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Scariest ski experiences

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
Has anyone done a scariest ski experiences thread?
My two were being in an avalanche in France and this one in Alagna, Italy (has anyone else skied there?):
(I got it published in an English ski mag but they spoilt it with stupid cuts)
__________________________________________________ _

Victoria Fall

“Qualunque errore e fatale” said the off-piste guide book: “Any mistake and you’re dead”. “Extremely difficult. Entry at 60º, slope 50º ... frequent cornices”
We had been taken to it on our first day and shuffled as close to the edge as we dared and peered over into the abyss. Days later, after a helicopter drop (the only way to ski the far side of this area) we had looked across at a rock wall over half a kilometre high and had pointed out to us a flat point on the ridge from which a little ribbon of snow traced a hesitant diagonal to the broad snow fields below. This was Punte Victoria. It didn’t look skiable.
And now here we were, on our last day, preparing to be roped down into it.
Far below us huge, shattered seracs and magnificent snow fields spread out towards a distant valley, and beyond, under a brilliant blue sky, the hazy ranks of mountains marched off down the Val Grande and Val Gressoney into the heart of north Italy. Down there, we were told, would be the best snow in the area, and this was the only way down.
We were a party of six skiing at Alagna with our guide, Andrea Enzio, and two new friends we had invited to join us for the day.
We had donned our harnesses at the top of the cable car and, after a couple of drag lifts and a small, rocky scramble, had traversed a wide bowl to the edge.
Andrea belayed a rope to his skis stuck in the snow while some of us peered down again or had a nervous pee. Would it be better to let others go first or go early and get it over ?
The first person had the rope attached to his harness and stepped over the edge. I occupied myself with my camera: Andrea's legs in the foreground and, from almost directly above, the little figures of my friends.
Three down and it was my turn. I was shown how to release the karabiner and stepped to the edge. The start was a vertical broken cornice. Lean out, and don’t hold on to the rope... But I felt an instinctive need to hang on.
20 or 30 metres later I had to release myself from the security of the rope and stand waiting on the precipitous slope for the others to arrive. I am told that Andrea skied down (on Telemarks!), using an ice-axe merely to steady his initial entry, but I missed it. I was much too busy starting my descent.
Down below us the chute narrowed and dropped over an edge: a rocky plunge three or four hundred metres down to the glacier.
The snow was firm but soft enough to grip well. I’d like to say that we skied it but actually we side-slipped very, very carefully.
A little way down a turn was necessary to pass left above some rocks. It was too steep for a kick-turn so one by one by one we nerved ourselves and jump-turned.
Things were going well. I managed, precariously, to get out my camera and photographed the first two starting down the next pitch. (Below, Andrea took off his skis to help them out of the main couloir: an awkward few steps around a rocky ridge.)
The new chute rejoined the first further down. The entry was tricky. I thought I could let myself go a little and then catch myself again. The snow was suddenly icy... I hadn’t meant... my tips caught and I slewed around, looking for a moment straight up the slope as I fell backwards.
Both skis came off as I tumbled... Stop quickly or I’m dead. Feet below me, facing the slope... it was immediately obvious I couldn’t stop. Everything seemed to happen quite slowly. There were rocks below and part of my mind wondered if I was going to hit them. I pushed myself off the slope with my hands, putting my weight on my boot tips: the Giles Green self-arrest... They dug into the snow. Too much... I was flipped over, somersaulting backwards... Get feet below again: push slightly, this time only just off the snow... My boots bit: I just avoided another somersault, slowed and came to rest.
Held by the very tips of my boots I didn’t dare move.
Very carefully, I kicked a foothold.
I had fallen about 50 metres, tumbling over two broad rocks. I was 30 metres from the drop-off. I didn’t have a scratch.
Below me, when I dared look round, was Andrea holding my ski.
The others had seen him actually leaping down and across the slope - it was a race: who would get to our intersection point first, him or me? He did. Would he have stopped me? Perhaps, but I doubt it. It was a very steep slope.
As it was my pack had come open and my camera fallen out. Andrea was faced with two falling objects and wisely chose to stop my ski. My camera is now at the bottom of the cliff. Andrea looked when we got there but there was no sign.
Pentax are solidly built. If anyone finds it I hope they send me the film.
I think, though, it is set on a new course: carried in the frozen time-scale of the glacier as it grinds its slow passage; bearing unknowingly into the future its cargo of rocks, rubbish and old corpses.
That evening at dinner my friends toasted my escape from death and I thought of Giles Green, the Alpine Experience guide who taught me his method of self-arrest and made me practice it. He died two years ago from a brain tumour. I’m sorry I can’t write and tell him it worked.
Andrea, by the way, is a very good guide. I gave him a nasty moment but he gave us some great skiing. I’ll be back; after all, I haven’t skied all of the Victoria couloir yet.

