Guest blogger Fiona lives in Telluride but spends most of her time skiing the hidden chutes around Ophir. She drops a knee but like many telemarkers these days, is being lured to the darkside by the lightness of tech bindings. She’s my sister and I had fun giving her a hard time about this one:
Earlier this winter I was in an incident that has made me want to convert from telemarking in the backcountry to using an AT setup with ski brakes — or at least use leashes on all my skis. Some friends and I decided to do a tour from Trout Lake to Ophir near Telluride, skiing a couloir along the way. It was a gorgeous bluebird day with little to no wind up on top of the ridge. Once we reached the ridge we ripped the skins and started making our way down to the couloir. I made a couple of turns down to the saddle of the ridge which had little snow coverage. When I lifted my right foot, in an effort to carefully walk across the rocks and grass, I was horrified to discover that my ski was no longer attached to my boot.
I think that the binding cable must have snapped as I’m pretty sure I was properly clipped in to them. Since I wasn’t wearing leashes and since my bindings don’t have brakes, my ski shot down the mountain and out of sight. I was stranded on top of a 12,000 ft ridge with a steep chute on one side and a long, wind scoured face on the other. With one ski.
After collecting myself and talking to my friends about what to do, we slowly made our way back down the skin track (which happened to be in the same direction as the fugitive ski). A good hour or so later we found the ski lodged in a crack in a cliff and out of reach, about 500 ft from where I’d lost it. The only way we figured I’d be getting it back is to retrieve it this coming summer with a rope and belay up in the crack.
What took us two and a half hours to skin up would have taken a lot longer mono skiing back down and across to the car, but luckily half way down I got picked up by a snowmobiler who was kind enough to drive me the rest of the way.
Due to Nick’s involvement with the airbag blogging project, WildSnow was kind enough to provide a replacement pair of skis but I’m still out a pair of bindings. I’m thinking they should be Dynafits! A convert? We shall see.
Whatever the case, I’m not the first or the last person to end up on one ski because they didn’t use leashes or brakes. Lesson learned.
Nick Thompson brings an incredible amount of skiing and mountaineering experience to WildSnow.com. Nick grew up climbing and skiing in the mecca of Telluride. He has a super attitude and incredible drive, making Nick one of those people who is terrific to be in the mountains with.