Ducking out of bounds should put a dent in their wallets |

Ducking out of bounds should put a dent in their wallets

ANDREW GMEREKspecial to the daily
Andrew Gmerek

I guess I never understood the whole idea of ducking under the tape. There you are having a perfectly great day in the mountains and on the slopes. The sun is brightening up the sky, the powder is about as perfect as perfect gets for those that want to strap boards on their feet, and then you see the out-of-bounds tape. The tape tells you that there is a safe side on the mountain and that there isn’t a safe place to ski or board. The tape says, “Out-of-bounds,” “Don’t go near here,” “People die horrible deaths by suffocation,” and so, in a fit of sheer dumb and dumber-ness, you look around to make sure no one is watching, and you sneak under the tape.And then you die.Crossing under the tape is basically entering into the avalanche food chain and yet, every year people are killed for doing exactly that. And even more of these folks call on rescuers to save them.

So it is with some joy that I’ve seen the recent push to increase what can only be called the Stupid Tax on the folks doing this sort of thing.Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the adventurous, free-wheeling searching for the blood-thumping thrills in life, but that doesn’t mean I’d jump in front of a train just to see what happens. (Odds are I’ll get squished.)There is a difference between taking a calculated risk and risking it all by bungling into areas of the mountains where I’m not even remotely equipped to survive.Most of the time, when someone is killed out of bounds, they have no knowledge of avalanches and how they happen, they’re not carrying the equipment necessary to increase their odds of survival if an accident does happen, and then they are doing something so idiotic that it almost seems they are on a suicide mission.Then, when something bad happens, they’re crying to ski patrol for rescue.

And so, because these people are too noble to say “no,” they head out in dangerous weather and conditions to conduct a rescue. This, if anyone is paying attention, inevitably puts these people at the same risk but leaves them no choice.You see, I’m a big fan of the guys and gals that go out into the backcountry night, cold and blizzards to rescue people in trouble. They are brave, talented and heroic, and they should not have to rescue people that knowingly place themselves in serious danger.But they do.

Of course, I can understand the family needing help that goes out for an early spring hike and gets caught in an unexpected storm. And yes, there are times when even the best prepared backcountry enthusiast gets caught in a bad situation. But to have to rescue someone either too stupid or someone that just doesn’t care is beyond me.The minute someone slips under the tape it’s like they’re thumbing their noses at all those brave rescuers that are helping people in actual need.It’s like telling all these people that your life is worth more than theirs, and it is time to hit these people where it hurts. And since it is next to impossible to ban folks from the mountains, then the least we can do is make sure they can’t afford new equipment next year.Andrew Gmerek writes a Friday column. He can be reached at

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