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Your Scariest Skiing Moment

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

To welcome in the New Year, let's give thanks to our health and ability to continue skiing by reminiscing about close calls that we have had. 

 

Mine is extremely weak, so don't get your hopes up :)

 

Over 30 years of skiing now, grew up skiing on Mont Tremblant when I was roughly 4 years old, and luckily have not had any catastrophic injuries (yet). Scariest thing that happened to me was really completely unexpected and nobody would have believed would lead to injury.

 

I was skiing in the alps. It was about 8:30am, the part of the mountain I was skiing on was absolutely empty. I mean, literally, as far as I could see in any direction, I did not see a single skier. 10-15 minutes would pass, and not a single soul would go by. We had a big snow flurry the day before, so I expected the snow to be good. But I guess 8:30am is a bit early for the Europeans to be skiing. 

 

I decided to start the day on an easy blue groomer. The snow is unexpectedly icy and hard. I'm also on rental boots mind you so the canting is completely off of what I'm used to. I see some really plush looking snow to my right, off-piste, so I decide to go check it out. My skinny skis don't like the powder but I'm managing just fine. Then things start getting really bumpy. My right ski gets dug in and gets caught. My bindings are too tight so my ski doesn't really come off. I go flying head first and I land (with absolutely crappy luck) on a completely flat, rock hard icy portion on my side. 

 

Now I've fallen plenty skiing, but I've never gone flying and landed on something so flat and hard before. My body is in so much pain I can't even move. I landed directly on my left hip bone and my left arm is also twisted around. It took my about 5 minutes to be able to start getting up, and once I got up I realized I couldn't really use my left leg or my left arm. No help in sight, no ski patrol presence on the mountain unless I radio for help then they'll send a helicopter which will cost an arm and a leg. So it took me about 30 minutes of very gentle 1 legged skiing/hopping on one leg to get to the next chairlift, all the time without passing anybody who could have helped me out. 

 

I finally made it to the lifts, took them down, and went to the hospital where I had a really badly bruised hip and surrounding tissue was damaged, and a dislocated shoulder. First day in a ski trip to the alps and I was already done and finished and couldn't ski the rest of the time I was there. This was 3 years ago, and I still have aches in my shoulder and hip from time to time.

 

I guess the most striking thing about the experience was how injuries can happen on seemingly easy and harmless terrain. And on the alps, you really get a scary feeling of abandonment since you have no active ski patrol presence and even on certain groomers you can find yourself alone and isolated for long periods of time. Sure my experience probably can't hold a candle to true backcountry skiirs around the world, but those guys know the risks and accept them. I had no idea that skiing on relatively easy terrain on marked pistes could be so dangerous. 

post #2 of 20

I've had more than my share of high speed crashes, but strangely enough they were not scary for me; they happened too fast, and I was too busy to be scared.  I've had some near misses that were scary though.  Two stand out.

 

Skiing, I can still vividly recall this experience, even though I'm not exactly sure where or exactly when it occurred.  I was skiing along at Mach Schnell on a empty run and being in a right turn, and feeling my outside ski begin to give way.  As it gave way I tried to shift a little weight to the inside ski to help out.  This seemed to help a bit, but I went a little too far and it made things worse.  I corrected by transferring some weight back to the outside, and then a tiny bit back to the inside ski.  It was a very tricky balancing act, keeping the skis planted and turning me.  I don't remember exactly where, but it was somewhere below what they now call "Top of the World Chutes" at Mt. Washington BC, Canada.  I had the very distinct feeling had I lost that turn it would have been the last thing I ever did.

 

Biking:  I had just replaced some so-so Michelin tires on my 750 Interceptor with Metzler Comp Ks, and spent a couple of weeks gradually scraping in the sidewalls when I went on a ride with my neighbour who had a ancient two cylinder Yamaha (Maybe a Tempster).  Being a good person I spent the whole afternoon touring around not going very fast; going very slowly.   It was raining.  Near the end of the afternoon, we were approaching a couple of sweepers (wide turns) and temptation got the better of me.  I decided to see if I could bevel my boots on this turn in the rain (foot peg feelers on the bike were worn down practically non existent at that point).  Problem was that I needed to accelerate to take the corner at a high enough speed, and I didn't start accelerating soon enough.  I got close to the corner at the bottom of top gear, not enough rpms to reach the power band in top, but past redline in 4th (112 mph).  So I was going too slow.

