of acres of unrestricted public lands that make up Northwest Wyoming. Same in Colorado. These lands happen to be some of the finest backcountry skiing terrain in the country. As an avid backcountry skier this is where I choose to be when I am touring…not on some crowded ski slope with people wizzing by at mach 9. With so much great ski terrain easily and conveniently accessed, ( A lifetimes worth and more), why is going uphill at the resort such a fight.
    Let’s look at Mr. Fleck’s incident,
    he obviously had an agenda far beyond just skinning up the mountain to watch his Granddaughter, also far beyond free access land issues. He could have chosen a more obscure route where he wouldn’t have been noticed and would have been much safer, thus proving the potential feasibility of uphill resort travel. But he chose to go up one of the busiest, most narrow egress routes off the hill. This catwalk has many blind corners. There is no side room on this road. And in fact several complaints of near misses were reported to resort management. What should the resort do? Ignore these complaints until there is a collision resulting in injury. Had someone’s 10 year old daughter hit him and broke her leg or worse…How would the media report then? Yes the Ski Patrol tried to peacefully turn him around because it is against the resort’s policy. In the course of this effort Mr. Fleck requested to speak to the Sheriff. When he refused to descend his request was granted and a couple of deputies were brought to him. Mr. Fleck’s attitude, resistance, and overall unwillingness to cooperate with the Law is what got him arrested. Try it yourself, you always get a free nights lodging. If this was supposed to be a noble effort to raise awareness of access issues then this poor soul is severely misguided. By choosing a dangerous accent route and causing near collisions Mr. Fleck did nothing but set back this effort. This man satirically spit in the face of many people who tried to show him a lot of generosity and respect. Not surprisingly he has a history of this kind of behavior.
    Fact…he simply could of chose a route that kept him out of sight, out of mind, and out of confrontation. He knew this.
    So while many of you out there scream of the injustice of not being granted uphill access at a ski resort or JHMR. Try not to be so selfish and remember that you may think you are out of the way, you may think you are being safe and won’t get hit. But when a collision does occur. The resort operator can and will be held liable. Some ski areas allow uphill access and some don’t. At this time the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort does not. Unless you are incapable of skinning uphill without corduroy, get over it and go backcountry skiing. The powder is always better anyway.

  57. dmr August 31st, 2011 2:16 am


    How is allowing everyone to express their respective opinions in the comments section being biased?

    Honest question, could you please explain to me how the Sheriff’s department was justified in cuffing and manhandling Mr. Fleck (even if he had a confrontational attitude)?


    Michael Werner,

    Two quick comments:
    1) Mr. Fleck had a pass, so the issue of “cost” is not relevant.
    2) FYI – I’m not from Colorado.

  58. Lou August 31st, 2011 6:53 am

    Ah, the bias card, always a good way to try and discredit someone. In this case, it doesn’t appear to be working, as Fleck’s first person account of what happened to himself, is, just that… It’s not my biased take, it is Fleck’s.

    If a ski patroller or deputy who handcuffed Fleck wants to run a guest blog about the incident (as Mitch’s comment serves as), I’ll publish if it’s worthy. A Jackson patroller chimed in a few comments ago with a profanity laced diatribe. That’s not what I mean by “worthy,” but does perhaps indicate the type of attitude that led to the Fleck incident.

    I’ll state that I’m an advocate of uphill skiing at resorts. So yes I’m biased in that way and so is WildSnow.com. So what, this is a blog, not the New York Times. Some of you may disagree with my advocacy, or even think skiing uphill at resort is idiotic. But that’s my position and thus WildSnow.com will support that, while letting everyone have their say.

    So, thanks Mitch for bringing in an apparently informed and opposing point of view — though you really didn’t need to be pulling your writing down by playing the bias accusation game.

    P.S., I don’t appreciate the mean spirited comments about me being exploitative and just trying to get a few more hits on “the site” by publishing Fleck’s guest blog. We get plenty of traffic, and have dozens of blog posts in the works at any given time. Here at Wildsnow.com we are genuinely interested in the issue of uphill skiing at resorts, and are advocates of uphill skiing being accommodated for by most ski resorts. Thus, we publish things like Fleck’s account to stimulate discussion and awareness of the issue. If that brings more traffic, great, but if it brought less I’d still publish it. Our goals here go beyond sitting in a darkened office before a glowing computer screen and counting our hits like Scroog doing his books. Most people know that, and our track record I would hope shows it.

  59. Lou August 31st, 2011 7:26 am

    Okay, now back to the issue. Whatever the actual logistics of the infamous “Handcuffed Fleck” he has brought the issue of resort uphilling to the front. No different than someone, say, handcuffing themselves to a bulldozer or a tree. If Fleck did have an agenda, then that makes what he did into civil disobedience. Sometimes, (perhaps most of the time) civil disobedience is messy, inconvenient for folks, or even can easily be inappropriate when it comes to public safety and so forth.

    But fact is, Fleck didn’t hurt anyone and got the point across. The point being that a certain segment of the skiing population would like resorts to one way or another accommodate uphill travel in a way that works for the long term, for everyone.

    It’s quite common for folks against the issues raised in any act of civil disobedience to hurl red herrings till the fish smell gets rank. In this case, some if the red herrings are accusations of Fleck’s previous bad behavior, or him being a jerk, or whatever. Those unsubstantiated accusations and downright personal attacks are not relevant to the issue of uphill skiing at resorts, as we are talking about uphill skiing here, not Roland Fleck’s personality. Likewise, bringing straw men into the discussion, such as trying to divert the discussion to what was wrong with the particular incident, is also common for folks opposing the goal of any civil disobedience.

