Christmas Eve Rescue

Christmas Eve is supposed to be a time to enjoy family around the tree or maybe by a fire. Kids eagerly await Santa and parents can’t wait to see their children’s excited faces on Christmas morning.

Not our family, that’s way too normal for us! We spent Christmas Eve 2007 lost in the woods. We were eagerly awaiting someone… the ski patrol. When they arrived they came bearing gifts…dry gloves and granola bars. We were gathered around trees, but there was no fire and the trees were wizzing by our heads when we weren’t crashing into them. Our parents were excited to see our faces Christmas morning, because that meant we were alive and hadn’t frozen to death in the wilderness.
Lesson: Stay on TRAILS

Christmas Eve 2007 started out as a fabulous day. My entire family was in Beaver Creek, Colorado to ski and celebrate the holiday. We all met early in the day for a quick bite to eat at Spagos at The Ritz at Bachelors Gulch. The food was amazing and we saw celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, Spago is one of his restaurants. My aunt took this picture of my fiance Forrest and I, if you look all the way to far right you’ll see Mr. Puck. We didn’t want to be too obvious so we positioned ourselves to get him in the shot. He probably thought we were rather odd.

So we finished our huevos rancheros and hit the mountain. My cousins, sister, uncle, Forrest and I skied hard for a couple hours. Finally Andrew, Forrest and I ended up skiing together. We got hungry for french fries and headed to The Ritz to eat again…we ate there alot! Here is our pictures sprawled out on the couch before we started our adventure.

We left there and decided to sky the far western part of the mountain. We skied over there and some how wound up on a double black diamond, probably the hardest run on the mountain. I was exhausted from skiing all day with my cousin and fiance so we found a trail in the trees.

That trail was easy enough and things were fine for a while….but it ended. We were stuck in huge snow drifts. We were lost for about 30 minutes trudging and struggling through the snow and trees. We finally made it out and skied down to a chair lift. It was closed and no one was there. Forrest got out the map and decided if we went back in the trees we could hit another run and ski down to the hotel. There were no runs down the mountain where we were. We needed to go up to do down. It was desolate and there wasn’t a soul around we thought about calling the skip patrol. However, we all decided if we cut through the trees we would be on another trail and ski home. We were wrong.

I was so tired when we started through the trees I could hardly move. Immediately we couldn’t get through the snow and trees, both were just too thick. It was starting to get dark and I was getting scared and weepy. My cousin was helping me up and out of snow drifts every 2 minutes or so. We couldn’t ski through this snow because it was so deep would just fall further down the slope. The trees were so thick we were constantly hitting them and skiing over them and through them. We would take our skies off from time to time but we would just sink and the snow was up to my chest. I literally couldn’t take another step and just collapsed in the snow. I yelled for Forrest to call for help. I was getting panicked and our gloves and gear was wet from digging through snow. I looked like a miserable little snowman, covered in snow but sweaty from working so hard. Finally Forrest and Andrew called for help, their phones were working.

The ski patrol was on the way. It was dark by now and we only had 3 gloves for our 6 hands. I had hand warmers so I gave one to Andrew because his glove was frozen. My gloves were wet at the tips but dry at the base so I curled my hands into the base of my glove. My hands started to go numb finally. I was shaking profusely but I think it was more out of fear rather than the cold. It was dark, no one knew where we were and we were wet from the snow that we had been digging through for hours.

We stood huddling, I was praying and just waiting. We were listening for snow mobiles to come rescue us, we never heard them.
The best sight in the world were the headlamps of Matt and Nate of the Beaver Creek Ski Patrol. Finally after several hours I knew we were going to be okay. They were on skies, I thought they would be on snow mobiles but they couldn’t get them to where we were. The terrain was too extreme for snow mobiles…wow. They gave us granola bars and water. I was nauseous by then and could only eat a few bites of the granola, I couldn’t drink anything. They gave us the news that almost knocked me off my feet…we were going to have to ski down. They estimated it would take an hour and a half. I honestly thought I couldn’t do it, I was exhausted 5 hours ago!
They gave us head lamps so we could see and we started down. We hiked/skied/crawled about 1 mile to a trail. That took about 2 hours because someone kept falling and crying and getting upset…ME. The trail was like heaven even though we couldn’t feel our legs. The trail was 3.5 miles through a golf course.

It was the hardest thing any of us had ever done in our lives. Forrest compared it to competing in a triathlon without training for it. Matt and Nate from the ski patrol were amazing. They were very patient and kind. Once we got back to the ski patrol headquarters my entire family was there waiting. Steve, the leader of the rescue, kept them all updated on what was happening the entire time. The women were all crying when we arrived and but everyone was so thankful for their work. For the hours we were skiing down our mothers kept wanting to call us on our cells but Steve said we were to busy and working too hard. The last thing I wanted to do at that point was chat!
As the three of us walked up to the ski patrol headquarter, we were arguing over who would walk in first. We knew they would be happy to see us and emotional but also mad we had skied off the trails. I agreed to walk in first, no one was mad at us just relieved. The ski patrol said I looked the worst of all of us. Matt, Nate, Forrest and Andrew are big strong men. My 5’2 size 2 frame isn’t as strong as it looks. Everyone kept telling me how pale and bad I looked! Yeah, I just completed the hardest physical task of my life! Forrest’s hands were shaking so badly my mom had to take his ski boots off and put on his apres ski boots for him.

There aren’t words to express how grateful we are to Steve, Matt and Nate from the Beaver Creek Ski Patrol. They saved our lives, things could have turned out so much worse. It’s a day we’ll never forget and now it’s a very special place to us. In fact, we are thinking about getting married there next Christmas!


One Response

  1. Good thing you guys are in shape. I
    would’ve gone “broken arrow” and popped a flare.

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