I wrote all that some time ago. Later I realised that Andreas race had been heroic. He could have been going to his death. I have never told him so, till now.
I don’t know if he has taken any clients down the face since. (I gather only one other guide had ever done so before). He had, himself, made the first snowboard descent, and that day may well have been the first on Telemarks. If so he didn’t tell us. Most extreme skiers die young, but I’m not one. I’ve never been back. Yet.
Recently I talked with someone Andrea guided last year. He too had looked across at Punte Victoria, and he told me about an Englishman who fell.
It seems I am one of Andrea’s stories, as he is one of mine.
post #2 of 33
Wow! :

That's an incredible story - I'm glad everyone survived.

If that's the ballpark, the scariest thing that's ever happened to me on skis not only isn't in the ballpark, it isn't in the parking lot outside or on the freeway leading to the parking lot or even in the car in the garage at home.

post #3 of 33
Thread Starter 
Thanks Bob! But hitting an icy run on your own can be just as scary for a beginner (I remember that feeling : ).
post #4 of 33
Thread Starter 
Well, looks like I messed up on this thread by putting my own experience first; or perhaps you've had a thread like this already. (And then I probably just sounded condescending when I posted again to try to encourage people to tell their stories.)
Oh well at least some people saw my article the way I wanted it!
post #5 of 33
I’ll bite! I have a number of “scary”experiences but my two avys and one event this last year come to mind as memorable and, with respect to this year’s story, fresh.

I posted this before so the reference to Camille's story won't make sense but . . .

During the mid 1980’s I had the dubious distinction of being involved in two avi’s. The first was a mid size slab avalanche, which occurred on a small inbounds hill at what is now the Northwest Express lift area at Mt. Bachelor, Oregon. My brother and I skied up to the hill through some widely spaced Doug Fir trees, as we broke out of the trees and skied down the hill (not really steep, maybe 25 degrees), the entire face of the snow broke free. We rode the slab for a short while, and then broke through. We were lucky, and were able to ski out to the side/bottom through some trees, which were about 50 – 60 yards away. Total slab size was about 100’ x 100’ x 18” or so, and slid for more than 60 yards. The pucker factor was very big. No warning, not an area we were expecting an avy, and we could see the slab crack and slough off while we were on it.
(This story actually leaves out the fact that I was trapped in the avy but not buried. The reason this was “scary” is that once I broke through the snow, my forward momentum all but stopped. The snow behind me, however, did not stop. I could feel the snow pushing me forward and pilling up behind me. The snow was also pushing me face down into the snow in front of me. Worse yet the snow was moving quite slowly which made it a bit like a bad dream. I knew I would soon be buried but there was nothing I could do. Quite frightening. But lucky for me the slide ran out of steam before my head, or even my shoulders were buried. Still it took quite a while to dig out even with my brothers help. The “slow motion” effect made this avy more frightening than the avy in the next story.

The second was very similar to Camille Coyle’s story. Again the same Bro and I were skiing, this time at Mt. Hood Meadows. We were skiing inbounds during a weekday after quite a few days of heavy snowfall. We probably had 2’ or so of new snow. We had skied the front of the ski area and had taken a few runs down the Hood River Meadows lift area. It was just about last run and we expected to find little fresh snow on this lift but did expect to find some good fast groomers to finish the day. On Willow, however, we found nice, although tracked, powder. It looked like a dozen skiers had been through the area (which is short and not very large). On our second, and last run down Willow, we decided to ski the skiers left part of the face. The top of Willow has a flat spot that is not very wide, and as I skied up, I skied to a stop on the left section of the table. I was about 2’ from the edge and not quite stopped when a section of the table about 30’ x 10’ by 6’ deep collapsed. I just remember dropping 6’ hitting upright and being pushed into a steep and tight ravine. I flipped over and my left ski caught on willows in the ravine. As I flipped, I remembered an avy lecture I had once heard about making an air pocket, so I grabbed my jacket and pulled it over my mouth/face.