 

It occurred to me that since I could see well around this corner and the next one, and that there was no oncoming traffic, I might as well make THIS first corner a little tighter and dip into the oncoming lane making the corner a bit tighter.  It was at this point that I discovered how slippery the painted double yellow lines can be in the rain.   The rear tire wriggled, but recovered.  Thanks Metzler!


Edited by Ghost - 12/24/15 at 6:31am
post #3 of 20

Yeah, those painted lines.

 

My scariest moment was when I asked my wife, who'd fallen, if she were ok, and she said, "No."

 

The rest involve other skiers, WRODs, and ice — or catching an edge at speed. I knock on wood.

post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 

As a biker myself, now with two kids, I can't imagine going those speeds anymore, especially in the rain! I think the most I ever hit is maybe 60mph!

 

I regularly watch motorcycle crash accidents on some questionable websites just to remind myself that we are 1 crash away from severe injury or a very gruesome death, and that keeps me cautious always when on the bike. 

post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by iheartnyc View Post

As a biker myself, now with two kids, I can't imagine going those speeds anymore, especially in the rain! I think the most I ever hit is maybe 60mph!

I regularly watch motorcycle crash accidents on some questionable websites just to remind myself that we are 1 crash away from severe injury or a very gruesome death, and that keeps me cautious always when on the bike. 

I've owned three or four bikes, and I never had a serious crash (unless you count the time I put it in the ditch and the bike flipped over and hit me on my helmet-less head). But one day I was unpacking surgical supplies where I worked, and I opened a little box full of sterile screws. The invoice said they were $3000 each. I asked my boss what they were for, and she said, "That's what we put motorcyclists back together with." I sold my bike pretty soon after that.
post #6 of 20

Scariest moment was during my first skiing trip at Mount Cortina (near Hunter Mt. in NY). (My first time skiing ever. This was in the late 80's.)

 

I spent the day just on Terrance's Way (9) a green trail.  Eventually I was able to ski without falling.  I was still using a wedge to keep me from gathering too much speed and to make my turns down the slope.

 

Near the top of the trail there was an opening to a neighboring trail – Mona Lisa (4) –  A friend encouraged me to cross over and go down that trail.  I knew it was a green trail from the trail map, so I agreed thinking it would be similar to Terrance's Way.

 

It started well until I saw the dip ahead.  It was a trench-like dip that went across the trail.  (My friend later called it a mogul. but I am not too sure)  I straightened my skis from wedge to parallel to get past the dip.  It worked, but unfortunately I started too pick up too much speed.  I was not very skilled and did not know how to safely stop.  To make matters worse I was quickly approaching the lodge.  I barely managed to make a left turn (without crashing) to avoid running into the lodge and eventually came to a stop at the end of a line of skiers learning the basics from a ski instructor.

 

The instructor yelled at me to leave and stop interrupting his class.  I guess he thought I was showing off.  I knew better, but there was no point arguing.  I spent the rest of the day on Terrance's Way. 

 

It may not be as scary as some tales, but It was scary enough for me.

post #7 of 20

Several years ago I was skiing in a group at Blackcomb.  We were on the Crystal chair and headed hard to skier's right after we got off of the lift. I discovered some tracks heading into the trees to the right of the farthest open run and one of the guys in our group said that it wold take us down to the collector road coming in from Blackcomb Glacier and that it was a fun tree run.  He and I broke off from the group and headed down into the trees. "Bob" (not his real name) told me to work my way left and then took off on his noodle Pocket Rockets while I struggled along on my stiff Elan 666s.  I couldn't keep up and in moments I had lost Bob.

 

I was supposed to keep left, but how far or what may be in the way was not known.  Bob was gone and did not reappear.  I couldn't see anything but trees, I didn't know where I was, and it was getting steeper and the trees closer and closer together.  There was nobody around, I was lost.  After about what seemed like an eternity I finally saw some boarders through the trees and headed through a gully to get to their position.  They were following an extremely narrow, snowboard-made track that barely made it through the thick trees.  I somehow followed it and was rewarded by the trees finally opening just above the collector road.

 

All through this time I could imagine the reporters on the evening news telling about the search that was being suspended because of darkness for a stupid American tourist who was lost in the woods.  The rest of the day I stayed in the middle of the most open spots I could find.

post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by iheartnyc View Post
 

As a biker myself, now with two kids, I can't imagine going those speeds anymore, especially in the rain! I think the most I ever hit is maybe 60mph!

