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Author Topic: Kendall Peak accident, December 19, 2015  (Read 6121 times)
Charlie Hagedorn
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Kendall Peak accident, December 19, 2015
« on: 11/03/16, 06:01 PM »

In late October, NWAC published an accident report for the December 19th, 2015 accident in which the ski community lost Monty Busbee.

The report is available here: http://www.nwac.us/accidents/accident-reports/

It is important that this accident enter the public consciousness; this is a little push.

In addition, there is limited information that at least one more party may have been close enough to have relevant information regarding this accident. Both NWAC and I are interested in learning more. Please contact us privately if you were high on the west slope of Kendall Peak in the afternoon of December 19, 2015.  dennis.damico@nwac.us, cah49@uw.edu .

A huge thank-you is necessary for everyone involved in the initial search, the extensive long-term search, the recovery, and the challenging post-accident investigation. Many of you are TAYers or read TAY. Thank you all.

Please take time to reflect before replying to this thread.
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Salal
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Re: Kendall Peak accident, December 19, 2015
« Reply #1 on: 11/03/16, 08:03 PM »

 I was not out on this day but thanks to all who put there time and effort into this. As someone who has moved thru this area for years and put in skintracks in that spot many times it is very useful.
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CookieMonster
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Re: Kendall Peak accident, December 19, 2015
« Reply #2 on: 11/17/16, 09:04 AM »

Thanks for posting this. In 2008 I very nearly met a similar fate, also while skiing alone. I was incredibly lucky to not get knocked over, and was buried up to my waist instead. I feel sick when I think about how easily this could have been me.
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Rusty Knees
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Re: Kendall Peak accident, December 19, 2015
« Reply #3 on: 11/21/16, 09:04 PM »

What makes me queazy is that several of us skied over the location last winter, never knowing we were on hallowed ground.  But I agree with Cookie.  Many times I've gone into the hills because I know others will be there, but being near people is not the same as having a partner.  And can be more dangerous than being truly alone, as in Monty's case.  RIP, man.
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The best part of summer skiing is napping on a warm rock.
Monty_B
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Re: Kendall Peak accident, December 19, 2015
« Reply #4 on: 12/18/16, 09:19 PM »

A year ago tomorrow, my clever, handsomely-bearded outdoorsman did not come home from a backcountry ski tour. I had told myself for nearly eight years that this was unlikely to happen because he was so famously capable, careful, and well-informed. But something happened and probability betrayed us. That outdoorsman was Monty Busbee. I am his girlfriend. Forgive me for posting under his TAY handle today, but he is on my mind, and my inner majority has decided that I’d like him to be on your mind too as we undertake the anniversary of his premature death.

I haven’t skied yet this year, but I’ve been haunting TAY- partly for the comfort of the community, but mostly for the thoughts of how giddy Monty would be right now over the ecstatic trip reports and the rising snow totals. It’s what we’d be talking about every night over dinner. The garage floor would be dusted with ski wax debris, and every ski in the quiver would be tuned and ready for the weekend. He would be joyfully consumed with the promise of powder, much like many of you have been. That enthusiasm is irresistible!

These thoughts bring me to you now. I know from skiing, searching, intimating, or strategizing with so many of you in recent times, that this backcountry skiing community is a remarkable collection of the most competent, benevolent, and truly alive people I’ve ever met. You are overall an outstanding bunch, and I can assure you that Monty was among the most natural and authentic members of your tribe- vigorously engaged, protective of the outdoors, and tremendously motivated to play hard and play right. It is heartening to know that type of energy lives on in the world with you. We need all of it we can get.

Monty was the genuine article. He loved backcountry skiing for the physical and intellectual challenge, for the nexus with natural forces, for the pleasure of outdoor navigation, and for the pure glee of ripping graceful turns in soft yielding snow (or survival skiing across “loud powder” when conditions dictated). He was quick to call out an encouraging phrase to the novice powder-struggler (e.g. “Niiiiice...” “You got this!” or, “Strong work, Smith!”). Of course, he could never help but issue a lot of “yee-hees” and “whoo-hoos” on his own behalf in good conditions. He reveled in the experience- in all aspects of skiing, before, during, and after the tour.  I adore that pure seizure of life, absolutely. No amount of loss can erase the vitality that experience offers, if a person is willing and able to grasp it.     

Monty was also not afraid to get serious when the time was right, to confront essential issues like objectives, risk, group dynamics, or snowshoers in the skin track (take heed!). If analysis of the situation called for a conservative line, he would unapologetically shred that low-angle pow with gusto. He embraced and exemplified active risk management, and it made him an excellent leader. It also helped newcomers warm up to the backcountry, because they could develop a sense of how to manage their fears and risks in a setting where you are nearly always vulnerable, if you’re paying attention.

