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Killington 2-20-09 Bittersweet Powder Day - pics and videos

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Paul Jones (aka Buzz) and I had a great time yesterday skiing the new powder at Killington until tragedy struck in the early afternoon.  Before recounting the bitter tale, I'll tell you about the sweet part of the day.
 
Until this past Wednesday, almost no snow had fallen in VT over the past few weeks, so conditions had been hard and bony.  Between Wednesday and Friday morning, Killington reported that it received 10 inches of new snow, although we found much more new snow than that when we got to the mountain yesterday. 
 
When we arrived at 8:00 AM, the winds were blowing hard and many lifts were on wind hold.  The K1 Gondola was running, however, and with temps about 10F at the summit and windchills well below zero, we did not mind the 5-10 minute lift line there.  The wind had blown a lot of the powder off the trails into the woods, so that is where we skied.   (A few of the groomed runs I skied were devoid of any soft snow.)  The powder in the woods was well over my knees in places where it had drifted.
 
Buzz wanted a nice easy warm-up run to start the day but somehow we skied Big Dipper for our first run.  This was probably the most challenging run of the day as there was a lot of heavy powder on top of icy bumps.  For our next few runs we skied the trees below Racer's Edge to skier's left of Royal Flush (some call this Toilet Bowl).  The powder was light and deep at the top but grew progressively heavier as we neared the bottom of the run.   
 
Toilet Bowl
 
Buzz in the Toilet Bowl
 
After an icy cold ride up the Canyon Quad, we skied untracked powder in The Throne, which is where we found the best snow of the day.  I found that the quality of the snow was highly elevation dependent.  The lower down the mountain, the heavier the snow got.  A few times, I was launched head first out of both skis when I buried my tips beneath the heavy powder.
 
Before taking a break at the K1 lodge, we skied Anarchy, which was a lot of fun.  Unfortunately, the condition of the runout on Flume was horrible - vast patches of ice, grass and frozen ruts.  We would have spent more time on Anarchy if the runout had not been so bad.
 
Buzz on Anarchy
 
 
The tragic part of the day occurred around 12:30 PM when an iron pipe and tree conspired to end Buzz's day skiing - and perhaps his life.  We were attempting to ski The Throne again, but this time, from a higher elevation near where Great Northern and Racer's Edge meet.  Buzz went in first at a good clip.  Immediately after his second turn, I watched him collide, with a loud, sickening thud, into a good sized Birch tree. 
 
The offending tree
 
Buzz was hurt pretty badly (back, hip and groin) and had to be taken down the mountain on a sled.  At the medical clinic, they took X-rays and, fortunately, did not find any broken bones.  The cause of the crash was a 2 inch diameter iron pipe sticking up out of the ground that was hidden under the powder.  His ski had hooked onto the pipe and redirected his path straight into the tree.  Buzz was lucky to not have been killed or seriously injured. 
 

 

Buzz told me this morning he is feeling less pain and is eager to get back on the slopes.  Take your time Buzz.  There is plently of snow and it is not going anywhere soon. 

 

 

 

 

 

post #2 of 15

What the heck was the pipe for? Snowmaking? Was there any tell-tale sign that could  have warned him?

post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post

 

What the heck was the pipe for? Snowmaking? Was there any tell-tale sign that could  have warned him?

 

It was not visible even after the crash.  Buzz knew he had hit something.  He uncovered it as he was climbing out.  I don't know why the pipe was there.  It was old and rusty so it has likely been there for years.  It was about 25 feet down a steep embankment in the woods, kind of an odd place for snowmaking equipment. 

post #4 of 15

 Yikes, that's not the kind of hazard you should have to think about when skiing. A sheared off birch tree would be one thing. Iron pipe = not good.

post #5 of 15

Ouch. That hurts.

 

I have thought about this sort of thing happening. Lots of pipe on a mountain that makes snow.

 

Freakin' nightmare!!

 

Would a mountain be responsible for this sort of thing happening?? I don't think I would be happy paying for ex-rays after something like this happening....though it wouldn't surprise me if the mountain would win this argument.

 

Get well soon Buzz.

 

 

post #6 of 15

Hello everyone.  I am feeling much better from the pain stand point.  Last night was a tough one though.  No doubt, I could have been seriously injured or .... 

