Nick Mertans: Ducking ropes no joke |

Nick Mertans: Ducking ropes no joke

Nick Mertans

This ski season has been dry, so when you finally see that powder stash, you have to go for it. But ducking a rope is dangerous to many more people than just yourself.

Recently in Vail, some kids ducked the rope, which was to protect against an avalanche. A ski patrolman took off after them when they ran, and their tracks triggered an avalanche. The patrolman was caught and dragged several hundred feet over terrain. I know this because a few days later, my friends and I were caught ducking a rope, thinking only of ourselves. What we weren’t thinking of was that we were endangering ourselves, the patrolmen, and other resort guests.

I also had to learn the hard way what it means to get caught ducking a rope: It is a class-two misdemeanor and is punishable by jail time and is at the resort’s discretion whether to give your pass back at all. They can permanently black-list you under Colorado State Law – it is much more than your life you are putting at risk. To me, the Colorado Ski and Safety Act of 1979 is something I signed, just saying I assumed all risks; but it is actually seven pages long with many violations. The most commonly broken are: trespassing on private land or wilderness areas, violating a closure, leaving the sight of an accident without exchanging information, and the most frequently broken rule – riding a lift while intoxicated or under the influence.

So before you duck a rope or have too many drinks, know the law. It is your responsibility. Riding is fun and my favorite past-time. But remember, it is a privilege to be out on the mountains, and it can be taken away.

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