Unprepared skiers prompt challenging nighttime rescue after venturing into "known hazardous" out-of-bounds terrain

USA, Colorado, Aspen, elevated town view and Aspen Mountain, winter, dusk
The two skiers left the Aspen resort without adequate gear or clothing (Image credit: Walter Bibikow)

Two skiers who ventured out-of-bounds from a Colorado ski resort required mountain rescue services after realizing they were unprepared and ill-equipped for the terrain.

According to a Facebook post from Pitkin County Sheriff's Office, the skiers dialed 911 on Saturday at approximately 5:50 p.m. after skiing out of bounds below the Hero’s Lift on Aspen Mountain into an area "known to be hazardous terrain."

"The two skiers did not have adequate clothing or equipment for the terrain that they were in," reports the Sheriff's Office. Backcountry skiing requires avalanche safety training as well as equipment such as an avalanche beacon, shovel and probe.

Aspen Mountain Rescue was recruited and a team entered the field at 6:30 p.m. on snowmobiles taking extra clothing and headlamps. By 7:15 p.m., three more teams had joined the search using drones and at 7:24 p.m., shortly after sunset, the skiers were located and had to begin the "long and difficult descent." 

 "The rescuers and the two skiers were forced to ski slowly and carefully using headlamps to see due to the darkness and extremely difficult terrain."

All skiers and snowboarders are reminded to obey all terrain closures and ski boundary signs at all times.

what is mountain rescue: helicopter winter rescue

All skiers and snowboarders are reminded to obey all terrain closures and ski boundary signs at all times. (Image credit: Getty)

Backcountry skiing safety

Backcountry skiing has seen a massive growth in popularity over the past few years, partly thanks the the COVID lockdown. With ski resorts shut down, powder-hungry skiers started going ever more off-piste, venturing into the backcountry for a more adventurous experience. But as the number of backcountry skiers has grown, so have the associated incidents, as documented in the film Backcountry Responsibly. Learn more about what you need for the backcountry in our article on backcountry ski gear.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.