Safety & Risk Awareness
The information contained in the Safety & Risk Awareness section of this website is intended to inform you of the risks, dangers and hazards you may encounter while helicopter or snowcat skiing or snowboarding, and to help you stay safe while enjoying these activities. Whether you are a participant in these activities or a parent or guardian of a minor participant, please take the time to familiarize yourself with the Safety & Risk Awareness information on this website.
Exclusion of Liability – Assumption of Risk Introduction to Wilderness Skiing and Snowboarding
The term “wilderness skiing and snowboarding” shall include all activities, accommodation, transportation, events and services provided, arranged, organized, conducted, sponsored or authorized by the operator and shall include, but is not limited to: skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, hiking, snowshoeing and other forms of backcountry travel; rental or use of skis, snowboards or other equipment; demonstrations; orientational and instructional courses; loading, unloading and travel by or movement in or around helicopters, snowcats, snowmobiles and other motorized vehicles; and other activities, events and services in any way connected with or related to wilderness activities.
The use of helicopter or snowcat skiing premises and facilities, and participation in these activities, involves various risks, dangers and hazards. It is a condition of your use of the premises and facilities and your participation in helicopter or snowcat skiing or snowboarding that you assume all risk of personal injury, death or property loss resulting from any cause whatsoever, including negligence, breach of contract, or breach of any duty of care on the part of the operator.
Wilderness Skiing and Snowboarding Note:
Skiing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing (nordic) involves various risks, dangers and hazards including, but not limited to, the following:
- Avalanches occur frequently in the terrain used for wilderness activities and may be caused by natural forces or by persons travelling through the terrain.
- The operator may fail to predict whether the alpine terrain is safe for wilderness activities or whether an avalanche may occur.
- The terrain used for wilderness activities is uncontrolled, unmarked, not inspected and involves many risks, dangers and hazards in addition to that of avalanche. These may include, but are not limited to: cornices; crevasses; cliffs; trees, tree wells and tree stumps; creeks; rocks; boulders; forest deadfall; holes and depressions on or below the snow surface; cliffs; variable and difficult snow conditions; snowcat roads, snowmobile tracks, and road banks, fences, and other man-made structures; snow immersion; impact or collision with other persons, vehicles or objects; encounters with domestic or wild animals; loss of balance or control; slips, trips and falls; becoming lost or separated from one’s party or guide; negligent first aid; negligence of other persons, including other guests; and NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE OPERATOR.
- Negligence of other persons, and NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE OPERATOR and its directors, officers, employees, instructors, agents, representatives, volunteers, independent contractors, subcontractors, sponsors, successors and assigns.
- NEGLIGENCE INCLUDES FAILURE ON THE PART OF THE OPERATOR TO TAKE REASONABLE STEPS TO SAFEGUARD OR PROTECT GUESTS FROM THE RISKS, DANGERS AND HAZARDS OF WILDERNESS ACTIVITIES.
- Communication in the alpine terrain is difficult and in the event of an accident, rescue and medical treatment may not be available.
- Alpine weather conditions may be extreme and can change rapidly and without warning, making travel by helicopter, snowcat or snowmobile hazardous.
YOU NEED TO BE AWARE OF THE RISKS, DANGERS AND HAZARDS ASSOCIATED WITH WILDERNESS ACTIVITIES AND FREELY ACCEPT AND FULLY ASSUME ALL SUCH RISKS, DANGERS AND HAZARDS AND THE POSSIBILITY OF PERSONAL INJURY, DEATH, PROPERTY DAMAGE OR LOSS RESULTING THEREFROM.
Alpine Ski/Snowboard Boot Binding Systems
The ski boot/binding system for wilderness skiing may not release during every fall or may release unexpectedly. The ski boot/binding system is no guarantee that the skier will not be injured. The snowboard boot/binding system is not designed or intended to release and will not release under normal circumstances. Given the snowboard boot binding system is not a releasable system, it will not reduce the risk of injury during a fall and will increase the risk of not surviving an avalanche.
