To Duck The Rope or Not to Duck…| The Forbidden Dance

Andy Hays | | Featured ArticleFeatured Article


The Forbidden Dance

He doesn’t care what kind of skier you are.  He won’t discriminate, expert, beginner, or terminal novice alike.  He is the skier’s oldest and most persistent foil, on a long enough timeline the day will come that you find yourself face to face with, The Rope.  The Rope’s orange color gives it an officious look, as it hangs there looking stern.  Often times there are additional medallions of warning, badges on a deputized strand of nylon.  Rope wants you to know he has his eye on you.


Steamboat Spring, CO
Steamboat Spring, CO

For the most part Monsieur rope and I ignore each other.  He might be over there looking grumpy but I’m not going to let him ruin my good time.  Rope is like the kid who won’t share the sandbox.  He can try to defend his patch but it certainly won’t stop me from having fun where I am. As if his sand is all that special.  Rope is stuck over there just waiting to defend some kind of strange principle and I’m over here having a great time so nuts to him… That is until the day comes, the day that will always come, the day that you come face to face with The Rope.


Squaw Valley, CA
Squaw Valley, CA

Rope tries too hard to be official.  Rope desperately wants you to believe that he means something, that he is something.  He certainly doesn’t want you to realize that he isn’t a person at all, that he has no authority whatsoever, and is in fact nothing more than a bunch of tightly woven strands of synthetic material, albeit bright orange.  Rope tries way too hard to be official.  It’s as if he enjoys enforcing the rules.  It’s almost as if rope is over there in his rent-a-cop uniform, and he might be… he is… he is laughing at you.

Kicking Horse, B.C.
Kicking Horse, B.C.

Let’s be clear here.  Often times, most times in fact, the rope is there for good reason.  No one is trying to ruin your good time.  Yeah, it seems like he is being a wet sandwich but he really is looking out for your own safety.  Kind of like the time my friend’s dad told us not to pop the huge bubble on the beach that turned out to be a massive stranded jellyfish.  I thought it was a huge bubble.  The Rope is really just preventing you from encountering one of the many perils that can be found beyond it.  That is except for those other times… that rope might be… he is… that rope is laughing at you.

Sun Valley, ID
Sun Valley, ID

I can see it, you can see it, the rope can see it  It is clear as day.  That is skiable terrain over there.  The Rope doubts it.  The Rope will not listen to reason, he does not peddle in logic of any variety.  If you attempt to argue with The Rope he will only antagonize you further.

“You’re a jerk Rope.”


“I know you are, but what am I?”


“Damn you Rope.”

Rope will stand smugly, your growing furiocity only feeding his over inflated sense of legitimacy.  So it’s going to be like that?  It’s a showdown.

Breckenridge, CO
Breckenridge, CO

The thing about rope you see, is that although he might look strong, he really isn’t all that fast.  You look in both directions, there is no one in sight.  Like that you’ve slipped through Rope’s clutches.  He howls in protest,

“Go ahead Rope, scream all you want, no one will ever here you out here.”

Rope is left standing red faced, seething in embarrassment, there is nothing more he can do.  I know however, and he knows it as well, the day will come soon that we will meet each other once more.

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18 thoughts on “To Duck The Rope or Not to Duck…| The Forbidden Dance

  1. I don’t volunteer , I work for a resort . I live in the mountains . I have never gone past an avalanche closure . I don’t see the humor in the article , Just my opinion . And I ski better than you !
    Don’t be a gaper

  2. I agree most ropes are there for valid reasons. However having skied at Colorado’s Vail resorts this season I found a obnoxious maze of roped off terrain everywhere. Just way to much even in green blue terrain. I was so happy to be back in wild and wholly California and vow to avoid keystone Breckenridge et al

  3. You guys take yourselves too seriously… At least the author doesn’t hide behind a false name Mr. Ski Patroller and Mr. I work in the Industry…
    Tell me, have you NEVER ducked a rope yourself?

    1. Perhaps you should have read the part where I admitted to ducking ropes in the past.

      I hide behind a false name because despite what I have to say, I’m not a fan of publicly representing my employer and would like to keep my job despite not agreeing with ignorant people.

