Leave it to Gold Hill Development, they’ll keep you guessing. After creating quite a stir by demanding that skiers not trespass on their land near Telluride ski resort, the Gold Hill Owners are now allowing skiers and other winter recreators to cross any part of their land (not just a possibly public trail route) — provided they sign a waiver available on GKD’s website. This is very good news that should defuse the winter access issue for anyone but the most diehard opponents to the concept of private property.
What is more, the land owners (operating as “Bear Creek at Telluride Ski Resort”) are proposing they obtain a special use permit and operate a lift-free resort with both helicopter and human powered use of the beautiful terrain that’s easily accessed from their land.
GHD had previously been exploring options such as building a mountain hut/lodge on their property for use by backcountry skiers in winter and other human powered recreators in summer. As far as I could tell in speaking with locals, this excellent idea was met by a cold shoulder due to residents having trouble getting past their dislike for Thomas Chapman, one of the GHD owners who is known for helping with a few land deals that riled up the mountain folk. Well, I can only chuckle as that opportunity is now behind us and we’re talking full-on heli skiing.
The proposed new ski area is called “Bear Creek at Telluride.” On the whole, getting past our general bias (also known as human powered elitist agenda) here at WildSnow.com against heli skiing, it seems like a fine idea. Though as we all know, operating heli skiing in the Colorado Rocky Mountains is an iffy endeavor due to frequently poor snowpack, low-density high altitude air and other challenges. Nonetheless, Telluride Helitrax has been able to stay in business over the years. An operation with limited terrain and a base camp might perhaps be a good call, as the terrain could be heavily avalanche controlled and perhaps even ski compacted. Human powered options could work as well, though co-existing with heli skiing in limited terrain can be difficult. Whatever the case, I applaud these guys for sticking with mountain recreation as their “highest and best” use of their Bear Creek property.
Another thought: With the continuation and possible acceleration of global warming, wouldn’t it be ironic if the only viable resorts in Colorado ended up being those around timberline and above, and no resorts of this type are added to what we already have in the state? That’ll be sad if it happens.
As always, we’ll be interested in the outcome. Gold Hill Development does have a use-by-right for some kind of building up there. My understanding is that as stated in the press release below this could simply be a private residence. Such would be disappointing, considering these guys keep coming up with ideas that include the public. Comments welcome, but please no childish personal attacks.
Press Release follows:
Date: January 17, 2013
Bear Creek at Telluride Ski Resort, L.P.
“The Creek” Associates, L.P., General Partner
INTRODUCING BEAR CREEK AT TELLURIDE SKI RESORT
THE HIGHEST SKI AREA IN NORTH AMERICA!
Colorado’s newest ski area, subject to federal permits. See attached photo map. Human powered and optional heli-lift skiing on avalanche controlled snow. Deep powder snow, no grooming, no trees, no clear-cut trails. No lift towers, no permanent structures, no trace of winter time skiing to the summer time user of Bear Creek. The warming yurt, on private lands as shown, would be removed every June 10th.
The ski area permit application boundary will include approximately 1,300 acres, as shown on the attached photo map by the red helicopter disembarkation points circumscribing the upper Bear Creek Basin ridge line and will exclude any upper basin private lands not owned, leased, or licensed by Bear Creek at Telluride Ski Resort, L.P., “The Creek” Associates, L.P., General Partner. Co-investors will be considered and could include local commercial ski outfitters, other interested local investors, or out of state investors.
Nearly 2,000 feet of vertical elevation. The highest point is 13,555 feet on Wasatch Mountain, and the lowest point is 11,562 feet on the private lands in West Fork of Bear Creek. Because of the short quick lifts, a dedicated skier could rip 15,000 vertical feet a day on dramatic sweeping lines, steep and deep couloirs, cliffs and bowls.
All levels of expert, advanced, and even intermediate skiing, in deep reliable powder snow that always occurs on this, the leeward side of Palmyra Peak/Gold Hill Ridge. Here you will be able to ski in early November, through the normal season, and on through April and May! This will shorten Telluride’s shoulder seasons and provide significant economic benefit to Telluride, recently voted the No. 1 ski resort in North America by Conde Nast Traveler.
Take a fast-moving down and close helicopter tour of this astonishing ski terrain! Go to the website www.bearcreekattellurideskiresort.com and link to the GoogleEarth video helicopter tour.