    Now, to be fair, some of you have raised some very legit points about why uphill skiing should _not_ be allowed at resorts. The best ones, in my view, are the safety issues as well as the fact that uphilling at resorts does use the resort’s facilities. Fine, let’s discuss those points, not Roland Fleck’s personality.

    Lastly, lectures about how resort uphillers should go backcountry also divert the discussion. Sure, those of you who don’t understand why someone would ski up a resort are perfectly welcome to ask the question. But as for lecturing us, let me clarify to those of you in mystery about this: Some folks simply like to ski up resorts and while doing so is most certainly not backcountry skiing when the resort is open, doing so is intimately related to backcountry skiing as it uses the same gear, and is frequently used as athletic training for backcountry skiing. Also, uphilling at resorts can be quite fun. Thus, we cover the issue.

    Fact is, “backcountry skiing” as covered by WildSnow.com encompasses a great big beautiful world of stuff, everything from health issues, to snowmobiles, to yes, skiing uphill at resorts. Shoot, we even cover hunting now and then, since we eat elk jerky while backcountry skiing.

  60. dmr August 31st, 2011 7:33 am

    I often eat turkey jerky on backcountry outings, sometimes favoring tofu jerky when skiing with friends who are vegetarians.

  61. Shoveler August 31st, 2011 7:44 am

    Can anyone from Jackson make a comment without insulting Wildsnow, Roland, or uphill skiing? People down there (I’m in Canada) seem mean.

  62. Lou August 31st, 2011 7:51 am

    The world’s worst jerky is better than the world’s best (fill in blank with your “favorite” athletic bar.)

  63. Bill August 31st, 2011 8:43 am

    Hey Lou
    Like you I would think of it as an honor to be arrested for skiing uphill when i was 78.
    In my case though, hopefully it would not be for going too slow.
    I do not agree that the legislative route is a good way to go.
    The resorts have a tough enough time keeping open and you get bureacrats involved, who knows they may legislate handrails!!.
    Since I live in California I get to see what incredible things legislaters can do with a pen.

  64. Lou August 31st, 2011 8:52 am

    Bill, good point about what California teaches us. I’m not a big fan of the legislative pen. As others have said here, perhaps market forces can make it happen, with some prodding from activism. Indeed, from the trend I see in some places (increasing numbers of uphillers) I think it’s very likely some resorts would go ahead and make uphilling an “official” activity. I’ve been to places in Europe where a significant percentage (or even 100%) of resort business is uphillers, using restaurant. At Tiehack./Buttermilk here in Aspen, a significant percentage of folks buying stuff in the top restaurant have hiked or skied up. I’ll bet from direct observation that it’s enough business to affect their bottom line in a noticeable way. It’s not like these uphillers are on a budget. They pull up in Range Rovers, don $4,000 worth of Dynafit gear, and take off up the ski hill for the restaurant. The ladies say it gives them a better looking tush than any other activity. I tend to agree, again from direct observation.

  65. Bill August 31st, 2011 10:01 am

    We often find ourselves trying to explain what skinning is.
    Even most resort skiers do not understand what it is.
    With the growth in the activity, that will change and I see resorts being able to
    view it as an activity they can use to enhance there operations.
    It would be cool if it was like Europe.
    My 70mm-80 waisted skis might even become acceptable to people.
    Just dreaming.

  66. Lou August 31st, 2011 11:02 am

    Bill, the first step is to not call it “skinning.” If you’re talking to a newbie, call it “uphill skiing using backcountry gear” or something like that.

  67. Eye Witless August 31st, 2011 12:15 pm

    My Dearest Blogmeister, You’re obviously a supergenius when it comes to telepathically knowing all about events for which you weren’t present. Why don’t you go ahead and show the video that shows the entire story! Oh, you don’t have it? Maybe you ought’a back off from making a fool out of yourself until you see it for yourself. For any average, normal human, it would be best described as “disturbing and sad.” Disturbing and sad for which of the opponents? You decide. After you know the truth. Meanwhile, happy turns.

  68. Mark W August 31st, 2011 12:21 pm

    Is said video available for public viewing?

  69. Big Chris August 31st, 2011 1:00 pm

    I live in the Tetons. I agree with Mike Werner.
    I want to recount the first time I met Roland.

    It was on top of Mt.Glory on Teton Pass.
    He arrived at the top and proceeded to tongue lash everyone up there for passing him on the bootpack. Basically his point was that no one had the right to pass him because he was skiing there long before we were all born or some such dribble.

    It might help to know something about the offending party involved.

  70. Lou August 31st, 2011 2:24 pm

    Aha, rhetorical technique 58, refer to mysterious information that the other party does not have. This comes after technique 57, the ad hominem name calling or otherwise disparaging attack on the person, in an attempt to discredit them.

    Keep trying guys. And once you’re done, could we talk about uphill skiing?

    Videos of an event are subject to interpretation just like anything else, and Roland isn’t the first person to get uptight on that bootpack.

    Gad, I guess I’m banned from Jackson upside down from the tram cable for publishing a few paragraphs from Roland Fleck? I wish he’d warned me.

  71. Lou August 31st, 2011 2:41 pm

    All, thanks to many of you for rising above making this into a discussion of Roland Fleck’s personality. Those of you who wish to drag the discussion down to that level, we’ve been letting your posts run but we’re feeling inclined to do some moderation if anything goes more over to the side of personal attacks.

    Mainly, right or wrong on either side of the Roland Fleck incident, the idea here is to talk about how resorts can best accommodate, and yes, regulate if necessary, uphill skiing.

  72. Justin Wilcox August 31st, 2011 3:46 pm

    Lou, I understand you want to keep the discussion on the idea of uphill skiing at resorts, not on the Fleck incident. However, when you publish Fleck’s account of the incident which is obviously one sided and a bit inflammatory against ski patrol how do you expect people to not talk about the incident and give their opinions?