Some thoughts on avy snow: it is cold, you can’t move, it is dark, you can’t breathe (the snow filled into my air pocket but I was able to clear an airway with my hands which were by my face and my tongue), it is totally quiet.
I was lucky. I fell and was trapped in the top part of the slide, upside down, with my skis above me acting like an umbrella. The area I was in was very steep, probable more than 45 degrees but short, perhaps 30’. So while I was deeply buried, it was easy to uncover me. The area I was in also caused some problems, since the snow above me was not stable. I did not feel at all safe till I was out of the slide and down on flat ground. The tip of my right ski was out of the snow so I was immediately discovered by my bro. Unfortunately, he had already skied below me and had to hike up the 45-degree slope, through the 2’ of new to get into a position to rescue. It took him about 20 minutes to get into position and about 10 min to dig my face out (that was real time in avy time the whole thing took about two hours). We made last chair but had to explain what happened to the lifty.

Reasons for the avy: I don’t know, but here is what I think. The area had received substantial snow over the past few days. That area had received more than its fair share and because there were few skiers it had not been heavily tracked. The small area I chose to stand on was free of tracks. I suspect my added weight on the unconsolidated snow caused the top to slough off and pull a section of snow down the hill. The ravine was completely covered until the avy pushed the snow below out of the way.

This was a small slide, but if I had been alone I would have died in it. It was dark by the time we made the lift and no one would have found me till next day at the soonest. Good avy skills are a must, ski with a partner, practice avy skills and rescue techniques. And don’t forget avys can happen inbounds as well as out.

I burned up a lot of my luck on that one day. But better surviving an avy than the night before winning a hand at poker.

The following is one of those events that happens unexpectedly and leaves you filled with rotten adrenaline for hours, even though ultimately it was a non event.

Skiing the Northwest Express lift at Mt Bachelor this year I took one of the run outs, which I seldom if ever take. An explanation about Bachelor’s topography is in order. On the NW Express the top 1/3 of the mountain is quite steep, the middle is moderately steep and the bottom is quite flat. The mountain has an odd rolling or undulating slope here where there is a drop of perhaps 50' followed by 50' of flat. This repeats over and over down the mountain even on the flats.

This happened on the flats and I was cruising along very fast, perhaps at 40 miles per hour, laying down RR tracks with big long radius carves, pre-jumping the rollers, and overall just having fun. As I came off one roller on a section of flats I was unfamiliar with, I realized my pre-jump would land in the trough before the next roller, I would have a hard compression (the next roller actually was uphill) and I would only be able to partially pre-jump that roller. This meant I would probably catch quite a bit of air off the top. Usually this was no problem but I could see that there was an island of trees (large Doug firs) about 30' dead ahead. The human brain is really cool. But mine was calculating I would land smack in the middle of the trees at 40 mph or maybe 30 if I tried a full on hockey stop.

More or less every warning horn in my brain was going off and my adrenal gland was pouring adrenaline into my blood stream as if it had a 3" hose connected directly to my heart. Here I am, mid flight with my blood pressure and heart rate redlined and time at 1/10th speed wondering whether or not I will feel the impact with a tree, which weighs more than many houses. Lucky for me with time at 1/10 speed I actually had time to think. I realized my only hope was to deflect my course a few degrees to the right once I landed and then pre-jump the next roller and hope to land before the trees, which might give me enough room to start a Herminator style Super G carve to the right and out of danger.

The problem with time at 1/10 speed is that you still move at normal speed so after landing, and compressing, I eliminated the decompression and immediately went to the deflection carve. I was sure I was not going to make the pre-jump (which would have meant trees). Somehow I threw my arms forward and sucked up the legs into a pre-jump.

I made it. But I really don’t know how. I landed very long but the deflection carve changed my trajectory enough so I was able to land and power carve out of danger. We went in for lunch after that run - I was completely spent. Without all the adrenaline I would not have made it. With the adrenaline I was able to carve at the bottom of a hard compression and still suck up for a pre-jump.

Well, there are three stories each “scary” for a different reason and “scary” in a different way.

post #6 of 33

A story about being young and invincible...

: <then<----------:---------->now>

It was spring, and I was young, stupid/invincible and skiing alone in France. (On rental equipment - a beautiful pair of Lacroix skis!)
I mapped out a run down an unskied area that could be see from a lift (I rode it several times to figure out my line). It was an extremely steep series of cliffs in what might have been a no-go area - and it looked like a whole lot of fun to the young and stupid me.