 

I regularly watch motorcycle crash accidents on some questionable websites just to remind myself that we are 1 crash away from severe injury or a very gruesome death, and that keeps me cautious always when on the bike. 


I have a son now..my motorbikes are gone for good.  Dirt bikes maybe..but no more road riding.

 

My scariest moment happened when my wife kicked my ass through some trees.  I realized I was old and useless..  :D

post #9 of 20
Watching an out-of-control yahoo come flying down an icy groomer at Keystone and plow into my then 7 year old son, sending him flying. Luckily my son was not injured (I still don't know how) but the feeling of helplessness in seeing the whole thing coming and not being able to do a damn thing about it, combined with the terrible feeling that my kid might be seriously injured, was awful. I had a few choice words for the gentleman, but his general lack of remorse left me wishing I'd resorted to violence. But that's just not my nature.
post #10 of 20

have had a lot of scary moments skiing over the years, but usually has been result of some a bad decision i made so i just deal with it.

I find it far worse watching bad stuff happen to others when you can't help .

 

1: time my 5 year old daughter was unexpectly put on the old shuksan lift at Baker by herself and then having to watch her get smaller and smaller as she wrapped herself around the centre post as the chair did it's bounce after stopping above the big early season drop to the creekbed at the bottom of Gables.

2 watching my daughter go around the bull wheel on that same trip by now hanging off the chair and start heading back down..

3:seeing my long time ski buddy miss a simple dip in flat light get airborn and watch him go into convulsions after he slammed into a rock.    

post #11 of 20
In high school, a good buddy slid on some ice in the shade at Heavenly and sliced the artery and nerve on his wrist with the edge of his ski. Turned out OK, but there was a ton of blood spurting out and covering the trail.
post #12 of 20

The first year they opened Silverado at Squaw--an area you can only see from the lift after you've skied it, full of chutes and cliffs (they've run a World Freeskiing Tour event there). I'm there when they drop the ropes at 1pm on 5 feet of fresh. I head off to the right to avoid other people's tracks and find myself traversing above a cliff band on a 40 degree slope. Should have slid but it didn't.

 

First time I skied Main Chute in the Palisades. Excellent snow, center rock covered, and I didn't feel scared at all---or so I thought. The run went fine but when I went to find some people I had been skiing with I could barely make it down an intermediate groomer. All my adrenalin was shot and I was completely spent.

post #13 of 20

Maybe back in the late 80s at Mammoth after getting off the Gondola at the top at 11,053 feet.  Two of us had been macho talking about taking a look down Hangmans then backing off and skiing down The Cornice saddle where most skiers descend.  We definitely were not thinking of skiing it because that required a sizable vertical drop way down before being able to turn and were just young sort of advanced skiers.  Most skiers come in from the skiers right side where the drop is less and traverse towards the center, but I'm talking about the center.  One thing about Mammoth being high on the Sierra Crest is it tends to be windy and was so that day though not horribly so.  Because of the winds the top is scoured icy hard wind pack, not easily edged. 

 

The cornice edge varies from year to year on any ridge line and that year that area near the edge was tilted downward instead of a more typical situation where it tilts up gradually until the very brink.  Well we side slip down slowly to peer over and of course a lingering gust of wind starts blowing that gives us the feeling we won't be able to stop and will get blown over.  YIKES!  I does look over, and barely manage to edge away and slide away down towards the saddle.  Young and STUPID, scared burn't lesson learned into gray matter,...never will do something like that again.

post #14 of 20
Doesn't sound too macho, really. Had the talk been about doing Hangmans instead of the far more reasonable looking into it, why that would be macho. But it ended up being pretty daring, anyway, so maybe I'm wrong!
post #15 of 20

When waiting in the lift line with my new skis and the person behind me don't seem to care about my new skis...;)

post #16 of 20

Both of my scariest moments happened in my youth.

 

The first was at Whistler-Blackcomb.  I was 9 years old, and my brother (11), dad, and I were skiing near the top of Whistler when we came upon a cliff.  To make matters worse, there was a reservoir directly underneath where we were, so we could not take the easiest way down.  I was always a daring skier for my age, but cliffs were my biggest fear for sure.  I'll never forget standing on top of the rocks, literally shaking in my boots, and the subsequent joy I felt when we found an easier chute we could take to avoid anything dangerous.

