My incident at Blue Knob and a quick TR
We went to Blue Knob this past weekend and were on the slopes at around 4:00 pm on Friday.
Conditions looked really rough. Brown patches here and there. Exposed dirt and rocks but had a good time skiing nevertheless.
There was sufficient snow that we were able to have a good time skiing on Mambo, Expressway, Jack Rabbit and Deer Run.
On Saturday it was a lot more slushy and thinned out but never got stuck. We were able to ski over everything. The upper lip of Lower Expressway was almost all dirt but with a little bit of snow/ice on the left. Deer Run was getting kind of brown too on top.
Didn't even bother going to the blacks. They looked really rough.
On my last run on the middle Deer Run, I somehow lost it. Wasn't going too fast, making nice tight turns. I ended up sideways and start slipping. Turned, rolled, tumbled several times, could not stop. I am sliding diagonal across the hill towards the trees. I am freaking out as I cannot self arrest or stop. I wasn't wearing a jacket or gloves as the temperature was somewhere in the low 70's. There is no stopping now and I am about to go over the lip of the trail so somehow I tuck in or ball up, I think. I smashed into the smaller trees/thick brush and stopped by the bigger trees.
I somehow survived. I felt a hit on the back of my helmet. I must have hit a small tree. I get up and noticed that my right thumb has a 1/2 cut and it is bleeding like a stuffed pig. I squeeze my thumb but it keeps bleeding and now there is blood everywhere. On the snow, it is getting on my bibs and it is pooling on my hands.
My brother in law (BIL) goes to the bottom to get help. In the meantime, I am still bleeding and can't figure out what to do so I figure I better keep squeezing my thumb to minimize the bleeding.
Patrol shows up and bandages my thumb/hand. The bandages get soaked right away and more bandages are applied. So I get loaded into the sled and taken to the top. The bleeding seems to have slowed down. Filed a report and my BIL drives me to the ER in Nason Hospital, about 1/2 hour away.
When I got there, they removed the bandage and blood starts shooting out (think of the Julia Child Saturday Night Live skit with Dan Akroyd). Doctor tells me that I nicked a small artery and ties it off and gives me three stitches.
I also a got a nice road rash on my left forearm and some minor scratches along both arms.
I think I was really lucky and it was very sobering accident. I keep thinking that it could have happened to my daughter or wife and they might have had worst luck. All of this mights or possibilities. It kinds of scares me how fast this happened and how lucky I was not to have my neck or the front of my face smashed, or not being cut on a major artery, etc, etc, etc...
I never imagined that I would ever be in the sled and being towed by the snowmobile.
Kudos for the patrol at Blue Knob for taking care of me.
Yes, it could have been worse. I'm also glad you're ok and I second the 'always wear gloves' motion. I use a very light pair just for spring skiing, usually leather but often fleece.
Arterial bleeding! Awesome! You need those chain mail gloves butchers wear. Haha. I'm glad you didn't bleed to death, that would have sucked. Ski patrollers are great.
Practice self-arrest. It's easy but you must be able to do it immediately, like hitting the brakes in your car, not something you should have to think about, you just do it when you need to. I was never taught self-arrest as a PSIA. I don't understand that. I learned it from NATO.
Glad you are OK, tendons and stuff OK?
OOOO. I've had plenty of stitches from skisport but never a ligature.
Gloves are a good thought, but one of these would help.
Unless of course you landed on your poles.
Considering everything that happened, my injuries are very, very, very minor. I really lucked out.
Doctor said no tendon or muscle damage. Just skin and that tiny artery tied off. Lucky again.
I am been wondering what kind of clothing I could wear when it is over 60 deg as I overheat really quickly.
Maybe some sort of motorcycle type jacket where the fabric is perforated. Definitely gloves.
I thought about those self arrest poles but it seems like a sudden crash could cause an involuntary impalement.
Where can I read/learn about self arresting? I was trying to catch my edges to slow the fall or using my hands but nothing worked. When I fell, I had about 50 or 60 ft to go but I was sliding so fast that I could not do anything. I did get a chance to look at the trees at least twice before I hit them.
