Former pro-skier David Lesh, 35 was yesterday fined $500 and ordered to perform 50 hours of public service this summer for illegally riding his snowmobile near the summit of a snowless Independence Pass near Aspen, CO last year.
“We’re happy to see the charges were filed and went through.”
White River National Forest supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams
Three Aspen-area ecologists were astounded last July when they came across two snowmobilers running their sleds down fragile, snow-free terrain on the Upper Lost Man Loop. The three hikers felt the incident was indicative of a growing mentality that “anything goes” on public lands in the pursuit of fun, reported the Aspen Times. The snowmobilers were running their sleds over the wet ground to reach the parking area along Highway 82. Lesh was tracked down by photos of the stunt he posted to his Instagram account.
Lesh, co-founder of Colorado-based Virtika clothing was cited for:
‘possessing or using a motor vehicle in a designated wilderness, prohibited to operate or possess an over-the-snow vehicle on National Forest Lands in violation of restrictions, damaging any natural feature or other property of the United States, and selling or offering for sale any merchandise or conducting any kind of work activity’
While clearly self-publicity stunts, Lesh’s actions may have backfired. A petition posted via change.org and shared on Facebook is asking Colorado to revoke Virtika’s business license. More than 16,000 people have so far signed it saying Colorado has no room for businesses that encourage the destruction of our protected places.
The owner of Virtika has repeatedly and intentionally violated state and federal regulations protecting various Colorado landmarks, and then used his platform as a business owner to encourage other to do the same. He swam in Hanging Lake and then encouraged people to use it as a restroom. Rode a snowmobile off of the snow on Independence Pass and damaged the fragile Tundra, and laughed about sinking his snow machine in a river on Rabbit Ears Pass. Colorado has no room for businesses that encourage the destruction of our protected places.
– Petition on change.org
Lesh is no stranger to ‘bad publicity’, often engaging in stunts that garner public attention. In August 2019 he crash-landed his plane into Half Moon Bay off the California Coast, live streaming the plane sinking and the whole rescue operation.
- Related: VIDEO: Former Pro-Skier David Lesh Crashed His Plane into Half Moon Bay Off California on Tuesday
Back in July 2014, Lesh was arrested and charged with arson, following a fire at the Virtika warehouse in Boulder, caused during the filming of a promotional video.
Lesh, a Denver, CO resident, posted pictures on Instagram in April of himself snowmobiling in a terrain park at Keystone, with the caption “solid park sesh, no lift ticket needed.”
#NEW Excuse the language, BUT moments before this video was taken, these two went down with their plane. Incredible!
No injuries, other than a few jellyfish stings.
— Amanda del Castillo (@AmandaABC7) August 21, 2019