If he could cross paths with you on your next outing, Monty would almost certainly add a dose of charm to your day. So while you’re out there, elatedly shredding glittering slopes, please consider sending a little stoke up in Monty’s honor. I hope that you ski it up to the fullest this year with all the joy in your heart; I hope that you respect nature and manage the risk; and I hope that you appreciate each other. I know you may be out there to get away, but as it turns out, you are getting away… together. At a time when it may be hard to have faith in the people around us, I like to think you can take comfort in some common ground with your fellow backcountry travelers; they are engaging with nature and embracing a challenge, are learning how to be smart about it, and are in fact a part of your singular community. Look out for each other, have compassion for each other, and don’t hesitate to initiate the serious conversations when needed. Monty set a good example in each of these principles, so I wanted to bring them up here today.

My sincerest thanks go out, once again, to the many kindred spirits who invested so much time and effort in helping me through months of searching and wondering, and who continue to support me still. The depths of my gratitude know no measure.

Monty. I am grateful to follow your track, in my own way, for the rest of my days. Thank you for the example you set, and for your incomparable counsel. I love you, Mountain Man. Endlessly.
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: Kendall Peak accident, December 19, 2015
« Reply #5 on: 12/18/16, 09:53 PM »

I have heard it said that the mountains give more than they take.

I know from experience that's not always true. Some losses can never be replaced or compensated for by the mountains.

Yet the mountains continue to give, and they enrich our lives, and the people we share them with give us more.

Thank you for sharing Monty with us. I never met him, but your words have helped me know him better.
« Last Edit: 12/20/16, 07:14 PM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
RonL
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Re: Kendall Peak accident, December 19, 2015
« Reply #6 on: 12/19/16, 08:01 AM »

Thank you for sharing this.
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Marcus
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Re: Kendall Peak accident, December 19, 2015
« Reply #7 on: 12/19/16, 08:40 AM »

I only met Monty once, in a post-ski exchange of telemark boots, but we all orbit the same little ski world and it was clear he was a kindred spirit.  I dearly wish we could have found him in those first few days.  We skied in the Kendall area this weekend and talked about him at some length - that place will always be his in my mind, now.  This season is the first time in almost six years that I've skied a lot in winter conditions since my brush with death on the Phantom - Monty and others less lucky than I have been on my mind every time I've been out.

Wishing you the best, Toni.  Hope to see you out in the hills sometime.
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flowing alpy
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Re: Kendall Peak accident, December 19, 2015
« Reply #8 on: 12/19/16, 09:09 AM »

Strong Words, Toni!
Thanks for sharing what a lot of us feel inside.
bF
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SeatownSlackey
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Re: Kendall Peak accident, December 19, 2015
« Reply #9 on: 12/19/16, 09:31 AM »

Incredibly well said.

Sending you all the warmest and deepest love a fellow skier can offer.
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jackal
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Re: Kendall Peak accident, December 19, 2015
« Reply #10 on: 12/19/16, 06:38 PM »

Thank you so much for sharing Monty with us. I never knew him but recognize him well because of your exquisite writing. I'm so touched by what you wrote and guarantee we will carry his spirit and reverence for the outdoors as we head out this winter.

Peace to you.
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Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: Kendall Peak accident, December 19, 2015
« Reply #11 on: 12/20/16, 01:24 PM »

Toni's post is a perfect way to re-bump this thread for a somber anniversary. She deserves every bit of support this community can give.

I didn't know what to expect, touring Saturday into Commonwealth and Kendall on skis for the first time in many trips without Monty as a focus. It's the same place it's been for a decade, but it has permanently changed, too. There's a real peace knowing that Monty's home, and not lost, waiting to be found.

As you make your decisions in the mountains, please remember everyone at home, everyone around you, and everyone who will come looking for you if you can't make it home.

Thanks, as always, to everyone who helped with the initial search, the extended search, the recovery, the investigation, and the reporting. Everyone's work was essential.




It becomes an ever-longer-shot hunt for information, but I'm still trying to tie up a loose end or two.

In particular, I'd love to chat with a party of two or more that descended the west slopes of Kendall around 2 pm on December 19, 2015. An uphill-travelling skier took a photo as they passed by. One skier appears to be male, cleanshaven/stubble, deployed Avalung on the left backpack strap, grey jacket, dark pants, grey hat (no helmet), black gloves, grey/clear goggles with a black strap/white writing. Poles are dark with light-colored handles.

It is quite unlikely that this party of two was involved in any way with the accident, but they might have a recollection or photograph that leads to greater understanding.

Thanks! ( cah49@uw.edu )
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runcle
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Re: Kendall Peak accident, December 19, 2015
« Reply #12 on: 12/20/16, 05:24 PM »

Thank you for taking the time to write that courageous and eloquent post!
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Cornfed
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Re: Kendall Peak accident, December 19, 2015
« Reply #13 on: 12/21/16, 06:00 PM »

I too have been thinking about Monty - not because I knew him, because I didn't.  But I have skied many times in the same place he was killed -- including this past Sunday (solo as he did), and early the morning he died (with a partner).  It is true so true and so unfortunate that sometimes, probability can strike.  Your description of how he lived, his spirit, and why he spent time in the backcountry could describe not only myself, but many of the folks who read your words.  Thank you for sharing your words with us.
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