July 9, 2010

For the past 98 days I’ve had one thing on my mind.  “When was I going to be able to get up into the Argenta slide path of Big Cottonwood Canyon and rescue the ski I’d lost there in my ankle breaking accident on April Fools Day.”

It has been a trying few months, but I’ve been recovering one MHL at a time (free FIS sticker to the first MHL decipherer).   Everyday, gaining more of my usual luster, and cranking out endless miles of imaginary single track on my stationary bike.   Ever so slowly, like autumn into winter, I’m getting back to my old habits.  The kind where you root around in the wilderness.  I started out slow with a SPA trip here and there.

After a few smaller journeys, a couple of outside mountain bike rides, I knew my peg was ready for a bigger mission.  And not just any old mission, but a freakin’ rescue mission!  We gathered up a crew of ski huntin’ maniacs and went after it.

Here’s a recap of how the ski got lost in the first place.  If you already know the story, skip on over to page 2.

On the morning of April Fools Colby and I headed out of Salt Lake around 5 AM for a dawn patrol in about 2 feet of snow.  It was nuking like only it can in the Wasatch, under a heavy NW flow.  It was snowing so hard that it took us nearly 8 passes by wide spot in the road to find the trail head.  We spent a few hours breaking trail and finally started skiing around 8.

It was joyous.  Some of the lightest, driest powder of the 2009-2010 season in the Wasatch.  And if you don’t believe me, here’s some proof:

Right after this picture, I took off to score some of my own face shots, while I was tunneling down the mountain, I preceded to hit a rather large stump and that was that.  No more skiing for me.  When I hit the obstruction, I lost my ski in a small point release around my crash site.  Yep, you read that right, it was a full blown crash site.

With my injured leg, we knew we’d better focus on getting me down the mountain and not on finding my ski.

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Read about the author:   Porter Haney


  1. angryswede
    wrote on July 9th, 2010 at 11:30 am  

    the champagne sound like a good recovery drink. Sticker?

    • Porter Haney
      wrote on July 9th, 2010 at 12:57 pm  

      Dang that was fast. E-mail me your address and I’ll send out a sticker.

    • Greg
      wrote on July 9th, 2010 at 1:08 pm  

      WRONG…. everyone knows we FISers only drink the manliest beverage in town: Mikes Hard Lemondade

    • angry swede
      wrote on July 12th, 2010 at 10:01 pm  

      You guys drink mikes???? I guess i’ll have to find a new ski blahhg.

      Porter – sent you a PM with contact info via your profile page.

    • Greg
      wrote on July 13th, 2010 at 12:19 am  

      nah… i was just kidding

  2. Bretterick Briggums
    wrote on July 9th, 2010 at 12:45 pm  

    Are those gashes on the stump yours? …Both of em?

    • Porter Haney
      wrote on July 9th, 2010 at 12:57 pm  

      Damn straight they are. Going to take a few more thwacks at that stump to take it down.

    • powhounddd
      wrote on July 9th, 2010 at 3:22 pm  

      thought you already had, given the axe handle pictured!!

    • Porter Haney
      wrote on July 9th, 2010 at 3:27 pm  

      By thwacks I meant skiers hitting it with ‘der edges. A big old and, that’s in fact a walking stick pictured.

      There was much conjecture about removing the stump. At the end of the day though, we decided the stump had to stay the way nature intended it!

  3. TEO
    wrote on July 9th, 2010 at 4:42 pm  

    Do I understand correctly that you were skiing in avy terrain with your Dynafits locked in tour mode? (In which case, I would assume that your broken ankle was likely the result of locking out the release function, no?)

    • Porter Haney
      wrote on July 9th, 2010 at 5:17 pm  

      Good question. I’ve had a lot of time to think about the dynamics of this crash/terrain.

      I was not in an area that would avalanche. I was in an area that could have isolated point releases. Which happened, and eventually how I lost the ski. The entire area that point released was not more than 20 square yards.

      We were wearing beacons, as always, but were generally not concerned with large scale avalanche potential on this slope.

      I can say I occasionally lock my bindings when I don’t want to lose a ski… really it is no different then what telemarkers do everyday, and it’s a decision I make very consciously. Plus, I find that I still can come out of the binding when I’m ‘locked in.’

      As for breaking the ankle because I was in lock mode, absolutely not. I hit the stump directly under foot, come down on top of it, with the force travelling up my leg. Any binding, whether I was locked in or not would have done precisely the same thing. When I hit the stump the ski came off immediately.

      If my ski had gone under a submerged limb, or something of that nature I might be singing another tune.

      In my circumstances I can say the binding being locked really had no bearing on my injury. Hope that helps explain the dynamics better.

    • TEO
      wrote on July 15th, 2010 at 12:07 pm  

      Thanks for the clarification, Porter.

      Might I suggest that if you’re worried about losing your ski, use a leash instead of locking out your Dynafits? The Dynafit Slut himself, a.k.a. Sheffy, suggested to me that the only time to lock them out is in true no-fall zones. After all, there’s a reason why alpine bindings have DIN release. It’s also very different from being in a non-releasable telebinding. Unlike an alpine binding, tele bindings have a lot of give, both in the binding and the boot, though that has decreased some with the advent of big, plastic boots.

      Glad to hear that you’re mending well and you got the ski back.

  4. icelanticskier
    wrote on July 9th, 2010 at 8:45 pm  

    nice find! slide paths avalanche on occasion even though 42 degrees is barely steep enough for s**t to move ;)

    oh, lets get one thing straight here. when it’s nuking it’s blowing and when it’s puking it’s snowing :)

    it’s true!

    glad yer back moving about and gaining strength.


    • Porter Haney
      wrote on July 11th, 2010 at 12:12 pm  

      Thanks Rog. You’ve skied argenta, the majority of the lower slide path is right around 30 degrees steep. Happen to be a few steeper sections.

      We’ll have to go skiing when you come out to Utah. I might even figure out how to turn as much as you and Craig.

  5. icelanticskier
    wrote on July 11th, 2010 at 8:17 pm  

    i’ve actually never skied argenta or anywhere on or near kessler. drove by it a gagillion times while heading to other spots.

    if/when i come back to utah, i’ll def look you up. i make quite a few turns. i turn once for every 3 or 4 of craigs :0

    maybe, just maybe we can ski some truly exotic lines. lines where athey, mclean, the powder whores, or even margy of the wasatch haven’t hit. i can assure you that we were some of the only skiers not waiting for u-dot to open the canyon roads for control work. we were gettin it, and gettin it in sub inversion land. wasatch blvd-le grand target basin and cirque-ette city west bowl: this is why i ski the wasatch…..1st descents e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e!

    check it, craig gordon spots from below, lesley from above. never can be too careful :)



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