Once ready, I go - and I'm flying! Cliff after cliff, ripping the line I'd spent so long working out! ...and then it was over. I'd skied it successfully! I took another ride up the lift to admire my tracks. I was VERY satisfied.
An hour later...I see there is a helicopter rescue going on - some guy was stuck way up there, about 1/3 of the way down my line.
He was uninjured and his skis were OK, so I guess vertigo got to him or good sense kicked in. I said to myself:

: "Like, I totally kick ass, dude!!!" :

But over the next few days I couldn't get it out of my mind: I had come to realize that I had done something very dangerous...and for perhaps the first time in my sporting life, I realized that doing dangerous things can end very badly.
I was growing up...very slowly, but growing up nonetheless.
post #7 of 33
snowball - that is a hell of a scary story. I don't have any really good ones from skiing; mine are mostly from near-drowning in whitewater kayaks.
post #8 of 33
Old School, I disagree, you did everything right. The schmoe that followed you was the one who mucked it up.
Whenever I get asked this question I answer "kastle B 52 carve machine...."
post #9 of 33
My scariest story.... on a chairlift in the UP of Michiagan. There I was gently riding up the lift at Indian Head when the lift started bouncing against the tower guard, causing the chair to sway a few degress left and right of center. With each tower guard it hit the chair began swaying out further and further. Finally I started to get nervous and began hanging on to the side of the chair. about halfway up the chair connected really good with the tower guard and now the chair was swinging out to about 45 degrees. Now I was really starting to get scared, the next tower sent the chair out to 50-60 degrees, the swinging was so violent that I had to really hang on to not be thrown off of the chair. At the next tower the chair swung in right before it got to the tower and the chair got caught on the tower pulling the chair back and twisting the chair off of the cable. Me and the chair fell to the ground with the chair on top of me, then the ski patrolers who came to get me almost dropped the stretcher. A shattered right humorous, broken nose, thumb, and sprained knee resulted, Thanks Indian Head!! any of you in the UP stay away from the 3 man chair that goes over the creek and small ravine.
post #10 of 33
Watching my 7 year old son, his 3rd time on skis, stand at the top of North Star at Bristol Mountain on a Saturday night and say to all of us, "Watch this, guys."

He proceeded to tuck down North Star, roll through the flats on Galaxy, fly through Big Dipper, and finish tucking down Lower Meteor to the bottom with no trouble. He explained, "I just did what the guys on TV do."

Dad, meanwhile, just about died!

PS--my son is now a self-taught terrain park jump and spin expert. It may be safer.
post #11 of 33
a very high speed near-miss experience, at mammoth, this past october. another skier and i exchanged jacket fabric when we JUST MISSED a head-on while on stump alley. it took me awhile before i was ready to ski again after i pulled over and replayed the scenario a few times.

i still think about it from time to time and shake my head.
post #12 of 33
Thread Starter 
Neufox47, that IS scary, I'd managed to persuade myself those chairs didn't fall off!

Maddog, I suppose most people who ski off piste a lot have had the experience of nearly being in an avalanche. Sometimes it may have been quite small, but small ones can kill you. There is a huge weight of of frozen water in a cubic metre of snow.
My first experience (and the scaryest other than the one that actually got me) happened 18 or 19 years ago.

I hadn’t skied off piste much then and didn’t know much about the dangers.

The Crystal reps at Tignes had arranged a barbecue up the mountain, by a hut just off a piste. When I was leaving the Crystal “Ski Guide”(not actually a proper guide of course), knowing I was a better skier than the others said to me ”You don’t need to climb all the way up to the piste again: just go on down this gully and then ski left. But make sure you leave before the big rock, because the gully ends at a cliff”.

There had been heavy new snowfalls the day before, but that day was sunny and very hot. By the afternoon the snow was starting to melt. Prime avalanche conditions if I had only known.

I made first tracks down the gully but saw no big rock (the new snow had probably hidden it), but I could see the gully steepening ahead and then plunging out of sight, so I thought I’d better go left. I traversed out and found myself on a steep, convex slope that dropped over an edge to my right, falling onto some rock pinnacles. I didn’t know then that convex slopes were the worst, but I could see avalanche fences 60 or 70 yards ahead on similar slopes and as I headed for them slightly uphill accross the untracked slope I felt very exposed.

I’d gone about a third of the way and suddenly there was a sharp “Crack” and a crack appeared accross the snow above me, and a fraction of a second later the snow just below me, released and went over the edge onto the rock pinnacles below with a muffled thundering noise.

I stood there shaking, wondering, if I move will the bit I’m on go too?

I couldn’t decide to go forward or back, but back would have meant some sort of Kick turn, which I wasn’t confident about doing on that slope, followed by a long climb up the gulley in deep snow. Anyway I was about half way to the fences. I went forward.

I inched my way accross that slope, walking as gently and smoothly as I knew how above the unavalanched slopes, my heart in my mouth, and finally reached the avalanche barriers and traversed along just above them till I could ski out on a gentle slope. Some of the longest minutes in my life!