Another thing that prob made a difference were the smaller trees and thick bushes that caught before the bigger trees.
Sorry to hear about the wreck but glad you came out okay, also glad someone was there to help you out.
I don't know what you usually layer under your jacket but I suggest a light wicking base layer. Under Armor is kind of pricey but basically anything that will allow your sweat to evaporate readily is good. After that it's just a light shell with the vents wide open. I hate how my hands sweat in warm weather. I used park gloves last weekend and they were great. They are not very waterproof but that's not a huge issue. Essentially they are thin softshell type material with very grippy material on the palms and fingers.
Grab one of your poles just above the basket, while retaining grip on the handle with your other hand, jam tip into snow. This will stop you from spinning around and your skis will be downhill from you. if they have not released, you can try to engage edges, gradually though, don't dig in and flip over. If your skis are off, you can try to dig boot toes in, but again, too much and you will go head over heels, so I advise putting lots of weight on the pole tip, and push up away from the snow with your arms and you will stop. The pole will stop you. I think the leverage you get from a ski pole used this way will stop you better than a plastic ice axe style grip.
Sorry, the picture was intended as a joke. I like to ski and ice climb but the thought of skiing with one of these Whippet poles is too scary for me.
RodSmith's description is right one.
Being challenged here in the east for alpine terrain, I used to practice this on a steep slope (aka sledding hill) near my house after a good snow storm and after it is packed by sledders. You could do the same with an old pole. The most important aspect of this from a training perspective is to learn how to orient your body prior to starting the arrest. This is where the backyard training will pay off.
I guess there are some variations in method. The way I learned it was to hold the pole near one's shoulder as seen in the first of these links, not under the armpit as described in the second link and as shown in the picture posted by KeithT. I also will continue to keep one hand on the pole grip as it seems to me to offer much better leverage than moving both hands down to the bottom of the pole as shown in the video.
Glad you're (mostly) OK -- gloves might have helped, but none of my spring gloves are very tough. I can't imagine they would have made a difference in this case.
The on the belly method is closer to the classic mountaineering self arrest with an ice axe. The idea with this method is that the most weight possible is on the axe allowing for the fastest possible stop. This would presumably be the same with a ski pole, but it is much easier to get the axe under you than a pole. The picture I showed is more of a sitting glissade which has the advantage of seeing down slope and using your feet as a shock absorber. IMHO the sitting approach may be better if you are not on too steep a slope and both your skis are on. If my skis were off, I would roll over on my belly. But remember, this is the way I was trained with an ice axe.
On a side note--has anyone ever seen ski patrol practicing this?? I have not.
But remember, this is the way I was trained with an ice axe.
To keep the crampons off the snow?
On a side note--has anyone ever seen ski patrol practicing this?? I have not.
I did see the wife of a patroller use the belly side stop in all seriousness.
Yup, knees into the slope and feet bent up.
I ummm ... got to practice this in one of the bowls at breck this year on some sunbaked hardpack. Digging in the pole was quite natural since the prospect of walking back up to my self arrested ski was daunting. Effective also, but I'd guess I went 70 yards before fully stopping. Fortunately someone else took pity and brought down my ski and we chatted while waiting for his girlfriend to carefully pick her way down, which I guess I should have done.
May I point out something which Eug did the right thing? Eug wore the helmet! yes the brain bucket! Eug didn't have to describe how he got scalped or eyes poked or ear chopped off .. you get the picture.
Thumbs up for Eug! I know it may be hot to wear helmet but hey .. Eug got only thumb injury and minor scratch on your forearm .. instead of jaw/eye/nose/ear/brain/neck. If you didn't wear the helmet.. well .. run your own imagination.
Eug, I am curious what made you wear the helmet anyway?
Hey SeaRide- I always wear a helmet regardless of the weather since my daughter started skiing. None of us will get on the slopes without one.
I was 'lucky' that the back of my helmet (or head) hit the tree. If the front of my head (face) hit the tree, I think the outcome would have been a little different. Regardless, the helmet took the hit and I was ok.