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Old 05-10-2011, 02:25 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Break a leg

A pro Telemark skier Nick DeVore, broke his femur a few weeks ago in a backcountry spot outside of Aspen. Pretty nasty injury. Powdermag has a great interview with him. Nick is very candid about the decisions that led up to this accident. Stuff to be learned here. I have yet to see an avalanche accident where the people involved didn't make some mistake. It is never "they did everything right and there was nothing they could do about it" scenarios. Sometimes it's the smallest of clues, but catching it could save your life.

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By Tim Mutrie

Lying on his back, screaming in pain and staring up into the sun last Thursday, April 28, Aspen’s Nick DeVore kept mistaking airplanes for the rescue helicopter. “Is that the heli?! Nope, it’s just another jet,” says DeVore, recalling his delirium.

When the helicopter did arrive—some two hours after DeVore snapped his left femur in a small wet-slab avalanche near Taylor Pass, a remote backcountry locale south of Aspen and north of Crested Butte—a paramedic from the Flight for Life team asked him what his pain level was on a scale from 1 to 10. “Four thousand,” DeVore replied.

“I wasn’t kidding,” says DeVore, later. “The scapula was nothing compared to this. I mean, I was screaming at the top of my lungs the whole time.”
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:45 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Definitely awesome that he admitted to "bypassing" the signs, but specifically because he'd hit many bigger lines which made him view this as nothing extreme. In almost (if not) all BC cases, there is some element of "extreme" involved. Good read, kill...
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Old 05-11-2011, 04:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
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“Some of the lines are going to be sliding, and that’s an element we’re used to. I mean, the avalanche here was something that would be called ‘manageable sluff’ in Alaska. … So we all skied one run, no worries, and the snow was thick and buttery. Then we went to these steeper lines that were slightly more east-facing and had a cornice drop to get in. It was wind-loaded and had been kinda sun baked. It was really kind of obvious. And that’s the case every time I’m in a situation like this—it is obvious. All the signs were there beforehand. I even kinda knew beforehand, just kind of neglected it.”

Translation: I'm WAY too fucking gnar to be hurt on this wimpy little shit!

When your terrain management decisions are based pretty much entirely on your ability to ski/ride out of danger, you're playing with fire while soaked in gasoline.
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Old 05-11-2011, 04:57 PM   #4 (permalink)
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While I agree with that, he is a pro level skier, and they do this sort of thing all the time. When Fuel TV was running their TGR series there was this one segment where they were out on a high avy danger day. Jones said he thought the wall was going to pop. Chose a semi spine line and set off a good size avy. I think he went for a ride but he may of safe zoned it out. The rest of the crew knew the other runs were prime to pop and went for it anyway. They knew they were going for rides. It was insane, large avalanches happened to three other skiers. They all got carried but ended up on top. No way in hell I would even mess with a slope with conditions like that. They are just another level. Of course they die just as easily as anyone else too.
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Old 05-11-2011, 05:37 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Yeah, I just don't understand that mentality. No line is worth dying (or getting your femur snapped) for.

There's other shit out there to ride.

An interesting conversation would be whether than mentality and the stuff shown in videos these days contributes to recklessness in the BC. I mean, you see all kinds of, to be brutally honest, stupid shit in videos. Launching off of huge cornices, setting off deadly avalanches, completely disregarding warning signs, etc, etc. The difference is that oftentimes those pros actually do have the awareness and skill to get themselves out of those situations. Average Joe Schmoe on Loveland Pass in a tall tee probably doesn't. I don't. If I get caught in something and ride my way out, it's going to probably involve a healthy dose of horseshit luck.

Hell yeah, it's fun to watch, but at the same time, it's just like damn, that's dumb.

I understand pushing yourself and riding gnar terrain, but my God, you've got to be a mad man to drop into a line knowing that it's probably going to slide. Not that there's a remote chance, but that it's the likely outcome. What the hell???
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:42 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Good read, thanks KC.

While reading it, I was thinking of this quote from Dr. Ken Kalmer.

"Familiarity and prolonged exposure without incident leads to a loss of appreciation of risk."

lin - dude, not everyone has the same frame of reference as you... what you view as unacceptable risk, isn't to others.
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Old 05-12-2011, 12:18 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bravo_castle View Post
Good read, thanks KC.

While reading it, I was thinking of this quote from Dr. Ken Kalmer.

"Familiarity and prolonged exposure without incident leads to a loss of appreciation of risk."

lin - dude, not everyone has the same frame of reference as you... what you view as unacceptable risk, isn't to others.
I think you hit the nail on the head with your quote. Some of these guys are going so big all the time that they just lose track of what their own acceptable risk level is.

Reading his interview, it seems pretty clear that he realizes that he's been dodging bullets for years and it finally caught up with him.

I think lots of people base their acceptable level of risk on nothing having happened to them for awhile and the "it can't happen to me" complex.

I'd be willing to bet that right about now he doesn't consider what he did an acceptable risk. Hindsight is always 20/20, but sometimes you don't get that opportunity.
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Old 05-12-2011, 06:16 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by linvillegorge View Post
I think lots of people base their acceptable level of risk on nothing having happened to them for awhile and the "it can't happen to me" complex.

I'd be willing to bet that right about now he doesn't consider what he did an acceptable risk. Hindsight is always 20/20, but sometimes you don't get that opportunity.
Absolutely valid on both points. This is why it is always such a good thing to read about these avalanche accidents. There is something to be learned from each on of them. I know I've avoided a few traps over the years because of reading these.

The "can't happen to me complex" is a huge problem out there. I'd say every person out riding Loveland and Berthoud Pass without avy gear is guilty of this. Works great for them until it doesn't. Jeffrey Miller on Berthoud Pass is a prime example of this. He died in an avalanche on Berthoud Pass for those who do not know. Was not riding with avalanche gear that day because he thought he didn't need it. If you are riding without avy gear in uncontrolled terrain, you better 100% know that what you are riding in is safe. That means you need to know how to travel in and evaluate avalanche terrain. I'd say 90% of those out there without gear don't. They are just going to the same runs that everyone else is doing. This stuff is super fun, but you need to know how to deal with it.

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Old 05-13-2011, 12:24 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Yeah, not sure if this was clear, but what I meant in my post was that one should always adhere to the signs despite how "manageable" the terrain may see... always some "extreme" element involved.
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