Experience being “buried alive” in snow while an avalanche dog comes to your rescue. Learn how to use backcountry equipment such as beacons and transceivers, or join the ski area patrol on an end of day mountain sweep. Each season Colorado Ski Country resorts develop creative campaigns and produce interactive events aimed at imparting important safety education fundamentals for enjoying a safe day on the slopes. Come see how our resorts work hard to make safety education fun and memorable.
Safety Never Takes a Vacation
Resorts work hard every day to create a safe skiing and snowboarding environment by employing highly-trained ski patrol, clearly marking terrain obstacles, and having designated slow skiing and family skiing zones. Many of the patrollers serving on the slopes of Colorado Ski Country resorts are leaders in their communities including firemen, emergency medical technicians, and law enforcement agents.
In fact, the National Ski Patrol is headquartered right here in Colorado, just a few miles northwest of Denver. Patrollers must meet rigorous education and training standards in order to establish, and maintain their certification. Ultimately, each person is in charge of his or her own safety and is responsible for knowing and following basic skiing and snowboarding codes of conduct including the Responsibility Code established by the National Ski Areas Association in 1966. Safety is a challenging topic to entrench, particularly among younger skiers and riders. Nevertheless, here are a few examples of unique ways Colorado Ski Country resorts are reaching their guests.
Arapahoe Basin’s Beacon Bowl is an annual backcountry and avalanche safety public outreach event that also raises funds for the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. During National Safety Awareness Week, A-Basin hosts its Safety Village that includes puzzles, games and demonstrations geared toward kids to help promote the seven tenets of the Responsibility Code. At both of these events, and throughout the season the resort’s ski patrol runs avalanche dog demonstrations and holds special Ski Patrol Days for kids in A-Basin’s multi-week Snowsports programs.
The discovery of the skeletal remains of a wooly mammoth in Snowmass led to the creation of Wally, an award winning safety mascot that can be found on the slopes at Aspen Snowmass. Wally has helped Snowmass to expand a fun and dynamic kids safety message throughout the mountain. In addition, each of four ski areas of Aspen Snowmass has its own safety slogan based around the attitude, terrain, and observed issues with each area. In addition, Aspen Snowmass created a program called Slope Safety in which each of the four mountains has its own safety slogan displayed on custom made signs in high traffic areas. The slogans reflect the special nature of each mountain as well as something recognizable to the guests.
Aspen Mountain – Relax, It’s Aspen
Aspen Highlands – Hike Fast, Ski Slow
Buttermilk – Brake For Pandas
Snowmass – Slow like a Mastadon
Each January during Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, Copper Mountain hosts its interactive Safety Fest. During the event Copper’s Burning Stones Plaza turns into safety village with educational tents and opportunities for guests to perform final day sweeps with ski patrol, and participate in backcountry awareness clinics and avalanche beacon training. Patrollers also entertain guests with avalanche dog demonstrations and daily raffles with prizes including helmets, lift tickets, season passes and more.
In addition, the Flight for Life helicopter lands at Copper’s Patrol Headquarters once during the weekend, weather and condition depending, for guests to get up close and personal with the helicopter and its crew. During the whole month of January guests are welcome to stop in Copper’s Patrol Huts, located at the top of Excelerator and Timberline chairlifts, to meet patrollers, snuggle with avalanche dogs and enjoy a free mug of hot chocolate. (Photo credit: Copper Mountain/Casey Day)
Crested Butte Mountain resort
Crested Butte offers a dedicated Park Pass Program for use in its Cascade Terrain Park. Terrain park users complete the Smart Style Safety Quiz to receive a park pass sticker for their pass. Also, during National Safety Month the resort holds safety themed activities and events such as avalanche dog demonstrations, “Touch a Truck” firetruck days, and distribution of safety information at Guest Service tents.
At Eldora Mountain the safety mission starts with the staff. A safety committee is dedicated to promoting employee and guest safety through regular review of issues and best practices.
Additionally, ski patrol plays in integral role in safety. Guests unloading the chairlift at the top of Challenge Mountain are greeted by ski patrollers who provide friendly terrain suggestions, safety tips, updates on snow and weather conditions, and also distribute Responsibility Code cards. On the slopes, ski patrol presence includes mountain speeder control and guest interaction to increase awareness of patrol and slow zones on the mountain.
Eldora Mountain ski patrol also provides avalanche awareness clinics and courses to school groups with hands on learning of avalanche beacons and snowpack evaluation. Ski patrol also provides specific safety talks to groups about important safety information emphasizing that “safe decisions typically equal safe experiences”.
Each year Loveland recognizes the importance of skier safety by participating in National Safety Month on a specific weekend in January. A safety tent at the base area manned by resort safety experts inform guests on the skier safety code, terrain park etiquette, sun safety, hydration, snow and avalanche safety and other topics. Loveland Ski Patrol has patrol dogs on hand to demonstrate avalanche rescue techniques, conduct beacon demonstrations and talk about avalanche awareness and tree well safety. The Loveland Mascot, LG, interacts with guests by quizzing kids on the skier safety code and handing out prizes for those who can recite the entire code. Giveaways of water and sun screen help people stay safe and have fun on the mountain while underscoring the importance of safety. The Sport Shop offers discounts on helmets and the Ski & Ride School offers free helmets with any kids lesson package.
