Backcountry Skiing News Roundup


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | July 27, 2009      
Backcountry Skiing News

Warren Milller said it’s “always snowing somewhere.” Corollary is it’s always avalanching somewhere. In New Zealand, a multiple burial of two heli-skiers resulted in one death and one survival. From the sound of it, Avalungs would have come in handy, but trauma may have played a roll in the death so as usual that’s a hard call.

The guy that survived barely made it. He was dug out hypoxic by his son and a guide, and revived with virtually no medical issues. After having a man die next to him in the avalanche, survivor Castran was quoted as saying “It’s the next best thing to heaven, heli-skiing.” Interesting take… In a more down to earth take, according to news reports Castran also said “Thank God I have a son that can shovel a lot of snow out very quickly.” In that situation, heavenly! More here.

By now most of you guys know my feelings about BASE jumping, e.g., “it’s not a sport — it’s a way of death.” In view of that, we’re glad Chris Davenport’s brother Ted survived a bad landing from a jump off Colorado’s Roan Plateau. Ted is a nice guy and talented athlete; I hope he retires soon. For the story check out Ted’s website. As usual with this sort of thing, the media reports you may have seen about this accident got it mostly wrong, so ignore those and go to the source. My opinion about BASE aside, we wish Ted a speedy recovery from his, thankfully, relatively minor injuries.

Back to avalanches. If you’ve seen someone survive a close call, you may have said something like “that guy should spend a week in Vegas.” In that vain, check this guy out. He survives an avalanche that kills his friends, then wins a lottery jackpot. Crazy.

Along the lines of mountain rescue, the remarkable explosion in popularity of mountain sports is catching up with rescue crews in Colorado. What’s interesting is it’s the easier mountains where many of the rescues are occurring, probably due to the number of novice hikers who blunder while in the alpine environment they’re not familiar with, and frequently treat with a cavalier attitude (as in, “this T-shirt should be enough clothing, it’s warm today!”) Case in point is Quandary Peak, a 14er with an easy hiking route but plenty of cliffs just the same. Four rescues in a week! Sounds like Chamonix France or something.

I and other guidebook writers have been blamed for the number of accidents on Quandary, as we’re always talking about the mountain as somewhat of a starter peak. I don’t know if we shoulder much of the responsibility, as every book I’ve seen has plenty of warnings about being properly prepared and having the correct skills for ANY peak climb. But I guess the fickle finger of blame has to point somewhere. After all, getting rescued couldn’t be the victim’s fault, now could it?

Oh, last thing. I’m of course back home from Outdoor Retailer. Lot’s of gear reviews arranged, business contacts made, stuff like that. Overall the show had the usual positive attitude one comes to expect from the outdoor industry, though you couldn’t help but notice fewer of the smaller startup company type booth displays. Main thing: All our WildSnow advertisers were upbeat about continued support — so I guess we keep on bloggin’!



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Comments

4 Responses to “Backcountry Skiing News Roundup”

  1. Colin in CA July 27th, 2009 1:11 pm
  2. Jason July 27th, 2009 1:33 pm

    Lou, I blame you for some of the best descents I’ve had. That picture of the lucky 1 of 4 is kinda weird… God bless Teddav. Crazy…

  3. Mac July 28th, 2009 9:08 am

    The heli skier killed down in Methven was one of a group of Australians from NSW – not New Zealanders.

    Also, my sources suggest the skier died as a result of trauma suffered in the slide (he was dug out within six minutes). An avalung would have been of little use in this case

  4. Lou July 28th, 2009 10:06 am

    Fixed, thanks.

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  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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