Deer Valley Resort has tightened language outlining the resort’s rules governing access to and from the backcountry.
According to the resort, Deer Valley has always prohibited skiers from hiking up the slopes to ski and has always barred skiers from accessing the backcountry from the resort property.
The tightened language outlines that skiers in the backcountry cannot enter Deer Valley through a boundary that is closed. The resort considers the practice to be trespassing, regardless of whether the person has a pass to ski that day, according to Deer Valley.
“We’ve seen an increase in backcountry skiers entering through closed resort boundaries in recent years and it coincides with more backcountry use in the area off of Guardsman’s Pass and the Bonanza Flat recreational area. Although we love to see the increased recreational use in the area, we are working to educate skiers that entering the resort through closed boundaries is not only trespassing, it is a safety risk,” Chris Erkkila, the ski patrol manager at Deer Valley, said in a prepared response to a Park Record inquiry about the tightened language.
He said the entries from the backcountry have mostly occurred in the Empire Canyon terrain, a high-altitude section of the resort that offers bowl skiing in addition to marked runs. One of the resort boundaries runs along the ridge at the top of Empire Canyon. Erkkila said the entries there are “due to the proximity to the recreational backcountry areas.”
Erkkila described there are a variety of dangers when someone enters the resort from the backcountry.
“Ski Patrol creates rope line boundaries for safety reasons, additionally having skiers enter the resort at closed boundaries can create safety risks for patrollers completing avalanche mitigation work in the morning and sweeping or clearing the mountain at night,” he said. “Furthermore, when the resort is closed for operations, there is a lot of equipment on the mountain including snowcats, snowmobiles and snowmaking, it can create a hazard when encountering unexpected skiers.”
Erkkila, meanwhile, addressed the actions that are taken when someone is found violating the restriction on entering Deer Valley from the backcountry.
“Deer Valley Ski Patrol does not have the ability to issue a trespassing citation on the spot, we will work to educate skiers on the dangers of entering through closed areas and issue warnings. If a consistent problem continues to emerge we will enlist the (help) of the Park City Police Department,” he said.
There have been regular reports of larger crowds in the backcountry this winter than those seen in prior years as skiers and other recreation lovers flock to the open spaces amid the continued concern about the spread of the novel coronavirus. There are wide expanses of backcountry terrain just outside the Deer Valley boundaries, including a large swath of Wasatch County open space that is owned by City Hall in Bonanza Flat.
The Deer Valley policies are published online at deervalley.com. The direct address is: https://www.deervalley.com/about-us/safety-policies.