    I don’t know Roland Fleck, but I do know Mike Werner who is a long time patroller and a seriously good guy. His post may have been a bit feisty, but your reply of “A Jackson patroller chimed in a few comments ago with a profanity laced diatribe. That’s not what I mean by “worthy,” but does perhaps indicate the type of attitude that led to the Fleck incident. ” makes an awful big and unreasonable leap. JHMR ski patrol has been taking some abuse over this by people who probably don’t know what they are talking about. Above, “dmr” commented on patrols “manhandling” of Fleck. I’m curious, dmr, where you there to witness this manhandling? If not, maybe you don’t know what you’re talking about…. If you were, so be it. So I think its understandable if patrollers are sick of getting criticized for doing their job, enforcing the rules of JHMR which include no uphill skiing. When someone refuses to comply with the rules when you ask them nicely what are you supposed to do? Just let is slide to avoid a confrontation? Fleck refused to comply with the rules when they asked nicely, so they were forced to get the authorities involved. Seems pretty logical to me…

  73. Lou August 31st, 2011 6:23 pm

    Okay Justin, fair enough. Let the opinions fly, but no personal attacks on the individual. If a person or entity (ski patrol) is sick of taking abuse, they can man up and be diplomatic and reasonable, they don’t have exhibit the same behavior as they claim they are criticizing!

    That said, If you guys want to devolve this to an argument about if the Jackson ski patrol acted rightly or wrongly, or about Roland’s character, I’ll guarantee it’ll go nowhere.

    So take your shots in that if you must, but I’d suggest we talk about uphill skiing.

    As for what a person is supposed to do when someone doesn’t comply with rules, that is frequently a judgement call. And yes, sometimes a person in authority will let things slide. It’s done all the time. But again, I’m not here to argue Roland’s case, only to advocate for resorts to accommodate uphill skiing.

  74. Mitch August 31st, 2011 8:27 pm

    Wow Lou,
    Your gonna have to toughen up a little man. You post a provocative story, allow the author to share his take. All in the name of a cause which is fighting for uphill access rights at ski resorts. Then, when the blog author’s credibility or character is brought to question you threaten to sensor the guest comments. Obviously he is a friend of yours and a nerve has been struck. Nothing belligerent or absurd has been written. And, it shouldn’t need to be pointed out…but, he is the author of the “how it happened article” which you posted to your site! Naturally, he would be made reference to.
    I have re-read my words and all others and believe it or not I am not against uphill access at ski resorts. The best turns ever are the ones earned. So this is the topic you prefer to be at the forefront. OK, an excerpt from the blog author’s post referring to the ski area operator, ” use common sense when it comes to uphill skiing”. This man did not….Period. As previously mentioned the route choice was the worst. How does one instill in the Ski Resort Operator the belief that uphill travel is OK and safe when the advocate chooses the most crowded path?
    Changing the policy at resorts requires a prudent and tactful approach. A demonstration of not only safe route choice (i.e. – uphill within the boundaries) but also the potential benefits involved. The guest author of the blog chose the option of picking a fight instead of proving the feasibility. Sure this has brought the issue at the forefront in the blog forum world. People like me spraying my opinion. But to the ones who ultimately make the decisions, the Resort Operators, they are shaking theirs heads saying why bother. All because of one man’s actions on this day.
    Fighting for a cause is worthy, perhaps you should pick you crusaders more wisely.
    P.S. The best part of any turn is the spiritual side of it…never forget that! And Lou, you are more than welcome to come hang upside down from the cables.

  75. Xavier August 31st, 2011 8:51 pm

    I’ve got nothing against uphill skiing at resorts.. done it . However like most subjects there are nuances involved.
    At a resort in the PNW last year , several skinners ( 3) decided to skin up the busiest blue run on the hill, in the middle of the run, on one of the busiest Saturdays of the year.
    When chastised about it on some websites, many quoted the public land issue and felt they were entitled to do this. Many where from the die-hard earn your turns crowd who at the same time publicly proclaimed their superiority over the resort skiers.
    There are well documented reports of skinners barging through a slalom course during a race meet because they insisted they had the right to be there.
    I’m all for uphill ski access but on designated routes away from the most used areas and where it can be controlled by patrol.
    Lou, I’ve been a reader of your website for many years and usually find your views on most things to be well balanced and nuanced but on this one you “jumped the shark”.

  76. Lou August 31st, 2011 8:54 pm

    No censoring going on yet, other than redacting profanity. While folks here do get a bit rowdy, we’ve only blocked or deleted perhaps a dozen comments (other than spam) in the past 5 years, so don’t worry, it’s not China just yet.

    Agree, provocative post will hopefully stimulate discussion and perhaps argument. But I’ll not let name calling and that sort of thing take over the discussion. Disparaging the individual who wrote the guest blog serves no useful purpose.

    For the record, I’ve never met Roland. He seems like an interesting guy who’d be fun to chat with.

    Love the comment about “jumped the shark.” Perhaps I did! And of course I don’t agree that folks should be able to skin anywhere they want, disrupt traffic and make a hazard. So in that respect I too would say that it always sounded to me like Roland could have perhaps found a better route. But I’ve never skinned that so I don’t know if one exists.

    So, let me see if I can make this more clear as I realize that in trying to put a damper on the personal attacks and accusations of folks here who frequent Wildsnow being a bunch of Colorado ignoramuses (despite the fact that most of us are not from Colorado). I never really stated my own position, just alluded to parts of it. To me, what the Roland debacle illustrates, and why I published it, is that people want to ski uphill, many areas don’t provide for it, and the result is chaos due to both inaction on the part of the resort as well as inappropriate behavior on the part of the skinners. If resorts come up with good uphill access routes, as well as appropriate enforcement methods that’ll influence the uphilling culture, then everything (in my opinion) will work great. Aspen Mountain did that, near here (yes, Colorado), and everything has hummed along on that hill like clockwork ever since they made rules and did some “community policing” type of enforcement (credit to Aspen Mountain Ski Patrol).

