Nicoli Popov, a backcountry skier from Seattle, was skiing on Decker Mountain just Northeast of Blackcomb Mountain when he fell through a snow bridge into a crevasse. Once the snow bridge opened up, Nicoli fell 160 feet the crevasse and came uninjured. Nicoli was backcountry skiing alone and luckily someone randomly noticed him fall into the crevasse. Neither Nicoli nor the random observer had cell phones so the guy skied down and alerted local search and rescue. Nicoli luckily didn’t to the base of the crevasse. He stopped on a ledge inside the crevasse. He could have fallen another 70 feet to the true bottom of the crevasse. **UPDATE** Skier Falls 160 Feet into Crevasse in Canada & Survives… | Unofficial Networks

**UPDATE** Skier Falls 160 Feet into Crevasse in Canada & Survives...

**UPDATE** Skier Falls 160 Feet into Crevasse in Canada & Survives...

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**UPDATE** Skier Falls 160 Feet into Crevasse in Canada & Survives...

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***UPDATE*** – From the above video, I gathered that Nicolai was alone.  He reports that he was with an Italian gentleman named Ermanno.  Also it appears that Nicoli only fell 35 feet down not 160 feet.  Please see Nicoli’s full story at the bottom of this post.

original post:

Nicolai Popov, a backcountry skier from Seattle, was skiing on Decker Mountain just Northeast of Blackcomb Mountain when he fell through a snow bridge into a crevasse.  Once the snow bridge opened up, Nicoli fell 160 feet the crevasse and came uninjured.

Nicolai was backcountry skiing alone and luckily someone randomly noticed him fall into the crevasse.  Neither Nicoli nor the random observer had cell phones so the guy skied down and alerted local search and rescue.

Nicolai luckily didn’t fall to the base of the crevasse.  He stopped on a ledge inside the crevasse 160 feet down.  He could have fallen another 70 feet to the true bottom of the crevasse.

Search and rescue monkey roped him out of the crevasse as quick as they could and Nicoli was completely uninjured.

Hearing this story has spurred me to write a post about “traveling safely in glaciated terrain.”  Do you guys want to learn about how to properly ski on glaciers?

*UPDATE* = NICOLI’S STORY:

by Nicolai Popov

Crevassology

You may have seen/heard the story already. Here is the full story, and a few photos (from the hole).

Friday, May 11, I was headed for Mt Pattison (Blackcomb backcountry). My partner was Ermanno, an Italian I had just met on the lift. Perfect weather; perfect company: how many times do you run into a capable partner when there is no one for miles around (Ermanno hies from the Italian Alps). So we skied and skinned and skied again, enjoying ourselves and reviewing famous Italian soccer rivalries. My younger partner was a little faster and got ahead of me as we skinned up the E shoulder of Decker, gaining the top. I was 50-60 meters behind, when I saw a long crack ahead of me. There were several tracks going over the crack but I approached cautiously–I respect cracks–and started probing it with my pole to see if it was a crevasse and how strong the snow bridge was. And then it happened: the snow I was standing on collapsed and before I knew it I found myself at the bottom of a crevasse. I was able to dig out my skis (my bindings were locked and hand’t released; one of my feet was buried much deeper than the other and the snow was consolidating around it fast), and in the process it became clear that I wasn’t at the bottom: I had fallen some 10-12 meters and had a soft landing because the collapsed snow bridge had cushioned my fall, creating a second snow bridge possibly half-way down the crevasse. I’m not sure how deep the crevasse really is but after ginger exploration right and left I could see that it was much deeper on either side. So this was the good news: no injury, only 30-40 feet down. The bad news: solid walls of ice north and south, with big overhanging cornices at the top. One of those cornices was humongous and was the main threat: it was a warm day; I could see cracks in the cornices, and it was a matter of time before they collapsed. To the west, the crevasse ran straight for another 20 meters, then branched off into a very large and seemingly bottomless snow cave. (All the ski tracks went on top of it: Spearheaders beware.) To the east, the crevasse extended farther than I could see. There was bright light around the E corner so I thought it might be possible to crawl out that way, but between me and the corner was a deep hole flanked by vertical walls: no way I’d be able to reach the corner. I had standard backcountry gear. I didn’t carry crevasse rescue gear (I was concerned about slides, given the temperature). I had been on that route before; I had read all sorts of reports and never seen any reference to crevasses along that stretch of the Spearhead. (Subsequently, I learned that a summer photo on google earth shows some bad crevasses in that area. Live and learn, indeed.) Anyhow, even if I’d had a couple of ice screws and prussiks and steel crampons and ice tools (how many of you, backcountry travelers, carry those?)—nay, even a rope—all that would have been useless given the overhanging cornices. (Maybe an experienced ice climber would be able to climb out; I’m not an ice climber.) The crevasse was too wide to use chimney technique. In short, I had to be rescued. 

I knew that Ermanno would realize before long what had happened. He had skinned across the crack. He was maybe 20 pounds lighter and that may be why the snow bridge hadn’t collapsed under him; it’s also possible that what doomed me was that I had stopped to investigate, and my poking of the snow ahead of me was all the precarious snow bridge needed to collapse. Be that as it may. Having seen the crevasse and the overhangs from below, I was terrified that Ermanno would retrace his own track, one of the cornices would collapse under him—and I would have company. We’d be stuck in the hole, both of us. Fortunately, my Italian friend was cautious—or cautious and lucky: he came close enough so we could talk, and we quickly came to the conclusion that the only way out was for him to speed back and bring rescuers with proper gear. Which he did.

In the meantime, I had a couple of rather interesting hours to spend pondering my luck: I wasn’t injured; I hadn’t fallen to the bottom; I wasn’t squashed (yet) by collapsing chunks of frozen snow; it was a warm day, and I had enough clothing and an emergency blanket to survive (maybe) one night (ironically, I had just wondered as I was huffing and puffing up the shoulder of Decker why I had extra clothing and gloves in my pack). But above all: I HAD a partner. (It’s not difficult to imagine the same scenario–without a partner.)

I had just about enough space to move around and study the crevasse: it was extraordinary. There were formations of snow and ice inside this one unlike anything I had seen at Rainier or Baker. Some of it was gorgeous, in a sinister kind of way–the kind of beauty you are not supposed to see so you have to wonder what the price of such forbidden sights is: this sub-nivean realm of ice naturally suggested the other world from which, famously, few return. But I was in good spirits. (My photos of the crevasse’s insides, unfortunately, fail to do justice to what I saw: it was dangerous to move around so as to get the best angle, and I’m not a good photographer, anyway.)

I figured it would be at least 3-4 hours before the rescue team came. Help actually arrived after just a little over 2 hours, by helicopter. Ermanno had been fast. They flew over me several times, coming ever so close and raining chunks of ice on me which was quite scary since the one thing that really made me nervous all the time was the cornices above me. Eventually I was able to establish communication with them by word of mouth, and I had just enough room to maneuver while they collapsed two of the cornices to make the extraction possible. The rest was standard extraction procedure, executed meticulously and in good humor. 

Jun, Daren, Matt, Rob and the helicopter pilot whose name escapes me: words cannot express my gratitude. Ermanno, too: you made all the difference.

I will not moralize: draw your own lesson; level your criticism. Coulda, shoulda, woulda.

Some photos at nwhikers.net

Niko

PS. In case you wonder: yesterday I had a splendid day at Blackcomb. The plan had been to ski mostly inbounds, in view of the heat—and so we did. Husumi and one of the Poop Chutes are trashed by big slides. But inbound single & double blacks skied very nicely until about 2pm when the heat took over.

 

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