While federal permit applications are in process, skiers may enter the private lands shown by the red lines on the attached photo map, provided each skier registers and signs a liability release form. You must register and sign a liability release form to have permission to enter the private lands. All non-authorized entry will be considered trespass. Go to the website to review the liability release form.
An alternative to the removable yurt would be a zoning-allowed 1,000 sq.ft. single family luxury log home, hand-adzed, dovetailed corner, with a potable water system and state of the art micro-hydro power — Telluride’s ultimate ski-in ski-out homesite.
The Modena Parcel is Bear Creek’s sole certifiable avalanche-free home building site. As such, it essentially makes upper Bear Creek a private ski area for the home owner’s family, guests & friends, with human powered skiing to any point on the basin ridgeline, as well as private land to private land helicopter skiing on owned private lands, leased private lands, or licensed private lands within Bear Creek. The private property lines shown on the attached photo map would be patrolled and enforced. Current public skiing through these private lands would end. Certainly, the public skier could still ski the federal lands within the upper basin, but those skiers would have to be prepared to egress by skiing uphill to the Forest Service release gate on Palmyra Peak.
As San Miguel County Sheriff Masters correctly points out in his February 14, 2012 NOTICE FROM THE SHERIFF REGARDING BEAR CREEK, as long as it remains the policy of the Forest Service and Telski to, on the one hand, authorize and enable Bear Creek side-country skiing via Forest Service promotion of the Palmyra Peak release gate and Telski’s promotion of Lifts 12, 14, 15, Hillary Steps, Chutes 1-10, and then on the other hand walk away and disclaim any responsibility for the safety or rescue of persons who are seriously injured or killed due to the lack of safety measures and avalanche control in this dynamic environment, then Bear Creek will indeed continue to be a dangerous place to ski. These policies and actions, whether intended or not, enable trespass on private property, unfairly dumping unwanted liability onto Bear Creek private lands – lands that were there long before skiing became fashionable in Telluride, long before there was a Telski ski area, and long before there was a National Forest Service.
Bear Creek at Telluride Ski Resort, L.P.
As mentioned in comments following this post, here is a copy of the COLORADO LAW LIMITING LIABILITY OF LAND OWNERS IN CERTAIN SITUATIONS
33-41-101. Legislative declaration.
The purpose of this article is to encourage owners of land to make land and water areas available for recreational purposes by limiting their liability toward persons entering thereon for such purposes.
As used in this article, unless the context otherwise requires:
(1) “Charge” means a consideration paid for entry upon or use of the land or any facilities thereon or adjacent thereto; except that, in a case of land leased to a public entity or in which a public entity has been granted an easement or other rights to use land for recreational purposes, any consideration received by the owner for such lease, easement, or other right shall not be deemed a charge within the meaning of this article nor shall any consideration received by an owner from any federal governmental agency for the purposes of admitting any person constitute such a charge.
(2) “Land” also means roads, water, watercourses, private ways, and buildings, structures, and machinery or equipment thereon, when attached to real property.
(3) “Owner” includes, but is not limited to, the possessor of a fee interest, a tenant, lessee, occupant, the possessor of any other interest in land, or any person having a right to grant permission to use the land, or any public entity as defined in the “Colorado Governmental Immunity Act”, article 10 of title24, C.R.S., which has an interest in land.
(4) “Person” includes any individual, regardless of age, maturity, or experience, or any corporation, government or governmental subdivision or agency, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, or association, or any other legal entity.
(4.5) “Public entity” means the same as defined in section 24-10-103 (5), C.R.S.
(5) “Recreational purpose” includes, but is not limited to, any sports or other recreational activity of whatever nature undertaken by a person while using the land, including ponds, lakes, reservoirs, streams, paths, and trails appurtenant thereto, of another and includes, but is not limited to, any hobby, diversion, or other sports or other recreational activity such as: Hunting, fishing, camping, picnicking, hiking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, bicycling, riding or driving motorized recreational vehicles, swimming, tubing, diving, spelunking, sight-seeing, exploring, hang gliding, rock climbing, kite flying, roller skating, bird watching, gold panning, target shooting, ice skating, ice fishing, photography, or engaging in any other form of sports or other recreational activity.
33-41-103. Limitation on landowner’s liability.
