New rules would hit out-of-bounds skiers with big fines

New rules would hit out-of-bounds skiers with big fines
SNOQUALMIE PASS, Wash. -- Most people play by the rules out here, skiing and snowboarding within marked areas.

But at nearly every ski resort, such as Alpental at Snoqualmie Pass, there's a fringe group that likes to push the envelope, intentionally targeting places they shouldn't be - even though off-limit sections are carefully marked and mapped out.

But a looming crackdown on out-of-bounds skiers could mean big fines if state lawmakers give the plan the go ahead.

"We'll have guests that actually leave the ski resort through a closed boundary, and then we have to send out personnel to look for them," says ski patrol Director Rob Gisbon. "Often times that results in search and rescue coming up and looking for them."

Hitting out-of-bounds areas is a temptation that's too great to pass up for some skiers and snowboarders. Often those places have lots of fresh, untouched snow, new terrain and big thrills.

"Adventure," is the response Adam John gives when asked if he's ever ventured beyond the boundary ropes. "Go somewhere where nobody else has gone."

He's not alone. Quite a few people believe they should be able to go wherever they want to.

"I think people do have the right to be out of bounds," says Barney Lund of Covington. "But I think they should also be prepared when they do it, and they should be smart about it."

But things may be about to change for those who want to push the limits on the slopes.

Under a measure being considered this week by state lawmakers, members of the ski patrol who witness out-of-bounds skiers can collect evidence and turn in a report to law enforcement, who could then issue a citation for up to $1,000.

"It brings us more in line with other states in the country," Gisbon said of the proposed legislation. "It's kind of the way society is. Unless there's a penalty or something imposed, people take things less seriously."

The ski resorts say even if some on the slopes don't worry so much about safety, the operators do, because one move in the wrong place can mean disaster.

The state Senate's Natural Resources Committee will take testimony on the out-of-bounds bill Monday afternoon.