 

 

Fast forward three years and I was now at Kirkwood, again skiing with my brother and dad.  We took The Wall chairlift to the top of the mountain, and began skiing along the top of the ridge above the Wagon Wheel Bowl.  For anyone that knows the mountain, you'll know that there are several large cliff-like rocks as you move farther away from the lift.  We decided to trek as far as we could, and at this point we were behind the rocks.  On my right were large cliffs, and on my left was the backside of the mountain, which was steep and essentially only rocks.  We began to fear that we had gone too far.  I then suddenly slipped, and fell almost to my knees before grabbing my dad's leg.  Luckily, I was small enough to not tip him over, and we found a couloir from which we could enter the bowl.  I always wonder what would have happened if his leg couldn't support me.

 

And then, of course, we'll all remember the steep, icy trails we cried about when we were 5.  Those were the days.

post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by lakespapa View Post

Doesn't sound too macho, really. Had the talk been about doing Hangmans instead of the far more reasonable looking into it, why that would be macho. But it ended up being pretty daring, anyway, so maybe I'm wrong!


Amen to that haha as we were admittedly semi-wimps.   Mammoth has lots of scary drops.   This was back in the day of skinny skis of course.   Later that morning as bump skiers we short swing jumped turned down Wipe Out 1 then Climax that was about our limit on the you fall you slide a long long ways slopes.  A few years later I fell while skiing with a noted extreme skier on High Yellow Gully at Alpine after we found all new snow had been bombed off to an icy cement layer and climbing back out was almost impossible.  I partially tore something in my knee that kept me off skis a couple months and he had a worse knee injury leaving in a tobaggan.  Have since stayed away from challenging dangerous drops where one might slide into rocks.  Stuff like that didn't scare me while it was happening while looking over Hangmans had me shaking in my boots.

post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by easternpowguy View Post
 

 

 

Fast forward three years and I was now at Kirkwood, again skiing with my brother and dad.  We took The Wall chairlift to the top of the mountain, and began skiing along the top of the ridge above the Wagon Wheel Bowl.  For anyone that knows the mountain, you'll know that there are several large cliff-like rocks as you move farther away from the lift.  We decided to trek as far as we could, and at this point we were behind the rocks.  On my right were large cliffs, and on my left was the backside of the mountain, which was steep and essentially only rocks.  We began to fear that we had gone too far.  I then suddenly slipped, and fell almost to my knees before grabbing my dad's leg.  Luckily, I was small enough to not tip him over, and we found a couloir from which we could enter the bowl.  I always wonder what would have happened if his leg couldn't support me.

 

 

The first year they opened the Wall there was no cat track at all at the entry--just a narrow goat path across the vertical face of a 15 foot high cornice. (My wifemanaged to fall off of that once.) There was a skull and crossbones posted at the bottom of the lift. A did 3 laps and the same woman was at the top the whole time, trying to figure out how she was going to get down. Another year the Wall was particularly icy--riding up the lift we saw person after person fall and slide to the flats. I skied the icy bumps at the top until I could cut right into Eagle Bowl and the best corn I've ever skied. Did that a few times and never did see anyone else figure it out.

post #19 of 20

Skiing at Squaw Valley, top of Cornice bowl, skiing a couple of inches of powder. I fell over, not a bad fall, just to my hip. When I tried to get up I realized it was pure ice underneath the powder. And there was a cliff of some kind not far away.  Every time I went to put weight on my skis I would slide.  I was terrified I would go off the cliff.

 

My buddy Jimmy suggested I get up and get going and then I would be on top in the powder instead of on the ice.  I did it and it worked.

post #20 of 20

A tie with my earlier scary moment.  I was skiing along at about 50-60 mph when I noticed that a trail branching off from the main black diamond I was on had a huge half pipe in it.  I had never been in a half pipe, so naturally on the spur of the moment I altered course and went into the half pipe.  On approaching the half pipe I noticed that it was right next to some big trees, and fearing I would end up in said trees, I pushed off at the lip.  Instead of going straight up and coming straight down I went up the wall, pushed off the wall and came down in the middle of the pipe.  Looking down from what seemed like the roof of a three story building and realizing that I had no choice but to go down and land on the hard ice with little slope in the middle of the pipe was a pretty scary moment .  My wife who witnessed the event was scared too; she thought I was going to die.  I managed to land without losing it, I wobbled but did not fall down.  Both my heels hurt for two months. 

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