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Sunday, December 01, 2013


Sunrise over Kodiak's wind turbines

 This morning I helped Brooks go bow hunting for goats.  We hiked up in the gloaming before dawn.  Really just a spectacular day to be out and about in the mountains.  We saw a few goats, but mostly they were just nannies and kids which you are not allowed to hunt.

We put on crampons and climbed up a fairly steep slope and I was thinking that in the old days such slopes had not scared me at all.  Now they do, and I was not looking forward to climbing back down.  No goats up on top but the view was well worth the climb.

And then came the climb back down.  It really did not seem all that bad, and I was wondering why the prospect had had me so freaked out.  I was practically at the bottom and relieved to be back on 'safe ground' when suddenly my crampons broke free of the ice and I went into an uncontrolled descent.  My ice axe did not stop me and I saw the grass and rocks coming and was scared the crampons would catastrophically catch.  The grass and rocks did not stop me either and I did a little tumbling and crossed some more snow before coming to a stop.  Wow did that HURT!

My leg was killing me and I could not walk.  Blood started to seep through my pants and I lifted the pant leg and saw an awful hole in my leg.  That sort of freaked my out because there was no hole in my pants.  I was more than a little worried that I may have broken my leg.  Brooks showed up on the hillside above, and I yelled to him that I had fallen.  He stepped out onto the snow and also catastrophically broke loose and slid for a 100 feet or so.  However, he did not get hurt.  We later decided that the sun had warmed the top layer of the snow and ice on that particular aspect and that this had hampered the effectiveness of our crampons.

He joined me and looked at my leg.  No broken bones - just a big hole in my shin.  He thought it was from a rock - I think I got 'poked' with my ice axe.  Ghastly puncture wound but not the end of the world.  I walked back to the car using my ski pole and ice axe as crutches.  

All's well that ends well, and the fall was a bit of a wake up call.  Scary slopes are scary for a reason - you can slip and fall and not stop for a long ways.  Today's experience has re calibrated my slope sense.  Patrick

Near the top of the third (south) sister

Beautiful views but scary slopes

Looking for goats shortly before the fall

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