Yellowstone Club ski patroller and avalanche expert, Darren Johnson, triggered an avalanche near Cedar Basin that swept him to his death. Johnson was in a 4-member group doing avalanche research on 19 January in the southwestern Montana area near Big Sky. Having concluded 23 stability tests over 4 hours of research that late morning and early afternoon, Johnson was well aware of the risk of jumping onto what the group had determined was an unstable wind-loaded slope with a “Considerable” rating for avalanche risk, but Continue reading Patroller and Avalanche Expert, Darren Johnson, Triggers Slide that Kills Him
The Breckenridge Ski Patrol obliterated “Leo’s Pot Shack” following an Inside Edition report pointed out some of the safety risks posed by the now quasi-legal use of marijuana on some Colorado ski slopes. This follows the legalization of marijuana by Colorado voters in late 2012. The video below shows the shack as it was reportedly being blown up by the Breckenridge Patrol.
A new Denver Post report highlights the legal limbo that well-informed ski patrollers find themselves in when participating in rescue operations beyond the boundaries of resorts where they serve the skiing and boarding public.
While many resorts allow their volunteer and paid patrollers to participate in rescues outside area “boundaries”, some Colorado resorts are washing their hands of the liabilities resorts may otherwise bear – even notifying paid patrollers that they are “off the clock” when they participate in off-piste rescues, working as “volunteers”. Back country public safety officials at the local, regional and national levels are now scrambling to plug that risk gap so patrollers are able to do their dangerous work without bearing the universe of liability, life and health risks personally Continue reading Ski Patrol Volunteers Stuck in Legal Limbo
The NSP has endorsed a response to the series of articles published by Denver Post reporter Karen E. Crummy. An NSP member news release on its Web site directs patrollers to a response by Dan Whiting, Chief Accident Investigator at Wolf Creek Ski Area, and NSP Executive Director Tim White has released an official NSP response. Both are posted on the “Club Colorado” blog. The YouTube video that accompanied the Whiting response is included here. The NSP and Wolf Creek responses, however, appear to miss the “conflict of interest” point of the Post series.
The Denver Post report criticizes the practice of resort accident investigations becoming de facto legal findings, and the fact that Ski Patrol representatives Continue reading NSP Responds to Denver Post Report on Resort Accident Investigation Conflict of Interest
The first article, “Colorado system for investigating ski accidents raises concerns“, highlights the high degree of control that ski patrol and mountain management have over accident investigations on resort-owned and leased property.
The second in the series, “Colorado ski industry enjoys protection from law, waivers“, attempts to demonstrate that through effective lobbying, particularly in Colorado, resorts have been able to focus on limiting their exposure to liability through legislation, reducing the need for resort operators to Continue reading Denver Post Publishes Scathing Review of Skier Safety
As the NSP enters its 76th year and reflects upon its legacy, ski patrollers serve a very different skiing population and group of industry stakeholders. In this article we explore whether the National Ski Patrol System has accomplished its mission, and pose the question, “Has the U.S. network of ski and alpine touring resorts now evolved to the point where it can more effectively assume the NSP’s mission to prevent skiing accidents and assist those sustaining accidents?”
The past may inform the future on that point. Continue reading Happy 75th Birthday NSP: Mission Accomplished?
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court handed down a decision on 18 July 2012 that reverses a Superior Court decision, in part, related to the Camelback Mountain Resort in the Pocono Mountains. Certain aspects of that decision may increase ski patroller exposure to liability at Pennsylvania resorts.
Camelback Ski Corporation and one of its employees were sued by Barbara Lichtman Tayer in January 2005 after she was injured in December 2003 at one of the mountain’s tubing parks. Camelback is in Tannersville, Pennsylvania and offers a range of winter sport activities, including skiing and snow tubing. Before allowing guests to participate in tubing it has them sign a liability release. Continue reading Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules in Camelback Negligence Case