Later I discovered that it had been one of the worst days for avalanche deaths in the Alps on record!

Another time at La Grave, we started to ski the steep back, (down to a long valley and eventually St Christoph - not the famous St. Christoph, but a tiny village with no skiing of its own but one good restaurant). The snow was firm but had been on the lee side of some strong wind.
Our guide (we were a double group with 2 guides), who was starting off first down the long, very steep gulley got caught on a relatively small sheet of wind pack (perhaps 20ft accross) that suddenly released and carried him about 80yards very rapidly down the top part of the chute till he managed to get off it (I'm not sure how - he was out of sight).
He climbed back up to us and he and the other guide decided it was too dangerous and we had to climb out the 40 yards we had all skied.

A short while ago I decided to write an account of the one avalanche I'd been in, but I’ve never sent it to a magazine, partly because I never told my wife it had happened (she worries enough about me skiing off piste) and partly because I don’t have any photos.
In our case the conditions seemed relatively safe, so there are few lessons to learn except that you can never be complaisant.

I'll look it out and put it on here.
post #13 of 33
Thread Starter 
Avalanche near Saint Foix.

“Look out” someone shouted, but before I could turn I was struck from behind by what I assumed was a very heavy skier, who knocked me flat and pinned me face down with all his weight as we slid uncontrollably down the slope. Then I realised I was in an avalanche.

I had arrived in Val d’Isere that morning to join the second week of an off-piste skiing holiday. The others had been skiing for a week but I had come by overnight ski-train ahead of the new influx.
It hadn’t snowed for a while and the off-piste was skied-out; so one of guides had offered to lead a day tour from Saint Foix. It’s not much skied there and has some good off-piste, so I decided to go.
We were already a large group of seven, but the 3 leaders were having their day off and wanted to go as well. They decided to follow, lagging a little behind so as not to count as part of the group.

We were driven by mini-bus down to Saint Foix, a small resort between Bourg St. Maurice and Val d’Isere. It wa a fine morning, clear and sunny with crisp snow.
After several lifts we arrived at the top of the ski area and started off straight ahead on a long traverse, leaving the lifts and pistes behind.
After a mile or so we stopped and took off our skis and applied the skins to our ski bases with varying degrees of skill. We stripped off our jackets and started a long diagonal up the mountain.
We climbed steadily for about an hour and a half, passing left through what had seemed a coll into a flatish area between peaks, perhaps a small summer lake, and finally, refusing the obvious coll ahead, climbed a bit further up to the Coll d’Argentiere.

We rested and took off our skins. The start would be quite tricky.
Although generally the snow was well settled, the start was shaded and still soft. There was a steep gully that any snowslide would take us into so we went one at a time to minimise the stress on the slope.
Collecting around the corner, after a short steep section we surveyed a magnificent, wide, even slope, streatching untracked for about half a mile. The snow here was settled and not steep. Perhaps 30º at the start but reducing to 25º after that.
“OK”, the guide told us, “you can just ski as you like now”.
He started down and we all followed in rapid succession.
I was third in the bunch and concentrating on my turns when I heard someone call “Look out”.
Perhaps if I didn’t have a tinitus I might have had some warning, but it wouldn’t have made much difference. The avalanche struck me from behind and hurled me onto my face, pinning me there as I was propelled on what must have been the forward edge of the snow mass, rapidly down the slope, my arms spread in front of me as I tried to keep my face above a cloud of snow, sliding down and down as though we would never stop, totally unable to make any choices, just being carried helplessly till the pounding eased and I found myself lying stationary in a heap of tumbled chunks of snow, totally winded.
I rolled half onto my side and realised I wasn’t buried. I tried to take a gulp of air but I couldn’t. I had inhaled snow and my mouth and throat were clogged with it. I spat and managed to cough up a chunk of the snow. I could just draw in a little stream of air but I wanted to ghasp it in. Keep calm I said to myself, you won’t suffocate. Just wait and the rest will melt.
All I could do was half sit , half lie, for several minutes unable to respond to the shouts behind me and someone calling my name.
Slowly my airway cleared and I recovered from my battering. Eventually I was able to look around.
I was in a wilderness of lumped and tumbled snow, about 30 yards from the final front edge. behind me the scattering of debris led up and up to distant figures. I had been carried about 300yards.