    In Roland’s case, it sounds like appropriate enforcement methods would have been to simply write him a ticket or even just have a talk. In the event he wouldn’t accept the ticket or dropped it on the ground after being handed it, it sounds like everyone knew who he was, or at least someone did, so if he wouldn’t accept the ticket just serve him a summons later or even have law enforcement officers accost him in the parking lot, with no ski patrol involved, in a more normal setting for being arrested or ticketed. The harsh hands-on approach just doesn’t sound right. And the fact that they dropped charges doesn’t help with credibility for the enforcement action. Now, I do know it takes two to tango. But if Roland was trying to make a point, then I give him credit for doing a tango that got noticed. Perhaps his dance was imperfect, but he sure got the discussion going and was willing to do a guest blog about his experience.

    One of the guys who arrested Roland could do a guest blog as well. Then we’d have both sides of the story. But just trying to convince us that Roland is a bad person is not telling both sides of the story, it’s simply one of the oldest tricks in the book to try and win an argument or come out on top in a discussion.

    Also, if you guys are saying we were just plain wrong to publish Roland’s account, what’s done is done and you’ve had your say.

  77. dmr September 1st, 2011 1:22 am

    Hi Justin,

    Just to clarify, I wrote that the Sheriff’s deputies manhandles Mr. Fleck (reread my comment), not patrol. For me there’s a big difference.

    And to answer your question, I was not there. Were you there?

    Lou summed it up well regarding how patrol and the deputies could have handled the situation, whether it be with a ticket or in the parking lot.

    As far as uphill skiing is concerned, it works no problem in Europe; it appears that ski lift companies and uphill skiers have an understanding (should we call it common sense?) that allow the situation to work out well.

  78. gentle sasquatch September 1st, 2011 10:19 am

    I love it how the European resorts stay in business with reasonable prices and sensible rules. Our US resorts charge an arm and leg, price the food higher than movie theaters and handcuff people on the slopes and then whine about making money.

    Loosen up. 🙂

  79. Lou September 1st, 2011 10:41 am

    Gentle, good observation. The European resort business is much more competitive, with a huge consumer base. (Nonetheless, prices vary and it can still get expensive). Therein lies much of the difference. In my opinion we could have more of the “people’s skiing”, except long ago downhill skiing in the US took a trend to being an elite, expensive sport, this supported by the USFS. Along with that, for better or worse, environmental laws and activism limited the building of new resorts. Then, low and behold, skier numbers flattened. Snowboarding saved it, but still, wouldn’t it have been nice if back in the 1960s they’d started building more ski hills that were bare bones, and marketed to the masses? We’d have a lot more places to lift ski, resort management would be less elitist, prices would be cheaper… Of course, now everyone expects expensive grooming so they can be sure to contribute to global warming by burning more fuel and need more machinery, and that keeps prices up as well. My theories, anyhow. (And yes, you can still find a selection of lower priced ski hills, but in my view, nationwide, the options in that are minimal.)

  80. Gentle Sasquatch September 1st, 2011 10:54 am

    I think the responses from those trying to discredit the old man just about sums up the industry.

  81. Chris Kipfer September 1st, 2011 11:49 am

    Lou’s comment is spot-on. The present system of regulation caters to the wealthy on land that belongs to all of us. Current policy grants monopoly use of public land that eliminates all competition for services on that land. Another factor not discussed here is the high cost of debt service caused by repeated leveraged buy-outs of many of the the ski areas by new operaters who believe that profits can be made by simply increasing prices,the main enticement of monopoly. Most of the uphill skiers in both Europe and here were introduced to winter sports through lift served skiing,but the skier population of Europe has a much broader income base.The more skiers in the back-country the better. I’ll always gladly step aside and let younger legs pass.
    As for some of the ski patroller comments from Montana. I can always sympathise with the the frustrations associated with the herding of cats that they encounter routinely. They should try to understand the frustration of an old guy like me who has seen the invention of “out of bounds” ,and can remember an affordable lift ticket. The days are past when a ski patroler’s job was to rescue, not to police.

  82. Justin Wilcox September 1st, 2011 12:11 pm

    I’m a bit confused…. Directly from your post, “2) The way Jacskon Hole patrol manhanlded Ronald Fleck.”. Doesn’t say anything about the deputies manhandling him, reread your post.

  83. Justin Wilcox September 1st, 2011 12:13 pm

    I’m a bit confused…. Directly from your post, “2) The way Jacskon Hole patrol manhanlded Ronald Fleck.”. Doesn’t say anything about the deputies manhandling him, reread your post. And no, I wasn’t there, but I’m not slamming anyone without having witnessed the event.

  84. dmr September 1st, 2011 2:06 pm

    Hi Justin,

    Indeed I wrote both. I thought I reread my first comment thoroughly enough.

    If you read my next comment you would have seen this:

    “Honest question, could you please explain to me how the Sheriff’s department was justified in cuffing and manhandling Mr. Fleck”


  85. Lou September 1st, 2011 2:10 pm

    Sometimes, in the fury of writing multiple comments, ambiguity sneaks in, and even contradiction can happen as people clarify their position or even shift their position. Happens to me all the time (grin) and I wouldn’t get too concerned about that sort of thing happening with anyone here. So long as a person is willing to clarify and refine if asked, then we just move along… Lou

  86. dmr September 1st, 2011 2:11 pm

    Hi Lou,

    As far as the carbon footprint is concerned, in France Mountain Rides (http://www.mountain-riders.org/) did a study (I’ll try to find it someday somewhere) that basically 85%-90% of the carbon footprint of winter sports at the French ski areas studied comes from the transportation to get to the ski resort and then lodging. The remaining is from running the ski area itself (lifts and grooming). A few lift companies (I think the Compagnie du Mont Blanc in Chamonix) are running their groomers on biodiesel, which is great, but a drop in the bucket compared to what even heating everyone’s hotel room / apartment for one week in the mountains.

