Steamboat Resort to Penalize Individuals Rescued from the Backcountry by Patrol Staff

Dylan Cautela | BackcountryBackcountry
Those aspens look killer!
Skiing the trees in the backcountry off of Buffalo Pass in Steamboat. Source; Uncover Colorado.

Steamboat resort in Colorado now imposes a $500 per person fine for individuals rescued out of the surrounding backcountry by Steamboat Ski Patrol staff. In the recent years, backcountry enthusiasts have become almost the norm to many resorts with backcountry access gates or open boundary policies. Since Steamboat is required by the U.S. Forest Service to have out-of-bounds access gates it made sense to create this fine.

Kohnke said at the beginning of his 40-year career, perhaps 20 people would go through the gates each day. These days, he said, the number might be closer to 500.

John Kohnke, Steamboat Ski Patrol Director

It would be some epic skiing though...
Fish Creek Falls in Routt National Forest just outside of Steamboat Resort and an area that poses some of the biggest problems and toughest rescues for the resort patrol staff. Source; Go Hike Colorado.

The main goal behind the fine was not for Steamboat to make money or compensate their staff, although it definitely will help, but hopefully it will deter the less educated backcountry user. People who “know before they go” tend to be aware of the potential hazards of the backcountry and the costs it may incur. Those who are not educated and unprepared for backcountry safety or travel should be deterred by the fine and should tend to stay in bounds, or at least that’s the hope.

The good news is that Search and Rescue services provided by Routt County remain free of charge. The state of Colorado feels that charging for their Search and Rescue organization could deter people from calling for help, even if they really need it. However, the ski patrol staff at Steamboat are also the closest and most well equipped for rescues that happen just outside their boundary lines. It is much easier and quicker to perform a rescue when accessing a group from the top than it would be for Search and Rescue teams to hike up to the location from the bottom.

“They’re the ones that are right there. It’s sort of like an ambulance service where they are staffing their service 24-7.”

Chad Bowdre, Routt County Search and Rescue Board Member

Looks stellar.
Upper Fish Creek Falls and Fish Creek Canyon. No wonder so many people head out here to backcountry ski! Source; Outdoor Project.

The Routt County Search and Rescue as well as the U.S. Forest Service were all on board with the penalty for rescues by Steamboat and very understanding of the resorts situation. Hopefully, only those properly prepared for the backcountry will be exiting the gates now.


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One thought on “Steamboat Resort to Penalize Individuals Rescued from the Backcountry by Patrol Staff

  1. The resort isn’t incurring pentalties, but the people being rescued are. Your headline makes it sound as if Steamboat Resort is being fined for rescuing people out of bounds.

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