AFTERSHOCK

Words: Garrett Grove

Five days after the avalanche, I still find myself in the mountains, and I am spooked. The moment when I heard the whumpf and saw the snow break above is completely haunting me. For the first time in my life, death was a reality I had to consider.

The day after the accident, just the rumbling of a plane flying overhead caused anxiety. Igniting the stove made a whumpf sound, and I jumped. My motivation to ski is gone; for how long I do not know. I do know that the innocence and joy of skiing in the mountains has been slowly fading for me over the years. I was cautious over the last decade, which is why I am still here, but a huge amount of luck is really why I am still here. Prone slopes and less-than-certain snowpacks have all floated underneath my skis in the last 10 years.

Skiing gives me emotional highs and a daily existence that seem unparalleled, but the consequences for this feeling are great. I am not willing to die for the sake of skiing, and so my approach to the sport has to change. If I don’t feel 100 percent about the stability of the slope, I will not ski it.