Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sleeping Maiden: Part III

When the clouds lifted and a big fat empty steep canvas was revealed, we were pretty enthused. I jumped in first to make my mark, but put the brakes on after a few fast turns. It was steeper than it looked. And the exposure made me nervous. On the left were sheer cliffs. A fall to the left would really really suck. On the right, there was an open bowl, but it cliffed out at the bottom. Basically, a fall anywhere would be risky business. So, I made tight controlled turns, keeping my speed in check.

Sam, on the other hand, was laying it out -- with a free heel. The pictures in the previous post somewhat depict that, but to get the full effect, you had to be there. About 2/3 the way down the ridge, our route cliffed out. I stopped and pulled out my camera. Andy and Lars skiied to me. But Sam thought he was auditioning for the Powder Whores, and he kept going.

From April 18, 2009

I yelled, "CLIFF!" about the same time he realized he ought to slow down. He tried to stop, but couldn't. He grabbed a tree. It ripped out of his hands. He tried to grab another small tree, but couldn't hold on, and then another tree. And then he disappeared from our sight. Here he is trying to stop.

From April 18, 2009

I looked at Andy and Lars, and asked, "Did he just go off a cliff?" Not really believing it, I skiied down to the lip of the cliff and peered off. It was a long way down. I looked down and couldn't see Sam, so I looked above me to see if he was hanging in a tree. And then I heard him say, "I'm okay." I spotted him several hundred yards below in a shadow.

When I looked off the cliff, I had a sinking feeling because it was pretty big -- probably about 50 feet or so. I was relieved to see that Sam was ok. And dumbfounded that he had just fallen off a cliff and had skiied away.

Having skiied to the lip, I was in a bit of a bind. There was a cliff below me, and the snow I was standing on and the snow above me was heating up pretty quickly. In fact, roller balls and bits of debris were zooming past me. I thought it might be Andy and Lars skiing above me, but as soon as I thought that, they popped out below me near Sam. All at once, the mountain seemed to be coming down.

I tried to sidestep up the hill, but it was mushy and steep, and roller balls and debris kept smacking me. At one point, I got knocked off balance by a soccer ball-sized snowball. That scared me. I thought that rather than risk getting smacked by snowballs, or avalanched, trying to climb up, I should go down. At least that way, my fall would be somewhat controlled and by choice. So, I traversed to where the cliff was the smallest and jumped.

From April 18, 2009

As I was falling, I actually thought to myself: this is bigger than it looked. My landing wasn't great since I didn't have much speed going off. I cratered. My arms yanked behind me and I did a couple cartwheels down the hill. I righted myself, stood up, looked around, brushed snow off my face, and, quite loudly, yelled, "F*%$!" It was punctuation mark on a somewhat hairy ordeal -- thinking my brother might have died, to thinking that I might get knocked off a cliff by a giant snow ball/slide, to falling through the air and cartwheeling down the mountain.

Here is another pic of the cliff. Sam went off the big part. For the record, Sam's fall does not count as a legitimate air. You can see his hole in the bottom center.
From April 18, 2009

I'm just glad he didn't ski off this.
From April 18, 2009

"I'm alive!"
From April 18, 2009

And for future reference.
From April 18, 2009


dug said...

dude. now THAT'S a story.

how was the exit? did you traverse way skier's left toward aspen grove, or stay relatively right, to sundance?

Jared said...

We skiied to the road that comes up from Sundance, and then walked down the road to the main canyon road. Going skier's left would have been a major bushwhack.

In preparation for the exit, we left Sam's truck at Sundance, but locked the keys to Sam's truck in my Subaru at Aspen Grove. Brilliant.