  87. Lou September 1st, 2011 2:50 pm

    Your point about what we skiers do that actually produces carbon is a good one. But what I don’t get is this: If the lodging is what causes more carbon than the skiing, does that mean we should skip the lodging, or skip the lift riding so we have more carbon budget for the lodging?

    Biodiesl is mostly green hype and wishful thinking, It’s only a _percentage_ of the total, and still has a carbon footprint. In my opinion, they should just stop grooming, and snow making, for that matter.

  88. Lou September 1st, 2011 2:59 pm

    It doesn’t seem to have been mentioned here so I’ll do it. My understanding is that when law enforcement folks arrest people, they frequently cuff them simply to prevent injury to themselves (the cops, as from being slugged or otherwise attacked) and to prevent the arrested person from doing something stupid.

    I’m assuming they actually arrested Roland, read him his rights, etc. If not, then this really was a huge mess and no wonder the authorities didn’t pursue prosecution.

    What bugs me about the Roland incident is that it got escalated to that point. Like I said in another comment, just serving him a summons later on would have nixed the whole spectacle. We probably wouldn’t even be having this discussion.

  89. Robert Mullins September 1st, 2011 5:39 pm

    Lou, thanks for your response to my comment. I believe that this Guest Blog is outrageous! I gave up on Wildsnow for a while- frankly I am pissed that you hold this guy up as you do!

    I am commenting as a citizen who has the privilege to use Public Lands. As I said, I came from lower-middle class folks and made my way in the world so that I could enjoy the mountains and skiing. This guy Fleck is indeed elitist and has more privilege than most of us will ever achieve. There was no practical need for him to behave as he did, and then behave in an unlawful manner He just needed to control his ego, and ski down and ride the lift!. Simple,

    In the United States we have great and many Public Lands for all citizens. We common folk may use Public Lands, may own guns, hunt, and ride snowmobiles. We are free to move and choose professions as we are able. One’s freedom does not extend so far as to block another person’s rights and well being. We all need to consider the greater good, rules and laws are in place to ensure our freedoms. We appoint and pay individuals to protect and serve our public good. This guy Fleck did not respect legitimate authority, when he or anyone does that, he is tweaking the nose of every other citizen. He is assuming greater rights than others are given. I am disgusted when Wildsnow promotes this elitist who will take more than his share from the freedoms and opportunities given also to those with fewer resources and less privilege.

  90. Chris Kipfer September 1st, 2011 6:50 pm

    “This guy Fleck did not respect legitimate authority” Robert Mullins. So someone who doesn’t respect legitimate authority is an “Elitist”. Robert,is all legitimate authority to be respected no matter what? Obey and go to jail for your beliefs is also sometimes to be respected. Muammar al-Gaddafi was the legitimate authority in Libya. Gee,I never knew that I was an elitist. I always thought they were rich. I didn’t realize that Louis Dawson is an elitist.

  91. brian h September 1st, 2011 7:16 pm

    Man, this just gets better and better…

  92. Xavier September 1st, 2011 8:01 pm

    Try this mental exercise.
    Instead of Mr Fleck being a 75 year old( not sure his real age but you get the point)skinning to watch his granddaughter race…substitute with the following but keep the circumstances exactly the same.

    Replace Mr Fleck with a rich tourist, skinning to the top to watch his teen-age son compete in a jib contest. Heck ,even substitute Dick Cheney( another part-time local) but keep the circumstances the same.

    Bet the response from many here supporting him would be different.
    Rob Mullins is right!
    By allowing Mr Fleck a pulpit without allowing the other side to also post a guest blog piece has severely diminished this websites reputation.

  93. Lou September 1st, 2011 8:17 pm

    Xavier, give me a break, I’d happily publish another guest blog from the other side if someone wants to do one! (Guest blog author, if you’re out there, go ahead and submit and I’ll work with you on it. Use contact button at upper right.)

    I’m actually pretty surprised Fleck’s blog is as inflammatory as it turned out to be. One sided, yes, because it’s a blog relating the guys experience from his POV. But I honestly had no idea it would bring up such hard feelings.

    I’m not going to delete this whole thing, and I still believe Fleck’s account has merit for waking people up to issues. But apologies to anyone we offended.

  94. Lou September 1st, 2011 8:25 pm

    Rob has a good point about how not conforming to the rule of law is inherently elitist. I’m not sure that’s always true, say, when the civil rights marches happened or miners marched for labor rights is seems like civil disobedience was in no way elitist, but in the case of things like Fleck’s action, Rob’s point does hold up.

    BTW everyone, Fleck’s blog might not have been nuanced op ed writing, but your comments most certainly have gone there and I thank you. So on the whole, I think this exercise is quite interesting, and useful in terms of us all sorting out our approach to this uphill skiing issue.


  95. Robert Mullins September 1st, 2011 10:54 pm

    Chris Kipfer,

    Tough to logically evaluate your comments, but some comments that may be relevant will follow. .Sorry dude but the real world is not run by dudes with a hazy organic aura and their own selfish concepts- except in their own sleepy thoughts. The jibberish about that dictator would make sense only to certain folks, and I would question their clarity.

    This guy was not advocating civil rights or for anything except his selfish agenda. He had no need to cause the problem. He is a person of a higher social class with the wherewithal to recreate, even when required to spend considerable money. Yes, if we refuse to obey our duly appointed authorities then freedom for all of us is eroded.

