What was to begin a perfect day of bluebird skies, face shots, and soft landings would later turn to a fight for survival for one unfortunate pair who were planning a line down a steep and treacherous area in the non-patrolled Slushman’s backcountry. A quick ascent to the ridge top then an undemanding climb across left the pair standing on top of a ten foot cornice; nothing more than a quick leap, then they were on their way making first tracks. It was a perfect opener to their run, and before they knew it, they were faced with their first main obstacle which was a narrow chute that would require a small turn, a quick and sudden rush of air, and a jolting stop before a cliff. The first happily jumped in front, and quickly made his stop at the bottom with ease, as did the second. Boldly they faced their second assault, a dizzy drop down a thirty five foot cliff into a pillow of deep powder, opening into a steep but open meadow. This time the other skier made a first move, pulled a front flip, slightly over rotated and face planted into the snow completely buried, while the next skier just made the drop. The first jumper had lost both his skis while the other had made his way down a way from him waiting. In an attempt to put on his skis and hopefully enjoy the rest of the run, the recently buried individual made a sudden move which triggered an avalanche. Helplessly the lower skier was overtaken by the slabs, and in an instant, disappeared from sight while his partner stood helplessly at the top. As quickly as it had occurred, the surviving person grasped for his rescue beacon in awe at what had just occurred, and immediately began a life or death search for his fallen partner. What he did not realize was that at the very bottom of the ski hill when the pair was rushed with excitement for the epic day that lay before them, they had forgotten a routine check necessary for survival in a bad situation which was to test the life of their safety beacons. So after an hour of desperate search, struggle, anguish, and despair, the pair left the ski hill together, and rode back in silence. Neither spoke, but then again, one was dead.
A Fight for Survival
September 9, 2009