Saturday, March 20, 2010

Extreme Rescue

Killabrew Canyon Heavenly Ski Resort
Lake Tahoe
click on picture to see up close

When you participate in extreme sports someday you will pay extremely. I have paid my dues and pray every time I go out. This winter I met a wonderful skier a Tahoe local that loves to ski the steep and deep as much as I do. We hooked up for a few ski dates last Sunday was a picture perfect blue bird day with cut up powder (I missed the untracked by one day that’s the way the daycare cookie crumbles).

We headed up to the top of the mountain and decided to go right into Kilkabrew Canyon double back diamond terrain (see picture above). As we stopped below Ramarrah’s and above the Middle Finger shoot we had the typical conversation that must ski buddy’s have, “You go first, no you go first” well I won and he dropped in. I was taking my time, as I didn't feel quite on my skis. After about 3 turns I saw him backed up against a tree. I called out and asked if he was ok but there was no response. My heart started to race out of my chest I skied up to him, pulled his goggles off and looke straight into his eyes he came too (so I thought) and said what happen where am I. I knew we were in big trouble. I screamed for help but there was no one around, reached for my cell phone called 911 to get them to call Heavenly to get me ski patrol then tucked the phone into my helmet. I freed him from his skis as he was screaming in pain that his leg hurt. My glove was now nowhere to be found, as it must have taken off down the hill without me. We were in an extremely vertical shoot. When I released him from his skis he fell backward head first down the hill. I grabbed him by his belt got his feet down the hill and yelled at him to dig his feet in. Then skied below him and held him into the hill by his feet. Knowing all the time it was my skis that were the only thing keeping us both up against the mountain.

I heard someone ask if we needed ski patrol I screamed back YES! It was patrol looking up into the shoot they would be there soon. I just kept trying to keep my friend still and begged him to stop moving and trying to get away from me. When help arrived I shared my assessment broken left femur and possible concussion he was not wearing a helmet (personal choice). I I have over 20 years of ski school expereance under my belt and the lead rescuer said I looked familiar so he put me to work. My job was to stomp out a landing for the sled and hold it while they prepared him for the ride out. They called for a medevac helicopter that landed at the bottom of Killabrew Canyon.

It was quite tricky getting him into the sled and down out of the shoot. Ironically they belayed the sled off the same tree I found him up against. By the time his was on his way there were more then 10 patrollers assisting. It was a rescue they live for and train for but don’t very often get to perform. As the helecopter flew out of sight I broke down in tears my ski buddy was gone he was broken and I was not sure how bad.

He called and conferred that it was a shattered left femur but his head neck and back were ok and he was headed into surgery. Praise God bones can heal. He only remembers falling and ski patrol being in his face. He does not remember me holding on to him for dear life, doing everything I had to keep him from falling down the shoot. So he was out for quite sometime.

When you play you pay and my ski buddy will have a few months to work himself back into ski shape so he can come back and face the mountain again like a true extreme athlete. As for me my ski buddy for the rest of the season will be Annalise and we will keep to the green circles. I've had enough excitment for this season.

1 comment:

joe said...

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