    What about the guy who had to save money so that he could go to ski at JHMR? Perhaps while enjoying his dream he skis downhill around the corner, blissfully enjoying the challenge, and there is this guy walking up the run, there is a collision, perhaps injuries. The downhill skier just paid $100, a large sum for most of us, to ski, and should have a reasonable expectation that he can enjoy reasonable traffic control on the ski hill!

    As Lou hinted, I have ski area association in my past. thus I have examples. Think, for example, of a child-skier, hit by an adult skiing at high speed, that adult had just narrowly avoided a collision but in doing so ran over the child nearby. Yes, such has happened, part of my personal tragic past memories.

    Individual rights and the freedoms that we all enjoy are infringed when one person takes more than that to which he is entitled. And yes, our legitimate authorities, in this great country, do represent us the citizens who vote and fund government. When someone defies authorities in the legitimate performance of their duties, that person is also attacking the rest of society. We live in the orderly society that gives us so much, including our protected individual freedoms.

    Roland is no hero, he is by his actions described an elitist with a selfish cause, no friend of society or common folk.

  96. Chris Kipfer September 1st, 2011 11:59 pm

    My comment was only about the use of the word elitist as an epithet. I don’t see name calling as adding to any discussion. As to your ski scenario, my toddler grandkid on a ski leash ahead of me is going downhill at a speed so slow that your joyfull day pass rider is unlikely to notice the difference between an uphill skier, me and my grandkid,or a post in the road. If my grandkid falls and I’m getting him untangled should I be chased off the mountain for being an obstacle
    He is even less likely to be able to avoid a fallen skier. In fact,he is a menace to all the responsible skiers on the mountain. It is shameful that is necessary to station a new subcategory of ski patrol dedicated to giving out speeding tickets or in egregious cases pulling passes from these few irresponsible skiers. In a family oriented resort like this one I don’t see the uphill skier being any more dangerous than half of the downhill skiing population that would be in the way of your hypothetical skier.

  97. Lou September 2nd, 2011 5:43 am

    Hey you guys, indeed, if we’re going to be nuanced around here, those of you who feel it appropriate to do so would call Fleck’s _actions_ elitist, rather than hurling epithets. Those of us who don’t know the guy shouldn’t pigeon hole him. So, yeah, no name calling please. Avoid epithet hurling unless totally obvious and appropriate, such as writing “Moammar Gadhafi is evil.”

    For example, let’s say I thought Fleck’s hike was crazy. To avoid name calling, I’d write “Fleck’s crazy climb,” rather than “This crazy guy fleck skinned up the hill.” A bit nuanced, yes, but in my view something any writer who wants to communicate should make an effort to address.

    In the end, I feel none of you guys are out to slander or do childish name calling, and when you come across that way it’s just the result of dashing out comments quickly. But please try to avoid it. Likewise for Dr. Fleck’s social standing and lifestyle. Rob, if I’m not mistaken you know nothing about the man except from a few things you’ve read. I’m in the same boat, despite one commenter’s theory that Roland and I are friends. So I’d ask if you could just stick to the immediate issues, instead of trying to guess what social class Fleck is in, and so forth. Sure, he’s a doctor, but that doesn’t automatically make him some sort of creme de la creme self proclaimed societal superior.

  98. Kevin S September 2nd, 2011 8:34 am


    Thank for keeping this string going! Fleck is not unlike many of us who were going under ropes, having our passes pulled in the 80’s with the threat of arrest from sheriff’s named Delbert and skiing terrain that is now considered side-country and legal to access. As a former mountain guy, turned front range corporate guy(elitist by some folks measures) who straps on his AT gear just like the rest of ya’ll, I would hope that those animated folks on this string remember a couple of important ideals: Just like NPR and Rush offer different perspectives, some nuts, some realistic, so do folks who enjoy the outdoors. I have lived in both worlds and see both sides, try to do the same and relish the human condition as it is fascinating and occassionally leads to great entertainment and evolution on rules, regs and laws.

  99. Lou September 2nd, 2011 8:43 am

    Kevin, thanks, yeah, overall this discussion is very positive. While some folks have offered that they just don’t see the point in uphilling at a resort, the activity exists and many folks enjoy it. Thus, anything that raises issues associated with uphilling is good to keep out in the open.

    It occurred to me last night when speaking about this issue with someone, that English is not Roland’s native language (he’s Austrian). I’ve spoken with him on the phone and he speaks well, and writes clearly, but his writing voice does suffer from him not being native to the idiom. I did some editing on his blog, but kept most of his voice out of respect to him as the writer. His writing style could have something to do with some of the negative reaction to his guest blog. That said, I understand folk’s concerns, so most everything here has been truly good contribution.

  100. Robert Mullins September 2nd, 2011 9:44 am

    While fascinating to trade words with “is so, is not” level of intellect, perhaps discussion of the word elitist would further define my discussion. Selected for my meaning/ use of the word from Wikepedia- “At times, elitism is closely related to social class,” and ‘The term elitism is also sometimes used to denote situations in which a group of people claiming to possess high abilities or simply an in-group or cadre grant themselves extra privileges at the expense of others. This form of elitism may be described as discrimination.”

    In the first example, I will add that with privilege (social class) comes responsibility. This person demonstrated selfish and self-serving behavior. He forced those with less privilege to do their duty, something they certainly would not relish, they had to perform their prescribed duty in a ridiculous scenario because of a needless self-serving action of one elitist..

    My observation in past ski area days and even currently in the backcountry sometimes includes the second definition. People just get strange attitudes around skiing.

