I’m feeling the need for some snow travel, but I’m not ready yet to head out solo into unfamiliar backcountry terrain. As a compromise I drive to the Bogus Basin ski area. We’ve hiked up this area before, but never verified whether it is officially allowed or not. The website says nothing. My mind drifts back to the arrest of Roland Fleck at Teton Village last month – a 78-year old Jackson local who was finally chased down and cuffed for doing what I’m intending to do at a ski area he was an original investor in. With that in mind I seek a path up Deer Point just out of ski area bounds, and find nice enough conditions to tempt me to take a run there and repeat the climb.
I’m kind of curious to know whether it really is against any rules to skin in bounds, so after my second trip up I duck under the rope and skin past the summit ski patrol office. Sure enough, a patroller pops out and somewhat regretfully informs me that the official policy does not allow uphill traffic during operating hours. He’s not sure why it isn’t published, and he kindly points out the locations of “gates” in the boundary ropes to “sidecountry” terrain. I’m allowed to descend, so I start down along the boundary, scoping out the surrounding areas. When I have to climb again, I try to stay out of bounds. This takes me the remainder of the day in a dark, wet snowstorm, but gives me a much better idea of possible future approaches and even nets a couple more runs. The area makes use of nearly every aspect of Schafer Butte, giving it a fairly large perimeter. In the end I go back in bounds to climb up under the Bitterroot lift, which is not operating.