BD athlete Drew Stoecklein scores brilliant opening day pow at Mount Baker—and busts up his face
Black Diamond athlete Drew Stoecklein sent us the following email after he returned from a quick trip up to Mount Baker, Washington to take advantage of the epic early season snowfall the Pacific Northwest was getting in mid-November. Stoecklein scored some amazing powder, but, as you'll read in his email, took a nasty knee-to-face digger that left him a little banged up—to say the least. (All photos by Grant Gunderson.)
From: Drew Stoecklein
Subject: opening day at Baker
Date: December 7, 2009 1:20:31 PM MST
It was a warm sunny day in Idaho and I was just getting all my hunting gear together when photographer Grant Gunderson called from Washington. He told me that it was full-blown winter up north and that I had to get up there as soon as possible so we could get some shots. I was completely shocked to get the call when I was in Idaho in a t-shirt and jeans. That night I booked my ticket and got all of my ski gear (including some 2010 BD protos) out of storage and into a duffel bag. The next day I set out for Washington.
I’ve had bad experiences chasing storms in the Pacific Northwest, but opening day at Baker was hands down the best first day of skiing that I have ever had. It was deep, light and bluebird. The first few runs I took in the backcountry where breathtaking. There was not a singe track around and the snow was blowing up in my face on every single turn. At that point all the training that I had done in the fall with Benji Hill and Kevin Mora at High Altitude Fitness had paid off. It felt so good to be back on skis again, not to mention being in shape on the first run of the year. After shredding as much powder as we possibly could on the first day, we retired to the Tap Room where we celebrated with a few beers.
The next couple of days turned out to be just as incredible as the first. The new gear I was testing was so light that it really made skinning a lot more enjoyable. Not to mention the skis and boots had great performance going down hill as well as up.
On the third day of incredible skiing Grant took me to some pillow lines in the backcountry. The first line I skied was so much fun that I had to ski another one. I climbed back up and dropped in on another pillow line. As soon as I hit the second pillow of the line they all began to crumble. To avoid being caught up in the falling snow I leaped off the pillow and soared over the falling snow to the landing below. When I landed, my knee ended up smashing into my face. I felt my lip and it had been split wide open and was bleeding a bit. Not thinking much of my smashed lip I took a few turns, and then realized that I might be a little more hurt than I thought. I reached up and touched the right side of my face and could feel bones floating freely. At this point I knew that a trip to the doctors office would not be a bad idea.
Long story short—Grant and I skied down to the road, hitchhiked to the car and went to the hospital in Bellingham. Three hospital visits and three days later I was getting surgery on my face. I ended up smashing my upper jaw and having to get a plate and 6 screws in my face to hold everything together.
Now I’m back in Sun Valley, Idaho training hard at High Altitude Fitness, waiting for it to snow and for my face to heal. Both should happen by Christmas.