My Spring Skiing Accident!

Yikes, I’ve had a few close calls too, and I know what you mean about time slowing down. I’m glad you’re ok!

My story:

We (me, hubby and male friend) were skinning up Mt. Sparrowhawk in the spring one year and were going to ski down. It was my first time on skins, and they are a bit difficult to get used to. On a really easy, short downhill (with skins on), I somehow fell in such a way that I pretty much tore my right quad muscle. I stupidly told the guys to go ahead and I’d slowly pick my way down and meet them in a bit.

It was after about five minutes of my trying to ski down that I realized it was almost impossible to put weight on that leg, so I was skiing to the left. I remember the snow was really deep and at one point I fell and was pretty much stuck there. I had a few minutes of panic that they wouldn’t find me and I’d be stuck.

They eventually came and found me and the male friend actually had to piggy back me down, a few meters at a time (imagine how hard that would be on the legs - super deep powder with an extra 150 lbs. on your back) before putting me down for a few minutes to take a break. He gets going at one point and suddenly everything starts to narrow and we’ve got cliff on each side of us - we’re in a deep avy col. He suddenly stops/falls and I see that we had almost gone over an ice waterfall of about 10 feet high. There is no way out except to go down, which we decided to attempt.

Ever try to down climb on icy rock with ski boots on? Almost impossible. I slipped, fell on my back, and went over head first. By some miracle of who knows what, I landed on a nice downslope with no injuries - but time certainly slowed in those few seconds that I was flying through the air and I thought that was it. The guys climbed down with only a few problems and we started to continue down…until we came to the next ledge, and saw there was about 25 feet of sheer rock cliff below us.

We had to climb out, without ropes. Very scary, and I was in a lot of pain. I took my own pack and my skis and we struggled our way up the rock, skis catching in the trees. It sucked.

Finally we made it out and got below the snow line and in to the trees. I think it took us about six hours to get out.

The worst part of it all was that we had our Siberian Husky with us, and she wouldn’t come over the first cliff. She took off back up the mountain and we had to make the decision to keep going. We drove buddy back in to the city, getting him home around 10:30, and then hubby and I drove back out to the base of the mountain. We slept in the car until the sun started coming up and he made his way back up the mountain to look for the dog. He found her about two hours in, happy as can be, and hungry.

I learned a LOT about mountain preparedness that day.

Semi-graphic description:

Skied Snowmass just two weeks ago. Second run of the day, hubby and I are doing Hanging Valley. Snow was mushy, my bindings weren’t tight enough and I lost a ski. Instead of falling straight down on my ass, my momentum propelled me forward. I landed on my face. I knew as soon as I hit the ground I was in trouble. Sat up and blood was gushing out of my nose. Thankfully, an instructor and his wife on their day off were right behind us.

They got ski patrol to come and get me. I could feel where the nose was broken when I grabbed my stack of tissues to catch the blood. It’s funny how your body runs on pure adrenaline right after something like that happens. Thinking about the crunching sound it made when I pinched it seriously skeeves me out now, but at the time I didn’t really react. When patrol got there, he asked if I was ok and I told him I think I broke my nose.

I didn’t get upset until I got in the car to go back to the house. I saw that I had cracked my goggles and gotten blood on my new coat and pants. We ended up going back to the house, had some lunch and got changed before I decided that this really, really hurts and Tylenol isn’t going to cut it. We went to Aspen Valley ER. The staff could not have been better. I was in and out in an hour. They gave me a CD with the X-ray to take to my ENT at home, set the nose with a splint, stopped the bleeding and a script for some percocet. I got a nice set of black eyes as well.

First and only ski injury in 20 years that actually kept me off the slopes.

Bwhaaa… makes me laugh and I wasn’t even there. Reminds me of a fall I saw way up and to the far left at Taos. You have to pole over, make your way through a rock crevice and then there’s this incredibly steep, straight shot down. Built for adrenaline junkies, there’s even a scale at the top for weighing your testicles. We were riding the lift up and saw a guy coming down it in tuck position suddenly catch an edge. He maintained his balance for a second or two but with a ski trailing behind him like a sail he finally went into a tumble and a huge cloud of snow shot outward, almost mimicking a shuttle launch. All of a sudden, as if they were booster rockets, his two skiis shot straight upwards from the cloud and hung in the sky for what seemed like an eternity, leaving us to ponder how painful they would be if they hit him on the way down. He eventually came to rest below, the smoky cloud of disturbed snow cleared around him and we all gave polite applause which, with ski gloves on, sounded more like a bunch of bunnies mating. We heard him refer I guess to himself as a female reproductive organ softly, slowly, and probably about thirty times until his voice eventually faded off in the distance.

We were in Mayerhoffen this year, home of a little slope called the Harakiri. People like to go up the chairlift over it just for the pure comedy of watching people roll. Repeatedly. The gradient is 78%, according to their literature.

Embarassingly, I wiped out on the ‘Baby Tour’.

It’s a long blue run, with some icy patches, but not all that hard. Except when some jackholes stop at the tightest, iciest turn and take off their gloves and talk there. I’d built up too much speed because of the ice and was looking for the soft shoulder of that turn. The idea was to take it wide; I’d be near the edge, but in the soft snow where I could brake. There was just no ploughing to be done in the centre of the track.

Nope.

Guy steps out into the turn, into my path, his skis across what is essentially the whole path, while his mates hang out in the corner of the turn proper. The whole corner is blocked and there’s no way to stop- can’t plough or hockey stop on the ice there. I realised it was the end.

So I ran over his skis and hit his friend he was chatting with, as there was no way around them. I stop with my skis hanging over the edge of a six foot plus drop and them screaming at me that a blue run is no place for amateurs.

Two months later, I still have the bruise on my thigh and a funny lump there with a hollow beneath it.

But skiing at home in Scotland a few weeks before that was even worse. Wiped out on the ice a few times, last time I spun and fell on a rock. I could feel my ribs creaking the whole way home over the hills.

Can’t wait to go again.