A skier was caught and carried in a large avalanche on Hatcher Pass, AK, last Thursday. He suffered serious lower-body injuries and had to crawl a mile back to his hut.
- Related: Skier Survives Being Fully Buried for 23-Minutes in Avalanche Just Outside Solitude Mountain Resort, UT
The man and his ski partner were on a five day trip on Mount Besh and were staying at the Holden Hut. On day three, the pair were skiing on Mt. Besh when an avalanche was triggered that carried one of the group down the slope.
The avalanche was 18-24″ deep, and ran for 1,000-feet.
After suffering injuries to his lower body he managed to crawl 1-mile back to the hut while his partner carried his gear. Once at the hut they waited for the weaher to clear before they could be airlifted out.
Write up below:
We flew into Holden Hut on March 8 for a 5-day trip with a plan to ski out. On the first day we skied a down-valley run, then the north face of Montana Peak and the East face of Ozone. On day two we skied an East-facing couloir on Mt Besh. On day three (March 10), I triggered and was caught in a large avalanche.
Events of the day
We had toured up from the hut to find north facing lines. There was about a foot of new snow in the past 24 hours. We had enjoyed great snow the previous two days, but we had found shallow reactive new storm slabs on top of sun-affect ok east-facing lines and we discussed avoiding these aspects. We skinned up the southeast flank of Mt Besh to a bench where the line turned more to the east and decided to stop and ski. We had also discussed that the skier’s right side of the run seemed safer because the left had a hollow-feeling “spindrift slab” from the cliffs above. My Partner made a ski-cut to a rock amd stopped; I skied past him into the run. The slope broke above me and immediately took me off my feet. I pulled my airbag and fought mainly to keep snow out of my airway. I hit some very hard objects with both feet.
I came to a stop fully on the surface, head first, face down. My right boot was broken and my right foot and left knee were hurting. My partner was already onto the debris pile and we made visual contact very quickly. He recovered my skis, one of which was broken. My poles were gone. I tried standing and had no success with either leg, so we made the decision for me to crawl the mile back to the hut. We put skins on my skis and I held one ski in each hand and crawled on my knees behind my partner who carried my backpack and broke a trail back and forth to pack it down. The crawl took about two hours, then we waited two days for a weather window to get flown out by the PJs who were awesome!