    If a ski area allows uphill skinning, great. If not, go to the backcountry. This guy by his actions placed himself above others, and felt justified because of his assumed superior attitude, This man simply intentionally engaged in criminal behavior, and because of his elitist social and other status he was able to walk away without answering for his crime. This shameful incident and discussion is bad for our sport, as is the promotion of the story,

  101. Kevin S September 2nd, 2011 11:26 am

    I re-read Mr Fleck’s blog as I found my mind circling back to this and the Sopris/Denver debate while preparing for a call with an M&A lawyer (oh joy). I can see where one might view Fleck as an elitist but not knowing him I cannot invoke that label on him. What I can say is this is extremely enlightening and all perspectives are appreciated but at the end of the day, we all have a little elitism in us when our fiefdoms are invaded in a manner for which we do not agree. Could one gleen from this that the Sopris defenders, which I am one of them, might be viewed as elitist in their cause?

  102. Lou September 2nd, 2011 11:43 am

    Elitist is one of those terms that starts to loose meaning, and probably is better accompanied by some exposition when applied to an individual, behavior, or action.

    I’m not sure about the Sopris issue. I like to think that people who come up with proposals and actions out of left field, then require the public to react to maintain a functional and fine status quo, are the elitists. For example, Sopris was fine, the way it’s named is fine. We’re all going about our jobs and lives. Then these guys come up with this proposal and we’re suddenly required to take our time and energy to fight for what we already have.

    And, perhaps we’re all elitists (grin)?

  103. Jeff September 2nd, 2011 11:41 pm

    “Perhaps while enjoying his dream he skis downhill around the corner, blissfully enjoying the challenge, and there is this guy walking up the run, there is a collision, perhaps injuries. The downhill skier just paid $100, a large sum for most of us, to ski, and should have a reasonable expectation that he can enjoy reasonable traffic control on the ski hill!”

    This is the part of the argument that drives me crazy. How fast do you think folks travel uphil? I don’t think there would be a problem of two people running into each other any more than that of someone stopping on the hill. You say, “what about that blind spot?” I say, what difference does going uphill make vs. stopping in a blind spot while sking down hill? I am pretty sure that most folks skinning up are going to want to avoid them just the same.

    There are lots of other argurments about skinning uphill at areas that have some merrit, but an increased risk of skier collisions is not one of them.

  104. Chris Kipfer September 3rd, 2011 10:18 am

    One man’s elitist is another man’s egalitarian and vice versa. Names mean nothing when used with prejudice.
    Interesting that Roland is Austrian. The sense of personal responsibility for both uphill and downhill skiing seems to require much less of a police force Ski patrol there.

  105. Robert Mullins September 4th, 2011 4:58 am

    Jeff one difference is that the skier stopped in the blind spot is recreating legally. Another is that it is an expected and thus more manageable situation.. An uphill skier, especially recreating unlawfully is likely to create repeatedly at certain locations an unexpected hazard. Also importantly an uphill skier is moving constantly against the designed traffic flow. Think about driving the wrong way on a four-lane highway, easy to see the problem- the speed is much different but the uphill skier on a different scale and speed introduces the same problems. How about that legal situation of reckless endangerment?

    Again, “from Wikepedia-‘The term elitism is also sometimes used to denote situations in which a group of people claiming to possess high abilities or simply an in-group or cadre grant themselves extra privileges at the expense of others. This form of elitism may be described as discrimination.”

    Why do some defend anarchy such as this as some desirable or admirable trait? As an example, my personal physical traits would be assumed as useful as a football tackle- thus I could usually find success just bashing my way through crowds. If careful, I could use that trait without really hurting anyone, so why not? Well, because of social and legal norms, obviously. But some of the logic here would have me use my large size to just bully my way through crowds, much like some guys assume a superior entitlement to bully your way by skinning uphill where not planned, approved, or expected.

    Law, regulation and societal norms, all ignored by this Roland guy, have evolved for good reason most of the time. It is spurious, adolescent, and irresponsible logic for one to assume to act in a manner contrary to established behavior that will interfere with others- elitist as well.

    Perhaps some persons have some inadequacy in their life that causes them to behave in an antisocial fashion, but the level of their societal opposition is weak enough as to be insidious.

    How about, grow up, realize that there are others in the world, you are not the smartest ‘king’ of the world, and a person(s) perhaps even smarter than you put in place rules, laws, and regulations to benefit the greater good.

  106. Lou September 4th, 2011 4:24 pm

    Jeff, I’d emphasize that any advocating I’m doing for uphill resort skiing includes designated routes! Perhaps some that don’t even use the regular ski runs but rather are established in the terrain to the sides of runs, strictly for uphilling. I totally agree with you guys that just allowing anyone to uphill anywhere on a resort will probably not work well in most situations.

  107. Chris Kipfer September 4th, 2011 11:33 pm

    It seems that this discussion has really gotten off topic with the attempted pschoanalysis of Roland and the Libertarian Liberals fighting with the Liberterian Fachists or whatever. The real issue is whether or not uphill skiing should be mandated as safe with reasonable rules and routes within ski area boundaries. It would appear that the vast majority of particpants here believe this to be the case. The only objection seems to be from those who feel that this would be an unnecessary hassle for ski area managements. That being the case,the only right course is support for the political action required.

  108. Lou September 5th, 2011 6:44 am

    Good summary Chris, thanks.

    Goes to show, my strong suit is not political action. We tried to get that going by publishing Roland’s post, and look what happened! I had no idea… My bad, but I hope a few folks see through all the scrapping, form an opinion about uphilling at resorts, and act on it by writing Udall or whatever.

    Thing is, resort uphill skiing is done all over the world in ways the work, are totally functional, and contribute to the revenue of the resort. That’s my emphasis when I write letters and such.

    Folks who don’t understand the whole deal, please know quite a few folks truly enjoy uphilling at resorts, and though doing so is usually not “backcountry skiing” it is directly related as it uses the same gear, and is frequently done as athletic training for backcountry skiing.

