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I very nearly died today

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
(the other day actually)

It was a nice clear crisp morning as we pulled into the Spray lakes road parking lot. The thermometer read –2’C. I backed the car into the far corner to be as shaded as possible knowing it would be a clear sunny day.

As we started the hike up Chinaman’s Peak we crossed the Spray lakes aquifer. It was so calm the mountains reflected on its surface perfectly!

The hike up was mellow and very slow…taking lots of brakes. Last time we did this we didn’t really have anything in our packs (not skiing) and the snow was fresh. Not the refrozen junk and water ice we were scrambling our way up. The views from the ridgeline are quite spectacular for what is an hour and a half’s hike without ski gear. Sorry about the western stylee but this Alberta!

After a short scramble across some soggy scree we were at the top of town gully looking down on Canmore. Gear on and time to go.

One turn 2 turns DISASTER (sorry google doesn’t work yet). Redskea shut down the camera and tried to watch my slide. I just broke through the surface layer and dropped 70-80cm (2 & half feet) straight down. I then started to slide downhill very quickly I tried to stand and ski, gaining speed all the time whilst still trying to ski left or right out of the slide I headed into the gut of the chute as about 45 degrees somewhere about here doing at a guess 100kph (60mph) my skis were ripped off –Tail first! From here on I was tumbled, thrown airborne for seconds at a time. All the time trying to swim. When the slope widened beyond the choke the snowpack ripped out wide and dropped another meter (3 ft). Eventually I slowed to about 10kph (6mph) now flat on my back on top of the debris, still with both poles but no skis, hat or shades. I rolled right for a few meters onto the stationary snowpack beside the slide.

I had gone 300m (1000ft +) vertically, and just a little more horizontally

(this was taken 2 weeks ago)
Looking down from above I slid round the corner, but don’t remember going round a corner. (dotted for out of view)

(taken from the hospital parking lot around 6.30pm)

From a far you can see how far I fell !!!

Closer in, you can see where I think my skis were ripped off (blue dot) and where I rolled out of the slide (yellow dots)

Above me some 200m (5-600ft) was a screaming and rather distressed looking Redskea with one pole and one ski on. When she laid eyes on me waving my pole she stopped screaming and started hiking upwards.

Looking up and around I could see one of my skis sticking out of the snow. The other one might be around somewhere. I’d retrieved my hat from the sliding debris. The only thing I’d definitely lost was my shades…the second pair of black Oakley’s in an avalanche – note to self never wear black Oakley’s skiing again!

Ok I’m in one piece….sort of …time to get out of here..I started, at least tried to, hike up to get my ski. I very quickly found my left shoulder hurt a lot and my left knee hurl like hell and wouldn’t work properly!….I proceeded to drag myself uphill to my ski. By this time Redskea was now not far above me and now on 2 skis very welcome sight. She managed to find my other ski…not far above and brought it down to me. Both skis on and time to leave. Skiing avie debris is no fun. But when the debris is starting to set and the snow along side is bottomless slop its less fun. Couple that with trying to mono because my left knee wont co-operate an the fact that I’m on Super stiff Bros that have to be driven hard (at least by lightweight me) to turn.

Me screaming at my skis telling them they will co-operate.

Right near the end of the snow either my legs or my concentration gave out completely and instead of gaping my way down I troubled….my good leg beneath my bad one twisted I just lay there and screamed for a bit. Redskea swam, wallowed and crawled here way up to me and undid by bindings. Leaning on my poles and Redskea carrying my skis I hobbled to the snowline.

From here we could see the lower car park and it wasn’t even 1pm. We decided to try self evac and avoid calling in Parks Canada to collect my sorry arse. With both pairs of skis on Redskea’s pack and now in my hiking boots we set off slowly. Scree, shrubbery, bits of snow bits of ice and rock…very slow going. At some point I dropped one of my boots off my pack but didn’t notice for quite a while. It took poor Redskea quite a while to scramble back up and retrieve it.

Looking down where I have to go…. loose scree is tough at the best of times, no fun to hobble through.

Through scree, and then wood and finally across the dog park it took me 4 hours to hobble probably 3-4km. Lots of time spent just leaning against my ski poles trying not to loose my sense of humour. With the ever-resilient Redskea now carrying not just both pairs of skis but one of my boots as well.

Before heading to hospital we headed up to retrieve my car. I was now in major discomfort but not pain…my shoulder didn’t like being used and my knee had completely siezed up. Back at the upper parking lot my diligent parking had paid off. Nice cold water still in my spare water bottle . Both Redskea and I had run out of water hours earlier and were suffering a bit from dehydration.

