after my recent adventure with a broken leg in the backcountry i’d like to share some tips on what to do in case of an emergency out there. i’m not an expert, and this isn’t all encompassing. just some more things to think about and maybe something to add to your pack. sure you can get a calstar membership in fact one in our group had only days before.
but what if there’s no cell phone service? in our case there was none, although oft times you can get kirkwood’s signal if you’re on the ridge above us, about 20 minutes away.
what if it’s storming and a helicopter rescue isn’t possible?
what if the injury occurred in terrain that precludes a rescue by helicopter?
the first things to consider is active self rescue. can you get out without seeking additional help? can you get help? it’s not uncommon to be hours from the nearest cell phone signal.
do you have the items required for self rescue considering the injury? below are some items that you may already have or can easily add to your pack that may help to move an injured person. in most cases they have other uses as well and will most likely end up fixing a broken binding. Continue reading
as ashley stood at the top of the run in i tried to convince her it was all good. ‘as long as you don’t under rotate, there’s no way to get hurt doing a backflip’. she had under rotated her first attempt this day and she was a bit shaken up. i couldn’t convince her to try again and in retrospect i felt bad for even trying. i made my way up top to give it another go since on my first attempts i had slightly over rotated and backslapped before skiing away. still can’t say i stuck it. this time i would get a little more speed and rotate a little slower. still i came down in the back seat and bounced into the air. when i returned to the white planet my skis augured into the slightly crusty snow. my body slammed forward causing my femur to smash into the tibial plateau with enough force that my season was over. i knew it immediately and let out a loud ‘fuuuck!‘ before coming to a stop and the whimpering started.
the tibial plateau fracture would require surgery involving the placement of a cadaver bone graft as ‘scaffolding’ for my bone to grow on plus the addition of two metal screws. i’ll add pictures of the post op xray as well as some of the knee during surgery as soon as i get them from dr. swanson. of course, none of this could happen unless we got ourselves out of the backcountry first. we were about a mile from carson pass and it would require about 1.5 miles of travel to minimize elevation loss and gain. i didn’t know what i had done but i knew i couldn’t weight the leg at all, especially at any angle at all. we made a splint by placing our probes on each side of the knee and then wrapping my skins around the area. then adding a couple voile straps to keep it as tight as possible (the video shows only one probe on the outside, we added ashley’s on the inside shortly after). the majority of the way back was downhill and i was able to ski it on one ski with the other ski on my foot but hanging in tele mode. the pain wasn’t too bad as we started but near the end the combination of the adrenalin wearing off and the snow becoming icy as we skied through refrozen tree pee sections had me on the verge of passing out. finally we hit the old carson pass road and i figured i could pole up that section since it’s uphill, but not steep at all. it was quickly apparent that i just couldn’t do it. ashley donned her skins and towed me through that section all the way to highway 88, where i waited for her to go get the car. if i was alone, things would be very different right now.
here’s the video, which starts out with a few short clips from kirkwood the day before
when we got to elephant back we skied one run to the bottom to check things out. there had been a huge slide during the storm cycle. note the rocks above the riders in the top of the pic. they are roughly 25 feet tall. the pic below is taken from roughly where ashley is standing in this pics (just follow the tracks below jeff)