Sorry to report that one of our locals was hurt fairly badly in Yellowjacket last week. After a high side fall at the conclusion of a turn to avoid rocks up high in the choke, the female skier found herself in an uncontrolled slide many hundreds of vertical feet at a high rate of speed toward the boulders at the bottom. Luckily, one of her party basically tackled her into a stop before she hit the bouldery and stumpy bottom of the chute. Thankfully, the party did have enough man power to evacuate her without assistance and get her to the hospital. Major leg injuries necessitated surgery with lots of pins, screws and plates installed. The road to recovery will be a long one. However, she is a tough bird and will undoubtedly outperform the doctor’s expectations.
This is a good warning to all. Chute skiing in the spring and early summer is dangerous by its very nature. The snow surface is typically narrow, runnelled, cupped and interrupted by bomb craters.. The surface conditions can turn on a dime from slush to ice quickly with just a few degrees difference. There are new stumps and rocks poking their ugly little heads up everyday, the chute bottoms are filled with boulders, stumps and various avalanche debris. Basically, it is just plain ugly down there. Unlike the normal ski season, where most of the Rose chutes have a nice snowy outrun, the chutes this time of year end in the chaos of stumps, rocks and avy debris that will almost certainly lead to nasty injury or death if you hit them at any speed in an uncontrolled slide.
Still interested? Make sure your mind and edges are sharp and you are skilled in performing a pole arrest in steep terrain. Of course kayaking or swimming Lake Tahoe may offer a better option for even the most skilled diehard skier this time of year as well. Whatever your pleasure, I wish you the best of luck, skill and an attitude of gratitude for whatever adventurous path you choose to take on.
May the odds be forever in your favor…