At Canmore hospital they made me strip and wear a gown….I was complaining about my knee not my arse but that was bare anyway. My knee by now had a bit of swelling maybe 1cm but not much more. The doc pushed and pulled and twisted my lower leg, causing me to wince and squeak a few times. But he said that I’d probably stretched/partially torn my lateral ligaments and done some meniscus damage. As I wasn’t in a large amount of pain I should stay away from painkillers as that would let me walk on it and do more damage. So along with my first set of crutches I was discharged from hospital.

On my drive home I felt the need to pay Tim Horton’s a visit for Donuts and coffee.

My season is over. Ouch. Just as I became unemployed and had time to ski .
I am now stuck with TV and internet for entertainment for the foreseeable future.

I proved the durability of my skis…barely a scratch. Why did I take these , because they are reasonably light to carry.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Redskea for getting me out of Town gully. Solo I would have had to abandon most of my gear followed by calling in the emergency services.

Many thanks to all the maggots for their show of support in Splats thread.

Here is what happened last time I had a near death experience
post #2 of 18
Tom, glad to hear you're OK. Hope everything heals up quickly.
post #3 of 18
amazing photos.
Glad your alright. Get the knee healed , then give it hell next season.
post #4 of 18
Wow, I'm glad you aren't hurt worse. What did you do to determine the avalanche hazard and how did you get it so wrong? I remember reading your posts when I found Epicski last winter and recently was wondering where you were and what you were up to. Get well soon and start a thread next year about a ski tour where you don't almost die!
post #5 of 18
Whoa! Very scary.

I'm glad you made it and weren't hurt any worse.

I hope you gave Redskea a hug/kiss/dinner/wine - whatever is appropriate for your relationship. It's a very good thing she was there.

Good luck with recovery.

post #6 of 18
One thing I'm gonna say... take care of that knee... Been there, done that! The second time around won't be as mild!
post #7 of 18
we all know you won't, but TRY to heed Euclide's advice.

There are lots of us here you have done the knee once and had the docs say- oh slight tear etc- then we try to get back on it when it doesn't REALLY hurt-- most of us can't stand to sit-

you know the rest of the story- the 2nd blowout sucks, usually leads to surgery and that really sucks-

be well and give a nod to whomever is looking over you-
post #8 of 18
Tom, what an incredible story! I was riveted on the edge of my chair and am thankful that your title was "nearly" and we didn't read an article by someone else about you. Stong vibes going your way for speedy and full recovery. In the meantime, perhaps you should spend your now open time writing photo essays and submitting them (this really was excellent....terrifying, but excellent). My best to you Tom!
post #9 of 18
You play, you pay, eh?

Can't push it to the max all the time with impunity.

All the same, glad you lived to tell the tale.

PS- One more reason not to buy the Bro Model.
post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by xdog1
PS- One more reason not to buy the Bro Model.
These were the Extra stupidly stiff versions......sort of Volkl Superspeed stiff but in a big plank...I got them for skiing big mountains quickly....if I'd been able to get my skis under me as I've seen my buddy flingle do during an avalance I'd have pointed them downhill and been able to ski out of harms way. At that point in time a more average ski say a Volkl Explosive would be somewhat lacking! - Yes trying to ski porridge on them one legged is a bit of a pain in the but, but they still weigh less than a Pocket Rocket!
post #11 of 18
"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." Helen Keller

I trust you took the right precautions but even the best get caught out sometimes.

Glad you are OK Tom and like you, the snow will be back next year ......
post #12 of 18
"Even the cat has only 9 lives".

post #13 of 18

Glad to hear you made it out ok! How frightening it must have been!

"...life doesn't come with a warranty..." , from "Too Young To Die", David Crosby.

Get healthy soon!
post #14 of 18
That's what happens when you think you're too cool for PA slag heaps.
post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by jamesdeluxe
That's what happens when you think you're too cool for PA slag heaps.
post #16 of 18
Glad to hear your ok, and thanks for the great photo's. You have a nack for great photo's.

Maybe it's time for a helmet, by cat stardards you only have 7 lives left. Your still young...take care of yourself so you can be doing this 50 years from now.
post #17 of 18

glad you are ok. lets look at the bright side. now you have more time to
post other TR's from this 04-05 season. i don't believe you have posted much
this season.
post #18 of 18
Originally Posted by xdog1
You play, you pay, eh?

Can't push it to the max all the time with impunity.

All the same, glad you lived to tell the tale.

PS- One more reason not to buy the Bro Model.
What were the other reasons, besides the avalanche trigger built into the core?
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