On the mend: Prepare for the worst, expect also the worst
It was the type of chairlift ride up Sheer Bliss that made us regret wearing only shorts under our snowpants; the kind that left icicles in our beards and us wanting nothing more than a beer at Gwyn’s. But the snow was flying and our buddy was getting in his last turns before heading back to the Caribbean in the morning, so we opted to take one more lap.
Through KT Gully.
“I know it’s gonna be s—,” Joey said. And so we went thusly.
The moguls were deeply riveted, with the dust on crust providing little stability. The base layer was rock-hard and visibility was poor, so all three of us traversed slowly and with caution as we realized this was not the opportunity to ride full-send.
As we made it out of the bumps and emptied into the gully, Joey crumpled.
“Yep, it’s broke,” he immediately mustered as Sean and I popped out our headphones. “Ski patrol.” Sean raced off in search of help.
By some miracle I had cellphone service and was able to Google the number for patrol and summon assistance. Minutes later we spotted three figures ripping down the gulch just as the sun finally burned away the clouds (of course). A broken tib and fib undoubtedly made for a bumpy toboggan ride down to the clinic.
As I sit here wracked by survivor’s guilt but taking solace, at least, in that the double-black gated terrain wasn’t my suggestion, I contemplate how things can change in an instant and how even safety measures are not foolproof. My buddy was going less than 5 mph when a weird turn and an unexpected bump derailed all his plans for the immediate future.
Forrest Gump once said “s— happens.” Sometimes we can prevent it from happening, but sometimes we just have to be prepared for the aftermath when it does.
This is my fifth winter season in Aspen, but before today had never really thought of saving emergency numbers in my phone for when s— not only happens, but hits the fan. You may not be lucky enough to be able to look it up later, so put these ski patrol numbers in your contacts now:
Aspen Mountain: 970-920-0723
Aspen Highlands: 970-544-3052
Wear a helmet, ski cautiously but confidently, and try not to go anywhere too wild by yourself.
If you’re friends with Joey Bag of Donuts, or an otherwise benevolent soul, and want to help out where health insurance will not, a GoFundMe has been set up for his treatment and recovery here: https://bit.ly/2GbPuSS (Sorry, it’s randomly generated, I’m not making fun.)
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