Thursday the 8th of April a good pal Orange Hat Dan and I were up enjoying turns in Devils Castle in Alta. We met up at the bottom a (well not so random since we both want first turns) I had skied the wall of the castle he had skied an apron already. I wanted to go up to the apron and ski above everyone else. We rode back up supreme, cruised up the sidestep and then the boot pack. On the way up the boot pack I noticed a cliff that i hadn’t noticed before. It was big and awkward. It had a rocky take off about 60 degrees opposite the fall line, the landing was flattish but super deep and consolidated. I set the sidestep onto the top of the beast and spent about 5 minutes up there planning the attack. The plan, point in from about 20 feet above, pop 5 feet before the end of the cliff, rotate my body into the fall line, back splat. All went according to plan except the massive yard sale that followed the impact. It was the biggest air that I could remember taking, though I came nowhere close to landing it, it was an insane rush. I ended up leaving my pole in the landing and skiing down with one ski and one pole. My other ski was in Dan’s hands at the bottom of the run. I decided to go back up for the pole since they are antiques.The air, the camera is facing down fall line. Just going off and not compensating would lead to a nearly uphill landing.
At the top of the boot pack my mind was on milking some powder turns all of the way back to the groomers and take it easy the rest of the day. I have no idea why (probably the deep powder and the fact that I didn’t get hurt) Dan said “would you recommend that air to a friend? “Only if he is needing an adrenaline rush” I skied away got my pole, and milked some fun powder down to the base of the apron. I saw Dan line the cliff up caught his breath and then sent it in my tracks. The impact that followed was a horrendous sound that echoed off of the walls of the castle. He laid there for about 2 minutes not moving. Not good. He got up dazed and skied down to me bleeding severely from the face. I told him immediately that he should sit there and wait for help or ski down to the clinic. At the time he couldn’t see through the blood, but skied down anyway. Patrol met him and brought him across the flats to the clinic.Take off is upper left snow ramp. Top pole is Dan's bomb hole, bottom pole mine. Only a few vertical feet but almost 20 feet apart (flat landing) also Dans landing started about 40 feet from the cliff
Long story short, they sent him from the clinic down to salt lake, where he had to wait reconstructive facial surgery. He turned some of the bones in his face to dust, and broke the bone under your eye that keeps your eye in place. Titanium plates and mesh now sit on his skull. Also they discovered he broke his L4 vertebrate. Dan is a tough man, without a doubt. He pushed through everything so far with a positive attitude. He even made it up to his good friends wedding reception less than 24 hours after his surgery . We were all glad to see him there because it said a lot, but it could have been a lot worse than it was. And he just wanted to come up and hang out and drink a free beer fresh out of the hospital!
Now hes gotta take it easy for a few months but he will be back skiing stronger than ever, and his face will look as good as ever, but now maybe big hucks won’t be in his/our bag of tricks anymore. Hopefully we can all learn something that even the smallest miscalculation can lead to something really bad. It doesn’t hit home until it hits home, I know this for a fact. It seems like people get hurt, and unless u really know them or watch it happen, not many people take lessons away from that. But seeing a good friend get hurt or worse sucks big time. Take it easy out there and ski tomorrow. Send some hippy healing vibes to Dan too!There is a skier under the cliff near the landings. It was big and bad.