Two skiers were caught in an avalanche on King Solomon Mountain near Sliverton, Colorado last Friday afternoon, one was seriously injured with a compound fracture of the femur.
Silverton Medical Rescue responded to the scene using a Durango Flight For Life helicopter to insert rescuers. Rescuers also got the site by snowmobile and skis. SMR stabilized the patient and used a backcountry rescue sled to ski the patient to the valley floor where he was transported to the helicopter and flown to a hospital
The remaining skiers in the group were also helped out of the area without incident. Find full accounts of the incident from one of the skiers involved and the rescue team below:
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Connor Ryan’s description of the incident:
Last week I survived a series of avalanches which could’ve taken my life and nearly took the life of a friend & ski partner.
I’ll discuss the details, decision making, and snowpack more in time. Today I want to acknowledge the ride we went on and what it showed me.
I was caught & carried a few hundred feet and left in an exposed place with tremendous overhead hazard and additional avalanche risk. My friend Ryan McClure was caught and carried over 1600 feet and suffered a severe compound fracture of his femur, which separated his leg almost entirely at the knee. Due to the hazards surrounding us, our partners descended a different and more time intensive route after contacting SAR & EMS.
I had to reach Ryan quickly as he lay bleeding. I’ve never been so scared as I was that moment. I had to risk my life in order for a friend to have a chance to live. I didn’t know if I’d get to him fast enough or even reach him safely as I down climbed 1000+ feet of bed surface and hanging hazards. In that moment I felt things I have no words for, things I’d never like to feel again.
When I reached Ryan he was brave despite the bleeding, calmly helping me to save him. He screamed like I’ve never heard as I cranked tourniquets down on his broken leg. After his screams echoed away he thanked me. In the hardest and most painful time he chose to live, repeatedly, bravely. His courage filled me and eventually our whole crew as they reached us in the red snow.
I’d ask Ryan about his pain and he’d remind me that only people who are alive feel pain & that he was going to live. In time we got him onto a Sew Alpine rescue sled from my pack and down the slope to SAR as they came up to meet us. As he rode off in the helicopter, we were affirmed he was going to live.
Living is a choice. One worth committing to entirely. You cannot mitigate all the risk in life, and if you did it wouldn’t be a life worth living. The thing that truly protects us from the risks inherent in a good life is community, people who share our values, especially our value of life. People who inspire us to live.