    Lastly, perhaps the service we provided by publishing Roland was showing how _not_ to uphill (grin)!!

  109. Robert Mullins September 5th, 2011 11:22 am

    Yes Lou- “.. showing how _not_ to uphill (grin)!!”

    If I were in ski area management, I would create uphill skiing with then downhill skiing allowed within the ski area operating area, for a relatively inexpensive ticket purchase. That is very reasonable and feasible. That is a discussion separate from this bad-boy geriatric clown behavior.

    ‘Political action’ or other adolescent behavior will simply impede the reasonable creation of uphill skiing opportunities. Ski area managers are human also, and will not be encouraged to work with or surrender to antisocial behavior!

    It would be relatively easy to create an uphill skiing proposal for your local ski area, including some low-cost uphill/ downhill ticket. Show the ski area how to address user conflicts/ liability/ management concerns, address the $$, and it should be feasible. When I lived and managed at a ski area, I uphill skied before work- you may find allies in ski area management if they are treated with respect!

  110. Chris Kipfer September 6th, 2011 12:20 pm

    By political action I did not mean staged-for-TV demonstrations. I meant contact your Representative and Senator both state and federal.
    Here in Steamboat Springs for many years a skier with back country equipment could purchase a single lift ticket to the top but only to exit the ski area. This usually meant either continue on the Hogan Park trail or downhill on the Toots to Fish Creek Falls parking lot to the golf course. A signed waiver was required.. It was discontinued,I believe,because too many skiers continued skiing upper lifts. This of course was theft. Much of this former “out of bounds” is now effectively in bounds. The single ticket idea for uphill skiing might work if we could spray paint the uphill skier florescent orange. The burden of enforcement would definitely be a problem. Eventually all lift skiers will have an electronic scan pass but that seems to be a bigger cost than simply allowing uphill on designated trails.

  111. Chris Kipfer September 6th, 2011 12:24 pm

    Left out or. Fish Creek Falls parking lot OR to the golf course

  112. Jeff September 7th, 2011 4:53 pm

    “Jeff one difference is that the skier stopped in the blind spot is recreating legally. Another is that it is an expected and thus more manageable situation.. An uphill skier, especially recreating unlawfully is likely to create repeatedly at certain locations an unexpected hazard. Also importantly an uphill skier is moving constantly against the designed traffic flow. Think about driving the wrong way on a four-lane highway, easy to see the problem- the speed is much different but the uphill skier on a different scale and speed introduces the same problems. How about that legal situation of reckless endangerment?”

    The legal question is why we are debating at all. In fact it IS legal in many places. Many want this to be a legal activity at more places and feel that the arguments made against it are week – like the one quoted above. I agree with Lou and think that designated uphill paths are a good idea. However, with the argument above, there aren’t any busy two lane roads in the world with traffic traveling in opposite directions. On no, we can’t figure out how to watch for oncoming traffic without designated routes – like on sidewalks, bike paths, hiking trails, etc.??? Reckless endangerment? Who do you think would be skiing into whom? I mean I know there are some fast skinners, but I am really not worried about them running into me. If I am skiing downhill and if I pay attention to unexpected hazards below me (my legal responsibility) – like trees, other skiers, snowmobiles – I feel pretty confident I can avoid them or I am the one skiing recklessly. My point is: thinking that uphill skiers are just motoring up at a rate of speed that makes head on collisions impossible to prevent is ridiculous.

    Many places have figured out a way to make this work. I think JHMR should be one of them. I feel this way regardless if Mr. Fleck were a prince or a pauper – a angel or an a**hole.

    Q: Why do some defend anarchy? Support those that challenge the status quo? Question authority? A: Change is rarely made by those that simply behave.

  113. JCoates September 11th, 2011 6:04 pm

    Thanks Jeff, I think that is the point that us “pro resort skinners” are trying to make–it is legal and safely done without the resort having to make any significant changes. Heck, you don’t even need to put in designated new routes, just a sign telling skinners to hug the tree-line. You wouldn’t even need that (as in Europe) but we Americans can be short on common sense sometimes.
    Mr. Mullins: is all uphill skinning at resorts elitist?If I have a minimum wage job, can’t afford a season pass, ski on 2nd hand gear, and don’t want to pay a corporate conglomerate $70 just so that I can ski the backcountry that extends beyond the resort (such as the Breckenridge BC), does that make me an elitist? I argue that it is the resort that is being elitist. And as a ski patroller, I would resent having to enforce these kinds of rules that clearly are there to protect the resorts grooming investments–not to protect the actual skiers on the hill.
    Just thought I would stir the pot 🙂

  114. T-bob September 11th, 2011 9:26 pm

    This all seems a bit off to me. it’s my understanding that the majority of us lift service ski areas reside on national forest land. The charter of the national forests to preserve them for the RECREATIONAL use of the citizens. I do not pay additional fees (beyond annual taxes) when I hike or skin into a NF from any other point than a lift service ski area. I understand they spend a significant amount of money providing medical and avalanche control services, but seriously. Colorado state law, as I understand it, indicates the resort is no responsible or liable for my actions on the hill regardless of weather I have a pass or not.
    All that being said, I find it completely reasonable that I should check in and obtain an uphill pass at no fee to me in order to skin the front side of the area as access to the back country or even to utilize the front side if on public lands. The resorts, uphill users, and NFS should generate policy or guidance for the uphill users identifying ideal routes and etiquette for use.
    I preference for skinning is founded in enjoyment of a complete day of skiing. It is half a day if someone or something else must convey me to my launching point.

  115. Andy December 24th, 2011 2:01 pm

    Anyone know the uphill policy for the Park City resorts? Heading out there next week and can’t find anything on the Deer Valley website. Thanks.

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