“Full gas” to “all stop”!

Date: Saturday 3/31/12.

The forecast called for broken sunshine and 50’s - a classic setup to the great Norhwest dilemna - to ski, play golf, or go road biking. Too much risk of rain in the lowlands, so my wife and I chose to hit the slopes at Crystal Mountain for one more day to the good on our season’s passes there. Due to a power failure, the lifts were delayed in opening. But when the upper mountain chair was open for business mid-morning we headed for a spot where we thought it most likely to enjoy first tracks. We chose Upper Exterminator, a challenging favorite. My wife chose to descend by a different line, while I traversed across the top edge As I did, I noticed soot deposits in the snow, a clear sign that the slope had been “bombed” by the avalanche patrol and allayed any concerns about stability. Near the end of the traverse, I came upon what appeared to be a untouched patch of white carpet. I dropped in, and as soon as I did, BAM!, The entire section gave way in one enormous slab, taking me with it. I drifted downward, stuck about waist deep in the heavy snow. Mercifully, it dragged me along for only 30-40 yards without developing significant momentum.

As I was struggling to stay on top of it, I felt my left ski torquing heal down toe up in an extreme dorsiflex motion. The binding never released. I remember a sensation similar to a rubber band snapping beneath my left calf. When the commotion ceased, it was obvious that I had seriously torn my left Achilles tendon. My athletic world had abruptly transitioned from “full gas” to “all stop”.

The ski patrol dragged me down the mountain and into its first aid station at the base lodge. That’s where a few trained hands communicated the dreaded words - expect to be “non weight bearing” for at least a month.

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