Safety Sam, Monarch Mountain’s safety mascot skis the mountain regularly during the season interacting with guests and passing out cards with the seven points of Responsibility Code printed on them.
Powderhorn’s Beacon Park helps guests hone their avalanche transceiver skills. One or two beacons are placed each weekend in a set area and guests are welcome to find and then replace the beacon.
The Powderhorn Adventure Snowsports Training program (PAST) is designed for school aged youth and various children’s groups. When registering children to participate in PAST Powderhorn includes a free helmet rental to ensure each child is properly outfitted with safety in mind. Additionally, Powderhorn partners with Kohl’s Cares to promote slope safety and has given away as many as 90 helmets to local children.
Steamboat’s SlopeWise program, started nearly a decade ago, is an overarching initiative built upon safety programs in place as well ParkWise (terrain park program), SafetyWise (employee program) and the SlopeWise Code of Conduct which makes it extremely clear that every user of the mountain, regardless of ticket or pass type, understands what is expected, and how the consequences of their actions can impact their ability to enjoy the slopes.
Steamboat’s ParkWise program educates the public about the use of terrain parks and freestyle terrain. It builds upon the NSAA SmartStyle initiative by personalizing the focus and creating a positive approach to guest/employee communication in the resort’s parks by recognizing and rewarding participants who follow the code and demonstrate terrain park etiquette. ParkWise patrollers monitor all terrain parks making sure guests are using the parks properly, at the appropriate level and educate those that are not. ParkWise focuses on maintaining a positive and amenable culture in the terrain parks as well as accessible for all participants, particularly families.
Join Steamboat’s Safety Dog – Bear – in his effort to promote safe skiing and riding on the slopes. Bear, a five-year-old St. Bernard, along with Steamboat’s safety coordinator, Duncan Draper, make numerous appearances at schools, special events and on the slopes to educate individuals about SlopeWise and on-mountain safety. Bear is a highly sought after photo opportunity anytime he heads out of the office, especially during National Safety Week in Steamboat. You can follow his blog at www.steamboat.com/bear (photo credit: Steamboat/Larry Pierce)
Fit For Snow is Steamboat’s internal initiative to educate and offer programs that help employees stay fit and healthy in order to provide the best customer service to guests. Programs include healthy cooking lessons and eating tips, outdoor safety advice, exercise classes held onsite and workout programs to take home. Employees are encouraged to share tips they learn from the program with guests to help guests have the best experience on and off the mountain.
Guests can find out more about Steamboat safety programs including Uphill Access, #BuddyUp, Snow Condition messaging and more at www.steamboat.com/safety
A dedicated beacon park at Sunlight allows guests to practice their beacon and probe skills on their own or with the help of a Sunlight ski patroller. Sunlight holds two different avalanche training courses throughout the season that anyone is welcome to sign up for. In the classes, Sunlight provides safety equipment including beacons, shovels and probes but guests are welcome to bring their own.
Telluride’s approach to safety is that of a personal one. Each season, Telluride safety experts speak to as many groups as possible, both locally and visiting, to communicate the importance of mountain safety. Through a personal connection, Telluride hopes guests will understand the inherent risks of skiing and riding, and also understand what their responsibilities are as participants in these sports.
Additionally, Telluride participates in National Safety Awareness Month, including the Safety Poster contest for elementary school children, and is continually working to develop fun ways to talk and learn about mountain safety with guests.
Furthermore, each season Telluride works with San Miguel County Search and Rescue to host Backcountry Weekend, an educational program regarding safety and learning how to read and evaluate snow conditions.
Winter Park Resort
Skier safety is a priority for Winter Park Resort throughout the entire season, with a particular emphasis placed on community outreach and education programs designed to make safety fun. During the winter ski/snowboard season, Winter Park Ski Patrol will visit area elementary, middle, and high schools to give demonstrations on the importance of staying safe on the mountain. During January’s Ski Safety Month, Ski Patrol holds a poster art contest for all area school-aged children, with the grand prize being an opportunity to be a Winter Park Volunteer Ski Patroller for a day. All posters are put on display throughout the resort. Winter Park Ski Patrol also holds a special “Know The Code” contest throughout the month where any guest can answer specific questions about the Skier Responsibility Code and a win a number of great prizes, including skies, snowboards, and a Winter Park Resort season pass.
On various days throughout the season Wolf Creek’s avalanche dogs perform rescue drills using a live buried victim. Wolf Creek also holds a safety poster contest each January for the school program kids. The public is invited to vote on the posters with prizes given out to the top three artisans. Posters are judged on content and execution.