–Sometimes terrain and access is misunderstood.-

-I rescued a poorly equipped individual who spent two nights in the backcountry in below freezing temperatures, high winds, and heavy accumulations of snow. Despite being adjacent and relatively near a ski area, weather and conditions kept a rescue from getting to him sooner.-

-The cause of his plight? –

Engaging in an unfamiliar environment during unfavorable and deteriorating conditions with inappropriate equipment and no emergency supplies. His downhill ski equipment in a backcountry environment was worthless for uphill travel. –

-His partner had touring equipment and got out well after dark the first evening providing us critical information for his partners rescue but leaving his partner to fend for himself. A calculated rescue decision that proved successful although barely.-

-Uphill travel in backcountry areas adjacent to ski resorts is often done via boot packing to simplify gear needs. When these routes are used regularly it allows for more efficient and easier access via a kicked in path. In short, easier access to untracked powder.-

-Despite this ease of access, the terrain often has significant objective hazards and consequences that often need the response of the companion’s group members first for survival in the event of an injured or at risk teammate.-

-The most common reason we go up, is to ski down. Although in the event of an accident or incident there may also be a need to move uphill efficiently and quickly. For instance, if a partner falls into a tree well or is injuries and above you in the terrain. In the unconsolidated powder conditions you ski, boot packing is fruitless. Therefore efficient uphill travel capability is a necessity to managing and mitigating some of the risks.-

-When I arrived on scene that morning the individual was ambulatory although in rough shape. His first words were, “I was pretty sure today was my last.”-

Had the weather not broken, it likely would have been. Had he carried the right equipment he would have been late to dinner but surely with a hearty appetite.-