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Thunderbird Avalanche

March 31, 2010 Ski 1 Comment

The Thunderbird and Serpent above Palisade. Photo by Seth Anderson

It’s not often you get good first-hand accounts of serious avalanches. Often the victims are too shaken or chastened by the experience to write about it—or, tragically, they’re unable to write at all. But in the last week we’ve enjoyed superb stories about the serious avalanche accident on Grand Mesa on March 17—from both the victim and his rescuer.

Seth Anderson and Ann Driggers climbed the northwest side of Grand Mesa, early that morning in mid-March. For several years, Anderson, a cofounder of the Grand Junction–based Loki apparel company, had dreamed of skiing the Thunderbird and Serpent formations on the steep walls overlooking Palisade. These bizarre slide paths play into Ute legends of deities living on Grand Mesa; Anderson had written before about these stories and his fascination with the formations. This winter’s heavy snows had covered the slides, making Anderson’s dream seem feasible.

The two skiers started down the Thunderbird near midday, and Anderson triggered a slide as he entered the Serpent gully. Although he was not completely buried, he was severely injured, with two badly broken legs. Fortunately, the two skiers were able to call for and help coordinate a rescue, and Anderson is now recovering.

It’s best to let Andesrson and Driggers speak for themselves. Last Friday, Anderson wrote a first-person story of this awful accident in the Grand Junction Free Press. And yesterday, Driggers published a powerful account of her perspective as companion and rescuer at her excellent Outdoor Junkie blog in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. Both stories are unusually frank and moving. Recommended!

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. seth says:

    Thank you for writing acurrately about this story.
    Seth-

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