A helmet designed for recreational snow sports may reduce the risk of some types of head injuries. Helmets are strongly recommended. In some skiing activities (for example snow school lessons involving minors) helmets are mandatory. Helmets for skiing and snowboarding are light, comfortable and have achieved wide-spread acceptance. Please note, however, that helmets have limitations and that serious head injury can still occur even when a helmet is worn. Wearing a helmet is no guarantee of safety.
Notice to Snowboarders and Telemark Skiers – Increased Risk
Unlike alpine ski boot/binding systems, snowboard and some telemark boot/binding systems are not designed or intended to release and will not release under normal circumstances. The use of a safety strap or retention device by snowboarders or telemark skiers without ski brakes will increase the risk of not surviving an avalanche.
Wilderness Activities Release Agreement
Upon arrival at our office, you are required to sign a Wilderness Activities Release Agreement, which describes the risks, dangers, and hazards that are associated with wilderness skiing and snowboarding AND asks you to acknowledge these risks and accept the fact that injuries and death are possibilities while participating in wilderness skiing and snowboarding.
This is a copy of the Wilderness Activities Release Agreement you are required to sign:
Wilderness Skiing and Snowboarding Responsibility Code
The Wilderness Skiing and Snowboarding Responsibility Code provides the basic rules of conduct and must be followed by all using the wilderness terrain and helicat operator facilities. There are elements of risk that common sense and personal awareness can help reduce. Please adhere to the code listed below and always show courtesy to others.
- Listen to and follow your guide’s instructions.
- Always stop above your guide.
- Ski and snowboard close to other tracks set by your group.
- Always keep spacing between each skier and rider as directed by your guide.
- On tree runs always ski and snowboard with a partner, remove pole straps and be aware of tree hazards.
- Always ski and snowboard in control and be aware of mountain hazards.
- Approach and join a waiting/stopped group slowly and cautiously.
- Electronics: Turn off cell phone reception and don’t impair hearing with music devices.
- Familiarize yourself avalanche rescue gear: transceiver, shovel, probe and radio.
- Except when directed by the guide, always have a skiing and snowboarding partner. Ski close enough to them that you will immediately know if they fall into a tree well or get caught in an avalanche.
- You must not participate in wilderness skiing or snowboarding if your ability is impaired through the use of alcohol or drugs.
Helicopter and Snowcat Safety
While wilderness skiing, skiers and snowboarders may use a variety of transportation methods such as helicopters, snowcats, and snowmobiles, users should be familiar with the use of these transportation methods for their own safety and the safety of others. Guides, drivers and pilots will provide safety briefings that inform users about the process for loading, riding, and unloading. Pay attention and obey these briefings. If you are unfamiliar with helicopters, snowcats, or snowmobiles, or have questions, please ask your guide for assistance and direction.
Additional Safety Tips
In addition to the Wilderness Skiing and Snowboarding Responsibility Code, here are some additional tips to keep you safe and to help you enjoy your day on the slopes:
Weather in the mountains is constantly changing and appropriate gear is recommended for any and all conditions.
A tree well is the space around a tree under its branches that does not get the same amount of snow as the surrounding open space. This creates a void or area of loose snow below the branches and around the tree trunk that is dangerous to skiers and snowboarders. A tree well safety demonstration will be provided on your first day on the mountain.
Ski Operator Premises
When visiting a ski or snowboarding operator, the premises is not limited to the skiing and boarding. Many operators will have lodges, parking lots, restaurants, trails and walkways, access roads, helicopter pads, snowcat garages, and other facilities. You will come across signage throughout the premises that are important to respect and understand. Please pay close attention to all signage. It is present for the safety of both guests and employees. Failing to follow the directions on these signs may result in self-imposed injury. It is your responsibility to be aware of signage at facilities at all times. Slipping and falling at helicat ski areas has potential for serious injuries and should not be overlooked as a risk. There are many wet, snowy, icy, and slippery surfaces throughout a given facility. Slips, trips and falls are common, and all users should always take precautions. Ski boots and many types of other footwear do not provide good traction, and extra caution should be used when walking. Be particularly careful of slips and falls on snowy or icy surfaces if you have consumed alcohol or drugs.