(1) Subject to the provision of section 33-41-105, an owner of land who either directly or indirectly invites or permits, without charge, any person to use such property for recreational purposes does not thereby:
(a) Extend any assurance that the premises are safe for any purpose;
(b) Confer upon such person the legal status of an invitee or licensee to whom a duty of care is owed;
(c) Assume responsibility or incur liability for any injury to person or property or for the death of any person caused by an act or omission of such person.
(2) (a) To the extent liability is found, notwithstanding subsection (1) of this section, the total amount of damages that may be recovered from a private landowner who leases land or a portion thereof to a public entity for recreational purposes or who grants an easement or other rights to use land or a portion thereof to a public entity for recreational purposes for injuries resulting from the use of the land by invited guests for recreational purposes shall be:
(I) For any injury to one person in any single occurrence, the amount specified in section 24-10-114 (1) (a), C.R.S.;
(II) For an injury to two or more persons in any single occurrence, the amount specified in section 24-10-114 (1) (b), C.R.S.
(b) The limitations in this subsection (2) shall apply only when access to the property is limited, to the extent practicable, to invited guests, when the person injured is an invited guest of the public entity, when such use of the land by the injured person is for recreational purposes, and only during the term of such lease, easement, or other grant.
(c) Nothing in this subsection (2) shall limit, enlarge, or otherwise affect the liability of a public entity.
(d) In order to ensure the independence of public entities in the management of their recreational programs and to protect private landowners of land used for public recreational purposes from liability therefor, except as otherwise agreed by the public entity and a private landowner, a private landowner shall not be liable for a public entity’s management of the land or portion thereof which is used for recreational purposes.
(e) For purposes of this subsection (2) only, unless the context otherwise requires:
(I) “Invited guests” means all persons or guests of persons present on the land for recreational purposes, at the invitation or consent of the public entity, and with or without permit or license to enter the land, and all persons present on the land at the invitation or consent of the public entity or the landowner for business or other purposes relating to or arising from the use of the land for recreational purposes if the public entity receives all of the revenues, if any, which are collected for entry onto the land. “Invited guests” does not include any such persons or guests of any person present on the land for recreational purposes at the invitation or consent of the public entity or the landowner if the landowner retains all or a portion of the revenue collected for entry onto the land or if the landowner shares the revenue collected for entry onto the land with the public entity. For the purposes of this subparagraph (I), “revenue collected for entry” does not include lease payments, lease-purchase payments, or rental payments.
(II) “Land” means real property, or a body of water and the real property appurtenant thereto, or real property that was subject to mining operations under state or federal law and that has been abandoned or left in an inadequate reclamation status prior to August 3, 1977, for coal mining operations, or July 1, 1976, for hard rock mining operations, which is leased to a public entity or for which an easement or other right is granted to a public entity for recreational purposes or for which the landowner has acquiesced to public use of existing trails that have historically been used by the public for recreational purposes. “Land”, as used in this subsection (2), does not include real property, buildings, or portions thereof which are not the subject of a lease, easement, or other right of use granted to a public entity; except that land on which a landowner has acquiesced to public use of existing trails that have historically been used by the public for recreational purposes need not be subject to a lease, easement, or other right of use granted to a public entity. Nothing in this subparagraph (II) shall be construed to create a prescriptive easement on lands on which a landowner has acquiesced to public use of existing trails that have historically been used by the public for recreational purposes. The incidental use of such private property for recreational purposes shall not establish or presume facts to support land use classification or zoning.
(II.5) “Lease” or “leased” includes a lease-purchase agreement containing an option to purchase the property. Any lease in which a private landowner leases land or a portion thereof to a public entity for recreational purposes shall contain a disclosure advising the private landowner of the right to bargain for indemnification from liability for injury resulting from use of the land by invited guests for recreational purposes.
(II.7) “Management” means the entire range of activities, whether undertaken or not by the public entity, associated with controlling, directing, allowing, and administering the use, operation, protection, development, repair, and maintenance of private land for public recreational purposes.
(III) “Recreational purposes” includes, but is not limited to, any sports or other recreational activity of whatever nature undertaken by an invited guest while using the land, including ponds, lakes, reservoirs, streams, paths, and trails appurtenant to, of another and includes, but is not limited to, any hobby, diversion, or other sports or other recreational activity such as: Fishing, picnicking, hiking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, bicycling, swimming, tubing, diving, sight-seeing, exploring, kite flying, bird watching, gold panning, ice skating, ice fishing, photography, or engaging in any other form of sports or other recreational activity, as well as any activities related to such sports or recreational activities, and any activities directly or indirectly resulting from such sports or recreational activity.
