SnowsportsTrauma Tuesday: Avalanche Escape Edition

Trauma Tuesday: Avalanche Escape Edition


To call this an avalanche “escape” is a bit of a misnomer. This is more of an “almost avalanche escape to tomahawk to being swallowed to being rescued” type of situation. Extreme skier Julien Lopez drops into what appears to be a pretty tame slope…OR IS IT?!?!?

Right, so this thing rips right away with an extra wide crown in the three foot range (eyeballing estimate from the video) on Lopez’s first turn. Not sure who was doing the snow report for these guys, but it was wrong, (almost) dead wrong. Lopez does the badass thing and tries to straight-line it, impressively ollieing the foam leading the charge down the mountain. At this point in the video, you’re like, “OMG, no big deal, this guy’s an extreme skier, so he’s probably good at skiing and straight-lining and out running avalanches”….OR IS HE?!?!?!

The wall of snow breathing down his neck turned this pro into a gaper pretty quick as he catches an edge and tomahawks. #opps

In the video commentary, Lopez throws out the term “lucky” a bunch. I’m not sure if the French term for lucky is the same as the English counterpart, but Lopez wasn’t lucky. There is no luck in the mountains, only preparedness and consequences. Obviously, I wasn’t there when this happened, but that slope was fantastically unstable, ripping not once, but twice with only a relatively slight load on it. Being on it was a huge mistake and should have almost cost Lopez his life. He was equipped with an airbag system, but more crucially, with a team on the scene with the knowledge and skills to extract him.

This video is compelling yes, but there are lessons to be learned here too.

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