Debatable: How to Tackle Safety in the Side Country

March 2 2011, 11:00 AM

Area ski resorts have been grappling with deaths in areas just outside resort boundaries, known in the industry as "side country" rather than "backcountry." As a result, some resorts are working with the U.S. Forest Service and local sheriff's offices to balance the right to access public lands with the dangerous and expensive rescue operations spent on an increasing number of riders who chase pristine powder just outside the boundary ropes (Denver Post).

One idea is for resorts to expand into some of the more popular side-country areas, making it easier for ski patrol to access, but some believe that will only encourage powder-seekers to push farther into uncontrolled areas. Brandon J. Zukoff, who was caught in an avalanche in East Snowmass Valley last week, is another tragic reminder of the danger involved in side-country riding. His body was recovered yesterday (Aspen Times).