 

Now I am left contemplating the number of crashes I have had over the past year, thinking about my skills and what seems to be a disconnect between true ability and my perceived skiing.  I need to do something to improve my safety record.  I want to be in this for the long haul.

 

The entire day I was skiing too fast.  I dropped into this section with confidence and too much speed.  The snow was perfect and deep and I was over confident.

 

As far as the pipe is concerned, the snow was very deep in that area, so the pipe must really stick up.  It needs to be marked.  I intend to thank Killington for the help they provided, the great job the patroller did and also to suggest that they mark that pipe.  But I am sure there are many .  I was very aware of the snow making equipment concern in this particular area.  I looked closely but still hit the pipe.

post #7 of 15

Yikes, I am sorry to hear about this.  Glad you're OK.  Those close calls sure make you think, don't they?

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Paul Jones View Post

 

The entire day I was skiing too fast.  I dropped into this section with confidence and too much speed.  The snow was perfect and deep and I was over confident.

 

 

I have often thought about this myself, but IMHO you were probably skiing normally for a powder day.  You almost have to ski aggressively, confidently, and fast to blast through powder and deep crud.  I know damn well that I am trading off a significant factor of safety to fly through the snow in those conditions, but I don't think there is any other way.  Skiing powder carries inherent risks like this.  Unfortunately, you came in on the wrong side of the odds this time.

 

I hope you're back out there soon!  Good luck!

post #8 of 15

First off, I'm glad to hear that Paul is OK!

 

My family was at Killington Monday - Friday last week.  My son and I were skiing on Tuesday at Pico and Wednesday/Thursday at Killington.  It was the first time I had been there.  I was concerned about the crowds and lift lines, etc., but found the trip extremely enjoyable and the skiing really nice.  Once away from Snowshed and Ramshead, we had very little wait time (in fact, we got right on several lifts).  It seemed crowded from the parking lots and lodges, but was not bad on the mountain at all. 

 

Thursday was really nice after getting 7" overnight.  It was heavy powder, but powder nonetheless...we don't get much of that at Holiday Valley in NY. 

 

Thanks for the report and the pics.  Paul -- take your time, feel better.

post #9 of 15

Dave,

          Glad it turned out for the better! We always wonder when skiing it the tight trees, as what could.

Spent past 4 days out & about.

Thurs. Copper with 3"-4" nice, the place was empty

 Fri.     Loveland Wind, more Wind, then overcast with even more wind, Snow was nice & wind packed but smooth.

 Sat-Sun  Arrowhead & the Beav, Not a cloud one in the sky Sat. Great day & the Aspens off of  Bachelor Gulch were real nice with soft untracked. 

  Thanks for the report! 

post #10 of 15

Sorry to hear about this, Buzz, but glad it wasn't worse and that you're okay.. Could've happened to anyone. 

post #11 of 15

 Holy Crap!!!

 

Tell me it wasn't as bad as the water ramp concussion.

 

Heal well, you got some skiing to do at MRG yet this year!

post #12 of 15

Paul,

 

Sorry to hear about the crash.  Glad to hear you will be OK.

 

Hope to ski with you again sometime soonish.

post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post

 

What the heck was the pipe for? Snowmaking? Was there any tell-tale sign that could  have warned him?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post

 

 Holy Crap!!!

 

Tell me it wasn't as bad as the water ramp concussion.

 

Heal well, you got some skiing to do at MRG yet this year!

So I have head,,,, Royal Flush is names that because that is where the "waste" went from the Summit Lodge. TC, not that you would understand. 

post #14 of 15

Hidden obstacles under the snow are a worry, especially now that everyone (me included) wants to ski everywhere, not just cleared-out "glades."

 

Last week I was skiing the trees between two runs at Kirkwood when skied across something.  I said to myself, "That didn't sound like a rock."  I stopped an looked and I had gone across a two-foot diameter stump.  If I had been just a bit deeper I would have hit the side of it, and that would have been bad.

post #15 of 15

I'd like to post a picture of my black and blue, it's ugly.  But that would be inappropriate.

 

One looks like a tattoo -  it says MARKER.  Must have hit more than the tree.

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