VAIL, Colo. — Vail Pass was better positioned than many other public land recreation areas to meet the surge in use that accompanied the coronavirus pandemic.
Nevertheless, national forest rangers are having to make advancements to the backcountry — a seemingly contradictory concept — to meet the new demand.
Before last year, there were four to six snow rangers working Vail Pass during the winter season. This year, there are 11. Those rangers have a new warming tent to use as a base camp, from which they can be dispatched more quickly to assist backcountry users who lost a ski, are stranded on a snowmobile or, in the worst case scenario, triggered an avalanche.
Avalanche safety is the top priority in educating new users, and along with an informational display, the Vail Pass recreation area now has beacon scanning checkpoints where users can ensure their tracking beacons — crucial pieces of equipment in the backcountry — are working properly before heading out on an adventure.
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