Ask Ripperoo: January 2014 Slope Safety Month

Ripperoo at Breck

Ripperoo, the official mascot of Breckenridge, loves to interact with guests of all ages.  You can ask Rip a question here, and maybe you’ll see your name in the Mailbag!  Otherwise, the questions will just get made up.  This week, Ripperoo fields questions about safety:

Dear Ripperoo:
I learned so much about safety from your last mailbag!  I gotta say, I’m now a safety addict.  Where can I learn more?  – Safety Kate, Boise, Idaho

Dear Safety Kate:

You’re in luck!  Throughout the month of January, Breckenridge Ski Resort will be participating in the National Ski Area Association’s Safety Month initiative.  You can learn the basics of skiing and riding safely, find out why helmets are important, get some avalanche safety training, and win great prizes!  Most of the action will be the weekend of January 18-19, but there are cool things going on throughout the month – stay tuned to Breck’s Twitter and Facebook for updates!

Dear Ripperoo:
I’ve been skiing for years, and I know all there is to know about the Skier Responsibility Code.  Why should I be interested in this so-called “Safety Month?”  Sounds like I should just spend time in the backcountry during January instead.  – Fed Up with Safety, Walla Walla, Wash.

Dear Fed Up with Safety:

I’m glad the Responsibility Code is ingrained in your skiing DNA.  Those simple tips are a great way to keep it safe within the resort boundary.  But if you’re thinking of hitting the backcountry, you should arm yourself with a different knowledge set.  Throughout January, you can stop in at the Peak 8 Patrol hut and get an avalanche beacon lesson (depending on Patroller availability, of course).  On January 11, come see my pal Tali and other canine heroes as they pull back the curtain on training avalanche dogs.  Fascinated by blowing stuff up?  On January 25, you can check out the avalauncher, a cannon used to fire avalanche control bombs into the hard-to-reach places.

Dear Ripperoo:
Whereas many of the previous questions I’ve seen in the mailbag inquire about speed or closed ropes, I am interested in how ski patrol determines how safe a run is to drop ropes on it especially in the early season.  – Donald Reif, Aurora, Colo.

 Dear Donald:

There are lots of potential factors that determine closures.  Snowmaking, heavy equipment, avalanche danger, hidden obstacles / poor coverage, and special events (competitions, e.g.) are among the reasons areas may have closures.  But I mostly hang out with ski instructors – to really get the skinny, you should pop into the Patrol open house on January 18.  You can find out all sorts of information about some of these behind-the-scenes decisions and meet some fun and interesting folks!

Dear Ripperoo:
I have kids.  Lots and lots of kids.  Is there anything for them during Safety Month? – Mike Brady, Los Angeles, Calif.

Ripperroo_Kids_VailResorts_BRK4351_Jack_Affleck_HighResDear Mike:

Of course!  On January 18 and 19, there will be a Safety Scavenger hunt you can enter with your family.  You’ll get clues that will take you around on Peaks 7, 8, and 9, where you’ll interact with employees and learn about safety.  Get your card back to the base in time, and you’ll be entered in a kids-only raffle.

Dear Ripperoo:
The flatlanders can certainly use some safety tips, but I ride in the park.  Why should I care about Safety Month?  – Jumps4Cred, Park City, Utah

Dear Jumps4Cred:

Hopefully you know about terrain park safety – particularly Smart Style.  If so, you should stop by Park Lane on the January 18 and 19 to enter a raffle for park riders only.  Stay tuned to social media – word on the street is a pretty sweet prize may be in the works.  Plus, the park crew and mountain safety will be handing out free hot dogs in the Second Annual “Hot Dogs for Hot Dogs” campaign.  Free food – what more could you want?

That’s all for this edition of Ripperoo’s Mailbag, but keep your eyes peeled throughout January – you may find yourself in line for prizes big and small just for knowing about the expectations for skiing and riding. Remember, you can submit a question here. Until next time!

– Ripperoo (as told to Brad Stewart)