Here’s what the Telluride Mountain Club has to say on the subject:
The Telluride Mountain Club would appreciate it if you can get these facts out to the public.
Reasons to NOT sign GHDC’s waiver in exchange for backcountry access:
• The Wasatch Trail is a federally-recognized, USFS-inventoried and county-recognized public trail. The public has a right to access it in any season. Recognition of this public trail pre-dates most land ownership in Bear Creek, and San Miguel county itself.
• A majority of the ski routes from the ski area’s Gold Hill backcountry access gate(s) don’t cross GHDC property. There are a few popular routes that do, but most of the routes lead users elsewhere.
• Requesting access and signing a waiver for it basically gives up one’s right to prescriptive access, a powerful legal tool that could be the basis for restoring public access on/around the Wasatch Trail. The Wasatch Trail, and sidecountry skiing/boarding in Bear Creek, seem like the poster children for a prescriptive access easement case.
Isn’t it ironic that the very act that triggered GHDC’s initial protest (proposed ski guiding) is now part of GHDC’s development plan? Anyone who agrees to GHDC’s waiver is basically condoning Chapman’s tactics and plans, and condemning public access.