It turned out the last person of our main group had set it off on the rest of us. He must have skied some critical bit that we hadn’t.
The 3 group leaders following us had seen him ride a raft of crust for a few seconds before falling into the tumbling snow.
He and the guide ended up below me and the others deposited at various points down the slope.
Amazingly the only one needing to be dug out a little was the guide. He was swearing steadily (it was his first avalanche too, as a guide anyway).
Other than a couple of slight strains and lots of bruises we were all miraculously unhurt.
The steady, gradually easing slope had prevented the snow piling up and had simply let it run out of energy.
One of the women was crying in shocked reaction.

Initially we seven found we had lost all our equipment , but as people picked their way down the slope they collected about half the skis and sticks, and even a few hats and goggles. I was lucky, I finally had both skis and a very bent stick and borrowed another.
We were many miles from the bottom and in a different valley from the pistes. We had to call a helicopter to take those without skis home.

Finally it arrived and the others climbed in as the guide and the leaders and I, and one other, skied off to complete the run.

Later that week we made three lines in the local paper. Some English skiers in an avalanche at Col d’Argentiere. No one hurt.
Nothing important.
post #14 of 33
Originally Posted by Snowball
Avalanche near Saint Foix.
Later that week we made three lines in the local paper. Some English skiers in an avalanche at Col d’Argentiere. No one hurt.
Nothing important.
what's most scary about this is that a 30 degree slope with a 25 degree run-out is generally considered low-angle and pretty safe. The guide sounds like he made a good call - no terrain trap below- nice story
post #15 of 33
I kind of passed over this thread as I didn't expect much. Just reading these stories will leave me with a feeling similar to that which I have had at the end of the day after experiencing my own "scary" moments - although I feel kind of ridiculous using that term after reading these.

I'm not sure exactly what my scariest experience has been but a few of the scariest involved leading my kids (when they were younger) into situations with pretty dangerous exposure. The scary gets amplified when you expose others, most especially, your kids, to dangers at hand. Let me add that at this point I would be much less worried about my son than myself given his willingness to ski the lines he does.
post #16 of 33
Thread Starter 
LeeLau, it could have been 5º more, I suppose, but certainly no more than that. Yes, I don't know if anyone in authority blamed the guide but we certainly didn't.
PS. Personally I'm not prejudiced: I'd like to hear one of your kayaking stories (it's still white and H2O). Just mark it as Off Topic and the hard-core snowists can give it a miss.
post #17 of 33
Originally Posted by neufox47
My scariest story.... on a chairlift in the UP of Michiagan. There I was gently riding up the lift at Indian Head when the lift started bouncing against the tower guard, causing the chair to sway a few degress left and right of center. With each tower guard it hit the chair began swaying out further and further. Finally I started to get nervous and began hanging on to the side of the chair. about halfway up the chair connected really good with the tower guard and now the chair was swinging out to about 45 degrees. Now I was really starting to get scared, the next tower sent the chair out to 50-60 degrees, the swinging was so violent that I had to really hang on to not be thrown off of the chair. At the next tower the chair swung in right before it got to the tower and the chair got caught on the tower pulling the chair back and twisting the chair off of the cable. Me and the chair fell to the ground with the chair on top of me, then the ski patrolers who came to get me almost dropped the stretcher. A shattered right humorous, broken nose, thumb, and sprained knee resulted, Thanks Indian Head!! any of you in the UP stay away from the 3 man chair that goes over the creek and small ravine.
Damn! Reading that is like having a bad dream.
post #18 of 33
About 10 years ago now, two friends and I and a guide were skiing one of the variations above the Valle Blanche in Chamonix off the Aguille du Midi. The snow conditions were horrible, sasstrugli wind blown snow, we were following our guide in single file as per instructions, we crossed a snow bridge over a crevasse without realising it, the guide first, my mate Bill second then me and my other mate Gavin behind me. The snow bridge broke as I crossed it, Bill in front was just on the edge and he dived forward and managed to grab the snow, the ground just disapeared from under me I just had time to shout crevasse and then dissapeared.

The next thing I knew I was buried to my chestest in snow I couldn't move and my back and face hurt and I could barely get my breath. I managed to free my arms and then found I had blood coming from a head wound, I dug my legs out and fould that I could move and that I was on a snow bridge deep in the crevasse, just behind, the snow bridge ended and the crevasse dissapeared into blacknness, in front a huge ice flake with a sharp edge jutted up and beyond it the crevasse just dissapeared. Looking up I could see the walls of the crevasse but not the sky

I put some snow on my cuts to stop the bleeding, and got an extra layer from my pack and waited for rescue. The Guide threw down a rope which I could only tie around my waist with a bowline as we had no harnesses (On a previous descent with another guide we had had harnesses).