(f) Nothing in this subsection (2) shall limit the protections provided, as applicable, to a landowner under section 13-21-115, C.R.S.
33-41-104. When liability is not limited.
(1) Nothing in this article limits in any way any liability which would otherwise exist:
(a) For willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a known dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity likely to cause harm;
(b) For injury suffered by any person in any case where the owner of land charges the person who enters or goes on the land for the recreational use thereof; except that, in case of land leased to a public entity or in which a public entity has been granted an easement or other rights to use land for recreational purposes any consideration received by the owner for such lease, easement, or other right shall not be deemed a charge within the meaning of this article nor shall any consideration received by an owner from any federal governmental agency for the purpose of admitting any person constitute such a charge;
(c) For maintaining an attractive nuisance; except that, if the property used for public recreational purposes contains mining operations that were abandoned or left in an inadequate reclamation status as provided in section 33-41-103 (2) (e) (II) or was constructed or is used for or in connection with the diversion, storage, conveyance, or use of water, the property and the water or abandoned mining operations within such property shall not constitute an attractive nuisance;
(d) For injury received on land incidental to the use of land on which a commercial or business enterprise of any description is being carried on; except that in the case of land leased to a public entity for recreational purposes or in which a public entity has been granted an easement or other rights to use land for recreational purposes, such land shall not be considered to be land upon which a business or commercial enterprise is being carried on.
33-41-105. Article not to create liability or relieve obligation.
(1) Nothing in this article shall be construed to:
(a) Create, enlarge, or affect in any manner any liability for willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a known dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity likely to cause harm, or for injury suffered by any person in any case where the owner of land charges for that person to enter or go on the land for the recreational use thereof;
(b) Relieve any person using the land of another for recreational purposes from any obligation which he may have in the absence of this article to exercise care in his use of such land and in his activities thereon or from the legal consequences of failure to employ such care;
(c) Limit any liability of any owner to any person for damages resulting from any occurrence which took place prior to January 1, 1970.
24-10-114. Limitations on judgments.
(1) The maximum amount that may be recovered under this article in any single occurrence, whether from one or more public entities and public employees, shall be:
(a) For any injury to one person in any single occurrence, the sum of one hundred fifty thousand dollars;
(b) For an injury to two or more persons in any single occurrence, the sum of six hundred thousand dollars; except that, in such instance, no person may recover in excess of one hundred fifty thousand dollars.
(1.5) For purposes of subsection (1) of this section, an assignment or subrogation to recover damages paid or payable for an injury shall not be deemed to be a separate occurrence.
(2) The governing body of a public entity, by resolution, may increase any maximum amount set out in subsection (1) of this section that may be recovered from the public entity for the type of injury described in the resolution. The amount of the recovery that may be had shall not exceed the amount set out in such resolution for the type of injury described therein. Any such increase may be reduced, increased, or repealed by the governing body by resolution. A resolution adopted pursuant to this subsection (2) shall apply only to injuries occurring subsequent to the adoption of such resolution.
(3) Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit the recovery of damages for types of actions authorized under part 2 of article 21 of title 13, C.R.S., in an amount in excess of the amounts specified in said article.
(4) (a) A public entity shall not be liable either directly or by indemnification for punitive or exemplary damages or for damages for outrageous conduct, except as otherwise determined by a public entity pursuant to section 24-10-118 (5).
(b) A railroad operating in interstate commerce that sells to a public entity, or allows the public entity to use, such railroad’s property or tracks for the provision of public passenger rail service shall not be liable either directly or by indemnification for punitive or exemplary damages or for damages for outrageous conduct to any person for any accident or injury arising out of the operation and maintenance of the public passenger rail service by a public entity.
(5) Notwithstanding the maximum amounts that may be recovered from a public entity set forth in subsection (1) of this section, a judgment or judgments may be claimed and rendered against the state in excess of the maximum amounts only if the general assembly acting by bill authorizes payment of all or a portion of the judgment which exceeds the maximum amount. Any claimant may present proof of judgment to the general assembly and request payment of that portion of the judgment which exceeds the maximum amount. Any portion of a judgment approved for payment by the general assembly shall be paid from the general fund.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.