Vt. backcountry rescuers swamped with calls for lost skiers - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. backcountry rescuers swamped with calls for lost skiers

Posted: Updated:
BOLTON, Vt. -

Deep snow and a crystal blue sky lure skiers and riders for a day of fun at Bolton Mountain, and for some that inevitably includes skiing "out of bounds."

"Sometimes you just see some fresh powder and it's just too hard not to go out there," said Matt MacDonald of New Jersey.

"I do it very cautiously and sparingly," said Brian Delanoy of New Jersey.

But for a 60-year-old Charlotte man who went out-of-bounds at Bolton last week, caution was not enough. That rescue and others like it usually begin the same way.

"We're generally notified initially by a distress call, a cellphone call from a lost skier in the backcountry. That is if they have cellphone service," said Quinn Keating of the Bolton Ski Patrol.

Between Bolton, Pico and other resorts, Vermont State Police say they've seen up to 45 rescues in the last two weeks alone. That's the busiest season they've seen in a long time.

While ski areas, including Bolton, have in the past occasionally billed individuals for their rescue, Vermont State Police and other agencies continue to be reluctant to do so, despite having a law on the books for going on 20 years.

"If there's a concern in the back of their mind that there might be a big bill waiting for them at the end of the day, that can be a disincentive for people to call for help when they really need it and that can ultimately cause worse outcomes both for the people who are lost and makes our jobs more difficult as well," said Neil Van Dyke of Stowe Mountain Rescue.

Van Dyke says even the state charging the resorts is not an option that's been on the table. Search and rescue officials say better education remains the key.

Quinn Keating: When you leave that boundary, you're truly putting yourself and the well-being of many others at risk.

Reporter Alexei Rubenstein: But if you talk to most skiers that's where the good snow is.

Quinn Keating: That's the big issue... Leaving the ski area boundary unprepared and unaware of where you're going, without a backpack with supplies or friends with you is not back country skiing that irresponsible skiing.

Van Dyke says Stowe recently put up more aggressive signage for skiers, outlining the risks of going out of bounds and they have seen a drop in rescues so far this season.

Search and rescue teams eventually found the lost Bolton skier unharmed and brought him out around midnight. But only after committing more than 35 searchers, including half a dozen state police and other valuable resources. Officials say that under other circumstances, the outcome could have easily gone another way.

"Assuming that if you get yourself into trouble, someone's going to come help you is unsafe, unpractical and irresponsible," Keating said.

In New Hampshire, state authorities have been far more aggressive in seeking compensation from backcountry skiers who get lost and need rescue. New legislation is also being introduced, proposing new fees to help the state recoup its costs.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Books over Breakfast : Monster Feet Sue's Deep Sea Adventure

    Books over Breakfast : Monster Feet Sue's Deep Sea Adventure

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 7:45 AM EDT2014-04-23 11:45:44 GMT
    Author Angie Harris and her niece 7-year-old Kelsey More discuss the book : Monster Feet Sue's Deep Sea Adventure.More >>
    Author Angie Harris and her niece 7-year-old Kelsey More discuss the book : Monster Feet Sue's Deep Sea Adventure.More >>
  • Officer involved shooting in Bennington Police Dept.

    Officer involved shooting in Bennington Police Dept.

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 12:22 AM EDT2014-04-23 04:22:02 GMT
    Police say there has been an officer involved shooting inside the Bennington Police Department. It happened just before 9 Tuesday evening. Authorities are releasing very few details. But say the Bennington Police Chief has called in the Vermont State Police to investigate after an officer allegedly shot a man in the lobby of the police station. No word yet on what prompted the shooting. The injured man was taken to a hospital. Police would not comment on the severity of his injuries. Initial ...More >>
    Police say there has been an officer involved shooting inside the Bennington Police Department. It happened just before 9 Tuesday evening. Authorities are releasing very few details. But say the Bennington Police Chief has called in the Vermont State Police to investigate after an officer allegedly shot a man in the lobby of the police station. No word yet on what prompted the shooting. The injured man was taken to a hospital. Police would not comment on the severity of his injuries. Initial ...More >>
  • Champlain College housing plans put on hold

    Champlain College housing plans put on hold

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 12:22 AM EDT2014-04-23 04:22:42 GMT
    It's a fight that's pitting Champlain College against the Queen City. The school says it's not giving up on building more student housing, even after being denied land-use permits. Years ago, the college made a commitment to create housing for all students but that goal has hit a snag, with their recent construction plans on hold.The project would create more than 300 beds for Champlain students on St. Paul Street, but the Development Review Board denied the permits the college needed based o...More >>
    It's a fight that's pitting Champlain College against the Queen City. The school says it's not giving up on building more student housing, even after being denied land-use permits. Years ago, the college made a commitment to create housing for all students but that goal has hit a snag, with their recent construction plans on hold.The project would create more than 300 beds for Champlain students on St. Paul Street, but the Development Review Board denied the permits the college needed based o...More >>
  • Burlington school budget on it's way back to voters

