Two snow sport enthusiasts required rescue by Mountain Rescue Aspen after getting lost during a ski day at Aspen Snowmass. Identified as a 20-year-old from Asheville, North Carolina and a 22-year-old from Utica, New York, the two friends (one skier and one snowboarder) took the Cirque Poma lift up, hiked to the Hanging Valley Wall, and then skied off the backside of the ridge. This backside is outside of the ski area boundary.
The two became separated once on the backside of the mountain, requiring two different search parties to conduct the mission. Thankfully, the two were able to send their GPS location to the emergency response team via cell phone.
One of the skiers was able to work their way toward the ski area boundary for rescue while the other was eventually located approximately a mile from the boundary line. The trip back to safety for this individual required more than an hour of travel in 10 degree weather.
The initial call about the incident was received at 5:00 PM, with all rescue party members out of the field at 10:00 PM.
This incident is a good reminder to follow all posted rules while at a ski resort. If terrain is closed, that terrain likely poses risks. Whether it’s that the terrain is avalanche prone, that the terrain doesn’t allow for easy return, or a number of other reasons, it’s best to play it safe. Only enter the backcountry if you’ve got the right education and experience. Taking risks in a high-consequence sport like skiing isn’t something to take lightly.
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