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| | |-+  Feb 12, 2012, Slot Couloir (epic)
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Author Topic: Feb 12, 2012, Slot Couloir (epic)  (Read 14448 times)
akarchin
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Feb 12, 2012, Slot Couloir (epic)
« on: 02/13/12, 08:29 AM »

Skin up the phantom was not as bad as expected, mostly dust on crust down low and ~12"soft layer higher up.  An initial assessment of the couloir entrance indicated a dense wind packed layer on top of a ice in spots.  Not ideal conditions by any means but not completely unsavory so the decision was made to go for it.  First few turns were quite enjoyable, then the real fun began.  About 1/4 of the way down we hit patches of ice and windblown moguls.

I was about 100' below by wife when she got caught on an edge and started to slide headfirst.  Whippet in hand I thought she would arrest momentarily, but unfortunately she kept sliding (she couldn't get it to stick) in a diagonal direction towards the side of the cliff.  Without a better idea I moved into her path to try to arrest her slide.  Her helmet hit me directly in the lateral portion of my knee (I was perpendicular to the slope) and we both started sliding.  Luckily her trajectory was redirect and she missed the cliff.  We were both ejected from our skis and polls, but finally came to rest on the softer snow down low.  My wife had slid ~300', but many of fears were relieved when I saw her sit up ~50' below me.  I was having a hard time moving my right leg and as I felt my knee I could feel it was dislocated.  I was able to slide on my butt down to my wife who was shaken, but otherwise OK.  After a momentary consolation and apologies on both our parts, she set about digging a platform for me and and bracing my leg with the one ski pole we had left and a shovel handle.

Then a series of the most lucky events occurred.  We had spotty cell phone coverage but were able to get a text out to our good friend and Alpental patroller Lisa Garcia (who I later learned was about to leave for the day).  I was unable to self-evacuate due to both of our skis being out of sight, and my knee swelling like a balloon.  It just so happened that Martin Volken was teaching an avi course to mountain S&R folks a ridge over.  About an hour later Martin, Doug, Wes and Brie showed up.  These guys were awesome!  Fergie, the flight medic said that the brace Doug and Brie made was "bomber" and a critical component in being able to move me later on. 

A short while later a party of 4 came down the slot.  They recovered 3 (I think) of our 4 skis and the other 3 poles.  I didn't catch your name guys, but thank you!  Email me (akarchin at gmail dot com) - we owe you beers.

About an hour later the helicopter showed up a circled a few times.  At the time, I thought this was standard procedure but was told later on that they almost called it off due to low visibility from the fog.  A break in the fog allowed them to quickly pick me up and we were off.  My wife later told me that soon after the fog really rolled in. 

I was unable to take anything with me on the helicopter so thank you Martin, Doug, Wes, Brie, Lisa, and crew for carrying my stuff down and helping a shaken Yak-Nam get down. It was comforting and inspirational to watch you work. Yak-Nam said that Martin was amazing- at one point boot packing with both his and her pack and skis.

Shockingly, my leg is not broken.  Instead, the lateral impact likely tore my MCL and possibly my meniscus.  This will have to be confirmed by MRI later today.

Cheers.
Ari   
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Marcus
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Re: Feb 12, 2012, Slot Couloir (epic)
« Reply #1 on: 02/13/12, 09:03 AM »

I saw the page for this -- so glad SMR & Martin's crew were on hand!  Thanks for writing it up and I'm glad Guardian was able to fly in a pull you out -- that would have been a long haul back to the parking lot on the ground.

Heal fast.
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telemark vinny
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Re: Feb 12, 2012, Slot Couloir (epic)
« Reply #2 on: 02/13/12, 09:15 AM »

http://www.turns-all-year.com/skiing_snowboarding/trip_reports/index.php?topic=23690.new

Fortunate!
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ron j
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Re: Feb 12, 2012, Slot Couloir (epic)
« Reply #3 on: 02/13/12, 09:32 AM »

Ari: I'm so sorry to hear of you and Yak-Nam's accident. I am sure she is quite proud of you for saving here from harm's way.
Way to go Martin.
Ari, Heal fast.
Good vibes to you all.
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"When I stop having fun I'm turnin' around"
"Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." - Niels Bohr
"If a given person makes it a priority not to die in an avalanche, he or she stands a very good chance of living a long, happy life in the mountains." - Jill Fredston
snow_crystal
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Re: Feb 12, 2012, Slot Couloir (epic)
« Reply #4 on: 02/13/12, 09:34 AM »