The guide could not make contact with his radio due to a large rock buttress above, so my friends had to descend over crevassed terrain to the main Valle Blanche route to intercept another guide to call for help, they then climbed side stepping all of the way back up.

Eventually the helicopter came in and dropped off the Gendamerie de Secours guys (Chamonix rescue service), they setup belays and a winch and came down and winched me out with the help of Bill & Gavin. As I came out I realised just how far I had fallen, some 25-30 metres thats about 100 feeet. I owe my life to those guys.

I was helicoptered to Chamonix and was able to walk to the ambulance and rode in the front seat to hospital. They were expecting a corpse. They have about 10 a year fall into crevasses and 8 of those die and the other two ar usually critical, I was extremely lucky to have hit an 8ft long snow bridge.

I took some photos whilst I was down the crevasse and I have some photos of the rescue.

The view looking up the crevasse, note the large ice flake in front.

The view behind where the snow bridge ends and the crevasse disapears into blackness. (They can be upto 400m deep)

Emerging from the crevasse on the winch cable. (hand winch took 3 people to operate it)
post #19 of 33
Just reading these stories makes my escapades seem rather trite -- as in "I was rippin' it at K-Mart when...." Not to say that most of us haven't been scared witless even in some benign situations! I know that I have, and most of it due to either my carelessness or some other person's. I have only rarely ventured into places where by the sheer act of being there one might come to extreme grief (I can think of about three or four different places in Verbier that have caused me to wonder what the hell I was doing being there at all).

But they are a fascinating read. Stuck in a crevasse -- when all you were looking for was some nice untracked freshies.... But I am sure that some Bears have stories from heliskiing and places like Alaska that will make us all shake our heads.

Let's hear them!!
post #20 of 33
Thread Starter 
Great story and photos, Bloxy, but somehow your text goes beyond the edge of my page. Anything you can do?
There is a well known apocryphal story of the Valle Blanche (where so many people unwisely ski without guides and even on their own). A guy fell in a cravasse and his friend put in a rope... but someone else climbed out!
post #21 of 33
I skied down this and it was pretty scary:

Seriously, nothing compared to an avalanche or that crevasse thank goodness.

Yesterday I hit a big kicker in the park and in midair I see a snowboarder traverse right onto the landing. He barely moved away in time: had he not, I really think my 6' 2" 180lb frame would have seriously injured him.I was coming down skis first for a two point landing....on his head.

I misjudged a line at Squaw this year and instead of an 6 footer it was a 15-20 foot huck. Not the worst but it really had my heart in my mouth.
post #22 of 33
I told my ten-year old son who was complaining of thirst to follow me in order to get a drink and scated over a hill and around the parking lot to the car to get some water. I waited for about 10 minutes, and then went back to look for him. He was nowhere in sight: . I yelled his name and he came out of the lodge about 200 yeards from where I was. I was relieved.

I was on my way to the ski hill last year and got a late start on the day. I just figured if I drove twice as fast it would take 1/2 as long to get there. I was the only car on an otherwise vacant stretch of two-lane blacktop going about 100mph (50mph speed limit) when I crested a hill and saw a cop car sitting about 100 feet off the main road about a mile ahead on a side road (cops in Ontario Canada use white cars so they can blend into the snow and are harder to spot). He must of been looking the other way, 'cause I slowed down before he beamed me, but that really scared me.
post #23 of 33
Originally Posted by Snowball
Great story and photos, Bloxy, but somehow your text goes beyond the edge of my page. Anything you can do?
That's because of the large photo - anytime that happens a horizontal scroll bar should appear at the bottom of your screen.

Just move that scroll bar to the right and you'll see what you had been missing.
post #24 of 33
Thread Starter 
Oh of course, how stupid of me. I've only come lately to the web, I'm afraid (I may have a web-site but it was set up for me by a friend).