    Burlington school budget on it's way back to voters

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 11:56 PM EDT2014-04-23 03:56:59 GMT
    A new Burlington school budget is on its way to voters that is more expensive and has more cuts than the last version.The board of finance approved a $67.6 million budget. On Town Meeting Day voters shot down a budget that was about a million dollars less than this new budget. After a recent audit that uncovered a $2.5 million dollar deficit, the board was forced to slash $2.5 million in programming and staff. School board chair Patrick Halladay acknowledges concerns about a larger budget wit...More >>
    A new Burlington school budget is on its way to voters that is more expensive and has more cuts than the last version.The board of finance approved a $67.6 million budget. On Town Meeting Day voters shot down a budget that was about a million dollars less than this new budget. After a recent audit that uncovered a $2.5 million dollar deficit, the board was forced to slash $2.5 million in programming and staff. School board chair Patrick Halladay acknowledges concerns about a larger budget wit...More >>
  • Amphibians on the move

    Amphibians on the move

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 12:23 AM EDT2014-04-23 04:23:09 GMT
    People across the state are helping out their amphibian friends on the move. Biologists say this annual salamander crawl happens on the first warm rainy nights of spring like Tuesday night. Over half a dozen of different critters from frogs to spotted salamanders travel to breeding grounds. But often, experts say, that means crossing busy roads which can be deadly for a large number of amphibians. But groups on Pond Road in Shelburne, are giving a helping hand to get the salamanders safely ac...More >>
    People across the state are helping out their amphibian friends on the move. Biologists say this annual salamander crawl happens on the first warm rainy nights of spring like Tuesday night. Over half a dozen of different critters from frogs to spotted salamanders travel to breeding grounds. But often, experts say, that means crossing busy roads which can be deadly for a large number of amphibians. But groups on Pond Road in Shelburne, are giving a helping hand to get the salamanders safely ac...More >>
  • Vermont man accused of identity theft

    Vermont man accused of identity theft

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 12:23 AM EDT2014-04-23 04:23:34 GMT
    A Vermont man is accused of using stolen identities in a scheme to defraud banks now faces federal charges. Prosecutors say 35-year-old Brian Wyer used identities of Ohio and Kansas residents to obtain two Vermont non-driver ID cards. He then allegedly used the fraudulent IDs to open bank accounts in Massachusetts withdrawing about $75,000. Wyer was indicted in Vermont in June and taken into custody by U.S. marshals in Illinois last month. During his arraignment Monday in Burlington the judge...More >>
    A Vermont man is accused of using stolen identities in a scheme to defraud banks now faces federal charges. Prosecutors say 35-year-old Brian Wyer used identities of Ohio and Kansas residents to obtain two Vermont non-driver ID cards. He then allegedly used the fraudulent IDs to open bank accounts in Massachusetts withdrawing about $75,000. Wyer was indicted in Vermont in June and taken into custody by U.S. marshals in Illinois last month. During his arraignment Monday in Burlington the judge...More >>
  • Rutland vandals target parking meters

    Rutland vandals target parking meters

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 12:23 AM EDT2014-04-23 04:23:55 GMT
    Police say vandals in Rutland targeted several parking meters in a quest for quick cash. 11 meter locks and 12 meter cans filled with change were damaged along Merchants Row, Center Street, Court Street, Cottage Street and Justice Square parking lot. One meter pole and its vault was also destroyed. Police put damage in excess of thousand bucks. Anyone with information is asked to call Rutland City police.More >>
    Police say vandals in Rutland targeted several parking meters in a quest for quick cash. 11 meter locks and 12 meter cans filled with change were damaged along Merchants Row, Center Street, Court Street, Cottage Street and Justice Square parking lot. One meter pole and its vault was also destroyed. Police put damage in excess of thousand bucks. Anyone with information is asked to call Rutland City police.More >>
  • Vt. principal who faced criminal charges wants clearer mandatory reporting law

    Vt. principal who faced criminal charges wants clearer mandatory reporting law

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 6:53 PM EDT2014-04-22 22:53:40 GMT
    A law designed to protect kids landed a Vermont school principal in hot water. Now, Danville High School Principal Noah Noyes wants lawmakers to put the state's mandatory reporting rules under the microscope.More >>
    A law designed to protect kids landed a Vermont school principal in hot water. Now, Danville High School Principal Noah Noyes wants lawmakers to put the state's mandatory reporting rules under the microscope.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.