Mount Dimond

East Face of Mount Dimond

     Climbing mountains has become a daily tradition at this point. If not in the mountains, I am drawing up ideas for my next objectives. My outlet for fighting depression has become my greatest passion. Being immersed in the Alaska Mountains has given me my purpose. Though you cannot be fully in control in the mountains you can mitigate most of the risks if done right. Before heading out you take in the objective hazards and subjective hazards. Objective hazards are things that are out of control but can be mitigated. For example, rockfall and wet slides you can lower the risk by doing an alpine start where everything is frozen and cool. Subjective hazards are things that are in direct control of your decisions. A big subjective hazard is knowing when to turn around and call off the objective. This could be due to unsafe conditions or a lack of the proper equipment to safely go up and down the mountain. This is one of my favorite parts of being out in the mountains. With much of the world not in our control, the time in the mountains gives us moments of our lives we can control. 

Heading up the Valley to the West face of Dimond

     Mount Dimond is the tallest peak in the southern part of the human-powered corridor. It has been on my mind since I first drove over Thompson Pass. Mt. Dimond is a gem of a mountain. Steep gendarmes shoot up from the ridge and sound separates the mountain from the glacier in the summer and low snow years instantly making this a worthy objective. 

      On 20 April 2024, things lined up for a quick ascent of Mt. Dimond. A freeze-thaw cycle has ferociously taken over Thompson Pass which normally is known for its deep powder this time of the year. I started my ascent at 5am with the first usable light of the day and not a soul out in the mountains yet. All of the mountain men crew were still sleeping from their rough days on their electric ponies and partying all night. 

First Light 

     I flew up the approach to the base of the gun barrel route, busted my skis off, and switched to booting up. I was getting a nice 4-inch-deep kick with each step which made quick work of the climb. 4 hours later from the road I was on the summit of Dimond. With how quickly I obtained the summit, I was going to head down the Go Ski Girls Mountain after. 

      I downclimbed 100ft and put my skis on. I only skied about 200ft and decided the conditions were too rough for me to ski so I went back to down climbing. I was in a good spot to put my crampons on, but I was doing great plunge stepping down, so I decided I was safe to continue down without them. This was a mistake and I quickly learned that. I plunged stepped for another 150ft and then stepped on ice. I tried to slam my other foot into the snow and was also icy. I rolled my ankle and before I knew it, I was sliding fast down the mountain. 

More Summit Views

     I slammed my axe into the snow, and I started slowing down and gaining control, but I was already going too fast. As I was slowing down my knee went into a dip in the snow and flipped me over and I started tomahawking. There was a sense of realization at this point. I clearly was out of control and that feeling is scary as fuck. I released my axe and braced my head with both arms as hard as I could. I knew I would stop once at the bottom of the couloir but how injured I would be was unknown. I was waiting for things to slow down but things never did. It all happened at full speed, the contents of my bag were flying everywhere, my pants were ripped off and all I thought was this is it? 

Summit Views. 3 Pigs with Mount Drum in the background

     I hit a deep spot of snow and finally stopped tumbling, I was super dizzy and trying to gather where I was and how injured I was. I sat there breathing heavily, calming down, and doing breathing exercises to get my heart rate down to be able to perform a trauma assessment on myself. Okay, I'm breathing so I have airway and breathing. I did a blood sweep and nothing but road rash and minor cuts, so circulation is good. Then checked my neck and worked my way down all my limbs had motor control so nothing was broken. My left quad was super sore tender and purple so knew it was bruised and hopefully not torn but I could stand on it. My right ankle was very unstable, but I could walk. 

Road Rash sucks
    At this point, I assessed I was in a lot of pain, but self-rescue was safe, and calling for rescue was not needed. I looked up and saw my skis sticking out of the snow 300ft above me. I donned my crampons and started climbing up to them. I decided grabbing skis and skiing out the easy terrain would be quicker than hiking 4 miles out. I arrived at my skis, and one was snapped but still was usable. I downclimbed the 300ft and tried gathering what I could of my stuff before skiing out. 

X- Fall Zone O- Land zone Blue Dots - skis landed.

     Skiing out was painful when my right foot was downhill my ankle was on fire when my left foot was downhill my quad pain would radiate up my whole leg. The whole time hoping my right ski would hold up till I made it to the car. 1 hour after falling 700ft I was back at the car and went to the ER. After x-rays and being checked out there was nothing broken and nothing seriously wrong. Just some nasty road rash, a ton of bruising, and a sprained ankle. 

    I am very lucky nothing serious happened and I was able to get myself out. The lessons learned will be with me for a lifetime. Taking the time and using the gear even if it seems safe without is a key lesson. This accident was completely preventable. The other factor was I became complacent with snow conditions in Valdez. Snow is normally deep, so my thoughts went straight to crampons that aren't needed.


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