Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fear and Loathing on Sandia Peak

Last week after a nice dump in Albuquerque...... Dan and I put aside our inner fears about slides and hidden obstacles and headed up to Sandia Peak around 8:00pm. We left one car at the ski area parking lot (knowing we may never see it again) and parked at the top. It was blowing hard, foggy and still snowing... We put renewed fears aside, strapped on beacons, shovels and probes and headed out into the void...

We made it to the "Meadow" and as I lead the downhill into the blackness, I heard a scrape, Dan saw sparks and I was down in a whiteout! Dan came to my rescue guided by my screams of pain.... it was only a skinned knee, but the mood was set and we were spooked.

We had to retreat to the treeline to find our way over to the gravel pit and a huge jump left by thoughtless snowboarders. I couldn't help myself and took the jump and barely held on to the landing. We finally arrived at the top of a run, assessed the situation and took these pictures with Dan's phone in case they were our last:

The moon was full but obscured by clouds so we started down first run in the dark... Trouble soon followed and as I stopped to rest Dan stopped just uphill from me and created a slide that partially buried some of the top of one of my skis! He went for his beacon but I dug myself out and instead we dug some brandy out of my pack to calm our nerves...

It didn't let up from there either... With no other options, we continued on periodically checking conditions, avoiding more slides, cliffs and probably a Yeti from what we could make out. More brandy and more bravado and we finally made it to the thick yet safe snow at the bottom of the ski area. Thank GOD!

All in all, one of the most dangerous and scary nights we ever had in the wild.... Truly an AAS event to remember ;-)


Anonymous said...

Back-country night skiing??? That's a new one Would you recommend it?

Pablito said...

Yea Baby! Only for the brave of heart ;-)