FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Backcountry Rescues – Search and Rescue or Ski Patrol?
Contact: Susan Lilly, Public Information Officer 970-729-2028
March 14, 2016 -- (Telluride, CO) – The recent rescue of an injured backcountry skier in the Bear Creek area prompted questions and some confusion as to who and how such rescues are accomplished.
Here’s how it works:
When an incident occurs outside of the Telluride ski area boundaries but in the region, Telluride Ski Patrollers may volunteer to help. After obtaining permission from their supervisor, they clock out and are no longer operating as Telski employees and are not covered by Telski Workman’s Compensation or any other Telski insurance. Instead, they become part of the San Miguel Sheriff’s Office (SMSO) Search and Rescue team and covered by SMSO Workman’s Compensation and SMSO insurance.
Telski does not claim responsibility for skiers in backcountry although backcountry access is often gained from the Telluride ski area.
In a recent incident (March 5th) in Bear Creek, the skier entered the backcountry from Telluride ski area. Several Telluride Ski Patrollers made up the Search and Rescue (SAR) team assembled for the mission.
“We appreciate ski patrollers who are willing to leave their paying job to volunteer for what is often a dangerous mission,” Sheriff Masters said.
The issue of responsibility and jurisdiction of backcountry rescues in Bear Creek has been one of controversy for years. “The fact is there’s no one else who’s going to get in there and rescue folks, so we end up using our SAR teams,” Sheriff Masters said.
Sheriff Masters emphasized the risks associated for those who ski in the backcountry. “Skiing in the backcountry carries great risk and responsibility. And we’re not always going to be able to get to you if you have an emergency,” he said. “Carry all necessary safety equipment, be prepared for self-rescue, have at least one other person with you, and let someone know where you are going and when you are expected back.”
People may ski legally in many backcountry areas in San Miguel County, including Bear Creek. With a CORSCAR card (Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue Card), expenses incurred in a search and rescue mission are covered.
For more information on and how to get a CORSCAR card go to:
The San Miguel Sheriff’s Office, located in Telluride, Colorado and established in 1883, serves 7,800 residents and countless visitors across the 1,288 square miles of San Miguel County. Sheriff Bill Masters has been serving as the county’s elected Sheriff since 1980.