How to ski safely with a backpack

Posted at 10:57 PM, Jan 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-06 00:57:04-05

DENVER -- Video of two skiers in one week hanging from chair lifts by their backpacks raises questions about how safe it is to ski with a backpack.

Chris Linsmayer with Colorado Ski Country USA, a trade association that represents the ski industry for the state, said chair lift injuries involving backpacks are rare, but the number of people skiing while wearing a backpack has grown exponentially in recent years.

This week, a little boy was caught on a chair lift in Utah and dangled by a single strap for several minutes, and at Arapahoe Basin, a harrowing rescue saved a man's life after he was left hanging by his neck from his backpack.

"Backpacks are every bit a part of the ski attire as a coat or hat or gloves or a helmet — it’s amazing," said Steve Hurlbert, a spokesman with Winter Park Resorts. "I think there would be a mass revolt in the ski industry especially with parents and families if you took away backpacks."

And while many resorts recommend taking off backpacks before riding lifts, it is not required.

"When you have the straps on and you're getting off, it can kind of catch on something," said Hurlbert, demonstrating how his bag can get caught. "Again, easiest thing to do is keep the bag right in front of you right on your lap and enjoy the ride."

He said the key is awareness, and not overloading a backpack.

"A lot of times our lift operators will even pull people aside and say, 'Hey, your backpack looks a little big. Would you mind holding it when you are on the lift?'" said Hurlbert.

And while some skiers said the recent videos has raised their awareness, many still felt taking of their pack every lift ride isn't practical.

"It's kind of a pain. For this pack, I have to undo the waist and the chest strap every time, and that would be kind of a pain," said Logan Duckett, a skier at Arapahoe Basin. "I'm just going to be cautious and keep an eye on it."


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