So glad everybody is safe and home with only minor (hopefully) injuries! Sounds like some lucky events but also some great people thinking and working fast, including you two! Welcome to the gimp side. I know some fantastic surgeons and great physical therapists if you need some recommendations, and I hope you like biking Smiley
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skip
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Re: Feb 12, 2012, Slot Couloir (epic)
« Reply #5 on: 02/13/12, 10:01 AM »

Tough news, Ari - though it sounds like it was a good outcome all things considered.  *Very* glad to hear you and the missus are home safe.
-s
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VerticallyInclined
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Re: Feb 12, 2012, Slot Couloir (epic)
« Reply #6 on: 02/13/12, 11:03 AM »

Taking a major injury to at the very least, reduce injury to your wife, and more likely, safe her life, I have to say - Bravo.   You sir are a proper gentleman!

Let us all hope we would do the same for our wife, friends and even a stranger.    Do repair quickly and lets see you on the snow this spring!
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allyson
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Re: Feb 12, 2012, Slot Couloir (epic)
« Reply #7 on: 02/13/12, 11:12 AM »

wow.  this is a scary story ari, and i'm glad both you and yak-nam are ok.  thanks for sharing it.  lots of positive vibes to you for a speedy recovery.
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snowshoe?? why would you??
niko
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Re: Feb 12, 2012, Slot Couloir (epic)
« Reply #8 on: 02/13/12, 12:30 PM »

Speedy recovery, Akarchin. You were exceptionally lucky to have Martin around: he would have hauled you to safety even if the chopper had been unable to lift you.  N
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Mad_Dog
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Re: Feb 12, 2012, Slot Couloir (epic)
« Reply #9 on: 02/13/12, 12:35 PM »

Oh my.  Glad everyone is ok and hope you all recover fast.  Great to have the help nearby. 
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There is nothing worse than refusing to learn: this is where old age begins.

Jeanette
Lisa
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Re: Feb 12, 2012, Slot Couloir (epic)
« Reply #10 on: 02/13/12, 12:59 PM »

I was just happy to have been able to receive your text and get the word to Fergie and others on SPART to initiate the rescue. Knowing how long the process takes for rescuers to respond I was glad 3 of us were sent as a hasty team in quick fashion.

We were unaware SMR was in the vicinity training until part way up the Phantom when we were alerted on radio. What luck to have them already placed right where they were needed.

I was concerned it would be a tough and long extrication if Guardian 1 could not reach you with the fog lingering in the valley. Just as we neared the upper slopes of the phantom they flew over us in the small opening of visibility. I was so relieved that it was going to be a success. 

What great team work! Thanks to SMR and Martin! Martin is the epitome of a mountain guru. When he took Yak Nam's oversized pack filled with she and Ari's gear, swung it over his shoulder like it weighed nothing and began skiing with poles in one hand I was amazed at his grace.
We ski scoured the slopes as we descended so it would be more like skiing a groomer when Yak Nam descended. It was a smooth and quick trip back to the lot.

Kudos again to all involved. Next time I suggest to wait and ski the slot in better conditions I know you will listen Ari.  Wink
« Last Edit: 02/13/12, 01:18 PM by Lisa » Logged
gregL
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Re: Feb 12, 2012, Slot Couloir (epic)
« Reply #11 on: 02/13/12, 03:31 PM »

Glad you and Yak-Nam are more or less OK! Props to Martin and the SMR crew as well.

Heal quickly, Ari.
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JasonGerend
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Re: Feb 12, 2012, Slot Couloir (epic)
« Reply #12 on: 02/16/12, 02:38 PM »

Thanks for sharing, and nice going everyone - it's inspiring to hear how everyone played their part well, especially the rescuers. You guys rock!

What happened to Yak-Nam was my worst fear when I dropped into Slot on my splitboard last year - I was concerned about it being too icy to hold an edge or to recover if I caught an edge. It turned out to be soft and no problem, but not having poles, a whippet, or an ice axe handy while riding, it could get hairy fast... I'm glad that you both survived relatively intact.

I hope that you heal quickly Ari, that Yak-Nam also recovers nicely, and that we see you back out there soon after.

Take care,

Jason
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