If watching this doesn’t scare you off of backcountry skiing for a little while then I don’t know what will. I love cruising around off-piste, but damned if I don’t get myself the best avalanche gear money can buy before I get any more adventurous than I am right now.
This was a decent sized avalanche. 1,500 feet the dude fell in a little over 20 seconds. The crown was about 1 – 1.5m. The chute that he got sucked through to the skier’s right was flanked on either side by cliff bands that were about 30m tall. He luckily didn’t break any bones and obviously didn’t hit anything on the run out.
1,500 feet in 20 seconds? Damn. Read the rest of the description for a bit of background on how he got into the situation and a more words of caution on skiing in avalanche zones.
After 3 days on the road we arrived in Horní Bečva, one of the funniest towns in the world if you say the name in English. I was really hoping for a big “Welcome to Horní Bečva” sign, but as there wasn’t one, we had to settle for taking pictures in front of all the businesses that named themselves after the town. Unfortunatly we seemed to be the only ones who found the name funny, when renting skies the rental guy didn’t seem phased at all by the fact that we said we were staying in Horny Bitchfu.
We spent our time in Horní Bečva eating our brains out, skiing, and sledding. Our first day skiing was shrouded in clouds. Very dense clouds. The picture here isn’t darkened, it was just that dark and cloudy. Made for some slow and interesting skiing. It also made for some snowy skiing. We got dumped on, more than a foot of snow in the few days we were there.
When I was skiing in Grimentz over this last holiday break, we were fortunate enough to receive a foot of fresh snow. The next day, which was perfectly sunny and gorgeous, I spotted this guy hiking up the mountain above the lifts for one of the first rides in the fresh powder.
On New Years Eve this year in Girmentz, Switzerland, we were blessed with over a foot of snow in one night. Of course fighting off the hang over to get to the slope the next day was a challenge, but capturing the sublime beauty of the fresh snow was easy as could be.
There is talk in Europe about making helmets compulsory wear on the slopes after an Austrian politician slammed into another skiier leaving her dead and himself seriously injured. From the BBC:
According to surgeons, he suffered injuries to the skull and brain. Neurologists said it was likely that the helmet that he was wearing saved his life.
Beata Christandl, a 41-year-old mother-of-four, was not wearing a helmet. She died on the way to hospital after suffering from multiple skull injuries.
And that’s just two skiiers going down the hill like normal sane people and not taking any extra risks. And lets be honest here, if you’re good enough to take extra risk then you will. Case and point the picture of the guy skiing down stairs above…not wearing a helmet either. I don’t think I would mind being told that I have to wear a helmet to get on the lifts. Many cities require bike helmets, and few cyclists voluntarily take the extra risks that skiers do, and it would seem that ski areas, as a commercial operation, would have a large interest in ensuring that their customers are in condition to return for next season.