JANUARY 23, 2019

The Pro Perspective: Who Needs Boundaries?

NEW BLOG SERIES: The Pro Perspective is a new series featuring Summit and Alpental Pro Patrol. Read each release and you'll get the inside scoop about everything from how we manage terrain to how our volunteer program works. All from dedicated ski patrollers with decades of experience.

Goal Setting

Goals is a good place to start. Our primary function is to provide as much access as safely possible. Please read "safely" as "reasonably so". We have all seen enough court TV to know that a societal standard is what a reasonable person with the same ability and training would do in a similar situation.


If we start a little basic here, please bear with me. The intention is to build a background and understanding that as we move forward in subject matter, anyone following along will get it. We may jump around a bit as well, but I also hope to be timely and on point. I certainly won't be personally writing all of this content. Patrolling at the Summit is a team sport. Our staff is a great blend of career patrollers, whether full or part time, and extremely dedicated volunteer's. More than 75 years of operational experience lies behind the current operational scheme. That does NOT mean it's all figured out. With the diversity of our crews, and the personality type of those drawn to patrolling, new ideas come from every direction. That includes guest comment cards and in-person feedback from customers.

Dreams of Simplicity

It would be great if there could just be one big sign at the lift that says:

Skiing and snowboarding are athletic activities. You are in control of how and to what level you choose to take part. These sports have inherent risk. You could be injured or die through your participation. Education is available covering every aspect of winter recreation. Be a responsible and knowledgeable user. Be informed.

Unfortunately Reality is More Complicated

Unfortunately, it does get more complicated than that, but of course — that's life. Back to the goals. We will make every effort to provide the terrain you are looking for. #1 again is "reasonable safety" for you, and the same of course for our staff. Also it mustn't unduly endanger others. To that end, we use ropelines, informational and directional signs, fences, bamboo, gates, and warnings.


A couple types of specialized terrain have some additional guidelines — and it is absolutely essential that everyone who exposes themselves to these "extra" hazards clearly understands them. For our advanced Terrain Parks (Freestyle Terrain) and our Alpental Back Bowls, both basic education and an additional liability release is required. Access points are through clearly designated gates, and once obtained, the appropriate registration card must be carried so staff can be sure that these users meet that higher standard. We believe that YOU should be able make those risk decisions for yourselves, but it MUST be an informed decision.


If you look closely at the terrain in which we operate — it is a blend of private land owned by the resort, or allowed through agreements with other owners, and it is also on Public Land, through Forest Service Special Use Permit. The use permit both allows and requires the resort to have policies, procedures, and certain operational controls which can meet a guest expectation of some level of safety. As we write more of these blog posts we will definitely explore some of those specific methods. Also, when it can be managed without adversely impacting the core guest, we do our best to allow other uses. These include things like leaving the resort through exit points or open boundaries. Additional signs may be used to try and prevent anyone from leaving accidentally, and there are a few zones where exiting is not allowed for safety reasons. We use gates or openings in boundaries where exit is allowed. By managing in this way, the rule to "Never Duck a Rope" can stay absolute and yet still provide a path to destinations beyond. Uphill travel can be another potential conflict — please visit the policies section on this website for those rules of use.

Thanks for reading this first intro, much more to come! - Rob Gibson