Lessons learned from a successful ski-crevasse rescue
I never thought I would be the person who could say “Oh crap! I lost my ski to a crevasse.” Probably not the story I will be telling my grandma anytime soon…
A few weeks ago, Louie, Connor, Kristen and I were skiing on Mount Rainier. The weather was moody that day, with clouds rolling in and out in the afternoon. As we were descending, the clouds rolled in extra thick; we decided to stop to have a snack and wait for them to clear. I was so excited for the full size avocado I had in my pack that I thought I was about to consume with pure joy.
My spring ski setup does not have brakes; I opt for leashes instead. There are a few personal justifications of why I choose to ski without brakes in the spring: It’s easier to attach skis to pack for long ski carries (very common for PNW spring skiing), lighter weight, less to worry about during transitions.
On this particular day, I followed my routine of taking my ski off, then unclipping the leash off my boot as I was holding the ski with my other hand to flip it over to sit on. I am not quite sure what happened this time, but as I removed my leash, the ski got away from me, pivoted and started racing downhill. At first the movement was slow, but I was surprised how quickly it accelerated even on a mostly flat glacier terrain. There was a small crack maybe 20 feet away, which prevented me from attempting the classic “let’s try and dive for the ski to save it.” My ski proceeded to gain speed and disappear into a rather enormous crevasse about 150 feet below us.