  4. And I am sure you have never ducked a rope, skied fast in a slow zone, hit a closed feature. Not all ropes are created equally and nor are all skiers. Everyone bends a rule in their life, one just needs to measure the risk and their ability. Ever break the speeding limit. Take a deep breathe and relax at what was supposed to be alight hearted article. Skiing can be an adventure.

  5. Powskier99. It’s avalanches. Not a avalanche’s.

    And have a sense of humor. This shit’s funny. Satire, you might say. Oh and hey Andy, you rip. And your posts make me chuckle.

  6. Zzzzz……
    Your an idiot , stay home ! Your exactly the type to duck a rope and think that rules don’t apply to you . I work in the ski business and know friends who have died in avalanche’s

    1. You’re right, the rules don’t apply to me. And I hate ski coaches, instructors and anyone in race services who thinks they’re a big shot because they volunteer on weekends and get to use a walkie-talkie.

  7. … and the only reason why I felt compelled to post a response is because day in and day out, people are ducking ropes for the very reasons listed above. They think it’s funny; articles like this are validating their behavior.

    “It looked skiable.”
    “I didn’t think it would matter.”
    “I’m an expert skier.”

    I’m no ski cop – I’m not going to go chasing after someone and put myself in harm’s way because they ducked a rope – but if I happen to be in a closed area doing some kind of work and someone comes my way, you can be damned sure they’re going to get a talking to at the very least. Sure, I ducked a rope here and there in my time, before I started doing what I do now. I was stupid, plain and simple, doing stupid things.

    1. we all took a vote and decided….

      due to the fact that you are emotionally projecting your thoughts and feelings toward this article in a public forum, you are STILL stupid.

      BTW, what resort do you work at that you are “doing some kind of work” in a closed area, while public is on the mountain? Seriously, EXACTLY WHAT Resort?

  8. Manville, Powskier 99 and That Guy….

    You all work in race services, and/or own the equivalent of a “Gold Pass,” and/or have all the latest gear from REI. You’re the guy that says “be safe out there” to the Ski Patroller walking through the lodge while he is getting a cup of coffee, eluding that you are some sort of expert on Snow Safety because you read an article once about the “Elements of Controlling a Mountain,” or you had a friend of a friend who has a friend who works directly with a guy that died in an avalanche.
    You’re so caught up in pretending to fit in, and be so “in the know” that you lost your sense of humor somewhere between beating traffic out of the city on Friday nights and being pissed off at your girlfriend cause she is lagging in the Parking Lot on a Powder Day.

    This is a Funny Fucking Article! Chill out guys… Laugh a bit and enjoy it for what it is. Funny!

  9. As much as people might think we are reserving powder stashes that is not the case. As others mentioned every closure is there for a reason. Avalanche danger, low snow, no snow, no running lifts etc etc. Obey the ropes. Sometimes terrain that was open will close so control work can be done in areas above that potentially can run to lower areas.

    It is a horrible feeling to light a shot with the intention of triggering a slide only to have some idiot who can’t follow the rules ski directly under your shot.

    Don’t duck the rope, ever! Patrol will not hesitate to pull your pass and if they feel like it call the authorities and prosecute you.

  10. I work in the ski race industry and have witnessed racers colliding into people who went under the rope !! Don’t go under the rope , respect the fact that ski patrol is trying to keep you safe !!!!
    How many people have caused or been victims of avalanche’s because some idiot ducked a rope ?

  11. I cannot believe this is an article.

    The ropes are up for good reason – avalanche terrain that hasn’t been controlled yet, blocking off unseen (to the public) hazards, race courses where some kid might plow into you (and vice versa), snow-covered runs that end abruptly with a dirt hike out (which there was quite a bit of this year). I also like that all but one of the pictures you included list perfectly valid reasons *not* to duck a rope.

    Just because you’re standing at the top of a closed off area where there’s a rope and can’t see anything that might be dangerous doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Sure, some of the terrain might be skiable. Possibly even a lot of it. Will it be worth it when ski patrol has to peel you off a rock because you didn’t see some hidden shark lurking underneath?

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