The fine is meant to deter backcountry skiers from taking serious risks.

By Jess McHugh
December 20, 2016
Colorado ski
Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

A popular ski area in Colorado is attempting to impose fines on adventurers who require costly rescues while skiing in the backcountry, local news outlet Steamboat Today reported.

Ski rescues, particularly in avalanche-prone parts of Colorado, are costly for resorts and dangerous for ski patrol members. Costs can be as high as $50,000 in some cases.

Steamboat Springs is aiming to reduce the number of rescues by posting signs at the backcountry entrances that warn skiers they could incur up to $500 in fines if they require rescue.

The implementation of the fines is not automatic, however, and is enforced at the discretion of the ski area.

Signs and other written warnings throughout Colorado ski areas reiterate the skiers’ responsibility code, which includes staying in control and heeding warnings about dangerous areas.

“If you don’t know, don’t go,” said Dan Sherman, vice president of marketing for, reiterating a slogan for ski safety.

The number of rescues in these areas has increased in the past five to seven years, as backcountry skiing has become more popular, according to Melanie Mills, CEO of the Colorado Ski Country USA trade group.

“It’s not a new problem, but it’s a problem that has grown exponentially in size or quantity,” she told Travel + Leisure.

Many ski patrols participate in rescues of their own volition when the sheriff asks for assistance, according to Mills, even when their designated area is not the one being affected.

“It’s very hard for them to say, ‘No, we won’t go,’” she said, noting the danger and depletion of resources that these rescues put on the ski patrols.

No other ski destinations in the region have enforced such a policy, but many are likely watching to see how effective these new fines will be in deterring inexperienced thrill-seekers.