It was bound to happen

I’ve been pretty lucky with avalanche play this year, and there’s been a bumper crop of avalanches this winter.  A few exciting moments but nothing truly scary…until today.  We have one house that’s kind of set apart from the other, and with this much snow it’s also a pain in the ass to get to.  From a distance it has looked ok (in terms of snow weight); it should be better than the others since it’s built on an East-West axis, meaning that it’s full length is exposed to the South.  But since i was doing a little house clearing i figured that i’d take a closer look.  Good thing too, because that house was coming down soon.  There was enough weight that individual bows were starting to bend (2.5″ galvanized steel pipe).  The wind was blowing and the whole damned house would rock and sway with every gust.

Trouble was that the north side looked like it would clear pretty fast once i turned on the furnace, but the south side didn’t have much room to move.  The only thing worse than way too much snow weight on a greenhouse is way too much snow weight on only one half of a greenhouse.  I turned on the furnace and grabbed my trusty house clearing spade, trying to work quick.  It was tough because the south side of this house actually spans a drainage creek.  I had to try and stand on the shelf of snow that had already fallen.  I worked as fast as i could in between trying to keep my precarious footing and checking the wall of snow above me for signs of movement.

The sign came too fast for me to really react and the whole side broke free at one time.  I jumped, but landed in the soft snow in the creek bed at the same time that the avalanche hit me.  Best as i can figure it sank me much deeper into the snow and knocked me sideways hard enough sprawl me out completely.  I found myself buried to about mid-torso and my legs were splayed in unnatural directions.  It was kind of funny in a, “Gee, i’ll have to gnaw my leg off to survive kind of way.”  But when i tried to move i really couldn’t.  I looked up and there was still a huge chunk of hardpack up there…right above me.  10′ x 7-8′ x at least 2′ thick.  If it came down my situation would have been significantly more dire.  I’m not willing to say that i would have died in a snowbank, but it wouldn’t have been pretty.

The snowshoes pretty well sealed my feet into the snow bank, and when i reached to pull myself my arms just went down into nothingness.  In true, Indiana Jones fashion, my shovel had landed just barely within reach.  With some leverage i managed to mostly free my left leg, but the right leg was held in place by what may well have been 1000+ pounds of snow.  I’m not exactly sure how i did it, but i managed to get my foot out of my tied boot that was strapped tight to the snowshoe.  Sweet freedom, except that now one leg had a snowshoe and the other just had a sock.  When i stepped down with the right (socked) foot it sank to more than waist deep while the other didn’t.  I had an idea where the boot/shoe combination was, but it wasn’t easy to get to trying to shovel on one foot.  I was not really worried about the snow on the house anymore, except for it further burying my footwear.

I found it!  A dive into the snow bank and a solid tug extricated the boot/shoe.  For a brief moment i thought about saying, “Fuck it” and going home.  Instead i put the snowy sock into the snowy boot, relashed the shoes and got back to work.  There may be a moral in this (like at least keep your cellphone in your pocket), but i’m too whipped to find that golden kernel.  For now i’ll just chalk it up in the, “been there done that” catagory.


~ by Lex on February 6, 2009.

3 Responses to “It was bound to happen”

  1. Lex,

    That sounds like a close call, too close. The worst thing I have to worry about is drowning.


  2. Jeff: You make drowning sound so passe. Drowning has to be second on my list of horrible ways to die…right after getting chased down by a bear.

    As much as i hate to admit this, it probably was too close. There was a moment or two in that experience where i wondered if i was in real, serious trouble. I guess that i don’t know if i was or not because i spent my energy extricating myself rather than pondering the level of trouble.

    While i’m here, i want to say that i appreciate that you’re willing to respect my intellect even in disagreement…it’s a two way street. I’m deeply perturbed by the notion that we should only associate with those who agree with us, and i can’t help but wonder if that attitude is the fundamental issue facing our nation. (and to tell you the truth, i generally skip over the comments on S&R that get you so riled up; having a chip on your shoulder for the sake of having a chip on your shoulder seems like the most self-destructive thing a person can do…i know because i’ve tried it.)

  3. Lex – my goodness I am so glad you got free. What a horrible experience for you.

    Thaw out and warm up. I would greatly miss your voice if you became a snowman!

    Be well, Dawn

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