Jenny Karns was making turns through fresh powder on one of her favorite ski runs, South Hoback, at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, WY on Friday when she lost her balance and found herself upside down unable to move or breathe.
After realizing she couldn’t rescue herself she started to panic:
“I was thinking this is the worst way to die,’” she told the Jackson Hole News and Guide. “And I was on a main run, not out of bounds or doing anything stupid.”
Karns tried to slow her thoughts, knowing that panicking would not help, and she realized one of her pink skis was sticking out. The thought of someone skiing by and seeing her pink ski waving around gave her hope.
“I started praying,” she said. “I couldn’t scream because I was too buried. I was praying, ‘Save me. Please, God. Please, God, someone find me.’”
Nathanael Reeder from Boulder, CO was on his last run of the day when he saw a leg sticking out of the snow. He called to two skiers above him and started to dig. They called ski patrol but knew they couldn’t wait. After some vigorous digging, they pulled Karns the rest of the way out, knowing that they needed to get her head out of the snow in a hurry.
“We got her out, and she gave a huge sigh and was spitting up blood and was crying and puking,” he said. “Then we were trying to keep her awake while we waited for ski patrol. We didn’t know if she had a broken neck or back. She was in extreme distress.”
Jackson Hole Ski Patrol hauled Karns away on a stretcher. She was rushed to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls and put in the intensive care unit, where doctors pumped air to inflate her lungs. Karns said she was diagnosed with takotsobu cardiomyopathy and pulmonary edema, or a collapsed lung. She was discharged from the hospital Monday and went home.
Karns said it’s difficult to explain how she landed in such a precarious position on an inbounds run that she had skied hundreds of times over the years. Her ski partner was in front of her when it happened, so he didn’t witness her fall. The 48-year-old was wearing a helmet and a transceiver during the accident.