I thought I was done with writing new posts today but mother nature had a different plan. I got out on the hill late today after taking my time to have some breakfast and write a bit. My plan was to ski back to Plagne 1800 from Bellecote and just enjoy the day to scout out what I hadn't seen yet on the mountain.
The sun came out as I hit the hill and right away I noticed the amount of avalanches that had happened around Plagne Centre. I made only a couple runs off piste. The snow was good and I felt good skiing. After a few long chair lift rides I noticed one more spot I wanted to ski before I went home. I should have gone home.
I finally made it to the Verdons Nord quad and saw some off piste snow that looked good on the way up. The angle wasn't to steep, less than 35 degrees, and the snow looked great. The line would be fresh snow for less than 200 meters until I would be back on a piste(run). It was going to be a great way to end the day. On the way up I watched 3 tourist ski and snowboard just to the right of where I wanted to ski, and thought how dumb it was to ski with 3 people at the same time off piste today. I was the dumb ass.
I headed over the start of the line and realized it was still a little boney at the top, so I was being a little careful for the first couple of turns. I made one turn and it was a bit rocky, but the second turn was butter. The third turn though, made this rumbling sound like a truck coming down the hill, but with the truck came an avalanche.
After I heard the rumble and saw everything around me fracturing and cracking, I tried to ski out to my left to no avail. It happened quick. I was caught, and all I could think of was SHIT. My skies were already under the snow and pulling fast. I was thinking to myself "stay up above the snow as best as possible" and just hope I don't get buried over my head. The ride lasted just a few seconds and only took me about half way down the slope. The rest of the slide carried into a gully or run out below me. I was buried almost up to my waste and couldn't believe I had just been in an avalanche. I moved quick to get myself out, while people yelled from the chair to see if I was alright. I told them I was and moved quicker than I ever have to a safe spot. My skis stayed on and my poles were somehow still in my hands. Hello adrenaline!!!
Afterwards I couldn't stop thinking about how Leo said that I would eventually get caught in a slide in France, I didn't think it was to funny. He made it sound like it was part of the game, and everyone had been in one. I had no plans to ever, in my life, get caught in an avalanche. And I know for sure I never want it to happen again.
I was very lucky that the slope was short and had a good run out. Or the ride would have been longer, with more chance of getting fully buried. I was wearing all my gear and my beacon was on. I took a pretty big risk today and don't plan on making the same mistake twice. The danger was only at a 3, which is still very dangerous. I let the draw of the snow and that famous cliche "just one more run" influence my decision. I'm still shaking.
This experience will forever influence how I ski off piste or in the backcountry. I was rushing to ski and didn't think out the consequences. Nor did I make a good plan of attack. SO HAPPY NEW YEAR, and BE SAFE OUT THERE!!!
In these pictures you can see my first few turns, before the avalanche started. You can see the fracture width and depth. The debris plied up down the gully. I stopped right below the top of the debris pile, you may be able to see my tracks coming out of the pile. If you click on the photos you get a better view.