Colorado teenager finds lost items on ski slopes and returns them

Miles Vaille searches the mountain after the Keystone ski season, tracks down the owners of the belongings he finds, then returns what was lost.

DENVER — You can travel miles in search of a lost item on a mountain.

Or you could ask Miles to search for you.

Dropping something valuable from a ski lift into deep snow likely means your item is lost and will not be found.

“During the summer, I go under the chairlifts, and I go looking for lost items like cell phones, headphones, ski passes, all sorts of random things,” said Miles Vaille, 16.

Vaille, pronounced as “Vail”, finds lost items on Keystone Mountain and attempts to reunite them with their owners.

“So far I’ve found 11 phones and been able to return nine,” Vaille said.

One of them belongs to Andrew Noll.

“I go to Colorado once a year. I’ve been going there once a year since I was about four years old for a family ski trip,” said Noll, a skier.

Noll, who lives in Boca Raton, Florida, lost his iPhone last winter.

“I remember feeling like something left my pockets,” Noll said. “I was like, ‘Maybe something just fell off.’ I gave myself a nice little pat, then I spaced out for a minute or two. And then I was like, “Oh! Cell phone, cell phone, cell phone.”

“I hope they marked their phone as lost and put their phone number on their home screen,” Vaille said. “When a phone is lost, it will display someone’s phone number, then it will say, ‘Please call’ or ‘Please text’.”

When Vaille turned on the phone belonging to Noll, there was no “lost phone” screen, but rather a typical background photo.

“I found someone’s phone, it had a picture of a dog on it, and the collar actually had the person’s phone number on it,” Vaille said. “I was able to take the phone number off the necklace and contact him via the number on the necklace, which I think is pretty cool.”

“When I realized that was what he was doing, I knew he was a special type of person,” Noll said.

It was not a simple transaction.

Vaille wanted proof that he was talking to the rightful owner of the phone.

“He asked me about my background. And honestly, I couldn’t remember if it was a picture of me and my significant other or it was a picture of Alan, who was the dog,” Noll said. .

Thanks to Vaille’s detective work, he got his phone back from Noll.

“There was no picture of me. There was no name. There was nothing. There was a password, it was protected,” Vaille said. “It takes a level of tenacity to solve a problem like this. It takes a level of creativity to think outside the box.”

All Vaille asks in return is shipping costs.

“I got $100 for a phone,” Vaille said. “I’ve had people pay me like $3 for their phone. It’s like I found your phone really expensive and that’s all you’re gonna give me? And it’s like, well, at least they gave me something.”

“There was no similar incentive. It was, like, pure altruism. Like going the extra mile without expecting anything in return. And I know that takes – that he’s a different type of person,” Noll said.

Recovering his phone proved to benefit Noll more than the memories and contacts stored on the device.

“I spent $200 because I had insurance on my phone and my deductible was $200. When I got the phone back I was able to trade in the phone and got about $400 on a Visa gift card where I traded in the phone from. He, in fact, basically gave me $200. His hard work got me $200, so I split that in half with him,” said said Noll. “I sent him a present at his house. A gift card for one of the ski resorts at the base of the mountain.”

After hearing the story of someone paying Vaille $3, Noll thought twice about his gift.

“It’s selfish of me, I should have given him the full $200,” Noll said.

As Vaille travels miles to find lost items in Keystone, he still only asks for the expedition.

“I just do it because it’s fun to clean up the community and help return people’s lost items,” Vaille said.

Pro Tip from Vaille: If you’re skiing or snowboarding with a GoPro, take a picture of your phone number and/or address, so if it’s lost, whoever finds it can look in the SD card and figure out who it belonged to.

Keystone searches for lost items and has its own list of lost and found.

In fact, Noll said that when he skied back down and reported his cell phone missing, the operator shut down the lift.

“They had a guy hike 200 feet under the ski lift and dig in the snow,” Noll said. “I was convinced I knew a general area where the phone was. But they couldn’t get it back, so I called it a loss.”

According to a Keystone spokeswoman, mountain staff are also doing investigative work to try to reunite lost items with their owners.

“If a phone is found, we will first check the database to see if anyone has reported a missing phone. For example, our trail maintenance team recovers items while preparing trails for summer operations This summer, the team was able to reunite someone with a phone they found this summer that was lost in December using the Lost & Found database,” the Vail Resorts spokeswoman said, Shayna Silverman. “If the phone cannot be associated with a guest by the database, we will charge the phone. If the phone is locked, the team will use Siri to bypass the passcode and try to call one of their contacts. If that doesn’t work, our team will try to match lost items with guests through our larger guest database and social media. This winter, we’ve tracked over 300 phones returned to owners. legitimate.

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