Lost Snowboarder in Santa Fe and Silverton Ice/Snow 
Monday, December 21, 2015, 08:21 PM - Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
Thursday night at 9:00, Spencer and I were turning ski equipment in the garage when the text comes in: missing snowboarder in Santa Fe. I decided to head up to see if I could lend a hand along with Verena and Zak. We got to the ski area at about 11:30 and were briefed in the ski patrol room that Ryan (a former Taos Extreme Freeride Champion) had dropped into the Nambe Chutes at about 3:30pm and his friend had not seen him since. He didn't know the Santa Fe resort and may have triggered an avalanche with all the new snow. No one knew...

By the time we got all our gear together and clicked into our skis, it was 12:30am and somewhere between 0 and 10 F (with a subzero wind chill). We skinned up the Winsor Trail and worked our way toward Nambe Lakes. At the fork toward the lake, the trail was no longer tracked out and I began the task of breaking trail in waist-deep powder up the Rio Nambe. We called every 10th of a mile or so, but there was no answer in the crisp, moonless night. Only deep snowy forest. I had a few minor navigational mistakes but continued up toward the lake with the team in tow. The going was extremely slow and difficult. I was working hard to make kick turns and wind through the forest. Finally, at one rest break, I gave a yell and heard something back. It seemed to come from above me, so I assumed it was Team 2 up on Raven's Ridge. We radioed to the Incident Commander to ask that Team 2 stop shouting so we could be sure it was them. Team 2 responded that they had not yelled in the last 5 minutes. Holy Shit - we've got him! He's alive! And he's awake! I started working my way up to Ryan, zigzagging up the mountain to his spot near the creek. 10 minutes later, I reached him by exchanging yells. I can say with certainty that he was very stoked to see us! After talking with him about his injuries, cold level, and general welfare. We cracked a few jokes and I suggested that he crawl back in his pine bow shelter for a photo, which he did politely while joking about how cozy it was. I pulled out my big puffy, fat mittens, hot tea, and a granola bar for him; packed up his frozen-solid gloves and coat, attached his snowboard to my pack; then I strapped my spare snowshoes on him and started the 3 mile trek out. It was 4:00am now. We moved slowly, and as we made the 800 ft ascent back up to 10,800 ft pass, Ryan's condition deteriorated. So did ours. Ryan was getting progressively more nauseous and stopping regularly to vomit. We diagnosed him with acute mountain sickness since he had just flown in from the Bay Area two days before, but it was unnerving. Zak had been awake for 26 hours straight at this point, and Verena and I were approaching the 24 hour mark. Finally, we reached the pass just as day was breaking. We navigated the final mile of 600' descent to the parking lot. I ripped my skins and struggled to maintain my balance with a massive snowboard on my back. Everyone else slogged it out to keep a close eye on Ryan. We brought him up the ski patrol room and said our goodbyes to everyone. We definitely saved a few fingers and toes that night, if not someone's life entirely. I finally got home and to bed at 9:30am having been up for 27 hours.




I slept for 4.5 hours and then repacked for a trip to Silverton. Spencer, Briana, and I stayed the night in the hostel and then met Sharon for an ice climb of 2nd Gulley. I led the first pitch, but it was 1 degree F so the ice was bulletproof and difficult to get the picks and crampons in. I made it work, but was exhausted at the top of the pitch. I then belayed Spencer up and then simultaneously belayed the girls up to the 1st anchor. Spencer led the 2nd pitch but since I was using 2 singles, one of them was 50m, and we couldn't stretch it out to the top of the next section. As a result, we got to the walk out after 5 pitches instead of 4, but it all worked out. We skipped that last pitch at the top for another time since it was starting to get dark, but it was a fun day out with fun people. Then the 4 of us grabbed some pizza and ended up at the Venture Snowboards party at Grumpy's (for the 2nd year in a row!)








Sunday, Spenc, Briana, and I skied Silverton. They had gotten 7" overnight, but we got caught in some variable depth garbage on our first run in Dolores/RMYP. The 2nd run, called Mandatory Air, was much better with the initial drop containing hero powder all the way down to the choke. We caught the Waterfall Ramp back around and then found the pow stash of the day in Eagle's Nest/Gene Simmons. There was buried treasure: some rocks/trees/etc but there was a good 15 turns of pure bliss in 35 degree waist-deep snow. We hit it twice and finished our day with Tiger 2. No injuries for the Silverton opening - that's a good thing, knowing my record at that resort.


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