PS I suppose I should have called myself "snowballs". Several people on snowheads.com thought I must be a girl!
post #25 of 33
Sorry I couldn't see the problem, I have a wide screen laptop so the full page width was displaying OK.
post #26 of 33
Getting out of a whorehouse in Zakopane, Poland alive after agreat day of skiing.
post #27 of 33
Thread Starter 
About 20 years ago I met an English woman who had travelled alone in Turkey, using a "Europe on $5 a day" type book. She went to what the guide said was a hotel, but it had a very strange atmosphere so she locked the door of her room.
Fairly soon men started to knock on her door and call, and then to shove money under the door, and she realised the cheap hotel was now a whorehouse.
Eventually she did the classic thing and knotted her sheets together and climbed out of the window. But first she took the money that had been shoved under the door!!!
The guys in the whorehouse quickly realised she had run off and persued her down the street, but luckily she found a police car and asked for protection. I don't remember if she had to give the money back.
post #28 of 33
Had a couple, probably pretty tame compared to the previous ones. This ones dates to 1982. Was at Squaw Valley with my brother and my two best friends. We were there when a severe winter storm was going through the Tahoe region. Frankly there was nobody skiing Squaw that day. My brother and my friend Shawn both intmd. took about 3 runs and called it quits. My buddy, Eric and I were the die-hards and all our life had never let weather stop us. We decided to warm up on Siberia Express at the top. We knew something was up when were taking the gondi up and they were throwing cinder blocks in with us to counter weight the thing. Little good it did, he hit about 4 of the lift stands on the way up. When we finally got up there they said there was no more Gondis for the day.

We got about three runs in and were told they were going to close out that part of the mountain. We figured we'd take a run to the bottom and then Jump on KT22/Olympic Lady. The wind was houling and visibility was down to maybe 25 yards, but we made it up to the top. We were the only people on the chair. We started on down and a patroller comes out of the shack and goes down with us. We did'nt see a single person on the run down. When we got to the bottom the visibility was now down to about 10 yards but we figured, what the Hey let's do one more. Anyways we get back on the lift, oh and we thought it was kinda of strange there was no lifty, and head back up. We get to the point were the lift carries over a deep ravine and then the wind hits us and the lift slows down to a crawl. The chair was swinging back and forth to the point we were sliding from one side to the other. We ended up taking our poles and jamming them into the sides of the chair frame and using them as bars to keep us from getting blown off the chair. The visibility is now like 10 feet and its a full on white out blizzard. At one point we just looked at each other and we could see the fear of God in both our eyes through the goggles. Then a burst of clear air comes through and we look down and realize that were at the highest point of the chair and its blowing back and forth at what felt like 45 dg.s, and twisting, and what looked like 100 feet to the ground, probably more like 25-30. As the lift is creeping along slowly we see a lifty coming down in a chair on the other side. He was yelling something at us but we could'nt hear him because of the wind. We finally make it to the top and were shaking from total fear of falling off the lift. No one at the top, no lights in the shacks, nothing. We take our time and ski down keeping each other in eye sight. Just to be on the safe side we kept in the trees having a bad feeling we might be in for some severe AVI conditions. We finally make it down and theres a group of patrollers who are gathering up for a search party. (our search party) boy were they happy to see us come out. Turns out they closed the entire mountain and the lifty that was running the bottom decided it was too cold and split early. We were the only people on the mountain and turns out that the entire area we skied down was under severe Avi watch, just like we thought. Had we been on the actually runs there was no doubt in both our minds we would have triggered one.

This one did'nt happen to me directly but I saw it happen. Again my buddy, Eric and I were up at Snow Valley, 1980. We were going on the backside to ski the only challange there called Slide Peak. Its a short black diamond, (if you can call anything other than Baldy in SoCal black diamond) You take a short lift in and out to ski this run, which means you have people going up and down on the lift at the same time. Were on the lift going down and all of a sudden we hear yelling directly across from us. We look over and one of the chairs breaks loose and slides down the cable and hits the chair behind it at Ram Speed. All you could hear was bones breaking followed by ear shattering screaming. The lifty at the bottom hears the yelling but does not know what happened so he hits the full emergency stop. The lift comes to an immediate stop which throws a couple of people off the lift, (because everyones goose necking the chair accident). and the sudden stop throws the two chairs swaying like those Knick-Knack balls and they collide again. Man it was pretty ugly, by the time they got things sorted out. At the end of the day we heard they carted some 7-8 people to the hospital.
post #29 of 33
I have crashed several times at high speed and left some parts in O.R's- that is bad, but..

not quite the worst:

watching one of the kids you coach land in the fences (you are usually standing in a spot where vomiting is not an option)

the worst:
watching your own child do the same and contemplating what you will tell Mom when the damage assesment is done.
post #30 of 33
Thread Starter 
There is a small amount of skiing in Scotland (or, rather, there used to be: most of the lifts are hardly ever open in recent years due to climate change- ie no snow).
Due to regular high winds, in order to retain snow on the slopes there are fences along the sides of most of the runs.
When doing a first-aid course I saw photos of one guy who accidentally took air and literally impaled hiself on a fence post. Big wooden post sticking out of his stomach: OK, we were asked, what would you do about that ?!!!!!
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